Wednesday, 30 April 2008

1st May: RSS Awareness Day

RSS Awareness Day

Gray Day

Gray buildings. Gray sea. Gray sky. Gray clouds.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Active Magazine: Wild Camping Reprise

In response to earlier post

Once more people have a misguided approach to wild camping in Scotland before the Scottish Outdoor Access Code came in. Wild camping without the landowner's permission was still classed as trespass under the Trespass (Scotland) Act 1865. I have mentioned this a few times. The Act was changed by the Land Reform Act 2003.

The "philosophy" that I was brought up with in Scotland was different. You respected other peoples' land, camped out of the way, and left no trace. The landowners' folk were concerned with poachers rather than campers.

Andrew Shirley of the CLA misses the point of wild camping when he says wild campers are "people who are not satisfied with camp sites". There are not many campsites where I end my days: jumping off points for the next day's walk. Under Scottish legislation, landowners rights are listed and protected. Damage by campers means they lose the right to access, and are trespassing, as well as being open to other civil and criminal damages.

Andrew Shirley of the CLA talks about "demand, not ideology". I wonder if the same rationale applies to all countryside arguments? One landowner, a few farm-workers, versus lots of walkers. Oh, that was the Kinder Scout Trespass. Demand of the masses, versus ideology of the landowner.

I have already written about the chances of bringing new money into out of the way places in Wild Camping Economics. Wild campers are tourists to, and are only a "very small number" if you ignore the sales of lightweight tents, tarps, bivvy bags, readers of the online forums (OutdoorsMagic and TGO). Most people undertaking the TGO Challenge will wildcamp a few times - do they not wild camp when they return south of the border?

I would bet that there are more wild campers in England & Wales than there are chasing foxes-scents or whatever they do these days.

And finally, the support of organisations. Good luck on finding it. There has been a single report in TGO Magazine, and I have not seen anything else in any other magazine or TV programme before "Active" magazine.

In fact, "Trail" reported this month "Dartmoor is the only place in the UK that legally enshrines the right to wild camp..". New kid on the block, "Active" knows that to be wrong, knows that Scotland is in the UK.

"Active" got it wrong about Dartmoor, and National Trust land as wild camping is only permissible in part of Dartmoor National Park (link), and in the Lake District National Park above 450m (link) under the following conditions:

2 There is a presumption against camping on non-recognised sites without permission. This presumption is waived in certain circumstances and areas, eg in the Lake District in upland areas above 450 metres out of sight of the public highway, to allow the wilderness experience to be enjoyed.
3 ‘Wild camping’, where tolerated, should only involve one night stop-overs, a maximum of two campers and leave no trace of its presence.
Recreational Activities at National Trust Properties, p7. PDF link

If the National Trust allow it in certain places, why not all national parks. Are wild campers not taxpayers? Do we not bring money into the area? Or do the landowners and councils only want the wealthy visitors? I wouldn't have walked across Scotland last year if I had to pay for accommodation each night. I lost over a kilo in 15 days. I spent money in towns. I spent money in gear shops before and after. I can not afford to walk across England or walk the length of Wales. Is that not "demand, not ideology"?

Active Magazine: Wild Camping Article

A text from John Hee this morning tells me that there's a 3-[age article on the wild camping petition in the 3rd edition of "Active" magazine. A nip up town and the sight of a kid getting an older lad to buy fags for him (I shook inwardly at the irony of the kid saying "you're a lifesaver").

Gemma Hall (signatory nr 898) gathered a collection of people interested in wild camping in England and Wales.

Darren (signatory nr 1), obviously, as he set up the ePetition on the 10 Downing Street website: 

"We're not asking for permission to camp in lay-bys, cornfields or in your garden."

Danny Moores (name not on list) of Natural England: "The philosophy in Scotland has always been very different".

Sue Hilder (name not on list) of the NFU Scotland: "The floodgates haven't opened."

Mike Dales (name not on list) of the Scottish Canoe Association: "We can now put our energy into educating countryside users.." He believes that England & Wales will follow Scotland's lead but it will depend on the clout of outdoor groups.

