Mountains • Walking • Camping • Adventure www.tgomagazine.co.uk
£4.50 | APRIL 2017
GREAT ESCAPES! 24 brilliant ideas for your long weekends in the hills
11 M A P P E D
in fu ll colour!
15 N E W T R A I L S 6 MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAYS
DARK LOCHNAGAR GO MUNRO-BAGGING ABOVE BALMORAL
MOUNTAIN wildlife guide What to see and where to go
BASE LAYERS Expert tested
SNOWDONIA WAY Brand new long distance route
CAIRNGORMS BOTHYING ADVENTURE How Ed Byrne’s walking weekend made BBC news headlines
CONTENTS April 2017
Escape Inspiration to get away 8 A onach Eagach 10 Snowdon
Snowdonia Way A new long-distance route through the National Park, plus 14 more new and upcoming multi-day walks
Almanac In the outdoors this month 12 In the frame Schiehallion 13 Stories James McRory Smith 14 News Award for Hamish Brown 16 Events March to May 18 Conservation Outdoor brands giving back 114 Readers’ pictures
Royal Deeside’s finest was dead ahead: dark, dark Lochnagar, its plunging cliffs streaked with snow
Wainwright in colour Interview with artist Andy Beck, who has painted every view depicted in Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides
Alan Rowan, page 39
On the cover On the High Street ridge, Lake District, by Tony West
Tall, dark and handsome,the mountain above Balmoral that has inspired poets and walkers for generations 4 The Great Outdoors April 2017
When I first heard that there were little huts dotted all over the Highlands that you could stay in, free of charge, and use to go hillwalking, it blew my mind Ed Byrne, page 54
Viewpoint Opinion | Comment | Reviews | Feedback 61 Mountain Magic Carey Davies on mountains and masculinity 62 Comment Roger Smith on funding for trail creation 63 Outdoor library Field Notes from the Edge by Paul Evans 64 Book reviews Summer in South Georgia by Jamie Smith 65 Readers’ page Your letters
The Great Outdoors Guide to Walking with Wildlife 68 Key mountain species: what you need to know 70 Walk in a wildlife reserve 72 Upland birds 74 Calendar and map
Yorkshire Dales A laid-back backpacking journey over Ingleborough and Whernside
Gear The latest news, reviews and product comparisons 76 New gear 78 Base layers 84 Take 3: Gaiters 88 The Classics
SUBSCRIBE TO TGO Turn to page 74 for details
And also... 48 Ecrins National Park Gourmet hut-to-hut trekking in France 54 Ed Byrne How Ed’s latest trip for TGO made BBC news headlines
Walking routes across England, Scotland and Wales 91 Bruach na Frithe, Skye 93 Beinn Udlamain, Eastern Grampians 95 Beinn Challuim round, Southern Highlands 97 Loweswater Fells, Lake District 99 Hard Knott, Lake District 101 Pinhaw and Roger Moor, South Pennines 103 Llanberis northern skyline, Snowdonia 105 Stapeley Hill and Mitchell’s Fold, Shropshire 107 Cwm Haffes and Fan Brycheiniog, Brecon Beacons 109 New Forest, Hampshire
April 2017 The Great Outdoors 5
Over the past decade, artist Andy Beck has been working on a major project to paint watercolour sketches of every view drawn by Alfred Wainwright in his seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. The full collection is about to be published in a book WHAT DO YOU THINK WAINWRIGHT WOULD HAVE MADE OF YOUR PROJECT? Even if he didn’t like my style of painting I would like to think that he would approve of my exploration of the fells and that we could compare notes about how the landscape has changed, if at all. I have not been ticking off the tops in a mad dash and I think he would give me credit for that. I have a feeling that AW would have liked to dabble a little more in watercolour (there is one example that I have seen of him adding colour to his line drawings and that was from back in 1942). When I came up with the idea I did consult with the daughters of Betty Wainwright, his second wife, and it seems that she approved of the idea. If Wainwright didn’t approve then I would have thought that on one of my many visits to Haystacks I would have been struck by lightning by now! ARE YOU A LONG-TIME ADMIRER OF THE PICTORIAL GUIDES? I got my first Pictorial Guide in the late 1980s. As that is now three decades ago, I suppose that is a fairly long time, but I didn’t get my last Guide until my wife bought me The Northern Fells in 2000 as a Christmas present. But, yes, I am a fan of his work. His style, clever design, draughtsmanship and humour are not all discovered by the casual reader; I think it takes careful and deliberate 20 The Great Outdoors April 2017
[left] Andy at work [above] Hopegill Head
