Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween on the Hills

Happy Halloween!
It's that special time of year again: where it's not only acceptable - but encouraged to wear a costume, eat too many sweats and get more than a little squiffy on Brain Hemorrhage shots.

And it wouldn't truly be Halloween without mention of a ghost or two, so I've had a gander and dug up a few ghosts that haunt the hills and surrounding areas (especially in the Peaks. Local bias and that).

Don't have nightmares!

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Peak District

Great Longstone - At dusk or just before dawn in this area, walkers may encounter a grim procession of a dozen headless men. It's said that whoever sees the grizzly sight will be the next occupier of the coffin they carry on their shoulders.

Nag's Head, Castleton - I had my lunch in this pub before climbing Mam Tor for the first time back in 2012, but I'd never realised it was haunted. Many war planes were brought down over the Kinder Moors back in WWII and the bodies of the RAF crew members killed in one such crash were brought to the Nag's Head. Customers have since reported seeing ghostly figures in airmen uniforms and hearing noises they can't quite explain.

And don't even get me started on Winnat's Pass - Strictly speaking, I don't really believe in ghosts, but even I felt beyond uncomfortable walking around the area once night had fallen. But with a history of murders in and near the pass, it's enough to chill anyone walking through the area. 

Oh, and if you're driving to or from a hill and need to go past the Eyre Arms - watch out for the ghostly horseman. He's already claimed one driver.


Elsewhere

The Lake District has a few ghostly tales on offer, many of which can be read here - my favourite is the Crier of Claife... and by favourite, I mean most likely to give me nightmares.

Apparently a ghostly spitfire can be seen over the Wrekin.

And Snowdonia's not short of spooky stories, either.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Hill Sick

Is there a way to describe that emotion where you feel homesick for a place you only ever visited once?

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I lived in London for a few years for uni and I often have pangs of homesickness for there, but as my Gran is keen to point out: "tha's not from London, tha's a Yorkshire lass". So in lieu of calling it homesickness, I now say I'm feeling South Sick.
...But I guess that could also be interpreted as sick of the south.


Anyway.
I know I never lived there, so this is even further removed from the term, but I'm feeling homesick for the hills.

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 I'm definitely missing the Lake District - and especially Great Langdale, though I hadn't realised just how much I was (am) missing it until I saw it on the telly at work on Sunday. It was only a few passing glimpses of a segment a few minutes long, but it was enough to put me in a pouty mood for the rest of the shift.

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I thought on it a little longer when I got home that evening and it occurred to me that I didn't just miss the Lake District, but I missed the Peak District too.

It feels like an absolute age since my last wander and scramble - and even longer since my last proper summit.

Photo courtesy of Yvonne Wootton
There's no denying it: I'm hill-sick.

But alas, I'm all booked up this week, and as I'm pretending to be a grown up from Monday then I'm even more bereft of free time than ever before.

But the Yeti assures me there will be opportunity for at least one more hill before the year's out.

Hell, my birthday's coming up soon, and if needs be I'm sure I can forgo the night of drunken debauchery in the city in favour of a can of strawberry cider to celebrate reaching a summit. Even if it's just Mam Tor.

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Friday, 25 October 2013

El Pandito

I'm not a big reader of blogs in general and that goes for outdoors blogs too, but my favourite in this category has to be Where's Herdy? 

Source

Where's Herdy?
is probably more of a competition than a blog, each month it's updated with the most recent Lake District adventure of Herdy (a pot Herdwick sheep) and the reader is encouraged to use the story and the photos to work out where he's visited that month. The hiking buddy of 2012 can usually guess it straight off on photos alone - meanwhile I usually manage to narrow it down to "Cumbria".

But my unending admiration for the blog and its star led me to decide two things before the Yeti and I headed to the lakes over the summer:

  1. If we were to end up in Grasmere then I was going to pick up some adorable Herdy Merch (I'm not sorry). And..
  2. I wanted a hiking mascot, dammit!
Now I'm painfully clumsy at the best of times (case and point: yesterday I broke a nail on my duvet...), so a pot anything is out of the question, but a rummage around my room brought up the following ideal alternative:

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Pandito!

Small, light, and rigid enough to sit up without much assistance, Pandito is the perfect pointless hiking mascot.

You might have seen him appear once or twice before on the blog, but I thought it was worth formally introducing him.

So say hello to the elusive Cumbrian Mountain Panda...

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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Back At Sea Level: The Busy Panda

It's been a busy few weeks, truth be told.

So first I was a panda in Hull in honour of my best friend turning 22...
«I'm the one at the back

Also that weekend, the Yeti and I headed over to Fancie Sharrowvale for the first and last time. It shut down a few days later (hence our visit) and we ingested enough sugar to kill a horse.

«(horses can die of that, right?)

