I was brought up on the outskirts of a Northern ex-milltown and spent my whole childhood climbing trees, riding my bike and generally playing outdoors which was encouraged by my mother during the school holidays with the exclamation of “You are either in or out – make your mind up!“. From the age of 11 onwards, myself and friends used to camp for the whole of the summer holidays in the woods next to the housing estate on which we lived, occasionally coming home for food, but generally trying to live on the cremated remains of potatoes dragged from the embers of a camp fire with a stick. The estate was situated on the suburban/rural margins, and there were just hills and moorland beyond the woods we played in. Camping was nothing new for me as all my holidays as a child were spent camping in various parts of the country; none of your foreign holidays for us, by ‘eck!
Through my teenage years my activities changed and couldn’t be further removed from being outdoors, however, in my early 20’s a work colleague re-introduced me to the delights of outdoor activities. I got my first mountain bike in 1988, and used to get out regularly into the Pennine moorland. I then started rock climbing, mountain climbing and wild camping with my work colleagues and have many happy memories (and photos) from windswept fellsides in the Lakes, usually in winter. Although the place of work has now long gone, and is a housing estate, the friendship still remains and we still get out into those hills.
Over time these activities gradually reduced to hillwalking and cycling, both of which I still do, although of late I haven’t done as much as I would have liked. I currently live in a small village situated 900 feet up in the West Pennine Moors, so the countryside is just ‘there’ when I step out of the front door.