reading to discover these intricacies within the books. WHICH WAS YOUR FIRST PAINTING? The first was the one that inspired the whole project, the view of Red Pike from near Black Crag (from The Southern Fells): a moment of pure fluke and inspiration. My wife and I were camping at Wasdale Head and headed out for a walk over Yewbarrow, Red Pike and Pillar. There’s a very nice airy path above Mosedale and as I stopped there to look back towards Red Pike, I thought, ‘I know this view’. I’d never been there before. But I happened to have the Pictorial Guide with me and when I took the book out, I realised that I must have been within five yards of where Wainwright had stood to draw the same view. I decided to make a watercolour sketch of the view when I got home. And by the time we’d finished the walk, I’d decided to start a series. WHAT WAS YOUR FINAL PAINTING? The final 'official' location was the view of Barrow from Outerside (The North Western Fells). It was sort of chosen at random but
was where I finished the second round of the Wainwrights on 10 Sept 2014 on the anniversary of AW’s completion on Starling Dodd. I had to revisit a couple of locations after this date to re-confirm accuracy but the day on Barrow was the true last one. I was being filmed for the DVD which goes with the book and I could hardly speak because I was so emotional. HOW ARE THE PAINTINGS MADE? I have had to adopt Wainwright's method, taking a photo and then working from that back in the studio. It would have been nice to sit out in the field and produce all the sketches but totally impractical for this project. Many of the views are from AW’s point of view when he was standing at his full height of 6’2” so sketching at his eye level was not going to work. Some of the locations were in quite an unsuitable position for standing sketching, on steep scree slopes, etc – and also can you imagine sitting at popular places like summits and sketching? People would have been curious and would have sat in the view! It’s no wonder AW went and hid behind a rock away from folk: he had a job to do.
[left] Great Gable [above] Bishop's Rock, Barf [below, left] High Street, winter
â€œI had the Guide with me and when I took the book out,I realised I was about five yards from where Wainwright had stood"
[above] Base Brown [above, left] Red Pike, the first of Andy's paintings and the view that inspired his project [left] Wether Hill
The Great Outdoors April 2017 21
Photo credit: Wild Placebos/ Shutterstock
Alex Kendall introduces his new multi-day route through the mountains of North Wales IT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU to hear that a lot of people assume the boundaries of Snowdonia end somewhere at the foot of its namesake mountain. A friend of mine once worked on a charity challenge where the participants turned up in T-shirts, supplied by the charity, with “I climbed Snowdonia” emblazoned on the front. I suppose that if you name a whole National Park after one peak, it’s going to happen sooner or later. Of course, to those that know it well, Snowdonia offers so much more than its most famous mountain – from the craggy outcrops of Tryfan and the Glyderau to wide golden beaches, 26 The Great Outdoors April 2017
historic mining villages and ancient forests; from the green and meandering Dyfi Valley in the south to the high plateau of the Carneddau in the north. I believe the best way of gleaning a true understanding of a landscape is on foot – and that’s why I developed the Snowdonia Way, a route that takes walkers right through the heart of the National Park. It was on a visit to the South Pennines, with its fantastic range of long-distance footpaths, seemingly linking every valley with every other, that I first wondered if the same thing existed for North Wales. I started researching and discovered that Snowdonia
NEW long-distance route
O N IA WAY had no low-level, long-distance trail. There are longer routes – John Gillham’s Wales Coast to Coast and the Cambrian Way both cross the whole country – and routes that skim the edges, like the North Wales Pilgrims Trail. But nothing dedicated to crossing the National Park. The overall skeleton of the route seemed obvious – I knew where I wanted the walk to start and to end – but the intricacies took longer: many months of route-finding, locked gates and miraculous discoveries of great paths. Eventually I developed a 97-mile low-level trail, with mountain alternatives for each day. Alongside the iconic
peaks of Snowdon, Cadair Idris and the Glyderau, the high-level stages cover outlying hills of the Rhinogs, the northern Carneddau and Tarrenhendre. Although principally meant as alternatives to low-level days, it’s also possible to link all these mountain stages together into a nine-day journey across the tops. If the delineation of both these routes was an adventure, then I hope that walking them will be equally as enjoyable. I hope people will own the Snowdonia Way constantly changing through additions and suggestions, and that crossing from end to end of the National Park will become an appealing challenge. The Great Outdoors April 2017 27
