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Essential Kit For Spring Expeditions

May 6th, 2013

On group expeditions you’ll probably have a porter or pack animal to carry most of your personal gear. Each day, you’ll only need to carry a daysack with what you’ll need until the evening. Obvious items are a water/windproof, water bottle and a warm layer. After those key items, it’s very much a matter of personal preference camera, snacks, notebook/pen, small first aid kit, spare socks, hat, gloves and so on. Of course, if you’re exploring independently, then you may hire a porter or find yourself carrying all your own gear. That’s when ‘lightweight’ really matters!

Whatever style you choose, it makes sense to have a checklist of what you will probably need and take advice from your expedition company, if appropriate, on local variations. If you’re independent, then ask fellow explorers for up-to-date advice and tips from their own experience.

Clothing should be flexible enough to cope with a range of conditions so layering makes sense, especially with fast drying materials. To get you started, here’s a useful list that you can readily add to and adapt to suit your plans.

  • Photocopies of your passport and other important documents
  • Tough, comfortable mountain footwear
  • Light sandals
  • Trekking  poles
  • Waterproof duffel bag
  • Daysack
  • Sleeping bag and liner
  • Warm hat
  • Wind/waterproof jacket
  • Polar fleece jacket
  • Thermal underwear
  • Thermal socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Wash kit
  • Water bottle
  • Small first aid kit and insect repellant
  • Sun cream and lip balm
  • Head torch and spare batteries
  • Whistle

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Ten Essential Items Of Kit For Summer Hill Walkers

May 2nd, 2013

With summer around the corner, it’s important not to take the hills for granted when heading off for the day. Britain’s mountain rescue teams advise hill walkers not to drop their guard and make sure they are well-prepared for fast-changing weather, navigation errors and accidents. A key consideration is to pack your rucksack with the ten essentials and always let a reliable person know where you are going and when you expect to return.

For help from Mountain Rescue, call the Police on 999 and ask for Mountain Rescue

Ten essentials for hill walkers

  • Map & compass – know how to use them!
  • Whistle – to signal searchers
  • Torch – for path finding and signalling – take spare batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Warm drink and food
  • Windproof and waterproof clothing
  • Hat & gloves
  • Extra warm clothes – fleece is ideal
  • Emergency rations
  • Emergency shelter – survival bag big enough to get into

 

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Join The Walking Revolution

April 26th, 2013

Ramblers ‘Get Walking Week’ is supporting Britain on Foot, a campaign to encourage more people in Britain to get active in the great outdoors. If you know somebody who would like to ‘Get Walking’, then point them to our home page to make sure they stay warm and comfortable with Sub Zero performance clothing and accessories.

From 4-11 May, the Ramblers will be hosting Get Walking Week – Britain’s biggest ever short walks festival – with thousands of walks across GB, aiming to get 100,000 people to their feet. The Ramblers knows that getting more people out walking will lead to healthier and happier lifestyles, so this May they’re making it easier than ever to take those first steps. During Get Walking Week there’ll be thousands of free short walks of 5 miles or less led by experienced walk leaders all throughout Scotland, Wales and England, taking place in countryside, cities, and along the coast.

Walking has endless benefits, especially brisk walking: It’s good for your health; it lifts your mood; it is a fun, social activity that almost anyone can do without any specialist gear or equipment; it’s easy to fit into busy lifestyles; and you can start slowly and build up gradually – just to name a few.

Benedict Southworth, Ramblers chief executive, said, “We want people all over Britain to join the walking revolution and take their first steps towards a healthier and happier lifestyle. We’ve seen so many different people benefit from regular walking and we know it can make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

In England, Ramblers groups will be leading plenty of walks for all to enjoy. Walking for Health, England’s largest network of health walk schemes, run by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support, will also be inviting people across the country to walk with their local schemes, to help them get walking and keep walking.

In Wales during the weekend of 4-6th May Ramblers Cymru will be hosting the Big Welsh Walk – inspiring families to take to their feet for some quality family fun outdoors. A flagship event in Cardiff’s Bute Park with family friendly activities will kick of the festival on 4th May.

In Scotland there’ll also be a variety of short walks to choose from, and with it being the Year of Natural Scotland, there is no better time to get outdoors and get active in beautiful surroundings.

For more information, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/getwalkingweek; Facebook – www.facebook.com/ramblers; Twitter – twitter.com/RamblersGB

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Good Clothing Advice For Spring Walks

April 18th, 2013

Despite the benign appearance of many British landscapes, it pays to be well-prepared for fast-changing weather conditions when out for a day’s walk.

