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Jon's Christmas Message 2018

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Jon and Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion Tracy Purnell modelling for our Brecon Beacons Trail Running guide. Photo: John Coefield.

Castle Rock

I spent a lot more time this year with my father than I had in many previous years, probably as much as I had since I left home to go to college (to study a degree in Advanced Rockcraft).

My dad had introduced me in a very roundabout way to climbing. We’d acquired a rather old set of maps in the 1970s dating from maybe the 1950s and used them to go on forays into the countryside in our first family car. An early trip was somewhat disastrous as we found the idyllic sounding Seal Sands on the Teesmouth estuary had, in the intervening years since the map was printed, been taken over by ICI and its petrochemical works. For our next trip out we decided somewhere more mountainous might be a little less developed and so, ended up in the Lake District. More precisely we ended up at the bottom of Castle Rock, in that little layby, binoculars in hand, watching rock climbers, like ants, creeping up the mountain. If it wasn’t for my dad I probably would not have become quite as fascinated and immersed in the outdoors as I did, and I guess I wouldn’t have published so many books on the subject. Blame my dad.

I had many good days with my dad this year, we talked a lot about our early trips to the Lake District, climbing along Striding Edge, buying my first pair of walking boots in Glenridding. I talked to him about lectures by the likes of Chris Bonington we’d been to together, I talked about the Joe Tasker exhibition running in Stockton, about books I’d published and books to come. When we looked back we had a lot of great outdoor times together, and we were able to appreciate we had indeed nothing to regret, no lost time, no missed opportunities. That 1950s One Inch Map to the Lake District had inspired many an adventure.

2019 will bring a whole host of new books that will maybe help the likes of me and you inspire each other to go out and lay down those memories. We have guidebooks coming, from the tiny – Sheffield Round Walk to the massive Lake District Bouldering with a Day Walks in Cornwall and a new Dales mountain bike volume thrown in for good measure. We hope to make you a better climber with Pete Whittacker’s Crack Climbing how-to tome; we will fill up your coffee table next Christmas with a selection of the very best climbs in Britain; we will take you on a tour of the Scottish Islands; we will tell you in detail all about some New Zealander who climbed very high in the Himalaya. We have more Squirrely adventures and we look again at how fantastically adventurous women are.

While 2018 was a time where I was able to take time out and reflect on great times in the past, 2019 will be for Vertebrate one year where we reflect on those great and we think back to happy memories, and so we hope to spend a chunk of our paper budget making sure classics such as First on the Rope, The Last Blue Mountain, Menlove and Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage are once again in print to be enjoyed by all. 

Castle Rock has fallen down now, but, you know what? That’s okay. I’ve been over there and watched the climbers on it from the car. Scattered in the mess at its base will be a new adventure.

Thanks for buying the books this year, heartfelt from us all at Vertebrate, and I hope we have fulfilled our mission for another year and inspired you and helped you spend time in the outdoors making some special memories. See you after Christmas.

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