I am a long distance hiker, and indeed a short distance one as well. I have published articles for several magazines – Country Walking, Trail and Adventure Travel. My books include ‘The Journey in Between’, an account of my 1,000 mile hike on El Camino de Santiago, and ‘The Last Englishman’ about my 2,650 mile adventure on The Pacific Crest Trail. My next book – ‘Balancing on Blue’ will be released early in 2013 and chronicles my 2,178 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail.
What is it about the outdoors? There is something about being out there that amazes me. We are meant to be out in the wild. Human beings have spent the vast proportion of their existence in the wild. The vast proportion. Towns and cities are a creation we invented only recently. Our bodies are still becoming used to them, we are not actually meant to be there. This is why myself, the friends I walk with, run with and most of the people I meet revel in the experience.
It’s the same for a solitary canoeist paddling around Newfoundland. The same for a climber setting foot on top of Everest. A person in a hang glider soaring over the Pyrenees experiences this feeling too, as does a sailor rounding Cape Horn. Yes, it’s about the adventure, the challenge. It is, however, primarily because our bodies realise that that is where we were nurtured, where we spent our infancy, that is where we were raised.
We are meant to be out there, it’s is embedded in us, it is comforting and it is natural. This is why it feels so right.
You can hear a recent inteview with me and David Lintern shortly after I returned from the Appalachian Trail here:
Born in the south of England and having lived on the edge of a small village, the countryside was my playground. Fond memories of Summers spent mucking around in the woods with my mates still stay with me. There were no mobile phones or iPods then, we made our own entertainment,
At 16 I tried my first long walk, taking on the South Downs Way, a 110 mile route through the heart of Sussex downland. Biking took over during my twenties and I still take the occasional ride but my heart lies in walking. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other is the appeal, it’s uncomplicated. I’ve never been one to require an in depth understanding of something to appreciate it, the simpler the better. Walking is the simplest and oldest form of travel. It is designed to get us from one point to another with the minimum of fuss and at a pace that allows us to notice our environment which we would normally miss.
We live in a world where we feel the desire to make everything quicker in order to free up more time, which we then fill with more crap. When it all gets too meaningless for me (which is often) I feel the need to escape. To be part of the great outdoors, with all my belongings strapped to my back, to be able to camp wherever takes my fancy and to have no decisions to make other than where and when to sleep and eat clarifies, simplifies and puts the world in perspective.
The pages on this website detail my walks and other adventures. Come with me and enjoy a little clarification . . .
(Photo: Josh Myers)
Look at what I have in store for you all in 2013!
2013 has the makings of being a great year for the website. My Appalachian Trail thru-hike account – ‘Balancing on Blue’ has been delayed a little, I hope to release my latest book sometime in the summer but for the foreseeable future I shall be concentrating on blogging.
So, what’s in store? Lots, LOTS of exciting stuff!
I have guest bloggers lined up eager to share some interesting, original and readable posts -
Getting down to the nitty gritty with Andrew Skurka:
Andrew, perhaps the most well-known thru-hiker of current times has done some ludicrous distances in equally ridiculous times. A Q&A departing from the normality of ‘What do you eat’ or ‘How many miles do you walk in a day’ is not to be expected. To get this guy’s attention I have to try a little harder.
How many times would he admit to falling over and did anyone film it? What does his girlfriend think? What’s the deal with 25 miles by lunch Andrew?
David has a keen eye for a good photo having recently won 1st prize in the ‘Mountains and Me’ category at the 10th Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival 2012. He also was responsible for interviewing me after my Appalachian Trail thru-hike this year for his radio feature. David always has an interesting outlook and a different slant on what’s going on.
(Photo: David Lintern)
Having moved to Norway this year and getting engaged, Helen admits she has not has as much time as she would like in the hills this year but she writes extremely well and anything she does come up with I’m sure will be excellent.
