Cares GorgeSo as we approach that quiet period between Christmas and the New Year (or the ‘arse-end of the year as one friend likes to call it) I love taking some time out to reflect on and review 2013…

In January I didn’t actually complete any events but did travel to the Adventure Travel show in Olympia where I saw James Cracknell and Ben Fogle speak, and got some great inspiration for future adventures- all I need now is lots of money.


During March I tackled the famously muddy Belvoir Challenge, a popular old favourite which takes place around the rolling countryside of the Vale of Belvoir.

I had intended to do the Charnwood Marathon but had a family do that weekend, so I decided to walk the route of the challenge the following weekend instead. Unfortunately this year winter decided to hang around and we got an extra load of snow at the end of March… It was so deep I struggled to get through it and ended up clambering through thigh high drifts- well, it was an experience!

April was quite a busy month; I had entered the Three Shires Challenge with the intention of completing the full 29 mile route this year, which includes the ascent of Shutlingsloe. The weather, however, had other ideas and thought I might like to slither around on ice and wade through slippery glutinous mud, so the score is Shutlingsloe 2- me 0.

In order to recover a bit I decided to try a new event- the relatively gentle Bassetlaw Bash in North Nottinghamshire. Thankfully the countryside had actually managed to dry out a bit so there wasn’t too much mud…

May and June were fantastic- I flew to Barcelona and then onto my trekking tour in the Picos de Europa. Yes it was supposed to be the Pyrenees, but as nobody else actually booked onto the tour (word had obviously got about that I was going!!) Explore kindly moved me onto the Picos trek.

The Picos de Europa are spectacular and do offer some great walking. Unfortunately it wasn’t just the UK that had a really cold, snowy and wet Spring… Northern Spain had it as well, which meant that the weather wasn’t great. It was cold, wet and misty and there was a lot of snow on higher ground, although that actually added to the adventure, especially as I very nearly ended up sliding down the side of a mountain and was stopped only by a couple of trekking poles and two strong armed gents!

I didn’t do that much in July apart from the White Peak Walk. This is a fairly hilly 26 miler in the heart of the Peak District that I hadn’t done before. It was also one of the hottest days of the year in what turned out to be a long hot summer after the miserably long cold winter.

September brought a great challenge- the Gritstone Grind. This is basically the whole of the Griststone Trail in Cheshire in one day- 35 very hilly miles. There was a 12 hour time limit, which thanks to a lack of training which is fairly typical for me I did not make, staggering in in around 12 hours 35 minutes instead. A fantastic route though with some spectacular views.

I also knocked a chunk off the Norfolk Coast Path by completing the 12 mile section from Wells-Next-The-Sea and Cley-Next-The-Sea. This is quite easy walking along a path hugging the edge of the salt marshes interspersed by traditional Norfolk villages.

September was a busy old month as I also did one of my old favourites- the Ponton Plod. Now I usually get to do this event in glorious sunshine but this was the first year in the history of the event that it rained! We also had a slight route detour thanks to a frisky bull.

October already- and the Spires and Steeples beckoned. This is a 26 mile event in Lincolnshire and is a linear route across fields and farmland from Lincoln to Sleaford. Again it’s usually a lovely sunny day and an easy, flat event over some good paths, but it showed its teeth this year as it threw driving rain and mud-up-to-the-knees ploughed fields at me!

I didn’t do much in November and managed to get myself into a training rut, before pulling myself out of it by deciding to go a little further afield, walk somewhere different and get chased by a load of cows, as you do.

I managed to get lost in Sherwood Forest in December and ended up walking in the dark, but was compensated with a most magnificent sunset. I’m taking my head torch next time though.

So not too bad a year in all… sure I would have liked to have got fitter and done more events, but they all cost money… it’s not just the cost of entry but petrol to get there and accommodation if needed too, and it all adds up… so all in all I’m quite happy.

I’d love to hear how 2013 shaped up for you!

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