Issuu on Google+

F O R

T H E

O U T D O O R S

K PA C K

IN G

LIVE FOR THE OUTDOORS

SEPTEMBER 2013

I

BAC

L I V E

4,S 522km OF WALKS!

PECIAL

YO U R N E X T

THE UK'S BEST-SELLING HILLWALKING MAGAZINE

SEPTEMBER 2013 £3.99

CHALLENGE

GET INSPIRED INSIDE! SLEEP WILD

Finding nature’s tents

GO LONG DISTANCE

West Highland Way – IN 4 DAYS!

NAPES NEEDLE

Great Gable the hard way

GEAR TESTS BLADDERS RUCKSACKS BIVVY BAGS the one that couldn’t believe how much swearing it had to cut out of a one-page interview

NEW TICK-LIST! Drink the mountains, walk the beers!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

DEATH. YETIS. BATTENBURG. The (very) weird mountain world of Brian Blessed

13 HILLWALKS

A LE TRA IL

+ OS MAPS GLYDERS LAKES EPIC ARENIGS THE COBBLER SCAFELL


CONTENTS

p36 Let’s have a mini adventure! TOM BAILEY

p42 p48

Fancy a night in a nook on Cnicht? TOM BAILEY

Napes Needle: not for the faint-hearted. BEN WINSTON

BASE CAMP SKILLS

ADVENTURES 56

Dream peak

10

Trail Skills

Summit strange...

12

Biting insects: what they are, where they live and how to avoid being their breakfast PLUS The Welsh 3000ers in 24 or 48 hours; what can I carry in hand lugggage?

Ben Arthur, better known as The Cobbler Ten weird things found on mountain tops

Deserted highland discs 14

Famous names reveal their ultimate playlists

The Mountain Inquisition 16

Better brace yourself: IT’S BRIAN BLESSED!

High Lights: September 17

Behind the picture

18

The Trail Ale Trail

22

YOUR TRAIL

Gordale Scar

36

Natural nights out

42

Out There

Kip in the best of the UK’s bivvy spots

In Box

4

Great Gable the hard way48

20

The world of hillwalking, according to you lot

p40

Subscribe to Trail

40

SUBSCRIBE AND GET AN LED LENSER HEADTORCH!

TOM BAILEY

Sign up and get a headtorch worth £50!

Climb a mountain, drink its namesake beer! To Malham, for a wee spot of scrambling...

Your best mountain moments, on camera

Your month of mountains, sorted

Scree stopped play? No, really...

Trail gets twitchy on (but eventually grows to love) the iconic pillar that is Napes Needle

The WHW in a weekend

62

10 of the best LDPs

68

Scotland’s top LDP in a bonkers mini-break

There’s a long distance path for everyone...

p22

Welcome to your hillwalking reward!


WHERE THIS MONTH’S ISSUE WILL TAKE YOU

p22

‘MUNGRISDALE – A LOVELY SURPRISE WITH A DEEPLY SECLUDED FEEL TO IT...’

A LE TRA IL TOM BAILEY

IT’S EARLY DOORS ON THE TRAIL ALE TRAIL

ROUTES

GEAR Incoming!

76

First test

78

40-50 litre rucksacks

80

Hydration bladders

88

Sunrise from the summit of The Saddle: Route 4. © HIGHLAND LIGHT / ALAMY

The must-have hill kit that’s available soon

A Montane jacket using new Polartec fabric Packs for overnight trips or winter walking

Titter ye not; one of these could save your life

Bivvies

96

More than a sleeping bag, yet not quite a tent

p96

Lake District

109

Isle of Skye

Snowdonia

111

Lake District crossing 123

Snowdonia

113

NW Highlands

115

Central Highlands

117

Route 1 Scafell

Route 2 Glyders traverse Route 3 Arenig Fawr Route 4 The Saddle Route 5 Beinn Bheoil

Route 6 Glamaig

119

Route 7 Penrith - Patterdale Route 8 Patterdale - Rosthwaite Route 9 Rosthwaite - Cockermouth

Balloch

129

Snowdonia

135

Route 10 Kilpatrick Hills Route 11 Luss Hills Route 12 The Cobbler Route 13 Moel Hebog Round

SEPTEMBER 2013 TRAIL 9


A LE TRA IL

OF

BOOTS

Hills and ale go together like hills and Trail, so it’s about time somebody introduced them formally. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Trail Ale Trail… WORDS SIMON INGRAM PHOTOGRAPHS TOM BAILEY

