Monday, 23 June 2008

E-Petiton - The Government response

The wildcamping e-petition has finally received a response from the Government.

This Government appreciates the potential benefits of wild camping in England and its attractiveness to campers who already have the opportunity to camp in the wild in Scotland.

The Land Reform Act in Scotland allows for wild camping, but the land issues and the legislation in England are somewhat different. The introduction of wild camping in England would be a controversial issue, which would require both significant consultation and legislative change.

On open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which lists all restricted activities. Therefore, new Regulations would be required to exclude wild camping as a restricted activity. Any change to the current rules on wild camping in National Parks and Ministry of Defence land would require new primary legislation.

The Government has no plans to allocate the necessary resources to consider proposals for such legislation at present, and is concentrating on following up the successful introduction of 750,000 hectares of open access land with new legislation on access to the coast in the Marine Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

2009 TGO challenge

The dates for the 2009 TGO challenge are 8th-22nd May 2009 and because this is the 30th challenge the numbers of entries has been increased to 360 for this year only.

It seems as though they will be adding some new starting points from next year and because of the increase in numbers will be putting a limit of challengers starting at the most popular start points of Oban, Malliag, & Shiel Bridge.

I have though about doing this challenge over the last couple of year especially after listening to Bob's podcasts from 2006 and 2007.

Next year would be a good year for me, as I haven't made any commitments yet to holidays and SWMBO has agreed in principal that I can go if accepted.

I just need to work out a route that would be suitable to me, how much it would cost to do and if I need to replace some of my equipment.

One thing that definitely would need replacing is a sleeping bag, I only have a light Summer bag (+3) and a heavy Winter bag (-10), I think I would need something in between; some where around the -3 mark would probably be good enough for that time of the year.

If I were to do it; I think that I would go for a low-level route although there do seem to be some tricky places crossing Scotland, the route out of Braemar looks to one of these.

I do have a funny feeling that next years event is going to way over-subscribed.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

All Terrain

It seems as today is the day for new trail shoes.  I picked up a pair of New Balance All terrain running shoes, a bit similar to the Innov8 only not as light.

This pair weigh about 800g which is a big saving over my boots.AT

Only time will tell, how good they are for backpacking but for the price I paid it's worth a go.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Aquagear Survivor Review

So far; I have used the bottle over 6 days on two separate trips.

The first a 2-day trip in the Peak District and the second 4-days in Scotland.

The main points of the Aquagear bottle are that it is light, easy-to-use, easy to fill and removes most of the nasties that worry us, i.e cryptosporidium, giardia and e-coli.

The bottle will also remove taste from water, so if you wanted to be extra careful and use either iodine or chlorine tablets the taste from these would be removed.  I haven’t fully tested this claim as I don’t use either of these tablets but water taken from a tap in the Peak District which when drunk untreated tasted of chlorine didn’t after being run through the bottle.

On the trip to Scotland I took only the bottle and a 1 litre platypus bottle, the initial idea was to fill the Aquagear bottle in the water course then transfer the water to the platypus.

I attempted this on the first night’s wild camp but found it to be a lot of faffing about; the main reasons were that, it took roughly 2 ½ fills of the aqua bottle to fill the platypus, the top of the aqua bottle is roughly the same size as the opening of the platypus which meant that it would get stuck in the platypus and then air would not get sucked back into the aqua bottle to allow me to squeeze it again to push water through.

After this, that idea was abandoned and I just filled the platypus and the aqua bottle and used the water from it and when empty refilled from the platypus.

During the day, if it was easy enough to fill the aqua bottle straight from streams I would or if a bit difficult to get to the stream I would fill a nalgene bottle and then transfer water to the aqua bottle.

Filling the bottle did need a bit of a technique at times. I made sure that the bottle faced up stream and squeezed it, this helped to drag the water into the bottle.

Using this technique meant that most of the bottle filled with water but because of the design of the bottle I could not completely fill it.  This is because when the bottle is inverted the right way-up the water fills the bottom and leaves about an inch unfilled at the top.

Drinking from the bottle is simple; remove the dust cup, pop the spout and then squeeze the bottle.  The squeezing need to be a steady gentle pressure which will give roughly a mouthful of water before needing to be released to allow air back into the bottle so the process can be started over.

Drinking from this bottle is a steady process and because of this; it is not ideal if you are someone who guzzles down water.

The bottle is 500 ml (18 oz) and is fine when there are plenty of water sources to fill up from. On trips where water is scarcer I feel that bottle wouldn’t be large enough for these trips, as I can get through 500 ml quite quickly.  Although saying that I think the bottle would still be part of my regular kit as it does give me the chance to source water while out and about.

The only niggle I have with the bottle is that the paint on it started to come away from day one and has continued, funnily enough though it is only the paint giving the directions of use that is coming off, not the company logo.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Video of the Cairngorms

The video from the Cairngorms are now live on Youtube.