Back in England & Wales, Andrew Shirley (name not on list), Access Adviser of the Country Land and Business Association said future access provision should be "based on demand, not ideology". Interestingly, he mentions the "time and expense involved", "thrashing out the significant liability issues" for the "very small number of people who are not satisfied with camp sites".

John Hee (signatory nr 7) mentions support from kayakers, bushcrafters, horse-riders and cyclists.

The "don't publicise it - keep it quiet" response was mentioned.


At present, there are 1,453 signatures on the petition, which closes on the 24th of May.

Official site:

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Alpkit Mytimug & Tifoon Combo

As I'm looking at cutting down my cookset for a 2-3 day trip, I have been looking at large titanium mugs to replace the SnowPeak 900 pot I currently use (photo). Noticing that the Mytimug and Tifoon Combo was back in stock with Alpkit yesterday, I ordered one at lunchtime. It arrived today. Less than 24 hours after ordering.


The mug is single-walled titanium, and I'll be using it for boiling water. I wanted something that would hold enough water so that I can have a cuppa and still have enough hot water for rehydrating a meal (0.5 litre capacity minimum). Also, it had to be big enough to hold a 100 gas canister and stove, or the new stove on order (and fuel).


Modifications to make:

  • add duct tape to handles.
  • replace wooden lid knob with a fold-flat tie.
  • make pot cosy.
  • track down mesh holder to keep it all together.

The spork came in a nifty holder made from ripstop material with a velcro seal. The spork itself has a shiney finish to the business end, and the handle has cut-outs to reduce weight further. Due to size, I'll be sticking with my folding spork, as that fits inside the Mytimug.


I'll wait until the new stove arrives before making a new windshield to fit it.

Thursday, 24 April 2008


Test from mobile as photo message failed twice earlier.

Filling station queue

Another queue at a filling station. Saw 2 on tuesday. As i only pass one station on the way to work, that's a 100% rate of an unscientific survey.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Another Alcohol Stove

Just because I don't like the uncontrolled flame of other alcohol stoves didn't stop me being tempted by the idea of wick-based stoves. I blame Darren for his order from Tinny at Mini Bull Design - after watching his YouTube videos, and seeing the new designs, I pondered. And pondered. And pondered. I think I pondered for one more day before splashing out 20 quid or so on on a Black Fly nr 3 and some extras.

I decided against the Heineken pot as I'm intending down-sizing to a single-wall titanium mug. But I'll wait until I get the actual stove to check the volume. Everything in its place and a place for everything.

Podzine 21 April 08

Bob's new podzine came up on iTunes yesterday - one of 7 (seven!) podcasts released. Amazing. Of special interest to me is the advice on ticks. Horrible wee nasties.

The Podzine 21/4/08

Download MP3 File

Links to interviews with Cicerone's Paddy Dillon and Ronald Turnbull (revisiting "The Book of the Bivvy"), wild cooking and others.

I collected a surprise package from the sorting office today, so I'm off to listen to the Aquagear Survivor water filtration system.

Aquagear Survivor - Pure Water Anywhere

Download MP3 File

More on that later.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Paying Users for Generating Content

A while back I mentioned user generated content, and wondered how long before forums and hosting sites that make money out of users content (eg from all the advertising that is on popular pages) would start paying producers for that content. of course, after hosting costs and overheads and profits were taken into account. So far I've only seen competitions and reader discounts, and no financial rewards. Until today, where I followed up a link to some videos on and looked at their

I like the fact that it tells you how much the producer makes for a certain video. Nice way to attract more content from the "I can do better than that" brigade.

There was a nice human drama playing out in one of the comment threads of a how-to-make-a-stove video. Someone alleged that the stove blew up when they followed the instructions and they were consulting a lawyer. Whether genuine or not, it opens up content providers and hosting companies to abuse. Be careful when giving advice online.

Instant outdoors fever

Add lustre to laclustre streams with this instant gold rush! Keep the kids busy with nothing more than a few gold-coloured pebbles and the lid of a cookset or frisbee. In a few hours of silent panning, everyone will be dancing like Walter Houston. 