IT’S EASY TO SEE WHY Lochnagar has been an inspiration to writers, poets and travellers for so many centuries. That great reveal – when you come face to face with the semi-circle of dark, brooding rock faces and the ink-spot lochan cradled in their shadow hundreds of feet beneath – never fails to produce a sharp intake of breath. Its magnetism is palpable; you are drawn to its depths, happy to join the battle between standing rooted to this spot for hours just marvelling at the wonder of nature or the urgent need to climb around the lip to discover what other joys await in this ultimate adventure playground. Like so many before, we did both. We all had the same response – those who were seeing this for the first time and the old hands. Everyone was stopped in their tracks, reluctant to move from this spot too soon. In the end, we decided to have a 10-minute food stop, even though we had been walking for less than an hour and a half. Blue skies and a flawless view will do that every time. For most, the plan had been just to summit Lochnagar, and we now had the unexpected bonus of decent weather. When we finally got moving again, you could feel the ambition had grown. Lochnagar had again inspired.
36 The Great Outdoors April 2017
Photo: Jan Holm / Alamy Stock Photo
HILL-BAGGING with friends
& handsome The craggy face of Lochnagar will bring out your spirit of adventure, as Alan Rowan and his party found on a day that flitted from winter to spring and back again
42 The Great Outdoors April 2017
IN GL EB OR OUGH Even the most familiar hills always have something new to offer, as Alex Roddie discovers while walking and camping in the Dales
The Great Outdoors April 2017 43
TOUR GOURMAND TOUR Judy Armstrong enjoys a long weekend’s trekking in France’s largest national park, a place of excellent footpaths, glorious meadows and supremely catered mountain huts
48 The Great Outdoors April 2017
GOURMET WALKING in France
SYLVIE DANJARD is in her kitchen, stirring an immense pot of soup. The soup is pale gold, flecked with green from the armfuls of wild herbs gathered from the meadow outside her door. The kitchen is four strides long, three strides wide and, despite its compact size, equipped to feed 20 hungry hikers. This is the Refuge de l’Alpe du Pin at 1,805m, high above the Vénéon valley. The Vénéon is one of the most spectacular in the Ecrins, France’s largest national park. Its river – often a torrent – drains
waterfalls that plunge off a complex series of glaciers, and its area absorbs the highest peaks, including the Barre des Ecrins, at 4,102m France’s most-climbed 4,000er. It has a network of footpaths to delight walkers, mountaineering routes to impress alpinists and a hut system to keep everyone happy. The happiness is doubled by some innovative thinking by hut guardians and tourist offices. Maps, free booklets and well‑waymarked routes combine to encourage alpine adventures
The Great Outdoors April 2017 49
Ed’s first trip to a mountain bothy was a long time coming and, in the event, more eventful than he had ever expected I STILL REMEMBER where I was the first time I heard about bothies. I was in a sauna in a hotel in Glasgow on my brother’s stag weekend chatting to one of my brother’s mates. I remember it distinctly because when Cameron, my brother’s pal, told me there were little huts dotted all over the Highlands that you could stay in, free of charge, and use to go hillwalking, it blew my mind. “You don’t pay for them?” “No.” “Who owns them?” “Dunno.” “Who looks after them?” ”Volunteers.” “This I have to see.” Not long after that, my newly wedded brother and I made an attempt to stay in Culra Bothy. I say “attempt” because the arrival of a group of 14 RAF cadets made staying in the bothy an uncomfortably crowded experience so we opted to camp instead. This is the problem with bothies: you can’t guarantee you’ll get them to yourself, even on a Tuesday in March. On the plus side, also staying in the bothy was none other than outdoors author Robert Macfarlane who I admit I wasn’t familiar with at the time but whose book Mountains of the Mind has since become my favourite work of mountaineering literature. Also, seeing as how Culra Bothy has since been closed due to asbestos in the roof, maybe we had a lucky escape. That was about 10 years ago and since then I have been wild camping, stayed in New Zealand DOC huts, Swiss Alpine Huts and French mountain refuges, but I haven’t been back to a British bothy. One woman who was determined to do something about this was editor of Wanderlust magazine and occasional TGO contributor Phoebe Smith. Phoebe has enormous enthusiasm for bothies, enthusiasm that oozes out of every page of her Cicerone book, The Book of the Bothy, which is less a definitive guide and more a personal account of Phoebe’s favourite experiences in UK mountain huts. Since we met a couple of years ago Phoebe has been – well, pestering is too strong a 54 The Great Outdoors April 2017
word – let’s say ‘periodically suggesting’ I let her take me on a bothy adventure. In January, I finally relented and took her up on her offer.
