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may 2013

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25 easy-to-follow walking routeS

great Walks in: The Lake District, Peak District, Yorkshire, Isle of Wight, Cornwall, Sussex, Norfolk, Shropshire, Cheshire, Gwynedd, Scottish Borders there's

one near you!

Britain’s best-selling walking magazine

S pring in the

Lake District Discover Cumbria’s most enchanting valleys

Conquer the Chilterns

A stroll into ‘The Village’

Chalk up the best ridge walk in southern England

Walk in the landscapes of the hit TV series

Walk the nation Help us create a brand new long distance path!

Offa’s Dyke Path Stay dry! Walk through centuries of history on this epic route along the wild Welsh border

Tested in the field: Men’s and women’s waterproofs

may 2013 £3.99

issue 315 SPRING IN THE LAKE DISTRICT | THE 'VILLAGE' | IVINGHOE BEACON | OFFA'S DYKE Path | WALK THE NATION | HIS 'N' HERS WATERPROOFS | ANDALUSIA

www.livefortheoutdoors.com


theview Miles of ideas for a brilliant month outdoors


The big picture

where's this?

Test your knowlegde of Britain's most spectacular walking country and tell us where you think this photo was taken…

G

narly outcrops, deserted summits, remote tarns and a stark landscape all but empty of any sign of civilisation – there aren't many places like this left in the British Isles. This pristine wilderness is one of the ultimate walking destinations which we think should be on every serious walker's 'bucket list'. So where is it? Using your skill and knowledge, take a stab at pinpointing exactly where our photographer was standing when he took this shot. You can use paper maps, GPS or dead reckoning and whoever gets closest to the actual location wins a prize from our gear cupboard and bragging rights for the next month... ◗ to enter: Email your answer, including a short description of the location and a six-figure grid reference to: bigpicture@lfto. com Full terms and conditions at greatcompetitions.co.uk

Photo: Tom Bailey

may 2013 Country Walking 7


Photo: Mark Sutcliffe

Destinations | lake district

Looking up the Esk Valley to the Scafells from Muncaster Castle.


S pring in the

Lake District

Overlooked by many in favour of the dramatic landscapes of neighbouring Wasdale, the intimate valley of Eskdale reveals more of its subtle secrets with every visit. Words: Mark Sutcliffe

may 2013 Country Walking 27


Destinations | the peak district

Walking in...

THE VILLAGE

Hooked on BBC One’s gripping new drama and its gorgeous locations? Let Country Walking guide you round the scenery on a perfect walking weekend… Words: Nick Hallissey Photos: Tom Bailey

» 38 Country Walking may 2013


Photo: BBC/Company Pictures/Brian Sweeney

“P

Life imitates art: Tagsnaze Farm in the Vale of Edale, and inset, the Middleton family who call it home in The Village.

eople are looking at these landscapes and asking, ‘is that real?’ And I’m so delighted to tell them that it is. We didn’t have to paint out pylons or hide ugly-looking roads. It really is that beautiful.” John Griffin, executive producer of the BBC’s new drama The Village speaks with undiluted passion about the setting for his latest production. And any walker who has ever set foot in the stunning hills where his drama is set will know perfectly well that they’re real. Welcome to the Peak District – the 100 per cent natural backdrop that has helped make The Village such a hit. The series tells the story of a rural community which has lived in isolation since the Domesday Book and is finally plunging headlong into the modern world. The village itself is nameless in the series, but in reality it’s a composite of several great walking locations in the Dark Peak, whose peaty earth and millstone-brown rocks have leant the programme its magnificent wild tones. »


STAGE 1:

Dunsop Bridge to Chipping On a snow-flecked day at the centre of the nation, we kicked off what might just be the greatest walk of them all…

O

ur story starts, in true Mission: Impossible style, in a phone box. An important phone box. The phone box at the very centre of the British Isles. It’s in Dunsop Bridge, a pretty village in the Hodder Valley north of Clitheroe in Lancashire. According to the Ordnance Survey, if you made a cardboard cutout of Britain (including all its islands) and balanced it on a pinhead, this is the place where you’d find the fulcrum. It’s a cold, crisp day in what’s supposed to be spring, but the tops of the encircling Bowland Fells are flecked with snow. And suddenly, the phone rings. “Hello?” “Good morning, Mr Hallissey. Welcome to Walk the Nation – Country Walking’s bid to create the biggest, longest and most diverse national trail in the, er, nation. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to head into those lofty Bowland Fells and find your way to Chipping by the most attractive and exciting means possible. From Chipping, the mission passes into the hands of Agent X, also known as Our Readers. Good luck, Mr Hallissey. And bring me back an Eccles cake.” Feeling somewhat as though my Lancastrian editor has betrayed his anonymity there, and wondering if the phone box might self-destruct in a few seconds, I do as I’m told.

