Welcome to 2021 In Pictures. As we usher in this brand new year we thought we’d share a few photos that sum up the unusual year just gone. Twelve of our favourite shots that capture the essence of the year and show some of the adventures we had. Some of these are personal missions and others snapshots from courses or private sessions. We hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed putting them together.
For people around the world the times we have recently lived through have been unprecedented. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc and so many of us have been affected in so many ways. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones or who have suffered financial loss. It has also caused us all to completely change the way we live our lives. We certainly don’t underestimate the effects this has had on people’s wellbeing.
But, adversity can also bring creativity. With travel curtailed and many restrictions, we’ve all had to find a new way to enjoy the outdoors. Adventures closer to home and within guidelines. In offering 2021 In Pictures we wanted to offer a snapshot of some moments from this year that will live long in our memories. We decided to only feature twelve and, believe, us, we had to be ruthless to make this limited selection!
With travel plans scuppered, we all had to find adventure close to home and we don’t underestimate how lucky we are to live and play in the heart of the Peak District National Park. For our January shot we chose an evening mountain bike ride we enjoyed into the nearby Derwent Valley. Some of the best riding we’ve found anywhere and, on this occasion, in sublime conditions.
By February it was clear our Scotland winter season and Norway Ice Climbing Trips were off the agenda due to government restrictions. Luckily, the Peak District also enjoyed a prolonged spell of great winter conditions as compensation. We ensured our adventures stayed in line with guidance, but also were able to enjoy some lovely local days out. We set the challenge of completing all the 41 scrambles in the Dark Peak Scrambling guidebook and it proved a worthy focus. Our photo shows a stunning sunrise on The Great Ridge after a winter ascent of Mam Tor Gully and heading towards Back Tor Gully.
Winter came and went as it often does and March brought milder weather and plenty of rainy days. Even so, it is always possible to get out and enjoy some adventures if you are wiling to make the effort. Here is a photo from a wet but fun ascent of the classic Wildboar Clough near Glossop as we completed the last few Dark Peak Scrambles.
By April there is plenty of scope for gritstone climbing and we enjoyed some stunning sunny spring days last year. We wanted our 2021 In Pictures collection to represent the pure joy of gritstone climbing and it doesn’t get better than this. Here is the photogenic and fantastic Chequer’s Buttress at Froggatt Edge.
As May came around the restrictions allowed for limited travel. We were quick to take advantage of the chance to explore more widely. A family camping trip to North Wales offered time at Holyhead Mountain (pictured) and on the Gogarth sea cliffs. As much as we love the Peak District, it felt great to be back at the coast.
Once people could travel more freely it was clear how keen everyone was to enjoy some outdoor adventures. We were soon inundated with bookings for all our courses. So, we thought it only right that our 2021 In Pictures collection reflected some of the range of adventures we shared. First up is a shot from one of the many Learn to Lead courses we delivered. Infact, we delivered more Learn to Lead courses last year than any other year in our company history.
We also spent plenty of time delivering courses in Snowdonia. We deliver plenty of multi-pitch climbing courses in this North Wales playground and it really is very hard to beat for the acres of easy access and superb quality routes. It is also home to the most amazing scrambling and here’s a shot from one of our regular scrambling courses. Scrambling offers a fantastic way to explore the mountains and we simply love sharing the skills needed to make course participants independent scramblers.
The school holidays brought many families to the Peak District and it was great to be able to share some great adventures with fantastic groups. Summer is always busy and yet the staycation effect definitely brought far more visitors than normal. We work with people of all ages and thought the younger end of the spectrum should definitely be represented. Here is 7 year old Freya showing the grown ups how to abseil with style.
One of the COVID casualties has been the cancellation of our annual Pick & Play Litter Collection events in both 2019 and 2020. Fortunately, by the end of the summer it seemed reasonable for us to run a scaled down version. We wondered how willing people would be to get involved again but really needn’t have worried. We had soon allocated every place and it felt so positive to welcome 60 participants who willingly gave up their time to clean up the national park. Thanks as always to our great sponsors Rab, Lowe Alpine, Nikwax and Hydroflask for supporting this event. A big thanks also to our Pick & Play partners the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers.
We are cheating a bit for October because the photo below was actually taken on a trip to Pembroke in September. It is just that we love this photo and wanted to include it. We had such a treasured visit to this South Wales treasure trove and this shot of the classic Ethos at Carreg Y Barcud conjures up the amazing climbing offered on this stunning coastline.
One of the positive aspects of the pandemic has been searching out close to home hidden gems. In some cases these have been places we haven’t visited before. Others are places we’ve not been to for ages. We had some lovely gentle autumn weather in November and made the most of it with visits to places like the tranquil Rivelin Edge. The photo shows the classic HVS Croton Oil.
By December we were back in the thick of another COVID wave (you don’t need us to remind you of that!). Even so, there were still some options to travel. So, after 20 months without an overseas trip we decided to head to sunnier climbs. We have been regular visitors to the Costa Blanca for years and love this area of Southern Spain. There are amazing sport climbing options in this area, but also some brilliant long mountaineering adventures on offer. Our final picture of the year shows Cal high on the Toix ridge enjoying a stunning cloud inversion and beautiful sunset. It was the perfect positive way to round off a year of highs and lows.
Looking Ahead Positively To 2022
We really hope you’ve enjoyed our brief 2021 In Pictures round up. We also hope you were able to enjoy some adventures of your own over the past year. But we also wanted to wish anyone who has read this far our sincerest best wishes for the coming year. Hopefully some of those reading will join us for an adventure at some point and others will make their own plans. Either way, let’s all hope 2022 offers us plenty of opportunities and a more ‘normal’ existence.