2010 saw the 10th anniversary of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, otherwise known as the Right to Roam, an historic piece of legislation which saw over a million hectares of open countryside in the UK classified as “access land”, and giving walkers legal entitlement to ramble across and enjoy them. Although many landowners initially opposed the legislation, time has shown that walkers are lovers of the countryside who are as concerned to treat the land responsibly as the landowners themselves.
For me 2010 was – as the say in the football world – a year of two halves. I spent the latter part of it abroad, predominantly in the Himalayas, trying to climb a couple of big mountains in Tibet and Nepal and failing miserably in the wake of huge quantities of snow (although I did manage, much to my relief, to atone for this by summiting a very big mountain in the Andes on the very last day of the year).
Alongside my passion for mountaineering in the greater ranges, however, runs an equal enthusiasm for the simpler art of UK hill walking. Before tackling those three big peaks, I spent the early part of 2010 backpacking in the Black Mountains, completing one of the Lake District’s classic two day horseshoes, scaling 19 Scottish Munros, and wandering along some pleasant day walks in southern England and the Cornish coast.
I’m sometimes asked after a big expedition whether I find the countryside in the UK a bit boring. People who ask that question probably don’t get out enough, so if anyone needs reminding, or if you just want to enjoy the great British outdoors on an evening in front of your laptop, I’ve put together a little video montage of photos from my 2010 UK walks.