2014 – A year in the hills

by backpackingbongos

2014 has been another exceedingly enjoyable year on the hills and mountains in this small corner of the internet called Backpackingbongos. I continue to manage to spend many days and nights in the wild places, getting out as much as possible. It would be a bit pointless having an outdoor blog if I did not get myself out of the door.  Going through my increasingly full big book of trips I have spent a grand total of 78 days in the hills, valleys, mountains, coast and moors. 50 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 sixth birthday.

Anyway I thought that I would start 2015 with a brief diary of last years trips.  I have basically taken one photo from each trip and put them in date order.  A brief flavour of that outing.



The first sunrise of the year was seen from a remote spot on the Ardmeanach peninsular on the Isle of Mull. The Bongo was home to Reuben and myself for a week around New Year.


Mid January saw Reuben and I heading to the hills of Mid Wales for a four day backpack around the Elan Valley. With the nights being long and cold we spent three nights in three different bothies.




Snow put in an appearance during a three day backpack around Grasmere in the Lake District. It’s always a shock just how cold and damp it can be camping in snow.




The Bongo provided a suitable home for exploring the hills of Shropshire for a long weekend. A rather overlooked part of the country.


There is nothing better than wild camping with a wood burning stove in your shelter. My Kifaru Megatarp provided a warm and cosy shelter for a night wild camping in the North Pennines.


The third trip of March was a backpack in the Peak District with Chrissie, Rich and Yuri. Reuben and Dixie provided the canine company. A great pitch on Kinder Scout.




Another backpack and wild camp in the Peak District, this time in the vicinity of Black Hill.


Easter, my birthday and some excellent weather all fell on the same weekend in 2014. I therefore headed to the wonderful Monadhliath mountains on my own for a glorious five day backpack.




Another Peak District backpack saw Rich, Chrissie, Reuben and myself head for a wild spot above the upper Derwent valley.


I have long wanted to visit Harris and Lewis and I finally got to spend a week there in May. The Bongo provided superb accommodation for a week. The scenery was out of this world, somewhere to return and backpack next time.




The Peak District called yet again so I headed onto Bleaklow with Reuben and my Trailstar for a wild camp. Great weather and an even better pitch.


The trusty Akto got dusted down for a three day backpack around the Black Mountain in the Brecon Beacons National Park. There is a sense of space and wildness there and it’s hard to believe that the populated valleys are only a stones throw away.


My third backpack in June took me to the wilds of the North Pennines for a three day circuit round the head of Teesdale. It was midsummer and barely a soul was seen.




At the beginning of the month I camped once again on Bleaklow. The weather was awful, a good test for my new Wickiup 3 tent. It was so bad that I did not get my camera out for both days. Reuben was less than impressed by the whole thing. The Wickiup did prove itself though and I decided that it would accompany me to Sarek the following month.

A week later I was back wild camping yet again on Bleaklow with Geoff. A superb spot right on the plateau only spoilt for both of us with an almost lethal dose of hay fever.




A short and sharp two day backpack in the Black Mountains girded my loins for the main event later on in the month.


The big event this year was an eleven day solo trek through the Arctic wilderness of Sarek in Sweden. It has been an ambition to visit for several years now and the place did not disappoint. It was so good that I have already booked my flights to return later this year.




An exceptionally warm September weekend saw Reuben and I backpacking in the eastern Lake District for three days. The place was strangely deserted.




A couple of nights were spent in the Bongo alongside Chrissie and Geoff in their palace on wheels at a deserted campsite in the Peak District. Chrome hill never disappoints.


Once again the Bongo was home for a week, this time in the far north of Scotland. The weather was awful and a couple of bothies with roaring fires provided drier interludes.




Wild camping in the Peak District has been a bit of a theme this year. Being within an hour or two of home it provides a quick and easy hill fix. A night was spent camped on the Kinder plateau with Chrissie and Reuben.


Another theme this year has been an increasing amount of time spent in the Bongo. The end of November saw myself and Reuben meeting up with Geoff and Chrissie in the Cheviots for three nights. Their palace on wheels provided a warm sanctuary from the long nights whilst Geoff filled my belly with a hot meal each night.




