Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

A look back at 2008 Part I: a year of many journeys

10th January 2009

The turning of a year is often time to take stock and look back upon what has just gone by. For whatever reason, the beginning of 2008 feels like an eternity ago. Over its course, there have been many journeys for me, be they explorations of wonderful countryside or meanderings of the mind; I didn’t rename this space "Collected Musings of a Hill Wanderer" a year ago for nothing. World events have taken on their own dramatic itineraries too but that’s not what I do here. If anything, getting out for a walk in open hill country allows for an escape from the rough and tumble that surrounds us.

With all the revolution in the air, I have taken an evolutionary path with this blog. Its content has been honed over the past twelve months with a greater emphasis placed on outdoors matters than ever before. Entries devoted to public transport matters presented opportunities presented opportunities for tangential diversions so these have been diverted to another blog unless the subjects directly affect the reaching of walking destinations without needing to be self sufficient on the transport front.

Another subject that crops up here from time to time is the gear that I use for my hiking. Of course, being more interested in appreciating the wonder of the outdoors, it is far from being my main interest. In any case, gear purchases weren’t that many in number anyway but the introduction of my Scarpa boots to more regular use generated some comment on my part. Trail shoes reached retirement without comment and were replaced satisfactorily by Strives and Hedgehogs from TNF (I have a soft spot for trail shoes that needs to be controlled). A soft shell jacket from The North Face was added to my collection in June and became well used over the summer, earning its place as a valued piece of kit. Looking towards a future with greater independence on the accommodation front, I bought a sleeping bag from Alpkit. That’s a subject that I broached last year but remains an avenue of which I have yet only tantalising glimpses. As I said earlier, it’s not about the gear but the journeys that it allows me to undertake that matters.

Speaking of journeys, it has been the overview of trips undertaken that have formed the framework for previous annual reviews in 2007 and 2006. This year, I am going to split things up so that they don’t become too large to digest and I want to include wider musings anyway. The next part in this review will take in journeys for the first part of 2008 followed by another one for the second half of the year. Every one of these trips has been brought about by by my ever present wonder of the natural world, even that influenced heavily by human activity like what we find in the U.K. With all of the ominous portents that surrounds it is probably worth remembering William Henry Davies’ Leisure:

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

I only hope that some of the above sentiment can be conveyed in what appears on here in 2009, the blog’s fourth calender year, and that it will be a year filled with hikes and cycles like its immediate predecessor. That wish applies as much for you as it does for me.

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