The plan falls into place
Our adventure began, like most good adventures, the night before we actually started walking. Ensconced in the bar at the Hilton Coylumbridge, drinks in hands we pored over maps and mulled over options. Phoebe’s preferred choice was to head for Corrour Bothy. Corrour had two major things going for it. First of all, it was a reasonable distance to hike to, some 15 kilometres from Linn of Dee. This gave it a greater sense of isolation and therefore adventure. The other draw was that it was nestled beneath three Munros I had yet to climb. The moment I found this out, Corrour was pretty much an inevitability – if I didn’t stay in it on this trip, it was going to happen eventually. The only worry was that according to the avalanche warnings, our proposed route up Devil’s Peak and Cairn Toul might pose some danger. We resolved not to take any unnecessary risks, and if the worst came to the worst, I’d have to make do with bagging mountains I’d already climbed. Not exactly a hardship. Anyway, with the weather forecast showing a 20% chance of cloud-free tops, the view was likely going to be the same no matter where we went. The next morning we headed into Aviemore to pick up supplies. Having flown up from London, we weren’t able to pack stuff like camping gas so that was first on the list. Then we nipped into the supermarket to grab some snacks. I pulled a bottle of Glenmorangie off the shelf thinking it would be the ideal thing to aid getting to sleep in a draughty bothy. However, as it wasn’t even 9am and alcohol cannot be purchased until 10, I was told to put it back. I pretended to have something in my eye and immediately went for a little cry in the privacy of our hire car. Then it was off to Linn of Dee, luckily by the time we hit Braemar it was 10am and so we were able to source a bottle of Highland Park from the local Co-op. Suddenly, the fun times were back on.
Ed outside Bob Scott's bothy
STAY in a mountain hideaway
April 2017 The Great Outdoors 55
James Roddie is a photographer and wildlife guide specialising in the wild places of the Scottish Highlands. In this section, he discusses what you should do when walking in the company of some of our sometimes vulnerable upland species
Adders The UK’s only venomous
snake – found in many upland areas across the UK. Adders will almost never bite humans unless handled or provoked, and it is extremely rare for bites to be fatal. However if you come across an adder do not attempt to touch or disturb it in any way, both for your own safety and the snake’s welfare. If you are bitten, try to remain calm, do not apply anything to the bite and seek immediate emergency medical attention. Adders are protected by law and it is illegal to intentionally injure or kill an adder in the UK under any circumstances. 2
The UK’s mountains are home to some highly specialised plant species, which are reliant on cold conditions, high altitude and post-glacial landscapes to exist. Many of the most important areas for these plants exist in some of the most popular walking and climbing locations in the country – including Cwm Idwal, Snowdon, the northern Cairngorms and Ben Nevis. Soil erosion and unintentional
68 The Great Outdoors April 2017
trampling from walkers is causing damage to these fragile plants. Treading carefully and avoiding flowering plants is good practice, particularly around corrie headwalls and snow beds where many of the more scarce plants exist. Species to look out for include alpine saxifrage, moss campion, dwarf cudweed, alpine lady fern and numerous others. 3
Dippers are found in tumbling streams and rivers. The dipper is widespread throughout uplands in the UK. Hillwalkers usually pose very little threat to these charismatic birds and often only see them as they dart past at high speed along a river. However, during the spring it is worth being mindful while crossing rivers – young fledgling dippers cannot fly for a few days after leaving the nest, and will often stand motionless in shallow areas of water while waiting to be fed by their parents. They are extremely vulnerable at this stage so keeping dogs on leads while near or crossing upland rivers between February and May can help keep them safe.
