Climbing Helvellyn

Wild dips, new peaks and a reunion: Goodbye 2022, Hello 2023

A rainy January afternoon is the perfect time to finally sit down and put the previous year’s memories into words. 

Secretly, I write these yearly reviews as much for myself, a window into a previous time, a previous self. But if you are a little bit nosey and a little bit curious like me, I hope you might also enjoy sharing the view from someone else’s year from the highs, lows and tiny moments of joy. 

3 Proud Moments from 2022

1. A year of wild dips 

Undoubtedly, the one memory of 2022 will be completing my year of wild dips from brief chilly one under grey January skies in Windermere to the soothing cool waters of Buttermere on a relentlessly hot heatwave day in August. Each one carries its own sweet memories.

I sometimes start challenges and lose interest (quite often, if I set a daily challenge, my inner rebel just wants to rebel against it!). Still, I loved the fluidity of having a flexible monthly challenge that could fit in when I felt ready for it rather than having that resentful ‘have to’ feeling.

I also loved seeing how the seasons changed, on the shoreline, in the water, and in the variety of places around the Lakes where I dipped; it provided a gentle rhythm throughout the year. You can read more about the year of wild dips here 

2. Climbing Helvellyn solo on Jubilee weekend

Climbing Helvellyn

Confession: I’ve lived in the Lakes for over three years now, and last summer was my first time up England’s 3rd highest mountain, the infamous Helvellyn (and I’m actually yet to hike up Scarfell Pike, either! It’s on this year’s intentions…). 

I had been waiting for the perfect trio – a day off from work, a clear day with light winds and a good dose of energy. I found this perfect marriage in early June when street parties and Platinum Jubilee celebrations took place across the country.

I opted for one of the easier routes, starting from Thirlmere and ascending up to Stakes Pass, before heading along to Raise and Whiteside. 

Catching sight of the last steep-looking path towards Helvellyn, I felt a growing sense of nerves. But as with so many of the paths here, the closer I got, it didn’t seem quite as bad. Thrilled to have clear skies and epic views at the summit, taking my time to drink it all in before descending back down towards Thirlmere to Wythburn. 

3. Reaching 75 Wainwrights on Beda Fell in September 

Beda Fell Lake District

I began my Wainwright adventure shortly after I moved here in April 2019, starting with Latrigg, which I could see outside my bedroom window in Keswick. 

Initially, I had set a vague goal to try and climb all 214 Wainwrights by the time I’m 40 in May 2025, but after feeling the pressure to hike Wainwrights on all of my days off, I scrapped it. 

I’m a proudly slow hiker, which is one of the reasons I love to hike solo; moving at any great speed mostly makes me sad as I feel like I can’t quite savour the views and moments with any real depth.

So now I’m just going at my own pace; they will be finished when I’m ready.

Reaching 75 Wainwright’s on a gloriously warm day in early September felt a joy, listening to Florence and the Machines as the swirling cloudy light danced over Ullswater. 

Things that didn’t quite go so well….

My two main goals at the end of last year were to hike the Cumbria Way and run another 10k race. Neither quite went to plan….

Not running a 10k 

After playing such a significant part in my Lake District journey, firstly doing Couch to 5k and secondly, the Kendal Mountain Festival 10k trail race, 2022 was the year running took more of a back seat. 

And I’m kind of OK with that. I’ve had niggling knee injuries on and off for the past two years, which arrived back at the start of the year. And then I just dropped the ball. Changing jobs in May didn’t help with energy levels. But by September, I had begun to edge back into C25k again before I caught Covid and was back at square one.

I’ve made peace with returning to square one so many times. I’ve never naturally been that sporty or fit, so it often feels hard to get back the fitness once I’ve lost it. 

But I’m happy to say I’ve been edging my way back in since September, and although some days feel like a slog, the joy is coming back. I don’t plan to set any running goals this year; I just want to find a rhythm again and enjoy being outdoors. 

