Just when you had planned to get outside…..

Just when you had planned to get outside…..

I was so looking forward to a Christmas wander but after I found myself on my bum, I figured it was time to head home. It’s always seems to be the way, you have a rare glimpse of the outside world planned and the weather does it’s best to derail you. I had been looking forward to a wander when we were due to be up with Cath’s folks in the Peak District after boxing day. I had planned a wild camp up near Back Tor but come the day, the MWIS gave a delightfully red forecast with gusts of 65mph to 85mph. My route was along the edges, Burbage, Stanage and then Derwent.

above Burbage


Stanage Edge

End result was a day spent battling winds just to make headway, watching an old duffer fall over in front of me several times before catching up and suggesting he dropped down to a lower level path – oh and seeing the air ambulance come in for a lass who had broken her leg after getting blown over on Stanage. Then I actually got blown on to my backside at which point I decided to take a time out. Although I was bloody irrirtated at having to duck out, I’ve also had a spot of time to reflect on what happened and although I would have survived I’m sure, I’m also sure I wouldn’t have had the most comfortable of nights either. A good call considering the damage the wind did that day.

Air Ambulance coming in to land

A Murmuration

A Murmuration

Bloggings been lite as we hit our winter rush but here’s something that just left me saying wow with feeling. A murmuration of starlings

/merr’meuh ray”sheuhn/, n.

1. an act or instance of murmuring.

2. a flock of starlings.



Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

A Weekend of Learning

A Weekend of Learning

Last weekend I was asked if I would like to go along to the very first Active Photographer Jolly, run by Giles (The Active Photographer) and Will (Whole Life Photography). It was designed for people passionate about the outdoors, who wanted to take better photos, or photographers with a keen interest in the outdoors. As this was the first one, Giles and Will were keen to simply see how things went and get feedback for possible future sessions.



Young Giles himself.

I want to write about my experiences of last weekend, not as a review of what happened, but instead how I felt after the weekend as my mind has been buzzing for the last couple of days. I’ve promised Giles I will do a full review over on the Togblog which I will hopefully get done this weekend, but I hope you will forgive this interlude away from the usual outdoor related matters.

I came away after the weekend on a bit of a high, and I have been reflecting back this week on what was said over the weekend and how I felt. The key thing that made it special for me was the chance and time to learn something. This might sound blindly obvious to you but is it? Too often learning becomes a dirty word, reflecting back on my own experiences at school and being forced to learn certain subjects. It’s also something as we get older we perhaps lose the time to pursue.

For me, not enough focus is made on learning things for your own enjoyment. Having worked in a challenging educational environment in the past, my strength was always to find studies that people wanted to do. Straight away you have people who are committed, enjoying themselves, and engaged in what they are taking in.

Last weekend reminded me of this at a basic level, but it also ties in with what I have been reading about happiness – we need to continue learning to develop a sense of self worth and peace. It also leads on to the second major thing that gave me so much pleasure from the weekend, and that was the people that were involved.

I have not had the chance to learn a new skill from a teacher in a while. Along with the rest of society, I have been using the internet more and more to research and learn. It’s a total treasure trove on any subject that humankind has any knowledge on, and although we now have much more of a social experience on the internet with Facebook, Twitter, Forums, Comments and the like, I was reminded that the power of having a learning experience face to face is not to be underestimated.



One of the most popular subjects of the weekend!

You cannot see a perplexed face on the internet and check someone has learnt something, you cannot see someone at home doing what they have learnt and correct them when they go wrong, and you definitely cannot interact with fellow students as well as I have done this weekend. I make no bones that it was technology that was good enough to introduce me to the likes of Giles, Will and the rest of the gang. The actual workshop though was made so much more amazing as a result of being face to face. I could have learnt how to take photos from the internet, but every time I go out now to take a photo, I will remember the experiences and emotions of this weekend and I will be inspired.

There we go, some obvious stuff there mebe, but it still needed to be said. It probably helped as I mentioned that the people there this weekend were pretty special. Will & Giles, thanks for giving of yourselves so completely, you have a gift and warmth that mark you both out as two of life’s good guys. To Eleanor, Aaron, Nat & Alvin, thank you for sharing and being such great company, I was truly blessed to have had such a great weekend.



Lulworth Cove to White Nothe beach along the South West Coast path

Lulworth Cove to White Nothe beach along the South West Coast path

OK, I’m feeling a bit of a fraud after last nights post, but in my defence, stuff got cancelled tonight, so I have had a rare opportunity to sit down and blog. It’s been a funny old summer though, I’ve not had the chance to get out and about to do as much walking as I would ideally like to, but a couple of weeks ago, my friend Chris and I finally managed to head out for a stroll. We’ve got plans to do the Gritstone trail later in October, and Chris was worried about his fitness, so we decided to get a solid days walking on along the SW Coast path. Not only was it a good test of fitness, but Chris had not even heard of Durdle Dor, so I was quietly looking forward to seeing his reaction when we came to it.

Chris wanted a heavy rucksack to test the fitness thing, so I kindly offered to help out packing his rucksack. As a result, he ended up carrying a sack of potatoes, and several gas cartridges I had lying around the utility room. He didn’t realise that until the end, at which point he thanked me with a long, cold hard stare. “It’s OK” I told him, “It’s what friends are for.” He didn’t even thank me, I mean that’s just rude you know?

The day started out with a little drizzle and it was heads down to get up over the first hill, strolling on in silence. The rain seemed to keep some of the tourists at bay and it wasn’t long before Durdle Dor was in front of us, and Chris had a huge grin on his face. It’s a classic sight, and I will never tire of seeing it.

