Newsletter > Newsletter archive > July 2012

July 2012

Government gets the message on forests
ancient woodsFollowing the outcry over the proposed sale of Forestry Commission woodlands and forests last year, the Government commissioned a report into the future of these important public spaces. Rather unsurprisingly the report (PDF, 9MB) has concluded that the overall benefit to society of our woodland far exceeds its purely commercial value as timber. The Government is at least putting on a good show of welcoming the report’s conclusions and recommendations.

The report also points out that 82% of our woods lie outside the public forest estate, with the majority of these delivering “less than they could for people, nature, and the economy”. There is a huge challenge ahead in encouraging private owners to do better with their woodland properties. Meanwhile the net annual cost of running the public estate is around £20 million, equivalent to just 90p per household each year. Whatever way the total benefits are calculated (and the report puts them at around £400M), that is surely superb value for money.

One of the worrying findings of the report is that far too much British woodland is being left unmanaged. This may sound like a good thing for wildlife and plantlife but actually it is not. Without regular clearing a limited number of species tend to take over and the result is an overall decline in diversity. This point is made very eloquently in a beautiful book, Wild Flowers by Sarah Raven (Bloomsbury).

wild flowers book coverThis tome is not one you would want to carry around with you, unless you’re on a mission to get fit – it weighs over two and half kilos. But with the ability to take digital photos to bring back for identification that hardly matters. The book is sensibly split into habitats, such as woodland, meadow, wetlands and coast. Even better, there’s a quick photographic identification guide at the back, with the flowers broken down by petal colour. There’s no attempt to cover every single wild flower, just the 500 or so you are most likely to see. The photography is refreshingly different too as photographer Jonathan Buckley has got down on his knees, or stomach, to show each flower from its own level. This is so much better for seeing them in their natural context and makes the book much more appealing to browse through too. It’s a very nice publication and a timely reminder of what we stand to lose if we don’t protect our wild flower environments.

Dealing with the wet and overgrown
We’re getting lots of comments now about rapidly developing undergrowth, including several  of nettles reaching well over 6 feet high! The wet weather has not been good for walking but it has been good for plants and they’ll shoot up even more as the sun comes out. Sadly many councils have cut back on path maintenance which means they’re not cutting back on the rampant growth.

It’s worth being prepared for wading through nettles or fighting through long grass. We recommend taking a pair of waterproof overtrousers even if the forecast says it’s going to be sunny all day. It’s not nice to be caught out with just a pair of shorts. A good stick or walking pole can do wonders for thrashing through a jungle of undergrowth.

Equally it’s worth all of us notifying the relevant local council if a path is on the verge of becoming impassable. It’s important for councils to realise that proper investment in their footpath teams continues to be needed. If you want advice on who to contact (you can usually find contact information on the local council website) please get in touch with us.

Cotswold Outdoor discount now 15%
Cotswold Outdoor has upped its discount for Walkingworld subscribers to a generous 15%. The discount can be obtained in store and online and covers most full price items (i.e. those that are not already on offer). This might mean you can afford to buy the item you want rather than plumping for one simply because it is discounted. If you buy a pair of boots or a jacket, say, you could recoup your entire Walkingworld subscription in one fell swoop.  To find the discount code log in and click the link for ‘Subscriber benefits’ in the left hand menu on the home page (please note, you need to have a current Walkingworld subscription to access this page). There’s a PDF you can print out to take to Cotswold Outdoor’s real world shops.

Iceland – like nowhere else on Earth
Iceland GulfossThe volcanic, ever-changing landscapes of Iceland are legendary. Their sheer drama, scale and majesty bring an almost surreal atmosphere to any walk, with startling surprises round every corner.

Walking holiday specialist, Inntravel, began to offer trips to this extraordinary country only this year with two self-guided 7-night itineraries – one in the stunning Snæfellsnes National Park to the west, the other amid the waterfalls, glaciers and glowering volcanoes of the south. There is also a once-in-a-lifetime Icelandic Highlights trip linking both holidays with time in Reykjavik, an adventure that is receiving tremendous feedback:

“We were not disappointed! The scenery was truly spellbinding and every one of the walks was different… a city break in lively Reykjavik in the middle of the holiday added an extra dimension… We have been fortunate to visit some fantastic places around the world and Iceland was definitely right up there amongst the best of them… amazing country.”

And there is still time to go this year with Inntravel’s walking holidays in Iceland running until the end of September. For more information, see Inntravel’s 'Walking and More' brochure for 2012. Order a copy online or speak to one of their experts by calling 01653 617034.

Páramo v. the wet
Two people in riverFor that downpour that’s bound to happen sometime this summer, Páramo currently have an ‘All Systems GO!’ offer on that will save you a good whack on top to toe weather protection. If you combine one of their Analogy® waterproof jackets with their  best-selling waterproof trousers, you can save a very decent £70 on the usual combined price. Páramo’s kit is well known for providing complete weather protection that doesn’t leave you sweaty and uncomfortable or, as they say, “feeling like you’re dressed in a crisp packet”.