4 Golden and white-tailed eagles Both of Scotland’s eagle species
occupy mountainous areas of the Highlands to a varying degree, and both are on the increase. It is unlikely you’ll ever find yourself close to an eagle while out in the hills but it is important to know your legal obligations if you do. Both species of eagle are given the highest level of protection by the law – it is illegal to intentionally harass an eagle at any time. Scramblers and climbers should be aware that some crags throughout the UK have nesting bird restrictions in place during the breeding season and should be avoided. This applies to other species as well as eagles. Information and yearly updates can be found at www.mountaineering.scot and www.thebmc.co.uk. 5 Red grouse shoots take place in many hill areas in the UK between 12 August and 10 December. Hillwalkers may need to change plans to avoid areas where shoots are taking place. Dogs should be kept on leads on moorland areas between 1 March and 31 July to help protect
HILL SKILLS 6
nesting grouse and other birds – look out for signs on Open Access Land where special restrictions may apply. Grouse moors often harbour high densities of ticks – these can carry Lyme disease which can be potentially life-threatening, so it is always worth checking yourself for ticks after your walk. 6
Red deer are shot in the UK for environmental management and for recreational hunting. Hillwalkers should respect access restrictions in areas where stalking is taking place – for their own safety and to avoid disrupting stalking activities. In Scotland the ‘Heading for the Scottish Hills’ service enables you to look up any access restrictions areas you are planning to visit, go to www.outdooraccess-scotland.com. Stalking seasons in Scotland are 1 July to 20 October (stags) and 21 October to 15 February (hinds). In England and Wales, stag stalking is from 1 August to 30 April for stags and 1 November to 31 March for hinds. 7
Ptarmigan Restricted to the highest places of the Scottish Highlands, the ptarmigan is a unique mountain bird which
relies on its camouflage to stay unseen. Their surprisingly tame nature and habit of nesting on the ground leads to them being prone to unintentional disturbance from hillwalkers. During the breeding season (April-June), it is best to keep dogs on leads in boulder fields and on high areas where ptarmigan eggs and chicks may be found. The ptarmigan’s unusual ‘pig-like’ call can alert you to their whereabouts and help avoid disturbance. 8
Mountain hares Mountain hares are a familiar sight to hillwalkers throughout much of Scotland and in limited areas in the north of England. Hares are legally culled on some estates both for sport and habitat management. However, Scottish Natural Heritage have recently requested restraint from estates when it comes to culls. They have asked walkers to report any evidence of mass culls they see while in the hills to help build understanding of the effects of culling of the species. Mountain hares rest during daylight hours – they are conserving energy in an often cold and harsh environment – so try to avoid disturbing them while you are walking.
The UK’s uplands have always seen conflicts of interest between recreation, conservation and traditional land use. In recent years, more people than ever have begun to discuss what the future of land use in our hills should be. With a general rise in environmental awareness and interest in wildlife, long-estalished sporting practices in the hills are becoming increasingly controversial. More than 120,000 people recently signed a petition to ban driven grouse shooting – a sport which has had far-reaching impacts on the ecology and appearance of large areas of the British hills. Another issue of controversy is rewilding – the restoration of habitats and ecosystems to a wilder, more natural state. Some walkers are concerned that hard-won access rights could be affected by plans for reforestation or possible species reintrodutions. However many people recognise the potentially numerous benefits of rewilding – one of which being a reduction in deer populations to a more natural level. Unnaturally high numbers of deer (and sheep) have provided ideal conditions for very high densities of ticks in some upland areas. While the majority of tick bites are harmless to humans, a concerning issue for hillwalkers is a rise in Lyme disease in some areas of the UK in recent years. A potentially very serious bacterial infection, Lyme disease is spread to humans by infected ticks. Several thousand cases of the disease are now diagnosed every year. Hillwalking, scrambling and climbing have seen a spike in popularity in recent years. Some of our popular hill areas are busier than they’ve ever been, while others are seeing different kinds of pressure associated with forestry, agriculture and renewable energy schemes. Upland wildlife faces uncertainty on many fronts, but considerate behaviour from individuals visiting the hills can make all the difference.