Durdle Dor

click to make any of the photos bigger m'kay?

Leaving the crowds behind, we carried on along the path, and soon had the track to ourselves. It has a fair amount of up and down, so we stopped on Bats Head for a spot of lunch and a breather. There were few people on the path and we felt privileged to have such a beautiful environment to ourselves.

Bats Head for lunch

The weather forecast had been for a cloudy, rainy day, and although we could see the clouds inland, the day gradually brightened to reveal a child’s picture of what the coast should look like with cloudless skies, a rich blue sea and white sailing ships dotting the waves. There wasn’t much talking, but the grins came readily and easily to our faces. Reaching White Nothe Cottages, we spied the smugglers path down to the sea and set off down a seriously steep path to the beach. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if you do trek down there you will be rewarded by an abundance of wildlife, and at the bottom, a stunning beach that we had to ourselves.

picture perfect

View back towards Durdle Dor

natural treasure

smugglers path - watch your step!

Taking a rare opportunity for this summer with the heat, we stripped off for a skinny dip and then basked in the sun to dry off. Kayaks came and went off shore, and we sat and watched the sailing ships heading back to Weymouth before struggling  up the long hard slog to the top. The stroll back to the car was across the top of the fields affording us a larger vista of the coast, and a flatter journey for our tired legs. I hate travelling back on the same route you have headed out on, and it was great to see the coast laid out as a whole.

White Nothe beach

Butterfly's aplenty

end of the walk - lulworth cove

Most of my walking encompasses hills and mountains and I need to make more of an effort to visit our coast. I always complain about Dorset being too tame and agricultural, but the Jurassic coast has that feeling of rawness I want in my outdoors. The feeling of space, along with the challenge of the inclines along the SWC Path made it a day to remember. For more photos, check out my Flickr set from the whole day here, and of course, the Social Hiking map of the route is listed below as well.

Feeling a bit Peaky

Feeling a bit Peaky

We’re away in the Peak District for a week, and I am majorly looking forward to this. Camping with the family, friends to meet, the bonus of Grandparents to babysit, a nights wild camping and lots of walks are on the cards.

Shoulder height has dropped noticeably and it’s been a lovely morning so far catching up on outdoor blogs. Bliss.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Butts View,Bakewell,United Kingdom

Stealth Camping

Stealth Camping

Lightweight. It’s not a new mantra, but it has become an increasingly loud one within the outdoor community over the last few years. Whether you class yourself as someone who is looking to reduce their packweight, a lightweight backpacker, ultralightweight backpacker or supreme ultralight lightfantastic godlike backpacker, more and more people are gradually realising that the lighter your pack is, the further and longer you can walk for.

I’m not sure about you, but whereas my pack was getting lighter when solo backpacking, I found that when I was heading off with the family, I was actually taking more and more stuff. Two burner stoves with a grill that could just about cook a marshmallow. A full set of table and chairs. The solid, niche, canvas frame tent that are legends to longevity and stability. A box of toys that would put a small nursery to shame. Whereas at work I would gaze in rapt admiration of the Nemo Obi tents, at home I was looking at the portable kitchen station with space for a washing up bowl.

Un-stealthy camping

Click me to make me bigger.

The end result of this was that I simply could not be bothered to go camping en famille. It meant getting together a load of stuff, putting a load of stuff up, taking a load of stuff down and finally putting a load of stuff away again afterwards. So last August, me and the better half sat down and had the following plan which we called stealth camping.

Our aim was simple. Make camping as a family easier and lighter. Our new mantra was to just leave it all behind. Not to go and buy a load of lightweight gear, but instead just focus on the basics. So unless something was utterly critical, it got binned. We decided that we were not allowed to camp for a long time (weekends only) and could only decided to camp on a Thursday night, to leave Friday night. This, more than any other choice, has had the trick of really making us focus on the gear that was important.

Stealth Camping (chickens optional)

In the end this is what we got down to, it’s not an exhaustive list, but it pretty much sums it up.

Lightweight family tent. – We’re currently having fun with the Limestone 6P, but we also have a Robbens Double Dreamer.
Trangia Stove – nothing big or fancy thanks very much
4 bowls and 4 spoons, a sharp knife and a spare plate
Cool Box
4 x sleeping bags, 3 sleeping mats and a cot.
1 outside toy for each boy.
Child Carrier for Ellis
Torches, duct tape, penknife, first aid kit
Maps, compass and map case

I'm a bit lost

Erm thats it I think.

We tried it out for several weekends at the end of last summer, and just had some of the best outdoor weekends we have ever had. The boys ended up going nuts outside and playing with natural stuff they found, rather than the toys they brought. We no longer stressed about what we had forgotten or not having stuff, and instead just got out and about and enjoyed ourselves. We felt free. We felt liberated. We fell in love with camping again as a family.

This does have it’s limitations, we are limited to camping realistically within a 3 hour radius of home, but hey that means we don’t cream cracker the environment. Occasionally, you may suffer the pitying looks of people who gaze at you from their portable decking with the BBQ and camping chairs, but it’s a small price to pay.

It’s a Thursday today. Nobody has said anything yet. We’re not allowed to you see, but the diary tells me I haven’t got anything on this weekend. Game on?

This post was one I previously published on the TogBlog, as usual though time is limited so in case you missed it, I’ve brought it across here. I promise I’ll try and get a bit more regular soon, it’s just that I don’t like posting until I have something good to say.

Page 3 of 612345...Last »