… out of lockdown

Words cannot do justice to the explosive joy in my heart right now. To the profoundly deep sense of excitement, wellbeing, love and emotion coursing through my central nervous system.

For the past three months the UK has been in another set of government-mandated restraints. Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives. Those words ringing through my ears and swirling through my mind every time I stepped outside the doors of my COVID-secure home [prison]. Like the sensible and respectful human being I aim to be at all times, I took the message seriously and limited travel, stayed local, tried to avoid contact where possible, all while my socials were awash with people doing the exact opposite. Travelling across three counties to go mountain biking. Journeying up the country to visit family. Meeting friends for runs and walks. It was so very tempting to join the marauding crowds and leave it to fate, but morally I could never forgive myself for such recklessness.

So I followed the rules. This week, however, the rules changed.

On Monday 29th March the roadmap out of lockdown relaxed the rule about staying indoors. The country is still encouraged to stay local, but a more extended version of local than before. Now, local means I’m free to travel around my county, not just my village, and aren’t I just lucky enough to live in the most spectacular county in all of England.

You’d think I would immediately want to venture into the hills again, and of course I do, but since that has to wait until we both have a full day together, we must make the most of the precious hours we have between work ending and sleep beginning. Five cherished hours, four times a week.

Sunset over Stannington Banks

These nanoadventures (I can’t even call them microadventures as that term is reserved for post-work overnighters) require a remarkable amount of planning and my criteria are specific:

  1. HH finishes work at 18:00, and it’s currently dark by 20:00 so wherever we go must be within a 60-minute drive of his work to give us at least one hour of daylight exploring.
  2. It must be somewhere we’ve not been before or cover a path or track we’ve not been on before.
  3. Ideally it must include some landmark for us to visit, such as a trig point (the ultimate ideal), a boundary stone, a ruin, basically anything we can stand and gawk at for a couple of minutes.

These criteria mean there’s only one thing for it. Maps.

Oh my heart just sings at the thought of a map. I adore maps. I don’t dare contemplate the number of hours I must’ve spent in our 14 years together just poring over maps upon maps upon maps.

During lockdown, in a bid to spare my wellbeing and plan for a new post-COVID normal we purchased a premium subscription to Ordnance Survey. I can say in wholehearted honesty it is the greatest use of £26 in all my days. Now I get to explore everywhere from the comfort of an app and I’m free to roam across map lines without thought.

This newfound freedom granted to us by both the UK Government and Ordnance Survey opens an entirely new level of exploration and we’ve already been on a fantastic journey of discovery at only one week past the lockdown lift. My heart is absolutely brimming with excitement at how much we will have explored by the time the dark nights have crept in again.

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