Making the Climb

Views like this are some of my favourite things about living in Yorkshire. For less than an hour’s drive and the effort of making the climb up Ilkley Moor past the Cow and Calf, you get this as a reward. Simply breathtaking.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of undertaking this adventure with my family. It was six and a half years ago – New Year’s Eve 2012-13 to be precise – that I proposed to my wife in this very location. Returning with our two children served as a powerful reminder of just how much our lives have changed in that time.

As we made the climb, we came across three different scenarios that we all experience in our lives. I hope that by drawing these parallels, we can learn a few things together about how to reach higher and achieve more in our endeavours.

1. Looking up from Base Camp

Sometimes we arrive at an opportunity, obstacle or adversity in our lives that looks something like this. Perhaps it’s a skill we want to acquire. Perhaps it’s a promotion we desire to secure. Perhaps it’s a fear we long to overcome. Perhaps it’s an addiction we yearn to conquer.

How did Elias and I scale this rock face? One step at a time. Together. Carefully. Methodically. With support from my wife, spotting us from above.

Such is the case with life. Goals are achieved one step at a time, with support, resilience and smaller milestones all along the route. However insurmountable it first seems, it can be done.

2. The ‘Halfway House’

‘We’re halfway there’. I call this one the Bon Jovi Complex.

Most likely, the view will be pleasant enough. There will be some sense of achievement and a subsequent temptation to cash in, to stop, to ‘quit while we’re ahead’ or to ‘call it a day’. Do we take it and run, or do we press on and brave the risk for the greater reward?

There is no shame in stopping here, but there is a risk of lingering regret for those who do not venture on to the summit.

3. The view from the top

Comparatively few make it this far. It’s those that possess an attitude of restlessness and irrepressible curiosity.

The Halfway House to the summit is the hardest part of the climb. It hurts. Muscles get fatigued (even more so when you’ve got a complaining three-year-old on your shoulders). Character and resolve are sorely tested. Frustration flares. We question if we made the right choice. The summit seems to recede. We wonder if we will ever make it.

However long it takes, the view and victory are there and will make the climb worth it. No matter how gruelling, the bitter pain of the climb dissolves in the sweet taste of triumph.


We are sure to face all three scenarios. Whatever field of life you’re in and whatever point on the journey you find yourself on, the key is to keep climbing, however slow the progress seems.

If you are at the bottom of the rock face and looking up, find someone who will support your desire to climb. As you begin, do not allow the voices of those still at the bottom to persuade you to come back down. They can tell you nothing about a climb they’ve never made.

If you’re at the Halfway House, well done. Give yourself a pat on the back. By all means, go in and have a drink if you want. Best not to get too comfortable, though. Not if you want to get to the summit before nightfall.

If you’re on the climb to the summit, you might notice there are fewer people. It’s tough. It can be lonely. People might not want to follow. Don’t let any of that stop you; the view from the top is worth it. It’s your climb.

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