Of course, the leave no trace ethic means picking up all pebbles and not treating everything here seriously ;-)

ePetition breaks Scottish target

The electronic petition calling for the legalising of wild camping in England and Wales broached 1350 signatures today, reaching 1351 names before noon. The deadline to sign up by: 24 May 2008

With over a month to go, that's a lot of people who think it is broken.

ABC rate Trail magazine's average UK & ROI circulation per issue as 39,259 - that's how many people have not (to date) been informed of the petition in the outdoor news section or "The knowledge" of the magazine. (figures) I don't know if Country Walking have reported the petition to its 44,440 strong UK&ROI readership  (figures)

It is also only 1 in 7 of TGO magazine's readership, where there was a piece written. Maybe that is how many readers are in England & Wales? (figures)

There are no ABC figures for forums, blogs, podcasts. I haven't heard that BBC's Countryfile magazine have carried the news in print, but they have online, as have other magazines online sites (mainly due to John Hee's work).

I'll wait for the day when outdoor magazines give landowners contact details when encouraging people to go wild camping in England & Wales. At least they encourage "leave no trace" ethics, and mention the law on Dartmoor. Complicated is one thing it isn't.

Add your name to the petition here:

Read the official website:

Saturday, 19 April 2008

ePetition 4 short

the pro-wild camping ePetition is at 1346, just 4 signatures short of reaching 1350. The importance of that number? Well, none actually, but it is the number of people consulted in Scotland after the Land Reform Act deemed that such consultation into outdoor access must take place. So it seems to be a psychological target to aim for.

Add your name to the petition here:

Read the official website:

Ice Cold Tea Bag

Back at Braemar after overnighter at Derry Lodge. Mike volunteered to spend a night out for the first time in years. Sadly in was so cold that gas canisters had to be kept warm, and he had my secondary kit. Photos n stuff later. Non-gas cooking to investigate, and winter warmers for gas stove.


Leaving Aberdeen at 6pm, we were at the Linn of Dee car park for 8pm with light dipping failing, and a red tint to some clouds. (maplink)


Exiting the woods in which the car park is located, we encountered a large herd of deer near Creag an Diuchd. They fell back in an orderly manner. Pausing occasionally to allow us to take blurry photographs.


We got to Derry Lodge after just over an hour  of walking. We encountered a few ground-dwelling birds (and not mutant deer as I first thought), and some more deer just before Bob Scott's Bothy. It was a pleasant evening, and the moon and some stars came out.


Pitching Mike's tent first (my old Illanos tent), I made a hash of the flysheet - but that wouldn't become apparent until the morning. But I was sure there should have been a porch on the tent. We had some freeze-dried Norwegian foods left over from last year's trek, and some Polish foods Mike had bought in town. Followed by Earl Grey tea, some Scotch and Turkish delight. Foods from all nations. Across the river some kids were refusing to get tired out and were running around enjoying themselves with torches. The Alpkit torch I got at the Outdoors Show performed well, and I found myself favouring the single low-powered LED.

The night gets colder. There isn't much cloud cover. The cooking had taken ages, but I had put it down to a nearly empty gas canister.  The Primus Gravity stove I had lent Mike works fine, seemingly confirming my thoughts.

In the morning, I give Mike a quiet call - "You awake?" ugh "if you look out of your tent, immediately to your left there is a herd of deer 3 trees away"




After some more photos, the deer are wise to our presence, and start moving off. We let them alone and get on with breakfast. Mike said he hardly slept - he was in the warmest synthetic bag that I had and was in all his clothes. I was in my down bag and had my down jacket on top, allowing me to sleep in base layer. To avoid headaches brought on by rebreathing gases, I didn't try the facemask recently mentioned in TGO magazine. I did try wearing the buff over my nose and mouth to prevent warmth escaping from my respiratory system, but it didn't work and left me feeling constricted. Wearing an insulated hat and getting low into the sleeping bag was good enough for me.

As we were talking, Mike produced a frozen tea bag from his waste pile, and I recalled the problems of gas fuel at low temperatures, so wrapped my jacket around the canister. It did improve things for a short while, but not for long enough, so I resorted to using the buff as impromptu insulation.