I then started back at my more impressive-sounding part time job: teaching ethics to medical students. So that's been a massive time-suck, although it's more than worth it. I've also been offered a full-time job elsewhere, so there's been a lot of getting ready for that as well - all in addition to still working at the pub.

I then had a crazy few days last week consisting of lunch with my boss, teaching, frantically having to reorganise some notes for my scholarship, drinks with the hiking buddy of 2012 (his work is based in the same city as my "grown up" job). And all this followed by extreme Yeti times.

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Sadly, since he got himself a grown up job with grown up hours, I've hardly seen the Yeti at all. But thanks to his increasingly odd rota and to my boss being a little more chilled on the weekdays-off front, we managed a simultaneous day off this week! (And there are ones coming up next week and the last week of October). 

So we spent our first proper day together in nearly 3 weeks lazing around, watching things, and generally enjoying one another's company. 
We also went to Fancie and ate this pile o' meat...

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It was incredible. I can't sing praises for that restaurant enough. Heaven on Earth (well. Outside the Lake District, anyway).
And since then it's mainly been working, working, and more working.

Although I did manage to get extremely drunk at my workmate's leaving do on Friday.

You know it's a good night when you head out at 4pm for a quiet drink... and then end up getting carried home by your boyfriend at 10. I'm going to miss the girl in question, but I'm glad we gave her a decent send off before she jets off to Cyprus (lucky so-n-so).

Otherwise, the most exciting thing was probably getting gifted a cake pop while I was still pretty squiffy from the meal out.

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So I hope this goes someway into explaining why I've been a little rubbish of late. And hopefully I'll be a little less quiet on the hill front over the next few weeks.

There are no hikes planned for a small while yet, but the series on the Art of Not Freezing To Death will continue, and there are a fair few articles in the pipeline to be published over the coming days and weeks.

Until then, 
stay pandarrific.
(oh gods I'm so sorry)

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Art of Not Freezing to Death - Part Two: The Mid Layer

I've always hated fleeces. Always. 
As a rather portly child growing up (don't), fleeces seemed to be the Grandma-mandated winter item that would ensure you'd arrive at school perfectly spherical.

But it turns out that on the hills, they're a pretty handy piece of kit.

«And bloody dapper.

Apparently you can get a higher weight for a warmer jacket, or a lower weight if you want less warmth. 
So then during Autumn and early Spring you can have some decent protection against the chill that won't make you melt, and that won't weigh you down too much if you need to pack it away.

And, as ever, sweat-wicking properties are a must. 

A huge thing to think about here? The Fit.*
A more fitted fleece means less loose material flapping about when the winds get up and, quite simply, it makes it easier to layer up.  But that said, it's good to have a little give in your fleece to save the material from riding when you stretch your arms out or bend over. So fitted, but not too fitted.
*This tip of tips comes from former hiking buddy and font of all hiking knowledge: Patrick


Now in honesty I only just bought my first fleece yesterday. Online. And I've since been advised that the brand is, apparently, rather shit. Still, it looks as though it'll do the job until I encounter something resembling money.
Though when that day does come and I do have pounds in my pocket, my fleece of choice would probably be something like this...


Haglof's Women's Astro Q Jacket
Oh how I wish I'd seen this first.

But apparently the name isn't the most important thing; at the end of the day, most of it comes down to this fit. That said, the specs don't make this look too terrible an option...

  • In a size medium it weighs only 275g 
  • It's designed to be close-fitting, with flatlock seams throughout to optimise comfort in layering
  • Raglan sleeves make it better-suited for wearing a rucksack
  • It's sweat-wicking.
  • And it has pockets. Zippable ones. 
And best of all?  You can get it for just £35 at Costwold.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Random Rambling Photo: Awesome Langdale Selfie

«Embiggen

The Yeti and I look good...

From 3/4 of the way up Side Pike - 18th July 2013

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Art of Not Freezing to Death - Part One: Base Layer


Yesterday I introduced this longer term mini-series, which aims to serve as both a kit wishlist and a source of information for any hiking newbie even more clueless than me (there must be at least one...).

Today I'm kicking off the series by talking about the first layer in a winter kit: The Base Layer.
(NB: I'll be focusing on tops here. I'm less than clueless when it comes to bottoms. It's an issue).

Now on the whole, my kit is a little underwhelming. And as I mentioned yesterday, my hiking clothes are designed for Spring and Summer - so in my case, my base layer would be something like this:

«Freakin Vogue
That, my dear reader, is perhaps the most sophisticated top I own - especially when it comes to my hiking kit. It is light, cool, and wicks sweat. It proved invaluable over the ridiculously hot summer we had this year.

So what about the base layer in a winter kit?

Well at least one of the elements listed above is hugely important here, so my little red top won't prove completely useless come the cold... here's the basics about a good base layer in a winter kit...

