The Leibster Award

Earlier this year my blog was nominated for the Leibster Award, an Award aimed at relatively new bloggers, or those with fewer than 200 followers This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked but initially I didn’t feel ready to accept a nomination as I’d only recently restarted blogging (my original blog has been inactive for some years). I really appreciated the request from Julie Coldwell and I know she understands why I was reluctant to be nominated then.

This nomination came from Jacquie Budd who writes as Outdoor Girl I feel quite touched to have been nominated by these two women, both of whom write fascinating and inspiring blogs, and that is what I feel makes the Leibster Award quite special. I never normally participate in ‘Round Robin’ ‘tag someone and pass on’ stuff that pops up on social media, but this award seems different: it’s the recognition of your work by fellow bloggers who nominate you because they like your posts. The Award was set up in 2011 with the intention of connecting the blogging community and the idea is that the nominee gets the opportunity to nominate five or more blogs that they admire or enjoy, thus spreading the word to others in the blogosphere.

Firstly my thanks to both Jacquie and Julie. Jacquie’s blog is wonderfully varied with posts about cycling, walking and climbing, peppered with gear reviews, and interviews with other outdoorsy folk. She won a Webtogs best climbing blog in 2015. If you’re looking for advice, inspiration or ideas for kit then this is a good blog to explore, but I think one of her most recent posts summed up why I like her posts: it was a chatty report of a wander outside to have an alfresco breakfast in the snow – the perfect micro-adventure.

Julie’s blog is very different: much more a record of personal experiences, many of which have been cycling trips to Scandinavia, along with a scattering of poems and images that inspire her. She recently had an article published in Intrepid Magazine, a new publication written, collated and published by women for women, and been granted an Alpkit Foundation Award towards the cost of her Spring Cycling trip in Finland. I always find her posts inspiring and uplifting.

The five blogs that I have chosen to nominate are:

Lizzie Running

Lizzie Rosewell is an impressive trail and ultra runner who tackles events such as the Spine Challenger and Hardmoors 60. She has just completed an incredible solo challenge, running 360 miles in 15 days from Paris to London via the Western Front to commemorate the centenary of WW1 and to raise money for ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity. She carried full camping kit and was self-supporting. Her posts discuss the issues of being a mum with a young family and all the emotional ties and logistical difficulties, as well as advice on trial running, kit reviews and race reports. I had the pleasure of running with her for a while on the Ascend Events Four Passes Challenge ( in the Lakes where her local knowledge of the head of Ennerdale was very useful in driving rain and mist!

Mud and Miles

Rachel Sheldrake is a trail and ultra runner and running coach based in the Newark, Nottingham & Lincoln areas. She coaches all levels of runner and also organises trail running weekend breaks. Her blog gives advice about trail running, race reports, book reviews and interviews. I particularly enjoyed reading her report of the Lakes Traverse, a 60 mile event along the Cumbrian section of the Coast to Coast route which took place in early May. I’ve followed her on Twitter for a while and was very pleased to meet her, also on the Four Passes event – it was quite a sociable outing!

Travelling Lines

Emily Woodhouse is the editor of Intrepid Magazine mentioned earlier. She describes herself as an editor, writer, adventurer, opportunity junkie, and she is certainly all of those. Her blog is wonderfully down-to-earth in a way that challenges many modern preconceptions about adventure, the outdoors community and technology. She is able to articulate many of my unformed thoughts about the ‘culture’ of ‘adventuring’. There is a refreshing pragmatism about her posts that explains why she has been able to launch such an exciting new paper magazine at a time when so much is purely online.

Maid in the North

Subtitled ‘Mud and Musings on Everyday Adventures’, the Maid of the title does precisely that – muses on adventures in her northern neck of the woods (mostly). I ‘met’ her on Twitter after we were both in the same lectures at the Kendal Mountain Festival (although we have never met in person). She posts wonderfully rambling records of kayaking and walking trips, beautifully written. This is a very young blog and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

Dale’s minimalist outdoors blog

I’ve saved the funniest blog until last. It’s also the least, in the best possible sense. Dale’s blog is one of the most original and amusing outdoors blogs I’ve seen. His satirical take on the pomposity of some online content is hilarious. It’s the perfect foil to some of the ‘expert’ advice out there. There are excellent resources online for those new to the outdoors, but Dale’s blog highlights the absurdities of those that are misguided or downright wrong.

