Bob Embraces the 21st Century


News from Bob at the Outdoors Station. Bob has been exploring the wonderful world of internet radio — he’s finally got round to buying an internet radio! All of the details can be heard on the podcast and it gives you a good idea about what internet radio has to offer.

Tune-In is a service that effectively broadcasts radio stations (and programmes) from all over e world. Tune-In is a built in feature in not only internet radio but smart TVs and in-house streaming systems such as Sonos. You can also get hold of this stuff over your PC and MAC as well.

These new radio services have transformed my listening over the last couple of years. Follow country music? No problem, here is most of Nashville for you? Jazz — any kind you like will be there. Folk and classical music are also served. But almost any subject you can think of from news to leisure and current affairs is now easily available over a ‘radio’ type device.

The Outdoors Station is now featured on Tune-In and other internet radio services. This will not only bring a new audiences to the podcasts but will allow the development of new programmes and new services. There are some new innovations coming soon from Cartwright Towers but in the meantime, catch-up with the podcast and catch up with the internet radio revolution!

That Man Abraham Does it Again

It is horrible outside. Driving rain, gale force winds. This is not a day to be on the hills (although, of course, if you are caught up in this weather it can often be exhilarating).

It has been a morning for engaging in they hills from the comfort of the sofa. I’ve been reviewing Terry Abraham’s new film for a certain outdoor publication.I won’t say too much more except to say Terry has done it again. Wonderful stuff.

I just hope Terry has avoided the hills this weekend and is snug in some pub somewhere. I owe you a pint mate.

The Outdoors Station is 10 Years Old — Where to Go Over the Next 10 Years?

Amazingly, the Outdoor Station is ten years old this year. Podcasting itself if only a little more than ten years old so the Outdoors Station was not only a pioneer but is one of the longest lasting of podcasts from any genre.

Now the Outdoors Station is ten it seems right to think about the directions it should take for the next ten years. Over the holiday period Bob and Rose have been busy thinking a out the future and have undertaken a SWOT analysis of the Outdoors Station — assessing the station’s strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.

Rather unusually, Bob has decided to share this analysis — and the subsequent discussion — with listeners in the first podcast of 2015. There is some fascinating stuff here,some amazing facts and figures about downloads, popularity and so on.  If nothing else what Bob talks about is a representative reflection on changes patterns of media production and media consumption.

For much of that 10 years Bob and I have talked about how it might be to develop the production base of the Outdoors Station. What future is there in video and how might this be financed? How can we provide our many thousands of regular listeners and viewers with a more interactive experience?  Is there room for a live programme that allows you the opportunity to interact with both us and the guests in real time? And what about conventional audio programmes? What new directions are that the station can take advantage of.

We would be grateful if you could take the time to listen to this podcast and then to talk to Bob and the station about your responses, any new ideas you may have and so on.

The Outdoors Station is not a commercial venture. All of us that have been involved with it have given our time for free. Even with an audio podcast I know to my own cost the time needed to properly edit and put together even a half an hour sequence. Of course, Bob has spent many, many more hours producing content for our ever growing on-line community.

For me, what has set the Outdoors Station apart from the rest is its quality. Bob’s background in multimedia production really shows and over the last decade we’ve all benefited from his talent and experience. How do we not only preserve this station but support its development into the future by way of ensuring that it meets the new and emerging challenges of the next decade?

So, for the next three months or so Bob will be hosting an online questionnaire and feedback form and we would really welcome your views.

There’s a podcast giving you the background on the station and then a written article and the questionnaire itself.

Please take the time to have a look at this and tell us what you think.

The podcast and questionnaire are here.

Don’t Miss — Terry Abraham Hit the BBC

9 pm, Weds 14th Jan. Make a note in the diary. Set your video or set top box to record. This is when BBC 4 will be showing a 60 minute version of Terry Abraham’s film about Scarfed — The Life of a Mountain.  I was lucky to see this at a very early stage and — in my humble opinion — it is a stunner. If you have already seen the Cairngorms in Winter film then this is not only as good but possibly even better!