Don’t miss... It has to be the phone box, requested by the village when it was officially confirmed by Ordnance Survey as being the geographical centre of Britain. The phone box proudly informs you that you’re at the centre of the nation, with a nifty diagram of other far-flung places and how far they are from you.

Right: The stunning scenery of the Bowland Fells, as seen at the entrance to Fiendsdale.

The “most attractive means possible” soon reveals itself as a walk deep into the hills via Langden Brook and the brilliantly named, funnelshaped clough of Fiendsdale. All this should bring me out atop Fair Snape Fell, and down over its outlier, Parlick (whose name sounds like it should be that of a Dalek’s father). And I’m off, recording my route on GPS and dictating a few notes into my iPhone, which will become the route you see on the next page. This is indeed an awesome way to start a new trail. It’s a challenge, make no mistake – you’ll meet stiff climbs, a few chunks of boggy ground and some windy summits – but the rewards

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to head into those lofty Bowland Fells and find your way to Chipping by the most attractive and exciting means possible” 50 Country Walking may 2013


Below: On the summit of Fair Snape Fell, with Parlick beyond. Below left: The phone box at the centre of Britain.

which on a good day takes in Morecambe Bay, the Isle of Man, Pendle Hill, the southern fells of the Lake District, Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales, Winter Hill in the West Pennine Moors, and closer at hand, the great whaleback of Longridge Fell. Stage 1 ends at The Sun Inn, a walker-welcoming pub in the middle of Chipping, with a pint of Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde to celebrate the start of something very special. So now it’s over to you. Where would you go from here? Tell us, and we’ll ponder your suggestions and get the winning idea in the magazine. Obviously it takes a bit of application – we need you to tell us exactly where the walk goes and, if possible, to record your route on a map and write a crystal-clear route description for the magazine. But think of the reward: the most organically grown walking route in the whole of Britain – and you can be part of it. This is Walk the Nation. The mission has begun. Damn, forgot the Eccles cake.

Photos: Richard Faulks

include a superb valley which feels a million miles from civilisation, views stretching for at least 30 miles in all directions, and a walk where every turn brings new terrain. And this is the biggest delight of Walk the Nation – the routes you submit could be as long or as short, or as easy or as challenging as you like. One stretch might be four miles through Kentish farmland, another might be eight miles over Ben Unpronounceable. This walk can, and will, go anywhere. All each section has to do is start from the finish point of the previous stage, and take the most interesting and exciting route possible. As Walk the Nation unfolds, it might take in sections of longdistance paths, co-opt a couple of welltrodden classics and pioneer new routes in the unlikeliest of places. It might yield a moment like the climb up Fiendsdale, twisting secretly through a high and heathery clough with grouse as your only companions. Or like the view from Fair Snape Fell,

now IT'S YOUR TURN! Turn over for full route details plus find out how you can help us to Walk The Nation... may 2013 Country Walking 51


Offa’s Dyke Path Llwybr Clawdd Offa

The national trail through the Anglo-Welsh borderlands is rich with views and thick with history, and the perfect springtime walk whether you have a day, a weekend or a fortnight‌


national trails | offa's dyke

Y

ou can be sure King Offa had war rather than a good walk on his mind when he ordered construction of an earthwork 1,200 years ago, a fortification later described as a “great dyke built between Wales and Mercia [England] from sea to sea.” But in 1971 this ancient monument – the longest in Britain – became the basis for a national trail and one of the country’s finest walks. The route hits four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a national park as it marches 177 miles/285km through the Anglo-Welsh borderlands between Prestatyn on the north Welsh coast and Chepstow on the Severn Estuary. It also explores lesstrodden areas of these mysterious Marches, crisscrossing the border 26 times to serve up a staggering smorgasbord of scenery: the curvaceous heather hills of the Clywdian Range, the crag-etched cliffs of Eglwyseg, the gentle towpath beside the Montgomery Canal, the undulating switchbacks of the Shropshire Hills, the sky-lining Hergest and Hatterrall ridges, and the wooded canyon of the Wye Valley. And then there’s the mighty earthwork itself, a rampart and ditch construction, up to eight metres high and 25 across. It’s a visible companion for a third of the trail, and at its most impressive through the Shropshire hills and the Wye Valley, fading away between Redbrook and Kington, and from Wrexham to Prestatyn. Its precise history is also a little patchy; even Offa’s input is debated as there’s no mention of the dyke until 100 years after his death. The ruthless king is the most likely candidate, though. He ruled Mercia, England’s largest kingdom, from 757 to 796AD, expanding his land until it stretched from the Thames Valley to the Humber, the Fens to the Welsh border. He tried to battle further west but after a couple of bloody forays into Wales he gave up and built the dyke to keep the enemy out. Working out exactly how it was constructed and defended should keep you busy for the fortnight it typically takes to walk the trail, but you don’t need a full two weeks to sample the majesty of Offa’s Dyke Path – you can start with a single day or a weekend break… »

