Running the London marathon

2016: a year in review – my top 10

It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2016. What can I say? It’s been a mixed year. Huge political shake ups, continuing civil wars, the Rio Olympics and Paralympics and Planet Earth II.

Personally, there have been sad times and happy times. I’ve had some great adventures and ticked off a couple of long held ambitions. Focusing on the positives, and in no particular order, here are my top 10 of 2016:

1. Running the London marathon

The first three months of 2016 were spent pounding roads and muddy footpaths in preparation for running the London marathon. My once in a lifetime challenge.


The day itself was incredible and by far the most physically demanding thing I’ve done. There were tough parts (the last six miles), amazing parts (spectator support and running over Tower Bridge) and emotional parts (finishing). Would I do it again? No way! But I’m very glad to have completed it.

2. Walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks

View from Pen-y-ghent descent
View from Pen-y-ghent descent

We spent a week in the Yorkshire Dales and were blessed with ideal walking weather. Perfect for tackling the Yorkshire Three Peaks – Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside. Often walked as a day long charity challenge, we chose the easy option and spread them over three separate days.

3. Family backpacking adventures

Rest break near the gallops, Lambourn
Rest break near the gallops, Lambourn

I’ve cheated here and combined two trips into one. At the start of the year we decided the kids were old enough for backpacking. We bought a couple of lightweight tents and chose a couple of weekend routes close to home.

Swinford Lock camp fire, Eynsham
Swinford Lock camp fire, Eynsham

It wasn’t all plain sailing. I overestimated the mileage we could comfortably walk on our Lambourn Valley Way weekend. And the weather was just a tad too warm on our Thames Path walk. But both weekends were fun, we rewarded ourselves with lovely meals out and made some great memories.

4. Going underground at Zip World Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog

My scary but exciting birthday present. Zip lining in caves, crawling through tunnels and scaling the side of the caverns. Are you brave enough to tackle Zip World Caverns?

Zip World Caverns training
Zip World Caverns training

5. Watching a Midsummer’s Night Dream, Creation Theatre, Oxford

“Quick, follow me. Walk in zigzags and blink your eyes really fast. Get in the van, hurry”. Think of Shakespeare and you don’t generally think of being bundled into a van in a public car park. Or taking part in an audition. Or popping into the printers to pick up wedding invites.

Part immersive performance, part treasure trail around Oxford this was an incredibly imaginative version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Creation Theatre. It was simply the best production I have ever seen.

6. Descending into Gaping Gill

Waiting for the Gaping Gill descent
Waiting for the Gaping Gill descent

This was an unplanned, but welcome addition, to our Yorkshire Dales holiday. After spotting an advert in a local cafe we seized the opportunity to descend 100m by winch into Gaping Gill, a large pothole. We had to contend with an early start and a couple of hours queuing but it was worth the wait!

7. Finally finding a bee orchid. And then another. And another.

Bee orchid, Warburg nature reserve
Bee orchid, Warburg nature reserve

You know the saying about waiting for buses? Well this year I could have substituted the words ‘bee orchid’. I was so happy to find my first bee orchid at Warburg Nature Reserve, closely followed by several more discoveries. I even found one on a roadside verge whilst out on my lunchtime walk. How could I possibly have missed them in previous years?

8. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim

Giant's Causeway
Giant’s Causeway

I’ve wanted to visit Giant’s Causeway for many years. It has been on my bucket list forever. With expectations so high, thank god it lived up to them!

9. Watching coypu at our campsite in France

Coypu at Milin de Kerhe campsite, Brittany
Coypu at Milin de Kerhe campsite, Brittany

Whilst on holiday in Brittany my favourite activity was watching a family of coypu living near our campsite. I’d head down to the river every evening, about half an hour before dusk, and wait patiently for them to appear. I was childishly excited at the first glimpse of the coypu each night, and even more so whenever the young appeared.

10. Starlings and moon rise at Otmoor

Moon from RSPB Otmoor
Moon from RSPB Otmoor

Over recent years we’ve made an annual pilgrimage to watch the starling murmuration at RSPB Otmoor. This year, in addition to 40,000 starlings, we were treated to the most amazing moon rise. Two spectacular natural sights in one day!

What are my plans for 2017? We’re keeping things flexible at the moment but I have a very long UK bucket list which I’m hoping to make a dent in. How about you?

19 thoughts on “2016: a year in review – my top 10”

  1. What a wonderfully varied list! Backpacking with the kids is something that I love and want to get back into next year (2016 was a write-off due to an annoying knee injury). And since I’m originally from Northern Ireland, I’m glad to see you enjoyed the Giant’s Causeway – a truly stunning and unique place (if you get there before the coach tours arrive…).

    All the best for 2017!! #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks Jonny. We thought we’d got to the Giant’s Causeway early but the tour buses had already arrived! It was the busiest place we visited by far but still an amazing one.

  2. It sounds like you have had some wonderful highlights! As a botanist, I love that one of your highlights was seeing a bee orchid! That would be a highlight for me as well 🙂 #farawayfiles

  3. What wonderful memories Christine. I loved the starlings and am so in awe of your marathon achievement. Well done! Wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas and even more adventures in 2017. Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks Nell. It was amazing, just in case you can’t tell from my gushing comments above! Creation Theatre is a very quirky company and worth hunting out if you’re ever in Oxford.

    1. I’m not sure I’ll be up to anything quite so energetic in 2017…although I am vaguely considering Oxford half maathon in October.

  4. Great to read about your highlights, Christine. I’m very impressed that you ran the marathon and the Giant’s Causeway is on my wishlist for next year. I’ve loved some of the posts of your adventures – the Yorkshire Dales in particular. Thanks so much for sharing this with us on #FarawayFiles

  5. What an amazing year. Well done on running the marathon, that is a fantastic achievement. I always love reading your blog, can’t wait to see what else you get up to this year! #GetGone

    1. Thanks Lauren. After your comment I just had to go back and read my marathon post – I think it’s a little like childbirth, as time goes on you forget just how painful it was!

  6. What an adventurous year you had! Very impressed by the London Marathon and Three Peaks Challenge. I hope 2017 brings many more adventures for you and your family. Thanks for linking up to #GetGone

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