Wild camping and me

Many of the endurance athletes I respect have managed to cover long distances by camping in farms and gardens or using bothies, rescue huts, hostels and bunkhouses. In spite of this, wild camping seems to have become a by-word for outdoor proficiency. Listening to the excellent Tough Girl Podcast, I have realised that many women share my apprehension about wild camping. It has been such a relief to hear this discussed by people with really amazing achievements under their belts.


Campsite Pics. Clockwise: My garden, Wasdale, Edale and Knarsdale

To rewind a bit, I backpacked the Pennine Way, staying in some very small campsites, on farms and in gardens, and my first wild camp was with a group of Twitter friends in the Peak District, shortly after I had finished this hike. On the whole this was good a humoured and enjoyable introduction to wild camping. I learned a lot by simply watching what was going on around me and left feeling encouraged.

Shining Tor

Heading for my first night’s wildcamping. Photo by @PilgrimChris

About 6 months later I was pleased to be invited out for a second wild camp by someone else on Twitter. This trip didn’t go so well. I hadn’t discussed it on my blog but I have begun to realise that if I don’t discuss it then other people will.

After a winter which was largely spent indoors supporting my father, I was a bit out of condition, but I didn’t regard it as a competition. I joined my fellow walker at Jedburgh for a bright and sunny day of walking on the St Cuthbert’s Way, which I had walked once before using hostels and B&Bs. Unfortunately by the time we pitched our tents, the invisible enemies of dehydration and sunstroke were causing me to feel very unwell. I had a throbbing headache, my head was spinning, I felt sick and a bit delirious. Most rescue people advise that if you don’t feel well you should turn back and that is what I did. In retrospect I think this was the right decision.

St Cuthbert's Way

St Cuthbert’s Way 1

I left my companion, but by the time I reached the road in the dark, I was feeling too sick to walk. I finally decided to call the hotel we had passed earlier in the day. The owner heroically came out in his car to pluck me up from the side of the road in the dark and take me back to the hotel where I was given tea and a much needed room for the night.

St Cuthbert's Way

St Cuthbert’s Way 2

When I got home I emailed my fellow walker to apologise and to explain that I had had too much sun. I mentioned all this in a Trip Advisor review of the hotel made at the time, and I hadn’t thought much more about it since then. Sadly I now realise that if you say nothing then that nothing seems to quickly get filled by inaccurate gossip which is why I decided to give my account of the trip.


Camping in Wasdale

Anyway, to return to the much more interesting present, and to answer some questions about the TGO Challenge, which I am thrilled to be doing, the main reasons that I haven’t wild camped recently are:

  • I have been completing an MA for the last year
  • I have been supporting my father
  • I have no car and not much money
  • I am an assault survivor and this has meant that I have a stupid fear that it could happen again, which still makes me afraid of some situations.
  • Once my new sleeping bag arrives I plan to go out wild camping by myself and begin training for the TGO Challenge

I have mentioned some or all of these issues to some Twitter friends, but I’d much rather not be feeling pressured into announcing them on here. I don’t really want to be defined by things that have happened to me in the past, so forgive me if, having explained this, I now focus on my training for the TGO Challenge, hoping that I can now do this in a less censorious and more supportive atmosphere. Apologies to my readers for having to use my blog to counter gossip rather than just write about the outdoors which is all I really want to do.

Pitch 2

A wildcamp pitch on Burbage Edge high above Buxton. Photo by Pilgrim Chris

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Just a quick feedback post on re-launching my blog after a year away and the various plans outlined recently in my Sprucing things up post.

  • Creating fresh content

Creating fresh content also forces you to confront content which is frankly not fresh. I have therefore deleted the Reviews tab as an old review is about as relevant for gear buyers as an old newspaper is for news. I will still write reviews but I will write them as posts which disappear into the archives after a while. With some regret I have also done away with a couple of geographical sections on my blog to focus on areas which I know more about. This is not an indication that I love them any less than I did, but an acknowledgement that there are very good blogs out there which cover these areas. Regarding producing new content there are more walks in the pipeline

  • Refreshing all the content and some of the pictures on my blog

I have been gradually working through all my blog posts editing both the text and pictures in the interests of accuracy and appearance. I hope this will bring about an overall improvement in the relevance and interest of the content.

  • Giving more opportunities for feedback

What can I say…I am happy to get feedback or suggestions and normally respond promptly to comments and messages when I’m at home. Your comments have always helped shape my future plans and decisions

  • Improving my existing and forthcoming videos.

This is a big project as I have over 80 videos on YouTube, but I am enhancing the thumbnails, descriptions, tags and in some cases re-uploading the poorer quality videos. I have also started using a better camera and improved software which can only be an improvement. (Cont)


Clockwise: Malham Cove, Hadrian’s Wall, High Force, Helm Crag

  • Introducing ways to allow people to give financial support or advertise if they want

See the Supporting Me and Outdoor Links pages if you are interested.

