Tab Tries: The Great Outdoors

Over the holiday, BETH SWORDS became one with nature. Let her enlighten you, the average city-dweller, on how to deal with ‘The Great Outdoors.’

countryside Douglas Adams grass great outdoors heathcliff Hunting love mud mushrooms rural stile wuthering heights

After sixteen years of lavishing in narrow, polluted streets, the countryside really threw me having moved there this summer. I searched around for some sort of manual to deal with so much greenery but the only thing I found was Wainwright’s tome on walks round the Peak District. Now, I appreciate the grandeur large peaks offer and the historical charm of deserted railways but I’ve been alone now (other than my parents and an irritable dog) for a couple weeks and the concept of making friends seems risky. At the same time, a lonesome ramble fills me with dread.

However, sometimes, it can be splendid. I wish I were out of doors – I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy. All I know is that I’m sure I would be myself were I once among the heather on those hills.

Oh, wait. No. That’s Cathy in Wuthering Heights.

This is the thing. The great outdoors is definitely a marvel, just difficult to negotiate alone. Heathcliff and Cathy only half-managed it because they were consumed by a maddening love for each other. I’m just spending my time consuming post-Christmas off cuts and so rural navigation is proving more than tricky.

Sanity and stability or an in-depth understanding of the moors?

Sanity and stability or an in-depth understanding of the moors?

Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to come up with this much-needed manual informing any modern-day, fairly active youth of the best and most gratifying ways to have fun in the peaks. With these tips, you are not alone.

  • Mother Nature is a powerful being, don’t try and catch her out. However, do try skinny-dipping in the depths of winter. Frostbite permitting, it’s surprisingly refreshing.
Photo taken in the Peak District

The Blue Lagoon Resort, just off the M6 Toll

  • The surroundings are truly awe-inspiring and home to some rare species. Don’t have a gun? Try sharpening a stick, Mulan-style, and hurl it at the vole or mole in question. If successful, you’ll extend the time in which you are exposed to such rare creatures.
  • When foraging, be sure to always go for the exotically coloured mushrooms and berries. These are the most delicious. The unnaturally bright colours are their only defence mechanism. It is the dull, traditionally green-coloured plants you should be careful of.
Don't be fooled by innocent exterior

Don’t be fooled by innocent exterior

  • Rambling is fun. However, sitting and watching films allows equal adventure through bountiful pastures of imagination.
  • Look out for a wolf in sheep’s clothing. These are more common than you think and can be dangerous and evasive if confronted.
Wolf in sheep's clothing - surprisingly common

Seriously. Stay safe, readers

  • Rural surroundings are filled with North Face-wearing outdoorsy types. When they pass you, they’ll say something along the lines of “..neeenngg” in a cheery tone. This will first throw you but can be loosely translated as the more traditional “Good Morning”.
  •   You will pass piles of loose rock with an arrow at the top. To climb, treat them as stairs (even if they fall apart). Put one foot above the other, reach the top, take an empowering intake of breath, assess the view, and climb down. This apparatus is known as a stile. They are indigenous to our National Parks.

    Watch out for these bad boys

    Watch out for these bad boys

In essence, the great outdoors is clearly manageable if you just let yourself work with it (or if you find a brooding fellow to have a passionate, yet complex, affair with).

Many have joked that moving here just leads to constant pining for civilisation. At times, this does not feel like a joke. However, follow this, the Hikers Guide to Hiking – Douglas Adams’ hit novel’s sexier cousin – and you will be accepted as part of the sylvan community in simply no time at all.