I

t was dark. I was so tired, and that last one – Skiddaw – had made my legs feel like they belonged to someone else, and I couldn’t help but think I’d overstretched myself a little. A knowing sensation stirred in my gut. A sensation that told me I could be about to pay the ultimate price. “Chaps. I’m goings bed.” “Garrr. No! You’re a.” “Need to sleep. And water.” “Can’t believe. You splent two days walking those beers and you haven’t drunk your mountains. Gaar.” Believe it or not, the above has to do with some sublime hillwalking. It’s not all just about drinking beer. The beer is important, though. Either way, before I do crawl to bed, an explanation is probably in order... Great Cockup actually was a great cockup. The brewer had been attempting Blencathra Ale when something went a bit awry. The resulting concoction evidently had pleasing qualities, and in accordance with tradition and locality, Great Cockup by nature became Great Cockup by name. It was this that all the hills we were climbing over the next couple of days had in common. And of all the hills we were climbing over the next couple of days, it was Great Cockup that was going to be the biggest problem. “Well, we don’t brew Cockup any more, if that helps?” John – manager of Hesket Newmarket Brewery – pulls open a drawer and pulls out a spanking new pump-clip adorned with a picture of a familiar, slicing ridgeline. ❯


Beer and hills: fine companions. Though not at the same time, of course...

AND

BEER


36 Trail september 2013


YORKSHIRE IN A NUTSHELL Short, sharp, stunning DISTANCE 7km (4½ miles) TIME 1½ hours START/FINISH SD900627 NEAREST TOWN Malham

MINI ADVENTURES

GORDALE SCAR Thrilling scrambles, towering cliffs, raging waterfalls and a massive pile of ancient fishbones – all in one action-packed afternoon!

WORDS OLI REED PHOTOGRAPHS TOM BAILEY

Picking a way through the twisting limestone features of Malham’s legendary gorge.

A

pproximately 350 million years ago, long before dinosaurs ruled the Earth, something was stirring in the depths of Yorkshire. The area most certainly was not England’s largest county as we know it today; it was a vast Devonian desert flooded by warm, tropical seas – and beneath it the foundations of a truly remarkable landscape were being conceived. Formed from the crushed shells and skeletons of ancient sea creatures, the limestone bedrock of Malham’s deep gorges and towering cliffs was slowly being twisted and pummelled into shape. Over the following centuries and millennia that bedrock was compressed and fossilised into solid grey limestone, before being scooped up by the drifting continents and dumped in the area we now know as the Yorkshire Dales. The result, for modern visitors, is scenery so spectacular it almost makes a mockery of the surrounding countryside. Tucked away among the rolling hills and green valleys of Malhamdale, the 1km ravine of Gordale Scar doesn’t so much take you by surprise as you approach it along Gordale Beck; it practically hits you in the face like a sledgehammer. Its 80m cliffs wouldn’t look out of place in Game of Thrones, and the twin waterfalls that greet you when you follow the well-trodden path to its pinched conclusion have an epic North American feel. Although Trail usually prefers to seek seclusion than rub shoulders with humanity, there’s also something about the Scar’s close proximity to the local amenities that makes it so deliciously appealing. The fact you can park your car at Malham Tourist Information Centre and reach the Scar just 30 minutes later,

after a delightful detour past the bewitching cascade of Janet’s Foss, merely adds to its appeal. For hot drink lovers, there’s even a tea van dishing out refreshments at its entrance. But for all of its aesthetic charm, the real attraction of the Scar is the exciting (yet frustratingly short) scramble that fires you directly up the knotted limestone wall to the left of the lower waterfall. The route is quite obvious once you reach the large boulder at its base, and this is a perfect challenge for beginner scramblers. The limestone can turn quite slick in wet conditions, and in winter the entire landscape transforms into the realm of ice climbers, but for the vast majority of the year the Scar remains open for business. The handholds are basin-shaped, there are bulky ledges for your feet and the views match anything you’ll find anywhere else in the UK. Even better, those of you with a slightly uneasy relationship with heights don’t have to make the slightly precarious return journey. In fact, there’s more to gain by continuing upwards than edging back down. From the top of the scramble, a clear path leads out of the Scar to the north-west, where the landscape transforms into a traditional Dales mixture of green fields and grazing sheep. But the adventure doesn’t have to end here, because 1.5km ❯ to the west lies another prehistoric limestone fortress...

‘THIS IS A PERFECT CHALLENGE FOR BEGINNER SCRAMBLERS’ The limestone of Gordale holds plenty of amusement for our Dan, fossil fan.

SEPTEMBER 2013 TRAIL 37


GO: Lake District DO: Napes Needle Celebrating on top of Napes Needle, with Wasdale stretching into the distance.

