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ISSUE 131: SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017 £4.99

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Ed’s comment

flannel panel EDITOR: Rob Slade 01789 450 000 rob@atmagazine.co.uk ART EDITOR: Anthony Brooks anthony@adventurizemedia.com EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS: Naomi Dunbar: 01789 450 000 naomi@adventurizemedia.com Abeer El-Sayed: 01789 450 000 abeer@adventurizemedia.com PUBLISHER: Alun Davies ADVERTISING SALES: Will Sandilands: 01789 450 000 will@adventurizemedia.com Vicki Neal: 01789 450 000 vicki@atmagazine.co.uk SUBSCRIPTIONS & BACK ISSUES: Abeer El-Sayed: 01789 450 000 abeer@adventurizemedia.com COVER: Photo: Barrett & MacKay Photo, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Location: Western Brook Pond

wants you

We’re on the lookout for inspiring adventure travel features and pictures. Email a synopsis and some pics to rob@atmagazine.co.uk.

Join us online:

B

rown cheese. Cheese, that’s brown. I mean, what a world we live in. This peculiar cheese (known as brunost) is a specialty in Norway, but it just wasn’t for me. Basically, it’s made with whey and milk, or sometimes cream, and it tastes really strange, almost like caramel and cheddar combined. Needless to say, this wasn’t the highlight of my trip to Norway, but that didn’t matter, I was finally ticking off a country that has been cemented to the number one spot on my bucket list for years. I was there first and foremost to hike Besseggen Ridge in Jotunheimen National Park, one of the most incredible one-day hikes I have ever done. You can read about that on page 60 and, if you’ve never been, what are you waiting for?! Aside from Norway, the creation of this issue has also seen me make the short trip to the Brecon Beacons. Growing up, this was my regular stomping ground and it’s a place I’ll forever keep going back to. It might not have the same allure as the high and rugged mountains of Snowdonia or the Scottish Highlands, but it’s so incredibly beautiful and is the perfect location for a weekend microadventure (see what we recommend on page 55). As I stood there in the Black Mountains, clinging onto Lord Hereford’s Knob in the wind, I started thinking… The Brecon Beacons are one of my special spots, but surely everyone has their own, and it’s not always the usual suspects. While mine is the Brecon Beacons, I want to hear about yours. Whether it’s a rarely used footpath through rolling farmland just over the next hill or a secret spot on a popular mountain, we’d love to hear about it. So get in touch, share your passion and let us know what you’ve been up to this summer! /AdventureTravelMag

@AdvTravelmag

www.wiredforadventure.co.uk

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WHAT’S INSIDE

ADVENTURETRAVEL S E P T E M B E R | O C TO B E R 2 0 1 7

Issue 131

contents

8

the big picture

Inspirational photography from adventurous destinations across the world

14

INTERVIEW

We speak to Ray Mears about where it all began and his experiences along the way

35

adventure Academy

Make your next adventure a success with lessons from our experts

p68 S W I T Z E R L A N D

60

p77 R A S

AL KHAIMAH

NORWAY

We’re in the national parks area of this popular Scandinavian country to take on a day walk of epic proportions

68

p14 R AY

MEARS

SWITZERLAND

Caroline Bishop heads to the wildly beautiful and untouched region of Ticino for some hut-to-hut hiking over Cristallina Pass

77

RAS AL KHAIMAH

p36 P H O T O G R A P H Y

Rob Slade details why he thinks this enticing emirate deserves to be recognised by active travellers

84

A N TA R C T I C A

Maxwell Roche heads to the Seventh Continent for a journey of a lifetime

90

CANADA

George Turner details a journey to one of the most underrated parts of Canada, Gros Morne National Park

p84 A N TA R C T I C A www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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WHAT’S INSIDE

ADVENTURETRAVEL S E P T E M B E R | O C TO B E R 2 0 1 7

Issue 131

p90 C A N A D A

AND THERE’S ALL THIS...

18 G e t i n v o lv e d

Readers share their craziest travel stories

20 T O P F I V E : S T H E L E N A

We check out five of the best activities waiting for you on St Helena

44 a o n o c h e a g a c h

Steve Livingstone tackles the narrowest ridge on mainland Britain

46 D a r t m o o r

Naomi Dunbar heads to the moors for a wild camping adventure

48 P E A K D I S T R I C T

22 t h i s t r av e l l i n g m a n

Paul Besley details one of the classics in this beautiful area

24 f r o m t h e p a s t

We take a look at the new craze of slow adventures emerging in Northern Ireland

Publisher Alun Davies recalls the time he climbed Slovenia’s highest mountain with a digital camera as his guide

Roger Bunyan tells the story of Emma Gatewood who, at the age of 67, became the first woman to complete the Appalachian Trail solo and unsupported in one continuous hike

26 w h at ’ s o n

We take a look at some of the inspirational events you need to get booked in over September and October

28 m e d i a m a s h

The latest must-reads from the world of adventure travel

30 h o t s t u f f

We check out some of the latest gear hitting stores in the UK 6

UK ADVENTURE

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk

50 N O R T H E R N I R E L A N D 55 D I S C O V E R B R I TA I N

Rob Slade heads to the Brecon Beacons full an adventure-packed weekend and explores why it’s one of his favourite areas in Britain

100 W A T E R P R O O F J A C K E T S

We spend time with 24 waterproof jackets to establish which ones are best equipped to protect you from the elements

112 D R Y B A G S

We figure out which products are best for keeping kit dry

118 N o t i c e b o a r d

Readers tell us about their forthcoming expeditions


Go now

live the

dr e a m Big pictures, big adventures, no excuses... WORLDWIDE

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Go now

T A F T P O I N T, C A L I F O R N I A With incredible view after incredible view, Yosemite National Park is the sort of place that is going to leave your jaw planted firmly on the floor for the entirety of your trip there. But no visit is complete without heading to Taft Point for a panoramic view that has to be seen to be believed. From the viewpoint you can see Yosemite Valley unfolding below you, plus Yosemite Falls and El Capitan in all their glory. From Glacier Point road, there is just a one-mile hike before you are treated to a scene you won’t forget in a while.

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Go now

GUILIN, CHINA A Chinese proverb states rather simply that, “East or west, Guilin’s scenery is the best”, and while large numbers of tourists mean it’s not quite as it once was, views like this (pictured) ensure that it still deserves a place near the top of your bucket list. The area is punctuated by karst mountains that rise up steeply from the ground below while majestic caves and enchanting rivers offer an extra touch of magic. Think of it as Halong Bay’s distant cousin.

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Go now

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Go now

RAS AL KHAIMAH, UAE You may not have ever heard of it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously as an adventure destination. The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is just under an hour’s drive from Dubai and is an ideal option for a Middle Eastern adventure away from the crowds. While tourist numbers are impressively on the rise, you won’t be facing the swathes of visitors that you may face elsewhere, so at times you can pretty much have the wild spaces to yourself. A fantastic via ferrata route arrived on Jebel Jais mountain in late 2016, while the area is also perfect for canyoning, hiking and mountain biking. With plans for an observation deck and a new zip line which may become the longest or fastest in the world, this is a place you need to keep your eye on. Find out more at www.rasalkhaimah.ae.

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INTERVIEW

Ray Mears He’s one of the world’s most respected bushcraft and survival experts, but where did it all begin? And what has he experienced along the way? Rob Slade finds out…

TOP PHOTO: RMears

RAY MEARS ON WHERE HIS PASSION BEGUN: The North Downs were only a 10 minute walk from my door really, so yeah, I guess in the woodland, the greenbelt around London is where my passion for wildlife began. And that’s still an unrecognised environment. There’s woodland there that’s grown up since the Second World War, which is almost a unique habitat in Britain and nobody has really identified it… I started when I was about eight. That’s when I started to go out and notice nature. I guess in some ways I was one of the last generation that were allowed to just go where we wanted and enjoy nature without too many fears. ON HOW HE GOT INTO BUSHCRAFT: I wanted to stay out. I started tracking foxes when I got given a book on tracking for Christmas and in those days we had winters with snow and then the snow turned to mud and I could still find the tracks… But I wanted to stay out. The foxes were, of course, nocturnal. I knew there was this other side to life. The night is still an exciting time now… so I needed to camp out and my folks didn’t go camping, they didn’t have camping equipment. But the school I went to, we had a judo teacher and the judo teacher had been behind the lines in Burma during the Second World War. I was discussing this with him, as kids do – “I’d really like to camp out, but I’ve got no camping equipment” – and he was wonderful. He said, “Well, you don’t need equipment, when I was in Burma we didn’t have equipment, but we still managed”. And that’s when the door to bushcraft opened.

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ON THOSE EARLY DAYS: I don’t remember any hardships. I think that’s a really interesting thing – people often ask me about that – “oh, it must have been tough” – and actually when I think back to those early camping trips, all I can remember is adventure… There weren’t all the books, the information, so what did I do. I got out, I lit a fire and I sat around the fire and I had a great evening looking down on humanity from the top of a hill thinking, they’re all watching television and I’m round a fire, this is better than that. ON WHAT DRAWS HIM TO WILD PLACES: I don’t know, it still draws me now. There’s a feeling of something special there. I’m one of those irritating people that the wilder it is the more I like it. So I get a bit bored when life’s easy and I can be very sloppy with navigation when it’s easy. When it’s difficult I love it, and I come alive in remote places. So when everyone else is wearing out I’m just warming up. That’s just who I am. And I don’t mind temperature changes. ON WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: It wasn’t something I wanted to do professionally, I had no thought of that. And then in the early 1980s I went to work with Operation Raleigh, which was this incredible expedition which went around the world… I was part of the team that ran the selection process for that… That taught me that there was a demand for these sort of skills. I saw other people teaching the same sort of things that I was interested in but they didn’t know the things I’d already learned, so I thought maybe I could do that. So I started then, I started my company then.


PHOTO: RMears

INTERVIEW

ON HIS FIRST TELEVISION APPEARANCE: I was asked if I would demonstrate some skills for a magazine programme. They were looking for five three minute items and I think we ended up with 10 six minute items. I just did what I do and they liked it. ON HOW TELEVISION HAS CHANGED: We used to make a half hour documentary and we’d have four to six weeks to make it. Now we do it in two days. So it’s a massive difference. So to get the facts right is really, really difficult. I feel lucky that I grew in television as I did, so I won’t let anyone record me saying anything I don’t completely agree with, or I don’t know to be true. That’s very important, I am not a puppet, I never have been and never will be. But also I do my own research, I don’t use a script. If we’re going to look at something I need to know it, I need to know about it and it’s that curiosity of mine that helps. ON LEARNING LESSONS FROM INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: You can’t not… I think that’s the magic of it. And that’s why I think it’s really important that young people travel and they meet other cultures and they see other ways of doing things, it makes them more tolerant and more open minded. ON TRAVELLING SOLO: Travelling on my own is a joy because there’s no disturbance; it’s just me and nature. And that is a very special thing. I like paddling a canoe on my own. It’s not that I don’t enjoy having another motor in my boat, somebody else paddling with me, but when I’m on my own, everything I do

with that paddle connects me to the water, and the wind, and there’s no other disturbance, and that helps me to meditate if you like on the experience as a whole. ON A CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH A CROCODILE: At the time I didn’t realise how dangerous it was actually. Ignorance is bliss. We had been filming and that day I had speared a stingray and I cooked it on the beach because the director wanted it cooked on the beach, because the sun was setting behind and it looked lovely. But really you should cook inland a bit, and that’s what I wanted. It was only a small beach and there had been a very big crocodile patrolling the beach, watching us for a few days – that’s a bad sign. I didn’t realise that, I had no idea. And I was sleeping under a mosquito net and this crocodile – it must have been five metres long – came past the tent that close (shows with hands). If it had wanted to eat me I wouldn’t be talking to you now. ON HAVING NO FEARS: It’s not that I don’t feel fear. Fear is a process of anticipation, but the threats of the wild don’t scare me. I mean I understand them and I’m alert to them. And I’ve spent the last couple of weeks in crocodile country, wading in rivers and you have to be very careful. It’s hard to impress on people here… I’m telling you now and you don’t get it. Until you’ve been there and you know how dangerous they are you don’t understand… But I do, that’s my job. Other than humans, I think that’s probably the most dangerous animal on the planet. www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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PHOTO: Tin Can Island

INTERVIEW

ON HOW WE GET MORE PEOPLE ENGAGING WITH THE OUTDOORS: I think children are born with a natural curiosity. It’s allowing them that curiosity exposure to nature. I think it’s as simple as that, and supporting their curiosity. I do think it’s really useful to try and work for knowledge in the old way. So today when somebody wants to know something, really it’s as simple as googling it, and that’s a shame. Because when you google something you go straight to the answer. But when you use a field guide, you pick up a field guide and you’re not quite sure. You look through it and then you find your thing, but on the way to that you’ve encountered several other things here, and that goes into your mind somewhere. You learn more, more quickly by that process. ON WHAT WE CAN DO TO PROTECT OUR WILD SPACES: We have to learn to love them. If you love something you take care of it, it’s as simple as that. And we need politicians who think beyond short term, they need to think longer term.

PHOTO: Tin Can Island

ON WHY HE HAS SUCH AN AFFINITY WITH AUSTRALIA: Australia is very wild and, it’s hard to explain. I really like it. I particularly like the top end, the Northern Territory, the woodland there I feel a strong kinship to. Maybe because I had aboriginal people show me how to enjoy it, that’s a big part of it. I also very much like Canada as well. ON WHY CANADA IS SPECIAL TO HIM: The scale of the forest. The boreal forest is the largest forest on the planet. You know, I like Scandinavia too. I like the boreal forest in general. There’s a wildness, there’s an energy there which is really unique. It’s a forest that is not a place of many trees, there’s many trees that make one entity – the forest itself. And I think that’s a wonderful thing to experience and you feel it so keenly there. You feel like you’re walking or paddling on the back of a giant. ON WHERE HE’D LIKE TO TRAVEL AND EXPLORE IN THE FUTURE: There are lots of places that I haven’t been that I’d like to go. It’s too long a list to start on… It’s actually not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Sometimes when I make a canoe trip I might actually decide not to reach my destination; I’m just so enjoying where I’m at. You know, you start with a piece of paper and it’s natural to plan to go A to B, but if halfway along the journey you find yourself in a lake system that’s particularly magical, why not hang out there and fish for a few days and just enjoy it. That to me, now as I get older, I realise that’s more important than anything.