I think this might be the beginning of a longer term relationship between Aunty and Terry. I hope so.

Don’t miss it.

European Outdoor Film Tour (E.O.F.T.) – Official Trailer 14/15

Review: Life of a Mountain — Scafell Pike, a film by Terry Abraham

Scafell FULL ALT Teaser















I have just finished watching the best two hours of film I’ve come across in years.

Last year saw the production Terry Abraham’s extraordinary film The Cairngorms in Winter with Chris Townsend (reviewed here). Cairngorms in Winter was very well received and thoroughly deserved all the plaudits it received.

I felt Cairngorms in Winter to be special not least because Terry had not visited this mountain range before. I came away with the distinct impression that if he had known the range better he probably wouldn’t have been up so high, so often, to catch so many wonderful shots. Now Terry has turned his hand to territory he knows well and produced a film which surpasses even the Cairngorms in Winter.


Sunrise from Scafell Pike











Sunrise from Scafell Pike

The subject here is Scafell Pike in Terry’s beloved Lake District. The premiss of the film is pretty simple, we see a year in the life of the mountain through the eyes of those who live and work on the mountain as well as those who visit it.  There’s no need for  clever voice over narration here as Terry’s gentle production simply allows those interviewed to tell their stories, to share their experiences and thoughts in their own way. And, as you might expect, you get two hours of the most amazing mountain photography. A Year in the Life of the Mountain is a triumph of editing.

The Lakeland landscape is one that has been shaped by man and animal and so it seems so appropriate so many human stories. We have the shepherds and farmers who not only farm the land but lavish a life of care on it. We have wonderful researchers and guidebook writers; we get to walk the lesser known paths of the mountain with them as well as sharing their stories, historical insights and simple love for the mountain. We meet — of course — the great fell runner and shepherd Josh Naylor. We learn about those who worked to open up the tourism industry and we get to spend time with the Mountain Rescue service. We get to learn about the communities who have lived for generations in this often harsh landscape.  And — not surprising given this is Terry’s film — we get to see the insides of some wonderful looking pubs! Oh, and we also get to meet that man Chris Townsend who is out wild camping again!


Alison O Neill The Shepherdess











Alison O’Neil, Shepherdess

I won’t say too much more as I don’t want to spoil your own viewing experience — as I write the film has yet to receive its premier.  What I will say though is that I hope some of our national broadcasters watch this for the penny might drop that you don’t need Julia Bradbury to make an enthralling film about the great outdoors! Next Christmas, the BBC should cancel the Countryfile special and simply show this for two hours!

Life of a Mountain is top be premiered on the 10th May at the Rheged Centre near Penrith. The premier is already sold out but the organisers have added a second showing at 3.00 pm the following day.

Mark Richards Lakeland Fellranger Series Author





















Mark Richards

Chris Townsend wild camping Great Moss

















Chris Townsend wild camping at Great Moss


There will also be a special abridged version of the film shown at the Keswick Mountain Festival on 15th May which be followed by a special question and answers session with  Terry, Alan Hinckes and Mark Richards, which should be well worth seeing!

I hope I’ve wetted your appetite! Did I say this was a simply wonderful film?

Life of a Mountain is an extraordinary achievement. Terry should be very proud. I’m sure you will be as delighted with this as I have been.

The film will be available as a HD digital download from Steep Edge.

The DVD version will be published by Striding Edge in mid May and will be available from Amazon and other main distributers.


Filming from Great End ©Terry Abraham

Ordnance Survey En Route to Privatisation: Gains and Losses.

Last weeks pieces on the latest troubles of the Ordnance Survey prompted quite a response from readers, some who passed on articles and information that I had not come across before.

It is now clear to me that the privatisation of the OS is a real possibility in the near future. Privatisation seems to be regularly discussed with government and although this has not yet been sanctioned there are clearly those who believe that this would be the right way forward.

In this piece rather than simply attack the notion of privatisation I want to take a look at the organisation’ development over recent years and consider what benefits and losses might result from such a move. And how might these affect us as mapping consumers, or users?

