As we reach the end of the Noughties we thought it was time to take a look back over the last decade and reminisce. It’s been a strange ten years when not a lot seems to have happened at first glance, but take a closer look and it’s been eventful, innovative and a decade to remember.
2000: The new decade, and new millenium, kicked off in spectacular fashion with the passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Although not fully implemented until October 2005 after a long rollout process the “Right to Roam” has been possibly the biggest step forward in a century for walkers in England and Wales. The legislation may not be perfect, and offer less freedom than Scotland’s later Land Reform Act, but has succeeded in opening up over 6000 square miles of mountain, moor, heath, down and forest.
On the gear front the year 2000 brought us Gore-Tex XCR, a revolutionary new, more breathable, fabric from the membrane masters. Available in 2 and 3 layer versions XCR lasted the whole decade as the fabric of choice for high end mountain clothing and the leading waterproof liner for boots.
2001: A bad year for outdoor enthusiasts as Britain was gripped in the Foot and Mouth outbreak. Cumbria and The Lake District got hit particularly hard and huge swathes of land were closed off for much of the year. Elsewhere the Mont Blanc Tunnel reopened following the fire of 1999 and an expedition found the camp of Mallory and Irvine’s 1924 Everest expedition.
The big news on the gear front was the introduction of eVent, an alternative membrane to Gore-Tex in what was a hard year for manufacturers and retailers.
2002: The United Nations designated 2002 The International Year of Mountains in a campaign to preserve mountain ecosystems with special events worldwide. The Kendal Mountain Film Festival was joined by The Outdoors Show at Birmingham’s NEC on the annual calendar and the country began recovering from the previous year’s Foot and Mouth.
2002 saw Loch Lomond opened as Scotland’s first National Park
Kinder Trespass leader benny Rothman died in the 70th anniversary year of the trespass, and Loch Lomond became Scotland’s first National Park. Further afield Alan Hinkes summited Annapurna making it 12 out of 14 in his 8000 metre quest.
Stretch XCR was the new fabric of the year along with the latest “in” word – Soft Shell. Paclite got a revamp, seeing the end of the characteristic dots, and Scarpa launched the legendary Cumbre boot. Haglof brought us their LIM range
2003: Britain got a new National Trail in May with the opening of the Hadrian’s Wall Path, and the Ice factor artificial ice wall in Kinlochleven. Scotland got the Land Reform Act 2003 that enshrined the rights of access in law. After being under threat Wainwright’s famous series of Lakeland Guides was saved with a new publisher, but no such luck for Aaron Ralston who cut off his own arm with a penknife after being trapped by a boulder. Competing for the headlines with Aaron Ralston we had the release of Touching The Void, Joe Simpson’s classic tale of survival. Sir Ranulph Fiennes also threw his hat into the ring with seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.
Rab brought us the classic Latok jacket and trousers, whilst haglofs invented their Turtleshield pack technology. Overseas a sign of the times came with respected New Zealand manufacturer Macpac switching production to the Far East for the next season’s products.
2004: The year the lightweight revolution really took hold. Cottage and small industries from the USA started to gain more widespread fame through the internet and specialist retailers started springing up around the country. Go-Lite brought us the world’s lightest rucksacks whilst long term favourites like Thermarest introduced new lightweight ranges. Terra Nova lightened the load with the introduction of the Laser tent, which went on to spawn a comlete range of ultra-lightweights.
Planning permission was given for a proposed new cafe on Snowdon, whilst over in the Himalayas Alan Hinkes was closing in on a record with his ascent of Dhaulagiri. In the Lake District Wasdale got it’s first live webcam in a trend that’s spread to wilderness areas around Britain, and the first 4X4 ban came into force on the Ridgeway.