The title is a nod to the director of the 7up series of Tv programmes, Michael Apted who has died recently, he was also known for Gorillas in the Mist. The title is relevant as the website has hit a quarter of a million views (approaching 100,000 individual visitors). The numbers are mind-blowing for me and a credit to you, the reader. Thank you for coming here to have a look around and I hope you have either found what you have needed or continue to enjoy seeing the places that I see. My aim from the start was to showcase what this part of the world has to offer, by that I mean Devon specifically and occasionally Cornwall. There have been adventures to The Lakes or Snowdonia alongside that and hopefully, in the future, other destinations. However the main aim was, and still is, to look at Dartmoor and walks there. It is at these times that you then look at what you have achieved and which pages and posts are making the headlines. I find this interesting reading as some are obvious but others always will surprise, especially as you remember writing them as just another walk.
You start at the top, the most popular pages on this site will always be the Dartmoor Tors pages and the height order. Nearly 40,000 hits on these pages, closely followed by the home page at 25,000. This is a stunning number and I guess for those out there looking to create a site, it shows that you need to get your main pages in order (makes a note to double check these pages!). If I’m honest, when I started I looked at other sites and how they worked, I took notes of the good ones (in my opinion) and took some ideas from others. There was a great website which has now been retired on Lake District Walks. David Hall’s website had the right idea. Just go walking, take some photos and write about it, he included all parts of the walk, including where to park, how hard the walk was and the interesting bits along the way, including the weather and the fact that he didn’t like wearing waterproofs, which in the Lakes is very brave! He included not just the high tops, but the bridges and stories along the way. This was more me, so I tried to replicate that. I got a break when I helped a friend move his walking website on to WordPress (stridingedge.net), I transferred dozens of walks to the new site. And as a result in 2014 I decided to make my own site.
Apart from the tors pages and the home page, the next on the list is My favourite tors and places on Dartmoor. I put this page in the site in 2017, not sure exactly why but more of a reaction to the pages being looked at by you the viewer. I wanted to give you an idea of what I liked I guess, and its done very well for itself. Next comes the top tor pages. High Willhays is my top tor page, being the highest you can see why, closely followed by Foggin Tor, not sure why this is, maybe Bear Grylls abseiling there or maybe the quarry? I haven’t a clue. In between those two are Fernworthy parking page and Shilley Pool. Now Shilley Pool is a very popular wild swimming spot so that makes sense, but Fernworthy parking is a bit strange, I guess the parking there is tricky and the reservoir is quite popular but still it confuses me a little!
My most popular walk, well that is my favourite walking area. Cadover to Shaugh Bridge and back, this version of the walk is the one clicked on more than any other (here). After this come pages of Venford, Shipley and Rowtor parking, Emsworthy Rocks, Kitty Tor, Yes Tor Western Beacon, Cut Hill and Piles Copse. As for those walks outside Dartmoor well The Cheesewring in Cornwall is very popular and quite rightly so and scores high on my site. And a walk in the Lakes, no not Helvellyn, nor Scafell Pike or Blencathra. But Blea Rigg and Tarn Crag, as I said at the start, writing about just another walk!
Looking at the Dartmoor pages on my website, those in the south do reasonably well, which is a surprise. As mentioned Western Beacon is up there, but also Swell Tor, my favourite Down Tor and Pew Tor. These sit alongside the the pages for Fur Tor, Sourton Tor, Watern Tor and Great Links Tor. Its fascinating to look at what is important to you the viewers. Outside of the tors and the walks, you have the areas on Dartmoor which are historic, related to water or bridges, I’m pleased that not just the high spots of the area are looked at but the parts which create the heart and soul of Dartmoor.
However more recently I have noticed the effects of our current situation and the effects that has on the website. Back in March and April 2020 the views dropped, mirroring the lockdown 1 of Covid here in the UK. In May the views leapt, and by June I had more views than in the previous months put together. Being locked in does not agree with us and the hope and chance to get out was clearly seen on my website. These figures kept climbing in July and August showing how much the outside is needed. We therefore need to look at how we can look after what we have, there is legislation coming which means we need to identify all the footpaths we use, including those that aren’t on the OS maps but are on the ground. Check your own area and go to this site and help keep our rights to walk, these times especially show how our local paths are vital https://dontloseyourway.ramblers.org.uk/
As lockdown 2 and 3 hit you see the figures of people hitting the website dropping off in each of those times, with a brief peak around Christmas. You can’t keep people in, nor should anyone suggest we should, if only for the benefits in mental health. I am one who cannot stay in and stare at walls or consider the next series on Netflix, walking once a day around a field over and over. Its just not right and many, many people will have had mental illnesses triggered during the last 12 months, not just because of a fear of a disease but due to being forced to stay indoors, on top of those that suffered before then. 1 in 3 will have a mental health illness which is far more than what has happened this last 12 months.
Finally I’d like to thank those of you out there who have been a regular visitor, I can’t express how grateful I am for your encouraging words, facts about my area, likes and for posting your own blogs and websites which help me find new places to walk. From two of my earliest followers in Tessa Park and Chelsea Haden over at Loving life in Wellies. Tessa has some fine walks in the Lakes, Scotland and everywhere else and does it from London, meaning a trip to get there first, I can relate to that. Then there is surfnslide, a fabulous walking site based out of Herefordshire but including everywhere in Britain plus excursions to France. Next Beating the Bounds, who is a friend of surfnslide but has a fine eye for wildlife on the walks.
If you are looking for a good mix of walks in the South West and nearer to the Lake District then John Bainbridge knows his stuff, an author and a former chief executive of the Dartmoor Preservation Association (who I have volunteered for). He knows his paths. One of my favourite sites is Sunshine and Celandines (I now know what a Celandine is!!), plenty of walks around the north west of England to be enjoyed here. Another good walking website is that of Down by the Dougie, despite the fact that he is a Wigan fan, this site has some fine walks on it. Snowdonia, Yorkshire, Lake District and Lancashire all feature heavily here.
And finally I have the Dartmoor sites, two in particular stand out currently. Tors of Dartmoor has every tor, rock and outcrop on it. Its a fine site with all the information you need about the rocks of Dartmoor. Some are a little obscure but they are doing a great job to bring the lesser tors to the fore. Finally the Dartefacts website, this has everything on it and everything else in between. Literally everything on Dartmoor is on here and helps with naming and working out what you have seen.
So there you have it, how I have gone from 0 to 250,000, actually its now 251, 723 as its taken me a couple of days to notice I’d hit the mark and then a couple to actually write this!! Thank you all, thank you to my boys who follow me around these places when they can and we hope to see you all outside at some point.