I’ve posted previously about why you would pay to go on a walking weekend, so it’s not entirely surprising that I decided to go on the Edale Skyline trip this weekend run by Will4Adventure. However, you might think it a bit strange when you consider that it’s right on my doorstep (less than 15 miles from my house), that most of the route I’ve already walked many times previously on my own (so no route-finding problems in unknown territory) and that I have plenty of friends to go walking with. So it might seem a bit odd that I chose to go on a guided weekend to somewhere I know quite well, and pay for the privilege.
However, the thing about these trips, and I can’t emphasise this enough, is that it’s about so much more than just getting from A to B (or in this case, A to A as it’s a circular walk) and being home in time for tea and cake. Not that I would have been home in time for tea and cake anyway, as the walk took us 10 hours, and I’d then have had to wait for a train and then a bus home before I could put the kettle on. What it’s about is meeting new people, having someone plan the whole weekend for you, meeting up with old friends, learning new skills, having two fun evenings staying in a barn, and having someone else cook dinner, make the tea and most importantly carry up all the food and wine! I’d never have managed to get 12 of my friends to come on a trip like that without a lot of prior planning, not to mention the stress of arranging things like meeting up, buying and transporting food and drink, arranging the accommodation and so on. I organise a similar weekend to this a bit further afield once a year on my birthday with about 10-12 friends, and it’s great fun but a lot of organisation!
So yes, I could do it all myself, on my own or with a bunch of friends, and it would cost me virtually nothing, but it would be a very different experience. All I had to do was get the train to Hope, rock up in the pub, meet everyone, have dinner and a few glasses of wine, and then the rest was all planned out for me. I’ve made some fantastic friends on similar previous trips, and now see some of them independently from such weekends even though we live at opposite ends of the country. Other friends I see time and again on Will’s trips, even if we don’t meet up independently. I’m pretty sure if I do this trip again next year there’ll be someone I’ll know, and we’ll laugh about all the memories from this weekend: Sports Midget Gems, the merits (or horrors) of eating breakfast in your pants, the story of the Cheshire Cheese Six, the trauma of Win Hill, the manliness of white slippers and much more.
Actually I’m now trying to think if I learnt any new skills this weekend. I got to practise my map reading and navigation by constantly checking on my own map where we were and seeing if I would have chosen the right route, without having to admit when I got it wrong (I mostly didn’t). I got to chat to Will and others about the benefits of taking more courses in hill skills and navigation. I got to try out some different torches for night navigation (a particular difficulty for me). I didn’t have to practise my first aid this time luckily. But I did impart a few skills to others too: how to pack a sleeping bag, how to tell a good walking boot, and the merits of a spiky massage ball and wicking pants, amongst others, not to mention divulging a plethora of useless facts (did you know that in 1998, 59 people in the UK were injured by Blu Tack?). I also got to push my limits by doing a longer walk than I’d have done on my own – just over 18 miles in 10 hours. Of course, the downside is that now I’ve been convinced into doing more trips. My next challenge might well be Will’s 50 mile Challenge for Charity, once I have a new pair of shoulders. Oh dear, what have I let myself in for?