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Archive for September, 2012

AA Launches Best Walks In Britain App

September 20th, 2012

The AA has a long tradition as one of the top producers of walking guides in the country and now has released its best walks in Britain as an app.  The AA Best Walks In Britain app contains over 1500 of the best walks in Britain researched and mapped out by the AA.  With so many walks to choose from, it couldn’t be easier to find one nearby your home or holiday destination and have a great day out. So, pack your rucksack and get out there!
It is so easy to use. Users can quickly select walks from the pins on the map and check the suitability with a summary showing distance, estimated time, difficulty and typical landscape.  It even helps make the most of your walk with detailed descriptions, step by step directions and what to look out for on the way. Use the walk descriptions and directions for free or, for even simpler navigation, choose to purchase an Ordnance Survey® Landranger® 1:50,000 or Explorer™ 1:25,000 map with a GPS route to follow

The key features of the AA Walks app are:
* FREE – over 1500 of the Best Walks in Britain
* FREE – detailed walk descriptions
* FREE – step by step written directions
* FREE – what to look out for while there
* Optional – purchase and download OS maps

If you choose to purchase the optional Ordnance Survey map and GPS route for your chosen walk you can turn your iPhone into outdoor GPS and simply follow your route on-screen. For extra convenience, the Ordnance Survey maps are downloaded to your phone so you can even use them ‘offline’ if you lose phone signal. The app can be downloaded from iTunes Store AA Best Walks in Britain

Note: This app works best with GPS-enabled phones including iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and later models.


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Top Clothing Tips For Outdoor Winter Activities

September 17th, 2012

In the depths of winter, it’s obvious to think carefully about dressing for a day in the hills. That’s when snow, cold and wind are on the agenda. However, whilst snow on the tops in summer is highly unlikely, hillwalkers still need to dress sensibly.

‘Sensibly’ means much more than avoiding the shorts and sandals scenarios that crop up regularly in mountain rescue stories. It means having a flexible combination of clothing that can cope easily with changing weather conditions and varying levels of exertion, allowing you can be in control of managing your body temperature. Plus, of course, it means being comfortable throughout the day whether slogging up a mountain track or being battered by the wind on an open ridge. The trick is to balance layers to ensure adjustable warmth and protection, levelling out the extremes of over-heating and shivering with cold to achieve a happy equilibrium.

Being next to your skin, base layers are not just about warmth. By drawing sweat through their fibres to evaporate they avoid becoming damp, cold and uncomfortable. Depending on the time of year, different weights offer a variety of comfort options and, of course, they can be worn on their own in mild conditions. In cold conditions, thermal base layers ensure good retention of body heat. Relatively new, cooling base layers not only whisk sweat away but also help to avoid overheating as they have low heat retention.

The mid layer is all about insulation, trapping warm air to maintain your core body temperature; options include fleece as well as goose down and synthetic fills, such as Primaloft. Zips allow ventilation and, even on a sunny day, a warm top should packed in your rucksack as a pleasant outlook in the valley could turn out very different a few hundred feet higher up.

The outer layer protects you from the elements. Rain is the obvious offender but wind can whip heat away and chill you to the bone so being windproof is a key consideration. ‘Softshell’ tops are not completely waterproof but are windproof, stretchy and can cope with a wide range of wet weather.

If you want to make sure you never suffer from cold feet again then slip on a pair of thermal over socks. Finally, don’t forget hats and gloves. Quickly slipped on and off, they allow conservation or loss of body heat to be adjusted easily. Keep them handy in pockets rather than buried in your rucksack.

With your plans made and dressed sensibly, don’t forget to let a responsible person know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Let them know when you do get back to avoid needless call-outs for mountain rescue teams.

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Top Ten Tips For Hill Walkers

September 11th, 2012

To help protect the mountain environment hill walkers are advised to follow the following top tips:

  1. At your starting point, park considerately by not blocking gates and farm tracks or making it difficult for vehicles to pass; avoid damaging soft verges.
  2. Zigzag paths ease the strain of ascent and descent and should be followed. Cutting corners or heading straight up or down creates new lines for water run-off and increases the risk of erosion.
  3. Scree running looks like fun but should be avoided as rocks accumulate at the bottom of the slope, changing the landscape.
  4. Use stiles where available rather than clambering over walls or fences.
  5. Biodegradable items such as banana skins and orange peel take years to disappear and are alien objects in the environment so take all litter home.
  6. If you are on an eroded section of a route, stay on the centre of the path to avoid spreading the damage; if that is not possible, try to walk several metres away from the track.
  7. Do not start or add to cairns and other trail marking.
  8. Respect path diversions and access restrictions.
  9. Do not pick flowers or other vegetation.
  10. Do not disturb livestock and ground nesting birds.

