…In which, as the year comes to its end, our friends and collaborators look back on the past twelve months and share their moments;
In times of uncertainty I find myself turning to nature more than ever.
To rock and water, soil and sky. To upland moor bogs and woodlands as silent as green cathedrals.
Place your palm on a boulder that has been knuckling its way out of the sod for four hundred thousand years and contemporary concepts such as “America”, “Britain” and Europe” suddenly appear irrelevant.
I have spent the better part of 2016 outside: walking, swimming, exploring. Picking things up, and then putting them down again. I have carved a trail through Cumbria, the Yorkshire Dales, the East Riding, Hadrian’s Wall in Northumbria, the Scottish Borders of Berwickshire and, most of all, discovered new routes around the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire which, by accident rather than design, features at the heart of several forthcoming book projects.
Climbing over stone walls and gates, rolling under fences, pushing through hedges, swimming in pools and rivers, reservoirs and waterfalls, I have made an effort to ignore borders and boundaries and taken pleasure in trespass. I have gone deep country, for it seems now, more than ever, boundaries are to be ignored.
An app tells me that I have walked five miles every day, totalling close to 1680 miles – almost exactly twice the length of Britain. I end the year wearing knee-supports, but take solace in knowing that I can jump in a river any day I please. No politician can feel as free as I do. I even got to do it on Countryfile in front of seven million people.
I feel photographs perhaps best capture some of the things I have seen in 2016: