Monday, 31 March 2008

This time last year

This time last year, 10 days into my Easter break, I was 10 days into my Southern Upland Way trek (vidclip). I bumped into Jo and Alan a couple of times on the journey, and they now have their trip journal completed at: They also have other trip journals, and scary photos of ticks on the West Highland Way.


Beehive Bothy

That was me arriving late.


Hmm - I plod along, but did the same journey in a day-and-a-half as they have done in 2 days. Not sure about the lack of motivation, as I have plenty of time to walk across Scotland. Later there was a day when I only walked 10 km, not miles. Hmm again - if I decide to do something, then I do it. I don't think that is motivation, but stubbornness.

morning Day 5

That's me. Moving slowly, though not spending lots of time to take amazing photographs and panoramas. I get up late, bimble along, and keep on going until I stop or until I reach a place that'll do for the night. On my Day 4, I did fail to get to St John's of Dalry and camped out on the hills.

Day 7

I'd spent the night in the Chalk Memorial Bothy, arriving before nightfall and deciding not to bother pushing on.

And the catch-up at Brattleburn Bothy - the comments about kit are right, as I have spare kit that I don't use much or at all. And I babble too much about kit. But I'm also carrying enough food for the journey as I don't want to be tied to heading in to towns for the shop opening hours. If I was a fastest (i.e. fitter) walker of better planner (i.e. smarter), then I would have taken less food. But I saw how few villages there were on the crossing, and knew what village shops are like for opening hours, so took the lazy option.

Day 10


Over Phawhope Bothy - they rest there the night. I had done a small amount of tidying up after lunching there.

My slowest day had been the one ending at the 'Airborne Bothy' (outside Traquair) - starting late and finishing early. I picked up the pace after that, my blisters were healing and pack weight more manageable. I think, psychologically, it was also nearing the end of the trek, which was now perfectly "do-able". If I timed it right, I'd even have a spare day before starting back at work.

As I read the last few days, I grow envious of the time Alan and Jo had to enjoy them. But then, when try pacing my trips to meet a schedule, I end up getting concerned and fretful. Just the sort of person I am. I lightened up my kit more when I got back, and had found out what was causing my blisters (heat and boots too tight) and had no new blisters for the second half of trip. I came back with less body-weight and an edge that I hadn't had in ages. Confidence in myself, I suppose, rather than the worry that some form or other hadn't been filled in correctly - the sort of knocks that day-to-day life throws up. I never got that out of going to the gym. Confidence that I can do something like walk across Scotland with just the kit on my back and get to my destination without major incident. It is, after all, just a walk, and not a major expedition in a dangerous country filled with weapons-toting insurgents and wild animals.

A year later, and I'm in need of another long distance trek.

And the motivation to walk to the post office.

Best wishes for the next adventure, and I look forward to reading the journal.

Sunday, 30 March 2008


The Wild Camping ePetition has reached 1066 - I wonder if Darren's noticed the number? One in the eye for him if he has.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Road Trip: the Minch


Heading to Ullapool. Not as windy as forecast, but ferry has tilt as wind hitting her from south. Starboard. Tomorrow it will be summer. Strangely we find an Isle of Ewe on the nautical chart. It is down the coast from the ship's route. And poisoned island.

EveryAktoMan: Reprise to John Hee

John Hee recently wrote his state of the nation post, 2008: Blogs & the 'traditional' press (Part 1)

I haven't researched this piece, but what the heck, here goes anyway. I see the future for all media to be in the "on demand" mode. If you think why we read, watch, listen to media - it is to be entertained, educated and enlightened.

  • News articles: up to date information. Well, magazines are dated by the nature of their timeline.
  • News exclusives: contacts can be used to dig around for an exclusive article.
  • In depth articles: these take a while to compile and ...
  • Reviews: more chance of getting freebies for review, and for labs and scientific testing of gear.

I think that online media is good for some of it, or enhancing static media (eg. print) with multimedia. Far quicker and cheaper to post video online than to press dvds for inclusion with a magazine.

Humans are social animals. We like to communicate, to discuss, to argue our points and to make up afterwards. I still think that current online media (blogs, forums, chat rooms) are static. They replace the printed word with ... well, the printed word.

Some content providers/magazines, eg.  Trail and TGO are providing multimedia feeds and ways to communicate with journalists and authors. We see that on TV too. You know the sort of programme: "if you are affected by the issues in tonight's episode of Songs of Praise, please go to our website where Aled Jones will be available to sing to you". Online forums offer reviews by staffers and users, who also generate content.

Humans fickle though. At what point do the users who generate content realise that they are as important to the online entity of the 'magazine' as the staffers. At what point do the über-users get tired of chances to win at competitions and start to demand financial rewards? Will this happen in flickr and youtube? We see TV shows made of clips from sites - are their creators getting financial benefits, or does the small print from the video host say otherwise.

Humans have limited time and unlimited imaginations. We like learning, playing, thinking, poking at ant-hills with sticks. Are you up to date with your podcast listening? I amn't. Nor am I up to date with my blog reading. Nor forum reads. And my recorder is getting full. My book collection grows, along with dvds, and magazine articles that I'll return to.