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What is ‘Minimal Impact’?

September 9th, 2012

In a nutshell, minimal impact is about striving consistently to reduce the damage we cause to the natural environment in our outdoor pursuits. As well as following good practice in our recreational activities, it’s also about behaving responsibly with consideration to others, respecting seasonal and occasional restrictions to areas in the longer-term interests of the landscape, flora, fauna and birdlife.

It is, of course, also the weight of numbers that can affect an area. In loving it we set the seeds for destroying what we cherish. The popular motto ‘Leave nothing but footprints’ is perhaps better revised these days to ‘Leave nothing but shadows’. As far as litter goes, then there is no acceptable alternative to ‘Pack it in, pack it out’. ‘Good practice’ meaning going beyond the theory of caring to the practical implementation of strategies to protect and conserve the land.

With care and consideration the outdoor environment can soak up a great deal of use by varied groups of enthusiasts. When areas suffer from over-use, thoughtlessness and lack of consideration, it allows arguments to be made to limit access and control numbers by regulation as well as, of course, causing damage to ecosystems. Good practice allows the land an opportunity to recover even from the weight of numbers.

Whatever your focus on the outdoors, play your part in conserving, defending and enjoying the landscapes we love.

To access the Countryside Code –

For the situation in Scotland, check out the Scottish Outdoor Access Code –

Access and conservation go hand in hand and are key elements of the work of the BMC ( in England &Wales and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. (

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Enjoy One Of Hundreds Of Winter Walks With The Ramblers

September 4th, 2012

Winter is a superb time to enjoy Britain on foot and, even though our summer is still lurking about, there are great opportunities to embrace the winter, wrapped up warm and in good company. One way is to join one of hundreds of walks with the Ramblers this holiday season as part of the ever popular Festival of Winter Walks.  This year there will be more choice than ever as the festival expands to include over three weeks of events, with walks starting in the build up to Christmas and marching right into the New Year.

Ramblers’ volunteers put on these walks to make the most of the wonderful winter scenery on offer in Britain and there is an open invite for anyone to join in, share their love for walking and discover the benefits of being outdoors as you walk with them into the New Year. From short festive walks to sup on mulled wine in cosy pubs, festive wintry jaunts and more challenging hikes to explore crisp frosted landscapes, there’ll be plenty on offer for you, your family and friends to enjoy.

The festival programme typically includes:
• Walks across England, Scotland and Wales
• Hundreds of walks under five miles
• Festive-themed walks
• Walks for people in their 20s and 30s

Use the Group Walks Finder to search for walks in your area.

The Ramblers is Britain’s walking charity. It works to make it easy for everyone to walk, whether in countryside, cities, hills, coasts and on or off the beaten track. It has a grass roots network of over 17,000 volunteers who work tirelessly for a walking Britain. For over 75 years it has helped build and protect Britain’s 130,000 mile long footpath network, it runs over 38,000 walks a year, and campaigns for better walking routes and more walking opportunities.

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Enjoy one of hundreds of winter walks with the Ramblers this holiday season as part of the ever popular Festival of Winter Walks.




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Top Ten Tips For Dogs In The Countryside

September 1st, 2012

By law, dogs must be controlled so that they do not scare or disturb livestock or wildlife. On open access land, they have to be kept on short leads from 1 March to 31 July and all year round near sheep. Close supervision is also required on public rights of way.

  • Never allow your dog into fields where there are young animals.
  • Never allow your dog into cultivated fields unless you are on a right of way and then keep your dog on the path.
  • It might be only ‘play’ to your dog but never let your dog worry farm animals.
  • If you go into a field of farm livestock, steer well clear of them and keep your dog on a short lead to avoid potential confrontation.
  • If cattle do react aggressively or with curiosity and head towards you, let the dog go and calmly take the safest route out of the field even if it means retracing your steps.
  • During the bird breeding season (usually April- July) keep your dog on a short lead in sensitive areas such as moorland, forests, open grassland, lochs and by the sea.
  • Bear in mind ‘poop and scoop’ wherever you and your dog are even, or especially, in remote places to avoid spreading parasites to wildlife?
  • Many reservoirs and streams are used as drinking water sources so keep your dog out of the water.
  • As a courtesy to others, slip the lead on your dog when walking towards others on a narrow path.
  • What are exuberant expressions of fun and greeting by your dog may be misread by other people and can frighten children. ‘Don’t worry – he won’t hurt you’ is not an acceptable alternative to close control.


Credit: Cumbria Tourist Board/Tony West

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