By: Blonde Two
Well here we are Blondees and Blondettes. At the stroke of midnight tonight on New Year’s Eve 2021, the Two Blondes Walking blog will enter it’s tenth year.
In a world where blogging (especially outdoor blogging) is now almost compulsory, I like to think of us as pioneers. There we were, two women, working in a world of expedition leadership that was almost completely dominated by men (nice ones), writing about our adventures but convinced that nobody would be interested in reading about them.
Things have changed in the last ten years. The balance of male to female expedition leaders is far more even, and boy do people like to write about their outdoor lifestyles. In fact, blogging about the outdoors has become big business.
Although not for us.
We still do what we do for the love of it, and because we still believe in the importance of equipping people (young and older) with the skills to get outside safely, and in ways that will benefit our beautiful countryside. In other words, Two Blondes Walking is still a ‘jobby‘ (side hustle).
School leadership and freelance outdoor writing
That’s not to say that our love of outdoor expedition work isn’t still intertwined with our day jobs. Blonde One is now an assistant head teacher with overall responsibility for outdoor education at the fantastic Trinity School in Teignmouth, and I write outdoor articles for a living with regular freelance contributions to Countryfile Magazine, Campervan Magazine, and The Outdoor Guide.
All of which means we’ve written far less blog posts in 2021 than in previous years (that is less than before but still more than most writers). Both Two Blondes Walking and the Two Blondes themselves are still going strong. Through seasonal and pandemic restrictions, we are still holding the banner high for the great outdoors, and for women adventurers. Here’s what we got up to in 2021.
Outdoor review of the year 2021
The year that began with a lockdown! Both Blondes stayed local with B2 starting the year with a New Year’s Eve hammock night just a few hundred metres from home (cue foghorns), and B1 taking a group of hopeful youngsters on their first Ten Tors training walk. Sadly Ten Tors 2021 didn’t take place but fingers are crossed all over Devon for Ten Tors 2022.
Travelling further afield was still tricky during the month that gave us the Beast from the East but that didn’t deter us Blondes from outdoor fun. In February Blonde Two had her first ever snow swim (on a Devon beach of all places), and gave the famous Dartmoor letter boxing a more local flavour. (some of our readers are still collecting all kinds of exciting letter boxes, we love to hear about them). Blonde One meanwhile was busy keeping herself fit on the nearby Stover Cycle Trail despite February’s wet and windy weather (cue Storm Darcy).
March was a miraculous month because it saw Blonde Two running (admittedly downhill) for the first time in approximately a million years. Meanwhile Blonde One was dusting off her compass, and encouraging us all to brush up on our navigation skills (something we Blondes definitely did in July!)
April is always a good time to sleep in a precariously perched shed on the edge of England so B2 and Mr B2 set off for North Devon to try out the National Trust’s wonderful Foreland Bothy (think camping but without the canvas). A marvellous (at last some sunshine) time was had walking, relaxing and generally exploring the area.
More sadly, April was also the month we lost that great champion of young people, the Duke of Edinburgh. Blonde One’s tribute and explanation of the impact the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has had on not just our young people but on the adult leaders who support them, moved many of us to tears.
Outdoor life is all about the practicalities, and Blonde One’s question, ‘How do you mark your map?‘ brought on an unexpected flurry of ideas and contributions. Yet more proof of the ingenious nature of our readership!
Meanwhile Blonde Two got all serious on the topic of online geotagging (advantages and disadvantages) when we explore outdoor locations. With so many more of us enjoying the UK’s outdoor spaces (hooray!) this one’s been a hot potato all year!
June was a month to get back to basics with Blonde Two once more attempting (and failing) to stand up on a paddle board, considering the virtues of Haytor (Dartmoor’s most popular tor), and reminding us all about Dartmoor’s grazing animals.
Well! July! Now that was a month! And it was all about navigation training. Blonde One kicked off with a discussion as to who is better at map reading (men or women). Then we both set out to prove that women are by teaching over forty lovely ladies navigation skills in conjunction with the Dartmoor Way walking route and Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign.
Over the two weeks we had all the weathers, and had to keep changing the route to allow for the possibilities of both hypothermia (deluges of rain) and hyperthermia (a crazy heatwave). We visited the same junction so many times, and from so many different directions, we christened it ‘Groundhog Junction’.
It was a great experience, and we met some of our ladies again in the autumn for a more advanced workshop. We were very chuffed to see they had all made lots of progress!
We kicked off August with a Dartmoor wild camping workshop hot on the heels of our final navigation workshop for July (well why not), and had the most fantastic, laughter filled time with our pair of clients.
The combination of enthusiastic American and dry-humoured Glaswegian turned out to make for the perfect camp, B2 got to say ‘fanny pack’ a lot, and we both came away feeling more like we’d been on holiday than working.
As well as fun, peace and quiet are a really important part of wild camping so Blonde Two found out a bit more about countryside noise pollution, and why tranquility should be seen as a natural resource.
Autumn is a natural time for change but 2021 turned out to be the start of a very interesting one for Dartmoor National Park. With such an increase in visitor numbers, the Park is in the process of reviewing its bylaws. Most (but not all) of the proposed changes appertain to wild camping.
As we Blondes have been wild camping on Dartmoor for a long time now, we thought we’d write a handy ‘how could the new bylaws affect me?‘ explanation. It proved very popular!
With the COP26 conference coming up later in the autumn, our writing turned to looking after the planet. We all need to use less, and outdoor life (especially camping) has taught us both an awful lot about doing exactly that.
October brought us back down to earth. Or perhaps not, with Blonde One exploring a lonely Dartmoor church, perched on a very unique tor (the church, not Blonde One!) And Blonde Two taking her love of hedgerow foraging into the realms of psychology (with help of course).
Do you have a favourite map? Blonde One has two. There’s Dartmoor of course (OL28) but she also has a soft spot for OL101, which depicts the Isles of Scilly, as well as the many square kilometres of sea all around them. If you’ve ever wanted to visit these lovely shores, B1’s explanation of her favourite Isles of Scilly islands will help you pick your perfect island.
Blonde Two is also loyal to OL28 Dartmoor but she has a second winner as well; right at the other end of the UK! This year OL57, Cairn Gorm and Aviemore had her reaching the Chalamain Gap from two different angles but not quite managing to venture past it into the fabled Lairig Ghru.
What can we say about December? With all the dark days, and Christmas preparation, it’s always such a blur. However we Blondes did find time to explain to the world how exactly to have a Covid-safe Christmas party (something it seemed to be struggling with at the time).
Our last Dartmoor wild camp of the year started with a fantastic night at the Rugglestone Inn followed by a walk in the mist, and a rather surprising great night’s sleep in our soggy tent. Oh yes, and we finally caught sight of Dartmoor’s unicorn visiting the Dartmoor Christmas Tree.
2021 – another strange but interesting outdoor year
Well that brings us to the end of 2021. No TV appearances this year but we are now regular chat-alongs (my term) on Radio Devon’s morning show, and took up two whole episodes of the fun Bean Camping podcast (B2 by the way, has started her own podcast Outside with Fi Darby) feel free to give her a listen, and a thumbs up.
Looking forwards to outdoor life in 2022
So what will 2022 bring to the World of Blonde? Who knows but one thing’s for sure, we Blondes are going to be celebrating our ten-year anniversary (blogiversary) in style. We have a plan so watch this space!! After all, none of the other outdoor blogs have quite the same touch of Blondeness!!!