Twitter Detox

As a digital immigrant, I didn’t really know much about online safety when I started Rucksack Rose using a pseudonym in 2012. My aims were to celebrate the life of my late mother and to remind myself, after her long illness, that beauty and kindness still existed in the world. I wanted to connect with other outdoor people, particularly people who are normally excluded from outdoor debates. Naively I thought that is what the internet was for, and not for savaging people in a way that seems to have become unique to Twitter.

Because of this, I didn’t know how to react or who to turn to when these sites were targeted by malware and organised trolling. I made repeated attempts to refer people to my personal site but one thing I have learned is that trolls can’t or won’t read. After my Masters in 2016, issues from the same people flared up again on these sites when I mentioned that my application had been accepted for a well known challenge event, and their sheer unpleasantness resulted in my withdrawal from the event. This was soon followed by another outburst from a couple of people from the same group (without even knowing the circumstances) when I mentioned that I had made a call to Mountain Rescue for advice during a walk in memory of a relative.

Wild flowers & grasses
Wild flowers and grasses, England Coast Path near Souter Lighthouse

This group just seemed intent on wreaking personal devastation, and eventually pressured me into disclosing private information which was really off topic on this blog. All these experiences have changed my approach to blogging and social media, which is ironic on a blog intended to share beauty and kindness. As a result I have put Twitter on hold for the moment.

Increasingly when I tried to balance out any positive contribution Twitter was making to Rucksack Rose against the personal damage being caused by trolls, and the lax safety responses from the company involved, moving off Twitter became an easy decision.

Otherwise all is good, and everything else will hopefully carry on as usual.

Anti Bullying
Blow the whistle on trolling & harassment

Does the world need another review of 2017?

Summary.

The answer is probably not, so I’m keeping it short and including lots of pictures. Like most years, 2017 has had it’s ups and downs for me. I have achieved many of the aims for Rucksack Rose that I set out a year ago; completely updating all my sites, introducing a way to support me and producing more regular content, which includes ‘talkie’ videos and GPX links.

Outdoor
rucksackrose.com

In September I celebrated the fifth birthday of this blog and passing the 100k views mark on both my YouTube channel and my blog. I am proud to say that views currently stand at 108k+ on YouTube and 107k+ on this blog.

RR Thanks
Thank You from Rucksack Rose

In spite of these successes, responses to supporting me have been muted although I realise that competition is pretty fierce in this area. Thanks to the companies who have sent products for me to look at and try out and I hope it is onward and upwards for you in 2018.

In April, under pressure from trolls, I wrote a bit about my childhood experiences of aggression, and the ways in which I learned to cope with them, in Fear. I can only hope that writing about this may help others who have had similar experiences.

Pictures.

My achievements over the last year included completing my first solo wild camp in January to Shillhope Law in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland.

Sunrise from Shillhope Law
Sunrise from Shillhope Law, Northumberland in winter

I also completed two backpacked trails – the Berwickshire Coastal Path in March..

Sunrise near Eyemouth
Sunrise near Eyemouth on the Berwickshire Coastal Path
Eyemouth Port
Eyemouth Port, Berwickshire

… and the Speyside Way in May.

Cairngorms
Looking towards the Cairngorms from the Speyside Way near Aviemore
Fochabers
Near Fochabers on the Speyside Way

I did two shorter camping trips; Pitcarmick on the Cateran Trail in June, and Bealach Cumhang on the Rob Roy Way in August, both of which featured a lot of rain.

Blackcraig Forest
Views from Blackcraig Forest on the Cateran Trail
Camp site
Bealach Cumhang Camp on The Rob Roy Way

In between these trails and camping trips, I also managed some lovely day walks in North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders when I began experimenting with ‘talkie” videos. This featured some very loud wind drowning out my speech, until a friend suggested a microphone.

Tweed and Till
First live video: Confluence of the River Tweed and the River Till

For those who like to keep count, I did a total of 11 wild camps this year before Lyme disease took hold. The second half of the year was quieter, as the prolonged symptoms required two courses of antibiotics.

In order to have some off-grid time, I did some outdoor volunteer work at North Perthshire in October. During this rewarding trip, I learned a lot about the ecology, history and stewardship of the three sites where I worked, as well as meeting some great people.

Garry Bridge
Voluntary work in North Perthshire: View from Garry Bridge, Linn of Tummel
Killiecrankie
Trooper’s Den at Killiecrankie
Linn of Tummel Falls
Waterfall at Linn of Tummel viewpoint

Since then I have been focussing on writing, photography, editing, adding to and improving my GPX routes, various site improvements and spending less time on social media.

2018.

This year I have realised that my outdoor life is essentially a reflective place and a sanctuary in which to recover, recharge and renew. I therefore wish my genuine followers and readers a Happy New Year filled only with tranquility and positive people.

RR New Year 2017

 

Postscript

I would like to thank my fellow research students, two victim organisations and the police, for their real world advice on surviving assault and dealing with spammers and trolls. As a digital immigrant whose main offline contact at the moment is with someone who may have dementia, I had nobody to turn to at the end of 2016 when I was targeted by an organised group of trolls on Twitter. I still feel really saddened that they or anyone else should seek to wreak that sort of personal devastation and the experience has changed my approach to social media.

Rose

25 Gifts for under £25 🎁

If, like me, you are a last minute seasonal shopper, these are 25 gift suggestions under £25, for walkers of all abilities – from first timers to experienced hikers. They are all items which are in regular use in my kit.

25 Gifts
25 Gifts for walkers under £25
  • Buff – A versatile item available in a wide range of colours and designs to suit the person you are buying for
  • Head Torch – Very useful to have in your rucksack during winter walks when the days are short so you don’t get caught out
  • Gloves – Available in a huge range of colours, styles and fabrics
  • Mini Tripod – Popular items available for smartphones for those outdoor selfies
  • Drink Bottle – Possibly the most important item of kit. Available in plastic and metal
  • Flask – For that timely brew on the hills
  • Maps – One or two local maps could encourage a novice walker out on a walk
  • Waterproof Phone Case – Another increasingly popular item to protect your phone from getting wet
  • Lapel Microphone Clip – The perfect present for anyone wanting to vlog about their walks using their phone. Stops you being drowned out by wind
  • Beanie – Economical, versatile and easy to shove in your pack or your pocket when not in use
  • Compass – Another ideal gift for a newbie walker. Worth getting a decent one on a lanyard to attach it to a pack or jacket
  • Pen-knife – A good quality pen knife is a permanent part of many kit lists. Obviously it must conform to knife laws wherever you are.
  • Hand Warmers – Nice to keep hands warm at this time of year and available in a wide range of prices
  • Cheap Poles – My first set of trekking poles were pretty cheap and lasted for ages
  • Dry Bags – Always useful and available singly or in sets
  • Socks – A good outdoor shop should stock a good range of these for different times of year. Available in different sizes, colours and designs to suit the person you are buying for.
  • Outdoor Wallet – A useful gift available in synthetic or cuben to replace a bulky purse or wallet on outdoor trips
  • Head Net – An essential item in some parts of the country at certain times of year. Light and compact enough to stay in your rucksack during the summer months.
  • Gaiters – Excellent for wet and boggy terrain
  • Walking Guide Book – A good book of routes is a great present. The best ones have OS maps, are pocket sized and resilient.
  • Guided Walk – In this age of things, experiential gifts are a growth market. A good experience could be to take someone on a guided trip or walk.
  • Lunch Box – Along with the drinks bottle and flask already mentioned, a good, robust lunch box is always nice to have and can last for years.
  • Attachable Accessories – You can get great drink bottles holders and cases in cuben and gridstop fabric which attach to rucksack shoulder straps and hip belts for extra space.
  • Anemometer – There are a range of hand held anemometers available for measuring temperatures and wind speeds during a walk
  • Gift Card – Available for high street stuff, digital maps and routes on most route apps

Version 2

Rose🌹🎁

Wild Watching 🎬

The dark evenings of winter are great for watching films, whether it’s from the comfort of your sofa or tucked up inside your tent on a hill. These are ten great new and classic outdoor films for some wild watching.

Wild Watching: 10 Recommended Outdoor Films
(In alphabetical order).

  • 127 Hours. Directed by Danny Boyle (2010).
  • Everest. Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2015).
  • Force Majeure. Directed by Ruben Östlund (2014).
  • Into the Wild. Directed by Sean Penn (2007).
  • Koyaanisqatsi. Directed by Godfrey Reggio. Music by Philip Glass (1982).
  • Mile, Mile and a Half. Directed by Jason Fitzpatrick & Ric Serena (2013).
  • The River Wild. Directed by Curtis Hanson (1994).
  • The Way. Directed by Emilio Estevez (2010).
  • Touching the Void. Directed by Kevin MacDonald (2003).
  • Wild. Directed by Jean Marc Vallee (2014).

You can find reviews of all these films arranged geographically in my Reviews section.

Happy Viewing
Happy Viewing

Rose🌹🎬

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 🌹📚

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

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.

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