A very happy Easter to those who celebrate it. Rose.
The chance to part with a small amount of money when Terry set up his fundraising page for his current film about Scafell Pike, was a way to demonstrate my faith in his abilities as a film maker and to pick his experienced brains about wild camping.
Terry has assembled a huge cast of characters for “The Life of a Mountain – Scafell Pike”, from mountaineers to mountain rescue, farmers and a shepherdess. All have a connection to Scafell Pike and the narrative of the film explores these connections. Terry’s ambition was to film a year in the life of the mountain which is the highest peak in England and one of three of the highest in the UK.
I travelled to Nether Wasdale in the Lake District to spend a day with three of the National Trust Rangers responsible for maintaining the hugely popular route up to Scafell Pike. Apparently 40,000 people, including many 3 peaks challenge teams, take this route each year and the footpath is key to their success.
Terry and the Rangers filmed a day at work on the route to the summit during April. Although there were many signs of spring on the lower part of the route, the summit was still shrouded in low cloud.
Hampered in my climb by an asthma attack, I still met all sorts of people during the day, from young children to a 79 year old man, who said this was going to be his last climb. All these people made me realise what universal and enduring appeal this mountain has.
The Scafell Pike film is generating a lot of interest within the outdoors community following the fundraising drive and Terry’s previous Cairngorms film with Chris Townsend in 2013 (which received a commendation at the Kendal Mountain Festival).
The clips of Terry’s film which I have seen look very promising, and I feel certain that the project will bring Terry the recognition he deserves. The film premieres at Rheged in Penrith on Saturday 10th May. Tickets are currently sold out for the first screening.
For the month of September 2014 you can give your unwanted outdoor gear a new lease of life and get 15% discount at award winning outdoor retailer Rohan.
Gift Your Gear, an award winning UK initiative is inviting you all to look around your wardrobes, attics and garages for any unwanted outdoor clothes.
Gift Your Gear provides outdoor clothing and equipment to organisations who encourage the next generation, to get outdoors. Young people need to get outdoors for their physical and emotional well-being. As readers of this blog are probably aware, it’s hard to enjoy your early experiences in the outdoors when you’re cold, wet and uncomfortable. Having the right clothing and equipment helps to ensure that outdoor experiences are safe and enjoyable.
The outdoor gear you donate will make a real difference to the UK community organisations, youth groups and charities who receive it. Gift Your Gear gratefully accepts all unwanted waterproofs, fleeces, outdoor trousers, insulated jackets, gloves, hats and boots that are gathering dust in your cupboards, attics and garages.
Gift Your Gear has partnered with Rohan, the award-winning outdoor and travel clothing company. Drop off your unwanted outdoor clothing at any Rohan Shop during September, that’s all outdoor clothing regardless of brand including children’s clothing and in return Rohan would like to offer you 15% off a full priced purchase made the same day as a qualifying Gift Your Gear donation.
You can contact the “Gift your gear” team at the following sites:-
Well, Twitter has spoken. Following a brainstorming session on Twitter and Google +, I created a poll of polls (below) in which people were invited to nominate and vote for their top 3 international long distance trails.
As you can see from my previous post, the shortlist included trails from all over the world, including the USA, New Zealand, Scotland, France and Turkey. The capture below shows the results on the closing date, but please feel free to continue voting.
Unfortunately some of the less well known trails like the GR5 (Netherlands to the Mediterranean) and the Lycian Way in Turkey didn’t fare so well in the poll, but perhaps that was to be expected.
In the end the poll was just for fun and I hope you enjoyed taking part.
After a Twitter brainstorm which lasted for most of the day, and involved some great hikers and runners, I thought I would collate the answers I received into a blog post so that you can vote for your top three trails. The closing date for votes is 1st March 2014.
Sorry if your favourite trail isn’t included in the poll but I had to close the nominations at some point. The list is entirely made up of trails suggested by people on Twitter. It can only ever be a selection as there are so many great trails out there. Please feel free to vote and add your own comments or additions to the list as a comment. Thanks for taking part.
Because of a fall at the end of 2012, this year got off to a slow start. My convalescent winter was spent reading about other people’s adventures, which inspired me to plan some of my own. The injury knocked my confidence, and dented confidence sometimes takes longer to recover from than broken bones.
I first ventured out into the country again on a group trip to Kirkby Stephen in February. I discovered how out of condition I was when I couldn’t complete the first 15 mile walk. It was sad to watch everyone dashing off into the distance leaving me to meander back to base, although I did manage a shorter walk the following day.
A few weeks later in March of 2013, I planned a week of some of my favourite Northumberland walks from a base in Rothbury in order to boost my fitness and my morale. Kirkby Stephen had taught me that I needed to take things at a more comfortable pace at first. Although it was still quite wintery on the hilltops, it was really good to get out again and revisit north Northumberland.
As some of you will know, my big plan for 2013 was to walk the Pennine Way to raise funds for Crisis UK, so I knew I had to get back into condition. Martin Rye was kind enough to act as a mentor as this was to be my most ambitious hike to date. With advice from him and from James Boulter on my camping kit, together with many others on Twitter, I began my attempt to transform myself from a slackpacker to a self supporting backpacker and trail walker.
I made plans to do two hikes in the spring; the 65 mile St Cuthbert’s Way during the wintery April, followed by the 75 mile Cumbria Way during May. I never stop learning when I hike, and these hikes were no exception. I was able to experiment with new kit, footwear, and different kinds of accommodation. The strange weather of the 2013 spring presented challenges on both walks, with 25cm of snow in places across the Scottish borders, and hail showers on the Cumbria Way.