For instance their contemporary Alta II walking jacket offers excellent temperature control from upper arm vents, two way zip and sleeves that can be pushed up. Páramo’s  vented waterproof trousers can be worn all day, removing the hassle of having to put on and take off overtrousers as the weather changes. Note that the offer ends 12th August.

Book round-up
battle valleys cover'Battle Valleys', by Ronald Turnbull, explores the bloody history of the Borders in a beautifully illustrated coffee table book. Turnbull doesn’t profess to be an historian but his account is full of lively anecdotes and atmospheric locations, as he tells the story of a lawless land in which the ‘reivers’ would roam, stealing each other’s cattle and exacting summary ‘justice’ on their rivals. It’s an interesting reminder that some parts of our islands had an economy based on theft, blackmail and kidnapping just a few short centuries ago. Great stuff.

The Green London Way (subtitled ‘Walking the city’s history and wildlife’) sits at the other end of the spectrum from the above, with virtually no illustrations or pictures apart from some nicely drawn maps of this 100 mile walking route circling the capital. Nevertheless it’s a guide packed with historical and natural detail by someone who clearly knows the route intimately and has a passion for its nooks and crannies. Bob Gilbert writes well and there are plenty of ideas here for day walks along the route, including one by the new Olympic park (though that’s perhaps best left until after the crowds have gone).

mountain views coverRupert Hoare combined a career in oil exploration with a lifetime passion for mountaineering and photography. He began writing his book – 'Mountain Views' - in February 2011 shortly after finding out that he had terminal cancer. It was published in the late summer last year, just before his death in September 2011. Rupert’s aim was to provide a personal account of thirty-eight years of walking, climbing, mountaineering and ski-mountaineering in Britain, the Alps and farther afield. The result is a great read in a series of concise chapters, beautifully illustrated with a well chosen selection of stunning photographs. Keen hillwalkers will find that many of his memories match their own, and maybe get some ideas for new places to visit. The book can be bought for £18 (including P&P) from Rupert’s wife. Please send a cheque to: Jay Turner, 22 Hatton Court, Hatton of Fintray, Aberdeenshire AB21 0YA

A weekend of culture and the outdoors in The Lakes
Canticum, the highly regarded London based choral group, is performing at three popular Lakeland locations, Ambleside, Kendal and Sedbergh, between Friday 17th and Sunday 19th August. All proceeds from the concerts are to be donated to the three local Mountain Rescue teams. The choir’s Best of British Programme is a journey through British music from the 16th to 21st century, starting with some glories of Renaissance polyphony by Byrd, Tallis and Purcell to triumphant church music by Wesley and Walton. The second half is a secular journey beginning with madrigals and folksongs and concluding with a “potpourri of close harmony numbers”. Tickets are £8 (£5 concessions), available from the Canticum booking line 020 7681 1046, via the website (www.canticum.org.uk) or on the door. We’re organising a bus to take folk from Appleby-in-Westmorland and Kirkby Stephen to Sedbergh for lunch and the concert – if you are interested in this please get in touch.

For those wanting a really cultural weekend, plus a bit of walking, this concert could be combined with the Globe Theatre Company’s open air Hamlet at Brougham Hall, near Penrith, on the 18th August. Maybe you could do a good walk on Saturday followed by a bit of Shakespeare, then a Sunday stroll and choral music on Sunday afternoon in Sedbergh? You would certainly be elevated after all that.

Three Lochs Way apps
Free mobile phone apps are now available for the Three Lochs Way – one of Scotland’s Great Trails. As well as detailed navigational instructions, the apps provide information about the natural and cultural heritage of the area. Linking towns and villages on the west side of Loch Lomond between Balloch and Inveruglas, the Three Lochs Way is a varied, scenic and generally low level 52 kilometre route which can easily be walked in 3 to 4 days.

Charity events
Sparks Three Peaks Challenge takes on the three highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales from 14th - 16th September to raise funds for life saving research for babies, children and mums to be. All the logistics are looked after for you, in return for a £99 registration fee and a £650 fundraising target.

The Walk for All event takes place on Sunday 19th August. Over 2,500 people will take to the hills and enjoy the breath-taking views on a 26, 14 or 5 mile route, which takes in some of the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s most stunning scenery, including the picturesque Malhamdale and two of Yorkshire’s famous Three Peaks, Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough. Thanks to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the routes have been chosen to showcase this special area as well as ensuring that as light a mark is left on the environment as possible.

And finally, to get into the Jubilympic spirit
white nancyJim Grindle has sent us pictures of White Nancy, an unusual summit folly on Kerridge Hill near Macclesfield in Cheshire. Normally plain white all over it has been painted specially for the Jubilee and Olympic Games (one motif on each side), so if you’re in the region it’s worth popping up to see before it gets painted over again. White Nancy is visited on Jim’s own walk ID 3537, and also by walks 3093 and 3110. Apparently one year locals painted it as a plum pudding, so this year’s decoration is rather more respectful....