Shillingstone to Stourpaine

Bikes and trailer are out for their first proper run out, just a short ride down the train tracks from Shillingstone to Stourpaine. Ifor started out riding, and after a mile switched in to the trailer.


I’ve not has as much of a work out despite the flatness of the tracks for a while! Time for a choccy biccy and a play on the swings before we head back.


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Location:Milldown Rd,,United Kingdom

New paths and fresh eyes

New paths and fresh eyes

I have been really enjoying setting up this blog and writing, but life has a habit of keeping me seriously busy these days. So much so, that I have only now had the chance to actually write this post about our week up in the peaks two weeks ago, after my first post about walking with Cath again.

The rest of the week was just as pleasurable as the start, and I felt great for getting some serious strolling in. The Thursday saw me head out with Dave from My Outdoors UK, and Andy from Walks around Britain to meet & film a walk for Andy’s site. As Cath’s parents live in the Peak District, we have explored the area in some detail over the years. Dave suggested a route we had not done before though from Stoney Middleton up Coombs Dale, and so I set off in anticipation of exploring somewhere I had never been to in the Peaks. The weather gave us a crisp beautiful day, the best of the week. Although I had met Dave once before briefly, it was the first time I had properly spent some time with him, and it was my first meet up with Andy. After 10 minutes walking though, it felt like I had known Dave and Andy a lot longer,  the conversation flowing as easily as the stream we walked beside.

 

Andy filming in Coomb's Dale

Dave’s wealth of knowledge of the local caves and area made for a wander that didn’t just touch on the beauty of what we had around us, but added a depth of experience that you don’t often get when walking. It made the walk that much more special, and I can’t wait for Andy to finish the editing to post up on  his You Tube channel. My thanks to both of them for meeting up, we managed to steer mostly clear of geek talk about outdoor gear for all of 3 minutes by my reckoning…… What finished the walk off beautifully for me was the cliff path coming back in to Stoney Middleton. All of a sudden we went from Peak District rolling hills to some serious drops away from the path, giving a real feeling off exposure. It was even more delightful for it being so unexpected.

 

Approach to Stoney Middleton

 

Andy & Dave

Just before we went back on the Saturday, I tweeted Helen Fisher, one of the outdoor bloggers I have had the pleasure of meeting online through Webtogs, to see if she fancied a walk in the flesh. Foolishly she said yes, and on a damp Saturday morning, Cath and I headed up to Burbage for a stroll. The rain came down and decided to stay a while – the entire walk in fact, and several items of gear got a serious work out. Cath discovered her 8 year old Meindl Burma’s have just about died when it comes to waterproofing (not bad considering the abuse they have had), and that her lightweight waterproof trousers, were in fact windproof and not a lot else! My G2 Moutain pants were lengendary, only leaking around seams and zips, and my love of these trousers continues to grow. I think Helen stayed vaguely dry, but you can make up your own mind from the photos below.

 

Helen and myself setting out

 

Cath & Helen

Nigh on 3 hours we walked, with a cuppa at the end in the NT cafe at Longshaw. I’ll tell you what. The time flew again. I’m not sure what is was about that week, but meeting and walking with new people who were all rather lovely, gave me a whole new view of the peaks. Interacting with people online, and then cementing that friendship in real life is a rather grand feeling. You can tell what people are like I think through their online chatter. The feeling of nervousness and anticipation of meeting new people, fading in the real knowledge that they are as lovely as their online presences, delivered a warmth that made this week in the peaks special. Helen was fine company and the conversation ranged as wide as our feet did.

I’m not sure when we’ll be heading back up North again to stay with Cath’s folks, but we’ll be calling on some new friends to be sure.

Four years is too long a time to not share a path with the ones you love.

Four years is too long a time to not share a path with the ones you love.

I’ve done something I haven’t done for several years this week. I walked in the hills with my wife. Doesn’t sound like much does it, but when you factor in that our eldest is now 3, thats nearly 4 years since we have been for a decent walk together, and by that I mean something over 2 miles without blackmailing / cajoling / carrying a tiny guy along as well. It’s been such a long time, it felt a little strange to start off with, but the silence soon lost it’s edge and became the comfortable companionship I had missed. I’m not sure what it is, but hill walking and car journeys always seem to be the easiest places to talk to people. The quality of conversation that you get on the path or the front seat of a long trip, seem to be head and shoulders above the conversations we normally try and fit in to our busy lives. Not having anywhere to go except the journey, the lack of internet, demands of work and everyday life result in communication that is to be cherished.

towards Strines resevoir

The plan wasn’t always for a wander, we woke up at Cath’s folks house and decided when looking at the heavy hoar frost that it would be a stunning day for a wander. Persuading Grandma and Grandpa was done first thing, and the boys didn’t even turn round as we bolted out the door. We needed a gentle, swift wander as we didn’t want to leave the boys all day, so we headed on over to Cutthroat bridge, just up from Ladybower reservoir to park up. We were heading off to a bit of the Peaks I had not been too before, up to Strines reservoir, before heading across to an old favourite, blackhole moor and down to Derwent edge.

salt cellar

derwent edge

It’s been a while since I have been in the hills with Cath, so Monday was a bit of a dreamy day, my memories now I am back at the PC is of the chuckle of many grouse, trying to break through ice sheets whilst giggling, the silent movement of mist and cloud across the heather, and the beauty & majesty of Peak district gritstone. We’ve just been looking at some of the photos we have taken, and it’s lovely to share a smile and memories we have had together again of the hills. Time to plan some more dates, it’s been too long.

in to the mist

icebreaker

Leave your home, lock the door, and never come back.