Photo: Richard Iestyn Hughes/Alamy

Photo: McCoy Wynne/Alamy

Above: One of 1,084 waymarks to guide your steps along the path. Left: A panorama worth fighting for: looking across the Vale of Clwyd from Moel Arthur in the Clwydian Range.

may 2013 Country Walking 55


GEAR Men's waterproof jackets

SORTED BY PRICE (LOW TO HIGH)

REGATTA Wayseeker £50

BERGANS OF NORWAY Super Lett £150

Sizes: S-XXL Fabric: Isolite Weight: 420g Women’s version: Yes, Riko Contact: 0843 309 0199; regatta.com

Sizes: S-XXL Fabric: 3-layer Dermizax™ Weight: 330g Women’s version: Yes Contact: bergans.com

New for 2013, the Wayseeker is competitively priced, but in performance it's outgunned by the more expensive jackets in this test. The Isolite fabric keeps water out, but is not particularly breathable and the zip is backed up by a flimsy storm flap that allows winddriven rain in. The hood keeps the head dry but has no protection for the eyes or face in wind-driven rain. It has two big zipaccess handwarmer pockets, which will take a map, and Velcro at the cuffs and drawcord hem adjustment.

A well-featured jacket let down by a baggy and shapeless fit (men’s size medium). The Dermizax fabric keeps water out, but rustles a fair bit and doesn't breathe particularly well. It has a cavernous hood with a good, wired peak, and a high collar does an excellent job in really bad weather. The handwarmer pockets are mesh-lined, and it also boasts a pair of pit-zips. It has drawcord adjustment at the hem and hood, and Velcro on the cuffs.

IN A NUTSHELL: Inexpensive but really only suitable for casual walkers. /10

IN A NUTSHELL: Well-featured jacket but shapeless and ill-fitting in comparison to the opposition. /10

JACK WOLFSKIN Cloudstream £150

SHERPA Lithang 3-Layer £200

Sizes: S-XXL Fabric: Texapore Air 02+ Weight: 490g Women’s version: Yes Contact: jack-wolfskin.co.uk

Sizes: S-XXL Fabric: Polyester Weight: 470g Women’s version: Yes Contact: 01572 772504; sherpaadventuregear.com

The Cloudstream is a handsomelooking jacket but is seriously lacking in breathability. It has a good storm flap to keep rain out, but isn’t recommended for those that run hot. The hood is deep and easily adjusted, and has a stiffened peak. The sleeves are a good length and the cuffs are a nice size and cinch with Velcro flaps. It features two non-ventilating handwarmer pockets, and a small inner pocket that isn’t really big enough for a map. It pips the Bergans on fit and looks but loses out on breathability.

Sherpa's Lithang is a good-looking jacket, but also very tough and wellmade, with quality zips and a rugged face fabric. It kept a lot of rain out on test, yet breathability wasn’t bad and the hood was a godsend at times: deep, easily adjusted and with an excellent stiffened peak. The handwarmer pockets are a good size, but don’t vent; but it does feature a pair of long pit-zips for those times you do need to spill some heat. A little heavier than most tested but it’ll definitely take more knocks.

5

IN A NUTSHELL: A goodlooking jacket best-suited to less strenuous walking trips. /10

6

66 Country Walking may 2013

6

IN A NUTSHELL: A very handsome, good value jacket. /10

8

best for value


PÁRAMO Quito £220

RAB Myriad £240

Sizes: XS-XXL Fabric: Nikwax Analogy Weight: 490g Women’s version: Yes, Mirada Contact: 01892 786444; paramo.co.uk

Sizes: S-XXL Fabric: Polartec Neoshell 3-layer Weight: 350g Women’s version: Yes Contact: 01773 601870; rab.uk.com

There’s no doubting the Nikwax Analogy fabric wins in the breathability stakes – but this is offset by the fact that it’s by far the warmest jacket in the test, and at a smidge under 500g, it’s not one you want to be carrying too often. This really means its best-suited for winter wear or for walkers who run cool. The warmth is mitigated by a pair of huge underarm zips. Fabric discussions aside, it is quite short at the hem but has an excellent hood with a good peak.

