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!

Echoes of repetition

1st March 2019

There are times when trip ideas get re-used. The unseasonal sunny weather that dominated the second week of February became a backdrop to some of this. Firstly, it lured me up to Great Ayton for a day spent around Roseberry Topping, Highcliffe Nab and Easby Moor. This was a variation of a route enjoyed more than a year earlier when snow and ice were dominant. Then, the ground conditions added a need for extra care that probably should have precluded an ascent of Roseberry Topping that was facilitated far better in conditions more typical of late spring or early summer.

A few days later, I was drawn to Earl Sterndale for a walk that took in the tops of both Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill. The latter was more friendly to those whose tolerance of exposure is more limited. Some might go up and over the former but I did an out and back trip to its summit before kinder gradients were descended in a northward direction. In the autumn of 2017, I had passed both on the way from Sterndale Moor to Buxton but avoided their summits on that equally pleasant sunny day.

Sometimes, there are stronger patterns of repetition there is one shared between 2010 and 2017. Both featured trips to Sweden and Aberdeenshire as well as marking the start and end of my time with a single employer. Because of the changeover in employment arrangements, the destination pairing has a certain eerie resonance for me.

Neither the Swedish or Aberdeen trips were my first to either place but it took a third visit to the former for more of a leisure focus to show itself. September 1997 saw my first visit to Aberdeen and that was for a scientific congress while business was the main motivation for those first two trips to Sweden. Even so, there opportunities for personal exploration offer themselves too because conferences cannot occupy you for all their duration and long sunny Swedish summer evenings made for pleasant strolling around both Södertälje and Stockholm.

The 2010 sojourn in Aberdeen allowed for more city strolling and a visit to Braemar only months after starting a new job. There was no mountain walking in 2017 but Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle, Banchory, Crathes Castle and the Deeside Way more than occupied the time not spent on city wanderings. In fact, the idea of doing some castle visiting was a seed sown during the previous trip. That it preceded my leaving the company that I joined in 2017 by a matter of months made it a kind of a bookend to my time there.

One of the motivations for heading to Aberdeen for the 2017 Spring Bank Holiday weekend was as a means of dealing with the fact that I no longer enjoyed working where I was. Together with a second trip to Norway, it was intended to salve the lack of enthusiasm that I had for what I was doing but it was not to be a long term strategy so I made the difficult decision to leave my then employer and take a career break while I worked through the aftermath of a number of life events as well as working out what my future career direction might be.

It was after starting the career break, that I then headed to Stockholm for an extended weekend stay. My previous time in Sweden preceded a departure from a then current employer and information transfer was its purpose. Only weeks later, I was going to start with the employer that I left in 2017 so there was a curious symmetry about my actions. Naturally, city explorations were to follow with even Gothenburg receiving a fleeting visit. Tyresta National Park became the starting point for the longest hike that I enjoyed while in the country. The whole experience was vastly more restive than the preceding months and it would take more than a year before I started to explore places beyond British and Irish shores.

If I have my way, such juxtapositions as pairings of trip destinations and career changes may not be repeated in the future. Though there are other places to see and experience, I also hope to continue my Scottish and Scandinavian encounters. My choice would be that they do not need career upheavals to make them happen because we need to keep making more happy memories to get us through times that are more testing.

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