We’re coming up for our busiest period of the year at Webtogs right now, and getting outside has had to take a back seat whilst we get things ready for Christmas. Saturday though was a rare treat, a day out with the family. Dorset doesn’t have much in the way of real wilderness, it’s pretty much tractor land where we live, with a few too many posh houses for my liking and lots of agriculture. Dartmoor, Exmoor & the Brecons are the most logical wild options close by to, us but today saw Cath take us off to the one really wild option we have within the county – the coast. So we got up, got the caffeine going, strapped our boots on, got in to the car and headed southwards to Tyneham.

The village itself has a hell of a story having been abandoned since the end of the second world war, when the army requisitioned it for training for D day towards the end of 1943. There are a couple of other villages that have also suffered a similar fate, though for different reasons such as Derwent in the Peak District and Imber on Salisbury plain. They all evoke strong responses in people for lots of reasons, but for me, the emotions are stirred by the fact that houses some families had called home will never be so again. We drove through the Purbeck hills searching for the bluster of sea air when we came up the hill overlooking the village. Although the village was emptied to train troops for the D Day landings, after the war, the army held on to the land, and the villagers were not allowed back in. As a result, the village can only be accessed on certain weekends as it remains part of an army firing range. When you approach it, there are rather a lot of signs and flags warning you that you can get yourself blown up if you are not careful. I think that always adds a certain frisson to a walk, knowing that you are walking on land which you can’t usually traipse upon, and that you could find something that goes boom…..

Military firing range warning

It had been a beautiful start to the day though, so we drew up in to the car park at Tyneham with anticipation of a great stroll. Our route was a 2 mile walk and we hoped that Ifor, our 3 year old, would walk the whole way as we want to build up his stamina. Driving in to the village was a little underwhelming as you cannot see too many abandoned buildings. We togged up though, and headed off. I tweeted yesterday that bad weather is great for making you feel alive. We had no rain for Saturday however with the Sun gracing us for the most part, but the wind was strong, ever present, and the recent hours spent in front of a screen were blown away rapidly, leaving me with energy for the short trail ahead.

To the sea

There are many calculations for distance covered based on incline, weather etc, none however that allow for distance covered with a child. Based on Saturdays experience, I think 1 hour 15 mins per mile is about accurate! With Ellis on my back, we took a leisurely pace to the beach interrupted by the last Blackberries of autumn, puddles, rusting tanks and lots more puddles for Ifor. The sea swung in and out of view as we passed through through Tyneham valley. Large numbers on each hill and the occasional hunk of metal reminded us we were on MOD land, and it wasn’t long before we were at the beach. It’s been a while since I have been to the coast, and it was great to be reminded just how noisy waves crashing on a pebble beach can be. There is something incredibly wild about the Jurassic coast, so we spent some time just letting the sights, sounds and smells soak in.

Looking out over Tyneham bay.

Tyneham bay towards Lulworth

Looking down the coast to Werth Matravers & Kiddiminster

Cliffs above Tyneham

A biscuit, glug of milk, and we were off back up the cliff path back towards the village. We were rather glad to have Ifor’s littlelife animal daypack as the path ran rather too close to the cliffs, and the reigns were invaluable in keeping him by us. The path along the cliffs saw the sun come out, and we had beautiful views down the coast to Kimmeridge and Worth Matravers. Finally back at the car park, a rather tired Ifor & Ellis woolfed their lunches down, before we wandered off to have a look around the remains of the village. Spooky was the order of the day, particularly the schoolhouse which has been restored, and the graveyard of the church. Generations of families lay beneath the salty turf, yet no burials for 60 + years made it even more sombre than your average graveyard.

The farm stables in Tyneham

Tyneham church

Tyneham school

Heads lolling in the back of the car from the two boys, we headed home after a great stretch. Walking on the Dorset coast is fantastic, but adding the history and emotion present in Tyneham made it a day out that will stay with us for a while. If you want to take a look at all the photos we took, click here for our flickr stream of Tyneham.

Blackberries = Autumn

They said it was a bonzer year for blackberries and they weren’t wrong……


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Location:St Leonard’s St,West Malling,United Kingdom

Retro rucksack goodness tweaks memories

We had one of our favourite customers in the other day, just finishing off his shopping list for Kilimanjiro. He walked in with the bag below, which stirred all kinds of memories of my first rucksack (a Karrimor in case you hadn’t guessed!)

Retro karrimor goodness!

It also brought back memories of the old rucksacks they used to keep in their London store, from all the first expeditions to places they have supported over the years. I hope when Karrimor was sold, somebody has kept them safe and sound somewhere. It has made me nostalgic for the days when you could pretty much recommend any Karrimor rucksack, and it would be a good ‘un. If anyone else can remember what your favourite / first rucksack you ever had was, please post up in the comments below! All I can remember is that mine was 55 Litres, a lovely red, and my back will not forget carrying it – that’s for sure….

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