PHOTO: Tin Can Island

ON WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM HIS UPCOMING TOUR: It’s going to be fun. The last thing I did was very heavy, but I’m glad I did that. But, this is about getting people out there enjoying nature. And thinking more deeply about who we are and how we as a species interact with everything else. I want to show a few skills and I’m going to talk a lot about filming in Australia as well and the wildlife that I’ve seen there.

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If you’d like to find out more about Ray’s ‘Born to go Wild’ speaking tour or would like to purchase tickets, head to www.bit.ly/raymearstour. Ray also has a new TV series on ITV this autumn called Australian Wilderness with Ray Mears. The series will see him explore the magical and challenging landscapes of Australia


C H R I S D A V I S F O R N O R W E L L L A P L E Y P R O D U C T I O N S LT D P R E S E N T S

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In association with the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority

talking heads

readers exposed www.rasalkhaimah.ae

Ever wondered what sort of people read the world’s best outdoor travel magazine?

Ian Whittaker Semi-retired LIFELONG AMBITION?

To explore the Himalayas. I’ve been a fell walker since my early teens, dabbled in climbing since I was 20, been a cyclist and mountain biker for as long as I can remember and I’ve used all three in the Himalayas now. At 60-years-old I’ve fulfilled that ambition.

PREVIOUS OUTDOOR HISTORY?

Fell walker since early teens, Outward Bound course at 16, road cyclist, then mountain biker. Big trips have included the Rolwaling Valley Trek in Nepal, the Snowman Trek in Bhutan and the Great Himalayan Trail (GHT), also in Nepal.

HOW DID YOU FIND THE GHT?

Very tough in the first stage. An abnormal amount of the ‘wrong type of snow’ fell, either deep powder or deep wet snow. Neither had compacted and it did a great job of hiding hazards below such as moraine fields. Second stage, Barun Valley

Tim Hulley Finance contractor LIFELONG AMBITION?

I enjoy participating in a range of sports in beautiful places and want to carry on doing so for as long as I can.

PERSON YOU WOULD MOST LIKE TO MEET?

Robby Naish is amazing having windsurfed, kited and surfed at the highest levels for decades.

IDEAL TRAVEL PARTNER AND WHY?

I’m happiest with family and friends and especially my wife who loves the outdoors and sport too and has supported me with many seemingly ridiculous mishaps and injuries. She is the perfect balance to my over-enthusiastic and risk-prone mentality.

PREVIOUS OUTDOOR HISTORY?

It probably all started with Scouts, and I was lucky to have a very active troop. I raced dinghies as a youngster, then throughout my school and university years I did a lot of mountaineering, but

X JOIN THE FUN! 18

and Sherpani Cols, then Amphu Labsta crossings were absolutely spectacular. Later stages were physically easier as fitness improved and you were well acclimatised to the altitude. The Tilman Pass on stage four was an unexpected glaciated pass, then the Dolpo region on stage six had some amazing geology. All in all, the most fantastic journey.

MOST DANGEROUS MOMENT?

Hanging on an abseil down the West Col on 60 degree blue ice, about three pitches down, waiting 20 minutes for the rope below to clear. I was hit three times by falling ice/stones.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT?

Having crossed the Honku Glacial Basin via Sherpani Col and arriving at the top of the West Col (6,100m) in perfect weather, the view of the mountains ahead was just awe-inspiring.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST WHEN YOU ARE ON TRAIL?

On a long, remote trip like this it’s contact with family – then it’s “proper” food and a pint of real ale.

FUTURE TRAVEL PLANS?

That’s a tough one, just having returned from the ultimate trek. I’ll probably look at biking somewhere remote.

FAVOURITE CRAP JOKE?

Little Jonny has been off primary school for a couple of weeks. When he returns, he’s sat in class and the teacher asks him why he’s been off. Jonny replies: “Well Miss, Daddy got burnt.” The teacher responds in a concerned manner: “Nothing serious I hope?” “Well Miss… they don’t muck about at the Crematorium!” Check out www.worldexpeditions.com for more information on the GHT and how you can take it on yourself.

on marrying and moving to Poole I took a much-considered decision to focus on windsurfing and mountain biking.

MOST DANGEROUS MOMENT?

On the last day of my 19th year I led a large party of friends and family over the Banadich pass in the Cuillins of Skye. I coached them all up the Inaccessible Pinnacle and helped them each abseil off. Through a golden sunset we were descending down to Coruisk where we planned to camp for six days. A perfect end to a perfect day, all happy, relaxed, carefree. I erred slightly off the rocky steep path, and, weighed down by a full climbing and camping pack, I balanced around a massive needle-shaped rock, gripping it with each hand. It started falling towards me and would have killed me in an instant… In blind panic I leapt off round the side and down a small cliff. Falling, tumbling and twisting, with the sound of thunder from the falling rock echoing around the valley. I hit my brother on the way down and came to stop blooded below him… I spent my 20th birthday in Portree Hospital, glad to be alive having been airlifted off the mountain.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST WHEN YOU ARE ON TRAIL?

As the previous slipped discs, broken ribs and collar bones etc. increasingly groan with age, I like a seat with decent back support! This can mean a long wait for lunch on a fell walk in the Lake District whilst I find the perfect combination of flat and vertical boulders!

FUTURE TRAVEL PLANS?

Just want to continue going to places where I can enjoy sports in beautiful places with family and friends, otherwise not really bothered where. The destination is an enabler for me and the adventures inevitable! Fancy giving windsurfing or sailing a go? Head to www.rya.org.uk for information and advice on how to get started.

Want to be a reader exposed (who doesn’t?)? Make yourself known to Rob (rob@atmagazine. co.uk). Everyone we feature gets a year’s free subscription to Adventure Travel – what a treat!

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk


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top five

S t. H e l e n a t o p 5 Deep in the heart of the South Atlantic Ocean you’ll find St. Helena, a paradise island for thrill-seeking adventurers. Naomi Dunbar looks at five of the best experiences it has on offer...

1

1 Jamestown

2

5

Half Tree Hollow

St Paul’s

Diving and snorkelling

With captivating and colourful marine life, vibrant and rocky reefs, hidden caves and shipwrecks to explore, it’s pretty easy to fall in love with the clear warm waters of St. Helena. Whether you love to dive deep into the blue or appreciate the rich life by snorkelling the ocean’s surface, there’s plenty for you to see and enjoy.

2

Climb Jacob’s Ladder

3

Hike Diana’s Peak

4

Whale watching

5

Swim with sharks

A former tramway built in 1829, Jacob’s Ladder is a 699-step run from Jamestown up to the top of Ladder Hill Fort. Towering over the landscape at over 180m above sea level, the views from the top are absolutely staggering and are worth every tiring step.

Longwood

ST. HELENA 3

Levelwood

Blue Hill

4

Standing at a respectable 823m above sea level, Diana’s Peak is the highest point on the island of St. Helena. The hike to the top is brimming with rare plants and intriguing wildlife, with some species in the area found nowhere else in the world. The higher you climb, the more spectacular the views get and once you reach the top you will be blown away by the panoramic sight that lies before you. Whales are very commonly spotted in the waters around the island of St. Helena, and if you’re lucky, you may just be able to get close to one. An early morning start is usually best practice when hoping to catch sight of one of these majestic animals, and there are plenty of companies that offer boat trips to do so. While you’re out at sea, you may also be lucky enough to spot a school of dolphins, playfully swimming alongside the boat and flaunting their impressive acrobatic skills. Whale sharks are also frequent visitors to the waters of St. Helena and some companies offer you the opportunity to swim with these incredible creatures. Whale sharks are the largest fish known to man, averaging at around 10m in length and often weighing up to 20 tonnes. They might look big and scary, but these gentle giants are actually harmless to us humans – so don’t worry, you won’t end up being someone’s lunch!

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S A N D Y B AY D I S T R I C T


WALKING & HIKING

A rugged coastline with rocky shores, lush hidden valleys and stark desert landscapes, dreamy cloud forests and plunging cliffs – discover the secret of the South Atlantic on foot. Watch our website for details on flights, when St Helena Island will for the very first time be connected to the world by air.

www.sthelenatourism.com @visit.sthelena

@sthelenatourism


This travelling man

All you need to do is ask Alun Davies climbs Slovenia’s highest mountain by digital camera.

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ith no topo map we were relying on my hip hop and happening digital camera for route finding. We’d both agreed it to be a cutting edge idea back at the refuge when I’d snapped an image of a display board showing the main climbing lines up the north face of Triglav (2,864m). This was the way all climbers would be navigating in the future; we were the vanguard. However, this being 2005, a year when LCD screens on digital cameras were postage stamp size and image quality a fraction of what it is now, we’d reached a point where being avant-garde visionaries wasn’t high on the priority list. Despite my trying to reassure Gav otherwise, we were well and truly off route, pressed together on a small rock ledge about 12in square with 600m of fresh air between us and the beautiful valley floor below. My first thought was to big up the lovely views as a way to soften up Gav before letting him know that yes we were off route and by the way, we were also out of batteries. We were approximately half way up one of the largest north faces in the world. At 1,400m high and two and a half miles wide, the vertical north wall of Slovenia’s highest mountain is taller than the formidable granite walls of El Capitan in Yosemite. Fortunately for us, the climbing is not as technical or difficult, but it can be if you venture off line. And right now the corner pitch above looked way more difficult than the Hard Severe grade of the Slovene Route which we’d been attempting to follow by digital camera. We’d been traversing the narrowest of rock ledges for two pitches. In places it was only a couple of inches wide and all the while covered in loose detrius and lacking features to secure good protection. The fact that the ledge had not been cleared or disturbed should have been all the clues needed to tell us we were going into unchartered territory, but then, we were having a good time and offering sound advice had always been something we’d reserved for others. Neither of us fancied a return along the ledge and with a secure anchor in place Gav decided to have a go at the vertical crack leading up the corner and, well, he’d have a look what was out of sight over the bulging rock above. Gav was about 20m above and out of sight when he called to say he’d run out of vertical crack, but there was another very narrow ledge about 10m long traversing back the way we’d come. He reckoned it led to a wide ledge with easier climbing on off vertical broken rock. Unbeknown to me at the time, Gav had used the ledge, which was no wider than one or two inches, as a finger hold

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whilst he smeared his climbing shoes across smooth sections of vertical rock. The pitch was so intense and lacking in foot supporting features that he’d not placed one piece of protection on the traverse. If he’d fallen, it would have been in a long pendulum swing back to the right, the way he’d come. Not nice, but there was nothing for him to smack into. That was not the case for me. Whilst Gav had found a very secure stance with solid protection, he was 30-or-so feet away from the start of the traverse and if I was to fall it would mean a pendulum swing to the left and straight into a section of rock protruding from the main face. The chance of serious injury was high and I’d be left free hanging over 600m of void. Once I’d processed this logistical fact I was both terrified and, er, terrified. But what can you do, eh? The traverse was incredible, supported by fingers on a sharp, narrow limestone ledge as my sticky climbing shoes smeared for grip on the smooth rock down below. The position was immense and the view down below breathtaking. I managed to reach Gav without incident, though did let him know that he’d be having no more of my Mars Bars for a while. The rest of the climb was completed without incident and we topped out just as the sun disappeared over the horizon. We descended by a via ferrata route using the light of our head torches and returned back to the refuge absolutely knackered sometime after midnight. At breakfast the following morning, the guardian of the refuge was talking to a couple of climbers who were going to climb Triglav the next day. I noticed that they had an old fashioned film camera and that topo guides were on sale should you enquire.


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from the past

The extraordinary Grandma

G at e w o o d At the ripe old age of 67, Emma Gatewood walked the entire Appalachian Trail solo and unsupported, becoming the first woman to complete it in one continuous hike. Roger Bunyan has more on this remarkable woman…

Adventurer: Emma Gatewood

Who was She? Emma Gatewood was the first woman to walk the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail in the United States in one complete hike.

Her married life Emma grew up in a rural family of 15 in the state of Ohio. In 1907, at the age of 19, she married Perry Gatewood. They lived on a tobacco farm where it was always a challenge to make a living with a continual string of farm chores to work through. As well as farm labouring, Emma also brought-up 11 children! However, Perry physically abused his wife. On a number of occasions she was almost beaten to death and over time had numerous bones broken and other injuries. Fortunately, after 33 years of continual abuse, she managed to gain a divorce.

Freedom! Some years later, a National Geographic article about the Appalachian Trail caught Emma’s attention. It described the trail which crossed 14 states, had route descriptions and also included photographs which claimed it was a straightforward walk! On discovering no female had yet completed the trail, Emma decided she would be the first. Being rid of her husband and with her children all grown up, there was nothing to hold her back.

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Her first attempt ended after a few days because she lost her way and broke her spectacles. Emma was rescued by rangers who told her to go back home, but the following year, at the age of 67, Emma was back. Her previous attempt had begun at the northern end of the Appalachian Trail but for her second, Emma started from the south. She carried just one change of clothing stuffed into a homemade denim bag which she carried across one shoulder. She had a blanket, a raincoat and a plastic shower curtain to shelter under. For sustenance she carried some dried beef, cheese, nuts and ate edible plants she found along the way. She wore sneaker shoes for her long-distance walk but had no sleeping bag, tent, compass or map. Although many sections of the trail were simple to hike, other parts had poor route markings and were sometimes overgrown. Emma chatted to local people she met along the way who often gave her directions. Many were extremely kind and offered her shelter and a meal for the night. She also stayed in a variety of other places on her trek including huts, farm buildings, on front porch swings, in gardens or upon a bed of leaves beneath trees. As she ventured ever northward, people began to talk about the old lady who was walking the trail. It wasn’t long before local newspaper reporters went out to find and interview Emma, or ‘Grandma Gatewood’ as she became known. They wanted to know why a 67-year-old grandmother was tackling such a challenging walk. “I thought it would be a nice lark,” was very often her reply. She continued to make her way along the trail in all weathers. Emma found the last section particularly challenging with its steep terrain. However, she completed her trek on reaching Mount Katahdin in Maine on 25 September 1955. It had been a tough experience and had taken her 146 days. She had become the first female to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one continuous hike!