When the time came for me to set off on the Pennine Way in June, I was apprehensive about my achy tendons, and about camping in my new tent. I consulted a podiatrist who gave me some exercises designed to prevent tendon injury, and sought advice from people on Twitter about camping, but I was still nervous when I arrived at Edale in June.
With hindsight, I can honestly say that all the kit and exercise preparation I did, and all the advice I sought turned out to be valuable. I saw quite a few people on the Pennine Way during the summer heatwave with problems such as sunburn, heat exhaustion, heavy packs and injury, which luckily didn’t affect me during my hike.
I completed the hike in 20 days but allowed a couple of negative comments at the end to get under my skin, which wasn’t helpful. My advice is to avoid negative people as they will drag you down.
Some of the “areas for improvement” which emerged on the Pennine Way were my wild-camping, my mountain skills and some of the mistaken assumptions I had acquired about hiking, so the remainder of 2013 has been spent trying to address these issues.
I was lucky enough to team up with 4 intrepid wild-campers on Twitter (LonewalkerUK , Hillplodder, Dean Read & PilgrimChris) for my first wild camp in the Peak District. After the Pennine Way, it was relaxing not to have a schedule to adhere to, and to have the logistics planned by somebody else.
So many people have made the point that we are generally much safer in the hills than we are in most cities, so I have no excuses left to stop me getting out there to wild camp in 2014.
I had planned to try and fit two more short trails in to the end of the year, but responsibilities at home have put these on hold. I did manage half of the Northumberland coast path which I hope to finish at some stage.
I can’t write about this year without mentioning some of the people in it, as well as the hikes. As my ambitions to do longer trails have grown, I have realised that the best people to turn to for advice are people who have done them. It was therefore a huge pleasure to meet Sarah and Alasdair Fowler, Colin Ibbotson (Tramplite) and Chris Townsend and to chat about many aspects of their experience on some of the worlds great trails.
In October I was invited to the Lake District by the National Trust to meet Tanya Oliver (@Heelwalker1) of Fix the Fells to see some of the vital path maintenance they do to tackle problems caused by erosion and poor drainage on the upland fell paths.
This fascinating day with Tanya also kickstarted my Wainwright bagging again in the Central Fells.
All these events have meant that the line which had existed in my brain between myself and mountaineers has started to become a bit blurred and meaningless. In November I therefore took myself to the Kendal Mountain Festival to test the assumption that I am somehow different from a mountaineer. Over the weekend I met some friendly people, enjoyed some good craic, and saw some great talks and films, so I look forward to returning next year.
Watching all these films about mountains in the snow finally persuaded me that I need to improve my winter skills if I am going to complete any longer global trails. Thus the year ended with me playing with my first ice axe and crampons at a Winter Skills lecture and booking myself onto a course. Without any injuries to contend with this winter, I have also taken up running in an effort to keep my fitness up for next spring.
At the end of 2013, many of the assumptions I had about hiking have disappeared and I find myself wanting to improve my mountain skills in the coming year. Thanks for reading and I hope all your plans for next year come to fruition. I look forward to reading about them. All I can say about 2013 really is who knew!
I have just been making a compilation video of all my hiking and outdoors activities in 2013. It has been an adventurous year with three solo trails and a return to the Lakeland fells. Although my hiking has been confined to this country, I have experienced everything from deep snow in April to intense heat three months later, which has presented some challenges. I have also met and listened to some inspiring people, with fascinating tales to tell, so lots to learn and write up in my review of the year, coming soon.
Having had a kind offer of a bunk from Kendal Hostel, I couldn’t resist the temptation of making my first trip to the Kendal Mountain Festival. The hostel is perfectly situated beside the Brewery Arts Centre and the main marquees.
Having secured myself a festival programme, there was nothing for it but to plan what to do and see, which was a much more difficult job than I had anticipated.
In the end I chose a talk by the talented film maker Sebastien Montaz Rosset, whose Petit Bus Rouge won the best adrenaline film at the festival. This was an engaging and technically fascinating look at the techniques and equipment he uses for some of his work.
Following this I went to talks by Kenton Cool and Lucy Creamer which were both full of insight, knowledge and wisdom about the highs and some of the lows of the mountains. During his circuit of the three Himalayan summits known as the Everest triple crown, Cool described how he tried unsuccessfully to revive a fellow climber who had run out of oxygen.
Lucy Creamer described her slow and painful rehabilitation from a serious shoulder lesion. Having suffered an injury myself, I could relate to her description of the recovery process. However invincible we may feel at times, these stories reminded me that we are not.
On Sunday I saw Epic of Everest, the lovingly restored film footage of the 1924 expedition to reach the summit of Everest. I found the shots of the mountain, and of their journey very moving, particularly the telescopic lens shot of Irvine and Mallory disappearing into the cloud, which was to be the last shot of them alive.
Finally I had a quick dash back to the Brewery Arts Centre to find out who the winners of the film festival were.
As part of the final Best of Kendal screenings, I saw a packed performance of the grand prize winner The Crash Reel about the tragic accident which left snowboarder Kevin Pearce brain injured. With the recent tendency towards extreme sports this film is a moving and valuable reminder of the dangers inherent in some of these sports.
I should also finally say that I had the chance to meet two of my hiking heroes, Chris Townsend and Colin Ibbotson at the festival, which was really inspiring. Hiking is often under-represented at outdoor festivals where we don’t quite fit into any of the traditional mountain categories. Hiking isn’t all about summits, although they make a wonderful addition to many long distance trails.
The Kendal Mountain Festival attracts people of all ages and backgrounds and is a very friendly affair. It gives you the opportunity to put faces to many Cumbrian, national and international names and companies. At the end of my first trip, although I only scratched the surface of the events on offer, I would say that if you get the chance to go next year, seize it with both hands.
Spooky woods near Wooler Common in Northumberland.