Get Inspired: The Man Who Walked A Thousand Miles

Nick in front of a scenic view

Love them or hate them, New Year resolutions are a great way to achieve personal goals.

In 2014 Nick Dickson, 52, gave himself the challenge of hill walking one thousand miles, with the intention of seeing more of the UK countryside while increasing his fitness. This is his story.

"Last Jan 1st, like many people, I made a resolution to take more exercise.

When I moved up to the North from London in 2011 I promised myself that I'd make use of the great countryside across the region. In the first few years of living here I'd been on some lovely walks but still had barely scratched the surface of what was available pretty much on my doorstep. I knew that I literally had to get out a bit more.

Things started really well with an early new year break when I went up some of the Lake District fells around Buttermere and Crummock Water, and then a few trips over the next few weeks and months out to the hills and dales around Derbyshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. I was clocking up the miles, all measured on my trusty walkers GPS unit, and seeing some amazing places. I started adding up the distances and keeping track of the total in a diary which helpfully had beautiful pictures of wild landscapes to further spur me on.

I managed to boost the walk-mileage while on a fantastic holiday to the Outer Hebrides in late April with my other half where we did lots of walks across brilliant beaches, up stunning wild hillsides and visiting tiny islands, including St Kilda way out in the Atlantic. By mid-May I was already up to 350 miles, just about on course for the challenge of walking a thousand miles by the end of the year.

scenic image of Crummock water in the Lake district
Crummock Water, Lake District

A busy summer of work and distractions like the World Cup and Commonwealth Games slowed things down a bit so that by September I was behind schedule - under 600 miles with four months to go. Unfortunately I'd also told a few people that I was on the challenge so the pressure was on to get moving or risk embarrassment and a little humiliation. A long distance, multi day trip across the highlights of the Peak District and holiday breaks up to the Cairngorms and the Yorkshire Dales helped to put me back on track and see more fantastic British countryside.

By December I still needed to walk another 80 or so miles. Shorter days, poor weather and getting ill all got in the way and seemed to be combining to stop me from reaching my goal. But a final push which included a Christmas Day walk to the source of the Thames in Gloucestershire, a snowy Sunday up around Kinder Scout in the High Peak and a New Years' Eve walk on the appropriately named Winter Hill in the West Pennines helped me cross the finishing line and reach the thousand mile target.

scenic image of the North Cheshire country at sunset
Peak Forest Canal, North Cheshire

As a townie largely brought up in the London suburbs I'd never been able to fully enjoy or appreciate how amazing and varied the British Isles really are. Before 2014 I'd visited lots of different parts of the country and knew of some of the beautiful places that existed but over this last year I've seen just how fantastic and accessible the countryside is.

Whether it's a ramble over a National Trust park, a stroll across fields near your home, or a trip to the wilder, more rugged parts of Britain, getting out and walking, to see the wonders of where we live, is one of those pleasures that is open to everyone. You don't have to walk a thousand miles but I'd really recommend seeing what's on your doorstep, to get out and to get to know how great the country that we live in really is."

Inspired to take a walk in the countryside? Take a look at our guide to walking for tips on where to start. If you are a keen enthusiast already, get in touch and tell us your story by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired, visiting us on Facebook or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.