  • Re-establishing contacts and catching up on Twitter

I am always pleased to be getting new followers, but also to manage to keep in touch with older followers who I still value. My timeline is busy so it is a case of finding ways to focus in on the activities which I think people follow me for.

  • Re-evaluating YouTube, Google+, Instagram and Audioboom profiles

After consulting followers, the consensus seemed to be that I should deactivate AudioBoom and Google + which I have now done. As a result I am now a leaner machine on this blog, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Viewranger.

  • Seeking adventure collaborators and walking companions

I have created a free, reciprocal outdoors links page and am seeking collaborators and walking and camping companions for trips and trails. Support and collaboration are not just about money although it does help.


Wildflowers and plants.

Wildflowers and plants.

Thanks for reading, viewing and following. Rose

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Beside the seaside

In an effort to create some discrete, themed sets of walks, I have added a set of 5 Coastal Walks to my Northumberland blog pages, The walks feature the Northumbrian coastal islands of the Farnes and Holy Island, parts of the Northumberland Coast AONB and the 65 mile Northumberland Coast Path. They are all possible for most of the year, all have nearby facilities, and are all at the leisurely end of the walk grades. As you can read, they feature a beach hut hamlet, wildlife, churches, castles, wartime remains, listed buildings, nature reserves, kipper smokehouses and the ever changing North Sea. After a bit of research, I have discovered and incorporated new aspects to these walks which I hope you will enjoy reading and will add to your enjoyment of the walks.

Coastal walks, Northumberland

Coastal walks, Northumberland

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Waterfall walks in Northumberland

I always enjoy walking by water, as I find it very relaxing, so I thought I’d include a feature on some of the Waterfall Walks in Northumberland. Clockwise in the picture are; Hareshaw Linn in the North Tyne Valley, Linhope Spout in the Breamish Valley, and Hen Hole and Hethpool Linn in the College Valley.

Northumberland often uses the Scots word ‘Linn’, which means a waterfall or steep ravine, to describe waterfalls. ‘Spout’, also used, is more indicative of the physical features of the waterfall. Read up on how to get to these four waterfalls on walks to suit all abilities, each with the reward of a tranquil focal point at which to stop and rest or camp.

Waterfalls in Northumberland.

Waterfalls in Northumberland.

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Sprucing things up

As I have been attempting to study for the last year, I have been unable to improve Rucksack Rose much. However now that I am back in the world, I am seeking your feedback and implementing several plans to spruce things up and show that I have been thinking about it while I was away. To keep you posted these currently include:

  • Creating fresh content
  • Refreshing all the content and some of the pictures on my blog
  • Giving more opportunities for feedback
  • Improving my existing and forthcoming videos.
  • Introducing ways to allow people to give financial support or advertise if they want
  • Re-establishing contacts and catching up on Twitter
  • Re-evaluating YouTube, Google+, Instagram and Audioboom profiles (See section at the end of this post)
  • Seeking adventure collaborators and walking companions

Feedback on any or all of these plans would be welcome so please respond to this poll, add comments or use the contact form if you have any suggestions or criticisms.


Sprucing things up

Rucksack Rose social media thoughts:

I am delighted by the popularity of some of my platforms but I recognise that some have been more successful than others. This has been due to my tendency to spread myself too thinly between different media and my lack of integration into some of my online communities. Also some social media platforms have simply fallen out of favour in the last 4 years and I try to move with the times without becoming too slavish about it. I am beginning to feel that quality is more important than quantity online which is partly why I am looking at it all afresh.

Blog – Knowing I am niche but realising that I have something worth sharing with other like minded people has been key to creating this blog and profile. I am gradually refreshing all the content and some of the poor quality, older pictures on my blog, and to actively seek feedback about the type of posts I include.

Twitter – I christened my new blog and YouTube account on Twitter. It was my first social media and has always been my most popular. Apart from the spam, I have felt a better fit with Twitter and it’s community than with Facebook (which I don’t use). I can’t see this account changing at present, although it is sometimes hard to keep up with my older followers.

YouTube – It is hard for walking videos to compete with the new generation of Red Bull™ extreme sports type videos on YouTube, so I have tried to create videos which are an antithesis to these and instead show the peacefulness and beauty of walking in wild places. I accept that the quality of my older videos isn’t good due to my poor camera and editing software. I have therefore been working through the old videos to improve their metadata and investing in new software to improve the quality of future videos.

Google + – I have not integrated very well to Google + or it’s infrastructure for various reasons, so I have not felt that I am providing a good ‘service’ to my G+ followers. I am therefore considering abandoning this profile

Instagram – I enjoyed this profile for a while and found it very moreish, but it doesn’t presently have a good interface with Twitter unless you use IFTTT. Twitter has become an increasingly visual platform but it doesn’t show pictures or even thumbnails of Instagram pictures.

Audioboom – I enjoyed producing audio content for a while, but I admit to never really understanding the conventions of AudioBoom so it has faded out to the point where I haven’t used it for some time.