HEROES at the age of 75, she walked it for a third time, but this time in sections. Emma also completed other long-distance routes including the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon. Emma’s descriptions of how sections of the Appalachian Trail had not been looked after helped bring about improvements. Many say that her involvement saved the trail, leading to better maintenance which, in turn, led to a gradual increase in its usage.

An extraordinary traveller Emma Gatewood was an extraordinary woman who, after years of abuse, heavy farm work and bringing up 11 children, decided to take on a long-distance hiking challenge. Completing the Appalachian Trail three times aged in her late 60s and 70s is an inspiration for us all.

Find out more: Read Ben Montgomery’s Grandma Gatewood’s Walk for a description of both her married life and completing the Appalachian Trail or see Trail Magic, an excellent documentary by Peter Huston about Emma Gatewood’s life and the Appalachian Trail. For the full documentary contact Eden Valley Enterprises.

Celebrity status and further walks Emma’s fame quickly spread. News of 67-year-old Grandma Gatewood completing her walk appeared in national newspapers and she was interviewed on television. In 1960 she walked the trail once again in one continuous trek. In 1963

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail.


events

what’s on

Naomi Dunbar previews the events you need to get booked in this autumn 7-10 Sep

8-10 Sep

22-24 Sep

B A S E C A M P F E S T I VA L

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Base camp Festival

Said to be one of Britain’s most adventurous festivals, this four day event in the Peak District brings visitors a range of exciting activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing and bushcraft. Meet explorers, listen to the fascinating tales of adventurers, enjoy great entertainment, make new friends and party under the stars to live music in the woods. When ‘n’ where: 7-10 September at Sabine Hay, just outside Darley Dale in the Peak district. How: Tickets are available online now from £143. Get yours at www.basecampfestival.co.uk.

South West Outdoor Festival

Returning for its second year, the South West Outdoor Festival is a celebration of adventure and outdoor activities hosted by the National Trust, in the wild terrain of the Mendip Hills. This action-packed weekend is stuffed full of exhilarating mountain biking and trail running events, live music and entertainment, and inspiring guest speakers. There are also tons of family friendly activities to enjoy such as tree climbing, archery, watersports, rock climbing, caving, and skiing experiences. When ‘n’ where: 8-10 September in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. How: Weekend tickets and day tickets are available, with standard camping tickets starting at £40 for adults and £15 for kids. For full info head over to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ southwestoutdoorfestival.

The Alpkit Big Shake Out

The Big Shake Out is a not-for-profit festival and all proceeds are donated to the Alpkit Foundation, which works to help people overcome obstacles and enable them to get out and experience wild places. This fun filled weekend offers festival goers exciting activities such as bushcraft, watersports, caving and axe-throwing to name but a few, while live music, hearty food, great beer, lectures and games are on offer in the evenings. When ‘n’ where: The festival takes place from 22-24 September at Thornbridge Hall in the Peak District. How: Weekend tickets start from £60 and include camping, some onsite activities, lectures and a free t-shirt! For more info or to buy your ticket head over to www.alpkit.com/bigshakeout.


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Thames Bridges Bike Ride

Keen cyclists or families looking for a great day out can saddle-up and choose from three great new routes weaving through and around London. Cross over 18 beautiful Thames bridges and pass by some of London’s most iconic landmarks on this urban adventure. Ride the 55, 35 or eight-mile course and then join in on the excellent post-event entertainment. A fun day for all! When ‘n’ where: These brand new routes start and finish at Kings House Sports Groud, Chiswick on Sunday 1 October. How: Taking part starts from £10. For more info and to enter online visit www.stroke.org.uk/tbbr.

Ray Mears ‘Born to go Wild’ tour

Well known for television series such as Survival with Ray Mears and Wild Britain, Ray is world famous for his expertise in bushcraft and survival. He will be touring the UK again this year at various locations during the months of October and November. Ray will take you on a journey he deeply values for cultural, spiritual, moral and aesthetic reasons and will explain why he believes these are vital for the human spirit and creativity. This is not one to be missed! When ‘n’ where: Ray will be touring various locations in the UK throughout October and November. The opening night takes place in Salford on 8 October. How: For dates, locations and information regarding where to purchase tickets head over to www.bit.ly/raymearstour.

ISSUE 122: MARCH|APRIL 2016 £3.99

ESCAPE to the wilderness

iconic climb: THE MAT TERHORN o n t e s t: n e w o u t d o o r g e a r close to home: UK ADVENTURES

£3.99 ISSUE 122 MAR|APR 2016

22 9 771368 077034

S AV E

40%

The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Show

This show is pretty much ideal for snowsport fans or those with aspirations to get into skiing and snowboarding. Visitors will have the chance to get up close and personal with members of the British Ski and Snowboard team during Q&A sessions, marvel at their impressive skills in a big air competition and learn from the best with expert guest speakers. Beyond that, there are dozens of exhibitors showcasing the best resorts, technology and gear around, multiple demonstrations and some of the world’s best ski films. When ‘n’ where: The show takes place from 26-29 October at Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park, London. How: Tickets start at £15 for adults while family and concessions tickets are considerably cheaper. Find out more at www.skiandsnowboard.co.uk.

J U L | A U G 2 0 1 6 www.adventuretravelmagazine.co.uk

TO SUBSCRIBE Call 01789 450 000 or visit: www.wiredforadventure.co.uk/shop


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ao m fro i D m u the n wo bar rld c of heck ad s o ven ut tur the e t la rav tes el‌ t bo

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ME M D A S IA H MEDIA MASH


MEDIA MASH

The Girl Who Climbed Everest Bonita Norris £20 www.hodder.co.uk

The Girl Who Climbed Everest is a gripping story of the journey of Bonita Norris, a young woman who has taken on some of the toughest and most dangerous summits in the world. It's also a very honest account about the lessons she learnt along the way. After a near deadly mistake on Everest, Bonita tells us how she overcame her fears, pushed herself through and, by not letting her darkest moments define her, used her mistakes to inspire her future climbing accomplishments. This is a story about failure and how you can use it as a powerful tool to become your motivation for success. A great read for anyone who has ever doubted their potential - this book will inspire you to take action and live life more fearlessly. ND

The Great Outdoors: A Users Guide Brendan Leonard £18.99

www.artisanbooks.com

Brendan Leonard, a professional adventurer from Colorado, has compiled a list of everything we need to know before heading into the wilderness, and how to get ourselves back in one piece. He shares a whole wealth of survival skills, from how to bandage a wound and read a topographic map to how to build an igloo and survive frostbite. This practical guide is both thorough and entertaining, and equips us with the expert knowledge needed when experiencing the outdoors. The book is sectioned into six handy sections; surviving in the wild, the mountains, the water, the backcountry, and on the snow. A must read for anyone heading into the wilderness this year and a perfect gift. ND

Ice with everything H.W. Tilman £12 www.tilmanbooks.com

Bill Tilman was a great explorer and adventurer who climbed mountains, sailed oceans and, on many occasions, cheated death – and took great pride in doing so. Ice With Everything is Tilman's 14th book, documenting three of his incredible voyages in 1971, 1972 and 1973. These three voyages were an attempt to reach the ice-bound Scoresby Sound, east Greenland's fjord system, the largest fjord system in the world, and to climb Greenland's highest unclimbed peaks. Tilman's determination to get there saw him deal with brutal weather, fjords blocked with ice, boats crushed between rocks, and many other disastrous events. Tilman's dry humour and witty narrative makes this a fantastic read. ND

Push Tommy Caldwell £20 www.penguin.co.uk

In 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson took on what is widely regarded as the toughest climb of all time – Yosemite National Park’s almost vertical, 900m, Dawn Wall. This epic 19day ‘free climb’ route had the pair climbing for hours upon hours each day, often in the dark, supergluing their fingers and sleeping in tents that dangled from the sheer rock face – gulp! Tommy Caldwell had been told the climb would not be achievable due to the loss of one of his index fingers in a previous accident, but he pushed through, against all odds and completed one of the most incredible climbs in history. This is the story. ND

Walking In The Drakensberg Jeff Williams £17.95 www.cicerone.co.uk

This handy guidebook is jam-packed with 75 incredible walks set within the stunning Maloti-Drakensberg Park, in South Africa. A land of spectacular beauty, the Drakensberg is full of dramatic landscapes, staggering mountain ranges, captivating wildlife and intriguing plant life. The park is also home to some fascinating ancient history, including the Bushman rock paintings which are hidden away in remote caves and spread widely across the park. The book includes detailed route information, maps, interesting facts, handy tips, and 'must see' recommendations. ND

Camra's Wild Pub Walks Daniel Neilson £11.99 www.camra.org.uk

Who doesn't love a well-deserved pint after a cracking day in the hills? This handy pocked-sized guidebook includes 22 carefully planned routes set within the beautiful British countryside. All of these routes include recommendations and practical information to help you plan a fantastic day out, and most importantly, find the best real-ale watering holes nearby. All the walks vary in difficulty and terrain, but all provide breathtaking landscape and scenery. From the rugged and highest peaks of the Scottish mountains to the dramatic Yorkshire coast, there's something in this book for every experienced hiker. ND

Adventure Cats Laura J. Moss £11.99 www.workman.com

I'm paw-sitive you're going to love this one – did you know that all around the world, there are felines that enjoy going on adventures with their owners? And what's more, your kitty could love it too. This lovely little book not only gives you expert advice on how to safely coax your furry friend to explore the outdoors with you, but it also tells the 'tails' of some of the most adventurous cats out there, who love anything from hiking and camping to sailing and surfing. This book is a purrr-fect read for all you cat lovers and adventures out there. I'm really sorry about all the puns. ND www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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hot stuff

New gear

Haglöfs Vandra Pants £180 www.haglofs.com

Every British person that spends time in our mountains will know what I’m talking about. You leave base in glorious sunshine only for the skies to open a couple of hours later and for rain to drench you throughout the rest of the hike. It’s just part of living on these shores, so waterproof trousers are a must. Step forward Haglöfs’ Vandra Pants. These trousers are made from two-layer Gore-Tex offering high levels of water repellency, while a taffeta lining has been added in key areas for extra durability. There are two zipped pockets on the front and one at the rear, allowing you to stow away essentials when the conditions get tough. Gusseted lower leg zips have been included to aid pulling the trousers on and off, while articulated knees help with range of movement. RS

We take a look at the latest kit from the world of adventure 30

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Filson Medium Duffle Bag £385 www.filson.com/uk

If you like to travel in style, this is for you. Filson is an American brand that specialises in ‘rugged quality’ and has been crafting gear for outdoor pursuits since 1897. Thankfully, the kit the brand produces is also suitably stylish. This hand-luggage-friendly Medium Duffle Bag is made from rugged, rain-resistant twill and is combined with durable bridle leather straps and detailing. The brass zip is rustproof and the storm flap helps with weather protection. It is deceptively large inside despite how compact it looks from the outside, and we found it held up perfectly well on a weekend of bushcraft, adventure and general outdoor fun. Ultimately, this is a bag which is going to handle the rough stuff and carry your essentials, all while making sure you look good on your adventures and excursions. RS


New gear

Timex IQ+ Move £149.99 www.timex.co.uk

Smart watches are all the rage these days, especially those that incorporate activity trackers into them so that you can monitor your health and fitness. They’re perfect for keeping you in check when training for a long hike, and they also allow you to track your progress when the big occasion calls for it, with some specialist devices even including GPS functionality. Despite all of the impressive features, I tend to have one major issue with these activity trackers – in most casual settings they look a bit naff. The Timex IQ+ Move, however, does not. This classy analogue watch discreetly incorporates basic functions of a smartwatch, and comes with a companion app which allows you to track, monitor and change your fitness goals from your phone. It lacks a heart sensor, but it makes up for this with pure style with a selection of straps available. BD

Tegology TEGSTOVE Camping Stove £150

www.tegolog y.com

Made famous by its appearance on Dragon’s Den, the Tegstove is an intriguing product that is said to extract maximum performance from widely available and inexpensive butane gas. The exciting aspect the Tegstove has going for it is that while cooking your dinner or brewing a cuppa, you can charge your electronic devices from the stove at the same time, so you’ll never have to worry about running out of juice before posting your incredible mountain snaps on Instagram. The product uses a heat transfer module that gently warms the butane gas cartridge to maintain consistent pressure no matter the temperature, while a thermoelectric generator tops up the built in Li-ion battery. You’ll never need to be disconnected again… RS

Adidas Terrex Agravic Alpha Hooded Shield Windbreaker £109.95 www.adidas.co.uk

If there’s one thing that unites us all when it comes to gear, it’s that lightweight kit is almost certainly on the wish list. Shaving grams when you’re on the hill makes for a much more comfortable adventure, and that’s where the Terrex Agravic Alpha Hooded Shield Windbreaker comes in. It’s super lightweight, ultra-packable and really comfortable to wear. A Pertex Quantum outer helps offer a decent level of durability while the use of Polartec Alpha at the front offers warmth and breathability in abundance. Zip pockets mean there’s storage for anything you might need close to hand and a volume adjustable hood ensures a decent fit. RS

www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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New gear

Arc’teryx Bora 2 Mid Boot £280 Nixon Mission £339 www.arcter yx.com

www.nixon.com

Designed to tackle multi-day trekking, scrambling and shorter day walks, the Bora 2 Mid boots from Arc’teryx are pretty unique. They are made up of a seamless, single piece of thermos-laminated material as the upper and an interchangeable stretch liner (it’s almost like a sock…) which is both waterproof and breathable. The liner and lack of tongue help stop water getting in at weak points, while it can also be swapped out for an insulated option in the winter. The boot also features a Vibram outsole with a standard boot pattern, while a moulded EVA midsole helps offer comfort and stability. The upper feels suitably rugged and durable, and the combination of the two components offers a pretty good fit. If you’ve got the money, they might be worth checking out. RS

Smart watches are clever little things, but they are bloomin’ expensive, striking fear in anyone who wears them in the outdoors. And that’s a concern that Nixon has addressed with the Mission watch. This watch is rugged, and has been built to handle whatever you throw at it. It is shock resistant, durable, water resistant to 10 ATM and features ultra-tough Corning Gorilla Glass ensuring you can take it with you on all of your adventures. It runs on Android Wear (but can also be used by iPhone users) and offers users data such as surf conditions, mountain conditions while also tracking your activities. Of course, there are various apps you can download to the watch opening up a whole new world of features. A rugged watch for adventurous people. RS

