Since increasing the amount that we travel I thought I would write my new year (ish) post considering the question “How much can you do in one year?”. In short, quite a lot!
Last year I tried to create a round-up of our travels from the year. I failed miserably though. Not for the want of trying mind you, it is still sitting there in my drafts! It might make it into the world one day. But for now, I think I will stick with reviewing last year as it was the first full year.
How much can you do in a year?
To be honest, the question is not really something I had given much consideration to until 2016 when we managed to take around 8 holidays in the year. Feeling pretty pleased with it and not totally broke, we realised that with clever planning and with doing local day holidays and adventures we could fit a whole lot more into the year. Without running ourselves into the ground or running out of cash.
In January, we came back from our New Year escapades (read: walking and relaxing with no signal) and started looking at how and where we’d travel in the year.
Nearby days out
January became steadily filled up with visiting nearby places for a day hike or going to parks that we hadn’t seen for a while. It was fun working our way around the places that we knew well, but seeing them in a new light as we collected them as adventures rather than just a stroll. Included in these was hiking in snow around Littleborough, seeing none of the fantastic views at Werneth Low in the thick mist and exploring Haigh Hall Country Park. Of course there were plenty of others, but I seem to have 1. omitted to write them up and 2. don’t want this to take you all day to read!
One thing that I discovered about visiting places nearby was that it felt like a holiday, even when it was just a few miles away. A slight shit in perspective and you go from “oh just the park down the road” to preparing lunch, planning for the day and making the most of the time you have to spend there. For me, it has definitely been the start of taking more day holidays to increase our adventures as well as see more of the UK within day trip reach.
Muddy hikes and dry museums around the North
Plus some city breaks. February turned out to include a lot of mud! We began the month with a very muddy trip to Pendle (which I seem to have not written up either – will promise myself to write up more this year!) where we had aimed to get to the Singing Ringing Tree but were scuppered by mud slowing us down and losing the light. Lesson there, check report and bring head torches.
February also saw adventures around the Tame Valley, a day trip to Leeds for some Thai Chi during Chinese New Year, visiting Lion Salt Works, as well as a trip to Westminster for one of Jit’s conferences. To be honest, though, even the simple things back home, like catching a sunset over Manchester from the Ikea car park feature highly in my memories of February.
We gave ourselves a taster of the Cheshire Sandstone Trail, which we now hope to complete in one day (maybe this year?). And of course, not forgetting my reverse commute around the city and exploring exactly where I live. I was pleased to get the chance to explore some urban art in the form of the Mancoralist’s exhibition of the homeless in the disused railway arches too.
March: the month of two halves
March it seems had a bit of all the weather. From rain and hard wind during my camping trip in Croston with the Outdoor Bloggers and Varta, to glorious sunshine for our first visit to Macclesfield Forest. The weather didn’t stop our adventures around the city though and also gave us the opportunity to look around some of the National Trust properties that we don’t do during the warmer drier months.
My birthday and more
April is my birthday month. After deciding a few years ago that we would gift each other trips instead of more stuff. Last year was no exception and Jit treated me to a week away in Paris. Having visited many time together, it was the perfect opportunity for us to head away from the normal tourist routes and explore some more offbeat places: Mariage Frères Tea Museum, the Natural History Museum and Montparnasse Tower.
We also made a second trip to Haigh Hall Country Park after a failed attempt to visit Wigan Pier after finding it closed down many years ago! We did explore Wigan for a bit trying to do one of the walks from our Lancashire walks books, but that was a failure too as the roads had changed!
To make up for the Wigan experience, we filled the rest of the month with other fantastic adventures and really sunk our teeth into day tripping. Included in the April line up were a number of local National Trust properties while hunting for flowers and a day holiday to Blackpool (complete with a cold!)
…and into May we go!
May was a pretty full on month of adventures, both locally and further afield. We finally managed to visit some of the museums that we’ve talked about over the years, which was great. One of them being the National Coal Museum, which we comment on each time we visit Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
One of my favourite trips from May was taking the train up to York. And it wasn’t just because I discovered that there was a cat trail, although that did play a part. We found a city centre National Trust property, ate fresh doughnuts in the street and walked through the Shambles. A great way to spend a chilly May day.
It is funny when you look back and discover places that you didn’t remember going to! The National Trust Gawthorpe Hall, in Burnley, is one such place and I seem to have forgotten to write that up too (now there’s a kick up the backside for 2018 if there ever was one!) Another day that missed out on being blogged was our trip to the Anderton Boat lift and walk along the Trent and Mersey canal. We are due to revisit so I will certainly share the next trip.
Also in May, we reintroduced theatre into our lives with a trip to the Royal Exchange and to see “Winter Hill” at the Bolton Octagon. Which also gave us the opportunity to have a blimp around that part of Greater Manchester too.
