The Challenge of Finding a Challenge

The Challenge of Finding a Challenge

It’s that time of year where talk traditionally turns to new year’s resolutions. What better time to promise ourselves we’ll get fitter, eat better, give up alcohol… the new year gives us chance to put bad habits behind us and start afresh.

I’ve always liked the idea of resolutions but have never really set myself any. Where I’ve tried to commit to something generic – like for so many people – it’s not lasted past January.

This year’s going to be different. 2018 was all about getting back some control after being in an unfulfilling job for so long. Having more outdoor adventures this year has improved both my physical and mental health in ways I never thought possible.

With these seeds sown, I’ve been thinking for a while now about how I can use 2019 to continue this mindset and set myself a challenge. Here’s where things became difficult.

Location. That’s easy. Has to be the Lake District. It’s my ‘happy place’ and I want to get better acquainted with it.

What’s next? I want something to last the whole year. Not just a single expedition. An incentive to get into the countryside regularly, if you like. That rules out something like the Bob Graham round (I’m not hardcore enough anyway) or the Lakeland 3000s (again, I’m a bit soft).

The Wainwrights are the obvious choice but racing around these summits in a year doesn’t feel right. The fells are there to be enjoyed at leisure, not simply ticked off a list. And besides, there are many more fine peaks not included in the 214 which I’d be missing out on. I’m sure Mr W would agree with me on all counts. 

How about a trimmed down version of the Wainwrights? Pick and choose my favourites or concentrate on a particular region, say. Hmmmm – not specific enough and hardly an exciting story to tell, even if you are doing it for all the right reasons.

That’s when it hit me – why stick to mountains? It’s called the Lake District for a reason – it has lots of lakes! There’s something about water which makes me feel calm. I love the reflection of the surrounding peaks on a still day, the sound of wavelets lapping against the shore, the crunch of pebbles underfoot as you near the water’s edge. Why not use the lakes in the Lakes as the focal points for trips in 2019?

A quick bit of research helped me identify the 18 bodies of water which are considered the main ‘lakes’ in the Lake District. This number, and the candidates on the list, are both up for debate but more on this another time.

The more I looked into this idea, the more I became hooked on circumnavigating these 18 lakes over the course of a year. It’s the perfect challenge. The walks range from a couple of hours to a couple of days. It’s easy to explain to someone. It’s not particularly reliant on the weather. It’ll take me all over the District – to both areas familiar to me and new ones. Each lake forms an ideal base for some cracking fells. What’s not to like?

So, the challenge has been set. 1st January 2019 to 31st December 2019 will see me heading to the Lake District regularly across all four seasons to walk round all 18 lakes. You’ll be able to track my progress in the new Challenges section of this website. I can’t wait!

Happy new year to everyone and I hope, like me, you’ll forget about giving up chocolate – that’s never going to happen. Let’s all make 2019 the year we commit to spending more time in the outdoors!

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