But at least with printed media that I own, I can pick it up and read it when I choose. Or play it on my dvd player. I don't see the same being true of the transient timeline based media of blogs and forums. Granted the texts are still in the archives, but reading a review by a trusted reviewer in a magazine will give you more return on your invested time than if you search through the Net.

I heard a quote recently. A book is like a shark. Sharks have been around for millions of years, because there is nothing better at being a shark than a shark. There is nothing better at being a book than a book.

Magazines are an expensive way to buy information. You are buying many serialised books. You are buying the knowledge, time and journalistic tenaciousness of the writers. I have yet to see that repeated monthly online. Anywhere.

On demand is great. I can choose where I read a magazine on the loo or what book I pack with me on holiday or what I fill my iPod with for the journey to work. Who provides me with the content - the media companies. These companies can churn out the surprising news, the great article that I would never have searched for online. I demand this. I demand to be entertained, educated and enlightened. If you fail, I go elsewhere. My needs and wants keep on changing.

Do I care that circulation figures for certain magazines are dropping? No. Will an increase in price stop me from renewing my subscriptions? Yes, of course. Do I care is a magazine has 3 times as many online readers of its forum than purchasers of its magazine? Yes, as it may be affecting the price of the magazine.

These are interesting times for the media. It has a new communications system to deal with. The telegraph, radio, television, and now the Internet. Gosh, it's only been around for generations and now people are getting to grips with the new threats and opportunities.

Like all businesses, media is affected by the growth in social networking. This Web2.0 thingamyjig that's being bandied about. It is, however, undemocratic and can often be ignored. We are social animals, but we have limited time. This is why we demand to be fed regularly with our RDA of entertainment, education and enlightenment. Where the outdoors fits into this depends on the individual.

To the media types out there: good luck. I'm off to bed to read a book. It was printed in 1930. I bumped into it by accident in a sale a few years back. It is only now that I got round to reading it, mainly to to a lateral interest in the subject via a hobby project. The author was fictionalising events from The Great War. I'd never have picked up his work if he'd written them in a magazine over months, or on a forum or blog, or recited in a podcast or video feed. If I can't empathise with the world being described by the author, then I am not a sentient human being.

The state of the magazine world - "changeable". And I haven't even mentioned the number of Freeview channels yet!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Mark 3 Wood burner

My Dad made the mark 3 wood burning stove today. Thanks, Dad. We (stress 'we') got it heating water in ... well, my Dad reckons I could have set up my tent, had my brew, and my dinner, broken down the tent and be on my way again before the 'me' using the woodburner had it warm enough for a brew.

IMG_0526 (Small)

Then we thought that was unkind, and we needed to sort out a wind shield for it. Maybe some rocks. Like a pile of stones in some sort of hearth-like arrangement. Like a hearth. Where we could set a fire. And then we wondered why we needed the tin can. But the soup that we bought with the can was nice. And I have a can with eyes holes in it. Maybe it'll come in useful at Hallowe'en? Boogie woogie.

Road Trip: Stornoway


After being treated to lunch by my folks, we tourist shop in Stornoway. Mike goes off alone into Charley Barley's for the marag dubh and other goodies. He's under instructions to ask for a free mug as i may be recognised.

Rambling about Ramblings

Clare Balding is back on Radio 4 with her "Ramblings". This time she's rambling with Mark Thomas. There'll be a listen again and a podcast no doubt. Maybe even a tea-towel.

Official site (with or without tea-towel)


Wild camping ePetition now up to 1014 signatures

Add your name here:

Official site (definitely no tea-towels):

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Wild camping epetition

I here on the grapevine that the pro-legal wild camping petition has just broken 1000 signatures. Which is nice.

Road Trip: The West Side


Off to the black houses at Garenin and on up to the Butt of Lewis (maplink).


Clouds coming in off the Atlantic spoiling any chance of photographing the sun descending into the sea. Hey ho.


Snacks for tea and then sat down at Eoropiadh beach for our last chance to photograph an Atlantic sunset. Next landfall is Labrador in Canada. maplink


We're Going to Need a Bigger Can

Experiment in making one of J. Falk's wood burning trail stoves. Courtesy of my Dad, who jumped at the opportunity after I mentioned the design. As we were loading up the car with camera gear, he proceeds to start making the Mark 1. Two hours later, we're still at the house. The food cans are too narrow and too tall. But it turned into a family exercise as my niece appeared from play school, who then went round the croft finding suitable kindling. 25 minutes on the stove warmed a 500ml pan of cold water.

Link to J Falk's design.


Mark 1


Would the cut-away handle a pan of water? A 14 pound weight is dug out.


The best we got with the stove.


But it got my Dad thinking about heat transfer and bigger can size.


Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Road Trip: Callanish


Mike finally gets to the Callanish Stones. It is amazingly quiet. A dog barks across the loch behind me, i can hear the footfalls of people walking around the stones and the traffic on the road, not traffic en masse, but individual vehicle noise.


We set off across the moors, past where we used to cut peats, and maybe that'll be built over to provide Glasgow with enough power for their televisions and microwaves.