Baselayers are the foundation of comfortable outdoor clothing. With a variety of styles, weights and materials available, there’s bound to be an option that appeals – and at prices that mean there’s no need to stick at just one! Underwear for women who love the outdoors has been a rather neglected area but we have top options for active women. Plus, we haven’t forgotten about the kids who get their own sizes in thermals to share the fun and stay outdoors longer.

Midlayers add extra insulation that turns a chilly day out into a cosy adventure. For general use, down the pub or at work, they are versatile, smart and hard wearing.

Softshell has really come of age and is no longer seen as an ‘odd’ category. Technical fabrics combined with shrewd design and sound manufacturing result in garments that are versatile and flexible in use in a wide variety of conditions. Windproof, warm and almost waterproof, softshell is a great choice for most days outdoors in Britain.

Headgear rounds off dressing sensibly outdoors – you can’t have too many hats! It’s not just hats, of course, and our neck tubes offer a range of ways to make the most of the benefits of the simple but effective design.

Cold hands and fingers can ruin an active day out so our thermal, windproof and waterproof gloves are ideal for staying comfortable whatever the weather. With head and hands sorted, don’t forget to treat your feet and toes with thermal and waterproof socks.

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Quick Guide To Britains National Parks

April 16th, 2013

Make the most of the late Spring with a good walk in one of our outstanding national parks. Here’s a handy guide with links to help you make up your mind where to go. Why not work your way through them all this year?

Exmoor National Park: 267 square miles make it one of England’s smaller National Parks. For further information go to: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Lake District National Park: Tackle some of England’s highest peaks in the Lake District National Park. For further information go to: www.lake-district.gov.uk

New Forest National Park: The New Forest is situated in the deep south of England, between the urban areas of Southampton and Bournemouth and bounded by the Solent. For further information go to:

www.newforestnpa.gov.uk

North York Moors National Park: Is a true northern treasure. Enjoy tremendous variety within a relatively compact area.

Northumberland National Park: If you wish to discover a landscape of limitless beauty and a welcome that is warm and genuine then Northumberland National Park, the land of the far horizons, will provide

an experience you will not want to forget. For further information go to: www.nnpa.org.uk

The Peak District National Park: The first National Park to be established, the Peak District National Park covers parts of six counties between Sheffield and Manchester. For further information go to: www.visitpeakdistrict.com

The Yorkshire Dales National Park: Sitting astride the central Pennine watershed. The Yorkshire Dales National Park has been described variously as wild, expansive, tranquil and, at times, awesome and bleak. For further information go to: www.yorkshiredales.org.uk

The Cairngorms National Park: Is the UK’s largest national park with a large mountain range at its heart. The habitat offers a secure haven for many of Britain’s rarest bird, animal and plant species. Of particular interest to hill walkers is that four of Scotland’s five highest peaks can be found in this National Park where the arctic wilderness is the largest example of arctic mountain landscape in the British Isles. For further information go to: www.cairngorms.co.uk

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park: Whatever the weather, offers stunning surroundings for your visit. For further information go to: www.lochlomond-trossachs.org

Snowdonia National Park: Covers 823 square miles of the most beautiful and unspoilt countryside in North Wales. For further information go to: www.snowdonia-npa.gov.uk

Pembrokeshire National Park: This is Britain’s only truly coastal National Park. It’s a spectacular landscape of rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, wooded estuaries and wild inland hills, and a place of sanctuary for wildlife. For further information go to: www.pcnpa.org.uk

Brecon Beacons National Park: stunning scenery with its own history and heritage, cuisine, traditions, myths and culture. For further information go to: www.breconbeacons.org

Dartmoor National Park: Is a stunningly beautiful area of moorland accented with wooded valleys and windswept Tors (towers). A wide open expanse covering 369 square miles (953 sq. km.), the area features some of the wildest and bleakest country in England. For further information go to:  www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk

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White Cliffs Of Wight Beckon This May

March 29th, 2013

Adventure holiday expert Exodus is sponsoring the Isle of Wight Walking Festival 2013 – the largest walking festival of its kind in Europe. It will take place across three weekends between 4 and 19 May 2013, featuring over 200 guided walks across the stunning Isle of Wight countryside.

Now in its fifteenth year, the festival will offer a full range of walking routes to suit all abilities, from leisurely ambles around the town of Ryde, to an epic twenty-four hour, non-stop journey along all 72 miles of the island’s perimeter. All walks will be led by one of 200 dedicated volunteer guides, each an expert in the area.

