In my last blog, I listed all the mishaps, lows and hilarious misadventures I had experienced in 2016. Now I turn to the highlights and good times. At this time of year, with a spangly new year full of promise on the horizon, it’s good to remember the positives and to be grateful for the good things, experiences and people present in our lives. 2016 will be a year to remember for many reasons. Importantly though, 2016 has set the scene for 2017 and the experiences, adventures and joy (and certain mishaps) yet to come. Here are my top highlights from the year.
- Starting 2016 with adventure
It was grey, foggy and cold but we donned our walking boots and headed to the hills for a New Year’s Day walk. We did set out a little too late in the day and spent about three hours walking after dark (and only once getting slightly lost) but it set up the year for embracing the outdoors and adventure.
- Ticking off five of my 40 volcanoes
It’s been a bit of a slow start to my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40) but this year I ticked off five volcanoes – Nevis Peak (Caribbean), Gran Cratere (Vulcano, Aeolian Islands, Italy), Fossa delle Felci (Salina, Aeolian Islands, Italy), Stromboli (Aeolian Islands, Italy) and Mt Etna (Sicily). Each volcano offered something different and exciting, and has really given me a buzz.
- Walking the world’s most dangerous walk
Well the Caminito del Rey in Spain was the world’s most dangerous walk – gave my mother something of a heart attack when she Googled it (obviously that is not a highlight) – but the authorities have pumped a load of money into renovating the walk and making it super safe (I’m talking hair nets and helmets). The views were spectacular – and the rock climbing while we were there was superb and I successfully climbed a 5a which is the hardest outdoor sport climb I’ve achieved to date.
- Joining the Croydon Mountaineering Club
As many people have noted: “but there aren’t any mountains in Croydon”. Correctamundo. But this lively and lovely group of people have a passion for the outdoors and regularly make their way to the spectacular crags and mountains dotted around the British Isles. They have helped form some great memories this year – from hillwalking in the Lake District to wearing crampons for the first time – and I apologise for locking them out of the hut in Snowdonia (oops!).
- Learning how to read a map and compass
To up my outdoor skills I went on a navigation course. It was excellent (even the hilariously public toilet tent) and I learnt heaps. In fact, I credit the course for helping to avoid a possible benighting in Snowdonia. Now I just have to keep practicing…
- Experiencing sunset on England and Wales’ highest mountain
Ironically getting to the summit of Mt Snowdon at sunset only came about as a result of getting the car stuck in a paddock but by golly the sunset was a stunner that turned the snow and ice gold. A truly amazing experience.
- Seeing much loved friends and family from New Zealand
I was so incredibly fortunate this year to have not one but three lots of people dear to me visit me in London. Firstly, one of my best friends who has very excitingly got engaged, then my parents flew in for a two-month road trip and finally my cousin graced the London streets. I love these guys so much – thank you for being in my life.
- Getting inspired by adventurers
It all started off with a brilliant social media workshop with the adventuring legend that is Dave Cornthwaite, which lead me to setting up a new website all by myself (seriously pleased with myself considering I’m such a technophobe) and getting to interview some top, inspiring adventurers – including: Dave Cornthwaite, Laura Maisey, Adelaide Goodeve, Stef Jackson-Horner, Ash Dykes, Russell Smith, and Jason Rawles. They’ve all done amazing things and prove that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
- Tackling my self-doubt
This was a year of awareness of my mental state realising that I was affected by self-doubt and that I suffer from imposter syndrome – all of which has been hindering my #40by40 progress. But this awareness has been something of a wakeup call and I’ve been trying to tame the self-doubt, be more positive and stop making excuses. It’s a work in progress and I’m thrilled with how far I’ve come but it has also produced a new passion to fight self-doubt more broadly. Self-doubt is something of a taboo word, no one likes acknowledging they have been afflicted because it reeks of weakness. I believe there is a silent epidemic of self-doubt that is holding people back from their true potential and from achieving their dreams. I want to prove it doesn’t have to.
- Booking cheap flights to NZ for the next volcano instalment
Somehow my boyfriend and I miraculously scored super cheap flights to New Zealand in March 2017. Planning for this trip is underway – a wedding plus five stunning volcanoes to conquer. 2016 has truly set the wheels in motion for 2017.
Thanks 2016 for a year of ups and downs – I’m coming out of it a stronger, better person. And I can’t wait for what 2017 has in store.
What are your highlights from 2016?