2012 – A year on the hills

by backpackingbongos

2012 has been another stonking year in the hills and mountains for Backpackingbongos.  There has been a lot of talk about how wet the weather has been.  Thankfully up until late December I did not suffer too badly with the weather and its only in the last few weeks that plans have been spoilt.   Maybe it’s just my memory erasing the bad bits but I have somehow managed to come back from a few trips with photos of blue sky.  In all I spent 66 days on the hills this year, 49 of these backpacking on 18 separate trips.  One of the positives from working four days a week is more hill time.  I can’t afford the kit I used to buy but hill time is more precious than technical fabrics.  It also helps that I have an understanding partner who is happy for me to disappear at short notice.

Anyway I thought that I would end 2012 with a brief diary of this years trips.  I have basically taken one photo from each mountain jolly and put them in monthly order.  Not always the best photos but the ones for me that give a flavour of that outing.


The first day of the year saw me waking up with Reuben and friends high on a moor in the Peak District.  The walk in the night before had been in driving rain in the dark, I was dead chuffed to locate that small patch of grass amongst the peat and bogs!


The following weekend was spent with Reuben in a lovely little bothy in the North Pennines.  A great night in front of the fire, civilisation miles away.


The White Peak is easily overlooked, especially considering it is only an hour away.  A sociable day with Chrissie, Reuben and Dixie.



Blue skies and frozen bogs gave perfect conditions in which to explore Bleaklow.  It was a fun day especially as it was my first outing with a new camera.


I love the wide open spaces of the Mid Wales moors.  A wild camp near the summit of Drygarn Fawr gave  a superb winter sunrise.


I was soon back in a bothy, this time in Wales.  Another night spent staring into an open fire, just Reuben and my thoughts for company.



There is a bit of a bothy theme early in the year.  I returned to the North Pennines for a backpack with Martin Rye and his friend.  A sociable bothy night this time round, enjoying the fuel we had split between us.


I often neglect the Lake district, preferring the hills with fewer people.  However a trip in the campervan reminded me just how special they are.  They also give a good opportunity to tick off a few peaks!


I was back in the hills with Martin for the second time in a month for a backpack.  This time it was a visit to a little know and remote peak in the Yorkshire Dales.  Although late March, winter made a comeback with sub-zero temperatures at night.



I turned forty this year and as a special treat we booked a very remote cottage in the Highlands.  It was fantastic being able to get up every day to walk the hills and mountains and then return to a fire and a comfy bed.  I could get used to the luxury!



Pumlumon is one of my favourite Welsh peaks.  A wild camp near its summit gave a perfect sunset, a lovely warm evening lounging around my shelter with Reuben.


With the long summer days I headed to the Peak District after work one Thursday.  It was absolutely scorchio that evening and the following day.



With an extra days bank holiday I headed to the Southern Highlands for a bagging backpack.  The weather was fantastic and I managed five Munro’s and two Corbetts.  Each night I pitched high on the mountains.  Not often do I get the opportunity for those sort of pitches in the Highlands.


Later in the month and I was chased by wind and rain across Dartmoor.  The weather made the place feel even wilder.  Reuben made it clear that he does not like walking in the rain.



A backpack with Chrissie to my favourite pitch in the Peak District.  Martin Rye was in the area doing a bigger walk and we met up in the evening.


Just to the North of the Brecon Beacons is a lovely area of rolling hills, thankfully neglected by the masses.  A great weekend in the campervan until an angry gamekeeper spoilt the weekend by telling me to ‘Get off my hill’.



A lovely sunny summers day and Corrina agrees to a walk in the Peak District.  We bumped into a friend on the hill who we had not seen for a few years, great to catch up with her.


My most memorable trip this year was an eight day solo backpack in Swedish Lapland.  Some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen.  It was also an experience being several days walk from the nearest road.  I plan to return soon, perhaps for a trek through Sarek.



A walk in the White Peak with Chrissie, Reuben and Dixie again.  This time the weather was superb with cloudless skies and warm sunshine.


A backpack in the Yorkshire Dales gave a splendid high wild camp with views across the A66 towards the North Pennines.



I always forget that the North York moors exist, as usual heading for higher hills further away.  A two day backpack showed that they have lots of potential.


