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 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).
  • The River Wild. Directed by Curtis Hanson (1994).
  • The Way. Directed by Emilio Estevez (2010).
  • Touching the Void. Directed by Kevin MacDonald (2003).
  • Walking Out. Directed by Andrew and Alex Smith (2018).
  • 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

Rucksack Rose at 5

On 17th September this year it was 5 years since I began to create Rucksack Rose on this blog and YouTube. 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🌹

A Couple of Camps

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

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.

My GPX Routes

I have been gradually adding day routes onto Viewranger 👣 for some time. As long as the routes don’t seem to involve any hazards, I have made them public and free for people to download on an ad hoc basis. As I have 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. I have also been improving and standardising the route information provided with the downloads.

Viewranger
My Viewranger profile

There are now over 40 free, downloadable routes on Viewranger. I am pleased to see that there has been a steady interest in downloading these routes, so I have added links to Viewranger from my blog posts and YouTube. 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 you or your company enjoy my routes or use them for groups and / or for profit, 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🌹