Sunday, 23 December 2018

A busy year outside

I was wondering if my annual 'end of year' blog looking back over the highlights of our year is a bit like one of those 'round robin' letters that come with a Christmas card?  Well, on account of the fact we don't have kids, there are no lists of their many achievements, although we are quite proud of the cats...

Looking back over the year one thing that's apparent is that although we were outside a lot we didn't take a lot of time off - something I'd definitely like to fix for 2019.  We are incredibly fortunate that time outdoors in some amazing places counts as work, but sadly it's the sort of work that doesn't pay a lot - perhaps 2019 will be the year of our best seller?  We have three books out next year, so watch this space...


When we do get out we like to explore away from the main routes.  January saw us getting some final pics for Steve's amazing Cumbria in Photos book and enjoying a wonderfully snowy drive along Thirlmere before wolfing down a divine 'Ginuary' Afternoon Tea' at Lakes Distillery.

Hell's Gill
Fox's Pulpit


In Feb we tackled a few lovely old routes and explored Longsleddale and Swindale before The Beast From the East dumped snow across the land - we even got snow on Grange prom!

Wrengill Quarry
Grange Prom

Lots of travelling in March, but we also learned how to pronounce Brougham Castle, visited Nottingham AND admire the first daffodils at Ullswater.

Brougham Castle



Sun, sea and family! We enjoyed what turned out to be our only proper hols of the year, a week in North Wales, so of course I *had* to paddle!  Later that month we stranded ourselves on Roa Island for a blissful picnic before spending time with Steve's Parents admiring posh houses.

Yes, it was freezing!

Black Rock Sands

Roa Island


In May I got to explore one of my favourite nerdy bits of history (I'm busy drafting the book just now, watch for it around May time!), then we had Hardknott Roman Fort all to ourselves on a glorious evening.  Next up was the cover shot for Gin, Cakes and Rucksacks before giving our lovely nephews a taste of the outdoor life.

Any guesses where I am?

Harknott Fort

Getting the cover shot!

Wearing out the nephews

June was mostly HOT, HOT, HOT!  Work took me to Brussels and we squeezed in a couple of days sightseeing - The Atomium was, without any shadow of a doubt, my absolute favourite thing!  Then there was a protest march against Northern Rail's abysmal service before exploring a couple of old ruins on Morecambe Bay and finally finding our heads in the Eden Valley.

The Atomium
Quicker than taking the train
Near Naze
Sandstone Heads

Still hot but thankfully cooling down!  It may look like the Caribbean, but it's actually Walney Island.  A quick work trip to Edinburgh then over to Chapel Island before a lovely long walk along a Lancashire canal.

The tropical paradise island of Walney


Arriving at Chapel Island

Lancaster Canal

We finally got around to visiting the amazing model village in Flookburgh, then managed a couple of nights break at Barnard Castle before a very long, VERY wet hike from Penrith to Ravenglass.

Miniature Village

Cockersands Abbey

Barnard Castle

Awwwww... Incredible Camping Cats!

"Are we there yet?"

In September I was introduced to freezing cold dips, thanks to Suzanna Swims, then I joined my first ever major group hike, run by the amazing Helen of Wild Rambling, and then I compared the relative merits of Barrow and Birmingham,,,

Freezing cold fun!  More here

En route to Haystacks

Beautiful Barrow!


We finally launched Gin, Cakes and Rucksacks and were incredibly lucky that so many amazing people came along to support us!  We followed that up with a surprisingly hot hike over Nan Bield Pass before I met one of the heroines from my youth.  Last up we discovered some wonderful walks around Keswick.

SO lucky to have so many fab folks support us!

Hotter than it looks!

Sharron Davies

Beautiful autumnal Keswick 

Still walking, still working.  This time we tootled around Wetsleddale and then tried our hand at a Christmas market - first up was gate-crashing Shed 1's stand at HolkerHall.  Then there was Kendal Mountain Festival (they go on tour too - check here to see when they'll be visiting a town near you.)  without a shadow of a doubt the most fantastic and exhausting weekend of the year.  After finally getting a little sleep we took a wander around Argill Woods for Cumbria Wildlife Trust.


Holker Hall shenanigans

Kendal Mountain Festival

Argill Woods

The last of the Christmas markets - hard work and long days but fun to meet lots of fab people!  Then a wonderful walk up and over Humphrey Head and making very early plans for one of next year's BIG projects - so exciting!  We've seen lots of fab places again this year, but nothing can beat a stroll along Grange prom, it's the perfect place to clear my head.  Lastly there was the walking nativity through the streets of the village - thankfully the sun shone!  It's the first time they've done it but I hope it wont be the last.

Windermere Market

Limbo dancing tree on Humphrey Head

Grange Prom

Walking nativity in Grange

Thank you SO much for reading our blog this year - and an especially HUGE thank you to everyone who has bought one of our books - we really do appreciate it!  We sincerely hope you all have a very merry Christmas full of family and fun, and a peaceful and happy new year.  Here's to 2019!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 10 December 2018

Guest Blog - Don't Drink and Drown

I've never hosted a guest blog on here before, but this is such an important message that I wanted to help get it out there.  Please share this to help us raise awareness.  Thank you.

The number of alcohol related drownings rose a staggering 41% last year prompting drowning prevention charity the Royal LSS UK to step up its efforts to warn revellers to take care near water whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Dozens of people tragically die each year because they’ve entered the water with alcohol in their bloodstream, either deliberately or completely by accident. Drinking near or in water can be a dangerous and deadly cocktail and alcohol can seriously impede your ability to survive in water.

Over the last five years there have been 1,581 accidental deaths in the UK and almost 30% of the victims (346) had alcohol in their bloodstream. In 2017 alone, there were 75 alcohol related drownings recorded, compared to 53 the previous year.

The Don’t Drink and Drown campaign was launched in 2014 following a string of tragic drownings of young people. Research indicated that around a quarter of all adult drowning victims had alcohol in their bloodstream. RLSS UK was keen to prevent more tragedies, by targeting at risk groups in hot spot areas at particular points in the year where alcohol related drowning incidences increase - September (at the start of the new university term) and December (during the festive period).

RLSS UK wants everyone to have a great time this Christmas and through the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, the chaity aims to give essential advice to party-goers to make sure they know how to stay safe when they’re out celebrating.

When walking home from a night out, avoid routes that are alongside water, particularly in the darkness, and always stay with and look out for your friends.

Stay Safe this Christmas:
Stay safe around water
  • Don’t walk home near water, you might fall in
  • Look out for your friends, make sure they get home safely
  • Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking
  • Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble

Across the regions, organisations join forces with RLSS UK to hammer out the water safety messages, including a wide range of fire and rescue services, police, local authorities, bars and businesses across the UK, as well as the Canal and River Trust, RNLI and the Environment Agency.

As part of the campaign volunteers host stalls at busy shopping areas and walk the queues at popular waterfront establishments, talking to people about the dangers of walking home near water after a night out drinking. Bars, nightclubs and universities display posters, beermats and other resources with water safety messaging, and throwline training is given to door staff.

For more information on RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign:

Visit our website at

Follow us on Twitter - @RLSSUK

Visit our Facebook page -

Join our LinkedIn page - @rlssuk

Call - 0300 323 0096