48 Trail SEPTEMBER 2013


GREAT GABLE THE HARD WAY

An inaccessible valley, an isolated hostel, a top-secret ridgeline and an icon of British rock-climbing. Trail goes extreme in the Lakes... WORDS OLI REED PHOTOGRAPHS BEN WINSTON

SEPTEMBER 2013 TRAIL 49


ref HZAA

Yes! I would like to subscribe to Trail and get an Led Lenser H7 headtorch ■ Annual direct debit Annual credit/debit card Overseas (no gift, sorry)

£46 £51.87 £60

■ ■ ■

SUBSCRIBE TO TRAILTODAY AND GET A

(TICK ONE)

“Both Trail’s photographer Tom Bailey and I have been using the H7 for months, as we were both so impressed with its usability and brightness. The adjustable power level makes it an incredibly versatile product – and my headtorch of choice!” Simon Ingram editor

● The only way to subscribe AND get the Led Lenser headtorch is to purchase a print subscription with us direct. Digital editions are only available via iTunes at the moment (but without gifts). You will soon be able to upgrade your subscription to a full print & digital package for a nominal fee, just not at the time this subscription promotion goes on sale. We promise to be in touch as soon as this changes.

YOUR DETAILS

Title Address

Initial

Surname

Postcode Email* Telephone

Mobile*

*Please enter this information so that Bauer Media Group (publishers of this magazine) can keep you up-to-date by email and free mobile messaging with fantastic offers and promotions. We promise that you can unsubscribe at any time if you don’t find them interesting and you’ll only get messages about things we’ve chosen especially for you from ourselves and our network of great partners whose products and services we think you’ll enjoy.

The H7’s features make it a great all-round headtorch: ❯❯ Advanced focus system: spot to flood beam

DELIVERY DETAILS (if different, i.e. purchased as a gift).

❯❯ Innovative high-intensity 3W Cree LED chip gives 200 lumens of light

Title Address

Initial

Surname

❯❯ Fully adjustable straps ❯❯ Integrated dimmer switch: hi-low beam facility

Postcode Email Telephone

❯❯ Lamp head can be swivelled within an angle of 90 degrees

Originator’s Identification Number

7 2 4 0 9 6

Please pay Bauer Consumer Media Direct Debits from the account detailed in the instructions (subject to the safeguards of the Direct Debit Guarantee).

❯❯ Neoprene carry case

Account Name Account Number Sort Code

Subscribers get a FREE Memory-Map TrailZilla subscription*, too!

Name and Address of Bank

POST YOUR COUPON TO: MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS, FREEPOST EDO3995, LEICESTER LE16 9BR

Postcode Signature

Date

Direct Debit Guarantee. • This Guarantee is offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits. • If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit, Bauer Consumer Media Ltd will notify you 10 working days in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request Bauer Consumer Media Ltd to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request. • If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by Bauer Consumer Media Ltd or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society. • If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when Bauer Consumer Media Ltd asks you to. • You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify us.

PAYMENT DETAILS

I enclose a cheque/postal order for £ made payable to Bauer Consumer Media Ltd. Please debit £

from my debit/credit card:

Visa

Maestro

Card Number Expiry Date

/

Delta

Valid From

Mastercard

/

Issue Number Signature

Date

We have really special offers and promotions that we think you’ll enjoy but if you’d rather not hear from us please tick for post or phone and if you would prefer not to hear from our partners tick here for post or phone . For our Privacy Policy visit www.bauerdatapromise.co.uk. Bauer Media Group consists of Bauer Consumer Media Ltd, Bauer Radio Ltd and H. Bauer Publishing Ltd.

SEND TO: Please include completed coupon and cheque (if appropriate) with the magazine name on the back. Magazine Subscriptions, FREE POST, EDO3995, Leicester, LE16 9BR

Search and download more than 1,000 Trail Routes online, and print OS maps and directions; plan your own walks and share online! Print OS Landranger maps for anywhere in the UK, and download GPX files to your GPS or phone! * Sorry, this is not currently available with an iPad subscription.

REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE ● One quick and easy payment ● Great offers from the ❯❯ Call us now on 0844 848 8872 and quote ref: HZAA or visit the subscriptions website (right) ■ Terms & Conditions Subscriptions will start with the next available issue. The minimum term is 13 not receive a renewal reminder and the direct debit payments will continue to be taken unless you tell us more than 4p a minute. Call charges from other landline providers or mobile phones may vary. Order lines


ST SUBEDIT di OR S IO g (So E/ CRI NS it rry , th GO BE O a eg OG AT UT l ift is N no L T E P HE OW ta va ila LA A ! ble Y S PP wi th HO the dig P ita

LED LENSER H7 HEADTORCH le

dit

ion

s)

SIGN UP NOW AND GET AN LED LENSER H7 HEADTORCH WORTH £51.95!

publisher ● Postage is free ● Exclusive subscription rewards ● Mag is delivered straight to your door

www.greatmagazines.co.uk/trail

issues. After your first 13 issues (1 year) your subscription will continue at £43 every 13 issues thereafter unless you are notified otherwise. You will otherwise. This offer closes on 4 September, 2013. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Calls from a BT landline will cost no open 8am-9.30pm (Mon-Fri), 8am-4pm (Sat). UK orders only. Overseas? Phone +44 1858 438828. Calls may be monitored/recorded for training purposes.

