Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas from HikingBlog

Merry Christmas!

I hope Santa brought you all you were hoping for this year? I awoke excitedly at the crack of dawn (well, maybe more like 8.30) to find that he had indeed come and judged that I'd somehow managed to be good enough this year to receive a stocking overflowing with presents rather than a lump of coal. I proceeded to rip off the brightly coloured paper to unwrap a smorgasbord of hiking goodies...

A pair of Scarpa Terra GTX walking boots
2 baselayers from Berghaus and Rab
A book of Peak District walks
and the much needed and everpresent stocking filler - some hiking socks

Phil also did well with a new Deuter pack amongst his stash of pressies. I feel some gear reviews coming on in the new year...!

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas weekend.

Cat @ HikingBlog

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

J'aime le Massif Central

I've not been getting out much lately, so I've taken to dreaming instead. And then yesterday I fell in love. I've been learning French and I came across the stunning region of the Massif Central. One of the poorest and less visited areas of France it was described by a 19th century author as...

One of the loveliest spots on earth . . . a country without roads, without guides, without any facilities for locomotion, where every discovery must be conquered at the price of danger or fatigue . . . a soil cut up with deep ravines, crossed in every way by lofty walls of lava, and furrowed by numerous torrents.

The Volcanoes of the Auvergne National Park is a landscape of 80 extinct volcanoes, known as Puys, stretching from the grassy domes and craters of the Monts-Dômes to the eroded skylines of the Monts-Dore.

Someone on a forum asked if they could fill a week here. I think I could fill a lifetime. An abundance of peaks to climb, lakes to sail on and rivers to canoe down I feel relaxed and carefree just thinking of it.

“Outstanding scenery with craggy moonscapes and rushing streams, incredibly fresh air, isolated villages where time does seem to have stopped, wonderful food...completely different from the regions of France that most people head to”. This visitor's description has sold me on this place and I hope I'll be heading there sometime soon. J'aimerais pouvoir dire que j'ai été ici.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Camp in Peak Park and help the environment

The Peak District National Park Authority are asking for help from those who enjoy the outdoors and specifically night time in the Peak District. They want our help in taking part in a study of light pollution in the Peak District. All you have to do is look up at the night sky and spot the constellation Orion. Then compare to some charts on their website and submit the results along with your location.

The National Park say “Light pollution is artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed. Not only does light pollution have an impact on people’s enjoyment of the night sky, it has also been shown to have an impact on quality of life, as well as wasting energy.”

Whether you live in the Peaks, in a town or village, or are visiting on a camping trip you can take part. Peak Park is hoping to become among the first in Europe to be recognised for its work on protecting the night sky, joining Galloway Forest Park in Scotland.

So if you're in Peak Park between 31 December 2010 and 5 January 2011, or between 28 January and 2 February 2011 then take the time to look up at the stars and enjoy them.

Visit for more info.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Winter Weather Forecasts

With the cold, snowy weather looking set to continue into the New Year I came across some really useful sites today that I thought I'd share. Some of you have probably seen these already whilst planning your hiking and camping trips but they'll be of use to those who haven't.

First up is for those who walk in the Lake District:

The Lake District National Park provide a Weatherline service providing a 5 day forecast on their site.

This not only gives you an overview of the weather but also goes into detail covering hazards, visibility, hill fog, winds, precipitation and temperatures. They also have a felltop conditions report, giving you more info on what it is like on the ground. Today on Helvellyn there are patches of snow and ice at all levels and certain ridges should only be attempted by the experienced.

Check it out at:

Next up is Snowdonia:

The Met Office provide weather forecasts for a range of mountain areas but have just updated their Snowdonia forecast to include a section on ground conditions. Its fairly basic but lets you know to expect frozen ground and snow, with more extensive cover where drifting has occurred.

Check it out at:

Finally for Scotland and the Peak District:

The Mountain Weather Information Service provides a weather forecast including the important“chance of cloud free summits”. It breaks Scotland down into 5 areas to provide a more accurate forecast and also has an avalanche guide.

Check it out at:

Goes without saying but if you're heading out, be prepared and don't forget these are only forecasts. Happy winter walking!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Who wants the Roaches?

Nine bodies and individuals have shown an interest in taking over a prime Peak District climbing site.
The Peak District National Park Authority is now asking for people’s views on what they want from any partnership in control of the Roaches in Staffordshire, a 394ha (975 acre) estate popular with climbers who head for its gritstone crags.

The authority is looking at either selling the land, which includes the British Mountaineering Council-leased Rockhall Cottage, or entering into a management partnership, as part of its cost-cutting measures following budget reductions by the coalition Government.

