Top Twelve Tomes 🎁

As the gift season is upon us again, I thought it would be a timely moment to mention a few top new and classic outdoor and adventure books for the reader in your life, or indeed for you.

Bookshelf

Outdoor Book Shelfie

Outdoor & Adventure Books
(In alphabetical order)

  • Walking Home: Travels with a troubadour on the Pennine Way by Simon Armitage
  • Blind Descent: Surviving alone and blind on Mount Everest by Brian Dickinson.
  • The Last Englishman: A 2,650 mile hiking adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail by Keith Foskett
  • Balancing on Blue by Keith Foskett
  • Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster by Jon Krakauer
  • Mountains of the Mind by Robert MacFarlane
  • The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane
  • Ramble On: The story of our love for walking in Great Britain by Sinclair McKay
  • Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
  • Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
  • Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by Chris Townsend
  • Out There by Chris Townsend

Some of these books are reviewed in my Reviews section.

Happy Reading

Happy Reading

Rose 🌹📚

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Snaps from The Sill

After a very busy summer at this new centre, I decided to sit it out until things calmed down a bit before taking some pictures. These are a few snaps taken during a quiet term-time November weekday at The Sill Centre and YHA on Hadrian’s Wall. It is within easy reach of Housesteads Roman Fort, Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum, as well as some of the most iconic parts of the wall.

If you are thinking of visiting the centre or staying at the YHA, you can find some suggested day walks with GPX at Roman Roaming, and an account of the whole national trail at Hadrian’s Wall Path.

The Sill Entrance

Entrance to The Sill, Northumberland

The Sill

The Sill Main Entrance, Northumberland

The Sill front face

The front face at The Sill, Northumberland

The Sill canopy

Wooden canopy at The Sill, Northumberland

The Sill Roof

End view of The Sill with terrace, cafe and grassland roof

View from The Sill roof garden

View from The Sill grassland roof

The Sill Museum

Display space, The Sill, Northumberland

Video

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Outdoor Conservation

I have just completed my first working holiday as a conservation volunteer for the National Trust for Scotland’s Thistle Camps in North Perthshire. If you’re interested in conservation and the outdoors, this is a great opportunity to give something back, and make a difference to Scotland’s unique natural heritage.

image

Foliage at Garry Bridge, Killiecrankie (un-edited)

The working holidays are residential projects, based at National Trust for Scotland properties, which help the NTS to conserve and manage the historic locations under its care. Volunteers have the opportunity to live and work in some of Scotland’s remote and remarkable places for the duration of the camp.

The Thistle Camps website states that no prior experience is required for most of their camps as work is explained and techniques are demonstrated. Camps are graded according to their remoteness and the level of fitness required to do the work. Each camp is made up of eight to twelve volunteers of various ages and backgrounds, who contribute half the cost of the transport, food and accommodation for the trip. Volunteers share accommodation, as well as the communal tasks of cooking and cleaning, with the rest of the group.

Convalloch

Convalloch Lodge, Ballinluig

My work in the North Perthshire woodlands was divided between The Hermitage at Dunkeld, Pass of Killiecrankie and the adjacent Linn of Tummel site, just as the leaves were turning in the second half of October. Supervised by the NTS Rangers, the work included clearing leaves from the paths and public areas, path edging, fencing, removing non native species, chopping non native wood for the charcoal kiln, helping to prepare Ossian Hall for a wedding, and burning brash from storm damaged areas. Some of the many bonuses include gaining a more intimate knowledge of the sites, and having the opportunity to ask the Rangers questions about their history and stewardship.

These are some pictures of the historic and beautiful locations in which I worked, in one of my favourite parts of mainland Scotland.

Killiecrankie – (Site of the Battle of Killiecrankie on 27th July 1689).