GPDesign High Lumen Rechargeable PR57 £84.99

Ortlieb First Aid Kit Regular £20

The PR57 is part of GPDesign’s entry into the outdoor market with a range of torches and chargers. With a heritage of world class rechargeable batteries behind the brand, you’ll probably be right to assume that these are going to be well built, and with the PR57, that certainly seems to be the case. Made from premium grade aircraft aluminium, this 1,000 lumen torch feels rugged to touch and is ergonomically very pleasing. The beam offers fantastic reach with three brightness levels available and there is a strobe feature too, while a simple sliding motion helps determine the spread of light. The other headline here is that the torch is rechargeable, meaning you won’t need an endless supply of batteries to keep it going! RS

While they might not be the most exciting of products, first aid kits are essential for any outdoor trip, no matter the activity. With that in mind, this compact kit from Ortlieb may be right up your street. The exterior itself is made from a waterproof PU-coated nylon fabric which uses a roll-top closure to ensure the wet stuff stays out and the essentials inside keep dry. Open the kit up and you’ll find the basics you need on any excursion, including a pair of surgery gloves, plasters, sticking tape, a first aid brochure and two dressings. The kit also features belt loops and fixing straps which means that you can attach it wherever you might want to. Handy. RS

www.gp-design.com

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www.ortlieb.com


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Adventure Academy

Make your next adventure a success with lessons from our experts: p36

Photography: How to capture autumn colours

p38

Mountain Skills: How to determine your position

p40

Bushcraft: How to make ďŹ re by friction

www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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Adventure Academy

PHOTOGRAPHY How to capture autumn colours SUMMER IS OVER, THE EVENINGS ARE CLOSING IN AND THE LAND IS STARTING TO CHANGE. WHILE THIS MIGHT BE SAD NEWS FOR SUN SEEKERS, IT’S GREAT FOR ANYONE WANTING TO SHOOT BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS ON THEIR ADVENTURES. GEORGE TURNER EXPLAINS HOW BEST TO CAPTURE AUTUMN COLOURS.

who’s writing? GEORGE TURNER is a 20-something wildlife and landscape photographer. When not out in the woodlands of his home county in Dorset, he can be found anywhere between the savannahs of Kenya and wetlands of Zambia. See www.georgetheexplorer.com or follow him on Instagram via @GeorgeTheExplorer (landscape) and @GeorgeBTurner (wildlife). He uses a Nikon D810 with a variety of lenses.

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Adventure Academy

B

efore the winter months roll in, Mother Nature showcases an amazing flourish of colour as the warm months leave us. The colours of autumn - mixed with the brilliant soft light - provide ample photographic opportunities and, of course, a good excuse to get out there!

1. Location, location, location For those iconic autumnal colours, find a location which is packed full of deciduous trees and shrubs. If you’re researching a new area, use websites such as www.500px.com or Flickr to look at others’ images from locations, this’ll really help. Don’t be afraid to mix things up either. Autumn photography doesn’t mean sweeping panoramic shots of forests dripping in gold, it’s also about representing the change in the environment. Think about any ‘lone’ trees you’ve passed whilst out and about; showcasing isolation and vulnerability as winter approaches is a powerful story in itself.

2. It’s all about the details When on location, search around you for ‘micro landscapes’, that is, details, patterns, and textures. On a typical autumn morning, note how the dew hangs from spiders’ webs and the frost adds another dimension to an otherwise ordinary leaf. To bring these mini-vistas to life, study the light; backlighting is fantastic for highlighting patterns and side lighting for textures. So long as you’re not disturbing the environment, move your subjects – dead leaves for example – to suit your composition. To capture the intricate details, invest in a macro lens. If you don’t have a DSLR, whip out your phone - you’ll be surprised at the detail it can capture.

3. The morning mist With its warm days and cold, frosty nights, autumn is a photographer’s dream. The early morning mist adds an ethereal beauty to the atmosphere which is fun to capture. Photographing the reeds on the riverbank is always a winner; use the ‘bend’ in reeds to lead your viewers’ eye. Look out for any birdlife on the river and remember – without falling in – to get as low as possible for eye contact!

4. Adding the ‘pop’ If don’t already have a polarising lens, invest! With the simple twist of the filter, you’ll eliminate any glare being reflected by leaves, make the clouds ‘pop’ and add a natural contrast to your scene. Ensure you’re at a 90 degree angle to the sun, as this is when polarisers perform best.

5. Golden hour(s) With later sunrises and early sunsets, there’s no excuses to miss the golden hour! Use the website/app called Suncalc to know where the sun will be rising/setting to pre-plan your compositions. Taking all the above points into consideration, then think about how the light will interact with your intended scene; do you want your autumn scene ‘on fire’? Backlit leaves? The burn of the morning mist? My tip: Try them all and see what works best for you. No sunrise/set is ever the same and it’s always a pleasure to see the world come alive and then go to sleep.

6. Autumn wildlife With winter around the corner, autumn is a busy season for many animals. With the mist and light noted above, this provides opportunity to show their closeness to the environment. Try local parks for squirrels foraging amongst fallen leaves, woodland for deer with autumnal backdrops, rivers for birds in the morning mist and, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, head to Scotland or Devon for beavers making last minute repairs on dams. www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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Adventure Academy

MOUNTAIN SKILLS How to find your position FINDING YOUR POSITION WHEN YOU’RE LOST IS A VITAL SKILL, BUT IT’S EASIER SAID THAN DONE. HERE, MOUNTAIN LEADER ALEX KENDALL EXPLAINS HOW TO DO IT…

who’s writing? ALEX KENDALL is a mountain leader for Thistle Trekking (www.thistletrekking.co.uk), a company that provides trekking and mountaineering holidays throughout the UK. He also works for a variety of other outdoor companies, both in the UK and overseas, has written the Cicerone guidebook to the Snowdonia Way, and is a regular contributor to various outdoor websites and magazines. He lives in Cumbria and can usually be found mountaineering or running.

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Adventure Academy

ou’ve been lost, haven’t you? Maybe not totally lost, but there must have been that little seed of doubt once or twice, when the scenery doesn’t look as it should, or cloud comes in and the track you were aiming for hasn’t appeared. If this is the case (and it happens to everyone) then you’ll need to relocate. Stop walking, and start thinking!

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Where have you just been? Think back to the last point on the walk (hopefully recently) that you knew where you were. Reconstruct in your head what happened since then. Have you been going downhill or uphill, how steep has it been, what other features have you seen, how long have you been walking, and what does the ground around you look like? Now look at the map. Find that feature that marks where you were last confident in your position, and trace possible routes considering what you remember about your route. This is a very effective method.

Can you see? If you can see the features around you, from the big (other mountains), to the small (crags, walls, minor contour features), you can use them. Orientate the map so that the features on the map correspond to their positions in real life. You can then take ‘back bearings’ on these features (two or three will do) to triangulate your position in relation to them.

HOW TO TAKE A BACK BEARING

Find two or more prominent features in the landscape around you that you can identify on the map. Aim your compass at the first real life feature (we’ll call it feature one) and then turn the bezel so that the north lines line up with the magnetic north arrow. Transfer the compass to the map and rotate it so that the direction of travel arrow lies over feature one and the north lines on the compass bezel line up with the northings on the map grid. Because you took the bearing in real life to feature one, then you must be standing somewhere in line with the direction of travel arrow on the map. But of course you could be anywhere on this line. To get a more accurate position, you can triangulate it using other features. Find whatever you have decided is going to be feature two and repeat the process. Wherever the direction of travel line from feature two crosses the line from feature one on the map, then that’s where you are. You can then check it using a third feature just to make sure you haven’t made a mistake.

If you’re on a hillside you can also compare the direction of the slope to slopes on the map, which can at least narrow it down. For this to work of course you’ll need to be able to find the features you can see in real life on the map, and to properly orientate the map using the compass, for which good map reading skills are vital.

What if you can’t see? If you can’t see, either due to lowering cloud or being in a dense forest, you may not be able to discover exactly where you are. If the tactic of trying to go through your recent route in your head doesn’t work, then it’s time to try something else. Firstly, orientate the map. You should have a rough idea of where you are, even if that area is quite large. Now look closer at that area – is it bordered by a long stream or river? Is there a fence or wall along one side? Or does the hillside you’re on culminate in a ridge? These linear features can be used as ‘catching features’ to help you relocate. For example, if you’re on the side of a hill, and you don’t know where, but you do know that at the top of the hill there is a long ridge, then take a rough bearing in the direction of the ridge, walk uphill and find it. You may not know exactly where on the ridge you’ve got to, but at least you’ve found a major feature, which can then be followed to find a more definite point – perhaps a trig point. Any linear feature can be used like this.

Use technology If you’re seriously lost, there’s nothing wrong with falling back on technology. You’ll still need to know how to navigate, but a GPS unit will give you a whole range of useful information, from a grid reference you can compare with the map, to a colour screen with a pre-loaded map and a dot showing your exact position. If you don’t have a GPS then there are free apps you can download for smart phones which will give you a grid reference. www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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Adventure Academy

1.

BUSHCRAFT How to make fire by friction BUSHCRAFT EXPERT AND TV PRESENTER RAY MEARS EXPLAINS HOW TO MAKE FIRE BY FRICTION USING THE HAND DRILLING METHOD.

he ability to make fire is the most fundamental outdoor skill, anyone venturing into real wilderness should be thoroughly versed in making fire by a variety of means. Fire starting should be practised in the worst weather, not just when the sun is shining. My favourite method of friction fire-lighting is the hand drill, where one stick is twirled between the palms and drilled into another. Of the many ancient methods of fire starting this was the most widespread and is still widely used today. An elegantly simple technique, I have always thought of this method as a symbol for the knowledge and skills of bushcraft. Despite this simplicity, there is much that can be said about hand drill fire-lighting.

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The key to success is selecting the right materials. I prefer to use a drill of elderberry and a hearth board of clematis. I should point out that these are not the easiest materials to use. I prefer them as they remind me of the woodland of the North Downs where I grew up. The drill needs to be cut fresh and dried for use. On a hot, summers day such a stick can be cut in the morning and is dry enough to use the same afternoon. Scrape off the bark and straighten the stick as it is drying. Scrape the drill smooth, irregularities in the surface will result in blisters. The drill should be 70-80cm long and 1cm diameter

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The hearth is made from a piece of dead clematis stem. Select a section 40cm long without any twist in the grain and split it in half. Carve down the rounded face to create a flat board. At the same moment collect some dead, dry clematis bark and rub this vigorously between your hand to create a bundle of fine fibrous tinder. Before drilling for fire, prepare a fire lay with plenty of fine kindling.

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Towards the edge of the hearth board carve a shallow depression to seat the end of the drill. Carve a notch from the edge of the board to the centre of the depression. A tiny pinch of sand added to the depression will speed up the process.

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Sitting cross legged, secure the hearth with the edge of one of your feet so that it is securely held to the ground. Beneath the notch, place a shaving of wood to hold the ember of hot dust you are about to create. Begin drilling by twirling the drill between your palms maintaining a firm downwards pressure. If you press your palms together too hard blisters will result. Drill slowly at first to warm the drill tip speeding up as you see smoke begin to rise. Speed is critical to the process. When your hands reach the hearth transfer them again to the top of the stick and continue drilling.

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As you drill, the notch will start to fill with a coffee like dust. As this begins to combust it will blacken and smoke will rise from it. Once it smokes independently of your actions you can then stop drilling.

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Carefully lift the board free from the delicate dust and fan it gently until it begins to glow.

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Lifting the tiny ember, delicately place it in the tinder you have already prepared.

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Now blow gently into the bundle so that the ember ignites the fibres.


Adventure Academy

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PHOTOS: RMears

Smoke will pour from the bundle just prior to its catching fire. Once alight, immediately place the burning bundle beneath the kindling of your fire.

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If you have never made fire this way before, it will take some practice. Try to stop drilling before you develop blisters when learning. As with any skill, to become truly proficient you must live with it, making fire this way in the rain, wind, when you are hungry and when you are feeling unwell, just as our ancestors did. When you can do this, you will have mastered the technique and will realise that it is just another way of making fire, but one that will connect you to our forebears.

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who’s writing? RAY MEARS is one of Britain, and indeed the world’s, foremost authorities on wilderness bushcraft and survival. He has spent his life learning these skills and shares his love of the subject with the world through his television programmes. These include Ray Mears’ Bushcraft, Ray Mears Goes Walkabout and Wild Britain with Ray Mears. In October, Ray starts his ‘Born to go Wild’ speaking tour with various dates across the UK. Find out more at www.bit.ly/raymearstour.

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UK Adventure

WEEKENDERS Make the most of those precious two days with our cracking UK adventures Aonach Eagach

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Steve Livingstone takes on a special ridge in Scotland

Paul Besley takes on a Peak District classic

DARK PEAK

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DARTMOOR

We go on a wild camping adventure in Dartmoor

We look at what it means to be on a slow adventure

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NORTHERN IRELAND

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UK Adventure

S C OTLA ND

The Aonach Eagach

Ridge

Steve Livingstone takes on the narrowest ridge on mainland Britain and discovers just how epic it truly is…

INVERNESS SCOTLAND FORT WILLIAM

AONACH EAGACH

GLASGOW

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he Aonach Eagach has a reputation and a presence that can’t be ignored. Anyone who has driven through Glencoe and seen its towers and buttresses running the length of the valley must be impressed. We knew that one day we’d have to do it. That day came at the end of May, when the weather was settled. We set off from the upper car park in the valley and trudged up the steep slope on a good path to reach the first summit, Am Bodach. From here the path seemed to disappear. We peered down into the drop to see ledges, steep rocks and cliffs. Fortunately, the handholds were big and plentiful. Care was needed though because it’s not the place to fall. Moving left near the bottom, we stepped out onto flattish ground. That first problem was behind us, but we knew that from then on there was no safe way down off the

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EDINBURGH

ridge, as it can only be descended from either end. The way ahead was pleasant, with an easy, rounded grassy surface taking us over the next summit, Meall Dearg, and onto the main challenge of this route, the pinnacles. The ridge rose and narrowed ‘till it was blocked by these massive towers. We needed very steady heads here as we followed the scratch marks of those who have gone before. The final tower was steep and very exposed, so we edged around the drop extremely carefully. From there, we climbed down more easily and picked up a stony path to a succession of new rock problems– slabs, cracks and gullies. Each gave its own short enjoyable challenge. After successfully navigating this, the rock was behind us and we only had to walk the easy slope to the final summit, Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. The day was warm and the views back to the towers of the Aonach Eagach ridge were breath-taking. An ambition achieved. We were satisfied.