Rucksack Rose – Avatars

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Happy Birthday to You

I have just realised that it is the fourth birthday of Rucksack Rose this week so I just wanted to say that those four years have opened up the unique world of the outdoors to me as a some time solitary walker in the northern Cheviot Hills, a solitary part of the country.

Rucksack Rose - First Avatars

Rucksack Rose – First Avatars

I guess we all like to feel part of a community and the outdoors community, from the participants to the trail angels and accommodation providers, are a great bunch of people. I recently returned to full time education for a year and attempted to reduce the time I spent on walking and blogging, but I found that I really missed it and the people who are part of it. So Happy Birthday to you and a huge thanks for supporting me, my blog, and my video walk records, and for sharing all your knowledge and experience with me.

Rucksack Rose - Fourth Birthday

Rucksack Rose – Fourth Birthday

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The Great Escape

Yes I finally made it into the hills again! This raised my spirits so much that I was compelled to sing loudly in my little hire car as I neared my destination in the Breamish Valley, Northumberland for a wild weekend of breathtaking scenery, drover’s roads, roman forts, ruined shepherd cottages, prehistoric burial cists, waterfalls, sunshine, serenity and some fierce battles with the local bracken. Read who won in my latest trip report at Wild Breamish Valley.

Good paths heading north to Ingram

Good paths heading north to Ingram

Uninhabited farm at Chesters

Uninhabited farm at Chesters

Salters Road looking west towards Low Blakehope

Salters Road looking west towards Low Blakehope

Ruins of Blawearie Cottage

Ruins of Blawearie Cottage

Linhope Spout

Linhope Spout

See and hear more about this trip at Wild Breamish Valley

Rose. August 2016.

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OUT THERE: A Voice from the Wild by Chris Townsend

With a foreword by Cameron McNeish. 

‘Those who decry peak bagging as mere list ticking fail to understand the commitment challenge and pleasure involved. Collecting summits means collecting experiences.’ Chris Townsend.

OUT THERE by Chris Townsend Book Jacket

OUT THERE by Chris Townsend Book Jacket

Drawing from more than forty years’ experience as an outdoorsman, and probably the world’s best known long distance walker who also writes, Chris Townsend describes the landscapes and wildlife, the walkers and climbers, and the authors who have influenced him in his latest lucid and fascinating book. Writing from his home in the heart of the Cairngorms he discusses the vital importance of wild places to our civilisation. Watch this space for a review of the book.
Critical acclaim for Chris Townsend:
‘This is what Chris’ books do. They shake you out of lethargy and install in you that love of the natural world that keeps us all going.’
Andy Howell, Outdoors Blog.
‘In the Scottish outdoor world names occasionally shine like the stars and very quickly fade into the night. Chris Townsend has remained a shining light for well over 35 years, a passionate and inspiring advocate for the wild corners of our land, an enthusiast who literally walks the walk.’
Cameron McNeish.
‘I first met Chris Townsend about thirty years ago cross country ski-ing in the Cairngorms. He is someone who practices what he preaches. Since his becoming a JMT Trustee I have much appreciated his insights and knowledge and he is a great voice for our cause.’
Peter Pearson, Chair of the John Muir Trust.
‘Chris Townsend is the all-around world champion hiking memoirist, guide, photographer, blogger, and techie.’
Ron Strickland, founder of the Pacific Northwest Trail.

Chris Townsend on a ski tour in Yellowstone National Park

Chris Townsend on a ski tour in Yellowstone National Park

About Chris Townsend
Chris Townsend writes regularly for TGO Magazine and has written 22 books on the outdoors, including the award winning The Backpacker’s Handbook; Scotland in Cicerone’s World Mountain Ranges series; Crossing Arizona; the story of an 800 mile walk along the Arizona Trail; Walking the Yukon, the story of 1000 mile walk through the Yukon Territory; The Munros and Tops, the story of his continuous round and A Year In The Life of The Cairngorms, a photographic study.  His recent publications with Sandstone Press feature two long-distance walks he undertook in the USA, Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams (2012) and Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles (2014) which has been reviewed on this site.
Press queries: Ruth Killick (publicity@ruthkillick.co.uk

Posted in About walking, Reviews, Scotland walks, Walks | 1 Comment

Happy New Year

With 2015 drawing to a less than satisfying close for me, I have decided to do that thing where you make resolutions to try to ensure that next year will be better! This year it has been brought home to me that unforeseen things do sometimes get in the way of wish fulfilment, and I have friends for whom it has also been a terrible year.

To all who read and follow me here and on Twitter, I wish you a very Happy New Year, and to the people who have had a lousy 2015, I really hope that 2016 will be a better year for you.

Version 2

These are my resolutions for 2016. I hope that you achieve at least some of yours too.

New Year Resolutions for 2016

New Year Resolutions for 2016

If anyone would like to offer any support or advice in helping me achieve some of these things, I would be happy to hear from you.

Happy New Year. Rose 😊

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Seasons Greetings

Happy Holidays to all my readers and followers 😊

Seasons Greetings to all 🎄

Seasons Greetings to all 🎄

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