I have the best job in the world: I am an International Mountain Leader and I take groups of people trekking in beautiful and inspiring places all around the world. It is my love of walking and being in the outdoors and in mountains that has enabled this career path.
In the last 12 months my paid work has taken me to Scotland twice, to Provence, to the top of a mountain called Stok Kangri (6,153m) in the Himalayas, around the Mont Blanc massif two and a half times, up and down Snowdon 6 times via 5 different routes and completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks three times. Along the way I have met some wonderful people and enjoyed discovering what they do.
Most importantly though, it is in moving to the Dee Valley and in exploring this stunningly beautiful area, I have really begun to realise just how fortunate I am in living here and how much I owe to walking. Walking allows me to escape, to reflect, to think and to solve problems. Walking is an excellent opportunity for mindfulness, for observing the nature around me and for simply being in the moment.
In walking I can experience the beauty of the hills and mountains; I can feel the increased well-being of breathing in the fresh air, surrounded by nature; I can enjoy the companionship of others when sharing such a walk; I can achieve increased fitness; I have lost weight; I have better posture. All of this is simply a side effect of taking myself outdoors and walking.
Walking also provides me with opportunities to take photographs and to practice the art of navigation. I find creative inspiration from being on my walks. I find in walking I can overcome physical challenges and feel the sense of success and achievement and the improved courage and self-esteem that results from this.
I have found a couple of quotes that epitomise what walking and mountains hold for me:
‘In every walk with Nature one receives more than one seeks’, John Muir.
I often say when I go out walking, ‘It’s always worth going out for a walk’. When I’m stuck inside with various distractions, mostly procrastinating in front of the computer screen, it always feels like there isn’t enough time, that there’s too much else to do, that it’s too wet or windy to go for a walk, but EVERY time I venture out, I’m able to comment, ‘Oh, that was worth it’. Every time it’s possible to take a deep breath and then let it out slowly, along with many of the short term problems and worries and to let them go; to regain a wider perspective, one in which we are much more insignificant; but also to gain a more detailed and immediate perspective, one in which we notice and wonder at every detail – like the frost on a spider’s web, the individual crystals in the snow, the reflections in the canal, a bright and cheerful rainbow in a dark, foreboding sky.
‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, Lao Tzu
With every journey that we embark on and even wherever we are within those journeys, we can only move forward one step at a time. Walking, and in particular walking in the Dee Valley, has taught me to enjoy each and every step and to take notice along the way.
You, too, can receive all the benefits of walking that I have described here. Contact jo on jo@jojourneys. co.uk or 07921 912 172 to book jo to guide you on a mindful walking experience in the Dee Valley or Snowdonia.