Lines open 8am-9.30pm (Mon-Fri), 8am-4pm (Sat) Overseas readers call +44 1858 438828


TRAIL SKILLS

Fight the bite! Our ‘interesting’ climate suits a variety of biting insects. Find out what they are, where they are, and how to avoid being their dinner...

W

© IMAGEBROKER / ALAMY

e’re pretty lucky when it comes to the wildlife in this country. We don’t have to bother about bears, we need not worry about wolves and, unlike Australia, we don’t have deadly spiders, venomous snakes, stinging scorpions, man-eating crocodiles or baby-stealing dingoes. It’s easy to think that the worst we might have to deal with is an obstreperous squirrel, a belligerent badger or a hostile hedgehog. But there are other creatures that are far more likely to ruin our outdoor experiences. The really bad news is that they’re very small, some of them can fly and there are millions and millions of them...

56 TRAIL SEPTEMBER 2013


surviving summer

Mosquitos and midges They both suck blood, dislike sunlight and can only be slain with a stake to the heart. All right, that last one’s not true; but as far as their modus operandi goes, midges and mozzies clearly sing from the same hymn sheet.

Mosquitos

Midges

What they like: Mosquitos thrive in warm, damp conditions. They also need water in which to lay their eggs, but it needs to be still. Thus you may well find small, stagnant pools swarming with the blighters. They avoid harsh sunlight and tend to be at their most prevalent early morning or late evening. This is also when their internal body clocks tell them it’s time to feed. But in shadier environments such as woodland you could well be pestered, and indeed bitten, by them throughout the day.

What they like: Midges prefer damp, warm but shaded conditions. Scottish peat bogs are a particular favourite, although the Highland midge can also be found bothering campers in Snowdonia and the Lakes. They’re at their worst between June and August, with swarms gathering later in the day when the sun is losing intensity. Their size (a wingspan of just 1-2mm) means you’re less likely to be mithered by midges when the wind gets above 7mph; mountain summits are usually midge-free. What they do: You’ll rarely be bugged by a lone midge. These things travel in numbers. A swarm can contain thousands and, even though it’s only the pregnant females that crave blood, administer up to 3,000 bites in an hour. Midges are attracted to their victims by body heat, skin odour and carbon dioxide in exhaled breath. Some folk attract them more than others. Highland midges carry no diseases dangerous to humans, but the bites can become swollen and maddeningly itchy.

© Erik Karits / Alamy

Mozzies: unwelcome guests at any campsite.

Four facts – midges The biting midge that terrorises the Scottish Highlands is Culicoides impunctatus.

What they do: Malaria is one of the biggest killers in some parts of the world, but the mosquitos found in the UK are not carriers. Some species of mosquito capable of carrying West Nile virus have been found in the country, but the virus itself hasn’t. For now mosquitos are more of an annoyance than a real danger. But because their bites cause an allergic reaction (and some people are more allergic than others) the site of the bite can become swollen, extremely itchy and, in some cases, infected.

Queen Victoria abandoned a picnic after being “half-devoured” by midges in 1872. Midges cost the Scottish tourist industry up to £268 million a year in lost revenue. Want to learn more? Check out George Hendry’s book Midges in Scotland.

Four facts – mosquitos There are over 30 different species of mosquito found in the UK. A quarter of these species do not bite humans but feed on birds and animals. Only females suck blood; males feed off nectar. Itching from a bite is an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva.

september 2013 Trail 57


CIAL

PE

BACKP

LONG DISTANCE AC KING S

THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY IN A LONG WEEKEND Want to tackle Scotland’s finest long distance path in one bonkers mini-break? This Trail reader did… WORDS ROB COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHS ANDY MCCANDLISH

62 TRAIL SEPTEMBER 2013


Scotland's most famous path trickles back towards Buachaille Etive Mor from the Devil’s Staircase.

T

he West Highland Way in four days…? Let’s do it!” I felt a rush of excitement: Ben’s enthusiastic response had caught me offguard. Here was a challenge I’d been mulling over for several months, but it was only a thought. Now, over a long weekend at the end of May, it was to become a reality. Most people take six to eight days to do Scotland’s most popular path; my 17-year-old son and I were going to walk the best part of its 96 miles in less than 96 hours. It would be every bit as testing as it sounds. It would also take us through some of the Highlands’ most spectacular landscapes, from the shores of Loch Lomond to the wilds of Glen Coe on a trek we’d never forget...