*It should be warm
*It should have sweat-wicking properties

That's it, really,

So what's the best bet for something like this?
Well material wise, synthetics (like polyester) will prove cheaper, and they tend to be decent when it comes to sweat-wicking. 
But if you've got the money, the best bet will probably always be Merino wool.
Not to sound a complete fangirl here (which I am. For a wool.) but Merino wool is pretty ace: warm (even when wet), sweat-wicking, fairly light - and doesn't tend to get smelly.

Thank the hiking gods for these sheep...
(Source)
So in sum: for your base layer, get something made from Merino wool.

Now for the kit wishlist - if I had the money, I'd probably want this...

Icebreaker Women's Oasis Crewe Stripe
From the research I've completed to date, Icebreaker seem to be the bomb for this sort of thing.

So this fine thing is 100% Merino wool, slim fitting (so ideal for layering), and even has offset shoulder seams to avoid (ahem) "pack rub".
Plus, it's not the worst looking bit of merino on the market (seriously).

It's currently being sold at Cotswold for £60. Another thing to add to the "when I have something resembling money" list...

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Art of Not Freezing to Death

I'll level with you: I'm a bit of a fair weather hiker.

«Pictured: Fair (if scorching) Weather
Now don't get me wrong: I don't need specific, perfect conditions to get me out onto the hills - rain, mist, and strong winds (to a point; I don't want to fall off anything) are no bar to me getting into my beloved boots and venturing out... 

«Case and Point: Mam Tor in torrential rain (at the end of the circuit)

But as I've mentioned before, I've only been hiking now for 17 months, during which time I've only completed one hike that was not in spring or summer.

And considering I did that one in Converse with no ill effects (other than to the Converse), I think we can say that that was really more of a stroll.

«Though there was still a little snow and ice leftover
This year, I aim to put this right and finally go hiking in the winter months.

Now I don't have crampons (or, indeed boots that can take crampons), nor do I have ice axes, goggles, nor camping equipment designed to deal with snow or subzero temperatures. Thus, my introduction to winter hiking will be very low level (at least for this year).

So no sights like this just yet
(Source)

But there is still the concern of, well, freezing.

After all, all my kit is designed for spring and summer use and the only proper outer layer I have is my waterproof; handy of course for when the rain comes, but not the warmest thing in the world.

«Damn stylish, though

But it seems I do have one natural inclination that might come in useful here - one that has proved the bane of my life for the last few winters, but that will apparently prove to be to my advantage when I wander up hills over the next few months...

In short: I'm a bugger for layering.

Big time. I hate places that have central heating if I'll be staying for less than an hour because that'll mean that I'll spend much of my time there undressing then re-dressing.  Indeed anyone who has spent time with me over the summer but not winter are always mildly alarmed when the layers reveal themselves.

Much of this comes from having no decent winter coat (I've just never found the perfect one... or at least one that didn't evoke this reaction) but apparently, on hills, layers are a pretty good idea.

And so the whole point of this post is to introduce a (sort of) mini series: that is, for the next few second Sundays I'll be posting a kit wishlist item for each layer of recommended winter kit as winter gets its claws in deeper and deeper.
Now I know I'm not exactly brilliant when it comes to keeping on top of schedules, but as Kit Wishlist is supposed to be a bi-weekly thing, the running order will look something like this:
  • Sunday 6th October - Baselayer
  • Sunday 20th October - Mid-layer: The almighty fleece
  • Sunday 3th November - Outer-layer: Swanky waterproofs
  • Sunday 17th November - Wildcard: Just in time for my birthday, I look at my dream coat... that just happens to have been made by an outdoor/hiking gear company
  • Sunday 1st December - The big one: As winter's jaws close, I'll be drooling over the super-warm stuff - the down jacket.
Until then, try not to freeze to death. It's not 26c any more...

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Friday, 4 October 2013

Gah

I feel I owe an explanation and an apology...

On Tuesday I posted that I'd be updating on Weds... But thanks to some internet bollocks, I revised that to Thursday... But then a last-minute job interview happened the other side of the county (that's going to be an interesting commute).

So today is Friday and there's no update. In my (admittedly limited) defense: there's one in the works - and it would be going up tonight if not for the fact that work need me to come in a few hours early because one member of staff has decided she doesn't want to work with the other.

Yeah.

So I promise, I really do, that there will be an update - with WORDS - before 2pm tomorrow.

And with that, I ought to go and pull pints for 7 hours. But I'll at least leave you with this...

«Pandito navigating in Langdale...  Probably still better at it than I am.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Yet Another Random Rambling Photo

There will be a more wordy update on Thursday, but right now I'm beyond knackered after a crazy few days.

So until I remember how to use the English language for more than a few sentences, please enjoy one of the photos I took during our descent of the Crimpiau...

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