Newsletter > Newsletter archive > October 2016

October 2016


Getting prepped for winter
The first really chilly winds have been slicing across the small plateau in the North Pennines on which Walkingworld HQ perches. We have a small weather station in the back garden which uploads data every few seconds to a central resource called Weather Underground. If you look at the yearly history (by changing the view to 'Yearly Mode') you can see that the trend is now distinctly downwards. It's actually a time of year we cherish, as with the crystal clear air we can see for miles across the Eden Valley towards the Lake District fells.

The approach of winter has prompted us to get some Walkingworld headgear made by specialist manufacturer Giraffe UK. These tubular, water resistant garments are ideal for slipping into the pocket when you are not quite sure whether you'll need a hat or not. There are endless ways of folding them to make them into a hat, or you can put them right over your head and wear them as a neck warmer – one that doesn't slide off like a scarf.

Several years ago we had some Walkingworld T-shirts with the slogan 'I know where I'm going' on the front and 'Follow me' on the back. They were very popular, chiefly we suspect with people buying them for their super-confident map-and-compass wielding partners. So we thought we would revive the theme for one version of our new headgear and have a plain one with just the Walkingworld logo for the more discreet. They are just £11.50 each, with £1 going to Mountain Rescue, or you can save £2 if you buy one when you subscribe.

A light in the darkness
It's also about time to consider carrying a torch if you are venturing out on a walk later in the day. Fortunately portable torches have been completely transformed by the development of LED bulbs, which are much brighter for their size, difficult to break and easy on the battery. So, like our headgear, it's not too much of a pain to slip one into a pocket or a small rucksack and it could save you an embarrassing call for help.

In our household we have torches in every shape and form, from key rings to the flash light on our mobile phones. However for walking it's much better to have a head torch, leaving both hands free for getting you out of whatever sticky situation you have got yourself into. It's also quite a good idea not to run down your phone.

We thought it would be interesting to check out a real bargain head torch to see if it would do the job. The Muon torch is currently £12.50 direct from outdoor manufacturer Alpkit, including post and packing, though to be fair that is a special offer price. It is quite basic and holds just one AA battery, but it will keep shining for a few hours, enough to get you back to base. It would be easy enough, and probably advisable, to carry a spare battery.

You can find your way with a torch of 50 lumens or less, but it's nice to have one over 100 lumens. The Muon gives you that and more, as well as the option to turn down the brightness or switch to a wider beam. Overall we were pretty impressed with its performance, especially given the price. Alpkit tell us they have a reasonable number of the Muon in stock at this price, if you like the sound of it, although if you want the blue one you'll need to be quick.

Still evolving, still improving in the Alpujarras
For almost 20 years David and Emma at Las Chimeneas have been the caring, professional experts on the pathways and hidden trails of the high mountains of the Alpujarras, in Spain's Sierra Nevada. What's more, they've moved on and have developed into a kind of 'walking centre plus', with an even greater range of complementary activities that sit perfectly with hiking the great outdoors. 

Amongst others there is yoga at their new dedicated shala, escorted cultural trips to the great cities of Andalusia, guided birding and botanising weeks with acknowledged experts, wine tasting, massage, and specialist weeks with their friend, the author Chris Stewart.

All the rooms at Las Chimeneas are air-conditioned and have distant views across the sea to Africa - not for nothing is the village known as 'the balcony of the Alpujarra'. What really underpins the whole experience though is the increasing success of their restaurant. David and Emma offer days of trekking alongside cookery and baking classes, in partnership with several leading UK restaurants. They even have a newly published recipe book.

It's a fabulous combination: truly exceptional walking in a beautiful wilderness followed by delicious dinner in a serious little restaurant with breathtaking views. Fancy it? Have a look at their website for more information.

Holidays at Las Chimeneas
- 7 days walking and cookery classes with Moro chef Tom Ryalls; February 18th, from 900 euros per person,
- 5 days trekking plus 3 days in Seville and Cordoba; March 4th, from 1150 euros per person.
- 7 days walking and baking with e5 Bakehouse; March 12th, from 1150 euros per person
- 7 days walking and cooking with Manna from Devon; February 4th, from 900 euros per person
- All the above include airport transfers, full board and VAT

Enriching the List
Most of us know that England's most historic and significant places are 'listed', but we may not be fully aware of the sheer extent and range of 'the List'. Some 400,000 sites are kept in the official record: barrows and bunkers, palaces and pigsties, plague crosses and piers, tower blocks and tombstones, cathedrals, windmills and rollercoasters. Searching the entries in the List on the Historic England website is open to everyone, so it is a rich source of information if you are researching local history.

Historic England is keen to involve everyone in keeping the List relevant, comprehensive and up-to-date. They would like individuals and community groups to share any knowledge and images of sites and properties, so that important facts and stories about these places are not lost. Many places and buildings on the List are well-known and well documented, but with others there is a risk that interesting historical and social information may be lost.

There is more about 'Enriching the List' on the Historic England website. You can add photos (whether new or old), accounts of events and social history, changes to a building since it was listed, and information about the architecture or archaeology of the site.

Winter skills lectures
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) is running a series of lectures on winter skills at venues across the country. The talks cover everything from clothing and gear to navigation and avalanche awareness. The cost is £8 for non-BMC members and £6 for members, with a group discount making it £4 each for 10 or more. The lectures take place in the evenings during the last week of November and last a couple of hours. More information on the BMC website.