2013 – A year on the hills

by backpackingbongos

2013 has been another exceedingly enjoyable year on the hills and mountains in this small corner of the bloggersphere. Continuing to work four days a week has given me plenty of opportunities to get out and about and enjoy what turned out to be a cracking summer.  Going through my big book of trips I have spent a grand total of 71 days in the hills, valleys, mountains, coast and moors. 42 of these were backpacking, still the best way to explore an area in my opinion.

Thanks everyone who has stuck around and continued to read and comment over the past year.  If it was not for you I would not be approaching my virtual fifth birthday.

Anyway I thought that I would start 2014 with a brief diary of last years trips.  I have basically taken one photo from each mountain jolly and put them in date order.  A brief flavour of that outing.


The first trip of the year was five days in the Northumberland National Park with Reuben.  The Bongo was our base in the remote upper Coquet valley for a series of day walks.  The Pieman and Bruno joined us for a stroll along the Border Ridge. The final night was spent at Spithope Bothy, warming ourselves in front of a roaring fire.


Day walks in the Peak District don’t get much better than this.  Win Hill was transformed into a winter wonderland under a thick blanket of snow.



This year Corrina and I got married on our twenty-first anniversary.  The stag do involved three mates and two dogs travelling to the uninhabited Island of Scarba.  It was a mighty fine weekend, a winter storm nearly stranding us there.



The Easter weekend saw exceptionally cold and clear conditions on the West Coast of Scotland.  I headed to Ardgour and backpacked around some remote Corbetts.  Hardly a soul about and views to die for.  However I was punished at night when temperatures really plummeted.



The eastern edges of the Peak District gave a deliciously clear and crisp day out.  It’s good to have scenery like this just over an hour from home.


A three day backpack around Allendale in the North Pennines with my good buddy Rich.  An underrated area which deserves to be more popular (but I’m glad that it’s not).


A final leg stretcher before setting off for the TGO Challenge was a day around the Roaches.



The TGO Challenge was this year’s big walk.  It was one full of bad weather and pain as I damaged my foot.  A struggle to get to the east coast but I’m really glad that I finished.  A great sense of achievement walking coast to coast across the Highlands.



I was treated to some fine weather on a backpack around the Galloway Forest Park in Southern Scotland.  A rugged landscape of bog, heather and lochans.  Both nights I enjoyed high level camps on the mountain tops.


A twenty-four hour period of good weather between wind and rain saw Rich and myself dash to Nidderdale for a short backpack.  We arrived on the summit of Great Whernside just before sunset.  Returning bad weather soon had us dashing for shelter in the valley.



During a baking hot weekend Reuben and myself teamed up with Chrissie and Dixie for a backpack around Wild Boar Fell. The great conditions meant two nights camped high on the moors.


The good weather continued so a dash to the Highlands in the Bongo.  Three days picking off Munro’s around Glen Lyon under blue skies.  It does not get much better than this.



After twenty years of living in Nottingham I had never visited the Lincolnshire coast.  We headed away from the fleshpots of Skegness and discovered Anderby Creek.  It turned out to be a fantastic place.


I never tire of visiting the Moelwyns in Snowdonia.  This trip was slackpacking at its best, enjoying high and secluded camps with a good book and Reuben for company.


The Scottish Borders are a fine place to visit if you want to get away from it all.  I was dismayed to see how far the wind turbines had crept across these soft velvety hills.



A highlight of a trip to the Cairngorms was a high level wild camp on the Moine Mhor plateau above Loch nan Cnapan.  The first storm of the autumn then had me hiding in a bothy for two nights.



Reuben and I joined up again with Chrissie and Dixie for another backpack, this time in the Howgills.  The weather could not have been any more different from the trip to Wild Boar Fell.  Wet and windy were the buzz words.


A week on the Isle of Arran to celebrate Geoff’s birthday was my first visit to this splendid island.  A great mix of socialising and exploring this varied island.



After what felt like weeks of wind and rain an area of high pressure nudged into the west of the UK.  A proper campsite in the Lake District complete with electric hook up was a very comfortable way to spend a cold and frosty weekend.  Chrissie, Geoff and the dogs provided the company (and a proper cooked meal).



A wood burning stove in a tent during a long December night was a very pleasant experience.  It was a bit of an effort hauling all that wood into a secluded Peak District valley though.


New Years Eve was celebrated in typical Backpackingbongo’s style.  A week on the Isle of Mull in the campervan with just the dog for company.  The weather was miserable to be honest but there is always something amazing around the corner on this magical island.


35 Comments to “2013 – A year on the hills”

  1. What a outdoor Year and Happy 2014 James.

  2. I really enjoyed seeing your stag do, looked amazing. Thanks for sharing during the year.

  3. Let’s hope 2014 brings lots more great trips! Bet you’ve got plenty of ideas circling in your brain already……

  4. What a fantastic year James. Wish you many happy travels in the coming year. Keep up the blog and those wonderful photos.

  5. happy happy joy joy. Here’s to a similar, if slightly drier 2014

  6. Another excellent year James. A pleasure to meet you (albeit briefly) back in May, as well as following along with your adventures via the blog. Always lots of inspiration to be found here. Thanks for continuing to share and hopefully see you again (this time on the hills) soon!

  7. Ta for sharing some nice adventures there,,will meet up sometime on this small island !!

  8. An excellent summary, James. Have a great 2014.

  9. Great year there James – we should be biking around Scotland at the end of August this year – just to see where we live after so long away. Hope we can get together during that time. Thanks for another inspirational year of documentary. 2014 and 4 day week – hurrah

    • That would be great to meet up with the both of you. You will have to let me know your plans and I’ll bring up the bongo. Hope you are still enjoying your cycling holiday 🙂

  10. Nice one James. Always a pleasure catching up on your trips and seeing the joy of wee Reubs outdoors. Wonderful stuff. Hope to meet up with you again in 2014 mate. Been too long….well bar bumping into you while I was leaving a beer festival 😉

  11. Inspiring writing & photography. Note to self: man up in 2014 🙂
    Happy exciting new walking year to you & Reuben ♥

  12. Great words and photos James, particularly like the Ardgour and Arran snaps. See you soon hopefully

  13. Happy hiking for 2014 James, hope its as productive as last year.
    Keep up the good work on the blog, always worth a read.

  14. Always enjoy your posts mate, best wishes and more trips for 2014!

  15. You had a great year for backpacking. I am jealous! All the best for your 2014 trips.

  16. Another great year, and some lovely photos to boot

  17. Newish reader here just found you in past year. I have truly enjoyed trawling your trips, many areas recognised and many more I am inspired to visit as a result. Wonderfully written with beautiful pics to complement. You do a wonderful, job. keep up the great work.

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