April 2017 The Great Outdoors 69
Gear comparative review
Evolution Warm Baselayer Shirt Half-Zip £60
Wool-Tech Comfort Long Sleeve £76
200g soft fabric, light
nothing Fabric: 55% polyester/37% polyamide/8% elastane Neck: double-layer, 17cm zip Cuffs: plain Sizes: men S-XL, women XS-XL www.odlo.com
Like the Sub Zero and Falke tops the Evolution Warm is made with a rotary knitting technique that means there are minimal seams with none on the body at all. This technique also allows for bodymapping zones and the top has four different zones with more open ones for ventilation and denser ones for maximum warmth. As with other zoned garments I can’t tell how efficient this construction is. The Evolution Warm certainly wicks and dries very fast. The fabric has an antimicrobial treatment that works well too. With 8% elastane this top is extremely stretchy. The Medium size is skin-tight on me but not restrictive due to the stretch. The fabric is very soft too and feels fine against the skin. The sleeves are very long, easily reaching over my hands and bunching up otherwise. I flipped the ends over to make long double cuffs. As the name suggests the top is designed for cold weather and gives good warmth for the weight. 82 The Great Outdoors April 2017
quite expensive for a crew neck Fabric: 55% merino wool/43% nylon/2% elastane Neck: crew Cuffs: double-layer Sizes: men S-XXL, women S-XL www.falke.com
Falke has gone to town on the idea of zones of different density materials for different purposes. There’s a pattern of thin lines on the garment that mark strips of thinner fabric, designed for ventilation and quick drying. There are also flex zones on the shoulders and elbows for maximum mobility and added insulation in the kidney area. There are no shoulder seams and fewer seams than on many tops, all of them flat sewn, as the body is made from one piece of fabric. Does this complex construction make a difference? I can’t tell. The top wicks moisture fast, moves with the body and feels very comfortable next to the skin – much like other merino wool and wool/blends. The fabric is smooth on the outside and brushed inside, which probably helps with moisture vapour transmission. The natural stretch of knitted fabrics is added to by a little elastane and the top really is very stretchy. This is good as sizing is on the small side. The Medium is skin-tight on me and if it wasn’t very stretchy it wouldn’t be comfortable.
North Ridge Merino Convect LSZ £50
zip neck, cost
nothing Fabric: merino wool Neck: double-layer, 19cm zip Cuffs: plain Sizes: men XS-XXXL, women 8-18 www.gooutdoors.co.uk
The Convect is a straightforward merino wool, zip neck top. No zones, no blended material, no seamless construction. This simplicity works well and the top performs as expected of 100% merino wool – which is to say it’s very comfortable, it moves moisture quickly, it dries reasonably fast, it doesn’t smell, and it handles a wide range of temperatures. There aren’t many seams anyway, none on the shoulders, and the rest are flat sewn and so unnoticeable. The Convect comes in fewer sizes than many garments. I tested the L/XL and found it roomy enough to wear over another base layer (the Convect LSZ worked well as a midlayer). At the same time it’s fine next to the skin. I suspect the M/L would fit me too. The zip neck is soft and comfortable and the sleeves and back long enough so they don’t ride up. The price is low for a 100% merino wool top, especially one with a zip neck, making the Convect good value for money.