We also had local adventures around Knutsford and Tatton Park, Manchester and Media City as well as road trips to Llandudno and the Shugborough Estate.
As you can see, we covered some ground in the month of May. And behind the scenes we were planning some other trips for later in the year too which brings us nicely to June.
Jit’s birthday month
I have to say that June was possibly my favourite month of last year! We started with a weekend to Llyn for Jit’s birthday. A couple of days in the annex where we stayed for New Year, only this time with warm weather and sunshine. This was closely followed by a trip to The Netherlands! Rotterdam and Amsterdam to be precise. I am still writing up a lot of those posts as I’m creating a series, but you can find out a bit here and here. And for those of you who might be new to my blog, here is a bit about me reminiscing about my first trip to Rotterdam in 2016.
Then came July
July was definitely a month for indulging in our geekery and curiosity. The month was kicked off with a long overdue visit to the Crewe Heritage Centre closely followed by the Manchester Transport Museum. Outdoor adventures also included a trip on the train, taking us to the Forest of Bowland for a walk around Stocks Reservoir.
I am sure there were plenty of other adventures in July, but off the top of my head they are just not coming! But August…
My first adventure in August was to Ribblehead Valley for Yorkshire Day and despite the initial torrential rain proved to be a very fun and lovely day. I also got to meet Andrew White from Walks Around Britain, which was very cool!
We even managed to get away to Europe again with a week in Brussels as a kind of addition to Jit’s birthday. When we head away we stay with my parents for a few nights as the cats holiday with them. As we’re on the Wirral we like to make the most of our time there and in August we hit Loggerheads Country Park, New Brighton, and Eastham Country Park. Back home though, we started looking up our local Trig Points and I made my way to the Police Museum where I was taken to court!!
September was a very work filled month so a lot of my time outdoors was during my revere commute. Not that it hindered my adventures though as I was able to use the time to discover hidden gems and new avenues in Manchester. This is good because we can sometime get lost in traveling to new places that we miss the things right under our nose. I like to think of it as some quality time with my city.
There was also time to fit in a few local city trips including one to Leeds as well as walking Manchester from some different angles.
Shifting into Autumn
As the autumnal weather began to roll in, we took a rip to Poland for another conference and holiday rolled into one. We had a few days in Krakow then over to Warsaw for the remainder of our stay. (series coming soon!)
Our return back to Manchester coincided with the Manchester Science Festival which meant we spent a lot of time in and around the city centre at events. Not to miss out on outdoors time though, we would make sure that we got to the events via parks, canals or other exciting detours.
A month of waterside wanders
For some unknown reason, the theme for November was water. Whether it was walking along the Ashton or Rochdale Canals on the reverse commute, wandering along the water in Sheffield or onto Morecambe Bay, there was water almost everywhere.
You don’t normally expect such glorious weather so late on in the year, but it was delightful. Warm sunshine breaking up the cool air and making for the most gorgeous of views over the beach. We also found that our morning commute was doable with walking down both canals too, which has increased the variety for our walks too. And for some incredible photo opportunities to boot!
The 12th month
And finally we come to December. December turned out to be another water focused month with walks to the Trafford Centre, Sale and some waterside jaunts over on the Wirral during the Christmas break. We even had the unusual experience of walking within the canal at Deansgate Locks while the Canal and River Trust held their Winter Open Days while carrying out repairs on the canals. Have you ever see so many bottles and cups in one place before?!
The last month of the year also brought with it a cold snap and some lovely white fluffy snow with it. It has been years since we have been able to walk the canals in the snow, so it was a lovely way to see out the year – as well as bring that Christmas spirit out. I’m not so sure the marina birds agreed so much though!
Unfortunately our trip to Wales for New year fell through, but we were able to make the most of our time with micro adventures around the Wirral. Being a peninsular we got to enjoy more waterside walks and even walked from Chester to Wales on the Wales Coastal Path. I learned something new that day from my OS map when I saw the path went all the way into the city!
How much can you do in a year?
Well, on reflection an awful lot it seems! I think it goes to show that you can do and see a lot more when you spend some of the time exploring locally and taking day trips as well as heading for pastures new further afield. I personally feel that I saw much more last year than I have in many before. I felt like each weekend was a new holiday or adventure and still felt refreshed afterwards.
Now we enter a new year and start to plan our next adventures, I am looking both close to home as well. I would like to see more of the towns, cities and countryside around me as well as those unusual destinations that we dream of seeing. So far, nothing is set, but I’m always open to opportunities.
Here’s to an amazing year of exploring, micro adventures and those slightly bigger! To a year that makes you see just how much you can do in a year and makes you smile at the end of it. Whatever you get up to, enjoy it with all your might!
Are you surprised by how much you can do in a year? Do you have plans set for 2018 yet?
Let me know in the comments below.