The season for dreaming big
Camping on the Lochaber Traverse (p34) (Photo: Carey Davies)

MAYBE WE ALL HAVE A ‘DREAM’ SEASON – the time of year we prize the most, the one we yearn to come around again when it’s gone, the one we fervently hope will bring good weather when it arrives so it will deliver on our expectations. For some outdoor devotees, winter is the best season, where humble hills are transformed by snow into alpine giants. The vibrant glory of spring and the visual spectacle of autumn have much to recommend them, too. But judging by sheer numbers alone, summer is the time when people at their most outdoor-minded.

Big dreams, big ideas, big adventures. At its best, this is what summer represents: the time when the climate is (theoretically) at its most forgiving, the weather is at its mildest, the days are long, and the opportunities for adventure are simply more expansive than they are during the colder, darker months. On p28, we round up our pick of Britain’s best warm-weather hikes – routes that promise carefree dawn-to-dusk Munro-bagging, beautiful flora, or the sort of aquatic element that can elevate a walk into the realms of the idyllic. I don’t know about you, but I want my summer hikes to contain at least one of the following: a wild swim, a waterfall, a boat ride, or a stretch of gorgeous coastline with a turquoise sea below. If you agree, we’ve got you covered.

In the past, summer was the pilgrimage season, the time when the routes between Europe’s holy places would throng with foot traffic; and you’ll still find the various caminos that lead towards Santiago de Compostela are at their busiest in June, July and August. For long-distance walkers – secular pilgrims, if you like – these also tend to be the months when we make the ‘Big Trip’, the journey we’ve been dreaming about and planning since sometime around New Year. I’m currently eyeing up a route in Spain that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and other members of The Great Outdoors team have got big plans in Scotland, Scandinavia and the Alps over the coming months. Jenny Tough’s feature on her extraordinary fastpacking exploits (p56) should provide plenty of inspiration for your own wanderings, even if you might be unlikely to follow in her super-athlete footsteps.

But summer is not just about big, long-plotted trips: it’s also the best time of year for the spontaneous midweek wild camp (see Norman Hadley’s escape into Wasdale, p46), the last-minute weekend adventure to take advantage of a priceless high-pressure window (my walk of the Lochaber Traverse, p34), and the relaxed hike with friends (Iona Andean, p42).

There’s a lot more to enjoy here, but I’ll let you have an explore. See you out there!


Get in touch: