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L I V E

LIVE FOR THE OUTDOORS

AUGUST 2013

A

F O R

T H E

O U T D O O R S

’ECK! YORKSHIRE 3 PEAKS TACKLING THE

AUGUST 2013 £3.99

SUMMER HIGHS GET OUT LAKES

GREAT GABLE

Sleeping on the summit of an icon

AND GET ACTIVE!

SNOWDONIA’S 7 BEST RIDGES Unlock Wales’ most thrilling terrain INSIDER’S GUIDE

BRECON BEACONS

Secret spots the locals love

13 ROUTES WALK HERE NOW!

the one that thinks flat caps have been absent from the hills for far too long

CNICHT LANGDALE SKYE TORRIDON

26 MILE

SEA TO SUMMIT

Walk from the beach to the top of SLIOCH... in 2 days! GEAR TESTED DAYSACKS, TARPS + SLEEPING BAGS


CONTENTS

p36 Supper is served! Trail tries bivvying on Great Gable. MATTHEW ROBERTS

ADVENTURES 51

Dream peak

10

Trail Skills

Good, bad, or ugly?

12

The most versatile bit of outdoors kit ever PLUS how to cope if you’re cragfast; the truth about Adam and Eve; knives and the law; is beer better than water (seriously!)?

Lovely Beinn Alligin, ‘Mountain of Beauty’ Staying safe in the hills, cartoon-style

The Mountain Inquisition 15 Leanna Shuttleworth, Everest summiteer

Download the app!

16

How to get Trail Routes on your iPhone

High Lights: August

Your month of mountains, sorted

17

YOUR TRAIL 4

Out There

Your best mountain moments, on camera

20

In Box

The world of hillwalking, according to you lot

p40

40

Subscribe to Trail Sign up and get three issues for a fiver!

SUBSCRIBE AND GET 3 ISSUES FOR JUST £5!

Paracord: page 52.

TOM BAILEY

BASE CAMP SKILLS

p42

Behind the picture

18

Spine tinglers

22

A night on Great Gable

36

The real 3 Peaks

42

From sea to summit

60

Sprint champ aims to summit Mont Blanc To Snowdonia, for a spot of scrambling...

Trail picks its moment for a mountain bivvy A northerner, a southerner and a photographer walk into a café...

Tackling Slioch in one epic backpacking trip


WHERE THIS MONTH’S ISSUE WILL TAKE YOU

p60

‘WE HAD THE FIRST FEELINGS OF SOMETHING THAT WOULD DEFINE THE TREK… WE WERE ON A JOURNEY’

ROUTES

Incoming!

76

North Yorkshire

109

First tests

78

Lake District

111

20-30 litre rucksacks

80

Lake District

113

Sleeping bags

90

Snowdonia

115

The must-have hill kit that’s available soon

Mountain Equipment jacket + Nordisk tent Lightweight kit-carriers for summer action Sub-kilo schlafsäcke to suit most budgets

Tarps

100

Minimalist shelters for hardy backpackers

p90

Route 1 Roseberry Topping Route 2 Martindale Route 3 Place Fell Route 4 Cnicht

West Highlands

117

Isle of Skye

119

Route 5 Sgurr Dhomhnuill Route 6 Bla Bheinn

Torridon

123

Rhinogs

129

Lake District

135

Route 7 Beinn Alligin traverse Route 8 Ruadh-stac Mor Route 9 Meall a’Ghiubhais Route 10 Y Llethr Route 11 Rhinog Fawr Route 12 Moel Ysgyfarnogod Route 13 Langdale

TOM BAILEY

GEAR

TOM BAILEY

ANDY MCCANDLISH

SLIOCH, FROM SEA TO SUMMIT

The distinctive summit cone of Langdale’s Pike of Stickle – see Route 13.

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 9


OUT THERE Everest

Makalu

Lhotse Baruntse

Mera Peak Himalayas Andy, at 6476m. He says “We had a brilliant 3 weeks over there in April, with [travel company] KE, and it now ranks as my ‘trip of a lifetime’. Trail readers will love it, and all you really need is physical fitness because all the technical needs are covered during the trek in.”

Glyder Fach Snowdonia Emma, Jill, Alison, Eric, Menno and Allan – a group of friends on a super sunny and super cold day on the Cantilever Stone, saying “Oh yes we can-can!”

6 TRAIL AUGUST 2013


Send us your shots, share your adventures Email your photos to us, along with a description of what was special about your day, and we’ll publish the most inspiring examples! Put ‘Out There’ in the subject box, and send them to trail@bauermedia.co.uk

Tryfan Snowdonia Sophia (9) and Joey (6) with dad Shane during “six days of highly enjoyable mountaineering in some really challenging conditions”. Shane says, “It was the first time we have climbed across all of the Glyders and up Bristly Ridge. The conditions turned this into an epic day’s climbing in winter conditions.”

Cadair Idris Snowdonia Ethan (4), on his first high-level walk. Proud dad Robert says, “He made it all on his own. Here he is enjoying some well-earned hotpot at the lake halfway up.”

Fleetwith Pike Lake District Jez recalls, “I met some truly inspirational people on the way down from Haystacks, who take blind and partially sighted people for days out walking in the Lakes. I actually had trouble keeping up with them on the way down.”

Beinn Eighe Torridon Gill, well pleased with herself, just having negotiated the ‘ugly step’ on her way to the top of Triple Buttress above Coire Mhic Fhearchair on a truly fabulous summer day.

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 7


base camp Your month of adventure starts here...

10 Trail august 2013


DREAM PEAK

© DAVID ROBERTSON / ALAMY

BEINN ALLIGIN TORRIDON Any peak with a Gaelic name that translates as ‘Mountain of Beauty’ is unlikely to be short of admirers – especially when its spiky eastern flank is dominated by the triple pinnacles of the Horns of Alligin. But while there’s no escaping its aesthetic charm, there’s also no mistaking the fact that Beinn Alligin is 986m of pure Torridonian muscle. Rising in castellated tiers of red sandstone and white quartzite, this sprawling beast snakes across the horizon in a seductive tangle of narrow spurs and dark fissures. Although widely regarded as the easiest of the region’s three classic ridge traverses – the other two being Liathach and Beinn Eighe – the mountain certainly isn’t without its challenges. If knee-trembling scrambles are your thing, check out the vicious scar of Eagh Dubh that runs directly down the southern face; they don’t call it ‘the rift of the screeching’ for nothing.

DO IT THIS MONTH! ›› TURN TO PAGE 124

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 11


Go: Snowdonia Do: Scrambling

spine tinglers Summits? Bah! Who needs 'em? When it comes to the thrill of a Snowdonian scramble, it's all about the journey... Words ben weeks Photographs bob atkins

22 Trail August 2013


R

alph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early 19th century. What’s that got to do with mountains? Perhaps nothing; but among his essays, poems and transcendental philosophy is an idea that appeals: “Life is a journey, not a destination.” It’s all too easy to obsess about the destination (for most hillwalkers a summit of some kind). But more often than not it’s getting there that’s the adventure – it’s the journey that’s important. Mountains offer a veritable smörgåsbord of routes to the top, and generally we pick the one that looks the most interesting. And for � many a seasoned hillwalker, that route will include a scramble.

High on the hill was a flat-capped man-leg, lay odelay ode lay hee hoo...

august 2013 Trail 23


Crib Goch, Bristly Ridge and Crib Lem got your juices pumping? Then plan a return visit to Snowdonia to tick off these adrenaline-packed routes…

© Julian Cartwright / Alamy

4 more a i n o d w o Sn thrillers North ridge, Yr Elen

Short, spiky and steep, the north ridge of Yr Elen is a fantastic prospect for a number of reasons. Firstly, you have to earn it. Approaching from Gerlan, you walk past ancient settlements and slate works before rounding into a deep, cupped-hand cwm with a shadowed lake at its heart. Secondly, aesthetically it’s a hoot. Like the bristled back of a dinosaur, it climbs to a little-trodden satellite of Wales’ second highest peak in a manner that’s never dull. Thirdly, you’re almost guaranteed not to meet anybody else up here. It’s remote, squirrelled away, invisible from any of the peaks to the south and removed from the usual approaches. A wild camp would practically make it a wilderness experience…

South-west ridge, Cnicht

tom hutton

Cnicht is terrific as it’s small and sharp, and the best route on the mountain leads directly to its summit with plenty of hands-on action. It may not be super-tall (689m) but it certainly feels it when you look over the yawning drop to the valley floor of Cwm Croesor from the compact summit. The ridge itself is as hard as you want to make it; you can find your way up on fairly unthreatening terrain or you can scare yourself silly, but the scrambling is brief so make the most of it!

To find more details about Cnicht

[ go to Route 4 on page 115. South ridge, Snowdon

Splendidly long and pitched perfectly for those who want an airy, quiet way up a big mountain but prefer a wider walkway than Crib Goch or Y Lliwedd, the south ridge of Snowdon arguably is, scenically, the best way up. Tapering to an apex the shape of a pitched roof (though thankfully a lot wider), the ridge ascends gloriously via rocky steps above some of the horseshoe’s most hidden views. If you haven’t climbed to the peak this way, make it your next walk.

32 Trail august 2013

trail’s route Scrambling grade 1 Scare rating ▲▲▲▲▲ Terrain Satisfying and full of holds and spikes to grab onto, this short ridge feels quite enclosed in places, and the rock is solid and grippy.

trail’s route Scrambling grade 1 Scare rating ▲▲▲▲▲ Terrain Cnicht is a lot easier than it looks from afar; but in poor visibility do keep an eye on where your route is taking you, and stick to obvious lines of passage as it’s quite easy to climb yourself into trouble if you go off-route.


NANTLLE RIDGE There are many moments on this long, linear roller coaster of summits that are genuinely thrilling – but two stand out as being particularly so. The first is the north ridge of Mynydd-Drws-ycoed above Clogwyn Marchnad (bizarrely, ‘the cliffs of the market’), where the ridge lurches upwards and tilts scarily over some of the biggest drops in Snowdonia. The second is the climb onto Craig Cwm Silyn via its raggedy-backed north-east ridge.

TRAIL’S ROUTE

SIMON INGRAM

Scrambling grade 1 Scare rating ▲▲▲▲▲ Terrain Threatening in places, with little in the way of escape as the drops on both sides are steep. The moves are straightforward but a stern head for heights is required.

‘THE SOUTH RIDGE OF SNOWDON IS ARGUABLY, SCENICALLY, THE BEST WAY UP THE MOUNTAIN.’

TRAIL’S ROUTE Scrambling grade 0.5 Scare rating ▲▲▲▲▲ Terrain Broad and mostly easy, the south ridge has big drops either side but is rarely narrow enough to cause serious concern – though as with all of these routes it’s best avoided in high wind.

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 33


GO: Lake District DO: Sleep on a summit

36 Trail august 2013


Late evening light illuminates England's highest peak (Scafell Pike, centre left) and deepest lake.

A ROOM WITH A VIEW Its shattered summit offers the finest views in Lakeland – so could the tip of Great Gable house Britain’s best wild camp? It took Team Trail three attempts to find out…

WORDS GRAHAM THOMPSON PHOTOGRAPHS MATTHEW ROBERTS

A

n orange sun sat above Kirk Fell and Pillar. Its last rays of light played out patterns on the nutty craglets of Scafell’s clustered earth and rock. Below us nestled the dusky shades of Wasdale Head. The silver arm of Wast Water stretched toward the hazy coastline of Cumbria, and later that night a display of stars would watch over us as we peered out from our bivvy bags. In short, it was a night to remember. It was also a night that nearly never happened. Great Gable isn't an easy mountain to pin down, especially when you plan to sleep on its summit. Attempt number one was scuppered by 70mph winds. Attempt number two was washed away by biblical rainfall. Attempt number three… looked promising. I had checked the weather forecast with an unnatural degree of obsession. I had looked out of the window countless times. The time had come. ❯

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 37


Go: Yorkshire Do: One big day

The Three Peaks Forget Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike. If you’re looking for a proper hillwalking Words oli reed Photographs tom bailey

I

n case you didn’t already know, Yorkshire’s the best place in the world. Just ask any fiercely proud native, like myself: we don’t call it ‘God’s own county’ for nowt. Everything up here is real: we’ve got real ale, real men, real gravy and extremely real weather – and we still know the value of real football tackles. This is a place where flat caps are part of the school uniform, where women smell of (white) roses, where we stick ferrets down our trousers for sport and where pudding is more commonly served with roast beef than coupled with custard. We adorn our walls with Sean Bean watercolours, regularly overdose on Yorkshire Tea and celebrate Yorkshire Day every 1 August with a gusto not reserved for Christmas or New Year. �

42 Trail august 2013


Challenge

Dropping from Whernside towards Ingleborough, in a classic Yorkshire cocktail of rain, sunshine and wind.

workout, get yourself to Yorkshire.

august 2013 Trail 43


TRAIL SKILLS

The most versatile

Why buying 12 metres of special string may be the cleverest thing you do all week…

T

here are few things more comforting out on the hill than having your back covered by a piece of kit you know is there but don’t even notice. Quite often that takes the form of something fairly bulky like a survival bag, a personal locator beacon, spare batteries or a down jacket. But one of the most versatile items you can carry weighs practically nothing and has literally dozens of uses. You can even carry it around your wrist. “Unlike strings, twines, general cable and nylon cords, Type III 550 paracord is a very technical rope with unique physical properties that allow it to be adapted to everything from dental floss to suture fabric in the field,” says search and rescue specialist Lyle Brotherton, author of The Ultimate Navigation Manual. “Type III 550 paracord has a tensile strength of 250kg. It’s a dynamic rope that stretches by 30 per cent before breaking, won’t rot or mildew, and is UV-resistant. Twelve metres weighs just over 80g.” Buy the right kind, though, says Lyle. Lots of items are sold as paracord, but the only genuine Type III is made in the States to a strict specification. Ensure it’s US-manufactured 550 Type III; and if you need to cut it, use a sharp pair of scissors then seal with a flame. Here are some handy uses for hillwalkers:

LANYARD Essential for securing kit to your person or rucksack, such as your compass, hand-held satnav (GPS receiver) or mobile phone. Lose one of these and you could be in deep trouble.

HALYARD Paracord, despite a diameter of just over 3mm, has a minimum tensile strength of 250kg and is perfect for lifting or lowering kit – from ice axes to rucksacks – over drops. Just remember to anchor the other end to ensure you don’t drop it...

WASHING LINE If you need to dry your kit at camp after a rainy day, attach a length between two objects.

GUY ROPES Extra support for your tent in high winds can be gained from tensioning paracord against a rock or other solid object then attaching the other end to your tent. And if you use glow-in-the-dark paracord you won’t trip over it at night!

SPARE BOOTLACES Spare laces are the item we all forget but we’re stuffed without. Never be without them again!

AND LOADS MORE USES... Zip pulls Creating a pacing counter using toggles Securing a splint to a broken limb

52 TRAIL AUGUST 2013

Dog lead Securing items to a roof rack Hanging food in a bear-safe tree (you never know) Key fob

Lashing items to your pack A fire-starting bow string Emergency belt Securing rucksacks to a car roof rack

When counting paces, you can keep track using toggles on a piece of paracord.


THE THING ABOUT STRING

piece of kit ever? WHY NOT WEAR IT?! A nifty way to carry paracord in a way that allows you to always have it on you is to make a bracelet – or a belt – from various lengths of cord. Visit tinyurl.com/llgpskt for a tutorial on how to make one.

US-manufactured Type III 550 paracord: a walker’s best friend?

All you need is a few simple tools...

Lyle: never, ever seen without trusty paracord.

...and a bit of creativity... ...and you’ve got your very own accessory range!

Get hold of some genuine paracord from www.shavenraspberry.com

You can also separate the threads inside the cord and use them as: Dental floss, fishing line Sewing/suture fabric Clothing or equipment repair Tinder for firelighting

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 53


GO: Slioch, Wester Ross DO: A true journey

WALK FROM

SEA TO SUMMIT

60 TRAIL AUGUST 2013


Seeking Scotland’s most spectacular summit, Peter Macfarlane wanted more… and got it. Join him for a once-in-a-lifetime backpacking epic on the shores of Wester Ross. WORDS PETER MACFARLANE PHOTOGRAPHS ANDY MCCANDLISH

A dark and moody Slioch beckons, but it will just have to wait until the next day.

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 61


GEAR

INCOMING! A quick round-up of the new kit Trail has been playing with on and off the hill this month...

We want one! Brunton Ember solar charger £75 Solar chargers are great if there’s sun. Otherwise they’re just big, pointless lumps in your rucksack. But the Brunton Ember is (much) smaller and lighter than a pack of cards. Fully charged it has enough power to re-juice a smartphone up to three times via a funky 3-in-1 cable that fits mini and micro-USB ports and Apple connectors. Using this cable, it can be recharged from a computer or mains in just 3-4 hours. Also, 7-8 hours of strong sun will fully restore its power, though in the UK, this roughly equates to the entire month of August. ❯❯ www.bruntonoutdoor.com

Rohan Trailblazers Convertible £90 While midges can be an extreme annoyance, other biting insects such as ticks are potentially far more dangerous. The Biteguard treatment to the Trailblazer pants not only repels biting insects, but in conjunction with their Dynamic Moisture Control it also helps reduce bacteria and microbial growth, which is great if you’re a sticky walker. And if you do run hot, why not zip off the lower leg section altogether and turn them into just-above-the knee shorts? ❯❯ www.rohan.co.uk

76 TRAIL AUGUST 2013

PEP natural energy foods from £4.95 To keep going on long hill days, you need the right fuel. Pure Energy Pantry (PEP) uses natural ingredients to produce energyrich snacks and cereals that not only give you the boost you need for hard mountain treks, but also taste rather good too. The current range includes Date & Walnut Muffin Mix, Apricot & Almond Granola, Bircher Muesli Mix and

(our particular favourite) handy pocket-sized Energy Cookies. ❯❯ www.pureenergypantry. co.uk


WIN PRIZES WORTH £430!

PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

CamelBak All Clear UV Microbiological Purifier £100 CamelBak All Clear Pre-Filter £15 There are occasions when you’ll want to make sure that what you’re drinking won’t make you ill, or worse. The CamelBak All Clear system is simple and effective. Fill up your bottle, screw on the UV purifier lid and turn on the lamp. Gently agitate the bottle while the LCD counter ticks down, and in just a minute you’ll have drinkable water, free from microbial nasties. The water must be clear for the UV to work, so if you need to remove larger contaminants you should attach the pre-filter while collecting your water. The pre-filter is sold separately, but if you’re unlikely to collect water from murky sources the purifier kit may be all you need. ❯❯ www.camelbak.com

Win 1 x Rab Siltarp reviewed on page 91

Win 1 x Mountain Hardwear Ultra Lamina Sleeping Bag reviewed on page 93

HIGH STREET HILL GEAR For those wild walks to the pub

Merrell Proterra Mid Sport £100

It is: A super-light hiking shoe Good for: Casual wear and low-level walks in warm, dry climates Not so good for: harsh/boggy terrain Looks great with: jeans or shorts Looks daft with: a 3-piece suit ❯❯ www. merrell.com

Win 1 x Vango adventure tarp reviewed on page 101

Drizzle? Thizzle cope.

Win 1 x Deuter Speedlite 30 reviewed on page 87

Mammut Blask Jacket £150 With summer here, the rain may be a little less torrential and the wind slightly less aggressive than usual. It’s soft shell season, then, and the Mammut Blask is a no-nonsense jacket that does exactly what it needs to with minimum fuss. It’s light, comfortable, offers Velcro cuffs, a drawcord hem and two zipped waist pockets; and because it’s made from Mammut’s SOFtech soft shell fabric it’ll shrug off all but the most persistent summer drizzle. ❯❯ www.mammut.ch

Win 1x CamelBak All Clear UV Microbiological Purifier reviewed above

To be in with a chance of winning one of these fab prizes go to: www.greatcompetitions.co.uk/trail

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 77


GROUP TEST What to look for in a

RUCKSACK SHOULDER STRAPS The shoulder straps take some of the weight, but they need to be carefully contoured and padded to make them comfortable. As we are all different shapes it is important to try rucksacks for size, fit and comfort before parting with cash.

VENTILATED BACK SYSTEM So that you don’t get too sweaty, many rucksacks have mesh panels that hold the sack away from the body to increase airflow and thereby reduce clamminess. The greater the airflow across the back, the less clammy you will feel.

HYDRATION POCKET If you like to use a hydration bladder with a feeder pipe to drink from rather than a water bottle, then look for a rucksack with a pocket for the hydration bladder inside the pack. All the sacks in this test can accommodate a hydration system.

COMPRESSION STRAPS These are on the sides of some rucksacks and they allow you to compress the body of the sack to help stabilise the load. They are also useful for attaching items to the side of the rucksack, such as trekking poles and waterproof jackets.

OPENING HIPBELT

The main compartment entry is often covered by a lid, but sometimes a ziparound opening may be provided to save weight.

This is designed to carry most of the load if a rucksack is heavy, but when carrying lighter loads it may only be used to ensure stability of the pack. Either way, it should fit snugly around your hips while being comfy and easy to adjust.

How Trail did the test

POCKETS At least one external zipped pocket is useful for guidebooks, maps and GPS receivers; but some people like more options. Stretch pockets without zips are commonly placed on the front of the rucksack, and these are ideal for stowing waterproof jackets between showers.

82 TRAIL AUGUST 2013

WAND POCKETS These pockets on the side of a sack, often made of stretchy mesh fabrics, are ideal for stashing walking poles or smaller items including water bottles or snacks.

Manufacturers were asked to submit rucksacks with a capacity of 20 to 30 litres and priced between £60 and £100 that would be suitable for hillwalkers as well as those wanting to move fast when running or biking in the hills. We received 22, which were used in the Lake District, and the best eight are featured here.


20-30 LITRE RUCKSACKS LOWE ALPINE Yocton 25 £60 Designed for activities such as hiking, biking, climbing and running, the main fabric here is TriShield, which has a silicone treatment to increase abrasion resistance and tear strength, so it should be more durable than most packs. The back panel is stiff enough to prevent items from digging into you, while Airflow mesh helps to reduce that horrid ‘sweaty back’ feeling. The shoulder straps do not get any top tensioning straps and when combined with the Adaptivefit helpbelt I did not find this pack was quite as back-huggingly stable as some others. I thus had to use the chest strap to create as much stability as I could when scrambling for example. I really

MAGAZINE

BEST VALUE liked the body of this sack, though, as it has one main compartment and a good lid plus three stretch pockets around the outside and compression straps to allow me to easily stash items outside the pack if needed. The lid zipped pocket is ideal for maps and guidebooks too. Overall a great offering for general hillwalking, particularly at this price, although there are other packs that offer benefits of less weight, or more stability or even more airflow.

MAGAZIN

BEST VA

TRAIL VERDICT

A well-priced pack that offers great general performance for the hillwalker.

RATINGS FEATURES DESIGN COMFORT PERFORMANCE VALUE

✱✱✱✱✱ ✱✱✱✱ ✱✱✱✱✱ ✱✱✱✱ ✱✱✱✱✱

OVERALL

✱✱✱✱✱

MONTANE Ultra Tour 22 £65 Following the success of Montane’s recent addition of rucksacks to its range of clothing comes the Ultra Tour 22, a pack that was designed to meet the needs of Montane’s 100 mile Ultra Tour of the Lake District, which is usually completed in around 24 hours. The pack features an unusual rolltop closure for better protection in the rain; you’ll still need a waterproof rucksack liner, though, as the main compartment seams are not sealed, so I am not really sure of the benefit of this design. The back system is interesting in that it has a moulded back panel to provide some comfort in contact areas, but it has very little stiffening, so extra care is needed to pack it without anything sticking into your back. The hipbelt and

shoulder straps are quite wide and mesh-lined, which makes them very comfortable and so if carefully packed this is comfy on the back. The only external pockets are on the hipbelt, which may not be ideal if you like to have a map or guidebook in an easy-to-access pocket on your rucksack. But you do get three useful stretch mesh pockets and compression straps. The real attraction of this pack is the weight of just 561g.

MA

BEST

TRAIL VERDICT

Its unusual design won’t be to everyone’s taste so it is very much a considered purchase for the hillwalker wanting a lightweight pack.

RATINGS FEATURES DESIGN COMFORT PERFORMANCE VALUE

✱✱✱✱ ✱✱✱✱ ✱✱✱✱ ✱✱✱✱ ✱✱✱✱

OVERALL

✱✱✱✱

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 83


BUYER’S GUIDE

Tarps

Using a simple tarp and a bivvy bag is a great way to see more of the outdoors and feel part of your environment.

TEST GRAHAM THOMPSON PHOTOGRAPHS TOM BAILEY

A

tarp is essentially a rectangle of fabric that’s extremely lightweight and can be pitched in a variety of configurations to provide protection from wind and rain. When a tarp is combined with a waterproof bivvy bag, it takes lightweight camping into another dimension, where you’re able to get that little bit closer to nature than with a standard tent. While tarps have been popular with the military and the bushcraft community for decades, they also have a following among walkers and backpackers due to their weight-saving potential. A modern tarp may weigh as little as 237g and when combined with a waterproof sleeping bag cover or bivvy bag that weighs around 420g, plus a pair of trekking poles (to help pitch the tarp) that you may be carrying anyway, it’s clear this is a very lightweight option compared to a traditional

100 TRAIL AUGUST 2013

tent that may weigh in excess of a kilo. With prices for a good tarp coming in at around £50, it’s also clear this is a great option for anyone who’s on a tight budget and wants to enjoy the outdoors without ruining their bank balance. However, it’s important to realise that tarps do not always come with poles, pegs or even guy lines, and are often just a simple rectangle of waterproof fabric with some attachment points. Most tarps can be pitched in a variety of ways and each one featured here has been pitched slightly differently so that some of the standard configurations can be seen. The standard configurations are the A-frame, lean-to and flying V, but it’s good to experiment and find new ways to rig a tarp, which also adds a whole new craft to your outdoor adventure.


TARPS Vango Adventure Tarp £30

AT A GLANCE FABRIC 70d polyester SLEEPS 1-2 SIZE 300x200cm PACKED SIZE 58x9cm WEIGHT 1346g (includes guy lines, pegs and pole) WEBSITE www.vango.co.uk

This product is designed to be used as an additional porch for a Vango tent or as a standalone tarp-style shelter. It comes with guy lines, pegs and a very robust pole as well as an elasticated edge to provide a closer fit to a curved tent. When used as a more traditional tarp it can’t be set up in such a wide range of configurations as others, as it doesn’t have the range of rigging points that other tarps are fitted with. But you can still create the classic A-frame and flying V configurations easily, and you can of course use additional trekking poles to enhance the shape of your shelter. At £30 for pegs, guy lines and pole, this is the best-value tarp option here. It’s less versatile than other more dedicated tarp designs, though it’s ideal for adding to a Vango tent and occasional tarping.

