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2021 and the year ahead

Striding Edge on Helvellyn in great shape.

As we head into the new year and say farewell to what has certainly been a year that no one could have predicted, I thought I would do a round up blog and look forward to 2021 from a professional stance and where Wild Path stands in the current climate.

Working with the Rift Valley Adventures team in the early part of 2020, I was blissfully unaware of what the year had in store. Exploring remote rock towers and leading superb bike expeditions in Northern Kenya, I didn't foresee making a last minute dash to the last flight out of Nairobi to the UK for a national lockdown and the ensuing nationwide mess that would see us into the following year. The pandemic is in no way under control and is continuing to cause huge disruption to livelihoods and tragic loss of life. The UK seems to be having an especially hard time with Covid; a combination of factors but it's not going away any time soon and is now worse than it was in the height of the outbreak.

On the positive side, the past few months have allowed us time to take stock, reconnect with friends and family and for Ness and I to settle in a wonderful part of the country. It has also provided more time to focus on Wild Path, so that when things return to normality, we are able to provide the services listed on the site once again. I am fortunate to live in an area where winter has arrived and provided me with the opportunity to explore the winter mountains.

Looking across Nethermost and Dollywagon Pike

Looking forwards into 2021 from a work perspective is a little hard to do at the moment as the nation is nearly all in Tier 4, which means that it is not possible to run courses currently. Firstly, I would like to thank all those who have enquired about skills courses this winter and for bookings to remain in place, so that, fingers crossed, things may go ahead in the later part of the season. The conditions at the moment are perfect for winter skills in The Lakes, which are becoming ever more fickle as the climate changes. The conditions in Scotland this season have been excellent but in my opinion, whilst very keen to get up there from a professional and personal standpoint, I think it would not be right to do so. Everyone is trying to make sure they stay safe in their own areas and travelling large distances to remote areas is not fair on those highland communities, as well as being unfair on those who are respecting the rules and waiting patiently for the green light. In short, WildPath's current position in terms of providing courses is that we are not operational. Encouraging people to travel and mix seems at odds with trying to stop a virus spreading. We welcome enquiries and are more than happy to discuss ideas and design courses for when it's possible to deliver them. However, in the current climate it's not the right thing to be operating. Our eyes are firmly glued to developments in the hope things will change for the better. We are able to take bookings and under our terms and conditions and stated on our booking forms, they would be provisional bookings, with fully refundable costs including the deposit, should things not be able to run due to Covid.

We are developing a new course which is a one day Lakeland Mountain Safety Course which will be launched soon. It is aimed at delivering mountain safety skills for both summer and winter travel in the mountains, so stay tuned for further details on the blog and website. I am also hoping that I might be able to rejoin the Rift Valley team for some work in East Africa, which would be a welcome few weeks of sunshine in the early part of this year, so long as its possible to travel and things can go ahead.

Aside from that, work is a more desk based affair with tasks such as creating online booking systems on the site, updating and creating various documents (such as booking forms and Covid disclaimers) which are all available on the site. So, whilst work is ongoing, it's just not of the practical nature in the mountains at the moment. The work is administrative - which ordinarily I would do pretty much anything to avoid!

On a personal level, it's important to keep current and with the arrival of winter it has been great to have some mountains in the county and be able to to get out and keep in shape. I've had some excellent days out in varying conditions. Recently, conditions have been in great shape and have required an axe and crampons on the higher mountains. It's sad that as the winter conditions are looking good that many are not able to get to them to enjoy it. In between tiers and various restrictions, I've managed to have a few nice days and have put some images below from those:

So as things stand, it's really a case of watching and seeing what happens. I shall try to get some things on the blog over the coming weeks with regards to new courses and general info to perhaps inspire you whilst we wait for some normality to return. For those who are able to access the Lakes there is the Lakes weather-line page which is updated daily and offers a good view on whats happening on Helvellyn. Please also check this page for guidance on the Lakes' Covid related restrictions and measures.

There is a Covid page on the site which is updated as and when things change and we shall put out an update once we are able to begin operating in the mountains.

In the meantime stay safe and best wishes for 2021 and look forward to seeing you on the hills in the coming months.

Dan Goodwin, Founder.

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