DAY ONE Friday Milngavie centre. Early on Friday morning. The town yawned, stretched and slowly awoke. A few

office workers with coffee cups in hand strolled past the obelisk where Ben and I stood taking photos, and largely ignored us. They’d seen it all before: the confident smiles and high expectations of walkers starting the 96 mile journey to Fort William. Over the next few hours we’d leave behind the towns and farmland of the Central Belt, and before the day’s end we’d be north of the Highland Boundary Fault, surrounded by some truly imposing scenery. Having snapped the obligatory portrait shot leaning against the obelisk, we headed off in that most inspiring of directions… north. The trees of Mugdock and Carbeth Woods shaded us from the sun and eased us into a gentle start through banks of bluebells. We set a good pace and soon emerged at Easter Carbeth to see a distant view of Ben Lomond. I pointed out to Ben that Rowardennan – where we’d be staying that night – lay at the foot of it. Only then did he ❯ DAVID LICHTNEKER/ALAMY

SEPTEMBER 2013 TRAIL 63


CIAL

PE

BACKP

LONG DISTANCE AC KING S

10

1 SOUTH WEST COAST PATH 30 DAYS Distance 1014km / 630 miles

Total ascent 35,000m+ (approx) Start Minehead, Somerset Finish Poole, Dorset Strenuous factor ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Mountain factor ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

5% fatigue

40% ascent

50% sea views

5% lovely southern weather

MINEHEAD

1014km / 630 miles

POOLE

England’s longest trail stretches from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, taking in some of the country’s finest seascapes. Typically, people will approach each section at a time, nibbling further towards completion as much as weekends and holidays allow. If you’re really serious, however, you could take a month off work and bag the whole thing in one go. It may be light on peaks, but this isn’t to be underestimated. The many cliffs and estuaries in the way soon add up, and before you’re done you’ll have climbed a staggering 35,000m+ of ascent. Take that, mountains.

OF THE BEST LONG DISTANCE PATHS

TOM BAILEY

All fired up by the West Highland Way? We’ve got some good news for you. Trail has boiled down Britain's plethora of waymarked National Trails, informal jaunts and historic classics to just ten classic walks that will particularly tickle the hillwalker's fancy... Encountering Dartmoor standing stones on the Two Moors Way.

68 TRAIL SEPTEMBER 2013

2 TWO MOORS WAY Distance 163km / 102 miles Total ascent 3700m (approx) Start Ivybridge, south Devon Finish Lynmouth, north Devon Strenuous factor ■ ■ ■■ ■ Mountain factor ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

7

DAYS 10% cider 10% tors

40% Dartmoor

40% Exmoor

IVYBRIDGE

163km / 102 miles

LYNMOUTH

Fancy bagging the south-west’s National Parks in a single walk? The Two Moors Way crosses them in their entirety. Starting in Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor, it traces its waymarked way to Lynmouth on Exmoor’s northern limit. Wild camping is your indisputable right on the bare and beautiful moorland of the Dartmoor section, while the wooded valleys between it and Exmoor offer a warmer, more enveloping vibe. Its manageable length makes it easily doable in a week of walking.


6

MATTHEW ROBERTS

3 TRAIL LAKES HAUTE ROUTE

DAYS

Distance 119km / 74 miles Total ascent 5000m Start Ambleside, Cumbria Finish Ambleside, Cumbria Strenuous factor ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Mountain factor ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

20

4 CAMBRIAN WAY

DAYS

Distance 440km / 275 miles Total ascent 18,700m (approx) 15% Start Cardiff, South Glamorgan Brecon Beacons 50% Finish Conwy Castle, Conwy Strenuous factor ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 15% visibility mid Wales (probably) wilderness Mountain factor ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

25% 25% high lakes passes 25% Trail 25% lush loyalty valleys

20% Snowdonia 119km / 74 miles

AMBLESIDE

We hate to blow our own trumpets, but... 14 mountain passes, 13 lakes, views of 200 mountains and every single valley in the District is what the Trail Lakeland Haute Route promises you. In the mould of alpine ‘high routes’ – which wend through high mountain passes and give trekkers superb views of the area’s mightiest peaks – this route captures the absolute essence of what makes Cumbria great. Like many of its Alpine cousins, every night drops you off at a fitting spot for a kip, food and a pint of ale too. See the full details online at bit.ly/trailhauteroute

5 PENNINE WAY

CARDIFF

429km / 268 miles

CONWAY

The Cambrian Way grew from walker and guidebook writer Tony Drake’s simple dream: a trans-Wales mountain route to rule them all. Though the concept has been around since 1968, it’s still not recognised on OS maps or supported by certain landowners (and you won’t find it waymarked along its considerable length). But this doesn’t mean you can’t walk it, and those who do invariably report a superb experience that traverses ‘the highest and wildest parts of Wales’. No surprise there, as it takes in the peaks of the Brecon Beacons, the woolly central belt and the various giants of Snowdonia too. This is the same country covered by the legendary Dragon’s Back Race and it takes in a fair haul of the Welsh 3000ers too. Epic stuff.