UK Adventure

Transport A car is recommended, though it’s possible to take a train to Fort William and use public transport from there. This is a linear walk, so it’s best done with two cars, leaving one at each end. If that’s not possible, it’s not difficult to hitch-hike back.

Maps & guidebooks The ridge is six miles and is very demanding, so allow seven to nine hours. It’s described here as a summer trip, but in winter it’s a much more serious challenge. Get OS Explorer Map 384: Glencoe and Glen Etive and take a look at www.walkhighlands.co.uk for a guide to the route. If you’d rather go with a company, check out Thistle Trekking (www.thistletrekking.co.uk).

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UK Adventure

Leave no trace You are permitted to wild camp in Scotland and Dartmoor as long as you don’t stay on private land without permission and you stick to the ‘leave no trace’ rules, which means respect the area, don’t litter and leave it as you found it. You can find guidelines relating to this online.

About the area Please be aware that before setting off, you’ll need to check where the military firing ranges are and where it’s legal to camp. You can find all the info/maps on the official Dartmoor National Park website, and as long as you avoid those areas, you’ll be safe and sound.

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UK Adventure

E NG LA ND

A wild night out on

Dartmoor Naomi Dunbar heads to the wild and rugged moorlands of Dartmoor and explores just what makes it so special…

WALES LONDON

WEYMOUTH

BOURNEMOUTH

DARTMOOR

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s you probably know, wild camping is unfortunately very much illegal in most parts of the UK, which is a mighty shame because it’s a fantastic way to strip life back down to the basics and fully immerse yourself within nature’s finery. However, as you may know, Scotland and some areas of Dartmoor National Park are an exception to this law! Living in Stratford-upon-Avon means that Scotland is a heck of a drive away from me, so I usually head to Dartmoor to get my wild camping fix. The thing I love about Dartmoor, besides the fact it’s an area of unspoilt English beauty, is that you don’t have to hike for long before towns disappear from view, giving you the feeling of being a million miles away from civilisation – which for me, is pure bliss. It’s also relatively easy terrain, which makes for a relaxing trek over the vast and rugged moors, meaning you can fully appreciate every last inch of its charm as you plod on. After a few hours of hiking south from Princetown and as the afternoon sun started the descent to its slumber, I found a quiet little stream tucked within a small valley

and set my tent beside it for the night. The sun was getting lower, so I set off to the highest point within sight to marvel at the fiery sky. For me, when the day turns to night is when Dartmoor is at its most magical. The moors take a hazy purple and pink hue that slowly fades into burnt oranges and vibrant reds, and the impressive natural rock formations cast interestingly shaped silhouettes against the sky. As soon as I’m plunged into the darkness of night, I’m reminded of just how staggering the night sky in Dartmoor is. My favourite thing to do is to get cosy in my sleeping bag, poke my head out of the tent and watch the billions of stars blink back at me – I don’t know of a more perfect way to fall asleep. I woke the next morning to the gentle sounds of the stream trickling past me, which is much more soothing than the somewhat angry tone of my alarm clock (that’s probably been snoozed eight times) at home. With my gear packed up, I took a longer route back which dipped me in and out of dramatic moorland valleys, past winding streams and over grasslands scattered with granite rocks. As I neared civilisation, feeling refreshed, I couldn’t help but hope I’d return to Dartmoor again soon.

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UK Adventure

Extra walks Dark Peak Walks, written by Paul Besley and published by Cicerone Press, covers the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park with 40 walks (including this one) of varying length and abilities. Find book reviews and purchase signed copies from www.paulbesley.blog.

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UK Adventure

E NG LA ND

Exploring the

Dark Peak Paul Besley takes a walk on the wild side as he tackles the Peak District classic that is Stanage Edge‌

MANCHESTER

STANAGE EDGE

SHEFFIELD ENGLAND BIRMINGHAM

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thin black line runs along the eastern edge of the Derwent Valley in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park. Four miles long, Stanage Edge curves south, a line of gritstone bastions formed 350 million years ago when the area was a huge river delta silting up with grains of sand from the north. To walk along the edge is to travel through a land of social history, northern industrial wealth, working class craftsmanship and some say, madness. Our walk of 13 miles would start by ascending an ancient packhorse route known as the Long Causeway, by which we would return six hours later. From the Dennis Knoll car park we walked up the Long Causeway onto Stanage Edge following the gritstone pavement, rutted by thousands of horses and carts to Stanedge Pole. A pole has sat on this site for hundreds of years marking the boundaries between Sheffield and Hathersage, York and Canterbury, Northumbria and Mercia. Dates and initials on the rock denote when a pole was replaced and by whom, the earliest by TC in 1550.

We followed the Causey (it’s original name), down to Wyming Brook Nature Reserve and joined the trail that weaves its way down the narrow gorge. This is a visual, physical and aural experience with thundering waterfalls, tall pines and rock towers all assaulting our senses as we descended to a forest track. Eventually, it led us across the A57 and up through fields to the old Sheffield to Manchester Trans Pennine route. We followed the old road west to a 16th century milestone from where we turned left back over the A57 to regain Stanage Edge at Crow Chin. We saw our first grouse water bowl, number 35, almost immediately. Carved from gritstone in the 19th century, 108 bowls were commissioned by William Wilson, a Sheffield snuff manufacturer. It was his attempt, some say madness, to try and keep his grouse from straying onto his neighbours land a few feet away on Bamford Moor. George Broomhead carved elaborate single and double bowls with intricately shaped channels feeding rainwater into the bowl. He numbered them for the payment of seven shillings and sixpence each. We followed his works of art in descending order north east to south west, ending at number one by the Long Causeway where we descended back down to Dennis Knoll.

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PROMOTION

How to do it The adventure you’ve read about here is offered by Inish Adventures as part of a new programme in Northern Ireland by Derry City and Strabane District Council. If you’d like to find out more and give it a go head to the aforementioned website or head to www.slowadventureni.com.

Other adventures If canoeing and wild camping doesn’t set your heart racing, there are numerous other slow adventures you can think about joining including a culinary cycle tour through the Sperrin Mountains or a day of walking, mindfulness and foraging. Other packages include trying your hand at traditional fishing and cooking it over a camp fire, horse riding in the Irish wilderness or deer stalking and bird shooting. Find out more at www.slowadventureni.com.

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UK Adventure

NORTH E R N I R E LA ND

Ireland from the water Rob Slade delves into the delights that a slow adventure in Northern Ireland can offer.

DERRY

NORTHERN IRELAND

BELFAST

IRELAND DUBLIN

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ust a few weeks ago I was on a river journey by stand up paddle board, travelling along the River Wye in Wales and that trip planted a seed in me that has only grown since. Across that weekend I realised just how immersive slower adventures can be, giving you an entirely different viewpoint on the world that you are travelling through, and I can’t wait to get out on something similar. Well, we have just found a tantalising option in a wild camping canoe experience in Northern Ireland. The adventure is one of 10 new slow adventure visitor packages just launched in Northern Ireland that aim to promote alternatives to adrenaline activities in the area with immersive journeys through wild and natural places being the order of the day. The river journey takes place on the tidal River Foyle and begins at the ‘Port of the Three Enemies’, where the River Finn, River Mourne and River Foyle meet. The journey takes you along the water where

you’ll learn of the local area, the heritage and the wildlife that calls it home. Stopping for the night at Gribben Quay, campers get to enjoy a wild food experience with a local chef who teaches you to cook with local ingredients and wild food. Camp craft sessions including fire, shelter and wild cooking skills will see the night away before settling in for a kip ahead of another few hours of paddling. Starting the day in the best way possible with a campfire breakfast, the journey then takes you toward and through the city of Derry for an urban adventure and offers a completely different perspective. Pass under the city’s three bridges before continuing to the historic dockland area where the river meets the sea lough at Culmore Point, which signals the final stretch of this journey by water. Before the finish, the historic landmarks of the Old Foyle Valley Railway, the city cathedrals and the old wharf at Lisahally will come into view, rounding off a weekend adventure combining wild spaces with nature, heritage and history.

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GoToBermuda.co.uk TR E SPA SSE R ’ S COV E


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Come home to Granaway. Share a taste of the past in a Bermudian home built in 1734. Away from the bustle of the larger resorts, Granaway captures all the charm of a home rich in detail.

Our cottages and apartments are en suite, with fully equipped kitchenettes and porches overlooking the lush gardens or scenic water views. Two of our rooms, without kitchens, are served a continental breakfast on a tray to your room.

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Discover Britain

DISCOVER

britain B r e c o n B e a c o n s N at i o n a l P a r k Picture-perfect green valleys, majestic ridgelines carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago and easy access makes the Brecon Breacons a dream. Rob Slade heads to Wales to delve into why the area is one of his favourite stomping grounds.

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ead down, one foot in front of the other, the rain lashing against the side of my face. Mother Nature was throwing everything at us as we trudged slowly but surely toward Grwyne Fawr Reservoir, soaked entirely through to the bones… My first visit to the Brecon Beacons as a teenager doesn’t exactly sound as though it would be the start of a lifelong love affair with the area, but at that moment something just clicked. We had been on an expedition while taking part in Duke of Edinburgh, facing horrendous conditions along the way. It was tough, but it was rewarding, and the Brecon Beacons left a long-lasting impression on me. A few weeks later and we were back for a second expedition, only this time we were bathed in glorious sunshine for the entire weekend, with a canopy of deep blue stretching as far as the eye could see and endless shades of green covering our surroundings. It was bliss. Since then, I’ve returned countless times. Being just an hour away from Bristol, two from the Midlands and three from London, the Brecon Beacons are incredibly accessible for those in the south and are perfect for weekend adventures. With that in mind, we decided to make it our next stop in the Discover Britain series and in the pages that follow you’ll find plenty of ideas for the ideal short break. If you can afford to take a day – or even half of one – off work, do it, as you can fit a lot more in! So, without further ado, here is our tried and tested recommendation for an incredible weekend in the Brecon Beacons. The best plan of attack sees you arrive in Wales by lunchtime on the Friday. While everyone else is counting down the hours until the weekend starts, you’ll be taking on Pen y Fan for some of the best views in southern Britain. It’s up to you which route you take and how many peaks you tick off, but we’d thoroughly recommend the horseshoe route if you are up for it. After bagging the national park’s highest peaks, snapping your summit shots and making your way back to the car you’ll mosey

on up to Pencelli Castle Caravan & Camping Park which will be your base for the weekend. Start Saturday morning early to beat the crowds and make the most of the day, as it’s going to be a good one. Head south along the A470 (fantastic views!) before branching off onto the A4059 toward Penderyn. Find somewhere to park and then follow the footpath north west away from the village. Eventually you will reach the enchanting Sgwd yr Ellra, the area’s most famous waterfall. Spend some time taking it in, walk underneath it (remember your waterproofs!) and snap lots of photos before exploring the other waterfalls in the area. Once you’ve had enough, head back to Penderyn and embark on a tour at Penderyn Distillery, the only whisky distillery in Wales. As the afternoon beckons, head west along the A465. Your next target is the Black Mountain range, but before you get there, you might want to pop into Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary which has provided a home to many types of unwanted animals including chimpanzees, baboons, spider monkeys and more. Once you’re done there, get back on the road and aim for the A4069, otherwise known as Black Mountain Pass. This is probably one of the best roads in Wales, with views stretching as far as the eye can see, rugged mountains aplenty and some tasty driving for those that want it. After this, camp is calling, so you’ll need to head back east to settle in for the evening before another fantastic day comes around. Sunday morning starts with a drive east toward Hay Bluff and the beautiful Black Mountains. Parking up below the impressive escarpment on Gospel Pass, the first order of the day is to climb it, before taking in a bit of the Offa’s Dyke Path and making your way over to Lord Hereford’s Knob, taking in the stupendous views while you’re at it. Once back at the car you are ready to set off home, but not before a journey along the stupendously beautiful Gospel Pass and through the stunning Vale of Ewyas.

PHOTO: Visit Britain

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Discover Britain

1. The Vale of Ew yas

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The Black Mountains and the Vale of Ewyas have long been a personal favourite of mine, but I never truly appreciated just how incredible the area is until driving along Gospel Pass, Wales’ highest road. It starts from Hayon-Wye and wiggles its way south for 18 miles until it reaches Abergavenny. Along the way it snakes under Hay Bluff to the east and Lord Hereford’s Knob to the west, before reaching the most ridiculously scenic layby when you slip over the col just a few miles in. The views from here are simply astounding, and happily, they don’t let up for the entire route. For most of the route you will be flanked by the Black Mountains on either side and surrounded by green. Essentially, it’s just a really lovely place to be. Halfway along the route you’ll stumble upon the impressively preserved Llanthony Priory which dates all the way back to the 12th century. It faced various attacks over the years, so none of the original buildings are still standing today, but what you do see are magnificent structures dating back to the 13th century, with beautiful windows and archways hinting at the grandeur that once was.

2. Waterfall Country

Found in the south of the Brecon Beacons, on the slopes of the Fforest Fawr massif, Waterfall Country is a magical place that you’d be silly to miss. Tree-lined gorges and tumbling water is the norm here and both photographers and wild swimmers will be in their element. We made our way over to the most famous waterfall, Sgwd-y-Eira, from Penderyn and it made for a lovely short walk. It’s a beautiful spot and you’ll be glad to know that you can actually walk under the waterfall itself… I know, I thought that was something reserved for wild and exotic places too! Just be prepared to get wet. Those who are making a long weekend of it should be tempted by a longer excursion where you can literally spend hours following the footpaths, discovering picture-perfect waterfalls around every corner. Also worthy of a mention are Sgwd Gwladus (the Lady Falls) and Sgwd-y-Bedol (the Horseshoe Falls). Don your swimming costumes, grab your GoPros and brave the cold waters and you’ll have another incredible experience to look back on.

