My love of the outdoors came from the cradle. As a child all our holidays were taken at a small cottage in Threlkeld underneath the looming presence of Blencathra. After climbing the Wainwrights in the Lake District I moved on to Scotland, completing the Munros (and Tops) on my 40th birthday.
By then we had moved in to the small village of Long Preston in the Yorkshire Dales and I was growing increasingly fond of the rolling landscape of dry stone walls, sheep and beautiful villages. Walking in the Yorkshire Dales is different to the Lake District and Scotland, less hard but more interesting. I use the word ‘explore’ a lot in relation to the ‘Dales’ (it’s not actually just Yorkshire but Cumbria and, dare I say, Lancashire as well) because on a Dales walk the landscape is ever changing and more naturally alive. The scenery is great but so is the mark of man, the farms, the barns, the ancient historical sites and the tranquillity. I even have a bird song app to improve my bird spotting!
In 2010 my passion became a job when I sent up Where2walk. Early on I met Debbie and Andy on a short walk to Gordale Scar. We struggled to get there due to the condition of the path and it was so obvious that even the most popular paths were not set up for all. From then on we set ourselves challenges. With the help of an All Terrain Wheelchair, but more so the determination of both Debbie and Andy, we planned a Coast to Coast crossing, the climb of Lakeland fells but more particular the accessibility of the Yorkshire Dales. A very wet crossing of the full Howgills spine proved more than anything to me what could be done.
Accessing the hills and remote areas mean so much to so many. It is not just access for those in a wheelchair but access for all. Not just those with a physical disability but those who simply struggle to get as far as they would like. Walks without Stiles is a good start but so is accurate information and a positive attitude. Debbie has since climbed many of the ‘Dales 30’ Mountains, all the mountains within the National Park over 2,000 feet high. If anything proves what is possible this does.
I run Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. I run one day and weekend Navigation courses, guided days in the Dales and Lakes and set up self guided walking holidays for those with less knowledge of the area. I have also written 2 books on the mountains of the Dales; an in depth guide book on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and the only guide book on the ‘Dales 30’. You are also unlikely to see me on the hills without my border collie!