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
Well, the Yorkshire 3 peaks was a game of 2 halves for sure. The morning, starting at Horton in Ribblesdale at 6.30 a.m (actually, starting at 3.30 a.m at home) was shrouded in misty fog (one above mist but just below thick fog if you know what I mean) and drizzle. Which continued up and over Pen-Y-Ghent and up to the top of Whernside or so. With the bog section from last year being really, really boggy this year. I think everyone we walked with or saw on the trail plunged at least one boot into the bog at some point.
And then the sun burned away the low cloud and the final 5 hours or so were hot and sunny and with fantastic views in the valley across to Ingleborough and then up on the top of it.
My walking compadres were Adrian. Andy and son Joe. None of them had met each other before but there was surprisingly a lot in common between the actor, the professor specialising in Alzheimer’s research and the recent geology graduate. A love of the hills for one thing. But also an enjoyment of swapping science facts along the route. I joined in when I wasn’t trying to breathe, hauling myself up Whernside and Ingleborough
There were surprisingly a lot of folk out, for what was the end of summer and a lot were raising money for their chosen charities - so hats off to them all.
I raised just over £300 for Simon On The Streets, who do great work with rough sleepers, so I’m personally chuffed. And also chuffed to have completed the challenge itself again. And also also chuffed to have spotted a purse right at the top of Ingleborough , to one side of the path towards the trig point and to have got it back to its owner at the end of the day, thanks to her business card being in there.
And a big THANK YOU to those who sponsored me (you can see who these kind folk were on this site).. much appreciated!
Here’s some photos – once again taken on my cameraphone, so not great depth of field or detail – but hopefully they give you a sense of the challenge. It’s a lovely part of the world and I’d recommend it if you haven’t visited before.
Click on the first photo if you want to see a close-up slideshow thing (I’m trying it out).
I’ll be on the Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge when this post is published (Saturday 8th September) and then straight off the next day to help Mikron Theatre company break a narrowboat record (40 hours boating non-stop on a specific section of the waterways, blimey.)
So no post-challenge write-up for a while but hopefully I’ll be back in one piece soon
In the meantime, here are a couple of photos I took to drum up some sponsorship (http://justgiving.com/MarkKelly-Y3P ) on a couple of different social media channels.. trying to think of creative ways of standing out.
Have a good weekend.
I’ve had a couple of trips away of late, so this weekend I was determined to get out and get moving in prep for the upcoming Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge I’m doing (raising money for homeless charity Simon On The Streets). Saturday looked like the best day so that was the plan. A ‘proper’ walk, come what may. What I hadn’t planned for though, was just how long the (excellent) Olympics opening ceremony would go on for.. and how heavy the red wine I was drinking would be. Oops.
Saturday was therefore a bit of a slow start. And my reluctance to get up the hills wasn’t helped by the rain that started just as I was getting Brodie’s harness on. Anyway – rain,schmain – off we went, though neither of us in particularly high spirits!
I had planned (in my head) a route that would start out from the back of the garden (always a good place to start) and go straight up the hill to the catch-water near Shooters Nab above Marsden. The climb felt a bit hard this time (first time for a long time actually). I was a bit dehydrated and I was cursing myself for not drinking more water before I set off. There was approximately 10 miles ahead of us so I stopped to swig some water rather than start with a headache.
The route described a southerly, then west to north-westerly loop up above the Wessenden valley on the heritage trail and then joining the Pennine Way near the Deer Farm and heading over the moors between Swellands and Black Moss reservoirs towards the Oldham Way / Pennine Way.
The part between the Deer Farm and Swellands Res is one of my favourite parts of the moors whether rain, snow or (occasional!) blue sky. Walking down the little steep sided valley to the river (Wessenden Brook) and the wooden bridge, past the waterfall and then up the steepish hill to the phone mast (and Heritage Stone number X (can’t remember which one that is.. 11?)) is a nice little section and gets your heart going.. more so with a dog pulling you downhill sniffing out sheep and rabbits (every time).
We stopped for a quick lunch of cheese sandwich just after Black Moss res (Brodie being a bit partial to cheddar) before heading over the A62 and on to the impressive cliffs looking over Castleshaw reservoirs. I could have spent ages here poking around the interesting shapes of the rocks but would have had a bored dog to contend with.
