Up a hill with nowhere to go

Published 21 January 2018. Last updated 8 July 2022

Paragliders flying above Blencathra
Paragliders flying above Blencathra

When it comes to TV programmes about walking, there’s one name that probably springs to mind these days. Julia Bradbury.

Starting off with Wainwright Walks on BBC Four, she went on to walk along canals, former railway lines, and even the Coast to Coast for the channel.

After a big name transfer, she arrived at ITV for the clumsily named Best Walks with a View, and Britain’s Best Walks.

But if there’s any problem with Julia’s programmes, it’s that the walks tend go from one place to another, ending quite often in the middle of nowhere. That’s no ending. You need to get back to where you left the car or something.

Wainwright Walks was a perfect example of this. Every show ended with Julia triumphantly arriving at the top of a fell, whilst a helicopter spun around providing dramatic footage of her standing there.

But then what? You can’t finish a walk at the top of a walk of a fell. You’d be stuck. What comes up, must come down.

Paraglider setting off from Mam Tor in the Peak District
Paragliding over the Peak District

Clearly Julia had to get down. If she hadn’t, she’d still be stood at the top of Blencathra or something. But then you don’t have to walk down, do you? There are other options? Just perhaps she took off her walking rucksack and went off paragliding instead?

There are many a felltop where you’ll find paragliders. Those dedicated people who walk up large hills with lots of equipment, then wait around for just the right wind, then launch themselves out into the air to sail away down below. I saw several on Blencathra when I visited, as well as spotting others on the Ridgeway, South Downs Way and at the summit of a snowy Mam Tor in the Peak District.

Every time I see one, I can’t help but stare in wonder as their hover through the air. Gliding gently like a bird. It must be an amazing feeling. Part of me would like to do it myself.

Although I must confess I’m not quite sure I like the idea of carrying all that equipment up to the top of a large fell, if it’s all the same.



4 February 2018 at 7:39 pm

A nice idea, but can you always land in a convenient beer garden?

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