16

DAYS

Distance 429km / 268 miles 10% more chest Total ascent hair than when 11,000m (approx) you started 20% Start Nag’s Head pub, inclement Edale, Derbyshire weather Finish Border Inn, Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders 70% high-level Strenuous factor ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ moorland Mountain factor ■ ■ ■■ ■

EDALE

440km / 275 miles

KIRK YETHOLM

Winding along England’s rocky spine is this exposed and demanding upland trail. Its route crosses the various stony moorlands of the Peaks and the Dales before leading on into Northumberland and the Borders, passing the waterfall of High Force and the uplands around Cross Fell on the way. It’s Trail photographer and manamong-men Tom Bailey’s longheld ambition to walk the lot, solo, in mid-winter. An experience to put hairs on your chest, no doubt, and a good indication of the Pennine Way’s considerable and rugged appeal.

The Pennines’ High Cup Nick: awesome.

TOM BAILEY

AMBLESIDE

SEPTEMBER 2013 TRAIL 69


buyer’s guide

Bivvies Test simon ingram Photographs Tom Bailey

More than a sleeping bag, less than a tent! Trail investigates the strange world of the bivvy, and singles out six of the best for every level of user – from the curious to the committed.

96 Trail september 2013


bivvies

Blizzard Survival Bag £32 The Blizzard Bag arrives vacuum-packed into a square the size of a thick sandwich; but don’t take it out expecting to get it back to that size again, ’cos it ain’t gonna happen. For this reason, you’re far cleverer leaving it packed up until you actually need to use it, which is hopefully never. As this suggests, the Blizzard Bag is most practically used as a survival aid rather than a camping tool, for which it is exceptionally useful, being light, compact and reasonably priced. The trick to its cleverness is the fact it’s made from Reflexcell, a metallic material

that both reflects heat back towards the body in the manner of thermal foil and – chiefly – traps heat within concertinaed cells of air, which expand when unpacked and do a fine job of insulating whoever is sheltering to the level of a decent sleeping bag. Once inside, a drawstring will cinch it close around your head while you ride out whatever storm you’ve gotten yourself benighted in or await rescue by whomever you’ve alerted. A unique, highly useful product, but resolutely for the worst case scenario.

Rab Storm Bivi £70 Made of heavy-duty nylon and in the arresting colour of emergencies, the Rab Storm Bivi is designed to offer the compact protection of, say, the Mountain Equipment Borealis (p99) but at a price that doesn’t break the bank. It’s made from proprietary fabric Hyperlite, which is waterproof, breathable and pretty robust with it. It won’t hit the same performance levels as the Borealis in terms of breathability, but the ace up its sleeve is a mesh vent with a Velcro stormflap around the head, which offers some condensation relief. This is a curious design, but it’s one that offers a lot of protection from direct elemental onslaughts. There’s no shoulder-level

flap entry of the type that many pole-free bivvies have; instead it opens clam-shell-like around the edge. This gives the aforementioned protection; but it does make this bivvy much more enclosed, which not everyone will like, and those vents reduce its potential for use on waterlogged ground (though if you’ve been forced to bivvy on this kind of terrain you’ve probably got bigger problems). It does have the advantage of allowing you to unzip the lid and fold it over to leave your head exposed, thus allowing you to gaze at the stars; you can approximate this with the Mountain Equipment bivvy, but it’s a bit more of a fiddle.

best for EMERGENCIES at a glance Price £32 Weight 385g Top fabric Reflexcell Base fabric Reflexcell Packed size 13x4cm website www. blizzardsurvival.com

best for bUDGET EXTREMISTS at a glance Price £70 Weight 648g Top fabric Hyperlite Base fabric nylon ripstop Packed size 26x12cm website www.rab.uk.com

september 2013 Trail 97


10 route south highlands 12.5km/7¾ miles

always take a map out with you on the hill

Thurso

Kilpatrick Hills

ISLE OF LEWIS

facts Lairg

HARRIS

Ullapool

STRENUOUSNESS ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Inverness■ ■ ■ ■ ■ NAVIGATION Portree TECHNICALITY ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

ISLE OF SKYE

Shiel Bridge

Inverie Mallaig

Aviemore

Invergarry

4

Aberdeen

NS447776 Doughnot Hill is a fine viewpoint: Loch Lomond stretches out to the north and hills line the horizon. Descend towards Black Linn Reservoir, cross the gate and walk along the dam. Past the reservoir turn left then immediately right to pick up a path that is signposted as part of local walking routes.