Exodus will be running a number of dedicated walks over the two weekends, from the slow and gentle Tennyson Trail on Saturday 4 May, which will follow in the footsteps of the famous poet, to the challenging Charybdis Passage held on Saturday 11 May. While the dedicated Isle of Wight Walking Festival guides will lead these walks, members of the Exodus team will be taking part and providing fun motivational treats along the way.

As well as getting their walking boots muddy, the Exodus team will be hosting their own special presentation evening event, led by Exodus director Jim Eite for the festival’s walkers to explore their range of overseas walking holidays.

Jim Eite, product director of Exodus Travels, says “We are thrilled to take part in this fantastic event. Though we have been taking walking holidays across the globe from Oman to Argentina for over 38 years, this festival is a great opportunity for people to discover the wonders of walking right here in the UK, as well as celebrating our new series of UK walking weekends that we’re launching this year.

To celebrate their involvement, Exodus is also running a competition to win a walking holiday for two to the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The lucky winner of this walking holiday will be announced at the Isle of Wight Autumn Walking Weekend between 25 and 28 October 2013.

More details and a full programme of walks can be found the Isle of Wight Walking Festival website at www.isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a gentle ramble or a tough trekking holiday in the Greater Ranges, you’ll find what you need to make the most of your time in the Sub Zero Store’s product index with all walkers’ and trekkers’ needs from toasty thermal baselayers to mugs, flasks and first aid kits.

 

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Enjoy Easter Safely In The Scottish Mountains

March 23rd, 2013

It will soon be Easter, but it’s still full-on winter in Scotland’s mountains. That’s the message from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) and the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). The MCofS and BMC advise that climbers and hill walkers need to be realistic about the seriousness of the Scottish mountains at this popular time of year, and of the need to match knowledge and experience to mountaineering objectives.

 

The Easter warning is being issued because:

  • Easter in Scotland is popular with groups travelling from further afield
  • Easter is quite early this year
  • The current winter conditions could continue through and beyond the Easter weekend.

 

Sadly, this winter has seen a significant death toll on Scotland’s mountains, many of them related to avalanches. Avalanche awareness should be a key component of planning a trip to the mountains over the Easter holiday period. Anyone heading to the Scottish mountains at Easter is being encouraged to give serious consideration to the following ten-point checklist:

  1. Check the mountain weather and avalanche forecasts.
  2. Follow the MCofS on Twitter and Facebook, and check the “Something for the weekend” #sftwe safety tips on Fridays and Saturdays.  These messages warn of likely hazards over the coming weekend.
  3. Be realistic about your ability to interpret and act upon weather and avalanche forecasts.
  4. Be prepared to lower your expectations if weather, visibility and pace dictate.
  5. Allow for the remoteness of many Scottish mountains.
  6. Plan routes carefully and consider likely hazards like avalanche-prone slopes, river crossings and steep cliff faces.
  7. Read the Winter Safety pages on the MCofS website and watch the Ice Axe Self Arrest video on the MCofS YouTube channel.
  8. Day length increases at this time of year, but it is still easy to be caught out after dark.  Everyone in a group should carry a head torch and spare set of batteries or a spare head torch with new batteries.
  9. Be aware of everyone else in your group and don’t allow your group to get separated in poor visibility.
  10. Never be afraid to turn back. The most important objective of a day in the mountains is for there to be more days in the mountains in the future.

 

MCofS President, Brian Linington, said, “There are always more visitors to Scottish mountains at Easter and Whitsun and we urge them to act upon this advice.  Many are keen to get to grips with the mountains, but the pattern when I was part of the Skye Mountain Rescue Team was for a high number of incidents at Easter.  This was due to a number of factors, including loose holds after winter ice had loosened everything up, together with very icy old snow patches in critical shaded spots.  Both factors caused fatalities in the Cuillin at Easter.”

BMC Deputy CEO, Nick Colton, said, “The mountains of Scotland are glorious places to walk and climb.  Go prepared, plan and heed the advice that is available.  Remember conditions can change quickly and you may need to adjust those plans and expectations accordingly.  Enjoy the challenges and spectacular scenery that Scottish hills have to offer but, most importantly, get back down safely.”

The BMC runs training events and publishes good practice information, to enable climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to develop their skills.  Read the ‘Essential winter know-how’ at www.thebmc.co.uk/winter-climbing-and-walking-skills.