Rab Siltarp £50 At 230g the Siltarp is a very lightweight option, but is smaller than other tarps, so really it’s best used as a solo shelter. It’s very much a minimalist design but is more in keeping with traditional tarps, being a basic rectangle of material that isn’t

BEST FOR BUDGET TARPING

supplied with pegs, guy lines or poles, so you’ll have to add these yourself. There are plenty of points to peg or guy the tarp around its edges, but only one additional rigging point in the centre, although this still allows a good variety of pitching options. As this is a smaller option than others, it can be pitched in smaller areas,

which makes it useful for one person trying to find shelter among rocks or in dense woodland. It packs down so small that you could put it in your pocket, and if you normally walk with a pair of trekking poles the Siltarp is a great additional piece of kit that can be easily transformed into a lightweight solo shelter.

BEST FOR SOLO WEIGHT SAVING AT A GLANCE FABRIC 30D silicone-coated ripstop Cordura SLEEPS 1 SIZE 150x240cm PACKED SIZE 15x9cm WEIGHT 230g (without guy lines, pegs or poles) WEBSITE www.rab.uk.com

AUGUST 2013 TRAIL 101


7

NORTH HIGHLANDS

ROUTE

10km/6¼ miles

SCRAMBLE

Beinn Alligin traverse

FACTS STRENUOUSNESS NAVIGATION TECHNICALITY MUNRO COUNT TRAIL 100S ISLE OF LEWIS

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ISLE OF SKYE

Shiel Bridge Inverie Invergarry

Mallaig

Fort William MULL

Oban Distance 10km

(6¼ miles) JURA Glasgow Total ascent 1180m

Time ISLAY6½ hours Start/finishISLE car OF ARRAN park near Torridon Ayr House (NG868576) Ballantrae

ORDNANCE SURVEY MAPPING © CROWN COPYRIGHT. CREATED WITH MEMORY-MAP. LICENCE MEDIA089/12

Londonderry

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NG868576 Head for the trail along the east bank of the Abhainn CoireAberdeen Mhic Nobuil, passing Aviemore through a small stand of Braemar Scots pine and then across open ground. After roughly 2km cross the burn on a footbridge. Soon after is a trail junction; go left here, Edinburgh following the Allt a’ Bhealaich uphill. Cross this on a Berwick-upon-Tweed second footbridge. Shortly beyond here a cairn marks Jedburgh another path junction.

Inverness

Portree

across the steep south-west flank below the Horns to miss out on the scrambling of the crest above. But if you like hands-on fun then continue to the summit of the first Horn instead.

Dumfries

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Leeds

rough sandstone. Pass over Maps OS Landranger Liverpool a pronounced shoulder Manchester (1:50,000) 24; OS Rhyl Conway to make the final climb Explorer (1:25,000) 433; Bodelwyddan towards the lowestSheffield but Harvey British Mountain Betws-y-Coed most impressive of the three Map (1:40,000) Torridon Llangollen Horns of Alligin. Just below Derby & Fisherfield

Dublin

Waterford

this rocky peak it’s possible to pick up Birmingham a well-worn traverse path that runs

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very briefly south, joining a descent path that cuts 1 back right to pass around the top of the dramatic cleft of Eag Dhubh. Now follow easy ground along the wide ridge crest to loop around the head of the Alligin’s huge central corrie. Passing over a minor summit, the ridge

NG865613 From the summit cairn go

Peterborough

Hay-on-Wye

En route to the first of three pinnacles known as the Horns of Alligin.

Gloucester Oxford

Pembroke Swansea

Cardiff

Bristol

Minehead Southampton

To get this route and maps on your phone now, go to Exeter www.viewranger.com/trail Bodmin Route code TRL0424 Plymouth

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NG876610 From the airy summit carefully descend a series of ledges and little scrambling rock steps to reach a narrow col below the second Horn. This is climbed via a rough ascent, and some more fun-but-basic scrambling. There’s more of the same on the following descent into the gap on the far side of the second Horn. From here another short, scrambly climb up broken rocky tiers leads onto the ridge that forms the summit of the third Horn. After this, descend to a low col before making the long plod up the rough slope that leads onto Sgurr Mhor, Beinn Alligin’s high point.