Charcoal Kiln

Making charcoal at Killiecrankie

Killiecrankie

Trooper’s Den at Killiecrankie

Killiecrankie Vistor Centre

View from Killiecrankie Visitor Centre

Linn of Tummel

Garry Bridge

View from Garry Bridge, Linn of Tummel

Linn of Tummel 1

Upper path, Linn of Tummel

Linn of Tummel 2

Woodland, Linn of Tummel

Linn of Tummel Falls

Waterfall at Linn of Tummel viewpoint

The Hermitage, Dunkeld.

Hermitage

Woodland at The Hermitage, Dunkeld

Black Linn Falls

Black Linn Falls at The Hermitage by Ossian Hall

image

Funghi on a tree at The Hermitage

The Hermitage 4

The River Braan at The Hermitage

I hope that these pictures show what a beautiful and unique area this is, and give some indication of how much there is to see at these three National Trust for Scotland sites.

Day off

Bruar Falls

Lower Falls of Bruar, Pitlochry

Many thanks to the NTS Rangers, the Thistle Camp leader and co-leaders, and my fellow volunteers for an endlessly fun, fascinating and informative week. I paid the listed price towards my upkeep on this camp.

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3 Roman Romps

With the recent opening of The Sill on Hadrian’s Wall, complete with its shiny new Youth Hostel, I decided to put together a collection of day hikes which incorporate some of the excellent Roman sites, such as Housesteads, Vindolanda, Chesters and the Roman Army Museum, along the Northumbrian section of the wall.

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s Wall sites in Northumberland

So, if you enjoy history, archaeology, ancient walls, forts, turrets, milecastles and temples, but don’t have the time to do the complete National Trail, Roman Roaming offers three moderate hikes between 5 and 10 miles long. Together they offer a great introduction to this famous World Heritage Site. The page includes maps, photos, videos and GPX downloads.

Housesteads

Housesteads Roman Fort

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Rucksack Rose at 5

On 17th September this year it was 5 years since I began to create Rucksack Rose on this blog, YouTube and Twitter. For those who don’t know, Rucksack Rose was originally dedicated to my mum, and was intended to share the good and simple things in the outdoor world such as beauty and kindness.

RR5

Rucksack Rose 5th Birthday

I had great plans for this fifth year but, without going into details, bullying by a small group of trolls laid waste to some of them, which was a very sad moment for me and for this blog. Anyway, having taken advice, I am pressing on. Can I simply ask that if you don’t respect me, my content or my aims, you just unfollow. It’s really not that difficult.

Anyway, I always try to end on an up – I know you’ve all heard this stuff before, but to those who have stuck by me for all or some of the last five years for the right reasons, I would like to say a big thank you for over 101k YouTube views, 103k blog views, as well as your advice and inspiration. I genuinely appreciate all these things and I will continue to try and keep to the original intentions of the blog which are outlined in the About section.

RR Thanks

Rucksack Rose Thank You

Happy Hiking. Rose🌹

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Camp Couplet

I have been catching up with my writing up of two recent short backpacking trips in Scotland, which were designed to enable me to get some experience of wild camping with my newish Duomid shelter. Up to now my focus has mainly been on the hiking rather than the camping, which is why I was drawn to use existing long distance trails on both these trips.

My first four long distance trails utilised a variety of B&Bs, hostels and bunkhouses where all my needs were catered for, but the costs of these trips mounted up. Because of this I finally bought a tent for the Pennine Way in 2013 and began to use some small campsites and gardens. This experience kickstarted my journey towards wild camping.

Kit

Backpacking kit unpacked

The first trip in June was to Perthshire on part of the Cateran Trail, hiking from Blairgowrie to Kirkmichael and camping at Pitcarmick in Strathardle.

Lornty Burn

Farmland near Lornty Burn

Pitcarmick Camp

View from my tent at Pitcarmick

The second trip in August was to Stirlingshire and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park on part of the Rob Roy Way, hiking from Drymen to Strathyre and camping at Bealach Cumhang near the Menteith Hills. For those who don’t speak Gaelic, bealach apparently means col.

