Thursday, 16 April 2015

Missing the hills!

I used to go out walking a lot as I child, as a family we were one of these "walking families" every holiday was spent in a tent or a youth hostel somewhere in the UK the last walking holiday we had was to Iceland.

As a child I didn't always appreciate our holidays, it didn't seem cool and I didn't know anyone else who did this.  However as I got older I began to love it more and more.  There is nothing like getting out and about in the fresh air, and it is such a good way to bond with family.  I have many happy memories of playing with my family on camp sites in the evening and reaching breath breaking hilltop views during the day!

When I reached year 10, suddenly walking became "the thing to do" at my school!  Growing up we had the Quantocks right on our doorstep, and Dartmoor not too far away so there were plenty of opportunities to get out there.  A very popular teacher decided to introduce the Ten Tors Challenge to my year group as an extracurricular activity, it created a real buzz around the school.  He set up a boot camp style search to find the ultimate Ten Tors team.  It was the first time that anything like this had ever been done at our school and everyone was very excited.  Over 100 students applied, and there were only 6 places.  This was my chance!  A series of expeditions would be run to narrow down the applicants.  I didn't even mind if I didn't get picked, I just wanted to get out walking with my friends!  I went along to the weekly meetings where we would learn skills such as map reading and how to use our equipment properly, we were also taught survival.  My friends and I watched as our numbers diminished.  First the group was halved, then 10 people were removed at once.  It was brutal.  The teachers who were leading it made a big deal over the competition, and we hadn't even gone on our first walk yet!  My best friend and I planned to go walking to get some extra practice in, we were going to fill our rucksacks and walk along the river to start off with.  At this time my M.E. symptoms begun.  I started to miss more and more time of school, and kept the teachers informed, but they still wanted me in the group.  When it got to the point where I was no longer doing P.E. I spoke to them again, they decided to keep me in for a while in case my health improved.  One of them even tried to help by suggesting supplements to take in the hope that I might improve. Eventually I dropped out once I had missed several weeks of the meetings.

At around about the same time, the Duke of Edinburgh award started for my year group, my Dad had offered to help, and we had begun going for walks together on the Quantock Hills in the evening.  He also went to the weekly evening meetings at school, sometimes leading the sessions with another parent and a member of staff.  (Let me tell you, it's one thing meeting up in school with all your friends in non-school uniform, but it's another when if your dad is there!)  As with almost everything in my life at that time, I eventually had to drop out.  However Dad was already committed, so went ahead and began to lead groups on walks.  Not only was I missing a significant amount of school, but my friends were seeing more of my Dad than me!  The point of this, is that it was something that I wanted to do and had loved but wasn't able to take part in.

When I was at Exeter, once again a lot of people around me seemed to be walkers.  Also at almost any point in the city, you can see the surrounding hills!  Exeter is both a very small, and very hilly city!  Although I was mostly able to get to my lectures, and get to and from the shops.  I relied heavily on public transport and was greatly limited by how far I could walk, it affected me on a day to day basis.  I was trapped!  I had pangs of wanting to get out there and experience the fresh air.

Since I have come home from university, although I have been less mobile and unable to get out on my own.  My parents have been able to take me up to the hills.  We are constantly going up to the Quantoks, we sit and watch the horses and sheep with their lambs during the daytime.  In the night we look for deer on the road, and find clearings where we can get see the stars.  Most notably, my Dad took me for a drive the other night, and we went to the exact spot where we used to do our late night walks.  I couldn't help but think that life had gone full circle.  I wasn't walking, but we were there all the same, and it hadn't changed!  I find it comforting that no matter what happens, some things will always be the same, and nature is one of those things.  One day, I would like to get my walking boots back on, and go out walking in the hills, but for now I am happy being content with visiting nature from my car and staying in the car park, knowing that it will still be there for me if/when I am ready to get walking again!

What do you like to do?

No comments :

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment! I love hearing what my readers think and always try to reply to comments. If you have a blog, please link it with your comment and I will have look.