For some reason I had this crazy notion to write a review of what had happened to me during 2017. This has been a particularly good year with regard to outdoor activity and was driven by two things that were intrinsically linked. The launch of my new blog Hill-Walking For The Over 60’s and becoming an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion.
The year got off to an amazing start with the selection as one the 2017 OS #GetOutside Champions. This really was a great honour and a fantastic pleasure to meet so many inspirational people at the launch event in the New Forest. The launch dinner was preceded by a thought provoking keynote speech from adventurer, broadcaster and writer Ben Fogle.
After a few years break from doing annual challenges I decided to set myself three challenges for 2017, all in aid of Parkinson’s UK. The main challenge was the Alternate Three Peaks Challenge – this would involve climbing the equivalent height of the world’s three highest mountains, Everest, K2 & Kangchenjunga. A combined height of 26045m or 85,500 feet. The other two challenges were to be the Welsh and Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenges
So how did the year pan out in the end? Overall the year was a great success with a lot of promotional work for the GetOutside cause carried out and the majority of the challenges completed.
The OS #GetOutside Champion highlights of the year were the Country File Live show at Blenheim Palace and the National Map Reading Week Live Facebook Broadcast from OS HQ.
I attended the last two days of the four-day show working with fellow Champions and members of the OS team promoting the work of the OS, the OS Maps App and online route planning package as well as talking about our work with the GetOutside project. By the end of the two days I had virtually lost my voice with talking but left with a good feeling that we had spread the word.
As part of the National Map Reading Week I was invited by the OS team to give a Live Facebook online talk about basic map reading and take part in a question and answer session with the viewers. It is amazing what can be done with an empty office, a mobile phone on a tripod and a laptop. We had a reasonable audience for this first ever broadcast and some very favourable feedback. Plans are already in place for an even better presentation next year.
On 19 November 2017 I reached the top of Hackpen Hill on the Ridgeway and in doing so passed the 26045m or 85,500 feet required to have climbed the equivalent height of the three highest mountains in the world. I had completed the Alternate Three Peaks Challenge 6 weeks ahead of schedule, yet the feelings I experienced were that of anti-climax! But I quickly remembered that the fun of the challenge is not completing it but just doing it. This desire to never complete but to want more is what drives me on year after year to get outdoors and adventure.
The final two elements of my charity challenge produced very mixed results. First off was the Welsh Three Peaks which got off to a great start with a very wet summiting of Snowdon followed by the conquest of Cadair Idris. However, coming off of the summit of Cadair Idris I slipped and twisted my left knee resurrecting an old injury. The descent, which should have taken 2 hours, took 4.5 hours in absolute agony. As a result I was in too much pain and too late to attempt Pen Y Fan that day so that summit was completed on a later date.
As a result of the knee injury the decision was taken to delay the Yorkshire Three Peaks attempt until 2018. This proved to be a good decision as the day I was due in the Dales was the day the biggest storm of the year hit the UK with Amber wind and rain warnings issued for the area I was due to walk!
So what else happened this year? Well in my remaining spare time I attended the Stay Wild Festival with fellow Champion Kate Jamieson and a couple of the OS team Sam & Jon. I managed a couple of navigation training sessions and a load of blogging. I also reviewed several new lines and became selected as a Trekmates OutdoorHero Ambassador and finally the blog is up for the UK Blog Awards 2018.
So all in all not a bad year.