Loch Venacher

Ominous skies at Loch Venacher

Camp site

Bealach Cumhang

On the whole, I think my ability to chose reasonable places to pitch is improving a little bit, and I have begun to establish a camp routine which works for me, although heavy rain on both hikes affected my decisions, and I could still do with shaving some weight off my pack.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the write ups of Pitcarmick and Bealach Cumhang in my new Camps section.

Pocket kit

Pocket kit

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Dear Northumberland National Park

I don’t often feel moved to comment on the stewardship of the places I visit, but as I have spent over 15 years walking in this area, I feel entitled to make some comments about Northumberland National Park.

As I still regard myself as a guest in the countryside, I have always tried to be respectful and leave no trace. However I am sometimes confronted by enormous traces left by other parties which leave me feeling that my efforts are a bit one sided. Walkers in Northumberland presently need to work around the management of vast Forestry Commission plantations, a huge man made reservoir which occupies an entire valley, privately owned hunting, shooting and fishing estates, and live firing on the military ranges at Otterburn which occupy 23% of the National Park. Some of these activities leave me wondering about their long term effects on the delicate terrain of the Northumbrian and border uplands.

View of heather burning from the Cheviot

View of heather burning from the Cheviot

Heather burning

Large parts of the Cheviot Hills have been completely given over to the sport of grouse shooting. The management of these enormous private estates involves feeding and protecting the grouse, creating an environment in which they will breed, eliminating predators such as the Hen Harrier, and muirburn (burning heather) to create new growth for the young grouse to feed on. These practices are damaging the whole ecosystem of the upland areas in many areas, leading to flooding in the valleys, the extinction of certain species and the creation of an unsightly landscape which deters the outdoor community from coming to the Cheviot Hills.

Aerial view of heather burning in the Cheviot Hills

Aerial view of heather burning in the Cheviot Hills. Google maps ©

After reading about the movement which lead to the creation of national parks and the opening up of private land for working people to use after the war, I can’t help feeling that Northumberland was somehow left out of this movement. With no burning and grazing, these hills would slowly be overgrown by shrubs like gorse and fast growing trees such as birch. Looking at the present landscape, I find it hard to even imagine what that alternative landscape might look like.

Path erosion between Scald Hill and the Cheviot

Path erosion between Scald Hill and the Cheviot

Erosion

In other national parks, much time and money is devoted to path and landscape maintenance by organisations such as Fix the Fells in the Lake District National Park, and Moors for the Future in the Peak District. This is done precisely because the National Parks are aware that the revenue created by these popular areas is an enormous asset to the region as a whole. As one of the less populated parks, Northumberland sometimes seems to be more focussed on supporting local businesses than with investing in the landscape.

Path damage and erosion on The Cheviot

Path damage and erosion on The Cheviot

Some of the more popular trails around The Cheviot and Simonside, without proper maintenance, have become huge sunken scars. I have tried to point my camera away from some of this, but now I wish I hadn’t, because some footpaths are in a bad state and need urgent maintenance work. If the decision not to invest more in protecting the landscape is a purely economic one, then perhaps the benefits of attracting walkers, runners and cyclists needs to be properly costed out in this potentially attractive area.

Posted in About walking, environment, Nature, Northumberland walks, Scottish borders walks, walking, Walks | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My GPX Routes

I have been gradually adding day routes onto Viewranger 👣 for some time on an ad hoc basis. As long as the routes don’t seem to involve any hazards, I have made them public and free for people to download, but I hadn’t put much effort into the quality of the route information. As I have gradually realised how helpful good quality downloads can be, I decided to start adding GPX files for all my day routes and publishing some routes retrospectively to replace the slightly vague descriptions I had been giving on early YouTube and blog descriptions.

Viewranger

My Viewranger profile

There are now over 35 free, downloadable routes on Viewranger. I am pleased to see that there has been a steady interest in downloading these routes, so I have started adding links from my blog posts and YouTube, as well as improving the route information. I hope you will find them helpful if you are considering walks in this part of the world, and that they will work well in conjunction with the blog posts and videos.