Hay-on-Wye A438

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ENGLAND WALES

Hay Bluff GOSPEL PASS

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Talgarth A470 A40

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Myddfai Sennybridge

Llangadog A40

LLANTHONY PRIORY

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Fan Brycheiniog BRECON BEACONS NATIONAL PARK

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PENDERYN Glynneath Pontardawe

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Merthyr Tydfil

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Discover Britain

Hike

1. Pen y Fan

Now we couldn’t go and write a feature about the Brecon Beacons and not include the highest mountain in the south of Britain, could we? Standing at a respectable 886m, Pen y Fan is one of the most popular mountains in the UK, with more than 250,000 setting foot on its well-worn paths each year. And while most will take the route from the Storey Arms – ideal for a quick assault on Corn Du (873m), Pen y Fan and also Cribyn (795m) if you’re up to it – there are several other routes you could try out. The approach from the north (starting at Cwm Gwdi car park) is tougher than the standard route, but with that you also lose the crowds so you get to enjoy the fantastic scenery in relative quiet. Plus, there’s something extra special about that final scramble over the lip of the cliff to reach the summit of Pen y Fan. Another option, for those with more time, is to tackle the Brecon Beacons horseshoe. Starting from Taf Fechan car park to the south, this rewarding route takes you on a beautiful ridge walk, ticking off Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn and Fan y Big (719m) as you go.

2. Hay Bluff

It may not reach the same lofty heights as Pen y Fan, but Hay Bluff (677m) is a mountain that delivers some of the best views in the Brecon Beacons. Those short on time can park up on Gospel Pass and make the quick ascent to the trig point. Once there, you’ll have uninterrupted, panoramic views of the national park, the Wye Valley and Herefordshire. Hay Bluff resides at the northernmost tip of Hatterrall Ridge and the Black Mountains, and only just falls within Brecon Beacons National Park. The ridge itself continues south for roughly 10 miles and, with the Offa’s Dyke Path running along it, offers some fine walking. If you have the time, we’d thoroughly recommend a circular route heading south along the ridge, turning off toward Capel-y-Finn, and then heading northward toward Lord Hereford’s Knob (Twmpa), before returning to the car park. Alternatively, you can follow the path south via the western edge of Hatterrall Ridge to a col, where you’ll cross Gospel Pass and gain Lord Hereford’s Knob via a shorter route. It’s really worth trying to fit in one of these walks, as the views south along the Vale of Ewyas are just outstanding.

PHOTO: Visit Wales

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1. Bl ack Mountain

Not to be confused with the Black Mountains in the east of the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountain range is found standing tall and proud in the far west and is much less frequented than its pretty green cousin. What it lacks in fine green valleys though, it certainly makes up for in wild, remote and rugged scenery equally as jaw-dropping. If you’ve got the time, a hike up to Fan Brycheiniog (802m) is worth the effort, as it rewards beautiful views over the glacial lakes of Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr. For those who are shorter on time though, you could do much worse than heading west for an incredibly scenic drive over Black Mountain Pass (otherwise known as the A4069). The road goes from Upper Brynamman all the way to Llandovery, but it’s the stretch which falls within the national park boundaries that really delivers. With views of the impressively rugged mountains and the surrounding countryside abound, this is probably one of the best drives in Wales. There are incredible viewpoints perfect for photo stops and a few hairpin turns thrown in for good measure too.

2. Penderyn Dis tillery

When most people think of whisky, attentions are usually diverted straight to Scotland, and understandably so, with over 100 distilleries known to be in operation. But a visit to the Brecon Beacons actually takes you within striking distance of the one and only distillery in Wales. The Penderyn Distillery is nestled in the south of the national park, not too far from Waterfall Country, and is great for breaking up the day with an hour-long tour. During the tour, you’ll learn about how the whisky is made, what makes it unique and how it all came to be. Of course, at the end there is also a chance to sample some of the distillery’s products in the tasting bar. If you’re unable to take part in the sampling because you are driving, you’ll be happy to know you can take samples away. Tours cost £8.50 per head (£6.50 concessions) and, no matter if you’re a big whisky drinker or not, are genuinely very interesting.

S tay H E R E PENCELLI CASTLE CARAVAN & CAMPING PARK It’s situated pretty near to both Pen y Fan and the Black Mountains, has loads of space, great facilities and there’s a pub just a stone’s throw away… You can see why we were a fan of Pencelli Castle Caravan & Caravan Park. There are also plenty of showers, wash cubicles and toilets, so you’ll never be left waiting. See www.pencelli-castle.com.

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WALKING AMONG

GIANTS With some of Europe’s most spectacular viewpoints, Norway is undoubtedly a gem for adventure seekers. Rob Slade makes the short trip to tackle the country’s infamous Besseggen Ridge hike.

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M E S M E R I S I N G V I E W S F R O M T H E S TA R T

orking for a travel magazine obviously has its benefits. While I’m not travelling the world 360 days of the year as many would believe, I do get to head away more than I would if I was working in most other jobs. Having said that, a large portion of my time is spent chained to my desk in the office, editing the work of people who are on the road for most of the year, and dealing with some truly fantastic photographers. What this means then, is that my to-do list grows by about two pages of A4 every day, so when I had the chance to nip over to Norway for a few days I couldn’t have been more excited, such were the enticing tales and astoundingly beautiful photos I had spent the past few years peering over. I was to be heading over to Jotunheimen National Park, a land of rugged, snow-capped mountains, impossibly turquoise lakes and wild, untamed plateaus in eastern Norway. It’s home to the highest mountain in Norway (and all of Northern Europe for that matter), Galdhøpiggen (2,469m), and offers more than 50 unbelievable marked trails, but there was only one in my crosshairs as I stepped off my British Airways flight in Oslo. Within 24 hours of leaving that plane I would be ticking off the first few miles of the Besseggen Ridge hike, a walk so astoundingly beautiful that it draws in over 30,000 people every year. For a first timer to Norway like myself, any journey is sure

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to leave your jaw planted firmly on the floor. Within minutes of leaving the airport our train was carving through picture-perfect valleys flanked by pristine lakes. Almost every five minutes I was staring out the window in disbelief at the beauty which was stretching out before me, a feeling which didn’t let up for my entire visit to the country. Around every twist and turn there was another mountain I wanted to summit or another incredible waterway I wanted to explore. As it happened, I was heading to a place so stunning I had to pinch myself to check I wasn’t dreaming. My first night in Norway was spent at Bessheim Mountain Lodge, where I indulged in reindeer (when in Rome…) and rested up ahead of a big day to come. The twelve hours of travelling must have taken its toll on me as no sooner had my


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head hit the pillow than I was waking up to the morning light creeping around the curtains. Now, I’m normally the sort of guy who lies around for half an hour scrolling through Instagram and checking my emails, but with the prize of Besseggen Ridge lying ahead of me I jumped out of bed as if I was a fiveyear-old boy waking up on Christmas day. After a hearty breakfast and a short drive to Gjendesheim we were at the edge of Gjende, the lake which runs parallel to the ridge, waiting for a short boat trip to Memurubu, where we would start our 10-mile hike. The trip over the lake was cold and windy, but spectacular along every step of the way with the imposing Besseggen Ridge rising up steeply from the water, towering over us formidably. In mere hours we were to be scrambling up those steep and rugged rocks. In what felt like an hour, but was more likely to have been 10 minutes, I was planting my feet firmly on terra firma and heading toward the main track. We could see dozens of people snaking their way along the path up ahead, so we purposefully hung behind in order to peel away from the crowd. Out of Memurubu the track climbs steeply with large rocks forming a stairway toward the plateau above. It was a tough start, but I didn’t mind, as the regular stops to regain composure allowed the chance to turn around and take in the stunning view as it unfolded below. The River Muru careered downhill behind us toward the beautiful Lake Gjende, which had since taken on a brilliant shade of emerald, while the

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snow-capped mountains from deeper within Jotunheimen stood proudly in the distance. It wasn’t long before the layers previously keeping us warm on the boat were stripped and packed away. While it wasn’t all blue skies and brilliant sunshine, the mixture of cloud and clear skies more than added to the atmosphere and we felt blessed to have some protection against the heat of the sun. After that initial climb the track, marked regularly by a bloodred ‘T’, was more than manageable as it followed its way along the wide ridge plateau, gently rising and falling. To our north stood Besshø (2,258m), while to our south Lake Gjende, with rugged mountains rising sharply from its southern shore, capped by glaciers and clouds that threatened to make a break for us throughout the day. It’s hard to quite put into words just how beautiful the scenery was during this walk and I would often find myself turning around to drink it all in. I lost count of the number of times the words ‘this is bloody awesome’ ran through my head. As we skirted along the side of Besshø, the famous Besseggen Ridge came into view once more. Ahead, I could see a couple of dozen brightly-dressed Europeans daintily picking their way up the ridge. Within the hour, we would be joining them. Before that though, lunch was calling, so we set ourselves down next to a small lake called Bjørnbøltjønne and tucked into our sandwiches. Refuelled and raring to go, we marched onwards and in www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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TA K I N G I N T H E V I E W S F R O M W H E R E W E C A M E

THE IMPOSING MOUNT BESSHØ

no time at all we were descending a slightly tricky section of rock to an area referred to as ‘The Strip’. Now, you won’t find any fancy casinos or drunk Brits hanging out here. Unlike its namesake in Las Vegas, the strip on Besseggen is the narrow part of land which seperates Lake Gjende hundreds of metres below and Lake Bessvatn, which laps up toward your feet a few paces away. The stretch of firm ground is just metres wide and affords some of the most stunning views on the trail, though these are outdone as you climb higher up Besseggen. Once you’re finished with a rest stop and you’ve got your photos in the bag, it’s time for the serious part, an assault on the ridge as it rises up towards Veslefjell Mountain. For this part you’ll definitely need to take your hands out of your pockets as the path turns into a full on scramble. There’s nothing too technical at work here as there are plenty of big holds for both hands and feet, but it’s hard work and if you don’t like big drops you’ll want to avoid looking down towards Lake Gjende. It’s hard work, but it’s thrilling, and I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s important you don’t get caught up in the scramble though (as I almost did), as the views back from where you came only get better and better. With more altitude gained you’ll be able to see both Lake Gjende and Bessvatn lying out before you, one a deep blue and the other a bright emerald colour. It’s a breathtaking view. Looking around, I took a moment to gaze across Lake Gjende to the mountains, valleys and rivers standing so invitingly, while Besshø watched

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HEADING TO BESSEGGEN

THE SCRAMBLE

over us imposingly. Beyond all of that, the snow-capped mountains of Jotunheimen lingered, sending my mind into a state of restlessness as it processed all of the peaks it wanted me to climb. In short, it was my kind of heaven. I continued up the ridge with a grin plastered across my face and contentedness coursing through me. ‘This is great!’ I thought, though the German slivering along on his belly next to me clearly didn’t share the same sentiment. Before long, the tasty part of the scramble was over and I progressed on two feet, turning around to take in the views as often as it was practical to do so. While the most exciting part was behind us, we had only just passed halfway and there was plenty of walking left. Having gained the main plateau to the east of Besseggen, we were now walking on fairly flat ground, so you might have thought the going would have been easy. Yep, I thought that too until I was picking my way through loose rock and shingle. Suddenly, the quick and simple few miles back to Gjendesheim didn’t seem so simple after all. As we picked our way across the rock-strewn plateau we reached a large pile of rocks signifying the summit of Mount Veslefjell (1,743m). While the wide plateau stripped away any views down toward Besseggen and the colourful lakes that flanked the ridge, we were still kept company by Besshø standing tall behind us and the snow-capped mountains rearing up in the distance. This section certainly wasn’t the most picturesque part of the hike, but with the rocks strewn across the plateau covered with


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strange green algae it almost looked like you were on another planet. With the weather starting to close in, the views only grew with interest and atmosphere. Luckily, we managed to stave off the worst of the weather, but the clouds were still encircling us, the wind was picking up and the rain was starting to descend upon us. Even so, we were still afforded pretty decent visibility. As we approached the eastern end of the plateau we were extremely grateful for this, as the stunning views returned. Both lakes from before were once again visible and had taken on a new, illuminating role against the backdrop of low cloud and dark, rocky mountains surrounding us. At last, our finishing point was in sight as Gjendesheim appeared at the bottom of the valley and the edge of Lake Gjende. With the final descent just a stone’s throw away, we made the most of the final viewpoint, and what a gift it was. As I peered over the edge of a very steep and precariously crumbly cliff, I took in the unbelievable views of Lake Gjende and the surrounding mountains once more. The final descent was a punishing one on the knees as we dropped a few hundred metres via the rocky track zig zagging down below. This was well and truly the final stretch, but with the aforementioned loose rock still underfoot and the challenge of a few large ledges with limited footholds, it was going to be a tough end. Spurred on by the promise of warm waffles, shelter from the impeding rain shower and the chance to take my boots off, I hastily descended. After a long hour,

we had finally made it to Gjendesheim, and not a moment too soon. As we walked through the doors to the smell of sweet, sweet waffles the heavens opened, drenching those trailing behind in the process. All that was left to do now was to take a pew, grab some waffles and dig into some well-earned grub. What a hike. What a day… Norway had been on my bucket list for years, and even after taking on this epic hike, it’s going to stay on there. With friendly people, cheap flights and scenery that I only thought possible in dreams, this is somewhere I plan to return to over and over again.

after the hike While many will add to their trip by heading to Troll’s Tongue (Trolltunga), Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) or the fjords near Bergen we urge you to stay and explore the national park region for a while, as there is plenty to see and do. Just a short drive away in Dovrefjell National Park you can embark on a musk ox safari. Head into the mountains by foot in a attempt to track down and observe these magnificent animals. Nearby, you’ll also find Glittersjå Mountain Farm set amongst beautiful countryside, offering you the chance to try traditonally baked bread and meet moose, boar and Arctic hare.

