A few weeks ago, I left my job after taking voluntary redundancy. It wasn’t the smartest idea in that, for the time being at least, I no longer have a regular income, but the silver lining is that I can now take off on mini adventures more or less whenever I choose.
If I wake up and feel in the mood, I can pack a few sandwiches into a bag and be on my way within half an hour. Or if I get an invite go out exploring somewhere with a couple of mates, I can almost always say yes.
And I’ve got the added advantage of having England’s Peak District right on my doorstep. Well, a 40-minute drive away, which is as good as, in my book.
So today I took off to the Peak District’s Edale Valley for a bit of hill walking, enticed out by one of the most beautiful days we have seen in the UK so far this year. It wasn’t anything serious or technical, just enough to get my lungs pumping and quads burning.
For those unfamiliar with the area, it’s basically a giant bowl bisected by three hills and a ridge linking them all together. I usually park in the valley bottom in an idyllic little town called Castleton, from where you have to climb up the calf-rippingly steep Winnat’s Pass (which I’ve previously written about here) to the top of the first hill, Mam Tor.
I’ve got an affinity with this peak because, as far as I can remember, it was the first I ever climbed (aged about 4) and one that I keep going back to when I need to kick-start a bit of training. It’s no Gasherbrum or anything, but it’s not bad for 40 minutes from your front door.
Today, Mam Tor was in pristine form, with clear skies opening up a 360-degree panorama from the top that was interrupted only by those scattered puffs of cloud that somehow make a sunny day’s photos look even more impressive. Plus, with it being a Monday, I had it practically all to myself.
I then set off along the ridge, dropping down and then up again to the second peak, Back Tor, repeated the down-up process to peak No 3, Lose Hill, before doubling all the way back to my car.
The round-trip walk, with a lunch stop in between, only takes about three-and-a-half hours, so it’s not an epic day by any stretch, but it’s always liberating and is a damn sight better than being sat in an office.
It’s unplanned outings like today’s that make jacking in a perfectly good job a lot easier to justify.