After what seemed an aeon, we again resorted to the Gravity stove (which has a pre-heat tube) and found it better in the cold. I set my brain to thinking of alternative fuel again.


We broke camp as the 3rd group of walkers strode past, and headed out by 10am, leaving no trace.


Pausing for a few photos along the way, we were back at the car by 1130 and had a good long shop in the Braemar gear shop, and a sedate drive back to the city.


Checking the temperature at the Met Office site, Saturday night in Aviemore dipped to -3°c. The comfort level of the synthetic sleeping bag was rated to +4°c.

Thursday, 17 April 2008


I'll reply here to Mike's post across on "Puppy's World" about the BBC "Natural World" program last night about Paul Lister's Alladale development. I've mentioned it a few times here in the past, so isn't new news (posts). I'll state here that I haven't watched the programme yet. I'm waiting for a more relaxing time, as I have heard/read interviews about this in the past and the stance taken by the developers winds me up.

But I wish people wouldn't keep using the Outdoor Access Code, and Land Reform Act as a hammer to knock developers. Would there be objections if the land was flat? Or there wasn't a Munro in the vicinity? But then we have Blair Drummond safari park, and zoos in Scotland already and no-one is suggesting that access laws are used to allow people to walk freely into the enclosures. Of course not. Are there any rights of way being removed? I haven't heard of any, but I could be wrong.

I have objections to the development, but other people have arguments in favour. There have been a number of high level planning 'debates' (totally the wrong word for these arguments) in Scotland recently. It would seem that no-one is happy with the planning laws. But they are the laws that we have, and people should not be allowed to sidestep them. That is what we have state authorities for - to make sure that people from the lowest to the highest in the land all obey the laws. I think I managed to keep a straight face writing that bit!

I'd love to go hiking amongst native woodlands rather than the bland industrially-minded plantations. Deer kept on the move by the threat of a wolf pack would probably benefit the native plants. Bears are different, and when one escaped in Scotland in the 1980's (or was it the 70's?), an intensive search was mounted to catch it. This is what we have licensing and official approvals for - to make sure that everything is up to standards before dangerous animals are released into such a large area (where this differs from smaller safari parks and zoos). I'm sure the insurance companies and backers also demand no less.

If, in future, there are hiking and camping tours through land clear of bears and nasties, I'd pay a fee for that privilege - to hear the wolves howl in the distance, and see the elk plod across the hillside. Just so long as there was no grizzly ripping my tent open and making off with half my face attached to its claws.

I'll second Mike's comment "Right i am off to get the flak jacket and tin helmet and find a big deep hole to hide in".

If you missed the programme and want to watch it, you'll find it in the BBC iPlayer - don't tell me what happens.

ePetition breaks 1300 barrier

The ePetition in favour of legalising wild camping in England and Wales has broken 1300 signatures, achieving 1304 names at the time of writing.

Obviously a lot of people from the broad brush of people think that something is broken and does need fixing. Strange that.

In Scotland, 1350 people were involved in helping draw up the Outdoor Access Code. Looks like that target will be reached and then some by the end of the petition. I wonder what the English & Welsh authorities will do then?

Add your name to the petition here:

Read the official website:

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Fuel: Ear Candles

Well, didn't set fire to anything this time, but not very practical as a fuel source.


Ability to boil a litre of water from cold is abysmal (even if you could get both ears aflame at the same time) and cost is quite high. Stocked in only a few places. Advantages: no problem getting them through customs (unless you go for the more exotic perfumes); being hollow, they are quite lightweight and could double up as chopsticks for fat-fingered folk or firelighters.

Long weekend approaches

Will the weather be as good as this at the weekend?

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Road Goes Ever On

Mick and Gayle kicked off from Land's End this morning.

Exploits on their blog:

Monday, 14 April 2008

Google Surprises Again

Just looking at feasibility of getting down to Backpackers Club AGM and Lightweight equipment and tent show (link) later this month in Derbyshire. When I saw that the train would come in at Matlock, I asked Google for directions to Ashford-in-the-water. It gave me the option to "take public transport". link Wow.