comparative review Gear
Craft Active Extreme 2.0 S/S £34
Fusion SS T-Shirt
close-fitting neck Fabric: Coolmax Air 96% polyester/ 4% elastane Neck: crew Cuffs: N/A Sizes: XS-XL www.craftsportswear.co.uk
Not long ago Coolmax was one of the main synthetics used for base layers. It’s less popular now, which is a shame as it works well. The latest version, Coolmax Air, uses yarns with propeller-shaped cross-sections for even faster wicking and drying. The fabric is very light and thin and dries fast, partly because there’s not much of it! To further aid breathability and fast moisture transmission, this T-shirt has big mesh panels under the arms. There’s no anti-bacterial treatment so it can smell after strenuous activity. The fabric is stretchy but even so I found the Medium size too tight for comfort. Even the Large is body-hugging. The neck is quite high and close-fitting too – I’d rather a slightly looser and lower cut one in a T-shirt. The fabric is comfortable though and certainly very fast-wicking. The seams are flat-sewn and there are none over the shoulders. This top is ultralight, making it a good choice for camp and sleepwear. I haven’t tried it in really hot weather but I think it would be the coolest of those tested. Worn under other layers it’s fine in the cold.
low wool content
Fabric: 20% merino wool/80% polyester Neck: crew Cuffs: plain Sizes: men XS-XXXL, women 8-20 www.regatta.com
Fabric: 82% polyester/8% elastane Neck: crew Cuffs: N/A Sizes: men XS-XXL, women 6-18 www.craghoppers.com
Of the five wool/synthetic mix tops tested, Regatta’s Vettis is the only one with more synthetic material than wool – far more, in fact. This does mean the garment wicks moisture fast but also that it doesn’t feel as warm when damp. The fabric is very soft but doesn’t feel quite as pleasant against my skin as other fabrics. It is quite warm for the weight and more suited to cold than warm weather. The seams are flat-sewn with none over the shoulders. The fit on the Vettis is very roomy. I found the Medium size quite loose and could probably wear a Small. There are no problems with the back or sleeves riding up. The neck is quite wide and low – good for ventilation but not so good for warmth.
Craghoppers’ new Fusion T-Shirt is part of its Duke of Edinburgh’s Award approved range and is by far the least expensive base layer reviewed. The simple T-shirt design is part of the reason for the low cost. The construction isn’t basic though. There are mesh panels under the arms and across the upper back to speed up wicking and drying. The fabric is 8% elastane, which makes it very stretchy. I found the Medium size fitted me well – close-fitting enough to feel snug and warm without being body-hugging. The top is long enough not to ride up. In use the Fusion is comfortable and works well worn under another base layer. I didn’t find it dried quite as fast as some synthetics but that’s not a big problem. There’s no anti-bacterial treatment and it does start to smell quite quickly. The low cost and lightweight make the Fusion good value for money.
The Great Outdoors April 2017 83
TAKE Gaiters THREE WHILE GAITERS are fairly
basic pieces of kit, designs have changed over the years, in particular from rear opening to front opening, which is much easier to use and less likely to fail. Even budget gaiters open down the front now. Velcro flaps over the zips – never found on rear-zip gaiters – protect them from abrasion, leaking and getting clogged with dirt. Some gaiters eschew the zip altogether and just have a wide Velcro flap. Underfoot straps have improved too. While cords are found on many budget gaiters, much harder wearing synthetic straps are found on more expensive ones. I’d still carry cord or spare straps even with these though, as any strap can break. Apart from budget models, most gaiters now come in at least two sizes. This doesn’t just mean in length but also in volume. If you wear large boots or have big calves, standard size gaiters may not fit. Fabrics are important too, as gaiters get really rough treatment, being scraped on rocks and vegetation and in winter may have to deal with crampon spikes and ski edges. Reinforced lower sections help with this. For gaiters that will be worn frequently waterproof/breathable fabrics are preferable. Condensation can still form in them but not as copiously as in non-breathable gaiters. CHRIS TOWNSEND
84 The Great Outdoors April 2017
The Classics Chris Townsend introduces groundbreaking kit from across the decades
04 LOWE ALPINE
FIFTY YEARS AGO a new company launched its first product â€“ an innovative pack that would revolutionise load carrying. The company was Lowe Alpine, the product was the first pack with an internal frame. It was called simply the Expedition Pack and it came about when American climber Greg Lowe wanted a pack that would carry heavy loads and be stable enough for technical climbing, so that he and his uncle could undertake long walk-ins to remote areas of the Teton range (part of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming) and do alpine-style ascents. Back then in 1967, packs were either external frame ones that were great for hiking with big loads but awkward and unstable for climbing, or frameless rucksacks that were stable but too small and too uncomfortable for heavy loads. To combine the load-carrying properties of external frame packs with the stability of frameless rucksacks, Greg Lowe came up with a frame that fitted into the back of the pack. This was stiff enough to transfer the weight to the hipbelt while still being
Main picture: Brothers Jeff and Greg Lowe; Inset: Jeff Lowe with Lowe Alpine packs on Mt Blanc du Tacul and Taulliraju Photos: www.jeffloweclimber.com 88 The Great Outdoors April 2017
Wild WALKS 10 varied walks in Scotland, England and Wales Be aware that winter conditions can extend well into spring, particularly in the Scottish Highlands. Carry appropriate equipment and check the avalanche forecasts at www.sais.gov.uk.
