Scottish Highlands on the BBC

This has become something of a dead week for the flu virus has hit the household hard. Still, it has offered the opportunity to catch up on some TV stuff that I’d missed. If you are currently planning your TGO Challenge route, or Munro bagging trip, there’s quite a lot to inspire.

Grand Tour of Scottish Lochs

This series follows Paul Murton travelling by canoe around the Highlands. There are four in the series so far which look at Knoydart, The Rough Bounds and some other great places.  Each of these programmes mixes local history, interesting interviews and stunning photography. If your planning a TGO crossing from Malaig seeing the walk up and through to barrisdale looks rather dramatic when seen from the air!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b094ndf8


Highlands — Scotland’s Wild Heart

Another series (though I have only watched one episode). Highlanders, looks at how humans are now working to protect and to re-introduce wildlife. I really enjoyed this. beware, this features an interview with Paul Lister!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03pjc9p

 

Both of these series will help you get in the mood for walking in the Highlands!

Backpack Light — My Trail Update — Oh Dear

A reader has been in touch to tell me more more about the My Trail company. I have to confess to not following the lightweight gear scene in the US that closely these days.

My Trail is a company owned by owners of Golite, a company which collapsed pretty spectacularly a few years ago. My advice to anyone is to avoid them like the plague!  Why?

The financial collapse of Golite came about following some pretty weird business practice and attitude to export. The company effectively pulled out of Europe. They then pulled out of retail, but before that they offloaded a load of surplus stock at rates that completely screwed their retailers. When they moved to a web only operation they adopted a policy that only USA credit cards could be accepted — effectively ignoring the rest of the world. If this seems odd the background to this is even odder.

For a while the folks who had the distribution contracts in Europe tried to keep things going. They looked at taking a container load of products from the Asian producers. They touted this around to UK online retailers, effectively looking for orders or cash upfront. Unsurprisingly this didn’t work. I did feel sorry for these guys as they had been effectively left in the lurch as well.

I was told that after the banking crash the GOLITE people in the USA had been ‘advised’ that the European economy was collapsing. Yes collapsing. So, they pulled out. Then it became apparent that the company had over ordered, had too much surplus stock and were in real trouble. Whether they really believed Europe was a basket case or whether this was an excuse, it was pretty sure behaviour.

As my reader says “This is a new company formed by the people behind the old one. Seems a typical phoenix company situation – leave all the debts and losses behind in the old one and start a fresh with something pretty similar”.

I’ve left the original post up as, to be fair, it looks like a good product and other readers have recommended it.  But me. I don’t really ant to now anymore …

… these are the attitudes that saddled us all with Trump.

TGO Planning: The Importance of Sleep

Today I am pondering the importance of sleep. I’ve not thought much about this before but this came up in a conversation with a walker who hopes to enter the TGO Challenge next year.

We know that —  for a number of new entrants to the challenge — this walk will be their first multi-day trek or hike. While folks are planning routes and thinking about transport to their starting point it is worth them thinking of sleep.

This may be just me but I really hate walking long distances when I am tired and haven’t had enough sleep. Of course, there is often no way of avoiding this. Lie in your tent at night and a gentle pattering of rain can be a lovely thing; it seems to rock you to sleep. But a night in a full on gale is not a pleasant thing. It’s even worse if this is followed by a horrible day’s weather and more high winds the next night.

So, I like to consider sleep as part of my event and route planning!

It’s worth thinking hard and long about your accommodation just prior to the Challenge. Expense allowing, book yourself into a decent hotel or B&B the night before walking and also consider if that might be needed on the journey up to your starting point. I have traditionally used the Caledonian Sleeper Train to journey up to Scotland — on the Challenge and off. But this isn’t always the best preparation. The motion of the train can every pleasant. But other journeys can be less so, especially if you are sharing a berth! On my off Challenge trips up North I like to start walking the moment I have got off the train and all too often I’m walking when miserable. I’ve learnt that, for example, it is best to have a leisurely breakfast in Aviemore than to simply set out immediately into the Cairngorms.

Some people cope with these problems, let’s be honest, through drink. That doesn’t always work for me, especially waling the next day.

If sleep is important to you consider options before you start talking and also, perhaps, options for a proper bed along the way. Otherwise experiment with earplugs and sleep masks before you leave for Scotland!

Alternative to Golite Packs — Backpack Light 70L

Reader James ‘Jay’ Keen has emailed to bring this pack to my attention.  Jay’s old pack — a Golite Pinnacle — has finally bitten the dust and he’s been searching for alternatives. I must admit I’ve lost touch with the Golite debacle; I know they are not available here in Europe but I presume they still have a presence in the USA.

Anyhow, Jay has been considering other option, most notably the ULA Catalyst until he came across the Backpacklight 70 L.

The BPL 70 is two packs in one. Created with comfort in mind, it has a great suspension for moderate loads and its ComPacktor system quickly converts it from a multi-day load hauler to a 25L day pack.

The BPL 70 is packed with light features you’ll love, from the dual compartment front hip pockets to the roll top closure. It’s tough: the white Dyneema® threads are 3x stronger than Kevlar and 15x stronger than steel.