At £100 - £176 for a single train ticket, I think my original answer stands. Sorry, but too far to go this time.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Podzine 14 April 2008

Packed Podzine today - bloggers; Mick & Gayle's Land's End to John o' Groats kicks off on Tuesday (charity donations); Pete's Eats - which sounds a wonderful place; recycled materials for tent.

John Hee discussing the campaign to legalise wild camping in England & Wales (interviewed at The Outdoors Show); Andy Howell mentions that wild camping is encouraged in the Pyrenees because it is financially important to the area. John agrees on the finances, and they discuss how wild campers bring money to regions beyond milking families on official campsites.

The Podzine 14/4/08

Download MP3 File


Previous article on wild camping economics.

Official website for

Add your name to the petition if you wish.

Tarp Another Day

Another great plan scuppered! Took makings of tarp shelter down to Balmedie to make shelter while i took photos. Wind catches poncho-tarp material and wheeches pegs out of compressed sand. After taking some photos, i head back to the grassy areas but there's nothing of interest to snap, and the ground is splattered in human and canine detritus.


Green thing in the camera backback is a Go-Lite poncho tarp.


Ziplock bag of guylines and pegs. I'll need to change the pegs to V-shape ones rather than the spare cheapo peg ones I had kicking around.


Looking south down to Aberdeen. Not much happening. Rain coming in from south. maplink

Yellowstone to Yosemite

Just spotted the Cooncil's "what's on" guide with this:

Irvine Butterfield’s illustrated lecture will describe the glories of America’s national parks.

Experience the glories of America’s national parks through the eyes of Irvine Butterfield, renowned author and photographer. Starting beside Yellowstone’s geysers, Irvine’s photographic journey will encompass the sculpted rocks of Utah, Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion, finally culminating amongst the hanging walls of Yosemite.

The lecture, which is being organised by the North East Mountain Trust and the Cairngorms Campaign will also see the launch of Harvey’s new map of the Cairngorms.

Details - hopefully clear enough prep and marking to allow me to get to that. I assume the map launch is this one ...  ooops, I've had mine for a few days after it became available. Nice overview map.

Speaking of maps - I was in Blacks the other day with the OS 3-for-2 deal and realised that I wasn't sure which maps I already had. I'll need to start a list on the pda.

Visit Bonny Scotland plc

Following up a link from Chasrle's blog, I end up at a blog packed with exciting reports about adventuresome times in Scotland. I read about mountain biking in the Castle Grounds, some canoeing with a guy who lives down the road from my folks (who's surname is familiar from my school days). All fun, until I thought about it - or rather, about the authors - here's the list:

They are all running their own businesses. Yup, the blog is a wee advert for their company. More power to their elbow, but is it really any different from, say, the BBC Scotland's "Adventure Show" or Radio Scotland's "Out of Doors", where they regularly promote private businesses. They can't help but do this.

In this case, is partly owned by - which is the national tourist board. Obviously the similarities in name are purely coincidental, as the .com business is partly funded three private companies as well as the .org body.

I'm sure all the funding is above board and my taxes aren't paying for anything that a private business should be paying for themselves. In the meantime, I'm off to have a look at and see if the same is true there. Lessee how this works - my taxes paid for the photographs used in VisitScotland (excluding those paid for by the private investors), which are now being hosted on a private site, where I (a taxpayer) can buy them... strangely, lists the registrar as Tucows Inc. No mention of a Scottish government body (in part or whole). Hey ho. Nice photos, whoever is making money from them.

I think this gets filed under "transparency". Maybe a quick call from Big Eck will sort it all out?

ps - I had to laugh when I noticed that folk know so little about Scottish history that they used the text from the Rough Guide (accredited on the site). I'd have thought that somewhere in all the ScotGov departments, my taxes would have already paid someone to have written articles on Scottish history without having to pay an outside agency for permission. Here's a famous extract from Scottish History. 100% accurate too.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The 1350

The pro-wild camping ePetition is under 90 signatures short of 1300. To be honest, with the lack of interest from certain hiking magazines (where apparently wild camping law is "complex" in England & Wales), and the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude of people on forums, I thought the idea of mentioning the 1350 people involved in the Scottish consultation would be an unfeasible target. There seemed to be little real interest from people in England & Wales, and if they can't be bothered, why should us Northerners force them into something they aren't interested in legalising. As I said in a video-clip, "we'll take your money".