No introductions needed. Chris has written countless books and is well respected in outdoor circles. Having walked away with Best Outdoor Book of 2012 at the recent TGO Awards he has numerous projects lined up next year including a filmed documentary of the Cairngorm Mountain Range, produced with Terry Abraham and also a walk along the Scottish Watershed.
We’re going to talk gear because I know you’re all gear geeks at heart. I aim to have a new gear testing section up and live at some point with reviews of some of the best stuff out there. No holds barred, if it’s any good I’ll tell you about it and if it’s rubbish you’ll know as well. OK, so I may be getting some stuff for free to review but that ain’t going to sway me.
Rand Lindsley of Trail Designs:
The genius behind the Caldera Cone cooking system will be doing a question and answer feature so I can get behind the man with the plan. Responsible for the most original, efficient, lightweight alcohol cooking system out there, this guy has a lot to answer for!
Not to leave out Chris McMaster from ULA Equipment either:
ULA have been knocking out some of the best packs on the market for a few years now. Thru-hike the PCT, AT, CDT or whatever floats your boat and you’ll see most hikers carrying a ULA pack. What makes the man tick and how have they managed to corner one of the most difficult sections of the outdoor gear market?
Rod Java from Stickpic:
Rod Java, the brains behind Stickpic talks to me. Rod is responsible for one of the simplest, lightest, cheapest, most useful and original pieces of gear to hit the outdoor market in years. The amount of times I have been asked – ‘How do you manage to film yourself whilst walking’? will be revealed here.
Ron Bell from Mountain Laurel Designs:
We miss out on the some classy gear in the UK because sometimes we just can’t get stuff over here. OK, we can mail order but it is nice to see equipment before parting with our wages. Mountain Laurel Designs produce some amazing hiking gear from cuben fibre shelters; ultra-light weight quilts (a personal favourite of mine as I used one on the Appalachian Trail), and backpacks to name a few. Ron talks to me about how he’s managing to do so well in a competitive market.
Aimee Gasparre from Nalgene:
The company who have managed to take carrying water to a whole new level. Let’s get into Aimee’s head and in particular, what is the reason behind the monumental success of the 32oz Widemouth? This classic water bottle is still going strong after years on the market.
Josh Myers at Trekking Photography:
Josh, or Pockets as he is known is doing some amazing stuff with a camera. I walked with him on the Pacific Crest Trail and he was taking amazing shots back then. Now, his popularity has rocketed and when you look at his work, it is not hard to see why.
He talks to me about his love for outdoor photography, his plans and reveals a few secrets for taking a great shot.
The 35 Year Walk
Really?! This post I hope to have up late December. See why upto 20 walkers gather each year at a quiet railway station near Brighton and walk 15 miles to the charming village of Alfriston, nestled on the base of the South Downs. Why do we let off fireworks? What the hell is the ‘Feeling of the Marble’ and why does the local pub let in all of us smelling, dirty and wet to sing Christmas carols completely out of tune whilst a lady travels many miles just to fillde with her keyboard?
I’m still trying to work this one out myself.
The Great Outdoors Challenge 2013
I am taking part in May. I have always wanted to walk across Scotland and the challenge also takes place in May, generally regarded as the best month up there to possibly get some decent weather. Pick your start point on the west coast, figure out a route and decide where you want to finish from 10 points on the east coast. And, it’s not a race. 2 weeks with some like-minded individuals experiencing one of the most rewarding outdoor places in the world in absolutely no rush.
I’ll be blogging, photographing, videoing and ‘oing’ whatever takes my fancy. Be there from 10th to 24th May!
The Outdoor Show
The Outdoor Show 2013 hits the Excel in London for 3 days starting on January 17th.
I’ll be up there on Friday 18th taking a look around, taking photos of the new stuff and sticking a camera in people’s faces so it annoys them. I’ll report on what’s going on.
There’s be shed loads more as well! Subscribe (see the right hand margin) for news as it comes out.