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Never too old to get into the outdoor spirit

“I’m too old for the outdoors” – Now that’s an excuse that we can never use again, and especially after hearing about a certain 82 year-old yank who has become the oldest person to climb all of New York’s highest mountains.

On saturday, Jerry Levine, an 82 year old from Cortlandt Manor in Westchester County, US, summited Esther (4,239-feet) then Whiteface, the Olympic mountain (4,867-feet) which means that he’s summited all 46 peaks in New York – joining the ranks of the Adirondack 46ers. To become a “46er,” a person must climb all of the 46 major Adirondack Mountain peaks. All but three are higher than 4,000 feet.

So if ever you think that you’re too old for a hike in the outdoors, think of Levine and maybe you’ll think twice about complaining about being too unfit to hike! I know I will!

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Top 10 pieces of Navigation Equipment

After reading Lyle Brotherton’s excellent Navigation Manual we were inspired to check our navigation kit to make sure that we are fully up to date and ready for the worst conditions and most waterlogged of maps. According to Mr. Brotherton (and he should know having trained SAR teams in over twenty countries), these are the best pieces of kit to keep you on the right path :

1) Suunto M3 Global Compass – a high quality baseplate compass capable of performing from -40 to +60 degrees C! Should be more than enough for a weekend in the lakes then….

2) Latest set of waterproof OS Explorer maps. Obviously.

3) Grid Reference Tool, used to quickly find a grid ref in the field.

4) Tally counter – not dissimilar to the clickers that door men use to count revellers in and out of clubs, these handy devices are useful when using a techniques known as pacing.

5) Grease pencils are useful for writing on waterproof maps and the markings can be rubbed off when you are finished.

6) Head Torch – whilst you should never navigate at night, you never know when you might have to. LED torches are best but  look for a torch with a minimum range of 50m. The classic Petzl Tikka Headtorch is reliable and one the cheapest head torches that you can trust to do the job when you need it most.

7) Backup Lithium Batteries for head torches, phones & Sat Systems.

8) Mobile Phone, though don’t rely on it and if you do a lot of hill walking, it may pay to invest in a ruggedised model to prevent water damage.

9) Compass Binoculars will allow you to take bearings at far longer distances than by hand compass.

10) GNSS or Satnav system. Though these can vary wildly in price, a reliable system can be purchased now for under £100.

With all this in mind, remember that the best piece of navigation equipment is your brain! Fine tune this tool as much as you can by reading the Collin’s Ultimate Navigation Manual.

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Importance of the right outdoor clothing

Spa (Belgium): viewpoint on the Grande Duchess...
Image via Wikipedia

It is extremely important to have the right clothing to take part in outdoor pursuits of any kind from walking to climbing, canoeing to potholing or skiing. Clothing should be regarded as an essential piece of equipment when preparing for an outdoor pursuit and should be purchased and maintained as an essential piece of equipment.

Clothing for outdoor activities does not have to be heavy or bulky, in fact modern textile technologies and production techniques ensure that outdoor clothing is light and compact but still meets all the requirements. It is best to dress in layers for outdoor activities, thin layers such as under-armour or thermal underwear, layers retain heat and help to remove moisture from the body. Perhaps also a fleece layer for warmth and comfort and then a waterproof and windproof outer layer, again this keeps the water out, and the heat in. Investment should be made in good quality footwear and there are numerous types of socks that can be bought for particular activities, hats are also important when outdoors to ensure heat is retained, safety headgear is also essential for some activities.

Specific activities such as skiing will require particular items of clothing such as boots, ski suit hat etc, but activities such as walking, trekking and climbing have equipment and clothing that is multifunctional and can be shared. Initial outlay on clothing for outdoor pursuits may be quite high but the clothing will be good quality and should last a long time. The right clothing could save a life if something unexpected happens when outdoors, hypothermia could set in very quickly if someone is injured when walking or climbing, also good footwear will ensure better grip and tread when walking, trekking or climbing. Weather conditions can change very quickly so it is essential to have the right clothing available.

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Mystery Walkers Needed

Ramblers
Image via Wikipedia

If you like walking and fancy a bit of mystery in your life then you might want to sign up for the “Mystery Walkers” scheme. The ramblers are looking for people to report back on the state and condition of footpaths.

The aim is to generate a map of the best and worst walks across the country. It then rewards authorities who have looked after footpaths. After a walk all you need to do is report back via a online survey.

Anastasia French, Ramblers Campaigns Officer, explained :

“Mystery Walkers will help us to get a clear picture of the state of footpaths across the length and breadth of England and Wales.

“This information will help us to work with councils to improve the footpath network so that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from walking, wherever they are.

“Volunteering has never been more pleasant, just by going for a short local walk you can help to play your part to protect the future of our footpaths.”

Head over to http://www.ramblers.org.uk/Campaigns+Policy/Mystery+Walker for more information.

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New Year Resolutions for the Outdoors?

Light on the Derwent fells

Image by Ennor via Flickr

With the New Year started you may have started failing New Year resolutions, but how about some New Year resolutions for the Outdoors? It’s a great chance to use some kit you may have been given over the festive period or use some vouchers / money to get some new gear.

