I’ve hurt my back and that coupled with busy work life has meant no real outdoorsy-ness for a while. My lower back occasionally fubars (traced back to schoolboy rugby and then a very long tumble down an ice-field where it all went a bit somersault-y). This time it was brought on by an innocuous slip on some leaves on a steep cobbled path. Pah. Enough of a slip to have me eating diclofenac like smarties this last week or two
So I’m using this downtime to share some kit and also tech / gadget geekery info, which you might find useful.
1. Kit review – the POcpac wallet.
I recently spotted that an ex colleague (my old boss actually) has been distributing a waterproof wallet – initially aimed at the cyclist market – that keeps your phone, money, cards etc dry when you’re out on the road. He’s a keen cyclist and whilst that’s not my bag we got talking and he mentioned that it’s an ideal bit of kit for hikers and the outdoors crowd in general. A couple of days after our chat a pOcpac arrived in the post and although I haven’t had day-long hikes of late I have been up on the moors on a couple of (wet) occasions – so I’ve ‘test driven’ the pOcpac enough to get a feel for it.
I always take some spare change and also notes with me when I’m out an any length of a walk but I’ve tended to keep them in a sandwhich bag. Which is okay when it’s dry but often – it isn’t! So a waterproof wallet is a good idea. The pOcpac also acts as a phone pouch / wallet. My HTC HD is a tad larger than an iphone and it fitted in well, the zip closed up nicely even with a chunky phone like the HTC HD inside. And I was able to check my phone through the clear cover and navigate the touch screen despite drizzle on the cover – so it does what it says on the tin (website).
There’s also some clever technical properties which appeal to my geek nature too.. more details on the pOcpac website.
5 out of 5 for quality and usefulness (zip closes well, study construction and it fits with a slim profile into my trouser side pocket)
5 out of 5 for waterproofing (used on 2 occasions, one drizzle, the other low cloud and rain and both phone and money stayed dry).
2. Next up is some App news:
(I’m not getting a free App or software for this, just sharing the love as it were).
The guys who developed the West Highland Way app have a new one out: The Cotswold Way App
They sent me an email saying that this is the first app guide to the Cotswold Way long distance path .. and (pleasingly, as an Android fan) it’s available for Android phones and tablets. People can use it to plan their route and accommodation in advance and also day-to-day as they walk the route. From their news release: “The app can display a map of the route overlaid with the locations of essential facilities such as hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites, restaurants, pubs, shops, transport links, etc. Users can move around the map and touch a location to see information about the facilities there, including links to the appropriate website for further information. So people can find the best accommodation options and link straight to their websites for contact details and booking.”
Mapping / GPS routeplanners like Viewranger are available of course but this app seems to me to be a useful tool in undertaking one of the long distance trails and good luck to guys behind it.
More info available on the Calton Hill site.
3. And finally, there have been some updates on the Social Hiking website / service which I spotted.
If you like to share your trails/ hikes (and especially I guess if you’re embarking on a long distance challenge) then Social Hiking is to my mind a neat bit of technology. I think there’s a time for silence and solitude (real world and electronic) but also times when you want to share and keep your friends / family / supporters / buddies up to date with what you’re doing.
Again, no commercial link or incentive for me on this service – I just like it and if you’re a hiking geek, or a geeky hiker – it’s worth a look
I set off on a newly planned out a walk a week ago and had to abandon it. And I did the same today – but clocked up about 9 miles of snow fest fun in the attempt.
Along the way we flushed out about 30 Grouse (they didn’t half grumble about it), 1 beautiful winter-coated Hare and lost the route under 3 inches of snow. And scored free sausages for the dog from the very welcome snack van (and very kind lady) on the home straight.
(local people – the snack van is the one on the A635 .. I didn’t really want to use the road but it was the shortest way from White Moss to an exit point and back down from the moors via Wessenden Valley.. and free sausages for the dog.. can’t be bad)
The route I wanted to take was from Marsden across the moors to Black Hill (in neighbouring Peak District. It’s about a 12 mike round trip with some great views (when the cloud doest descend like it did today).
What I actually did was about 9 miles given that the low cloud, sleet, hail and snow mixed flurries made it slow going in places. And I lost the path and had to peat bog scramble for a bit – but didn’t lose my total bearings (thanks to GPS ).
And Brodie Dog still needs to be given some recuperation time (see last post) so I didn’t want to over do it. It was a great hike though and walking on virgin snow for about 3 hours was great.. I only saw one other set of boot prints the whole time.
