The Rambling Man Trail Walking and Wainwright Bagging Review, 2023

Published 17 December 2023

Large metal sculpture at the entrance of Burrs Country Park. the design is based around an old mill wheel, with stylised metal fishes and birds added on.
It’s winter right now. And it’s cold. So we all go burrs….

Well that’s another year almost gone. The ability for time to fly really never ceases to amaze me. It feels like mine has been incredibly busy, although I’m still not entirely sure quite what I’ve actually done. For the most part, anyway. What I do know is that I’ve spent far too much time, looking at high schools, researching heat pumps and solar panels, looking at kitchen cabinet designs, and buying tins of paint and radiators.

Oh, and getting wet. Wow, has it been wet this year. Certainly in the North West it has. Our garden’s like a complete swamp, it’s been raining so much. The other day I was thinking about whether I could go out for a walk. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything locally. But it’s been a struggle to find a free weekend where it’s not been completely bucketing it down. The thought of going for a walk and finding a complete mudbath, well it just didn’t appeal.

But anyway, I have managed to get out and about. And as is traditional, I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to.

Trail Walking

Woodland path through Cadora Woods
Woodland walking on the Offa’s Dyke Path.

This year I set myself a goal to walk some of the Offa’s Dyke Path. Not all of it, but some.

For those that don’t know, the Offa’s Dyke Path roughly follows the route of Offa’s Dyke, a man-made feature running along the border of England and Wales. It’s 177 miles long and goes from near Chepstow in the south, to Prestatyn in the north.

I started it at the end of March, which – due to mud – proved not to be the best time of the year for it. In the first stint, I made my way to Knighton, stopping at a haunted pub, the world’s first book town, and crossed the England/Wales border many times.

Those 75 miles were followed by a second trip in more favourable weather. Passing the half way point, I made it to the edge of Welshpool. And, err, tripped up crossing a road and badly bruised my ribs. So, yeah, that was successful. I spent about a month in quite some pain after that.

My quest to carry on the GM Ringway has also continued, although due to poor weather and all those things above, I’ve only made it out a pitiful twice. I’ve made it half way round, although at the rate of progress I’m currently doing, it’s going to be 2030 before I finish it!

Wainwrights

A rainbow over a path near Watendlath in the Lake District
All above the Lake District paths, Rainbow flying high.

At some point during 2023 I wrote a very long blog post about how the Lake District is my happy place. And then promptly binned it as it seemed rather pointless, was painful to read, and generally the world could easily have done without it.

But needless to say, the Lake District is my happy place. I love going there. Although it’s a little frustrating when you’re there and the weather’s bad!

See above about the rain…

Anyway I did make it to the Lakes. One visit was to Wastwater, and the second to Keswick. And I did do some Wainwrights. Nowhere near as much as I wanted to do, unfortunately. But that’s the way it goes sometimes, doesn’t it?

Anyway, let’s dig into the detail.

Number of Wainwrights Bagged

The more Wainwrights you bag, the fewer there are for you to do in the future. And hey, there are only 214 of them. And this doughnut chart shows rather nicely, how many I’ve done and not done. Every year it goes down. A little bit.

In 2020 I reached the half way point in my Wainwright bagging. And as the chart shows, I’m now not that far off the three quarters mark. It’s pretty obvious that all being well, next year I should tip over.

Number of Wainwrights Bagged per Year

This year I managed to get up 13 new Wainwrights (for good measure, I made it up Scafell Pike for the second time.) It was a much smaller number than I’d planned. Heavy cloud thwarted me on two walks, meaning seven fells I’d planned to do, didn’t get done. And an eighth I ruled out on the day when I saw the ridge walk I was planning to do, looked like it required an incredibly horrible scramble.

Although eight got ruled out, I did manage to visit three others that I hadn’t planned. Hence the 13. And trying to think positive, it wasn’t the worst weather you can have. Unlike 2021, there was, at least, no flooding.

Average Fells Per Year

Rumours that I’m obsessed with charts are entirely correct. I do like a good chart. So here’s a new one. It shows the average number of fells I’ve done each year. It’s a crude measurement. Total number of fells done in total up to each year, divided by the number of years. And it’s been going up every year, bar two small dips – 2016 when we moved out of London and our daughter was born, and 2021 when Covid and flooding had an impact.