On Stapeley Hill ridge looking to Corndon Hill Photo:John Gillham
Our walks this month 1 Isle of Skye Bruach na Frithe 2 Eastern Grampians Beinn Udlamain 3 Southern Highlands Beinn Challuim round
1 2 3
4 Lake District Loweswater Fells 5Lake District Hard Knott
6 South Pennines Pinhaw and Roger Moor
7 Snowdonia Llanberis Northern Skyline 8 Shropshire Stapeley Hill and Mitchellâ€™s Fold 9 Brecon Beacons Cwm Haffes and Fan Brycheiniog
10 Hampshire New Forest 10 90 The Great Outdoors April 2017 Fiona Baltrop
12km/7.5 miles/4-5 hours Ascent 880m/2900ft
Bruach na Frithe Isle of Skye SCOTLAND 2 1 Start/Finish
Fairy Pools car park, Glen Brittle GR: NG423258 Cross road and follow Fairy Pools path down to junction. Branch L on path signed for Sligachan and ascend to pool in Bealach a’Mhaim.
Go R at path junction and walk 100m to junction just beyond rocky slabs. Turn L on less distinct path, climbing over scree on to shoulder where trail becomes clearer, rising SE over grassy ridge.
Continue up steep slope of scree to base of rocky arête.
4 Either scramble along arête (exposed) or continue on path below before curving L up to crest then continue up rocky ridge to summit with some easy scrambling.
Descend E to Bealach na Lice, curving L below Sgurr a Fionn Choire.
7 3 1
6 Go L and descend path NW through Fionn Choire.
9 Go R and descend path by Allt Coir a’Mhadaidh and Fairy Pools.
8 Descend to path junction by slabs, turn L and traverse path S.
7 Bear L off path, aiming for small pool on grassy shoulder ahead. Contour round slope beyond to re-join path on NW shoulder of Bruach na Frithe.
Gradient profile Metres above sea level 500
James Carron enjoys a Cuillin scramble BRUACH NA FRITHE is the most accessible and – relative to its more austere neighbours – easiest of the Munros in the Black Cuillin to climb. Approach from Sligachan via Fionn Choire on a good day and there is no real scrambling or exposure to contend with. If, however, scrambling is what you are looking for, this mountain will oblige, an
ascent via the rugged north-west ridge offering a tempting measure of both on an outing that I felt was more akin to the true Cuillin experience. Keen to combine my climb with a visit to the famous Fairy Pools, I began in Glen Brittle. Be warned, however, that during the busy summer season, spaces in the Fairy Pools car park are as scarce as pixie dust.
Always take a map and compass with you. ©Crown copyright 2017 Ordnance Survey. Media 047/16
Retreating to a spot on the roadside verge, with spritely steps I swiftly left the tourist trail behind, a slim path signed for Sligachan weaving up through the heather, passing small falls on the Allt a’Mhaim, to a pool occupying Bealach a’Mhaim. After this relatively gentle preamble, I could see that the real work lay ahead, the ridge elevating itself above me in a The Great Outdoors April 2017 91