January 2021: Blencarn to Baguret
Updated: Feb 9
As the first month of the new year passes it's still a grim picture, with the pandemic preventing any ability to operate a business. It's equally as frustrating that even on a personal level its been impossible to get into the high hills. It's been a shame to be missing what is so far an excellent winter for what can often be fickle for snow and ice. The UK at the moment its currently in lockdown and this will continue until at least March the 8th as per the governments advice. It also looks as though any lifting of restrictions will happen slowly, so I think it's safe to say that this winter is not happening, in terms of any ability to deliver winter courses or courses of any type. Winters come and go and having been out working and playing in them from a young age, I know that a good winter will come round again. Still it doesn't make it any easier when things have been in such great shape! I am starting to wonder how much the restrictions on peoples movement in the mountains is really benefiting things and that perhaps the goverments focus should be less on people out doing something both mentally and physically beneficial in open outdoor spaces and instead clamp down on other areas such as parties and travel to a lower tiered area for a beer!
On a more positive note, it has been nice prior to things locking down that I was able to get out for a couple of socially distanced days with Dad. We had a great day on the Tongue which is a ridge line coming down from Dollywagon Pike. It's featured in Dad's winter guide to the Lakes. So it was ideal to have the guidebook author to hand and no chance of getting lost! There has been the odd day in the Pennines which have been very wintery and allowed some freedom from the lockdown with local exercise, but unfortunately that has been about it. It's certainly been frustrating looking across to the other side of the M6 where Blencathra and Helvelyn look like they would have provided some great sport.
Scotland looks to have been in excellent winter shape and for those with the Munros on the doorstep some good days out would have been had. I think people have largely respected the rules and not been venturing into the Highlands; it would not be appropriate to risk bringing further cases from the cities into the more remote highland communities. The ski areas looked to be having some 'once in a decade conditions' and will be sadly missing the much needed revenue from skiers coming to use the areas.
The Alps have also been seeing some superb snow and ice conditions. A good friend Rob who runs High Mountain Guides based in the Chamonix Valley sent a couple of shots of how things look from his doorstep. All lifts and resorts are currently on hold so far this season and hopefully that might change as the season goes on. Although things are as not as bad as the UK, it is still a struggle to contain things in Europe. Have a look at some images from the snowy Alps from High Mountain Guides. Hopefully, there may be a chance that by the start of ski touring season things may have improved for travel. If not then it might be a lonely trip along the Haute Route for anyone who can make it this year, which actually sounds rather appealing!
The last few days of January were a sudden rush to get to work in Kenya, with a pretty hectic schedule of requirements and tests to ensure safe as possible travel. I'm not that keen on air travel at the best of times but although stressful it was certainly worth it. So I shall be based back in East Africa helping to deliver a range of adventure training trips and courses with Rift Valley Adventures. Certainly feels great to be back in the field again and also back on familiar terrain and feel some warmth on the skin! Travel is not easy at the moment but when it's for work purposes it's possible to do. The airport was very empty at London's Heathrow one of the busiest airports in the world which was very strange to see. Thankfully it all ended up being a smooth run in the end. Now it's to take things as they come and enjoy one of the best adventure destinations on offer. I shall put some regular blogs up in the coming weeks on what I've been up to, which hopefully might turn peoples minds to possible adventures here when travel opens up again.
There is still the hope that Wild Path will be able to start delivering some courses in the Lakes in the spring/summer when lockdowns ease and perhaps some normality can return. I fear that things will be very stop start over the coming months while the UK gets to grips with an effective way to manage this virus. It's not going to go away so I would think the focus needs to be on how to manage it while also being able to function. The strategy of staying in and hiding isn't a long term plan that will work.
All enquiries for the spring and summer are welcome but for the winter season there is no possibility of delivering anything. Hopefully next winter is also a good one!