Environmental Escapades

Living in a town as I currently do, every walk now begins and ends with a rail or road journey which has to be considered and planned for, which is why I include a discussion of transport here. Since I began walking in the Scottish Borders at the time of the foot and mouth epidemic, I have become aware of the fragility of the environment I enjoy so much. Through my walking I have experienced up close the effects of things like disease, invasive species, erosion, flooding and climate change, as well as confronting the realities of threatened species such as elm, ash, red squirrels and bees. As a result of this experience, I have learned to respect the places I visit and to minimise the traces of my being there. Without shouting about it, I have also tried to make this blog consistent with the development of my environmental beliefs.

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Leaving early by train for the start of the Pennine Way

When I created the blog, I was lucky enough to have a car which I was able to jump into at the first sign of good weather like a true weekend warrior. When resources, transport and time are available, it is easy to write prolifically and pleasurably about the things I love. However when running a car became more costly, and I began to become aware of the environmental contradictions of my outdoor pursuits, I did my utmost to make my blog work using public transport. I am proud to say that I got to and from all my long distance walks on public transport.

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Setting off for the start of the Dales Way at Ilkley

For my shorter walks and trips, I really have battled with the logistics of trains, coaches, taxis and buses, which often don’t visit the places I want to reach, or run once or twice a week at most, but I have achieved less in the way of interesting blog posts. Because large areas of my local stomping grounds are inaccessible by bus, I tried car hire for a while, but found it a bit inflexible. After much deliberation, I have finally opted to join a car club to enable me to reach the wilder places and trails I love with some degree of spontaneity.

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Changing buses at Kelso on my return from the Pennine Way finish

I won’t be abandoning public transport (where it is feasible) any time soon, but using a car club seems the ideal way of achieving the best of both worlds; minimising my environmental footprint and exploring wild places. I hope that this will find some kindred spirits among my readers.

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Fear and the outdoors

Having completed my first solo wild camp this week, I have rather ambitiously begun a separate tab called Camps on this blog in which you can follow (or not) my attempts to conquer my fears and become experienced at wild camping. There you can read about my first group trip to the Peak District and my first solo trip to Upper Coquetdale in Northumberland.

View on my first solo wild-camping trip in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland

View on my first solo wild-camping trip in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland

My fear of solo wild camping has hampered my walking and my long distance trails for a few years now, restricting me to accommodation schedules and adding to the cost of my trips. Several things have helped me to begin to overcome this fear.

The first is to set myself some hard and fast goal/s which would give me a reason to wild camp, and some deadlines to work towards (although one of my first goals fell through). The second has been to gradually assemble a kit in which I have confidence, and the third has been to use small campsites and gardens as an intermediate stage. The fourth continues to be the advice and support of some people on social media, who have been very helpful. Hopefully they know who they are. The final suggestion I would offer is to beware of people who try to undermine you, under the guise of helping you, because it is your development which matters most in that situation.

Sunrise from Shillhope Law, Northumberland in winter

Sunrise from Shillhope Law, Northumberland in winter

My advice to ‘experts’ is not to put pressure on people who are afraid of any outdoor situations. Fear is natural and inevitable at certain times and in certain situations in the outdoors. The truth is that many outdoors people have had experiences which have made them afraid, and it is much more helpful to people with less experience if we can be honest with ourselves and eachother about this. After all, fear performs a necessary function, keeping our senses alert and sharpening our survival instincts.

Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland in winter

Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland in winter

Even as an adult, my mind was full of ingrained childhood imagery in which the dark and everything outside the enclosed spaces of home, were full of unknown terrors. That is the kind of childhood I had. As the walls became virtually non existent at recent campsites, and I have been forced to walk in the dark several times on long distance trails, the childhood spectres began to disintegrate, and it became an easier transition into wild camping. Those old spectres have now been replaced by beautiful images of the first rays of the sun hitting the tops of the hills in Upper Coquetdale on a beautiful, if chilly, January morning, making the whole journey worthwhile.

