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Archive for December, 2011

Scotlands White Tailed Eagles Soar To New Heights

December 30th, 2011

2011 has proved another record-breaking year for breeding pairs of Scotland’s largest bird of prey as the numbers of white-tailed eagles, sometimes referred to as ‘sea eagles’ soared to new heights despite heavy storms throughout the 2011 breeding season. An adult bird has an impressive eight-foot wing span and striking white tail, making the white-tailed eagle a spectacular sight that can round off a great day’s hillwalking or climbing.

Conservationists, and many sea eagle enthusiasts, had been concerned that the high winds felt across Scotland in May could have had a detrimental impact on breeding white-tailed eagles at the vulnerable part of the season when most nests contain small chicks. Indeed, some nests failed including that of BBC Springwatch star, nicknamed ‘Itchy’, who experts fear lost his chicks in the storm. However, the bad weather failed to blow the species off course. Recent survey figures for the 2011 breeding season reveal that there were 57 territorial pairs in Scotland, an increase of 10% on the previous year. A total of 43 young fledged successfully from these nests.

White-tailed eagles finally became extinct in Britain at the beginning of the twentieth century, due to human persecution and collecting of eggs and skins. After an absence of over half a century, a re-introduction programme began in 1975 on the Isle of Rum in the Inner Hebrides, aimed at returning these majestic raptors to the Scottish skies. Since then, the species’ population has been steadily recovering, and conservationists believe there are now as many ‘flying barn doors’, as they are affectionately known, in the UK as there were over 150 years ago.

The successful breeding season on the west coast comes as a further 16 white-tailed eagle chicks, gifted by the people of Norway, were released from a secret location in Fife in August. The chicks are part of a six-year project, now entering its final year, to increase and expand the range of this iconic species into its former haunts in the east of Scotland.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, said, “The white-tailed eagle is part of Scotland’s rich natural heritage and it is fantastic to see them back where they belong and gradually increasing in numbers and range on the west coast. They are improving biodiversity in this country and bringing in important economic benefits to the communities they soar above. Now with the east coast reintroduction entering its final year, we are anticipating the first steps towards the establishment of a breeding population of sea eagles on the other side of Scotland. There is plenty of suitable habitat and natural wild prey to support a healthy population.”

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Trendy Technical Skiing Socks by Manbi

December 28th, 2011

Wearing Manbi ski socks not only keeps you looking cool on the slopes but also keeps your feet warm, blister free and dry.

The technical snow-tec socks have in-built high density ‘low impact’ padded zones on the heel and shin for extra protection. The cushioning foot zone helps prevent foot movement and blisters when wearing ski boots. The Nylon and Lycra yarns provide extra foot and calf support whilst the wool and acrylic blend provides excellent thermal insulation.

The Manbi snow-tec socks come in 3 different size ranges (4-6½, 7-9½ and 10-13) and a range of colours. They are ideal for all outdoor winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, sledging, cross-country skiing and off piste.

 

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Mountaineering and Skiing Fitness Specialists

December 27th, 2011

Fit For Trips – Get in shape for your next expedition

Named as one of  Entrepreneur magazines’‘100 Brilliant Companies is Fit for Trips, a pre-travel fitness company that offers customised programs to get travellers in shape for physical adventures such as climbing Kilimanjaro or heli-skiing the Canadian Rockies. Fitness programs are conducted virtually and include videos, charts to track progress, and access to professional fitness coaches – all via the internet and printable or downloadable to portable devices like iPods. Each program is precisely tailored to the type of trip and level of difficulty, whether walking, hiking, paddling, climbing, or other activity. Similarly, being physically prepared for an adventure trip reduces the chances of injury, soreness and fatigue or failure to complete an activity like summiting a mountain. “I founded Fit for Trips to ensure that any traveler with an adventurous desire could fulfill their dream. Our customized programs make it possible for more travelers to go on adventures—and enjoy them beyond expectations,” says founder Marcus Shapiro. For more information on the specialised programs offered, visit the website: www.fitfortrips.com.

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Our Top Tips For A Healthy Happy Outdoor Christmas Holiday

December 24th, 2011

Lace up your walking boots, pack your rucksack with a healthy lunch, wrap up warm (we have everything you need!) and head off for some fresh air on foot.

Even better, pack your camping gear and book a pitch for a spot of Christmas camping. Earlier this year, WWF-UK published Livewell which showed how people could eat in a way that was good both for them and the environment. Now, Livewell’s five Christmas ambassadors present their top tips to make festive fare healthy for you and the planet:

Good King Waste-less – “Up to 30% of what is brought home is wasted. Get creative with leftovers so your pennies and food provisions stretch even further.”
Peas on earth – “Enjoy more seasonal fruit and vegetables such as spuds, parsnips and brussels sprouts.”
The Gutcracker – “Eat less processed food as they often contain high levels of tummy-tubbing sugar, fat and salt. They also tend to be far more resource-intensive to produce.”
Christ our savor-er – “Relish each mouthful of your Christmas turkey or ham and try to have modest portions of seasonal meats so that they are a tasty complement to your meal. That way, you can enjoy all the trimmings, too!”
Scroogetinise – “Try to eat certified food, stuff that meets a credible certified standard – like from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for fish, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for palm oil or RSPCA Freedom Foods for meat and eggs.”