With about 6 weeks left on the ePetition, and the number of signatures climbing daily, 1350 looks a reachable target now. Despite the lack of support in the printed medium. A well, maybe the medium is broken, but it isn't my job to fix it.

More info on the official site.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Weather Changeable

It was snowing all last night and this morning. Like a badly animated cartoon, the snow seemed to disappear at street level. Now the sun is streaming through the windows and big fluffy clouds are making the afternoon feel oppressive. Or it could just be all the outstanding paperwork i have to catch up on. And my big cumfy works chair died. It collapsed when I was on the other side of the room in a similar way to the BluesMobile.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Good One, Chasrle

Chasrle across at Gyrovagus pointed out Alpkit's parody of the Olympus tough camera advert. Of better news is that Alpkit have a YouTube channel that I was previously unaware of. I'm off to click 'subscribe'. Oh, and they also have a shop where they will exchange some of your money for some great outdoor gear.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

The Final Frontier

Following an article on the BBC News about a robotic space ship docking under its own control with the International Space Station, I noticed that they were using this GoogleMaps mash-up site to plot the position of the space vehicles.

Sorry, the 'they' mentioned were the BBC and not NASA/ESA. But the way Google's going, you just never know ;-)

Another tracking site is:

Clicking in the ship details can even bring up its previous course.

Definition of Camping

I was thinking of things bushcrafting when doing the dishes this morning (yup, no kitchen scales, but I do wash up). Darren called a few minutes later and we chatted about life, the universe and other such nonsense that we can't change. At the end of it I was left with the question - just what is camping?

In the old days, I thought it was "being under canvas", but not these days. I looked at the CRoW Act (schedule 2 1(s)bans camping on Access Land) - no definition. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code fails to define camping beyond the detailed:

This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place.

So, lets think about this. Sleeping under a tent is camping. Obviously.


But car camping isn't lightweight camping.


Sleeping under a tarpaulin is camping.


But is sleeping on the ground in a bivvy bag classed as camping? Like this.

What about sleeping out when night fishing? Or in a hide like this when bird-watching? What about lying under a shelter manufacturer from natural materials? Like this. Sleeping in a sea cave? Like this. Sleeping in a hammock? Like this.

Definitions according to the Compact Oxford English Dictionary: link mentions tents, huts or other buildings. yahooAnswers elected an answer which included a tent, a primitive structure, or no shelter at all (link). lists tents, huts, etc., erected for shelter (link).

So, if camping on Access Land in England & Wales is banned under the CRoW Act, is sleeping in a non-built shelter, eg a bivvy-bag, or just sleeping under the stars also banned?

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Film Night

Treated to sneak preview of latest Stirton productions movie "one day removals". I liked it. Sadly i can't see it appearing on banal television. So, if you like stuff you'll never see from the studio system, watch it when you get the chance. Despite the warnings about swearing, it's just like real freaking life. So it is realistic and a dashed good story.

Fuel Test: Firestarter Matches v2

As the flame from the Firestarter match (test one) wasn't high enough to use on the woodburning stove, I thought I'd try my only other suitable stove. This was the White Box Stove (previous test). As this is a meths (alcohol) stove, the ventilation is different, so the flame died in a couple of minutes.

Set up


Burning merrily.


Lack of ventilation - doh!


I re-used the unburnt blocks with the hex burner- I'd snapped the match into 3 sections to fit into the stove.  These caught light with one 'normal' match.


Enough hot water for breakfast as I listened to Radio Scotland's "Out of Doors" and last Monday's TOS Podzine - before facing the washing up. Wishing I'd spent the week on something more productive than a doze of man-flu. that Cateran Trail is sounding shiny. I'd spoken to one of the chaps at the Outdoors Show - nice to hear the importance of tourism to the economy (yup, multi-day hikers are tourists too). Not being wealthy, I would of course be wild camping. For the same reason, I won't be walking St Oswald's Way until wildcampism ends.