An enjoyable three day backpack with Chrissie in the Yorkshire Dales where we hardly saw another soul.  This was the rough often pathless side of this varied National Park.


Coming a close second to Sweden was an epic backpack along the West Coast of Jura with my good friend Rich.  Some of the wildest scenery the UK has to offer with some rather wild and varied weather.



The Yorkshire Dales drew me back for another backpack with a wild camp on the flanks of Fountains fell.  After the clocks have gone back the nights are very long!


A very sociable night was spent camping on the summit of Kinder Scout with Rich, Chrissie, Yuri and not forgetting Reuben.  It was dazzling looking down at the lights of Greater Manchester at night.



Some of the best conditions this year were on a visit to the Lake District in the campervan.  The Newlands Round under clear blue skies and frozen ground was particularly memorable.


My backpacking year sort of fizzled out and turned into a wet squib on boxing day.  Thankfully I found somewhere to shelter on the moors for the night.


27 Comments to “2012 – A year on the hills”

  1. Wow, you certainly packed the year out with your backpacking trips! Look forward to more trip reports in the coming year. Happy New Year James.

  2. You came you walked you blogged. Top year that outdoors and happy new year. Trip soon I hope for both of us.

  3. A superb looking hill and mountain year there, James, and it was great fun being part of some of those trips with you.
    Geoff bought me some panniers for Tilly for Christmas, so she says she’s looking forward to some backpacking action this year, once she’s recovered from her impending operation!
    Happy New Year to you, Corrina and Reuben x

    • It was good having your company on those trips Chrissie, most enjoyable. Look forward to seeing Tilly in her panniers, hope she recovers quickly. Happy New Year.

  4. Not a bad life then all in all. The uk is wonderful when you go for a tramp around it. Stay happy and healthy my friend. Warren

  5. Happy New Year, look forwards to more adventures in 2013

  6. A trip down memory lane, some fine trips there. All the best for 2013, let’s hope some winter snow and a proper spring and summer – with blue skies of course. I don”t ask for much!

  7. Absolutely appalling turnout. You are really gonna have to try harder James, this is not good enough at all. Ok, I’m lying. Loved your Sweden, Wales and Jura trips especially this year. BPB is still one of my fav places on the intravest. Thanks for sharing your many days out with us!

    • I’ll try and do better this year Dave, slacking a bit in 2012! Cheers and hopefully our paths will cross at some point this year.

  8. Good year for you mate. Nice variety too. Happy New Year! 🙂

  9. Only picked up your blog site recently but love following it! You have packed an amazing amount in during 2012 and it just goes to show that a great time can be had anywhere where there are hills, bothies and wilderness. Have you tried Knoydart in the west yet? It’s fab-u-lous. Safe backpacking in 2013!

    • Thanks for the follow Joyce, good to hear that you have enjoyed the blog. It is many years since I went to Knoydart, but starting there on this years TGO Challenge. Have a good year on the hills.

  10. Great round up, wish mine was as full of exciting things! (http://overgroundandunderground.blogspot.co.uk/) I hope to do some more wild camping in 2013 (I need a warmer sleeping bag so I can start sooner rather than later!) My daughter is also very keen to go for the first time so I need to get my thinking cap on for an easy kiddy wild camp

    • Hi Ruth, thanks for the link to your blog, a new one for me. Hope that you manage to get out wild camping with your daughter, some splendid spots out there which are easy to access.

  11. You certainly get about a bit:) Business and family mean I don’t get out on overnight trips as often as I want to. However, I am lucky that I live in a country area with quiet roads, where I can easily nip out from home for a 2 or 3hr bike ride. Managed 6,500km this year. My New Year resolution is to do 1000Km per month to try and build up some mountain fitness.

    • Wow, 6,500km is a fair old distance to cycle. I have to admit that I escape to the hills so often as I live slap bang in the middle of the city, concrete all around. By the end of the week I crave a bit of open space!

  12. truly excellent summary of the year James. Makes me envious of all the trips you have done but hats off to you sir and well done! 🙂

  13. Better late than never: Happy New Year!

    A nice resume of your trips for the year. Hope you ahve many more in 2013, and look forward to reading about them. 🙂

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