The Myriad is a great jacket cut from an excellent, innovative and very comfortable fabric. Stays totally dry thanks to a well-protected waterproof zip and a superb deep and easily adjusted hood with a stiff and wired peak. But breathability is also excellent, making the lack of vents less of a problem. The handwarmer pockets are big enough for a map. The cuffs are a good length and adjust with Velcro, and the hem’s easily tightened. But it’s the fabric that really makes this jacket.

Best in test

IN A NUTSHELL: Ultra-breathable, comfy jacket for those who run cool. /10

IN A NUTSHELL: Wellfeatured jacket cut from a great fabric.

OUTDOOR RESEARCH Axiom £260

THE NORTH FACE Point Five £290

Sizes: XS-XL Fabric: Gore-Tex Active Shell Weight: 330g Women’s version: No Contact: 0191 296 0212; outdoorresearch.co.uk

Sizes: S-XL Fabric: Gore-Tex Pro Weight: 400g Women’s version: No Contact: thenorthface.com/eu

Cut from top-notch fabric and very similar to the Rab – but managing to shave a few grams off the overall weight, the Axiom is only let down a little by the hood, which is not very adjustable and only has a soft, floppy peak. The Gore-Tex Active Shell fabric feels great and does a great job of keeping water out, and also offers impressive levels of breathability, despite some quite stiff ascents in testing. The handwarmer pockets double as vents – handy if you run hot – and are a good size, but the Napoleon is a bit small for a map.

Featuring the brand new Gore-Tex Pro fabric, this is a superb all-rounder that's light enough to carry, but still tough enough to take plenty of abuse. It kept plenty of bad weather out during the test, yet breathability is excellent. The hood’s spot-on: deep with a stiffened peak and easy adjustment and the waterproof zip is backed up with a small storm flap that does the job perfectly. The pockets are huge – easily big enough for a map or book – but don’t vent at all; but there are a pair of pretty effective pit-zips available if you do need to spill some heat.

IN A NUTSHELL: Lovely light jacket but fiddly hood. /10

IN A NUTSHELL: Near perfect waterproof at a high price.

7

8

9/10 money no object

9/10 may 2013 Country Walking 67


great british classic

The road to adventure Ivinghoe beacon, The chiltern hills

Trace a prehistoric path to one of the finest hill-views in southern England – and discover why it turned our ancestors into explorers‌ Words: Nick Hallissey Photos: Tom Bailey

76 Country Walking May 2013


The wide chalk sear of the Ridgeway wending its way to Ivinghoe Beacon.

Photo: Š PhotoMix / Alamy

may 2013 Country Walking 77


Clockwise from top: The striking plumage of a hoopoe; spring flowers carpet the slopes; a tasty spread of local food; the town of Aracena sits atop a spectacular cave system; Erika says hello to some contented pigs; a shady path on the 'Three Peaks' walk.


total guide | andalusia

Photos: Jasper Winn; Ángel Millán Simó; WILDLIFE GmbH/Alamy Jerónimo Alba/Alamy

Sweeping views across the sierra from Peña de Arias Montano.

total guide: andalusia

The sunshine after the rain

I

Walk the tranquil wooded hills of Andalusia’s Sierra de Aracena and discover Spain at its lushest and most delicious, says Jasper Winn.

can’t believe this rain,” I say, shocked by the intensity of the deluge. A torrent of water rushes down the steep rocky path under my feet as my friend Erika and I traverse mule tracks high in the hills above the village of Alajár. My surprise implies that, perhaps, I’ve never really understood environmental science. As soon as we’d arrived in this little-known corner of Andalusia, I’d noticed landscape features that a keener mind would have, surely, connected with short but necessary periods of, well, rain. I’d rambled on about the microclimate of the Sierra de Aracena nourishing the shadowy forests of sweet chestnut that hold boar and Spanish lynx, and watering the parklike stands of cork and holm oaks. I’d pointed out that hoopoe and bee-eaters and a host of other bird species treat

the rolling sierra as a moist oasis rising up from the aridity and heat of the surrounding lowlands. “The first time I walked here it was spring,” I’d burbled, “and the fields were covered with peonies and poppies, and it was green everywhere, just like western Ireland.” Earlier today, in warm sun, strolling the track that dog-legged between the villages of Fuenteheridos and Castaño del Robledo, we’d reached one of the highest points on the ten kilometre Ruta los Puertos – or ‘Three Peaks’ – circuit from Alajár. The walk from the village rewarded a stiff early climb by looping around three miradors, or viewpoints, including La Peña de Arias Montano with its small chapel dedicated to the Queen of the Angels. Even after a hot Andalusian summer the landscape around us was green, with verdant hills running westward to the point where the Sierra de » may 2013 Country Walking 85

Country Walking magazine May 2013  

A preview of the May 2013 issue of Country Walking magazine. On sale Thursday 25th April.

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