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!

An exceptional summer

31st July 2018

The long dry spell that has dominated since April has some thinking back as far as 1976. There are some good reasons for doing so. In the Irish countryside, grass is not as plentiful and farm wells have gone dry. Over there, the extent of this has got farmers worried about keeping livestock fed and brought about water usage restrictions for everyone else. Temperatures soared to 32° C during June and roads melted, causing road closures and even bringing out gritting trucks for reasons completely at odds with their usual usage.

So far, 2018 can be said to have two seasons: winter and summer. Spring scarcely came at all and the northern hemisphere has been treated to a long hot sunny spell like few other summers. Fires have started, either naturally, through error or as a result of vandalism. The last of these defies reason yet it is said to have had a human cost in such disparate places as Greece and California. The moors around Manchester and Bolton had their blazes but these thankfully did not threaten life and limb as much.

My venturing into the world of self-employment had limited my enjoyment of the long sunny spells more than a general inclination to keep in out of the heat. Still, I got to spend a day around Edinburgh that took me by the Firth of Forth and the banks of the River Almond before venturing into the Cammo Estate and the heart of Scotland’s capital city. Any shady spots were relished because of the afternoon heat. The same applied on a day trip to Barmouth that took me strolling towards Cerrig Arthur before returning via the Panorama Walk while enjoy the views all around that part of the Mawddach estuary. The day was long and felt all the longer on a hot crowded train between Barmouth and Shrewsbury. What remains though are newly made good memories and they always outlast any recollections of ardour.

There has been a week spent in Ireland too with its usual mix of business and leisure. Evening walks took me by Springfield Castle and the village of Kilmeedy and it well bedecked in flowers everywhere you could look. Towards the end of the stay, much needed rain arrived but there was dry weather to savour before that happened. In fact, it may be that the idea of a trip for exclusively leisurely purposes can come to mind and there is a slot when it might happen.

Other than these, evening walks around Macclesfield have made pleasant use of the longer hours of daylight. No longer do I chide myself for not making good use of every sunny day that comes but using enough of them is sufficient nowadays. As long as the burdens of a working life are managed more carefully to leave enough emotional space, the energy and motivation could be enough to keep up my wandering.

The heat may have restrained things this summer but it also had me looking back through previous episodes that had me writing entries on here and that happened in both 2006 and 2007. In 2008, I even got to the subject of warm weather walking. Neither of these compares with 2018 and it even beat the benchmark summers of 1983, 1984 and 1989 that I recall from my childhood and adolescence. This has been a summer that will live long in younger minds as they mature and age. Surely, it will be the better bits that get recalled the most clearly.

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