Barmouth

Brecon

In association with

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Terrain clear paths Newcastle NG882601 Go left Newton Stewart -upon-Tyne Carlisle throughout Stranraer but rough here to head straight and rocky in places, Penrith Keswick for the rocky buttress of Na Belfast Middlesbrough with some steep inclines Rathanan. An engineered and occasional sections Kendal steeply up Northallerton path zigzags Windermere of exposed Grade 1 the heatheryIngleton crags, and Bentham scrambling in both there’s the odd step of York Lancaster Skipton easy scrambling on lovely ascent and descent

Guidebook Scotland’s Aberystwyth Mountain Ridges by Dan Bailey, pb Cicerone Cardigan

Classic scrambly ridge

Thurso

Lairg

HARRIS

ALWAYS TAKE A MAP OUT WITH YOU ON THE HILL

Brighton

Poole

begins to curve south, pinching into a narrow, rocky arête as it climbs towards Tom na Gruagaich, the mountain’s second Munro. Here there’s a little more very easy scrambling before the broad summit plateau is reached. NG859601 From the summit trig go south-west and then south into the narrow trough of Coire nan Laogh. Here a well-used trail gives a steep descent before following the stream out of the corrie. Now stay with the path to pass over a knobbly shoulder before making the final gentler descent to the road close to the car park.

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Far left: Sgurr Mhor (left) and the Horns of Alligin from Liathach. GRADIENT PROFILE

Start

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Sgurr Mor

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124 TRAIL AUGUST 2013

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Beinn Alligin

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Finish

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north highlands 21km/13 miles

Lonely peak & wild through route

Ruadh-stac Mor via Coire Dubh & Coire Mhic Fhearchair

STRENUOUSNESS NAVIGATION TECHNICALITY munro count

Total ascent 1014m Time 9 hours

3 To get this route and maps on your phone now, go to www.viewranger.com/trail Route code TRL0425

Start car park by the A896 (NG957568); finish car park near Torridon House (NG868576)

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Terrain well-trodden paths all the way, but hard going in places with more wiggly ups and downs than apparent on a map. The Munro is a big peak in wild country, while the isolation of the glen north of Liathach shouldn’t be underestimated in poor weather

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the western foot of Sail Mhor, where the engineered path still offers fairly easy going despite the roughness of the ground it crosses. The trail soon begins to curve right, climbing quite steeply beside a series of waterfalls to reach the lip of Coire Mhic Fhearchair. With the magnificent Triple Buttress overlooking lovely Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair, this is one of the most impressive places in Scotland.

NG957568 From the car park head east to pick up the path signposted for Coire Dubh Mor, the deep trench between Liathach and Beinn Eighe. The path climbs steadily, and with its made-up surface of stone flags it gives a good dry footing. As you progress into the glen the craggy north side of Liathach becomes increasingly impressive, while Beinn Dearg rises into view ahead. But to your right Beinn Eighe’s unrelenting screes offer no feasible line of weakness; to climb this hill you’ve first got to get round its far side. Ford the Allt a’ Choire Dhuibh Mhoir via stepping stones (may be difficult in flood) and continue to a trail junction (cairn) in the complex knolls and hollows below Sail Mhor.

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NG939610 Follow a rough path around the east shore of the loch, and once beyond the loch bear east-south-east and climb a scree gully to gain the col south of Ruadh-stac Mor. Turn left for the easy 1km walk north to Beinn Eighe’s high point, which stands out on a limb from the main mass of the mountain.

Maps OS Landranger (1:50,000) 19 & 25; OS Explorer (1:25,000) 433; Harvey British Mountain Map (1:40,000) Torridon & Fisherfield

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Retrace 4 NG951611 your steps to the col, then down into Coire Mhic

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Fhearchair and back along the access path towards Coire Dubh Mor. A few hundred metres before reaching the trail junction described in stage 1 cut due west across rough, bouldery ground to join another path

The Flowerdale hills, Sail Mhor and Loch Choire Mhic Fhearchair.

NG934594 Take the right fork to make a long, rising traverse across

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Start

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Guidebook Scotland by Chris Townsend, pb Cicerone

at Lochan a’ Choire Dhuibh. Continue west along this path to pass Loch Grobaig. NG922599 The path now descends roughly west beside the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil, and there’s some pretty rough going among the many heathery moraines. But despite the effort this is among the best low-level walks in the country, with a stunningly isolated setting and unequalled views of Liathach’s spectacular northern crags and corries. Eventually the ground begins to ease as you descend past Beinn Alligin to reach the car park at the mouth of Coire Mhic Nobuil.

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Ruadh-stac Mor

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Distance 21km (13 miles)

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In association with

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august 2013 Trail 125

Ordnance Survey mapping © Crown copyright. Created with Memory-Map. Licence MEDIA089/12

always take a map out with you on the hill

GRADIENT PROFILE

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route

Trail magazine August 2013  

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