This year, I intend to climb them all.
A mountain, to be categorised as a Hewitt, must be at least 610m (2,000 feet) in height with a relative height of at least 30m from any neighbouring peak. To date I’ve climbed five of them.
Why the challenge? Well obviously, there are physical health benefits, provided I don’t die in the process. But there are clear mental health benefits, too, which for me derive from a number of things: the scenery, the space, the journey and the achievement.
If you’ve been to the Dales you’ll understand the attraction – the rolling hills, the windswept moors, the eerie limestone pavements, the birdlife and, yes, even the weather. Thanks to the weather, the seasons and the ever-changing colours of the moorland vegetation no two days in the Yorkshire Dales are the same. What is taken in through the senses here is surely good for the soul.
I love the solitude. Hillwalking for me is as much about removing myself from my daily existence as it is about immersing myself in nature. Yes, walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks on a late Saturday in June may feel like Harrods in the sales, but off the beaten track one can truly get away from it all.
I do some of my best thinking when I’m out walking. Something about embarking on a journey seems to help me process ideas and arrive at conclusions, perhaps resolutions, without interruption.
For me, goal setting is a strong motivation. The sense of achievement one has after reaching one’s goal is great for self-esteem.
And I’m a bit of a completist. Knowing there are thirty Hewitts means I have to climb each one from Calf Top, which only just achieves mountain status at 2,000 feet, to Whernside, standing 2,415 feet tall. Horse Head Moor, however, at a mere 1,999 feet, now holds no interest for me, at least in so far as my goal is concerned.
So, it’s walking boots on. I’m going hewitting.