And the icing on the Christmas cake?

By following these simple steps, ‘YULE’ be helping to avoid climate change (food is responsible for 30% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions), conserving ecosystems on which precious wildlife depend (orang-utans and armadillos whose habitats are being cleared for palm oil and soya plantations will be particularly grateful), and improving your family’s health and well-being with nutritious and delicious meals. Duncan Williamson, sustainable consumption programme manager at WWF, says, “Christmas is the season of good will to all. And that includes nature. So set aside those miserable low-carb diets and go low carbon instead. Our Livewell Christmas launched with a traditional Christmas menu and shopping list, that includes all the good stuff like turkey, nuts, bacon, cheese, sprouts and pudding. This really is a low-carbon healthy week of food that the whole family can en-joyeux over Nöel!”. WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. It’s working to create solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature can thrive. Find out more about WWF’s work, past and present, at www.wwf.org.uk.

For more information:

Visit Eat Seasonably (eatseasonably.co.uk) for information about what fruit and veg is in season now.

Visit Wrap (wrap.org.uk) to learn how to reduce the amount of food you waste.

 

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Walking Nepals Great Himalaya Trail

December 22nd, 2011

Nepal’s Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) is one of the longest and highest trekking routes in the world.

Billed as the ultimate walk, the arduous hike over Nepal’s mighty mountain range stretches from Taplejung in the shadow of the world’s third-highest peak, Mt. Kanchenjunga, in the east to Humla in the west at the border with Tibet.

Adventurers who complete the full grueling trek will encounter a huge variety of cultures from the mainly Buddhist Tamang people of the central Langtang region to the ancient animist practices that mix with Hinduism in the far west. GHT covers 16 districts, ranging from Dolpa that connects with the Tibetan plateau, to Darchula, which borders India. It will take experienced trekkers around five months to complete, although it can also be broken down into ten smaller sections.

The country has 8 of the world’s 14 highest peaks over 8,000 metres, including the world’s highest, of course – Mt. Everest at 8,848 metres. The Everest region offers several trails that range from 10 day to 3 week packages. The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal’s most popular, is a 300 kilometre, 3 week trek that rises to 5,416 metres and passes through two river valleys.

Just remember to pack your thermals!

Detailed information on the GHT can be found at www.thegreathimalayatrail.org.

 

Walking Nepals Great Himalaya Trail

Nepals Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) is one of the longest and highest trekking routes in the world. Image courtesy of Adventure Travel Live

 

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Worlds First Avalanche Transceiver Training Facility

December 1st, 2011

Developing Rescue Skills For Skiers and Winter Mountaineers

The world’s first permanent, artificial avalanche transceiver training facility, specifically designed to help develop the skills of winter mountaineers and ski mountaineers of all abilities, is now open. The facility can be found in the Scottish Highlands at SportScotlands National Outdoor Training Centre, Glenmore Lodge in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. The 500sqm facility provides potential rescuers with an artificial, highly realistic and easily accessible facility that enables would-be rescuers to simulate various avalanche transceiver search scenarios at any time of year and whatever the weather conditions.

Winter mountaineering, and ski mountaineering in particular, are increasingly popular activities in Scotland. Last year alone, the SportScotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) recorded over 329,000 people accessing its online avalanche reports, over a four month operational period, across five key Scottish mountain areas.

An individual’s chances of survival diminish rapidly the longer they are buried in an avalanche; companion rescue therefore forms the focus of a successful recovery. Increasingly, individuals are carrying transceivers which can both transmit and receive a signal on a common frequency. In this way, any members of the party not avalanched become rescuers so groups have a need to be practiced in their use.

Designed by Back Country Access, the avalanche transceiver training park involves four avalanche transceivers (simulating victims) being buried under the deep layer of woodchip that covers the park. Every beacon is connected underground to a central control box where one or more units can be turned on to emit a signal that is picked up by the avalanche transceivers worn by trainee rescuers. Snow shovels and probes are then used as if the rescuers are in a real snow field situation.

Almost all avalanche training facilities operating around the world currently rely on snow to hide the transceivers, restricting the use of such training parks to areas or times of permanent snow cover.

Bob Kinnaird, Principal of SportScotland Glenmore Lodge, said, “In addition to mountain rescue personnel, an increasing number of skiers, winter walkers and mountaineers carry avalanche transceivers to increase their chance of rescue in the event of an avalanche. However, such equipment is only helpful if those involved in a rescue operation know how to detect the signals and how to best plan a rescue. The development of the year-round transceiver training park is an example of an innovative approach to offer accessible and appropriate training opportunities that help outdoor enthusiasts develop their knowledge and skills to safely enjoy our mountains in winter.” For full details of winter skills course – www.glenmorelodge.org.uk. For winter survival kit please click here.

 

Glenmore Lodge Avalanche Training Centre

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