Anyway – the weather was challenging .. I think it stayed quite nice down in the valley but up on ‘the tops’ it was, err, pretty grim.
But the silence you get with snow and no traffic for miles is truly lovely. And whan the Hare broke cover about 5 yards from us and bounded away like a furry firecracker it was a true ‘wow’ moment. My arm has just about recovered from the dog forgetting she was on the retractable lead and wanting to chasing after it. ouch.
Finally , I’ve been growing a winter beard – kind of as part of the ’decembeard’ charity movement (a bit like Movember but with about 5% of the participants I think). Every day I keep hold off it , I donate some money to a regional homeless charity I support. It kind of looks the part up in the snowy wilds .
In my head I was chasing down deer with my wolf companion.. or somesuch.
But Wolfy got sausages not deer and I think even they were pork not even venison.. didn’t have the heart to tell her
- I can use my phone / GPS thing in bad weather! The Hiking Geek post (halfwayhike.wordpress.com)
- The Pennine Way: Edale to Marsden (jonmaiden.wordpress.com)
- Britain hit by snow and sleet (telegraph.co.uk)
- Postcard from a walk not taken (halfwayhike.wordpress.com)
This was definitely a walk with a small ‘w’ not a Walk or even a Hike – This weekend was meant to include a day up Scafell Pike but that was postponed so I could attend the management meeting for Mikron Theatre Company.
So to keep my hand in (and my vague sense of healthiness up) I did an early morning two and half hours or so walk up Marsden’s Wessenden Valley then along part of the Pennine Way past Swellands and Black Moss reservoirs.
You can see some of my route here.. I played around a bit again with the Viewranger GPS app and also the socialhiking service.
But I’m getting something wrong as the beacon was set to broadcast my GPS every 10 minutes and give a full picture of my route.. it doesn’t actually show that on the map of the walk though. Hmm. And The tweet I did with my socialhiking hashtag (one I set for the hikes) worked well via the web service but the lack of 3G cover (or basic phone signal sometimes) on the moors meant it wasn’t displayed where I actually took the photo and tweeted.
Okay, enough about tech stuff, but its funny – on the one hand I like the solitude of walking and this year’s hikes have been about my desire for head space. On the other hand, I’m a terminal geek and I tweet / check-in and photo each and every walk. Conflicted or what. As my geek and gregarious side is winning out, I’ll keep trying out the two services. Sorry
- Crowden to Marsden – Pennine Way (mountainleadertraining.wordpress.com)
I did a short (no doubt, by hardcore Hikers standards) 4 hours on a local walk / hike this morning – up the Wessenden Valley , onto the Pennine Way and then back down across part of Saddleworth Moor to Marsden.
I used the Viewranger GPS app , now installed on my phone – although I’m still figuring it out. I kept the phone dry despite the truly APPALLING rain that son Joe and I had put up with for most of the time. Summer? I don’t think so. The horizontal rain and strong winds made our faces hurt. Meh. The phone stayed dry because the really cool Aquapac arrived in time on saturday and its a great little bag. The camera lens was a bit obscured by part of the non-transparent case but I think that’s because I kept my chunky bodyglove / bumper case on the phone. If I took that off and kept just the phone inside the Aquapac then it would be a fine fit, I’m sure .
Witness this slightly blurred photo – although that could be down to the weather rather than the case obscuring part of the camera lens..
As well as testing out the Aquapac, I was also working out how to use the neat service offered by socialhiking that can be used with Viewranger.
I like the fact that this site / app service was set up by a guy who loves what he does (hiking) and was initially meant for him to be able to share a charity walk he was doing with friends.
It’s a shame the map of the route only showed 3 beacons / locations of where we were; as it looks a bit odd. The idea was that Viewranger would send out a ‘beacon’ location of where I was (or rather, where my Aquapac-d phone was) every 15 minutes. So you would get a good / smooth plan of my progress (if I had chosen to share the map with anyone). But for some reason it didn’t. No problem, as this was just a little test / local walk. But if I do the national 3 peaks (say) I’d like to have my progress viewable with more granularity on a public map which is an option in socialhiking.
I did more than 11km, not that I was counting distance – this was just a nice walk out with the always agreeable and reliably geologically (and music, amongst others things) knowledgable company of Joe.
Anyway, here’s the map as it stands..