[Read more…]

More Chaos at the Ordnance Survey

It gives me no pleasure to return to this topic but this week the Ordnance Survey if facing further, dramatic, problems with their consumer online services.

During the summer many customers of the Get-a-Map service found that they lost access to the service for much of August, the busiest month of the year for those working in the outdoors. Now the problems are back and this time they are even more fundamental.

Over the last few days the OS has been forced to pull its Mapfinder App from Apple’s iTunes store due to ‘unreliability issues’. This is not the first time that the OS has had to pull the App from the store. It looks as if these problems are going to persist for a while yet. There also seem to be problems with the main website and the Get-a-Map service, a commercial service for which people pay.

These failures — and the consistency of them — are quite remarkable and throw the light back on the OS’s policy to ‘compete’ in mainstream markets with existing companies who are in effect their partners.

I’ve pointed out before that (to my knowledge) no other national mapping agency in Wester Europe has decided to compete in the consumer market, in direct competition to the small and innovative companies who have pioneered desktop and mobile mapping applications. They seem to be happy to work hand-in-glove with innovative SME’s to provide new services to their users.

All of the companies that we know who work with OS have license and partnership agreements with them I’m thinking of Viewranger, Routebuddy, Anquet, Memory Map and so on. Since the summer, OS reps have made it quite clear to these companies that they survey will be competing directly with them. For me, this is represents a typical abuse of a commercial monopoly. Computer and mobile mapping has been pioneered by these small companies who are always looking to push the boundaries in terms of features and who are committed, as you would expect, to high standards of customer service. Competition from the OS will have an impact on the health of these innovative companies that have served us well.

I have no idea why the OS are having these continuing problems. Are they working with new contractors? Has internal line management changed? Are they simply bad at project planning?

Surely it is time for the OS to rethink its ITC strategies. The OS would be better placed in serving commercial and specialist markets and letting their ‘partners’ innovate in the consumer section.

If you are thinking of investing in a mapping service this year, either a mobile or a desktop service, you would — quite frankly — be mad to purchase that service from the Ordnance Survey.

Support those who have bought the services to you and who can afford to keep the lights on!

Cairngorms in Winter at the Kendall Film Festival

Terry Abraham emails to tell me that he is amazed that the ‘Cairngoms in Winter with Chris Townsend’ film has been selected to be featured during the Kendall Mountain Festival. I’m not surprised at all, so good is the film!

The film will be shown at the following times during the festival:

  • Brewery Screen 2: Thurs 8pm, Fri 4.30pm
  • Brewery Malt Room: Sat 1pm
  • Brewery Studio: Sun 4.30pm
For some reason the Festival have asks for a special cut of only 40 minutes! Still I hope those who see it will then be inspired to get hold of a copy of the full thing!
Congratulations to Terry and Chris once again. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wins other awards and I bet Terry has been omitted for the TGO Awards!


Video Review: Routebuddy Scottish Highlands Coast to Coast Map

Run time 16 minutes 43 secs

Routebuddy’s new Coast to Coast Challenge Map utilises the company’s unique screen ‘stitching’ technology to reduce a new map and add-ons that will be useful to anyone planning a coast-to-coast walk across the Scottish Highlands.

On this occasion I thought it would be more useful to you if I produced a video review, as you really have to see it in action to appreciate what this system can do.  The review is in html format and should be viewable by all up-to-daye systems including tablets.

The 1:50K base map is available at a reasonable £19.99.

In addition, Routebuddy has created a number of specific 1:25 add-ons which stitch into the base map. These range in price depending on the ground covered. They start at £4.99 for part of the Torridon hills to £25 for the Cairngorms — good value for money.

Any other Routebuddy map can stitch into the base map and this review also displays a Harvey/BMC 1:40 working with the base map.

Not only can you view stitched maps on the same screen but you can print out the stitched maps on the same sheet of paper.


Ed: Here is a flash version which some of you might find easier to access.