Make sure you wrap up warm, it’s gonna be a cold one!” – the words I’d heard more than once in the past week when telling people of our plans to trek up Kinder Scout on Saturday. I wasn’t unduly worried. Having grown up playing football and rugby on the windswept playing fields of North West England, I thought, “How cold can it be?””

The answer? VERY. The wind seemed to cut through us as we stood in a car park in Edale waiting for the stragglers. If I were a brass monkey I’d have been fearing for my, er… well you know the saying. Apparently, satnavs seem to get a bit confused if you take them out of their city comfort zone (there’s probably a metaphor in here…) Luckily, we’d be relying on analogue Google maps (a printed sheet of A4) once we were on our way. And soon enough, we were.

Not that we needed to worry about maps and directions of course, because this was a guided walk organised by the Netwalks team. Simon and Michaela had scouted the route prior, and with one at the front and one at the rear, all we needed to worry about was admiring the view, walking, and of course, talking!

Having experienced both the freelance and full-time worlds of a designer over the years, I’m well aware of the importance of networking in both. It’s as a freelancer in particular though that the old adage ‘It’s not what you know. It’s who you know’ rings true.  The role that serendipity plays in landing your next job is what makes it interesting/exciting/terrifying.

This bracing weekend walk, however, was a far cry from the awkward coffee and pastries that bookend most industry events, when ‘time for networking’ on an agenda board can often translate as ‘time for an early dart’. The preparation alone – packing a bag, making sandwiches, forgoing the Friday post-work pints – had made me feel like a sort of Salford Steve Irwin. With everyone else turning up with a similarly positive and adventurous frame of mind, it made for plenty of chat on the way up.

The great thing about the route we took was that after a fairly challenging (for me anyway) initial climb; you’re rewarded with stunning views pretty much straight away. By the time we made our first stop I was actually removing layers having got a bit of a dab on; the Arctic car park a distant memory. The manageable size of the group (about 20 or so) also meant that we didn’t really get split up and made it pretty easy to ‘work the room’ and speak to everyone at some point.

The walk lasted about 2 hours 40 minutes in total and visibility was good throughout. In fact, by the time we were making our descent back into Edale we were rewarded with beautiful sunshine. Further reward was found in the Old Nags Head where we retired for networking of a more traditional kind – over beers and a hearty pub meal. The pint of Deception next to the log fire felt well earned – even more so, dare I say it, than the post-work pint I’d declined the night before would have done. Perhaps I’ve changed…

Martin O’Neill is a graphic designer based in Manchester.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @martinodesign
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