Salters Road

Hartside to Salter’s Road route map on Viewranger courtesy of Ordnance Survey ©

If these downloads are used for profit by you or your company, I would be really grateful if you would consider supporting me so that I can increase the number of routes which are available to download.

Happy Hiking. Rose🌹

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A crack at the Cateran Trail

I chose the Cateran Trail, which is divided between Perthshire & Angus, for my next hike, partly because it looks to be a fine route, but also because this area was the site of the happy honeymoon which was my introduction to central Scotland some years ago. Although the happy memories of this area have lasted longer than the marriage, I was drawn to explore it again.

The Cateran Trail is a 65 mile / 104km circular route which includes Strathardle as well as parts of Glen Shee and Glen Isla. The route is named after the bands of cattle thieves known as Caterans who previously brought terror to these glens.

Cateran Trail

Cateran Trail, Perthshire and Angus courtesy of Walkhighlands and Ordnance Survey ©

The Strathardle section I completed between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael contains all the different types of terrain which this area is known for; various types of woodland, untamed heather moorland, rolling farmland pastures, and many burns feeding into the Ericht and Ardle rivers.

Unfortunately for me, a recent event on the trail had left it a bit too churned up and muddy to complete at anything other than a very slow pace. If I had worn my boots and taken my gaiters, it would have improved things, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Anyway here are a few photos of the varied section between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael, which included a camp at Pitcarmick, to give you an idea of the route.

River Ericht

River Ericht near Blairgowrie

Lornty Burn

Farmland near Lornty Burn

Blackcraig Forest

Views across Strathardle from Blackcraig Forest

Dalnabreck

Near Easter Dalnabreck

Dalnabreck

Near Dalnabreck

Pitcarmick Burn

Pitcarmick Burn

These pictures give some indication of how lovely the trail is, but avoid the mud underfoot. At this point it began to rain heavily, so I pitched the tent quite early to dry out.

Pitcarmick Camp

Dreich view from my tent at Pitcarmick

Drying out

Drying out in the Duomid

I continued my hike the following morning down the lovely, verdant country lanes into Kirkmichael for a much needed hot breakfast. There I decided to return to this trail when it has had the chance to recover, and I can focus more on the lovely countryside and less on where I am putting my feet.

Posted in About walking, Camping, Distance walks, Scotland walks, Trails, Walks | Tagged , , , , , ,

Using Mountain Rescue

In May I walked the Speyside Way as a way to remember someone who sadly passed away this year. During the walk I made a call to rescue services for navigational advice as there was a route discrepancy between my map and the signage. It was getting late and I was stuck in a seemingly endless rocky barbed wire corridor which wasn’t wide enough to pitch my tent. My tired reasoning was simply that a call for advice now might prevent a call for help later. Unfortunately the personnel I spoke to were unable to answer my query on that occasion. Some people, who are not at all representative of my readership, were critical of this decision, so this is just a quick response to them.

In the 20 years since I began hiking, I have once requested a call out from Mountain Rescue and have sought advice two or possibly three times on solo long distance walks. On each of these occasions I made a donation to the relevant team.

Speyside Way

Speyside Way Map courtesy of LDWA and Ordnance Survey ©

I would just like to quote a DM I received from a professional rescue person (who shall remain anonymous) regarding my call for advice:

“I think if your call prevented you from getting into danger then it was worthwhile. The Mountain Rescue teams would rather you didn’t get hurt and so would I…I’ve met lots of people who should have done what you did”

I would also like to point out that, as I have a relative who was involved in mountain rescue, I realise how valuable their service is to the outdoor community. My relative sustained a permanent injury whilst carrying out a mountain rescue with his team, so I am fully aware of the risks teams face while providing this service. I am also aware of my personal responsibilities to use their resources sparingly, to donate as and when I can, and to provide the best outdoor advice I can on this site.

Pennine Way

Pennine Way route map courtesy of LDWA and Ordnance Survey ©

Thanks. Rose🌹

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