Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Hiking in the Forest of Dean

The Royal Forest of Dean is a large wooded landscape situated in rural Gloucestershire. The area is of great historical and cultural significance and the area is steeped in mystery and intrigue.
The area is popular for cycling, hiking, fishing, caving and other outdoor pursuits. There are two rivers which run either side of the plateau, The River Wye in Herefordshire and the River Severn. Tourists who visit the area can find accommodation in Gloucestershire or accommodation in Herefordshire which is nearby. Popular Herefordshire accommodation can be found in the gorge of Symonds Yat which is divided by the beautiful River Wye. One side of the gorge is in Herefordshire and the other is officially The Forest of Dean.

Ancient Woodlands
The Forest of Dean and Symonds Yat are two ancient areas of English woodland and there are many ancient forts, megalithic monuments and even barrows have been identified. The area was inhabited by the Britons and Symonds Yat is said to be one of the oldest inhabited places in Britain due to its ideal sheltered location by the river and network of caves.

The area was once popular with miners, and many mines and man made caves still exist as a testament to that industry. Lime Kilns can also be found scattered within certain forested areas.
The trees that make up the Forest of Dean comprise of deciduous and also evergreen trees, such as Oak, Beech, Ash, Sweet Chestnut, Pine, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Yew and Larch. There are many wild flowers that can be seen throughout the year in the forests, such as foxglove, bluebells and primrose.

Popular Attractions
An architectural attraction is the old Speech House. The Speech House is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in Britain and is situated near to Coleford and Cinderford. It was built in the 17th century as a 'Court of Mine Law' or 'Court of the Speech'.

Wildlife is one of the main attractions for walkers and hikers in the Forest of Dean. Birds such as Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts, Wood Warblers, Hawfinches, Goshawks and Peregrine Falcons draw in bird watchers. A variety of butterflies and other insects can be seen, such as wood ants, glow worms and dragon flies. Other larger animals inhabit parts of the woods and it is not uncommon to see wild boar and deer.

There are plenty of fascinating routes which can be cycled or walked and which take in places of interest such as: Cannop Ponds, Clearwell Caves, Dean Forest Railway, Puzzlewood, various iron works, The Sculpture Trail, Symonds Yat and a huge network of remote woodland trails.

Symonds Yat is worthy of a few days exploring with many caves, a river, dense woodland and all manner of outdoor pursuits such as fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, hiking, mountain biking and caving.

The area caters well for tourists and people in pursuit of the great outdoors, the local tourist information board will offer advice on accommodation Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and within the Forest of Dean itself. There is much to see in this beautiful part of England and it is mainly unspoilt.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Camping Furniture

Camping, Caravanning and Hiking is a great way to experience the outdoors, whether it be the lakes, coast, countryside or abroad. However, some people miss the comforts of home and basic items such as a table and chairs can be sorely missed when camping.
Luxury camping furniture can really help improve the quality of your time spent away and furniture such as trestle tables and camping chairs really help make your holiday experience more relaxed and enjoyable. The choice is pretty wide to offer additional comfort when on a camping or caravanning vacation. The problem for most campers is weight and space.

Camping Tables
Camping tables fall into two categories which both have similar features. Trestle tables and folding tables.

Trestle tables come in all shapes and sizes, and they are suitable for camping, car boots, displays, marketing, traders, stalls, events and catering.
The main use of a trestle table is that they will either fold away or are easily dismantled to save space when storing. They are often lightweight with a moulded top, and the legs will often be tubular with a powder coating for durability.
They are the ultimate in convenience and strength. Plastic trestle tables are usually made from polythene, blow moulded resin, or plastic resin. Their main features are strength combined with portability. Trestle tables also come in wood or aluminium design but plastic is a combination of strength, price and weight.

Folding Tables are very similar to trestle tables but they tend to be used more specifically for camping. Similar to trestle tables they come in all shapes and sizes, and are built from plastics, metals (such as aluminium) and wood, or a combination of materials.
Folding tables are suitable for picnics and their foldaway abilities mean that they are ideal for storing in caravans or a car boot when camping.
The beauty of a folding table is that you can have a sturdy table for preparing and eating food, and this can be a great help if you're out doors, they are easily wipe-able and should last you a long time if looked after.

Camping Chairs
Camping chairs are extremely popular and have many uses, for fishing, camping, caravanning, hunting, beach days, festivals and many more outdoor activities.

Most camping chairs are foldaway, and have developed over the years to offer comfort and support to the neck and back. More expensive camping chairs have free-form seat designs which help to remove pressure points and offer a relaxed, reclined position.

The seating is usually made of a fabric which can be padded for comfort, or sometimes of a mesh material which allows the material to breathe which is important for use in hot weather. Some chairs will come with drink holders which is of extra use if you need a liquid refreshment while reclining.

Lightweight chairs will be made of a polyester fabric and a metal frame which will be easy to open and close, this will also provide durability against weathering. You may also find your chair comes with a carry bag and plastic feet to prevent the camping chair from sinking in the soft ground.

In all, you will find luxury items such as camping tables, camping chairs and other caravanning accessories at any good quality camping equipment store. It really is worth looking around as these items will help make your holiday one to remember.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Camping and Sleeping - sleeping bags

If you're hiking and camping, then you will need to give some close consideration to the equipment you're going to have to carry around.

One of the most essential pieces of kit will be your sleeping bag.

Sleeping bags arrive in a complete array of styles, for warmth, weight, durability and functions.

The Basics
It's worth thinking about shape and size. Unless you're hoping to share the same sleeping bag (double size sleeping are available) then ideally you want something which does not restrict movement too much but is also compact and lightweight.

Generally, for hiking, a mummy style sleeping bag will see you through both summer and winter months depending on quality. They are often easily packed away hence good for traveling.