The New Year week involved booking a cottage with my lovely wife in the tiny village of Greenhaugh in Northumberland. A perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday period.



Happy New Year!


32 Responses to “2014 – A year in the hills”

  1. An inspirational year, James.
    Well walked, photographed & written. Sir.
    My Blogger of the Year!

  2. An enjoyable read as ever Mr B! X

    Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2015 19:59:07 +0000 To: lastrob@hotmail.com

  3. James, the man of many shelters😄. Good to see out so much and the great trips you went on. I going to try and do some more now I am moved. Your blog is a good motivator for me!

    • Erm thanks for pointing that out Mark! I have since sold the Voyager though, so cutting down on the habit a bit……..

      Hope that you get some good trips in this year.

  4. What a wonderful account.

    There are further things I might say – no wittering on about this tent, that pair of boots, what the fashion is, how you wrote stuff for a “magazine” – but I shan’t.

    Because I like hills, and this a wonderful account about hills. Look forward to more 2015 James.

  5. An impressive array of trips (and shelters!) and I’ve very much enjoyed reading your reports throughout the year. More of the same for 2015, please.

    • Looks like my shelter addiction is out of the bag now Gayle. You are the undisputed queen of the hills, out far much more than all the outdoor blogs together!

  6. What’s the White tent you were using in June called?

  7. Very impressive James, inspirational stuff, cracking photos and excellent write ups.

  8. Quite a year there James, impressive stuff.

  9. Nice one James – good to be a part of it over the WWW. Happy 2015

    • Hope things are going well now that you are stationary Warren, perhaps our Bongos will finally meet this year.

      • The Bongo had to be sold when we got home – it was going to bankrupt us. The up-side is, we get more tents and throw them in our new Kangoo – meet up this year!

      • That’s a shame as they are fine vehicles, with the exception of being very expensive to keep on the road. Yes to meeting up this year 🙂

  10. Hi James
    I came across your blog early last year and have loved reading about your trips and seeing your beautiful photos. What an excellent blog. I look forward to 2015 and your new reports. Many thanks

  11. Superb summary James. I have enjoyed a good number of your posts this year. Such an inspiration! I’m just about to post some “challenges” for the year. This will include one wild camp and one solo walk, not necessarily at the same time! Your blog and photos provide some good ideas and inspiration. I suppose i just need to “get out there” and “do it” but as we all know, life isn’t always like that, with multiple other commitments that get in the way!! Will keep dreaming though and try to get these two things done this year. Fingers crossed. Keep up the good work ☺
    John Hutchins

    • Cheers for your kind words John. I hope that you meet your challenges this year. Getting out for a wild camp is an excellent idea, the best way to experience the hills.

  12. Brilliant stuff James. Your plethora of trips always inspire and entertain and that was another vintage year. I’ve enjoyed reading all about your adventures in 2014 but Sarek really stood out as a highlight. Thanks for sharing and all the best for 2015!

    • Hi Nick, thanks for that. Sarek was also a highlight for me trip wise this year, absolutely loved it. Can’t wait to get out there again later this year. Have a great hill year.

  13. Enjoyed all your write ups as always. Trouble is, the list of places I need to visit just gets longer. 🙂

  14. James I continue to enjoy your write ups and envy you your many trips to some great places. You have inspired me to do as much as I can. Last year I camped 14 nights all over the country, my best total ever. I have even bought a tarp but I need a degree in Geometry to put it up. You have also inspired me to start my own blog which is on wordpress, have a look when you have a minute. Quite a few pics of Alf my Border Terrier who is cuter than me! Thanks for the inspiration, keep up the good work.

    • If the blog is inspiring people to get out there then it is serving its purpose, thanks Mick 🙂 I have to say that a tarp is far beyond my capabilities, would not know what to do with one. I will pop over and have a look at your blog.

  15. All good stuff there, James! Glad that I/we were able to share some of those trips with you – and I am looking forward to Sarek…… 🙂


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