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!

On dealing with the prospect of rain

21st July 2009

For all of the Met Office’s optimism, this summer feels anything but special at the moment with its mix of sunshine and hefty showers. The current cooler conditions may suit me rather better than the sort of temperatures that some would desire but repeated heavy dumps of rain do nothing for the motivation either. With preparation, you certainly could walk in these conditions but the question arises as to how much pleasure would be gained in so doing. Even I admit that the prospect of repeated heavy soakings causes me to consider indoors activities instead. That’s exactly what happened last Sunday when I chose clutter clearance over going out and about. Saturday was the better day but there were things that needed doing, such as getting my bike repaired. Since that was done (professionally, I’ll add), I have been out on local roads while the rain stayed away for long enough. Yesterday’s offering of rainless wads of clouds allowing some sun to come through was the cause of many going out on their bike around lunchtime though things were far quieter when I got to get out on mine after work.

When it comes to going out on wet days, I am always after some dryness to offset the wetness and, even better, to help me dry off. Last August, I embarked on my Scottish island hopping escapade hoping for a little sun among any grey wetness only to be granted a goodly number of sun-drenched days instead. Looking for a little had earned me a lot on that occasion but yearning for a steady improvement after a damp start can prove fruitless too as I found with two trips to Argyll. Then, the rain ended up becoming an irritating nuisance so my buses back to civilisation were very welcome when they came. Whatever preparedness there might have been with regard to gear and experience did nothing to take away from the fact that, when there is no pleasure anymore, it is time to exit. Those who were walking along the West Highland Way in torrid conditions last autumn might know how that feels.

In contrast, there was a time when grey mornings might have kept me at home; using it as a device to allow other important stuff to get done was all very fine but it went far too far. Now, when things look mixed, I take to looking to see how things might develop over the course of a day. Only for that, we might never have got to the hills around Gougane Barra or the cliffs about Kilkee while I was in Ireland last month. It pays not to be too picky, even if trying to discern how things are going to go over the course of day is tricky when television news is all that’s available to you.

With all that in mind, I am casting an eye towards the weekend. Right now, it looks promising so I may get in a longer outdoors outing rather than snatched evenings as has been the way recently. Of course, any predictions of fair weather need not become reality and I don’t need to be told that, especially after a hike took me among clag-bound and damp Cumbrian fells when they were supposed to be clear. Forfeiting a yomp over Fairfield seemed all the more sensible when I later saw the route that I was planning to take on a clear sunny day. However, you have to live in hope…

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