We would remind climbers and walkers of the need to dress warmly, comfortably and flexibly to make the most of winter days out by building layers of clothing – baselayers, mid layers and outer layers.

 

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Plan A Highland Adventure For The Family This Summer

March 19th, 2013

More families can now experience the thrill of their own personalised and exclusive Highland adventure – including rock climbing, abseiling, hill walking and ridge walking to wild camping, loch fishing and navigation skills –  in the heart of some of the most stunning landscapes in the north west Highlands of Scotland. New outdoor activity company Highland Adventures based in Ullapool is run by qualified climbing instructor, mountain leader and local mountain rescue team member Ken Keith.

The company offers families the opportunity to try out a specific activity, or take advantage of a fun Taster Day package which includes a little bit of everything.  Half and whole day activity packages are planned to suit each individual family’s needs, ages and abilities, so no-one gets left out and everyone will finish the day with a sense of achievement.

The Highlands of Scotland provide a unique rock climbing environment, and the variety of rock types and scale of cliffs can present a challenge for mums, dads and kids alike.  And although families don’t have to be mad to abseil down a sheer cliff face, it certainly helps. The less adventurous can choose a gentle guided walk through scenic glens and smaller hills and learn about the history, geology and wildlife of the area, or try fishing in one of the many stunning hill lochs.

Spending the night camping out and sleeping under the stars in the wilds of Scotland is likely to appear on many people’s ‘things to do before you die’ lists.  Nothing quite beats sitting beside a remote Scottish loch miles away from anyone and anywhere, with a freshly landed trout sizzling on the frying pan and a dram in hand (adults only!) as the sun sets over the mountain peaks.

Highland Adventures is currently offering free kids places (under 18s) with two paying adults; B&B and packed lunches are an added option. For further information about all activities and packages visit www.highlandadventures.co.uk or contact Ken on 01854 666331.

 

As with any activity holiday, you’ll need to be dressed to suit the conditions. In the mountains, that means you should ensure that you pack your rucksack with the following – even in the summer:

 

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Suggested Kit For Hill Walkers By The BMC

March 13th, 2013

The BMC has a suggested kit list for hill walkers:

Map and compass

Torch, plus spare battery and bulb

Watch

Walking boots and socks

Shorts / trousers

Wicking baselayer

Insulating midlayer

Fleece jacket

Waterproof jacket

Waterproof overtrousers

Hat and scarf

Gloves / mittens

Gaiters

Rucksack

Drink

Food

Emergency food

Sunhat / sunglasses / sunscreen

Insect repellent (seasonal)

Spare gloves

Spare socks

Whistle

Mobile phone

First aid kit

Bivi bag

Group shelter

Trekking poles (optional)

 

Photo: BMC

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Winter Safety Advice: Prepare To Enjoy The Hills And Mountains

March 5th, 2013

With Scotland’s hills and mountains at their most beautiful and most challenging, mountaineering bodies have issued a joint safety reminder, emphasising the need for preparation before heading out into the mountains. Whether you’re out walking or attempting a technical climb, the presence of snow and ice adds an extra dimension to the risks and rewards of a day spent in our wildest environments. The primary consideration of every expedition, whatever the season, should always be a safe return. But conditions in winter make particular demands: shorter days, low temperatures and conditions underfoot which can quickly alter. The benefits of recreation in the hills are numerous and widely recognised. Hill walkers and mountaineers find their lives are enriched by their experiences. These are best realised through planning and preparation, recognising all the challenges the journey may present.

Preparation is an essential component of every day on the hill, and especially in winter. Preparation not only includes carrying the correct equipment – and knowing how to use it – but getting the latest weather forecast and checking the status of hazards like avalanche risk. It’s essential also to assess whether the chosen activity is within the ability of all the party as well as the time available. For many climbers and hill walkers, preparation is not just necessary but enjoyable. Preparing correctly displays the signs of thoughtful competence towards safe movement in the hills that is the mark of a good mountaineer. Effective navigation, knowing when your limits have been reached and whether to turn back, are also extremely important; turning back must not be considered a failure.

 

The BMC, the MCofS and the SMSF continue to offer advice on good practice in the hills, acting as a resource for mountaineers and hill walkers of all standards to make their visit to the mountains as safe as possible.

 

General advice  and  information

www.thebmc.co.uk

www.mcofs.org.uk/mountain-safety.asp

Weather

www.mwis.org.uk

Avalanches

www.sais.gov.uk

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