Like the entire human race throughout 2020, a few weeks ago, I found myself in a total rut. Call me dramatic, but not one single part of my life seemed to be going to plan and the only thing I needed was to be horizontal on a beach with a large cocktail in hand, but Miss Rona had very different ideas.
So, how on earth is a gal in the middle of an existential crisis supposed to find herself, Mama Mia style, when cross country travel is off the cards for the foreseeable? I’ll tell you how – take a leaf out of The Proclaimers’ book and get walking. I’m not saying you’re going to come back with a golden glow and three men falling at your feet, but at least there’s no risk of you getting preggers (unless I’m doing this whole hiking thing wrong?)… Trust me, there’s nothing like a three-hour uphill scramble to clear the mind.
First things first, get yourself some decent walking boots. I say this because I decided to tackle my very first mountain in Stan Smiths – highly inappropriate footwear for the terrain and not my finest moment. Next, find a willing and physically fit friend to a) keep you company and b) drag you up said mountain when things get tough. Of course, you can go it alone, but I have the navigational abilities of a drunk toddler in a blindfold, so it was vital for my own safety that I brought a map-reading partner along.
Make sure you layer up for every eventuality (because lord knows the English weather is as erratic as me after two bottles of Prosecco) and pack plenty of snacks – things like nuts, seeds, flapjacks and energy bars are wise but I’m also quite partial to a KitKat every 4,000 steps or so. You’ll get through gallons of water so invest in a couple of big, reusable bottles.
Now, I’m all about unplugging my brain and being at one with nature, but I would recommend downloading a couple of route-finding apps. AllTrails is fantastic for those as clueless as me – it’s got over 100,000 routes logged, all reviewed by real people and some proper gems you wouldn’t necessarily come across on Google. OS Maps is also great and works perfectly when your phone has no signal (damn you, Three Mobile). My mum wouldn’t let me leave the house unless I downloaded what3words – a super clever app that has given every single three-metre square in the UK a unique combination of three words. A little over the top perhaps, but I did get lost in Primark once at the age of 25.
I don’t do things in halves, so I decided to start with a pretty big, steep hike (five and a half hours, to be precise), but there are tons of beautiful options across the UK to get you going – the internet and of course your new apps are your best friends. Most recently, I’ve tacked Helvellyn in the Lake District, which involved scrambling across the steeper than anticipated Striding Edge and realising only halfway through that I might actually be a little bit scared of heights? The next on my hiking bucket list is Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Britain) so wish me luck with that one. I’ll be packing around 17 KitKats.
2020 has forced us to find joy in the simple things – rather than dancing on tables into the early hours, surrounded by friends (remember the days) or jetting off to a sun-drenched island on a whim. It may sound cheesy but getting to the peak of a mountain after hours of climbing will make you feel on top of the world. When everything feels a bit shit, nothing sorts me out more than getting outside, breathing in the fresh air and getting my stomp on.
Next stop, Everest (lol).