The Peak authority said the nine interested parties are a mixture of environmental and land management organisations and individuals, some proposing a lease, some a purchase.
It wants to hear the public’s views and is asking for comments and any key questions they would like potential bidders to answer. It is also consulting local councils, neighbours and interest groups.

The deadline for replies is 14 January 2011.

Submissions will be considered before drawing up a final set of objectives for the Roaches. The authority will then decide which partner could provide the best outcome for the future of the site, including conserving its wildlife, heritage and landscape, ensuring open access, increasing understanding of its special qualities, looking after its farmland to high conservation standards and managing traffic.

Shooting rights are specifically excluded, the Peak authority said.

Further details and information on how to submit views can be seen on the Peak District National Park website.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A lunchtime walk in the snow

I managed to get out of the office at lunchtime today to get my fix of the great outdoors. I'm lucky enough to work next to the canal at Loughborough so I stuck on my wellies, hiking jacket and gloves and headed out for a walk. Well, I say a places it was more like skating over the ice and trying not to end up on my arse!

The sun was out, shining off the crisp white snow, blinding me as a I walked along the canal bank. I braved taking my gloves off, exposing my hands to the cold to take some pictures. The snow seemed to have stilled everything, the birds hiding away in the trees, people wrapped up warm inside and everything was peaceful and quiet and beautiful.

I crunched along towards the bridge. The canal boats, moored up along the edge were trapped in the ice, unable to move until the thaw. Smoke from their coal fires escaped upwards, making them looking invitingly cosy. Then I turned the corner and saw where all the ducks had disappeared to. Dozens of them, eating lunch courtesy of some fellow walkers. The young swan wasn't impressed I got so close and didn't feed him, hissing at me to move away.

And then, all too soon it was time to go back to work. My co-workers thought I was mad, choosing to go out in the cold. And yet, I'd have happily stayed out there all day.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Peak District communities could disappear

Communities living in the Peak District National Park in Staffordshire could disappear, claim people who live there.

Many fear proposed funding cuts of almost 30% to national parks could destroy their living.
"The Peak District is managed more for visitors than residents" said Dehra Griffiths, headmistress at Flash School - which only has 7 pupils.
The relevant government department, DEFRA, says a new consultation will address the problems.
All parties are grappling with the problem of keeping rural communities alive while, at the same time, maintaining the natural beauty of the landscape.

The Peak District National Park, which spans over 550 square miles (about the same size as Greater London), is home to just 38,000 people. Even among these, there are competing needs: the requirements of the farmer, the businessperson, the singleton and the young family are each unique.
Balanced against that are the 10 million or so visitors who make recreational use of the land. Then there are also the environmentalists who passionately defend its unspoilt beauty.
Flash village
The village of Flash, perched high up in the Staffordshire Moorlands (it is generally regarded as the highest village in England), experiences the familiar problems of other Peak National Park villages. Planning restrictions keep the housing stock low. Just five new homes have been built there over the past 50 years.
This impacts on house prices, which, villagers say, are are often inflated and out of reach of most young families.
As families find it harder to stay, the village primary school has seen a serious drop in the number of pupils. There were 15 children not so long ago at Flash Primary; now it has just seven.
"Something has to change. The Peak District is managed more for visitors and for people from outside," warned acting headmistress, Dehra Griffiths.
"The numbers have fallen in a natural way because we haven't enough housing.
"Young people can't move back into the area and can't bring their families," added Dehra.

Spending review
A government spending review, which asks for big savings in almost every department, muddies the water even more. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has agreed to a 29% budget cut in its budget over the next four years.

In November 2010, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, who heads DEFRA, launched a consultation on how cuts should be implemented, with the aim of responding more to the needs of local people.
Speaking on the BBC Politics Show, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the MP for another area of outstanding natural beauty, the Cotswolds, said: "I think that Caroline Spelman has done exactly the right thing to have this consultation so we can ask the people who live in the national parks, the people who taught at Flash Primary School, the farmer, exactly what they want for their own area."

Mr Clifton-Brown is convinced that the concerns of local people should be of paramount importance.
"Unless we actually provide a livelihood for the people who live in the national parks, communities will die out - the national parks are what they are because they were a living landscape.

"They were formed by people who worked there, lived there, made their livelihood there. We have to adapt to modern times; we can't just have our National Parks preserved in aspic, they have to move a bit with the times," said Mr Clifton-Brown.

The Peak District is the oldest of Britain's 15 national parks.