So here are 5 easy outdoor New Year resolutions.

  1. Go out for a walk to the shops / to work or just on an evening once a week.
  2. Once a month a walk in the country side.
  3. Try at least 5 new walking locations in the next year.
  4. Climb one of the three highest peaks in the UK.
  5. Get another person who wants to exercise more into the outdoors, be their guide.

Nothing too taxing and all could contribute to the most popular New Year Resolution to get fit!

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Weekly Trip up Snowdon?

Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), Gwynedd is the highest mo...
Image via Wikipedia

Andrew Craig has completed an amazing year of climbing completing 52 walks to the top of Snowdon in Wales.

The 43-year-old firefighter conquered Wales’ highest mountain weekly in 2010 and in doing so raised over £15,000 for cancer research.

Over the post 12 months he’s had to deal with a range of weather conditions including snow, ice, fog, heavy rain and heat, with the latest walks taking the longest time to complete. His path took him from his home in Caernarfon at 5am, then seven miles to Rhyd Ddu before making three, four mile ascents using the Snowdon Ranger path.

The route back was five miles into Llanberis before another seven miles back to Caernarfon.

“Its been hard work but very enjoyable, he said. “I’m glad to have done it. I’ve seen the mountain at its worst and at its best – I started in deep snow and ended it in deep snow, but we’ve had everything in between.”

“Everyone’s been fantastic. Its a big effort and I appreciated the support, especially from my wife, Lynne. This challenge was really her idea.

“One of her best friends died from the disease and another was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago and she suggested we do some fundraising

“The lads at Travis Perkins took on the challenge. During the year we’ve organised some events including dying our hair pink and staging a charity ball.

“But the walks have been the main focus and the lads from work have accompanied me on several. The most inspiring hike was one in early September when I led a group of ladies up the mountain.

“Many of them had never been on Snowdon before and one of them had recovered from breast cancer. There were tears in my eyes that day,” he said.

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When to use Walking Shoes?

achievement
Image by ruminatrix via Flickr

When your playing a trip or just a day out walking you need to decide on what type of footwear to take. One point that can slightly confuse people is walking shoes and walking boots. The two are different in shape, style and in purpose.

A simple difference in the shape, walking shoes stop below the ankle, while walking boots carry on above the ankle giving extra support. The laces will also carry on above the ankle and often be wrapped around the back of the ankle then tied at the front. Shoes are often made from lighter material while the boots are made from leather and can feature steel toe caps.

Walking shoes are lighter so can’t help you walk a little quicker, while the boots are heavier so over a long distance can slow you slightly down.

As for purpose I personally go for a walking shoe when the terrain is going to be pretty flat, not too rocky and stable underfoot. Where boots are great if there’s going to be lose ground, rocks, mud and it’s wet! Often this means it’s better value to buy walking shoes, as you can then use them for everyday use such as the walk to work, taking the dog out, going to the shops or working in the garden, all tasks that a walking boot would be overkill.

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Wanted: men for speed dating at Anglesey walking festival

The Isle of Anglesey Walking Festival is due to start this Saturday (May 29th) until June 13th. On the evening of June 3rd, organisers of the festival are holding a speed dating walk.

During the speed dating walk, a man and a woman will be paired up for 10 minutes of the walk before they change partners. At the end of the walk, you even get a glass of wine. At present, the number of women signing up to the event is outnumbering the number of registered men. There are half as many men as women.

So, if you’re interested and fancy a romantic stroll to watch the sunset, get yourself down there. You never know, you may find the love of your life!

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Join the Ramblers for £1 – new walkers only

As part of the Ramblers 75th anniversary celebrations, the Ramblers are offering the first 30 non-members attending each Get Walking Day walk the opportunity to take advantage of a one year’s membership of the Ramblers for only £1.

Get Walking Day is the Ramblers flagship national walking event and this year’s festival is being held on May 23rd.

A year’s membership usually costs £29.50. By becoming a member of the Ramblers, you will gain access to 28,000 walks per year, discretionary discounts, and a subscription to Walk magazine.

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Memory-Map launches the Adventurer 2800 GPS

Memory-Map, a leading supplier of digital maps, has launched its new handheld GPS device for walkers and cyclists, called Adventurer 2800. With a 2GB microSD card pre-loaded with selected Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 maps of Britain’s National Parks, the Adventurer 2800 is ready to use straight from the box.

Also included with the Adventurer 2800 is 10,000km2 of Digital Map Shop credits allowing you to choose your own areas of mapping from anywhere in Great Britain. You can also use the device with any maps from the Memory-Map V5 range.

The Adventurer 2800 also features a full colour 2.8” touchscreen with high resolution. It comes with Memory-Map PC Software for route planning and map printing, as well as mains and car charger, as well as a lanyard and belt clip.

Ideal for outdoor use, it is waterproof and rugged, as well as lightweight – just 135g (including the battery).

The Adventurer 2800 retails around £260 but the cheapest place we found was Amazon, where it is being sold for just £245.