Warmth by Season
You will find that most sleeping bags are graded by season and in degrees Celsius. This will enable you to purchase a sleeping bag which is more tailored to the conditions you plan to use it in.
Suppliers should be able to help but as an indication, 1 is for summer (5 degrees Celsius), 2 is for spring/summer (0 degrees Celsius), 3 is for spring to autumn (-5 degrees Celsius),
4 is for winter (up to -10 degrees Celsius) and 5 is for much colder weather (-15 degrees Celsius).

In addition to this, accessories can help, adding more warmth such as: sleeping bag heaters (if you find yourself stuck in an emergency), mats to help insulate against heat loss from the cold ground below, and sleeping bag liners.

Sleeping Bag Linings
For the outer lining, 'down' sleeping bags are usually higher priced than synthetic sleeping bags, they also should last longer. The problem with down sleeping bags is that they tend to be less effective in damp or wet conditions.

If you want something a bit more water repellent then look for a sleeping bag with a synthetic shell, ultralight shell fabrics often have a durable water-repellent coating which will help to keep you dry, and from experience, trying to get a nights sleep in a damp sleeping bag can be quite unpleasant.

For the inner lining and further insulation we have two basic categories. Down, and synthetic insulation. Down will work to keep you warm in a dry environment which is cold, with a high weight to warmth ratio (down insulation is usually measured by once ounce per cubic inch). If warmth is not such an issue, and you're concerned about damp then you should consider the machine washable damp-repellent with synthetic insulation.

Seek Advice
Other factors to consider are hoods (great for really cold weather), draft collars or draft tubes which are stitched behind the zip.

Ideally, once you have a general idea of what type of sleeping bag you're going to require, you will need to seek some professional advice.

From past experience, if you don't find a sales person who knows their down from synthetic then there's a possibility you'll end up walking away with the wrong type of sleeping bag for you, and if you're stuck on the top of a mountain or fell with the wind howling and driving rain, it may just be too late to think about where you placed that receipt.

For some good advice on camping equipment in general, Camping Online based in Derbyshire, can offer some good tips and they stock a wide range of sleeping bags too.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The rugged beauty of Iceland

As we were coming into land I could see heavy white horse bristling across the ocean. I remember commenting that there must be a huge current there to make the sea look so angry and messy, it cant be a wind that is so strong otherwise the plane would be really bumping around. But it wasn't, it was very smooth and calm.

As I looked through the window I could see the wild, baron and grey landscape in the distance. Closer to the plane the ground rushed up to meet us as the wheels touched so smoothly and gently on the runway.

As we were getting the hand luggage down from the overhead lockers the captain spoke over the intercom firstly in Icelandic and then in English. “It is a little windy outside so we will be using the disembarking steps down onto the runway”. “There will be someone there to help you down the steps”.

Wow,standing on top of the steps we could feel the power of the wind, incredible. How did he land in this I remember thinking to myself. We slowly and careful made our way down the step and then felt the full force of the wind as we made our way across the tarmac a very short distance to the terminal. The wind was so strong that is was almost impossible to walk against it and forcing us to walk in a deep semi-circle to reach the door and safety. That was our first experience and impression of Iceland’s weather. It filled is both with foreboding for the days to come.

Travelling by car to Reykjavic from the airport is across the old lava flows that a covered in a sparse, low and coarse greenery. A little like English moors but with attitude and lots of it.

Straight after unpacking and freshening up in the hotel we set out for our first explore down to the harbour. Of course being an island, fish and seafood is a main source of diet and wow is the fish good.

Across the harbour there is a very impressive mountain with cloud a covered top and a very tempting profile.

To cut a very long story very very short. We had wisely decided to use our long weekend in Iceland to learn more about the landscape, the must sees and dangers. As looking across the baron and volcanic scene we could easily see that this is not the sort of place just to go trekking and wild camping without some serious planning and training.

We spent a lot of time taking in the marvellous culture and the stunning fresh food. Eating such this as Minke Whale, Puffin, Lobster, Reindeer , amazing fresh fish and of course the famous fermented shark.

Our plan is to go back next year well equipped, trained and learned in the hiking in the unique Icelandic landscape.

If you get a chance to go we highly recommend it, but before wild camping or hiking there ask the authorities and make sure you know exactly what to expect. But just to experience the culture, the friendliness and of course the superb food jump on a plane now!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Kinder Scout - Video by Terrybnd

A great little video of the one and only unique Kinder Scout, very professionally shot and edited by Terrybnd.

See Terry's Blog


Great stuff Terry :)

Shrewsbury climber rescued after falling - Hen Cloud!

A Shropshire man has been rescued by ambulance staff and Buxton Mountain Rescue Team after falling whilst in Staffordshire.

The man fell whilst climbing on Hen Cloud above the Roaches near Leek in the Peak District at around 4.20pm on Monday afternoon.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “When crews arrived, the paramedic from the response vehicle and one of the managers climbed a steep slope to the foot of some crags to where the patient was.

“The 28 year old Shrewsbury man had been climbing with a friend. The ambulance staff were told that he fell when a climbing peg came out of the rock face and he dropped approximately 20 feet onto the rocks below.
“The man had suffered a suspected fractured right ankle. He was given pain relief and had his ankle splinted.
“Initially the Midlands Air Ambulance from Stafforshire had been dispatched to the incident but due to the high winds, fading light and weather closing in, it wasn’t safe for the helicopter to land.

The mountain rescue team arrived with a specialist stretcher and together with the ambulance staff brought the man down using paths. 

“The man was then transferred to an ambulance and taken to University Hospital North Staffordshire for further assessment and treatment.”

An ambulance, a rapid response vehicle and two paramedic officers were sent to the scene along with the mountain rescue team.