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le t’s go NORWAY

going downhill, which is slightly tougher Flights from the UK to Norway are many and, in my opinion, not as enjoyable. But it does mean you get to walk toward the and they are super cheap. If you book in best views. advance you can often find return tickets Alternatively, you can get the boat to from London for as little as £30 with the Memurubu in the morning (as we did) and likes of Ryanair (hold luggage is extra), hike back to Gjendesheim. This means but even at peak times without much noyou can take as much time as you like on tice you should expect to get tickets well your way back and you also get the joy of under £200. Once there, you can either hire a car (recommended) or get the train tackling the ridge going the other way. Of course, you could walk both ways, to Otta (the gateway to the national parks staying in a tent or in the hut at Memuruarea) followed by a bus to Gjendesheim bu overnight. There is also a track along(the start point for the hike). side Lake Gjende if you wish to mix it up. If you want a longer adventure, you could Where to stay There is accommodation at Gjendesheim even link in Gjendebu further along the lake for a multi-day hike. in the form of a Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) hut which can house in What to take excess of 180 people and is ideal for using Weather conditions in mounbefore/after your hike. Nearby you will also tainous areas are notorious for find Bessheim Mountain Lodge and Cabins which offers great food, comfortable accom- changing quickly and that’s certainly the case here. modation and fantastic views. Of course, Even if balmy temperawild camping is also acceptable in Norway tures and bright sunshine as long as you camp more than 150m away from buildings and leave no trace. There are is forecast, be sure to also DNT huts at Memurubu and Gjendebu. take plenty of layers and waterproofs for all eventualities. Sturdy How to do it boots with grippy soles From Gjendesheim you are faced with several options. One is to hike directly to are essential for rocky sections and you’ll also Memurubu and get the boat back at the want to carry plenty of end of the day. Doing it this way means water and food to keep you not only face a time limit, but you’ll you going all day. also have to tackle the ridge scramble

How to get there

When to go

Unless you’re an experienced winter hiker, you’ll want to visit Jotunheimen National Park and Besseggen in peak season which runs from mid-June to mid-September. Weekdays are generally quieter than weekends, while starting early will also help you avoid the crowds.

find out more

Check out www.visitnorway.com and www.nasjonalparkriket.no for more information and ideas.

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Switzerland

SWITZERLAND’S

SOUTHERN SECRETS With the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the Swiss region of Ticino is now more accessible than ever. Caroline Bishop heads to this wildly beautiful and untouched area for an unforgettable hut-to-hut hike over Cristallina Pass.

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Switzerland

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zoomed in with my camera and focused on the dark specks moving over the white. I was holding my breath as I watched them slowly cross the snow that clung to the steep slope above an ice-cold lake, and I let it out in relief as they finally moved back on to the solid rock of the path. I knew how precarious it felt to traverse those snowfields, because a couple of hours earlier I had done it myself. I was watching the two hikers – a couple from Luxembourg, I found out later when they arrived safely – from the terrace of the Capanna Cristallina, the second Swiss Alpine Club hut I stayed in with my boyfriend as part of an early summer hiking trip in Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of southern Switzerland. We’ve hiked frequently elsewhere in Switzerland, regularly making use of the club’s vast network of scenically located and superbly run cabins, but this region was new to us. A popular spot with German and Swiss holidaymakers, Ticino attracted much wider attention in 2016 when the world’s longest rail tunnel – the 35-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel under the Gotthard massif – was completed after 17 years of work, shortening the travel time between this region and the rest of the country to the north. However, it wasn’t so much the quicker access that had attracted us here but the promise of Switzerland’s warmest temperatures, Italian-influenced food and the chance to hike through some of the country’s most beautiful scenery. As we travelled by bus from the city of Locarno into the rural Maggia Valley towards our chosen hiking area, we soon realised that Ticino is beautiful in a very different way to the rest of Switzerland. Gone are the chocolate-box wooden chalets and fir tree-clad mountains; instead lush deciduous forests carpet the high sides of the valley, while its traditional

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who’s writing?

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CAROLINE BISHOP is a British travel and arts writer living in Lausanne, Switzerland. Focusing on exploring and writing about her adopted home, her many adventures have included learning to snow bike in Gstaad, cycling the absinthe trail in the Jura and hiking hut to hut in the Swiss Alps. See more at www.carolinehbishop.co.uk or follow her on Twitter: @calbish.


Switzerland

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WALKING UP FROM LAGO BIANCO

SNOWFIELDS AROUND LAGO SFUNDAU

rustic houses – some dating back several centuries – are typically made from local stone rather than wood. The scenery got ever wilder after we changed buses and headed into the Bavona valley, an offshoot of the Maggia and a place that feels a world away from the city life we left that morning. Carved out by glaciers and landslides, the Bavona is a narrow, rocky valley whose early inhabitants had to be creative in order to live here: houses were sometimes literally built into boulders, while vegetable gardens were grown on top of flat rocks. As we travelled through the valley’s 12 villages – known as terre – each seemed more picturesque than the last, but all had a peaceful, timeless quality, as though they hadn’t changed much for centuries. In fact, that’s been a specific aim. In the 1950s the people here voted against connecting the valley to the national electricity supply, preferring to preserve its authenticity, and it has remained off-grid ever since. Instead, its houses – now occupied mainly in summer only – use generators, solar cells and candles for light and power. There was certainly a novelty factor in being given a torch by our host at the guesthouse in Sonlerto where we stayed the night, just in case we needed light after the generator was switched off. The valley’s refusal of electricity seemed particularly eccentric in light of the fact that just up a nearby mountain was one of Switzerland’s most important hydropower production ar-

eas. We saw the power lines in the morning when we took the cable car from the village of San Carlo at the end of the Bavona valley – the only one of the 12 villages that does have electricity – up to Robièi, the high alpine region where we planned to start hiking. We could have walked the two and a half miles and 1,000m elevation to the top, and I slightly regretted not doing so as the cable car swept us up into moody skies over a Tolkien-esque valley, the thin white veins of a river carving a rocky trail through lush forest. But I knew there was plenty of hiking ahead of me. We started by setting out from the top of the cable car station on a walk around Lake Robièi, its deep turquoise swatch of water held back by a 68m wall of concrete. This impressive dam is just one of several up here, built during the 1950s and ‘60s to gather the water from glaciers and rivers into reservoirs and harness its power for hydroelectricity, which is now an important part of Switzerland’s energy supply. At the Robièi dam, groups can reserve ahead with the power plant operator to go inside the dam and learn more about hydropower production on an ‘educational tour’. For us, the power of water was more than evident as we hiked the easy trail around the lake. On the far side, water pummelled into the reservoir along a manmade channel, while signs warned people to keep away from the riverbed through www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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unintentionally comical cartoon-like pictures of a couple caught in a tidal wave. Our day’s education was cut short by the weather, however, and the rain descended in earnest that afternoon. Not wanting to risk being caught in the forecast storm, we retreated to our home for the night, the Capanna Basodino, from whose windows we could watch the rain swelling the waterfalls that rushed in rivulets down the sheer cliffs into the valley below. Like most mountain cabins belonging to the Swiss Alpine Club, the Capanna Basodino occupies an impossibly scenic spot. Built in 1927, long before the cable car connected it to the valley in the 1960s, its cosy interior would have been a welcome reward for completing the steep two-hour hike up from San Carlo. I didn’t feel we’d quite earned the three course meal prepared for us by the young Swiss couple who run the cabin and live there all summer, but I wasn’t going to turn it down nonetheless. Due in part to the inclement weather, we happened to be the only guests that night, so their hospitality was all for us, and we took the opportunity to quiz them on life in the mountains and the likelihood of the weather allowing us to complete our planned hike to the Cristallina Pass the next day. They couldn’t advise us what to do – hiking in high alpine areas is always at your own risk – though it reassured me slightly that as part of their job they have been

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trained in search and rescue. Thankfully, we woke after a night in the cabin’s warm bunk beds to see the clouds had lifted. The forecast looked favourable, so we packed up and headed out early, aiming to complete our day’s hike before the next set of clouds rolled in. With few people on the trail, it was quiet as we passed the Robièi dam once again and walked on up the gently sloping path towards Lago Bianco (White Lake). Wildflowers in vivid yellow, violet and fuchsia peppered the plush green grass, and we caught a glimpse of several marmots, hearing them call to each other in their distinctive high-pitched chirp. From Lago Bianco the hard work began, as we climbed up a steep, rocky section of the trail that took us up to 2,340m. We followed the red and white trail markers painted on the rocks – Swiss hiking trails are always well signed – until the trail flattened out at the top. There, we stopped for a break and a snack looking down on the lake below and the snow-speckled mountains that surrounded it. The top of another huge dam, the Cavagnöö, was just visible in the distance. Unfortunately, the clouds were gathering again, so we quickened our pace as we headed along an undulating rocky path towards Lago Sfundau, the main obstacle between us and our next hut, the Cristallina, on the alpine pass of the same name. In high summer, it shouldn’t be an obstacle at all. But it was


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CROSSING A STREAM

O N T H E W AY D O W N

only late June, and we’d heard from the few other hikers we’d met on our trip that the snow hadn’t completely melted away. What’s more, the recent rainfall at lower altitude could have generated fresh flakes up here. We called the cabin’s guardian that morning before setting out, so we knew there were at least two sections of the trail covered in snow, but he assured us that other hikers had done it before us in recent days, so we simply needed to follow in their footsteps. It sounded straightforward enough, and looking towards the trail from where we were standing at the southern end of the lake, it certainly looked passable. We had decent boots, sturdy poles and full waterproofs. We refuelled on energy bars and water, and took our first steps into ankle-deep snow. Afterwards, we estimated that in good conditions it should have taken us only 45 minutes to traverse the path and reach the cabin. It took us two hours. Two hours of adrenaline heightening our every move as we negotiated the narrow trail that clung to the side of the lake, high above the milky green water and its ominous swirls of ice. One slip and we could have been tumbling down into the lake’s frigid depths – and with weighty backpacks on, the chances of extricating ourselves before hypothermia set in would be slim. In good conditions, slipping on this trail would be unlikely, but in snow it’s a real possibility. We could make out the footsteps of those who had gone

before us, but they were already semi-filled with fresh snow; it was clear that we were the first hikers of the day along this section. We tackled the white patches methodically, slamming our poles into the snow for stability before side-stepping along, one foot at a time, digging in the toes of our boots as we went. Perhaps even more treacherous was the loose rock at either side of the snowfields which made it hard to get on and off them. I proceeded carefully but firmly, refusing to look down – that wouldn’t have made it any easier. Finally, we came through the worst of the snow patches and reached the end of the lake, my pulse slowing in relief. During the time we’d been on the trail the clouds had descended further and flakes were falling. I pulled up the hood on my waterproof jacket and followed the indented footsteps of yesterday’s hikers through the snowy landscape, eerie in the dim visibility. I hoped the Capanna Cristallina wasn’t too far away, and luckily it wasn’t. But so limited was our vision that we didn’t see it until we were almost upon it. Suddenly, it loomed out of the mist ahead of us and what an oasis it seemed – this time, we had certainly earned the comfort it would offer. We stepped inside, shutting out the near-blizzard, and suddenly it was as though we were hardly in the mountains at all. Though it’s at an altitude of 2,575m and far from civilisation – supplies have to be flown in by helicopter – this is a thoroughly modern cabin that resembles a posh youth hostel. www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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Switzerland

BEAUTIFUL SWISS VIEWS

Accommodating up to 120 people a night, it’s run by a family and additional temporary staff who offer tasty food (rabbit casserole was on the menu that night), clean bunk beds and even hot showers for an additional fee. It’s an example of the incredible feats the Swiss have achieved in their mountains, despite those mountains doing their best to assert their superiority; this cabin is only 14 years old because the original 1939 hut up here was destroyed by an avalanche in 1999. We spent the evening eating, drinking and discussing hiking with the couple from Luxembourg and a British-Swiss pair who had hiked up the other side of the Cristallina Pass from the Bedretto valley – the same route we were intending to take down the next day. They bounded up the six miles and 1,370m of elevation change in just under three hours, which seemed impressive to me, until I read that the winner of last year’s annual Cristallina Challenge running race, which covers the same steep route, did it in just one hour. We were going downhill instead, and were in no rush to end our final day’s hiking, so we took it at a leisurely pace. Under sunny skies we said goodbye to our fellow hikers and left the last snow patches at Cristallina behind us. We descended past alpine streams and rushing waterfalls, stopping to picnic on a boulder in front of an imposing alpine skyline the other side of the valley. We passed a few other hikers coming up the other way, but our first real sign of civilisation

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was a herd of cows grazing on a pasture about halfway down, watched over by a farmer who nodded to us in greeting. I felt a pang of disappointment to be leaving the high alpine landscape behind. The air became warmer and soon we were below the tree line and walking through humid forests, knees burning from the constant descent, until we reached the village of Bedretto below. Back safely among people, cars and houses, it was hard to believe we were walking through the rugged landscape of Cristallina only a few hours before. I wondered if anyone was negotiating those snowfields at that moment, and I thought of the chat we had with the cabin’s guardian as we watched the couple from Luxembourg move across the snow the previous afternoon. As he looked through binoculars towards Sfundau, I asked if anyone had actually slipped off the path towards that icy lake. “Yes,” he said, telling us that the previous summer a German hiker carrying a huge backpack fell and rolled down the slope. Thankfully, he managed to grab onto a boulder which saved him from the water, and whilst holding on he called the guardian on his mobile phone and was rescued by a helicopter that happened to be bringing supplies to the cabin that day. Safe in our hotel in Bedretto, I looked out the window at the mountains high above and felt happy to have experienced the raw beauty of Ticino’s hiking trails – and survived to do it again some day.


Switzerland

le t’s go SWITZERLAND

How to get there

The Robièi hiking area is accessible via cable car from San Carlo in the Val Bavona, which is around a two-hour bus ride from Locarno in the Italian-speaking region of Ticino. Getting to Ticino has been made easier by the new Gotthard Base Tunnel, a flat, straight and very deep tunnel under the Gotthard massif, which opened for passenger services in December 2016. Bypassing the original high alpine train line, built in 1882, the tunnel cuts 18 miles off the journey and allows trains to travel at much faster speeds, up to 155mph. As a result the journey now takes just two hours between Zurich airport and Bellinzona, where you can change for Locarno. Return flights from London to Zurich can be had from £84.

When To Go

Hiking season in Switzerland is generally from late June to mid September, with most Swiss Alpine Club cabins open and staffed during that time. However, conditions vary depending on the weather and snow is possible on the trails even in the

summer months. Always check the forecast and the trail conditions before you set off, and bear in mind your ability level.

