In today’s world we think of adventure and we think of Edmund Hillary climbing Everest, Ellen MacArthur sailing around the world or Bear Grylls eating bugs and stripping off. Adventure, and our exposure to it via the media, has exploded and you’d be forgiven for only thinking BIG when you think of what a real adventure is.
An exploration of the dictionary and you’d see that Adventure is defined as;
"an unual and exciting or daring experience"
An unusual, exciting or daring experience? Nothing there about the world’s largest mountains, ocean expanses or eating something that literally could be off the bottom of your shoe! Don’t get me wrong though I wouldn’t say no to having a go at any of them!
“Go and wash your hands”
As a kid I was a day dreamer. I was always thinking of the weird, wild and wonderful things I could do and living in a village surrounded by field,s I generally had plenty of space to do 'stuff.' Camping out, walking through fields, plodging (slang word from North East which means walking through a shallow body of water) in rivers; I liked nothing better than being outdoors.
In 2012 my work, work, work mentality gave way to work, work, walk and I slowly started to see the wood for the tress – literally – and change suits for boots. Since then I’ve done some great stuff and I’m looking forward to talking about them all more in future blogs.
To Boldly Go
We always want to go where man hasn’t gone before. Surely that’s adventure? It’s just not really possible in the UK! So why not go where man has been before -where real life events, and in this case tragedy, happened?
A Quick History Lesson
In December 1944 a B17 Flying Fortress was on route to a mission in Ulm, Germany when due to bad weather Lt George Kyle was told to abandon the mission due to bad weather. On route home and still in blizzard conditions the plane didn’t make it home and crashed on Cheviot, Northumberland. Tragically two crew were killed, but seven survived not only the crash but also the adverse weather that was hitting Cheviot that day. A Collie dog was an unlikely hero of the tragedy - read ‘Sheila’s Story’ to find out more. http://www.college-valley.co.uk/history.htm
Back to Boldly Going
I was staying at a Coldburn Cottage - a mile or so from the foot of Cheviot and could see a spot called Braydon Crags sticking out from the right hand side of Cheviot as I faced it. I knew the World War II site was up there somewhere so a quick cross referencing between the landscape in front of me and my map I decided for a direct route up to hopefully discover the original crash site andpay my respects.
Cheviot is at the end of the Pennine Way, but the route from Dunsdale House to Braydon Crags where the site was near isn’t part of that route so it’s a tough and steep walk through dense soft grass, dry (thankfully) peat bogs the odd hidden trickle of water. Plus there’s always more Shrews darting underfoot than people out walking.
I reached the Crag and looking around from this fantastic rocky outcrop and into the dark reddy browns of the peat and something shined against the bright sky – it was something bigger than I expected so as ever I started getting a little over excited.
Catch your breath for a second
My idea of what adventure is? This is it! The feeling when you find what you’ve been searching for, or when you take that first step on a big walk, or just accidentally happen across something unexpected. That feeling of excitement that makes every tired muscle worth it and you look forward to the next trip already!
Ok, back to the crash site. The remains of the plane that lay in front of me were a far greater and humbling experience than I expected. I love a good day out to a museum but this was one of those times visiting a live place where history had literally been made.
The Flying Fortress site on Cheviot is a fitting and lasting memorial to more than just the two people who died on that day in 1944. It also represents those that survived, the people (and dog) that aided their rescue and reflects this amazing area and the challenges that such a remote place can present.
I love the fact we have a natural environment in the UK which is rich in history and culture whilst not being kept inside a glass box. I guess whilst not as old, and rich in history, I’m looking forward to my next adventure outside my own office box!