Adventure, paused // Peak District, England

Adventure, paused // Peak District, England

Adventure, paused // Peak District, England

Adventure, paused // Peak District, England

Sheffield, perched teasingly on the outer edge of the Peak District National Park, is a city for adventurers. It’s the centre of England’s rock climbing community, has excellent mountain biking trails plus over 1400 square kilometres of running and walking tracks, caves and wild swims in the Peaks. What happens when this artery is cut, when the lockdown ‘stay local’ rule means staying within the city limits for people who usually really don’t like staying within limits?

Emerging from the tree plantation out onto the open moors had meaning beyond just leaving behind the last remnants of the city; it was a true escape from the lockdown. The uphill slog out of the city, passing through wooded parks, over playing fields and finally to the ancient woodlands marking the edge of the Peaks District seemed to release the tension of being inactive for much of the week. The breeze had a chill to it; the mud had frozen over with the higher elevation, giving a satisfying crunch as I ran along the wandering paths. Out on the moor, snow had fallen over the heather, the expanse of whiteness punctured only by large sandstone outcrops. It was magical.

I was out of breath, my body unaccustomed to this level of activity thanks to boozy Netflix evenings and the ‘house arrest’ we all found ourselves in.  I wanted to run as far as I was allowed which meant the other side of Burbage Moor to Higger Tor (Sheffield’s boundary), a fantastic high outcrop with sweeping views far out towards Hope Valley and with an iron-age fort further down the same ridge. Following a lone hiker’s footprints in the deep powdery snow, I ran with abandon trying to avoid crashing through the ice covering deep muddy bogs. Even when I slipped into the cold slimy mud, completely encasing my feet I couldn’t help but laugh. It felt like a real adventure and nothing could dampen my good mood. Few people had ventured this far as the roads were snowed under and this led to the feeling that I could have been in the Alps, the Dolomites or even the mountains of New Zealand.

Sheffield, perched teasingly on the outer edge of the Peak District National Park, is a city for adventurers. It’s the centre of England’s rock climbing community, has excellent mountain biking trails plus over 1400 square kilometres of running and walking tracks, caves and wild swims in the Peaks. What happens when this artery is cut, when the lockdown ‘stay local’ rule means staying within the city limits for people who usually really don’t like staying within limits?

Emerging from the tree plantation out onto the open moors had meaning beyond just leaving behind the last remnants of the city; it was a true escape from the lockdown. The uphill slog out of the city, passing through wooded parks, over playing fields and finally to the ancient woodlands marking the edge of the Peaks District seemed to release the tension of being inactive for much of the week. The breeze had a chill to it; the mud had frozen over with the higher elevation, giving a satisfying crunch as I ran along the wandering paths. Out on the moor, snow had fallen over the heather, the expanse of whiteness punctured only by large sandstone outcrops. It was magical.

I was out of breath, my body unaccustomed to this level of activity thanks to boozy Netflix evenings and the ‘house arrest’ we all found ourselves in.  I wanted to run as far as I was allowed which meant the other side of Burbage Moor to Higger Tor (Sheffield’s boundary), a fantastic high outcrop with sweeping views far out towards Hope Valley and with an iron-age fort further down the same ridge. Following a lone hiker’s footprints in the deep powdery snow, I ran with abandon trying to avoid crashing through the ice covering deep muddy bogs. Even when I slipped into the cold slimy mud, completely encasing my feet I couldn’t help but laugh. It felt like a real adventure and nothing could dampen my good mood. Few people had ventured this far as the roads were snowed under and this led to the feeling that I could have been in the Alps, the Dolomites or even the mountains of New Zealand.

Peak District 2
Peak District 2

Just before the first lockdown I’d returned from seeing family in New Zealand and wished to be back there now, free to venture where I wished, unrestrained as we are in England by a lockdown largely imposed because of government incompetence. Their government had taken decisive action instead of just giving floppy words – that’s what hurts the most; it didn’t have to be this way. The suffering that many of the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities have gone through could have been avoided; with everyone’s mental health weakened, issues will be stored up for future years.

Running back to the city through the plantation I passed some mountain bike trails I’d been on a few weeks earlier; dog walkers were out, hikers, trail runners and groups of mountain bikers. How many had recently discovered these sports to escape the city? Closer to the centre the parks were crowded, people busy chatting to friends as they wandered anywhere they could; rock climbers using artificial climbing rocks dotted around the city’s parks to keep their strength and fitness going until we are all finally released.

The year we all want to forget ever happened has led us all to reconsider what our lives are about, what really brings us joy and happiness. When summer arrives and some normality appears again, how many of us will want to change our careers, change where we live, even change what brings us purpose? Until then, the expanses of the countryside, for those of us lucky enough to live close by, can provide a place for contemplation, escape and a little bit of joyous adventure.

Just before the first lockdown I’d returned from seeing family in New Zealand and wished to be back there now, free to venture where I wished, unrestrained as we are in England by a lockdown largely imposed because of government incompetence. Their government had taken decisive action instead of just giving floppy words – that’s what hurts the most; it didn’t have to be this way. The suffering that many of the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities have gone through could have been avoided; with everyone’s mental health weakened, issues will be stored up for future years.

Running back to the city through the plantation I passed some mountain bike trails I’d been on a few weeks earlier; dog walkers were out, hikers, trail runners and groups of mountain bikers. How many had recently discovered these sports to escape the city? Closer to the centre the parks were crowded, people busy chatting to friends as they wandered anywhere they could; rock climbers using artificial climbing rocks dotted around the city’s parks to keep their strength and fitness going until we are all finally released.

The year we all want to forget ever happened has led us all to reconsider what our lives are about, what really brings us joy and happiness. When summer arrives and some normality appears again, how many of us will want to change our careers, change where we live, even change what brings us purpose? Until then, the expanses of the countryside, for those of us lucky enough to live close by, can provide a place for contemplation, escape and a little bit of joyous adventure.

  • Alone On Mykines // Faroe Islands // RW1
  • French Mountain-Fearing // RW2
  • Arctic Circle Trail // Greenland // RW1
  • From Them, Came Us // Namibia // RW3
  • Lost in Hope // England // RW4
  • Alone On Mykines // Faroe Islands // RW1
  • French Mountain-Fearing // RW2
  • Arctic Circle Trail // Greenland // RW1
  • From Them, Came Us // Namibia // RW3
  • Lost in Hope // England // RW4