It looks promising not least as it offers some decent back length options. It’s another international order but my experience of this has always been pretty positive, so long as you allow enough time for delivery and customs clearance.

Pyrenees Forum — User Announcement

I’ve been doing some spring cleaning on the blog and the Pyrenees Forum. I have had a problem recently of a thousand or so bogus user registrations. I’ve had to change the registration process for the Forum. 

New registrants will now have to wait until their registration is confirmed. I’m sorry about this but I’m trying too protect the system.

In clearing out these bogus accounts it is possible I have deleted a genuine account or two by accident. This should largely effect those who are lurkers, i.e.. people who have registered but have never posted. However,  if you can’t access the forum simply re-visit to register again. 

Sorry for any inconvenience caused!

Bob and I Rattle On. Again.

Let’s face it. This is a Christmas or New Year Tradition. Bob and I either go out to the hills and discuss how bad the next year will be. Or we do a New Year Podcast and discuss how bad the year will be.

This year we spent New Year’s eve having a nice time. And next day, we produced a podcast talking about how bad the new year will be.

You can find it here.

Enjoy 🙂

Registering Rights of Way — Restoring the Record

About this time every year I get a reminder from the Rights of Way: Restoring the Record campaign and it something that all of us in England and Wales should give a little thought to.

Currently all rights of way in England and Wales are under review but this is a very gently, almost silent, review. All footpaths and bridle paths that re rights of way have to be recorded by the end of 2025. All of those rights of way that are not recorded will simply be extinguished.

It is your local authority that registers Rights of Way, County Councils and Metropolitan single tier councils. And remember that many Metropolitan Boroughs, for example Leeds, have a great deal of rural land within their boundaries.  When this new registration and recording system started some time ago I found most local authorities to be taking this seriously but it is possible with the ongoing cuts in municipal budgets that this has fallen down the list of priorities. And, of course, local authorities may also be assuming that all of those rights of way that are regular used may already have ben registered.

If you are unsure about local rights of way go and check our the website of the Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management (IPROW). IPROW’s sites contains a number of important FAQ’s and the organisation provides training courses for volunteers who want to know more about protecting rights of way (again details are on their website). The FQ explains the difference between various pubic rights of way and also tells you how you can get involved.

Rights of Way: Restoring the Record is also a book which is aimed at supporting those mounting local campaigns — details here.

And finally, rights of way are not just important for rural areas, they exist in cities as well!  Your continued access to publicly used land, through new residential developments and so on may well depend on an ancient right of way.

The Adventure Show: Roads Less Travelled — Not To be Missed (even south of the border)

Some of you might not have clocked the latest two episodes of ‘Roads Less Travelled, Cameron McNeish’s latest look at the quieter byways of Scotland. thanks to the iPlayer the programme is available to all of us south of the border. You find the programme in the Scottish section of the iplayer on our Smart TV or directly here

In these two programmes Cameron takes a long, circular, walks around the Cairngorms, taking in Speyside, Rannock Moor and Loch Ossian, Glen Bruar, the little appreciated Angus Glens and Glen Muick.

Some people get a but sniffy about Cameron’s stuff but I like it. OK it can be a bit cheesy and he sticks pretty much to the formula, but then the formula works! In this mini series Cameron explores the terrain on foot, by canoe and by bike. And as always he moves around in his beloved camper van and always seems to get the opportunity sing and play with his bouzouki.

The great thing about this series is that cameron shows how those who are getting a bit older can prolong their interest in the Scottish Hills, or even explore these hills for the first time.

The second episode features an interview with my friend Helen Webster who along with husband Paul founded the now legendary Walk Highlands website. It’s nice hearing Helen talking about past adventures and her passion for the scottish Highlands.

For those youngsters out there — those of you who’s knees still work — there is still lots to gaze at. Those hills loo wonderful. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I’m out there again!

 

So Long Phil and Thanks for All the Fish …

2018 is only a few hours old and yet we have already had our first outdoor industry fatality. Phil Sorrell has announced that his web service, Social Hiking — Share Your Adventure is to close later in the year.

Phil established social Hiking about 8 years ago. It was a reasonably well thought out and executed website. If you didn’t ever stumble across it, Social Hiking allowed you to upload GPS routes that you had walked and even more interestingly social hiking allowed walkers to upload their routes as they actually walked. Over the 8 years Social Hiking has amassed an extraordinary library of waling routes that ordinary (and extraordinary) walkers have actually walked!

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End of Year Review Year — Looking Forward to 2018

Happy New Year to you all!

Kate and I have just returned from Worcestershire where we spent a lovely New Years Eve with Bob and Rose Cartwright, of the Outdoors Stationed Backpackinglight.co.uk. 2017 was a strange year for all of us. Deaths in the family wiped out our TGO Challenge and Bob and Rose have spent much of the year settling into their new base.

All of us had better plans for 2018 and you’ll be able to hear many of them on the podcast that Bob and I made this morning which reflected on the likely industry trends next year and on how we saw the social media world changing. Knowing Bob this podcast will be up shortly. Some of this subject mater I want to write a bit about but the nice thing about the podcast is that we have now covered much of this ground.

So, the end of year review!

 

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