Only walking one day of the Cumbria Way 

After I switched jobs in May, I had ten days to play with before starting my new one. I made a hasty decision to try and go for my goal of hiking the Cumbria Way, a 73-mile long-distance path starting at Ulverston, continuing through the Lake District and finishing in Carlisle, just south of Scotland. 

Looking back, the decision was a rash one. I had only completed a few hikes each month since the start of the year, and accommodation was hard to come by as I had left the planning to the last minute. 

Still, I set out with nervous optimism on a dull May morning from Ulverston and thoroughly enjoyed the grassy plains, chatting to a young lad named Ollie on a break from university who was also hiking the way. It was his first trip to the Lake District. 

We walked a short way together, and his awe made me see the hills with new eyes. After paddling at Beacon Tarn, we went out separate ways, and I found the section along the shoreline of Coniston Water tough after the previous 14 miles. My feet suffered badly with blisters, but I made it to Coniston, elated but exhausted. 

I returned home for the night and had planned to get the bus back to Coniston in the morning to continue. I just couldn’t face it, so I called it quits.

I had hoped to hike the rest of the path on a series of day walks over the rest of the summer, but the plan never materialised; I felt drawn to being in the hills.

I hope to complete the way on day walks or one continuous trip, but I’m keeping things open with the timeline. 

A few quick-fire favourites….

Favourite walks and hikes of 2022

  • A January stroll up Arnside Knott
  • A spring hike up Lingmoor in the Langdale Valley followed by whisky at the Britannia Inn in Elterwater.
  • Pre-birthday hike to Grike and Crag Fell in the Western Lakes with my two best friends.
  • A summer’s walk on the Cumbrian Coast path between Whitehaven and St Bees,
  • A grey summers day on Winder in the Howgills (on the border of Cumbria and Yorkshire)
  • Summer stroll up Brant Fell for views of Windermere
  • Climbing Armboth amongst the late summer heather
  • A loop of Levels Deer Park complete with Bagott goats
  • Walking The Helm ridge in between talks at Kendal Mountain Festival
  • A stunning cloud inversion winter walk up Stone Arthur. 

Favourite food memories  of 2022

Spring onion waffles with smoked salmon and fennel at Method in Kendal (absolute fave), Ferrero Rocher ice cream at Kimi’s in Staveley, avocado and pea smash with seeds at Sticklebarn in Langdale, the most incredible chicken pie, smooth mash and sweet red cabbage at Great North Pie in Ambleside, sourdough pizza from Marra in Kendal, hogget hash at Homeground, black pudding sausage roll, kedgeree scotch egg and the most perfect melting chocolate orange fondant at the Blind Bull in the Peak District. 

Tiny moments of joy 

  • Taking my breakfast up onto the fells behind my house in all seasons 
  • A short and simple Valentine’s walk up to Low Sweden Bridge with hot chocolate 
  • Walking to Stock Ghyll Waterfall with a good friend from uni and her adventurous kids 
  • Meeting with local bookshop owners and creating the Lake District bookshop blog post for World Book Day
  • A spontaneous garden BBQ with housemates during a warm spell in late March 
  • Going to the T20 cricket with my dad for his birthday in Nottingham 
  • An evening walk to Footprints National Trust near Windermere watching films from Kendal Mountain Festival 
  • A sunrise run in Matterdale near Ullswater 
  • The Christmas lantern parade and fireworks in Ambleside 
  • Seeing Kate Rusty’s Christmas concert live in Nottingham 
  • Christmas with family for the first time in 3 years
  • Blue sky Boxing Day walk chatting about writing 

Best overnight trips in the Lakes 

A winter trip to Borrowdale, reading by the fire and climbing Bessyboot in January. 

Hiking from my home in Ambleside to Elterwater for a night in the hostel, early bird walks, and valley walks in Langdale in March. 

A very windy wild camp next to Small Water Tarn near Haweswater – homemade chilli, hot chocolate and twilight views in July 

A few nights in a tiny apartment with family in Matterdale near Ullswater – waterfall walks, bookshop wanderings and a rainy ascent up Great Mell Fell in October. 

