I think we can safely say that summer is done. It happened. It finished. It is gone. Autumn is here. The leaves are falling off the trees, the temperatures have dropped, and the days are short. I know lots of people who love Autumn, and while I do love the colours of this season, and the fact I can reach for a sweater on a daily basis, I much prefer the warmer and brighter days of Spring and Summer.
I thought I would dedicate my weekly blog this week to that summer bucket list I wrote a few weeks ago. It was my way of trying to muster some fun out what felt like a bit of a rubbish year to date with no plans for adventure. I know I’m not the only one still grieving for what could have been in 2020, please don’t judge me too harshly.
Anyway, it seems only right that I look back over that list and see how far I got…
That Summer Bucket List
I wrote my summer bucket list back in weekly blog episode 28, 12 weeks ago. I included just six bullet pointed (very) mini adventures to give me something to focus on in the chaos of everything the pandemic has been throwing at us. Here’s how I got on.
Pen y Fan
- Hike up Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. It’s embarrassing that I’ve not done it yet.
I managed to pick the most fabulously blue-sky day for my hike up Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. I met up with friend and fellow GetOutside Champion Tracy for a stunning walk to the summit from the north at Cwm Gwdi. I wrote more about it in episode 29 of my weekly blog – just one week after writing my summer bucket list.
The route took us first onto Pen y Fan, then a short saddle over to Corn Du, down by Tommy Jones’ Obelisk, down to Cwm Llwch Llyn (the perfect spot to enjoy my flask of tea), along the river through farmland and woodland, and back to the cars via a quiet country lane. The 7.5 mile route was absolutely stunning; a horseshoe style route which front loaded the effort to get up and provided us with views all around the whole time.
The Brecon Beacons are about to be out of bounds to many of us for a little while, but if you fancy a hike when restrictions are listed again, I would highly recommend this route.
Walks in the Cotswolds
- Do a few more short walks in the Cotswolds including Sapperton, South Cerney, Sherborne, and Bredon Hill, making the most of where I live.
One thing I have been able do to since weekly blog episode 28 is make the most of my local (and almost local) area. Here in the Cotswolds I explored Sapperton, South Cerney and Bredon Hill (a new favourite, what a great view from up there), as well as some old favourites including Cleeve Hill. I also had lovely walks with friends in Tintern over in the Wye Valley (see weekly blog episode 38), down in Avebury in the North Wessex Downs AONB (see weekly blog episode 34), both with friends, and of course most recently the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains near Abergavenny.
I kind of promised here on Splodz Blogz that I’d write up all these walks so you could follow them yourselves sometime, and that is still on my list of to dos, I’ll try and catch up over winter! I didn’t get to Sherborne yet, but that’s okay, I’ll leave it on my next list!
Road Trip Camping Trips
- Go on a couple of short one-night motorbike or car camping trips to small but beautiful basic sites (site suggestions welcome). I’m thinking just a couple of hours from home, for nothing more than the road and relaxation.
I’ve just returned from my third short camping trip of the summer, and while my number nights under canvas this year has been unusually small, I feel like I made the ones I did get count. We headed up to the Peak District on our motorbikes to ride with and catch up with a couple of friends (see weekly blog episode 32), I had a solo trip to the Lake District before retreating home to hide out storm Francis (see weekly blog episode 33), and I’ve just unpacked after a weekend with friends in the Shropshire Hills AONB which was utterly wonderful (and very cold…).
I wouldn’t say that camping is my happy place, but being outdoors in the countryside is, and each of these three short trips gave me opportunity to enjoy that. I would think the tent has gone away in the garage for the last time this year, and so I hope that 2021 will allow for many more camping adventures than those I managed to squeeze in this summer.
- Hike up Helvellyn in the Lake District. This has been on my list for a good while and the snow hit the weekend I visited last year so I didn’t go up.
This is my main failure from my summer bucket list. I had intended to tick this particular hike off when I was camping in the Lake District back in August, but of course Storm Francis had other ideas. Helvellyn would have been a pretty silly place to be in 70mph winds and driving rain, and so this one goes back on my list ready for next year. I don’t know what it is about hiking Helvellyn that means it feels so important, there are other hills, other ridges, other hikes, but this one remains my Lake District bucket list hike. Next time.
Honister Via Ferrata
- Third time lucky on the Honister Via Ferrata Xtreme (read about attempt one here). Naturally, I would combine this with my Helvellyn trip.
While it was a failure for Helvellyn, it was third time lucky for Honister Via Ferrata. I had an absolute blast on the Via Ferrata Xtreme course, it was utterly brilliant and well worth the two previously failed attempts! Of course, I haven’t managed to write up my blog on the experience yet, I’ve been very good at putting writing off this summer, but I will share it soon, I promise.
I would honestly recommend this Via Ferrata course to anyone who thinks they might fancy it; I had a great time on Fleetwith Pike with a small group of others and our ace instructor Nic.
Swim in the Sea
- Swim (or just paddle…) in the sea. I’d specify “on the Devon coast”, but that might be a step too far. I would even take the Bristol Channel as success on this one if needed!
This is my second un-ticked item from my summer bucket list, I guess I just ran out of time! I have seen the sea on a number of occasions, but didn’t manage to actually get in it, not even just my toes.
I did a lovely day hike at Sand Point and Middle Hope down near Weston-Super-Mare, but didn’t paddle because it was squelchy sinky mud. And I’m not sure if the Bristol Channel counts as the sea, anyway. I then wondered if I’d get this ticked off on our motorbike road trip around England and Wales last month, but while we did see the Irish Sea, and actually it snowed while we were riding along that part of the Welsh Coast, we didn’t stop for a dip.
Maybe this is something I can tick off during Autumn or Winter, pandemic restrictions allowing. If I do, I’ll make sure I let you know in one of my future weekly blogs!
Did My List Work?
I guess the question is, did my summer bucket list work? Well it certainly refocused my attention on the things in life I know I enjoy – spending time outside, seeing great views with my own eyes, and taking photos to bring back the memories.
No, there hasn’t been a big European road trip, a GetOutside Activity Challenge, an Outdoor Bloggers camp, or a long-distance hike. But there have been opportunities to catch up with friends, visit some new-to-me places close to home, and get back to the basics of spending time outside doing things I enjoy.
None of us know what the rest of 2020 will bring, or even what our 2021 might look like. And let’s face it, it isn’t looking great. But I think I might make another small list and see if that helps me make something of it. Let me know if you do the same.
Next up, though, is my One Hour Outside challenge for November 2020… more on that in the next few days.
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. This week, I’d like to know your favourite outdoors memory of summer 2020…
If you enjoyed reading this episode of my weekly blog, and if you think my weekly blog series is a fun thing to read regularly, and especially if you got to the end of this one(!), I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Come on by next Sunday evening for the next in the series.