Growing up in a rucksack

When I left my job in Strasbourg in September 2011 I suddenly had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. It was a strange, liberating feeling – kind of scary that my life no longer had the routine of a 9-5 job, but exciting that I was moving on to new challenges. My dad happened to be going through the same experience and feelings because he retired on the same day that my contract in France ended. We were both entering new phases in our lives.

Looking back at things, I realise that my dad played a large role in my decision to leave my desk job behind and learn about ecotourism. He literally brought me up in the back of his rucksack:

In a rucksack

For as long as I can remember he would take kids on hiking trips (he was a sports teacher for 30 something years) to the nearby national parks back in the UK. More often than not I would tag along because I loved being outdoors – especially in the mountains. I always have done and always will do.

Growing up in a rucksack

(I seriously thought about submitting the above photo here  :-) – his original hipster days would soon come to an end though, as can be seen in the next photo.)

When I was fifteen my dad and I decided to walk part of the Pennine Way, the longest and best-known trail in England (and a little bit of Scotland). It was the first time we had attempted a long distance hike and, from the look of my grumpy teenager expression, I wasn’t looking forward to lugging that heavy backpack 20 miles on the first day wearing an old worn out pair of Doc Martens!

Old Nags Head

In the end we spent four great days together, walking about 55 miles from Edale to Hebdon Bridge. We vowed one day to complete the whole 268 miles, which takes about 19 days to complete and ends at Kirk Yetholm in Scotland. But for various reasons we never managed to find enough time to make our goal a reality.

That all changed at the end of August 2011 – we both had time and it looked like we were finally going to do it. Unfortunately though, for reasons beyond our control, we weren’t going to be able to hike the whole trail. However, all was not lost – we still had time and still wanted to spend it together. I did a bit of research and found that there are 15 national parks in England, Scotland and Wales. We hadn’t been to most of them, I suggested that we go on a road trip to discover them, and that’s precisely what we did.

In the next posts I’ll write about our experiences, the things we saw and the places we went. I never knew how beautiful some parts of Great Britain are, and I hope you enjoy reading about them!


  1. What a great idea, Chris! Good idea to have a change, to do something you remember enjoying, and to make use of your BODY. So underused in much of our daily lives. So I look forward to hearing the next stage…

    Last summer, fed up of the the 3 last wet summers in Devon (the West Country was worse off than say, Kent and the East of England), I went off to do an Alexander Technique holiday in Greece, on the delightful, small island of Alonissos. It involved walking up and down steep and rough mule tracks, swimming in the lovely sea, and having Alexander lessons to improve posture and use of body. I came back relaxed and feeling as if I’d had a 1,000,000 mile service; Great! And I’m signed up for this summer too…
    I’d love to do some of the Pennine Way, have a go on a small stretch first to see if I’m up to it. Good luck on completing it some time!

    • I’m glad you like our idea Angela. We both love being active so we’re excited about how the project will develop over the next months. Thanks for the info about Alonissos – can you send us a link about the course you went on there?

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