Normally I would post the video's into the blog but as Youtube compresses them a fair bit they can look blocky.

If you go to the links below it with take you to the video's and if you click on the "Watch in high quality" you get a better picture.

Link to Cairngorms 2008

Link to Cairngorms 2008 Pt 2

Rothiemurchus Forest - Aviemore

Monday 25th May

Our final day in Scotland.

We only had about 6 miles to cover today but we were still up early and away by 9:00.

Most of the final day's walk was through the forest on easy tracks, so we made good progress.


Through the forest

Once across the Cairngorm footbridge; the paths started to open up and we had views to the mountains Southwest of Aviemore.

We walked up the Loch an Eilein and saw a little white house with people milling around it. Ah! a tea shop! but before the tea shop a quick walk around the loch to get a better look at the castle in the loch.

castle Castle on the Loch

After taking some pictures we made our way back to the tea shop. Disaster; the tea shop, is not a tea shop! but a RSPB visitor centre. They did have a tea/coffee machine in there but I set myself up for a bacon butty, so I ended up with a bag of crisps and a Fanta.

The route out was via the Car Park and there were a fair few cars parked up, it was strange starting to see big groups of people after the last few days of not seeing any.

We knew we were getting back to civilization, when we could hear cars and sirens coming from Avimore way.

Finally in Aviemore; we made our way up the high street to the mountain cafe, where we had a big all-day breakfast with unlimited tea/coffee.

After this we had a wander in and out of the tourist shops, we still had an eight hour wait for the night train back home.

We did find a little garden in the centre of Aviemore and chilled out there for most of the afternoon.

At one point we think we saw Chris Townsend walking up the high street to the local supermarket.

At 20:30 we made our way to the railway station to wait for the train. We got chatting to the station master, who informed us that he was retiring on the 30th May.

So happy retirement; Willie.

The last thing we saw and hear before boarding the train was a piper, which was a nice send off.


Piper at the Gates of Dawn?

That's the end. I did get to see Red Squirrel & the Red Deer but no Highland Coo's and no stag antlers.

A big thanks to Robin who original walked this route and I just picked his brain and copied the route.

I'm already looking at maps and see where & when the next trip to Scotland will be, and as for this; I think I'll forget about it for a while.

Corrour Bothy - Rothiemurchus Forest via Liarig Ghru

Sunday 25th May

Another day; another hole. It seems as my sleeping mat has developed a hole, although it must be a very small one as it takes about 6-7 hours for the mat to deflate even with me on it. 

Today's route is over to Rothiemurchus Forest via the Liarig Ghru. The Liarig Ghru is one of the best known mountain passes not only in Scotland but in the U.K. I had heard a lot about it but still didn't know what to expect once up there.

We said our goodbyes to Duncan, and set off back down to the bridge crossing the River Dee, as the main path runs up the Eastern side of the Dee.

Again the paths were good to start with and we made steady progress.  One of the first thing we were looking of today was the Clach nan Taillear. We think that the picture below is it; as it is on the right side of the path and close to where the path to Carn a`Mhaim goes up from the Liarig Ghru (this was to be Duncan's route for today).

clach non taillear

Clach nan Tailler

From Clach nan Tailear the path climbed continuously and started to get a bit rougher, as we climbed the views across to Cairn Toul & up to Ben Macdui opened out.  Yesterday we had spend the latter part of the day looking at the Devil's Point and to never seems to get closer; today we couldn't get far away from it.

liarig ghru

Looking North

Devils point

Back to the Devil's Point

One of Duncan's parting words were "watch out for the boulders" and just before the Pools of Dee; we hit them.  These boulders are BIG, you have to be really careful where you place your feet as it could be so easy to misplace a step and break an ankle. A couple of times I got a pole struck in the gaps and it needed a good pull to retrieve it.


Boulders everywhere

We finally made it to the Pools of Dee and stopped there for lunch. while sitting there people started to arrived from the other direction (Aviemore) and pass by. 

There was still some snow lying in the pass, and at some places it looked to be 6-8 inches deep. Shortly after the Pools of Dee; we hit a marked cairn, this turned out to be the height cairn of the Liarig Ghru, we were at the highest point 835 m (2733 ft).  So everything from here was downhill.

Although all downhill; it wasn't easy, again the path seemed to disappear and then reappear somewhere else. It wasn't until we arrived near the start of Allt Druidh that the paths were more defined. 

Allt Druidh

Allt Druidh

All the climbing over boulders and non-defined paths made for a bad day for the feet, by the time we reached the Rothiemurchus Forest my feet felt a bit bruised and battered, it was nice to be on smooth paths again.


Start/finish of the Liarig Ghru

We made our way to the clearing in the Forest and set up our final night's wild camp.


Camp in Rothiemurchus Forest