Memorable UK trips 

  • A snowy trip to Edinburgh, climbing Arthurs Seat and a stunning winter’s day at the beach in North Berwick. 
  • A bus adventure up to Dumfries to meet my family for an Easter break in Southern Scotland, including a road trip to Galloway Forest Park 
  • Two trips to the Peak District to stay at The Hut in Eyam – one midsummer’s night farewell with good friends and one cosy snowy December trip with winter walks, log fires and an excellent pub lunch. 

A treasured memory – Spending my birthday in the Western Lakes with my two oldest best friends 

Spending time with my two oldest best friends from school is rare – we all live quite far apart, and both of them have two kids, plus we all work various shift patterns. We finally carved out some time to rent this gorgeous cottage in Ennerdale on the edge of the western Lake District for long lazy brunches cooked in the kitchen overlooking the fells, log fire evenings, Wainwright walks, cheeseboards and a birthday trip to Buttermere with a rainy dip in Crummock Water. 

One of my happiest memories was driving back to Keswick, singing at the top of our lungs to the boy band hits we adored growing up in the 90s. Special, special times.

Professional Highlights 

I loved continuing to write my monthly blog post for the Cumbrian beauty brand, The Bath House, on various topics, from a mountain walk at Whinlatter Forest to the joy of the Cumbrian Hills in winter. It’s been a pleasure to work with a local brand who have similar values and a strong connection to the local area.

I also did a couple of months of freelance work for a local business creating social media content and loved the creative marriage between photography, video and writing. 

I decided at Easter that I didn’t want the small business I set up last year to focus on social media solely. I’ve found a real love for writing this year and wanted to explore how I could showcase this alongside purely doing social media training and creation. I feel more comfortable in the role of freelance writer/content creator with a sprinkling of social media training. (If you have or know of a brand or business, especially Cumbrian based, that would like any support in 2023, you can check out my work with me page here). 

I wrote fairly consistently for the blog at the start of the year, which sadly dropped off a little towards the end of the year – I’m hoping to rectify that this year and try and get into the habit of weekly (or monthly) blog posts.

Still, I did write 10 of my monthly Letters From the Lake District newsletters and adored chatting with all the people who took part in my Q&A sessions in the Inspired by the Lakes feature. 

I’ve also continued to enjoy connecting with new people on my Instagram and love nothing more than helping them plan a future trip! 

2023 Intentions and mini goals 

I don’t often pick a word of the year, but I was drawn to the word nurture which felt like it fitted. Light but not overpowering. 

I want to nurture my writing and creativity, my time to read, nurture my body to continue my outdoor adventures and nurture the beautiful community I’ve grown around Look With New Eyes. 

I also want to try and get back to writing more personal-style essays and being a bit more playful and relaxed in my approach – trying writing prompts, attending workshops, and maybe joining a writing community. 

I’ve always been quite a slow reader due to having mild dyslexia, but I’ve been carving out some time to read in the mornings, which has felt a treat (rather than scrolling!), and I’ve given myself a gentle goal to read 12 books by the end of 2023. 

Adventure-wise, I’m keeping things fairly light. In continuing the monthly dips, I plan to focus on doing them at Rydal Water this year to observe how the seasons change and build a deeper connection with the lake I love. 

I’m hoping to get to 100 Wainwrights at some point (starting the year on 77) and hopefully finally take a trip abroad after nearly four years – the last one was South America just before I moved to the Lakes!

Phew, that’s turned out to be quite long! Hats off if you’ve made it right down here 😆 

Again, a huge thank you for being part of this community – all your comments, messages and support mean the world to me. Wishing you the most amazing 2023!

Catch up with my previous reviews of the year….

Tiny moments of joy and a dozen Wainwrights: my 2021 year in review

10 memories from the defining year of 2020 in the Lake District

Not strictly an end-of-year review – but most of my highlights in 2019 were from the summer!

Wild camping, skinny dipping, and learning to run: 10 highlights from a heartfelt summer in the Lake District

My 2018 review: the year of adventure