4

3

Braemar

Fort William MULL

Oban

JURA

5

Glasgow

Edinburgh

ISLAY

Berwick-upon-Tweed ISLE OF ARRAN

Ayr Distance 12.5km

Jedburgh

(7¾ miles) Ballantrae

Belfast

ublin

6

7

Dumfries

2

Total ascent 523m Newcastle Newton Stewart -upon-Tyne Time 4 hours Carlisle Stranraer Start NS470731; Penrith Keswick Middlesbrough finish NS425761 NS470731 Follow Nearest town the private road as Northallerton Windermere Kendal Dumbarton it leaves Ingletonthe slip onto the Bentham Terrain forest roads, A82. Take the York first right and Skipton good tracks and paths Lancaster follow the road past some cottages Leeds and through a with some sections of number of gates. The Liverpool Manchester open moorland

tarmac gives way to a Maps HarveyConway Sheffield Bodelwyddan rough forest road as the Superwalker (1:25,000) track climbs higher, giving Betws-y-Coed Glasgow Popular Llangollen great views down the River Derby Hills; OS Landranger Clyde to Cowal. The track Barmouth (1:50,000) 64; OS turns north and takes you Peterborough Aberystwyth Birmingham Explorer (1:25,000) 347 into high, undulating Public transport moorland and past a small Hay-on-Wye Cardigan City Link Buses quarry. The track swings Brecon Gloucester 0870 550 5050, left and descends towards Oxford www.scotrail.co.uk Pembroke Loch Humphrey with Guidebook The Swansea the day’s high point of Bristol Southern Uplands, Cardiff Duncolm now visible ahead pb SMC with the Campsie Fells and

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

Rhyl

Dumgoyne beyond.

Southampton

Exeter

NS459756 Continue past the loch on a path, which fades out as it reaches a wide, grassy slope. Climb this slope towards Fynloch Hill and the path re-emerges and is easily followed. Film trivia fans will like to know that this section doubled as the Roman northern frontier in the recent sword and

2

1

sandal epic The Eagle. The path soon contours into the side of Duncolm and climbs to its top where there’s a trig pillar and extensive views, now including Ben Lomond and the other southern Highland Munros.

Brighton

Poole

You don’t always need big mountains! Glorious sunset on Doughnot Hill.

Bodmin In association with Plymouth

NS470774 Descend and retrace your steps until you can strike right across the top of a small waterfall and onto trackless terrain. Easy in good visibility, tricky in mist, make your way across the moor to the banks of Fyn Loch. A few hundred metres beyond the loch a broad, grassy ridge emerges with a path in its centre; follow this path as it climbs gradually to a little rocky top with a trig pillar.

3

To get this route and maps on your phone now, go to www.viewranger.com/trail Route code TR0439

GRADIENT PROFILE

Start

1400 1200 METRES 1000 ABOVE 800 SEA 600 LEVEL 400 200 MILES KILOMETRES

Duncolm

1 0 0

2 1 1

130 Trail september 2013

3

3 4

6

NS425761 Overtoun House has a tearoom to enjoy if you time it right, and you now have options. The road south takes you to Milton on the A82 and west takes you into Dumbarton. Both offer public transport links back to the start of your walk or your base at Balloch.

7

Finish

4 5

4 5

NS431761 Watch for a gap in the rocks with a path that leads to an easy descent line down a stepped break in the line of crags. Follow the path through trees and then cross a field to reach a stile.

6

Doughnot Hill

3

2 2

NS445770 Follow the path through woodland. It rises then falls to a boggy section, then climbs through a gap in the trees to reach the edge of the Lang Craigs. The views here are outstanding and stay with you all the way as you walk the edge of the crags. There’s a path all the way and scraps of old fence to mark the edge, but it’s a cliff edge for most of the way and care should be taken. The area below you is now owned by the Woodland Trust and the natural forest is being regenerated. It’s also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, having many rare plants in the crags.

5

1

Minehead

sible An acces oasis

7

8

5

6

6 9

7 10

11

12

7


south highlands 10.8km/6¾ miles

always take a map out with you on the hill

The Luss Hills

A full short day!

1

facts STRENUOUSNESS ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ NAVIGATION ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ TECHNICALITY ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Distance 10.8km (6¾ miles)

In association with

3

Total ascent 716m To get this route and maps on your phone now, go to www.viewranger.com/trail Route code TRL0440

4

2

2

NS335953 Beinn Dubh feels much more mountainous than its modest height or proximity to a holiday destination might lead you to believe. The terrain is easy going, but there’s a real Highland feeling, especially as the views include nearby Ben Lomond and the rocky jumble of the Arrochar Alps. The way ahead is on a wide, grassy ridge that can be tricky in mist due to the path fading away as it crosses the wetter areas at the low point.

