There is nothing quite like the vista from the top of a mountain. It’s such an impressive and awesome sight, that once you take it in, you soon completely forget the pain-staking struggle that you have just put yourself through to see it.
Five years ago, if you were to tell me that I would soon be an advocate for the Great Outdoors, that I would have numerous mountains under my belt and would be influencing and encouraging others to get out doors and enjoy some of the countries best walks, well…. I would have assumed that you had me mistaken for someone else. Back then, I was somewhat lost, I lacked confidence, I seemed to be trapped in an aimless life and I just couldn’t seem to get motivated. But, as I was at my lowest ebb, chance stepped in and played a hand.
During my nine to five job, I was put to work with a newcomer to our small building firm, an older chap, called Paul. Within the first day we hit it off, and he enthralled me with tales and stories of mountain hiking, wild camps on Dartmoor, and a general enthusiasm for the Great Outdoors which I found infectious. It wasn’t long before I had the urge to see the world from a top of a mountain. I discuss this story and my love for hiking in more detail in this video “Why I love Backpacking” but needless to say, I was struck by the hiking bug, and haven’t looked back since.
I began training for the big three, Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis (not all at once, mind you… we ticked these off over three consecutive years) and the closest place we had to a mountain in my location, on the border between North Devon and Cornwall, was Dartmoor. With my good friend Nathan, who had always tried to get me out hiking, but to no avail, we headed for the wild and often desolate National Park.
I always enjoyed filming and editing, so I took a camcorder with me, and filmed our experiences. I uploaded them to YouTube on an old channel that I used, and before long, we had a small and encouraging following.
As our adventures grew, so did our audience, and soon we created a channel specifically for the outdoors. Summit or Nothing.
Over the past four years, we have steadily gained in experience and viewers. I have managed to tick off not just the big three peaks of the UK, but many more including Tryfan, Helvellyn, Cadair Idris, Moel Siabod, Pen Y Fan, and even Omu Peak in the Romanian Carpathians – a monster at 2507m! I have walked over half of the South West Coast Path, about a third of Dartmoor National Park, and have taken my audience with me every step of the way!
Unfortunately, Paul passed away suddenly a couple of years ago, and we never did get to go out for a ramble together. And whenever I sit on the top of a mountain, I always think of Paul, grateful to him for introducing me to this new world, and changing my life for the better!
The outdoors has been an amazing addition to my life, it has vastly improved my physical and mental health, but has also played a massive part in encouraging others to do the same. People see me, a novice, making mistakes, getting lost, but more importantly enduring and enjoying this wide world of staggering beauty, and it gives them some hope… If this fool can do it, anyone can!
In the last year or so, I have used the channels success to help raise money for charities, raising in excess of £4000 so far for MacMillan and Hospiscare. I am currently training for my current fundraiser, to walk Dartmoor in a day, from North to South… solo! 30 miles of this unforgiving expanse. And during this strange period of Nationwide lockdown, my close proximity to Dartmoor had allowed me to take to the moors for some stunning local walks, and those videos I have been told helped to keep people sane from the confines of their urban homes.
Hiking, wild camping, the outdoors…. Money just cannot buy anything to rival it. So if you ever find yourself looking for inspiration, or just to see some entertaining and beautiful outdoors videos then please come on over and take a look at Summit or Nothing!
You can watch my lockdown videos here.
The Mini Ten Tors, Dartmoor
This fantastic ten mile circular hike takes you around some of Dartmoors most iconic and popular tors, including Haytor and Hound Tor. Not far from the fantastic little village of Widecombe on the Moor, this walk is as strenuous as it is beautiful, and if done on a clear day the views are some of the best that the moor has to offer.
St Ives to Lands End Coast Path, Cornwall
Ok, so actually three or four walks in one, but I absolutely love the South West Coast Path, and the coast around St Ives is some of the best I have walked so far. Golden beaches, dramatic cliffs, and a landscape seeped in history; this challenging section of the coast has it all. It also includes the fantastic mines of Botallack as featured here on the Outdoor Guide.
Pen Y Fan Horseshoe Walk, Brecon Beacons
I love this walk because, even though it isn’t as tall as many of the mountains on offer in the UK, it is still a good challenge, and offers some amazing views. The last time I walked it, we ventured up in the mist, but as we reached the top, the clouds separated and we were left with some stunning views of the surrounding national park above an amazing cloud inversion. Pen Y Fan is also a great mountain to journey to from the South West too, because we can get there without having to take a full day of travelling!