So I now have to answer eleven questions that Jacquie set for me:

  1. It’s difficult to choose the top three most beautiful places that I have visited, but the Dolomites are high on the list, as is the Lake District, and it would be hard to beat the urban landscape of Venice.
  2. My favourite outdoor activity is walking. It takes no effort to get out, costs very little and takes me to such lovely places.
  3. I started my blog to record for myself my thoughts on the activities I do, and if anyone else finds it interesting or useful then that is a bonus.
  4. Advice (which I’m always reluctant to give) to new bloggers is to just do it. Decide who your audience is and aim for them (and that audience could just be yourself). Aim to craft your writing, but don’t agonise over it.
  5. My favourite personal post is whichever one I’ve most recently written.
  6. Next on my bucket list? I’m not ready for a bucket list yet!
  7. Mountains or beach? Read my blog and decide for yourselves – it becomes clear quite quickly, although mountains next to the sea take some beating.
  8. I couldn’t possibly reveal the craziest thing I’ve ever done. But climbing the Rébuffat route on the SW face of the Aguille de Midi is certainly up there with any madcap venture. And running full pelt down the Montenvers Railway in winter climbing boots carrying a full load after a nineteen hour day climbing seems a bit daft (we had missed the last train and thought two of our party were missing. They had actually been ahead and had caught said train. They were eating pizza waiting for us. There were ‘words’)
  9. Wild camping or a pub campsite? Er….depends on the weather.
  10. Winter, spring, summer or autumn? Whichever the next season is….
  11. I really can’t say what or who most inspires me. It varies depending on what my focus happens to be. So it could be a place that grabs my attention, or a running adventure or a long distance walker, or something I read on social media.

As if that’s not enough about me, I also have to give away ten random facts about myself:

  1. I wear spectacles.
  2. I’m vegetarian
  3. I once spent a (cold) night sleeping in a workmen’s red and white shelter on a roundabout.
  4. I’ve walked from Winchester to Windermere with my daughter to celebrate the end of her A Levels.
  5. I love the scent of honeysuckle.
  6. My all time favourite book is The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. My daughter bought me a 50th Anniversary copy as my old paperback was falling apart. I’ve visited the places mentioned in the sequel – The Moon Of Gomrath – but am worried that Alderley Edge and its environs would not fit with my imagination so have not yet made the pilgrimage.
  7. I’m always making a comeback to running.
  8. I’ve taught English, Art and Outdoor Education, and now teach Pilates.
  9. I occasionally carve spoons and other greenwood objects such as kuksas and shrink pots.
  10. My favourite bivvy site was on an uninhabited island on the Scottish West Coast. We had kayaked across to it and bivvied on the beach. There were the ruined buildings of former crofts. A beautiful and yet sad place. Seals played under the canoe on the way.

I also have to tell you why I love to blog. I think it’s because I’ve always kept journals of trips and travels and this is an extension of those handwritten notebooks. The initial joy is in the remembering and the crafting of those memories into a coherent story. It is purely self-indulgent, but if it also inspires others, or helps them plan their trips, then that is a bonus. I enjoy the feedback from my audience and it encourages me to continue. The artistic aspect of taking and choosing photographs to support the words is fun too. I often think about the form the blog will take as I’m walking or running and take time to set up the shots to illustrate the trip. The world is a fascinating place: it’s good to share.

And finally…eleven questions for my nominees to answer if they wish to accept the nomination:

  1. What prompted you to start blogging?
  2. Describe, briefly, your dream venture.
  3. Who is your favourite writer or poet, and why?
  4. Travelling on a budget? Or in luxury?
  5. Camera or iPhone?
  6. If you could invite anyone – past, present or fictional – to share your campfire, who would it be, and why?
  7. What has been your most scary challenge?
  8. If you could pick a map of anywhere in the world, which map would you choose, and why?
  9. What is the oddest piece of (outer) clothing you’ve ever worn?
  10. Training shoes? Or boots? (Contentious, I know!).
  11. If you could take a fantasy creature with you on your travels what would it be?

If you’ve been inspired to find out more about the Leibster Awards then you can find the rules and other information at Make sure it’s the 2018 rules as they differ slightly from year to year. And enjoy discovering new writers and sharing their thoughts.


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