I shot a short video near the Oldham Way / Pennine Way Cairn – Warning : terrible sound quality due to the incessant winds ..
We then headed a bit further north before turning east / south east, down Willykay Clough and down to Eastergate and the final tramp back into Marsden.
So about 10 or 11 miles in all and I had reckoned about 4.5 / 5 hours to complete. Which it turned out to be.
And after that first shower we had patchy blue skies but (very) strong winds to contend with over the first 3 or 4 hours or so (it got a bit wearing actually).
I’m glad I got out despite the initial reluctance and a few more 5+ hour walks to get fit for the 3 peaks are on the cards
If you enjoyed this post and admire my grit in fighting a mild hangover,
why not sponsor me for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks:
As I out was on a walk on Sunday, taking some photos (below) and musing over why Pule Hill is the shape it is, I felt a bit like the guy from Close Encounters – focusing on his mashed potato mountain. The ‘mountain’ in this case was said hill, I’m not sure what classification of hill it is (I’d need to check the exact height) but mountain it certainly isn’t. I’m not obsessed by it as such but I kept it pretty much in sight for the whole of the walk and used it as pivot to base an improvised route around.
Anyway, back to the walk. After a couple of (really nice) busy weekends / trips away, I’ve missed the hills and giving the dog a long trip out. I’ve also been really conscious that I’m heading up to Rum in a few weeks time and I need to be a LOT fitter for that.. so I headed out on sunday for a leg stretch. I vaguely planned to end up Pule Hill and see Simon Armitage’s sculpture / poem , which I only found out about recently.
That said : I only had about 3 hours spare – the afternoon held a pre-arranged trip over to my dad’s (but I’m going to do the 5 – 6 walk along parts of the Pennine Way to his place again soon) so doing a decent walk and getting up to the top was a bit ambitious, particularly as I started by heading in the opposite direction.
I started out heading out of the house, up the footpath behind us and as mentioned, in the opposite direction to Pule, as that’s the easiest way to gain height for me.. up toward (but not as far as) Deer Hill reservoir to meet the catchwater path there:
The path was strewn in places with loads of spawn : not sure if it was Frog, Toad, Newt , Moors Dragon – any eagle eyed blog readers know?
We followed the path as it turned into the Heritage Trail, round to waymarker stone ‘number 9′. I still don’t have a definitive list or map to explain why these stones are in the specific positions they are. They seem to denote particular views (or historic events?) but I can’t find any info online or in leaflets that explains the spacing or location of them. Number 9 gives a great view over Butterley res across to Pule Hill though:
From here we headed south along the heritage Trail before we took the short and steep path down hill on our right to the Deer farm at Wessenden Lodge. The deer looked lovely in the sunshine, albeit in a fenced off space.
There was a short section walking back towards Marsden down the valley before we cut down a steep path on the left, which is the Pennine Way and then onto the paved section across the moors toward Swellands and Black Moss Reservoirs. This was pretty much the only part of the walk where we couldn’t see Pule Hill (had the mothership landed?! Quick! I had to get it back in view!! .. enough of the Close Encounters nonsense, sorry).
It was really tranquil on this section, the sun was out and thoughts of work/money worries (for another time) disappeared.. open spaces, wide skies and spring warmth kind of quieten the mind. Even the dog wasn’t pulling , less rabbit or hare scents maybe and certainly no sheep to feel compelled to chase (which is why she’s always on a harness and lead up there).
I grabbed some short ‘footage ‘ of the space up near Swellands.. gives you a feel for the area if you’ve never been there (the audio was poor so I added some music with Youtube’s new instant soundtrack thingy .. ever the geek):
We cut around Swellands res and past another reservoir – Redbrook. Keeping that to my left I picked up a really faint track away from the well-worn path that seemed to aim straight to the bottom (south-facing) side of Pule. It got a little bit boggy in parts but we got to the base of Pule (and Mount Road) at which point I decided not to head up it but to complete the trip downhill and home.
I was running out of time, so the poetry stone and a general mooch around the top up there will have to wait.
Turns out I wasn’t the only hiking blogger using Pule as a waymarker or pivot this weekend – have a read of Paul’s Walking blog.
We seemed to have circumnavigated oposote sides of Pule in circular walks .. doing a figure of eight and possibly at the same time.
- Keep Our Rights of Way Open (stravaigerjohn.wordpress.com)