4

NS323954 On Mid Hill a rocky outcrop is

passed and after that the ridge widens and the path fades. Glen Striddle to your left, which you have circled, is a fine sight. The ground here is quite steep and mostly grassy; pick your own line down towards the

road but make sure you take your time and enjoy these unusual Highland views; there are many more

3

NS322963 At point 657m there’s a tiny little cairn to mark what’s not really a summit as much as a minor swelling on the ridge, but it’s a fantastic place to be nonetheless. The ridges of the other Luss Hills are inspiringly wild-looking and the familiar higher peaks to the north take on a new shine seen

1400 1200 METRES 1000 ABOVE 800 SEA 600 LEVEL 400 200 MILES KILOMETRES

Beinn Dubh

1 0 0

1

3

2 2

3

Terrain paths with some open grassy sections, one section on quiet singletrack road

hill days to be enjoyed on these quiet ridges and tops. NS330942 Reach the road near an old stone bridge. The bridge is worth a little look as it has a carving of a ram’s head set into it. Follow the road down towards Luss. The road is a dead end and is quiet as it serves a handful of properties, but take care and stay alert as traffic is likely. The walk down is very pleasant indeed: natural woodland grows on both sides of the road, and the views in front and behind are as fine as any Highland vista you could wish for. Luss awaits at the bottom of the hill, with tea shops and ice cream.

5

Coire na h-Eanachan Mid Hill

2 1

Nearest town Balloch

1

Blink and you’ll miss the cairn! But it’s a perfect spot for lunch.

Start

Start/finish NS357930

Maps Harvey British Mountain Map (1:40,000) Southern Highlands; OS Landranger (1:50,000) 56; OS Explorer (1:25,000) 347 Public transport City Link Buses 0870 550 5050, www.scotrail.co.uk Guidebook The Corbetts, pb SMC; The Central Highlands, pb SMC

5

from this unusual angle. Stopping here for lunch is a good idea; that’s what I do! The way ahead curves around the head of the glen onto a more defined ridge and brings new views to delight as loch Lomond is framed ahead between the slopes of the surrounding hills.

Time 5 hours

4

5

3 4

Finish

4 5

6

7

5 8

6 9

10

september 2013 Trail 131

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

NS357930 Luss is a lovely lochside village that is easily reached from Balloch and is a great place to start this walk. Access to the hills is just over the wooden road bridge from Luss, and a gate takes you onto a track that climbs through woodland and takes you high above Loch Lomond very quickly. The views back across the loch are outstanding: the islands gather in front of you with the distinctive Conic Hill on the eastern bank. Climb steadily, leaving the forest plantation below and negotiating a boggy section before a steepening at some rocky outcrops. The path is well-defined and soon reaches the flat summit of Beinn Dubh.

GRADIENT PROFILE

11

route


13 route snowdonia

phoebe smith

classic route

At Bwlch 9 SH550497 Cwm-trwsgl turn right onto the path and follow it east to a stile at the forest edge. Enter the forest and follow the waymarks. The path now leaves the forest onto open hillside then re-enters it; continue along it in an easterly direction.

START/ FINISH

6 7

Moel Lefn

8

Bwlch Sais

3

P

Cwm Trwsgl Bwlch Cwm-trwsgl

Beddgelert

10

9

5

Llyn Llywelyn

Haffod Ruffydd Hafod Ruffydd Uchaf N O RT H

N

1 0 0

Moel yr Ogof

BEDDGELERT FOREST

1

Moel Hebog

Beddgelert

MILES KILOMETRES

5 Y DiffwysBwlch Meillionen Cwm Bleiddiaid

08 A4

METRES ABOVE SEA LEVEL

Y Grisiau

2

it past Hafod Ruffydd Uchaf. The track then turns south-east and is followed around a loop in the Welsh Highland Railway. It then

1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200

Moel Hebog

Cwm Llwy

Join the 10 SH566497 forest track and follow

GRADIENT PROFILE

The main ridge opens out on Moel Lefn.

4

crosses the line to enter the campsite. Head through the campsite to join the A4085. Turn right and carefully follow the road back into Beddgelert. T

From the 8 SH553486 summit of Moel Lefn the dramatic crest of the Nantlle Ridge fills the northern view. Descend steeply north to Bwlch Sais, then follow the path north-west then north to Bwlch Cwm-trwsgl.

2

33

1 1

140 Trail september 2013

4

5

2 2

3

6

7 8

3 4

Beddgelert

Moel yr Ogof Moel Lefn

9 4

5

6

7

10 5 8

6 9

7 10

11

12

8


‘As changing light skits across its crags the contrast between shadow and light will define features.’ Moel yr Ogof's protective crags.

Moel Hebog summit.

september 2013 Trail 141


Trail magazine September 2013