Radio 4's 2.0 show back on the air

iPM is back on Radio 4 this afternoon. It uses a blog and forum to generate user discussion for  the show. It is led by Eddie Mair, once an armchair general on a BBC2 wargaming show (not many of them to the pfennig)

Site link:

Just by browsing the links I find some interesting stuff. A civil servant being taken to task by her employers for her blog, and some "griefers" causing, well, grief, by using javascript on an epilepsy forum. Real life isn't a computer game.

Link 1:

Link 2:

Fuel Test: Firestarter Matches

I spotted these Bryant & May Firestarter matches, 20 in a box for £1.48 in my local Asda. According to the box, burns for 15 minutes, no kerosene, no smell, clean hands. Hmm.

Next day, I've dug out the cheap HiGear portable cooker (see Hex Stove test) and set up 500ml of cold water in an old mini-Trangia pot. Set it up with two firestarter matches, and placed pan on top, angling the sides to the stove in to support the pan.


2 minutes in - thick smoke coats base of pan. Burner hot to touch. Water still cold.


4 minutes in - bubbles forming in the water on the base of the pan. Water warm.

7 minutes in - water hot to touch, but not boiling yet. Matches burning along whole length.


9 minutes in - first bubbles break surface of water. Burner too hot to touch.


12 minutes - water boiling on surface. Poured off coup for a brew. In free Charles MacLeod cup (old design). Which was nice.


22 minutes - still burning merrily. Water boiling in pan.

23 minutes - surface flame of firelighter/match goes out. Block smouldering and solid. Scorch marks on fibre-board are from hexamine fuel tablet test. No marks this time.


33 minutes - I knocked the small amount of ash out of the stove. Blocks still solid, and snap easily. Soot washes easily off pan. No chemical residue or smell.


I found this better than the hexamine blocks (which were not from Esbit). I think a further test is needed.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Scots Wha Hae

We have wild camping laws up here in Scotland. Apparently we might be losing them piecemeal up here. Changes in the set aside laws mean it'll be more difficult to camp in farmed land - something I have avoided anyway, but could make it more difficult to complete the eastern end of the Southern Upland Way. From the lack of response to communiqués to Scots folk, it also seems that we're not bothered about enlightening our southern brethren to out eccentric northern ideals.

Maybe there are so few people that see the advantages up here, and are happy to listen to the faux "wild campers" damaging the land. Of course, if land managers want rid of wild camping access, then everyone's going the right way about it. I don't know what the solution is, other than increased publicity. Obviously spending a night in the outdoors in the wild country or when on a multi-day trek isn't as exciting as canoeing (or is it kayaking?) or mountain biking or bouldering. I don't know, and I'm starting not to care either. About any of it.

McNeish at Large

Well. I did not realise that. I suppose it should have been obvious before, but, well, I did not look at the title of the column, and there was no author listed on the web page. No doubt the newspaper has his cheery visage beaming out across the page.

I'd previously commented on an article in the Strathspey & Badenoch Herald about a piece on wild camping: Strathspey-Herald-article.html

Until I went back to look at the Scottish-set target (1500 people consulted over the Scottish Outdoor Access Code), to see how the English & Welsh petition is going (1,140 online signatures; so 360 to beat the Scots), I did not realise that the article was part of a series "McNeish at Large". Of course, it could have been another McNeish. Couldn't it?

So...I called out Scotland's cuddliest hillwalker (or whatever they call him on The Adventure Show). Oops.

If you wish to read some more of Cameron McNeish's articles, you'll find a list here:

And with the timing of irony, a very cheery postman delivers my PacerPoles back from their servicing (woo hoo), and a fresh new copy of TGO magazine.

I'll get my coat.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

April Fools Fun

Playing the annual game of spotting the fake news stories in Radio 4's "Today" programme. I reckon it's the RSPB repatriating birds that overstay their welcome. An hour later there was an interview with the head of a new government department of statistics. Their job being to release any new official statistics daily on a website. Honest. 0930 today, - hmmm, maybe it is real.