Newsletter > Newsletter archive > March 2014
The importance of being common
The history of common land is stitched into the story of our country and continues to have an important bearing on how we enjoy and use the landscape today. It’s a subject we touch on extensively in our Pathways book, as it affects everything from walking on typical country paths through farmland, to woodland tracks and forays into the Scottish Highlands. At one time commons occupied about half of Britain, whereas now they cover just 1.2 million hectares, or 5% of the country. The amount of common land has been eroded over many centuries by enclosure and the annexing of forest and woodland. It is a process that started back in medieval times and only now is being halted and, in some cases, reversed.
5% is still quite a lot. Nearly all of Scottish commons, and three quarters of those south of the border, are in the uplands. Extending to one million hectares, they form some of our most iconic landscapes. But they are not just a pretty sight. Upland commons have a significant role in mitigating climate change, their peat soils storing millions of tons of carbon. They have an equally important role in water provision and flood management, with the soils and mosses acting as sponges and preventing the rapid release of water to flood risk areas downstream. Our upland commons have also provided ideal conditions for the protection of thousands of ancient monuments, ranging from henges and stone circles to hillforts, and for the conservation of wildlife, including some of Britain’s rarest birds. We really wouldn’t want to be without them.
The Foundation for Common Land, a charity dedicated to the protection and management of commons, has launched a series of publications arguing that commons make a greater contribution to the environment than any other farmland in Britain. Ten factsheets covering wildlife, archaeology, tourism, rare breeds, carbon storage, water supply, uplands, agriculture and water and flood management are published on the Foundation website.
Join a hillwalking skills day with Mountain Rescue
Once again we have got together with one of the Lake District Mountain Rescue teams to offer some essential hillwalking skills training over the Easter bank holiday weekend. There will be training days on both Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th April. The days are designed to give you some important core skills for hillwalking, particularly navigation using a map and compass.
The day will start 9.30am at Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team's base with a short indoor introduction to map and compass techniques. This is followed by a couple of hours in a small group with a Mountain Rescue team member practicing your skills in the immediate outdoors. After lunch it will be time go out on a nearby fell with a team member for 2-3 hours to put your skills into practice and to learn more in a real hillside environment. Then there's a recap back at the base, with an optional tour if you would like to see how the team operates.
If you would like to take part in one of these training days the cost is just £35 per person. You need to book in advance, as places are limited. For the rest of the Easter period there is plenty going on in Kirkby Stephen as it’s the weekend of the Classic Commercial Vehicle Rally, a free event with the opportunity to ride on some superb old buses. Accommodation and other information about staying in and around Kirkby Stephen and Cumbria’s Upper Eden Valley can be found on the Walkeden website (www.walkeden.org).
High Route above the Seven Capes of Lycia
The first section of southern Turkey’s long-distance footpath, The Lycian Way, encompass some thrilling walking, high above the coast, offering far-reaching views down to the region’s many small isolated coves and the Seven Capes that jut out into an impossibly blue sea.
Having just returned from Lycia, Inntravel’s Jonathan Clark was blown away by the ‘sheer’ drama of the remarkable ravines he traversed with relative ease, as he walked from one small hamlet to the next. “As the winding path rounded the rugged hillside, a vast wall of rock slowly came into view – huge slabs of grey-white limestone interspersed with green areas of fir trees and stunted low shrubs. The way seems impassable – almost improbable – yet our path to the tiny mountain village of Alinca lay ahead…”
Far from impassable, this cobbled trail has been used for generations by the local people and the path today is wide, well-waymarked and easy to follow. Inntravel’s self-guided walking holiday (new for this year) between Kayaköy and Bel is challenging yet hugely rewarding. The walking is tough in places, but never overly technical for a walker of average fitness and experience.
For more details on Inntravel’s walking holidays in Turkey, see inntravel.co.uk or speak to their expert team on 01653 617034.
Seven Capes of Lycia
- Hotel-to-hotel, self-guided walking holiday
- Prices from £785pp, inc 8 nights’ B&B accommodation, 1 dinner, 4 picnics, detailed route guides & maps, plus return taxi from Dalaman airport
- Flights extra (direct from several UK regional airports)
- Available from 27 April to 30 June & from 1 September to 31 October 2014
Discount on Merino garments
If you fancy some nice warm merino wool clothing or socks you can get a 20% discount off the retail price at Merino UK. We particularly like their socks which are made by a family company in New Zealand – the ‘Protective Plus’ sock is aimed at the outdoors and is decent value at £17.50 even without the discount. After shopping insert the code WW001 and any orders (ex postage) will be automatically discounted on the final invoice value. The discount is available until 1st May.
Satmap Systems, manufacturer of the Active 10 GPS, is launching the Active 12 Mapping Sports GPS. The Active 12 offers a new hi-res screen, hi-res (660dpi) OS mapping, Bluetooth Smart connectivity for data sharing and sports peripherals, along with a barometric altimeter. It will initially be available through Cotswold Outdoor stores, though you can expect it to be available elsewhere shortly.
For those who want a smartphone app that simply augments traditional map and compass navigation, OS Locate is a quick means of pinpointing your exact location on the map by giving you standard Ordnance Survey National Grid references, in nice big figures for those who struggle with little text. The app doesn't need a mobile signal as it uses the phone’s inbuilt GPS. Although that’s its key function it has a number of other features, including a compass (probably not to be relied on) and guidance on map reading and eastings and northings. Currently OS Locate is only available for iPhone. It is free to download. Other apps, such as 'GPS Test' (by Chartcross), perform a similar task for Android devices.
On Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th May, there’s a packed weekend all about the outdoors and wildlife of the North Norfolk Coast at the Deepdale Outdoor & Wildlife Festival 2014. Activities include a free Climbing Wall, Nordic Walking taster sessions, Bungee Trampolines and Bushcraft Skills plus not one but two Chainsaw Carvers, Paul Kelly and Carrie Yuen, who will be creating statues from lumps of wood.
Two for the calendar later in the year are Kirkby Stephen’s 2nd Beer and Bangers Festival (5th and 6th September) where you can combine a bit of the Cumbrian outdoors with 30 or more real ales and some delicious sausages, and the Swanage and Purbeck Walking Festival (20th-28th September) which has a full calendar of guided walks to enjoy.
Unfortunately Richard Vahrman's 'Invisible Pathways' project didn't get through to the next stage of Ordnance Survey's GeoVation challenge. It's a great shame because it is a genuinely innovative idea which, although technically demanding, is entirely workable. As far as we can tell, the OS continues to have no credible strategy for gathering the real geographical routes of Britain's rights of way - something that Richard's project was attempting to address. We remain keen and will see if something can be integrated into our work with Liverpool University (whose team also really liked the concept).
Adrian Perkins, who spent several years helping us with our walk feedback, has accomplished the not inconsiderable feat of completing his first novel. As Adrian puts it, “I have had the basic idea for the novel in my head for forty years, but have only just got round to doing anything about it!”
'Time & Again' starts from the intriguing premise of a 63 year old man who wakes to find himself in the head of his thirteen year old self. The plot does, of course, involve some walks, as the two attempt to come to terms with their decidedly odd situation. The book is available from Amazon or direct from the publisher.