Posted in About me, About walking, Camping, Distance walks, Trails, Walks | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Short and sweet

I have listed a selection of six of my favourite short, easy walks (under 5 miles long) in Northumberland, hand picked because they contain some lovely places. Take your pick from castles, waterfalls, grey seals, St Cuthbert’s Chapel, puffins, scheduled ancient monuments, salmon fishermen and pristine beaches on walks which are suitable for all the family. They all have easy parking and facilities such as pubs, cafes and shops nearby, details of which are included on the page. Take a look at Six Shorts in the Northumberland section.

6 short walks in Northumberland

6 short walks in Northumberland

 

Posted in About walking, microadventure, nanoadventure, Northumberland walks, Scottish borders walks, Walks | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year for 2017

Wishing you all happiness and fulfilment in 2017. Rose 🌹

Walking Year

January at Tynemouth Beach

January at Tynemouth Beach, Tyne and Wear

February near Kirkby Stephens, Cumbria

February near Kirkby Stephens, Cumbria

March near Hethpool, Northumberland

March near Hethpool, Northumberland

April in Jesmond Dene, Newcastle

April in Jesmond Dene, Newcastle

May north of Keswick, Cumbria

May near Skiddaw, Cumbria

June at Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

June at Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

July: Harthope Valley, Northumberland

July: Harthope Valley, Northumberland

August in the Upper Breamish Valley, Northumberland

August in the Upper Breamish Valley, Northumberland

September north of Howick, Northumberland

September south of Howick, Northumberland

October in Central Fells, Cumbria

October in Central Fells near Grasmere, Cumbria

November near Newcastle

November near Newcastle upon Tyne

December near Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders

December near Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders

Although it hasn’t been a very busy year the outdoors has been in my thoughts and plans for the coming year. Rose 🌹

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Seasonal Greetings

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A year in nature

January: Snowy shrubs near Rothbury, Northumberland

January: Snowy shrubs near Rothbury, Northumberland

February: Snowdrops at Kirknewton, Northumberland

February: Snowdrops at Kirknewton, Northumberland

March: Daffodils near Kelso

March: Daffodils on River Teviot near Eckford, Scottish Borders

April: Wild primroses in the Scottish Borders

April: Wild primroses near Coniston, Cumbria

May: Bluebells and Whitebells near Caldbeck, Cumbria

May: Bluebells and Whitebells near Caldbeck, Cumbria

June: Wild flowers near Rothbury

June: Wild flowers near Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

July: Wild flower verge in the Yorkshire Dales

July: Wild flower verge near Lordenshaw, Northumberland

August: Wild flowers and grasses on England Coast Path near Souter Lighthouse

August: Wild flowers and grasses on England Coast Path near Souter Lighthouse

September: Hedgerow near Bamburgh, Northumberland

September: Hedgerow near Craster, Northumberland

Autumnal spaling near Gleadsclough, Northumberland

October: Autumnal sapling near Gleadsclough, Northumberland

November: Lichen near Newcastle

November: Lichen near Newcastle

December: Holly in Berwick on Tweed

December: Holly in Berwick on Tweed

Thanks for visiting and for continuing to read 🌹

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TGO Challenge 2017

With huge regret, I have withdrawn from the TGO Challenge 2017, partly because of family responsibilities, and partly because of the unpleasantness of a very small, unrepresentative group of people who seem to thrive on circulating false, three year old gossip. I am now working on other plans for the coming year.

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Scotland. TGO Challenge 2017

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Blow the whistle on bullying

Blow the whistle on bullying

Blow the whistle on bullying in the outdoors

Posted in Walks | 2 Comments

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 Tough Girl Podcast, I have realised that other 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.

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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.

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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.

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. I may be useless at some things but I can recognise the symptoms of sunstroke and dehydration, having suffered from both before.

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Camping in Wasdale

Anyway, to return to the much more interesting present, and to answer some questions, 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 which still makes me afraid of some situations.
  • Once my new sleeping bag arrives I plan to go out wild camping by myself

I have mentioned some or all of these issues to some Twitter friends, but I’d rather not be feeling pressured into announcing them on here. I would prefer not 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 outdoor activities, 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.

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

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Feedback

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

I am generally happy to get constructive feedback or suggestions which will be beneficial to my readers. I 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)

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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 get new followers, but also to manage to keep in touch with the 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. As well as my own stuff, I try to share some of the brilliant content and achievements which people share with me on Twitter.

  • 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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