New Years eve hike in our beautiful local landscape & The end of an era!

One of the things we set out to do more of in 2015 is to get out climbing and Hiking and after finding out I need more surgery on my knee later on in the year it really kicked us into gear to get started on all our plans. With this in mind we decided to see the year out on a familiar peak close to our house and take in the area for one last time before moving away. It was great to get back out and take in the wonderful view of the snow capped hills whilst seeing the year out, but more than that it really made us feel like this was the end of an era and the beginning of a wonderful adventure filled future for us, both for 2015 and beyond!

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As well as our climbing plans for the year we would also like to get into the mountains more and get up some routes such as the magnificent sheer ridge that is Striding Edge on Helvellyn in the Lake District this year. Given this we were keen to get back out and start building my knee and also wanted to take this chance to see off the year before moving away (Back to Nic’s parents to save for long term travelling – See more about our amazing plans here: Our plan to travel in definitely from 2016!)

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Firstly we decided to head on up to the highest peak around where we live, which is “Blackstone Edge”, a gritstone outcrop standing at 1,549ft above sea level on the Pennine hills between Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. It looms large over our village and is a place both of us spent much time exploring as children growing up in the area.

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It has a mystical quality to it and has been a place of pilgrimage for hikers, climbers and druids alike for several hundred years, legend has it that these rocks were once bright white before the smog of the Industrial revolution turned them into the deep black they are today, often said to resemble Mordor!

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Many of the rocks also have what might be termed “Graffiti” in which visitors to the area in the mid-19th century would carve their names, often quite elegantly, into the rock face; the oldest I have come across is from 1857! Interestingly the peak also played an important role in the English Civil war, being fortified by 800 men who held back a Royalist cavalry attack!

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One of the cool things about up here is that on a clear day you can actually make out the mountains of North Wales, and specifically Snowdon (The tallest mountain in Wales) which we climbed both in 2013 and 2014. The trig point on Snowdon therefore marks out Blackstone Edge and its distance as one of the many other peaks visible from its summit, which we noted when we visited!

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The rock itself is beautifully carved by the wind and wild elements up here and stands as an impressive piece of natural sculpture. The rocks have been climbed for almost 100 years and do feature many established routes. However it isn’t a popular venue given its often green conditions. The local crags within walking distance; “Cows Mouth” and “Summit Quarry” provide much more developed quarried grit stone routes and we can often be found here on an evening!

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It felt like as good a time as any to take another trip back up here. It had snowed on Boxing Day and we had intended on walking the three miles from our front door up here earlier on during the Christmas holiday. It was New Year’s Eve and the snow had left a beautiful patchwork up on the hills.

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The walk felt like the end of an era, it was tinged with mixture of emotions, of new beginnings and opportunities but also leaving a place where a part of our hearts will always remain, wherever we end up. It felt like a goodbye to the village we call home, the place we have loved for the past 3 years since I returned from university, to the place we first met and had so many adventures in.

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The reason for this is due to us moving back in with my (Nic’s) parents sometime in the early part of 2015 in order to save up for a year to travel indefinitely and ultimately probably re-locate to another country (You can read all about our plans here)

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We watched the sun go down for the last time in 2014 and with that realised that although this will always be our home, it won’t be where we live for a long time, if ever again. It’s a strange feeling, one which is both sad and happy at the same time, filled with excitement and also nerves!

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This walk also illustrated to us how lucky we are to have grown up in such a beautiful area and how exploring close to home is one of the influential factors which made us what to venture further afield as we got older!

Picking the right hiking boots!

As you might know, we do a lot of hiking, not only up these local snowy hills but also up some of the UK’s highest and most challenging mountains. So it is important to make sure you have the right boots on your feet to make sure that you are both comfortable and safe when tacking mountains. Here is a great infographic from Hi-Tec on how to do just that!

How-to-pick-the-perfect-walking-boots

Check out their range of both Men’s and Women’s boots!