I've been looking for a hiking group for a while. It's no secret that I love my hikes around the UK, especially from a photographic point of view, and I am delighted with the history, landscape and nature that surrounds the United Kingdom. I strongly believe that there's no better feeling than hiking up a mountain, looking down and seeing tiny little cottages, sheep, cows, green pastures and everything else that this beautiful world has to offer! Nothing quite like feeling on top of the world, even if even for a split second, only to be reminded as you head back down, that you're not in control of anything. Being at the top of a mountain really makes you feel like a small, tiny little particle of the world. So, so insignificant! And the feeling of accomplishment once you reach the top of a mountain after the struggle; the emotions that run through you as you glance down on what you've accomplished...there's no better feeling!
A few weeks ago I was challenged by my coworkers to go on a hiking trip. In fact, I was the one who saw some beautiful landscape pictures on Facebook. A few weeks go by, and there's more photos in a different place, once again with beautiful landscapes and on top of a mountain. At this point, I couldn't help but enquire about this. I was beyond intrigued! I wanted in on the fun!
After discussing things with Sandra - she's one of the managers in one of the nurseries I work for - I was strongly encouraged to give it a go! As it turns out, 'The Hiking Bunnies' was way more than simply a hiking group. Not only are these girls all friends who hike together, they also do runs together, they're all on a Weight Watchers program, and they all encourage each other throughout the challenges of this journey. The goal? To stay active by hiking challenging trails as a way to relieve the stresses from their daily lives. To me, this sounded just like poetry! I thought this way of living was simply beautiful!
I couldn't believe how many times I gave up the idea of going on a hike, simply because I would be on my own. And while hiking on your own is perfectly fine (if that works for you, great!), I am a little bit frightened of, for example, falling down and getting stuck in the middle of a huge mountain, not being able to move, and having no one near me to call for help. And that's just not my goal at the moment. Not to mention I have a HORRIBLE sense of direction, and unfortunately, due to relying too much on Google Maps and my phone, I don't think I'd be capable of reading a map! Geography was never my strongest subject at school, I'm the first to admit it!
Today was finally the day I'd hike a few mountains and trails with a fun group of people....
...But it nearly didn't happen at all, yet again! I woke up at 6am, had a shower, got dressed and prepared my gear, food and water for the trip. I was so excited I even bought some new hiking boots at Sports Direct a few days before, including a new hiking rain coat. I was ready to go!
Then, I received a text message. The whole thing had been cancelled, once again! I could not believe it! I'd been looking forward to this moment for such a long time, I wanted to cry when they broke the news: 'Abi won't make it, there will only be three of us, I don't think it's worth it'.
So there I was, my breakfast sandwich in the toaster, my coffee half drank, my boots and coat on, a beanie on my head...and they broke the news. I was devastated. Bruno had been working on night, and when I called him and told him the news, he actually considered not sleeping and going with me instead. How adorable!
Luckily, though, the deal was back on, so I rushed out the door before someone changed their minds!!!
I met the 'gang' in Battle Hill, Wallsend, parked my car and jumped in Sandra's car, ready for a morning and afternoon of adventures!
The first stop? Roseberry Topping, a tourist attraction by the National Trust. This is a distinctive hill in North Yorkshire, England. Its summit has a distinctive half-cone shape with a jagged cliff, which has led to many comparisons with the much higher Matterhorn in Switzerland. It forms a symbolic image of the area and featured as the logo for the now defunct county of Cleveland.
Sandra, her friend Lisa and I started heading towards the top of Roseberry Topping, and I quickly realised the magnitude of that incline! My GOOOOOD, was it steep!
But, unlike what you might be thinking...not everything was bad, since we were greeted by Shaun, the sheep once we hit the summit. How cute is that?
Once we reached the top, though...nothing else mattered. The view was breathtaking, the wind was blowing and I'd never felt so alive! At the top, we sat down to enjoy the view, while we had snacks and a cup of tea and coffee that we brought with us inside travel mugs. I was happy to see my new Karrimor boots covered in mud. It meant that the hike had been challenging. And boy, was it hard! I was in my element, and loving every second if it!
After relaxing for 10 minutes, it was time to head back down. By the time we reached the bottom of the hill, I checked my Apple Watch and we'd burned 1100 calories in the 60 minutes it took us to go up and back down. Not bad for a workout, if you ask me....
We could have easily called it a day, but surprisingly enough, we did pretty good timing, which meant there was time to explore one more place: the famous Man on a Hill. So, we got back in the car and drove another 20 minutes towards this incredible statue.
The Man on a Hill, also called The Seated Man and Man on the Moors is a 3 meters high, bronze sculpture by the artist Sean Henry, entitled ‘Seated Figure’. It has been installed on the North York Moors, near Westerdale. This piece is the first public sculpture to be placed within the National Park, where it's claimed it will stay for 5 years.
I thought it was super curious that there isn't much information about the meaning of the statue or why this was the place chosen for it.
I think whoever placed the statue here really wanted to be provocative and cause emotions of confusion and wonder in its visitors. But the truth is the statue is beautiful! But without any signs around the sculpture or any kind of inscriptions that give clues about its story, we're left wondering about the sculpture's purpose.
Looking closely into it, we can see that this man was married, and the fact that he's holding a briefcase could suggest he was a teacher. But his sad, tired look starring into the landscape, makes us think there's much more to his story.
I noticed that the man's expressions seem to change when you look at it from different angles. This only made me feel more curious, and it felt like I left with more questions than ever before. Who was he? What is his story? Why is he there? I wanted answers!
I took a good look at my surroundings and wondered if this man was there simply to enjoy the majestic view and all the magnificent colours of the landscape as it changes with the seasons.
Unfortunately, it was now time to head back - time to go home and return to our normal lives. But nothing will ever be normal again, after this incredible experience. Everything was transformed and regenerated. All the energy and effort put into the trails meant we got rid of all the stress from our daily lives.
As I drove back home later in the afternoon, I wondered about what new and exciting adventures next week will bring. Every Sunday we'll go on a new hike, and Sundays are now officially my favourite day of the week!
It's unbelievable to me how much these experiences change the way I see the world. It's even more incredible how much travelling and going on trips like this one brings joy to my soul. It's all about being in tune with nature and exploring what Earth has to offer. In such difficult times for our planet, and with such uncertainty of what the future will hold for our planet, I really want to fully embrace the Carpe Diem of life, as I explore more and more of the world.
Bring on next Sunday! I am ready!