I’m currently on 10.8 fells a year. Assuming that doesn’t change much, and with 62 left to go, we’re talking about another seven years to finish the rest. So we’re currently looking at a finish of 2030. A prediction that’s remained pretty static for the last few years.

But is that a fair prediction? I’m generally doing more fells per year than I was ten years ago. So perhaps I should be basing my predictions on a slightly different metric? Perhaps an average of the last five years instead? If I do that, then it comes out as 14.4 fells per year. And using that figure suggests a completion of 2028 instead.

And keeping in mind that one of the walks I have yet to do is the Kentmere Horseshoe that will bag in a whopping ten fells in one day alone, 2028 feels like it could even be achievable. Although as we’ve seen this year, all it takes is a bit of bad weather to thwart your plans.

Pictorial Guides Where I’ve Visited All the Fells

It was in 2010 that I did my first Wainwright. And until last year, every addition of this chart was the same. I hadn’t completed any pictorial guides.

But last year I finished my first guide – the Central Fells. And this year, I finished my second too! Two out of seven Pictorial Guides all done! Another big moment!

To celebrate this, I thought I’d add ANOTHER new chart to this page. I present Pictorial Guides Completed Per Year! I think it really puts it all into perspective…

Here’s an annoyance though. That bad weather? The weather that meant there were some fells I was going to do, that I didn’t? Had things been different, I would have actually completed a THIRD book this year.

Oh well. Next year then.

Number of Wainwrights Visited Per Book

2022 saw me finish the Central Fells. 2023 was the South Fells. One walk doing four fells saw me finish that guide.

Also this year I managed to grab three Eastern Fells, and four in the Western. Which was the other book I had hoped to do this year? Well I could let you guess. But I won’t. It was the North Western Fells where just one walk of four fells would have seen that completed. It could easily have been the Eastern Fells where one five fell walk would have seen that book completed as well. Which will get done first? Well that will depend on the Weather.

As for the other Pictorial Guides – Western, Northern, and Far Eastern, well I’m not expecting to finish them for a few years.

The Outlying Fells

You remember how bad weather thwarted some plans? Well I still had a day to do some walking in the Lakes. But what to do? Something lower level, less impacted on the clouds, I decided.

I just happened to have Wainwright’s Outlying Fells with me. So yeah, that’s started.

This is going to be a VERY long term project. The Outlying Fells Pictorial Guide lists 56 walks, of which I’ve so far done two. My priority is on finishing the main Pictorial Guides first. But when the weather’s less than ideal, I may be dipping into this lot as well.

Expect more charts in the future, but for now, this one can cover it all off.

Looking ahead to 2024

Normally I finish off with a few notes about next year. And I have plans. But there’s also an elephant in the room that impacts everything.

For the last few months, I’ve been at risk of redundancy at work. The chances of me getting redeployment are currently looking good, but nothing is 100% guaranteed. So by some point in January I should know if I’m staying, or if I’m going. This has not been a fun situation, but there you are.

And that impacts my walking plans for next year. I may – or may not – end up with a few gaps in my schedule. If I do leave, I’m likely to take a short period off to recuperate. And that would allow me to do a bigger walk than I may be able to do otherwise.

Beyond the likelihood that I’ll do some Wainwrights, I really don’t know right now what I may be doing. Only time will tell.

Anyway, on that cheery note, I’ll finish up by saying that this is the last Rambling Man post of 2023. I’ll be back posting again in January, where there’s a whole host of stuff about the Offa’s Dyke Path to share with you. And all those 13 Wainwrights as well. It’s taken me far longer to type everything up than I’d like. But that’s the way it is sometimes. Especially when there’s new kitchens to plan.

Comments

Ste tap

7 February 2024 at 8:08 pm

Only came across this site the other day and haven’t stopped reading your exploits and finding I can relate to almost every story told a place my self in locations in many of story’s around the lakes. While also using your places of interest to furthermore my own experiences in the lakes. Throughly enjoyed your stories and simple to read while enjoyable.

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