With the Harris and Uig hills to the south, who wouldn't want to destroy this? Maybe the driver of the black Ute that refused to reverse to their nearer passing place because their car might get dirty.


Carrying along the road, and stopping to catch the view before even reaching Achmore. Maplink.


We get to Callanish early for some photos and plan to return there for the sunset later. Mike said he'd been wanting to get here for years, so I stood up on the hill to capture the moment. Here's the clip where the chap in cammo sees the 3-4,000 year old standing stones (website, maplink).

A few more photos before heading off west.


Sun over Loch Roag. The sun's the bright object obscured by cloud.


The broch at Dun Carloway is a mere 2000 years old. Click on the image for a bigger picture. maplink


With the sun going down, we head back to Callanish and see the water has settled down.


The sun disappears into the clouds after this glimpse.


No pretty pictures of the sun dipping between the stones. Dutch tilt to get away from standard tourist shot.


Ghost sheep lurking in rocks on way back to car park.


As the night is fine, we stop off at Cuddy Point to get some photos of Stornoway at night.


And finally a nip out in the handy passing place in front of the Castle.


Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Road Trip: Stornoway

Noticed earlier that "an seachd: the inaccessble pinnacle" was playing at An Lanntair in Stornoway. It's a cracking movie. If you have a chance, see it. Filled with gaelic humour and stories. And the scenery at the end is stunning. I'll never see it without a change in lifestyle and a supply of brown trousers. Stopped in The Clachan on the way home to show Mike a traditional bar.

Wild Camping ePetition

As the ePetition to legalise wild camping reached 976, I can't help but wonder when the 1000 mark will be reached. As I'm updating my counter manually, I notice it increasing by 10 signatures at least daily.

So, a 1000 by Friday. Maybe Thursday. I wonder if they'll get a prize?

Official site:

Add your name:

Road Trip: Point


Off down to the wilds of Point. Lovely views of the Mainland hills. Sun obscured by clouds. Cold. I love my Alpkit down jacket. It's made for weather like this.

Above: Tiumpan Head lighthouse. website. maplink.


Looking south east from the lighthouse


Turning round slightly, the western side is protected by Broad Bay.


Heading down the coast, we go to Bayble - somewhere that ancient Greek traders apparently landed. maplink


Mike borrows the dSLR and gets some close-ups.


I go for faces in the sand.


And faces in the rocks.


Today the weather is mainly ...


Outdoors Station Podcast 24/03/08

Bob's released the Blogger special on The Outdoors Station. Woohoo, I'm first in the list. Interviewed by Andy Howell. Listen for the giggle from Andy as I mention "body language" - I pulled a face as I said it. You can't get that immediate response with text. Photolink

Then Mick and Gayle, prepping for their Land's End to John O'Groats Walk. What a pair. It's for charity, MacMillan Cancer Support. Blog. Photolink

Alan and Phil next. Discussing the TGOchallenge. And their cheese and wine parties. Blog. Photolink

Martin and Sue, blogging at "Postcard from Timperley", just back from New Zealand. Now planning their next trips.

George (again). Talking about new media. Enfusiasm of bloggers undertaking ordinary reviews. Last year was asked if blogging would survive, but most bloggers still about. Use of YouTube, and his Lego videos. Blog. YouTube

Stockport Walking Group, Colin and Helen, discuss the walks organised, and presentations given by members. They are organising a wild camping weekend. Site. Blog

The podcast will appear on The Outdoor Station sometime on Monday, and I'll post the player when I get the chance.

Photolinks from Darren, press packer. Ook.

Outdoors Show 08- Bloggers!

Download MP3 File

Monday, 24 March 2008

Road Trip: Tarbert

Stopped for tea at Ad's Takeaway in Tarbert. It carries the recommendation from The Rough Guide in the window.


After dining, we headed west along the Huisinis road, to the ends of the earth. Past the Bunabhainneadar Tennis Court (link)


Past Ben Fogle's old haunt of Taransay. Can you really be castaway if your within waving distance of a tennis court?


And at Huisinis, we walked around the beach, up the hill, and go to the sun setting into the Atlantic. maplink


Next stop, Labrador, Canada.

huisinis_6575-01 huisinis_6579-01

And finally, a word from Mike

Road Trip: Harris


From the snow in Lewis we drove down to Harris, stopping periodically to take photos with any of the cameras to hand. Picked up some snacks in Tarbert and pushed on down the east side to Rodel and then on up the west side. Reckon it would be better to track the sun that way. The snow clouds might put paid to that idea, but what can one do?



View of Harris hills and Pairc from Balallan. maplink


We were always told that the lochan was as deep as the hill was high. Sgaoth Iosal is 531m high. The map doesn't note how deep the loch is, but I fear the story was that, and not the truth. maplink


We went down the east coast (the "golden road") and snacked at Rodel before investigating St Clement's Church (built in the early 1500's).

stclements_0291 alexander_macleod_6476-01 alexander_macleod_6480-01

We then pushed on to the Atlantic-swept west coast of Harris. Spotting geese at Northton.


Past the Harris Golf Course.


Mike with Fuji-san in the background.


West Loch Tarbert and the forest of Harris behind.


East of this, we have the beach at Luskentyre.