Backpacking – The best way to enjoy the great outdoors. A look back at 2012.

The Langdale Pikes, winter dawn
If you’re into backpacking, then scenes like this can be two a penny – if you’re not, then what are you waiting for?!

Happy 2013 folks. Hope it turns out to be a good’un for you all. Mine’s started out on a bit of a whimper thanks to the miserable weather we’re experiencing. I’m stuck at home waiting to pounce and head out onto the hills to get working. Particularly on ‘The Cairngorms in Winter with Chris Townsend’ project.

Thanks to all those who’ve pledged on that, by the way. Me and Chris are truly grateful and humbled. We’ve been planning locations for shoots for a wee while, and it’s only been in the past few days we’ve decided on the final areas we’re going to film. Needless to say, not every trip I make up to the Cairngorms will involve me working with Chris. I’ve got a fair bit of ground to cover and capture looking at their finest.

I’ll more than likely spend several days hiking and camping “chasing the light” and various vantage points to form some (hopefully) fine backdrops to accompany any shoots I do with Chris towards the end of any period I’m up there. I’m really looking forward to it but at the same time I’ll be sad to be away from home and family for long and regular periods.

Talking about camping…..I thought it be nice to share with you a selection of pictures I’ve captured during the course of 2012. Some favourite scenes that bring back memories. It’s no visual extravaganza. Just scenes that touch upon some happy memories for me. If you’re new to the outdoors or perhaps backpacking, hopefully they’ll inspire you to give it a go! Looking through them myself makes me grin from cheek to cheek.

I’ve got to admit, much of 2012 passed by in a blur. Consequently the photos help me to recollect long, tiring days in wind and rain, along with happy times up on the tops with a beer in hand at camp and of course lovely low-level walks as I made my way from points A to B. I hope you like them and Happy New Year! All the best to you and your loved ones….

Ramshaw Rocks, Peak District
January got off to a fine start for me. Here’s Ramshaw Rocks in the Peak District. Twas a stunning morning which involved a breathtaking cloud inversion – some of which can be seen creeping over the hills here.

Force Ten Helium 100, wild camping
February saw me back in The Roaches area. Again, superb wintry conditions at a camp with a Force Ten Helium 100 by Doxey Pool.

The Roaches, Peak District National Park
I recall sat behind some rocks for nearly 2 hours waiting for the clouds to part and nearly gave up and headed off elsewhere, when this fine view revealed itself. Again, in February and from The Roaches looking south.

Vaude Bivi 1
March saw me in the Dark Peak of the Peak District. I remember this morning very well. I slept like a log that night after a long walk. And despite the cold temps, I was toasty and snug in this Vaude Bivi 1.

Hordron Edge stone circle, Peak District
A place that keeps calling me back – Hordron Edge stone circle in the Peak District.

Vaude Bivi 1, wild camping
Shhh! That’s Stanage Edge in the background….

Kinder Low, Peak District
Some rocks near Kinder Low at night in April. One of my favourite pictures this. Uncanny too. As I’ve sold a few prints of this scene in the past few months. Not something I expected to happen, let me tell you.

Wolfscote Dale, Peak District
April saw me and my mate Eion enjoying a few days hiking besides the River Dove in the Peak District, from Dovedale through the valleys to Chrome Hill – via some pubs en route. Was a good trip that, if cut short due to piss poor weather.

Sulber Nick, Martin Rye
May saw me out with friends again. This time with Martin Rye and Andrew Mazibrada in the Yorkshire Dales. Here’s Martin snaking his way through Sulber Nick one fine day. What a place to explore that is!

Bill Birkett
May saw a trip to the Lake District on a shoot, where I bumped into a chap I’ve always held in high regard. Bill Birkett! Having a few pints outside The Old Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale.

wild camping, Lake District
The lovely Langdale Pikes in May. Here you’ll see my friend Stuart relaxing under a Terra Nova Competition Tarp 1 I had on test. Poor fella was bored as I insisted on waiting for the right view at the right time on a shoot.

Vango Apex 200, wild camping
The back end of May saw me back in the Lake District again. Here’s one of the ‘final’ photos from a shoot I was doing featuring the Vango Apex 200 tent. Damn good budget shelter too. Really liked it!

Wild camping, Lake District
Same trip out as above. And another lovely scene I’ll not forget. Yes, it looks lovely but bloody midges were out in force which kind of ruined it all really. Damn things.

Elterwater, Lake District
June must’ve been a bit of a washout. Cause I’ve got bugger all photo’s from that month. July was a little better. Here’s Elterwater, Lake District at dawn. This trip I involved me meeting up with Jake Lunniss – and we’ve become good friends since. 

Jake Lunniss, the man himself looking mighty smug sheltered under an umbrella in the rain one night by camp.

Snowdonia, wild camping
July saw me pay a few visits to Snowdonia too. What an evening this was. Part of a shoot where my friends Stuart and Dean kindly offered to be models.

Wild camping in woods
Here’s a ‘fairytale’ pic for you. Jake Lunniss had volunteered to model a tent for me on a shoot for Vango. We hunted down (well me…ha!) for a nice secluded old wood in the Peak District. I wanted to come up with something different to rugged mountains and moors and show people that backpacking can involve low level sites too. I won’t say where this was taken…..

Rab pulse jacket
More rain came in August, and thankfully the Rab Pulse jacket (fab bit of kit) valiantly repelled
the rains and kept me pretty much bone dry. Worth checking out this jacket….

Force Ten
August saw me venture onto foreign soils too. Working with Force Ten in the French Alps.

French ALps
Even though the valleys of the Alps were lovely (if a little overwhelmed by tourism), up amongst the mountains, it was a totally different world. Truly and utterly breathtaking.

Force Ten tents
One of the hundreds of pictures I captured in the Alps featuring Force Ten gear. Much of which is new for 2013 and alas, I can’t reveal too much else. I enjoyed this day though. A short climb and some spectacular views nearby of glaciers.

Howgill Fells, Cumbria
September and I was back in Blighty. This time on a trip in the wonderful Howgill Fells, Cumbria.

Sand Tarn, Wild Boar Fell, Cumbria
One night saw me enjoy this wonderful scene of Sand Tarn on Wild Boar Fell, Cumbria. Goodness! The tarn was so clear and still under the night sky.

Keith Foskett, Kinder Scout, wild camping
September saw me back in the Peak District working too. Here’s fellow backpacker (though I suspect he’d be more inclined to call himself a ‘thru-hiker’) Keith Foskett – enjoying a brew as the sunsets from Kinder Scout.

Wild camping, Rab Latok Ultra Bivi, Scotland
Scotland…..ahhhh…..what a trip that was. Can’t wait to head back. I’ll not forget this camp in the Rab Latok Ultra bivi up on Aonach Beag. Stunning.

Aonach Beag
The views from Aonach Beag were something very special indeed.

Kinder Scout wild camping
Kinder Scout in October involved a ghost hunt with friends. Nowt spooky happened. The only spirits we encountered were in the bottles we brought with us to warm our cockles at night.

Stanage Edge, Peak District
Late October and another shoot in the Peak District with Matt and Marion – a lovely couple who are frequent backpackers.

Scafell Pike, Lake District
And to December 2012 – I began filming for my documentary featuring Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 wild camping
And I suppose this makes quite an apt picture to finish off my wee reflections on 2012. A camp on Bowfell, Lake District in the Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 tent. A picture that to me personally sums up all that I love above about backpacking.


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