Where To Stay

The Swiss Alpine Club’s Capanna Basodino (www.capannabasodino.ch) and Capanna Cristallina (www.capannacristallina.ch). You don’t need to be a member to stay in them – you just pay a bit more than members do. Both offer bunks in dorm rooms, breakfast and evening meals and optional sandwich packs to take away on your hike. It’s best to book ahead for a bed, since the cabins can get busy, particularly in July and August. Expect to pay around £45 per person for one night including breakfast and dinner. At either end of the hike, check out Grotto Bavona (www.grottobavona.ch; £95 per double room, bed and breakfast) in Sonlerto and also the Chalet Stella Alpina (www.chaletstellaalpina.com; £125 per double room, bed and breakfast) in Bedretto.

What To Take

These are high alpine trails, so wear sturdy hiking boots and pack for all weathers – waterproof trousers and jacket, gai-

ters for snow sections and plenty of layers. Hiking poles are useful for rocky ascents and stability over snow patches. In the cabins, duvets are provided so you don’t need a sleeping bag, but you are expected to bring your own sleeping sheet to use under the duvet. A headtorch is also useful.

What to expect

Hiking is a national pastime in Switzerland and, as you might expect, it’s very well organized. So although the scenery feels wild and remote, you know you’re in safe hands. Trails are well signed, with yellow signposts showing approximate hiking times (add a bit if your fitness isn’t quite at the level of the average Swiss hiker) plus white/red/white markings painted on rocks along the way. That said, always come prepared with detailed trail maps that you can print off before you go from the superb Swiss hiking website www.wanderland.ch (available in English). The site meteosuisse.ch gives detailed weather forecasts.

More info

Plan your trip using www.ticino.ch and www.wanderland.ch.

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418 VERTEX ®

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Ras Al Khaimah

With cheap ights, fewer people than its neighbours and endless activities, is Ras Al Khaimah one of the most exciting adventure destinations? Rob Slade thinks it might well be...

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Ras Al Khaimah

SYRIA

JOR

DA N

IRAQ IRAN

RAS AL KHAIMAH SAUDI ARABIA

UAE OMAN

SUDAN

here I was, clinging onto a metal rung in the wall with one hand, muscles burning and heart beating out of my chest. Below there was nothing but a 50m drop to the solid ground. I slowly and carefully stretched my arm out below me, grasping a karabiner and unclipping it. With the muscles in my forearm then feeling as if they were literally on fire, I reached up and clipped myself into the wire above my head. I breathed a sigh of relief and then did the same with the second karabiner before slowly but surely progressing up the sheer rock face that made up the wadi wall. I was the first customer to be taking on the ‘Middle Path’ on a new commercial via ferrata in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It might not jump out to you as a must-visit adventure destination; heck, you might not have even heard about it, but you’re about to. Unlike its neighbours Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it’s still off the radar. This is great news as it means hotels are generally cheaper and the beaches, sea and wild spaces are less crowded. And with more and more activities opening up targeting those seeking holidays with an active twist, RAK is becoming a real option that you’d be silly not to consider. Just nine months ago I was visiting the emirate, intrigued by its status as an emerging destination and sucked in by the adventures on offer. Among the activities I was lucky enough to give a go was the via ferrata at Jebel Jais (the highest mountain in the UAE). As extreme as I may have made it sound above, it’s accessible for most, with three routes to choose from of varying difficulty. The easiest course, aptly named ‘ The Ledge Walk’, takes up to four hours and mostly consists of a horizontal scramble across exposed ground on the side of the wadi wall. Participants wear a harness and are clipped in at all times, while three zip lines of varying lengths (50m, 70m and 300m) break up the route and add an extra spike in adrenaline. To say that the experience was fun and rewarding would be the understatement of the year – this is an activity which will leave you buzzing for weeks. With the ledge walk under my belt, I was lucky enough to take on part of the ‘ Middle Path’ and this is where we return to me clinging on to the cliff face 50m above the ground. This route sees the introduction of more vertical sections, including a couple of overhangs, and that’s where the burning arms and fast heart rate comes in. The views are spectacular,

T

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Ras Al Khaimah

Top six things to do in RAK 1

2

3

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VIA FERRATA Based on the highest mountain in the entire UAE, the Jebel Jais via ferrata offers thrill-seekers three fantastic routes to choose from of varying difficulty. Scattered regularly throughout the route, there are also zip lines to help you traverse the steep, sandy cliffs. This is one you don’t want to miss. See www.jebeljais.ae. HORSE RIDING Any visit to Ras Al Khaimah would not be complete without a visit to Al Wadi desert. Here you can embark on horse rides or camel rides where you’ll disappear into the desert for a serene adventure which will allow you to fully process the unique environment you’ll find yourself in. Keep an eye out for some of the wildlife, including the Arabian oryx, a majestic-looking member of the antelope family which has lengthy straight horns. Find out more at www.alwadiequestrian.com. BEDOUIN OASIS CAMP You couldn’t go to the Middle East and not camp out in the desert now, could you? A Bedouin Oasis Camp experience gives you the opportunity to spend a night in the desert, where you can learn about local traditions and enjoy an incredible night sky. HIKING There are multiple hiking routes in the Hajar Mountains, especially around Jebel Jais, and all will provide you with the experience of exploring the arid and sandy environment synonymous with the Middle East. CANYONING Head to the Hajar Mountains and you’ll also be blessed with the opportunity to take on some canyoning. Combining stretches of via ferrata, hiking, scrambling and abseiling, canyoning among these vast limestone mountains is a rewarding experience that is likely to push you to the edge of your comfort zone. Ultimately though, you’ll be leaving with a grin plastered across your face. See www.challengingadventure.com. WATERSPORTS With its western flank lined by the Arabian Gulf, RAK also offers its fair share of watersports. These can often be arranged through hotels or one of the few tour companies that are in the area. We tried our hand at kayaking through the mangroves and diving in the sea, but there’s also stand up paddle boarding, jet skiing and wake boarding.

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Ras Al Khaimah

JUMPING GAPS WHILE CANYONING

the activity challenging enough to make you feel proud, and thrilling enough to start an addiction to via ferrata routes. While the via ferrata was undoubtedly one of the highlights from my time in RAK, there were other activities that also left a lasting impression on me. On my first full day in the emirate I headed over to the Al Wadi Equestrian Adventure Centre where I met Yasmin Sayyed, the stable manager. With passion flowing through her veins and a love for the animals unmistakably clear to see, Yasmin introduced us to some of the horses and camels that take people out into Al Wadi desert on excursions. A lot of the animals were set to be put to sleep until the centre stepped in, so it’s great to see these horses and camels getting a second wind in a place that cares for them so compassionately. During the visit we also had the chance to see the majestic Arabian oryx up close. Belonging to the antelope family, these beautiful creatures have two distinctively long horns which, while looking quite spectacular, could almost certainly do some damage, so we were sure not to get too close. From the centre, it’s possible to head out into the desert in the saddle for a safari of epic proportions, with the desert lying out before you and your own footprints being the only man-made mark in sight. As it so happened, we didn’t quite have time to experience the desert by horseback, but we did have the chance to head back to the mountains to take on some canyoning with a company called Challenging Adventure. The staging point for this was in a quiet valley not too far from Jebel Jais and after a brief introduction to our kit we were on our way, trekking out of the valley with a combination of via ferrata, scram-

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bling and abseiling ahead of us. Soon enough the trekking turned to scrambling as we gained altitude heading for an inlet in the valley wall, and then we reached the point where things started to get a bit more serious. Once again, exposure was the order of the day, so we clipped into the via ferrata leading along the wall and set off along the narrow (and I mean really narrow!) ledges. But it wasn’t just the width of the footholds that saw progress slowly and carefully, as the ground was also covered with loose, sedimentary rock which didn’t make for the most stable of platforms. Not that I’m moaning… If it was easy it just wouldn’t be an adventure. We gradually made progress, carefully unclipping and clipping in our karabiners and harness as we went and hopping the gaps that would regularly offer an added obstacle. After venturing upward and further out of the valley we came to our next challenge – the first abseil. One by one the group descended over the lip of the cliff and disappeared down below from view. It was only a few metres, but it was enough to up the heart rate. After a few of the others had reached the bottom it was my turn, and I slowly made my way to the lip, got clipped in and edged backward toward the edge of the cliff. The moment you walk your way over the edge and put your weight fully on the rope is always one of delight, anticipation and a small amount of fear, but once you’re abseiling down the vertical rock face it’s hard not to feel like a movie star. It was brilliant. After the whole group had made it down we progressed back down the fissure in the cliff, scrambling over the loose rock and large boulders. We were now free of the via ferra-


Ras Al Khaimah

C A N Y O N I N G I N T H E H A J A R M O U N TA I N S

S A FA R I AT S U N S E T

ta and travelling entirely under our own steam and control. Hopping from one boulder to another, we slowly descended with the rocky valley stretching out beneath us and the pristine blue sky lying overhead. There was not a cloud in the sky and the conditions were perfect. We were shaded by the valley walls and, as we were among the mountains, the temperatures were much cooler than back on the coast or in the desert. Eventually, we came to our second abseil which was more than double the size of the previous one and also came with a nice over hang which fell away one third of the way down. Second in the line, I tentatively made my way over to the cliff’s edge, got strapped in and once again backed away from the safety of solid ground. With the cliff falling away to the right, it proved challenging to descend in a straight line without twisting or spinning around, but I gradually made progress, managing to hold my stance as I went. The overhang crept up surprisingly quickly, and in no time at all I was relying on the rope to lower me to the ground, with the rugged rock face just a few feet away. As I fed the rope through the belay device, I felt altogether very calm and at peace. I was in an amazing setting, with blue skies overhead and dramatic mountains all around, hanging from a cliff on a rope and all seemed right with the world. This is how holidays are meant to be spent… After a short scramble and walk back into the valley, we had returned to base with grins plastered across our faces and fresh memories to take away. But my next adventure in RAK would take me away from the mountains and back into the desert. My final night was to be spent at a Bedouin Oasis Camp. The camp is accessible from the main city and hotels and

TA C K L I N G T H E V I A F E R R ATA

DESERT CAMPING

aims to provide an authentic experience complete with traditional performances and activities such as camel riding and quad biking, but I was most excited for the desert safari and, well, just spending a night under the stars. Not long after arriving we were met by a series of Toyota Land Cruisers, the drivers jumping out and releasing air from their tyres in order to gain more traction on the deep sand. We were soon whisked away into the desert and treated to a drive over countless dunes – a real adrenaline rush, especially when you’re accelerating toward the top of one and can see nothing else beyond apart from sky. The experience was made even more special by the fading light, and I think it’s fair to say that you haven’t truly experienced a sunset unless you’ve watched one in the desert. The sun slowly crept toward the horizon the sky became awash with bright oranges and reds, with the sand glowing golden in the warm light. This, and the millions of stars I could see once the sun had well and truly disappeared, made it a night to remember. Clearly, there is already lots going on for adventure seekers in RAK, but there are also plans to add more. There is talk that by the end of the year the via ferrata may have been renovated, with new climbing routes being added, while the scope for hiking and biking is also being widened with extra routes. The addition of an observation deck is also worth getting excited about, as the views from Jebel Jais and the Hajar Mountains are otherworldly and the plans look incredible. Throw in the fact that the area is looking likely to become home to a new zipline (set to be the longest/fastest zipline in the world) and RAK is a very enticing adventure destination indeed. www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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Goes everywhere, writes anywhere

2016 sees the launch of the Backpacker Space Pen – tough, lightweight yet immensely practical. 2016 sees launch the BackpackerSpace SpacePen Pen 2016 2016 sees sees the thethe launch launch of ofof the the Backpacker Backpacker Space Pen––– This tough, pen is composed ofyet Anodized Aerospace-Grade lightweight immensely practical. tough, tough, lightweight lightweight yet yet immensely immensely practical. practical. 6061-T6 Billet Aluminium and features a Key Ring cap This pen is composed of Anodized This This pen pen isiscomposed composed of Anodized Anodized Aerospace-Grade and Blackof Finger GripAerospace-Grade &Aerospace-Grade Trim. 6061-T6 Billet Aluminium and featuresaaaKey KeyRing Ringcap cap 6061-T6 6061-T6 Billet Billet Aluminium Aluminium and and features features Key Ring cap The Backpacker Space Pen retails at £24.95 and is and Black Finger Grip & Trim. and andBlack BlackFinger FingerGrip Grip&&Trim. Trim. presented in a black Fisher box with astronaut sleeve or Backpacker Space Pen retailsat £24.95and andisis The TheThe Backpacker Backpacker Space Space Pen Pen retails retails atat5£24.95 £24.95 and is carded blister available vibrant colours: presented in apack, blackand Fisher box withinastronaut sleeve or presented presented in in aablack black Fisher Fisher box boxwith within astronaut astronaut sleeve sleeve or or Orange, Blue, and Black. carded Silver, blister pack, and Red, available 5 vibrant colours: carded cardedblister blister pack, pack, and and available available in in 5 5 vibrant vibrant colours: colours: Silver, Orange, Red, Blue, and Black. Silver, Silver,Orange, Orange,Red, Red,Blue, Blue,and andBlack. Black.

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Ras Al Khaimah

LETS GO WHEN TO GO Picking the right time to go to RAK is essential, as it has searing hot summers and much milder winters, so it’s the latter during which you want to be visiting. Head there between November and May and you’ll see temperatures hovering around 18-25C. But do bear in mind that in the mountains the temperatures can drop by as much as 10C. HOW TO GET THERE The best way to get to RAK is to travel via Dubai, as it’s only a 45 minute drive between the two places. Return flights to Dubai from London can be had for just under £300 with airlines including Royal Brunei, Qantas, British Airways and Emirates. Flights are also available from Birmingham and Manchester for those who wish to avoid London. Air time is around seven hours. WHERE TO STAY Great hotels are easy to come by in RAK and we’re pleased to report that they’re generally a bit cheaper than their counterparts in other emirates such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We stayed in the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa and the Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort. Both offered fantastic value, service and facilities, and the former was well placed for tackling activities on Jebel Jais, such as the via ferrata. Even if you’re staying at the hotel for a day or two there’s plenty to keep you going, including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and water skiing. You can also camp in the Hajar Mountains with Challenging Adventure (www.challengingadventure. com) where you’ll find hiking, cycling and canyoning on your doorstep. FIND OUT MORE Head to www.rasalkhaimah.ae for more inspiration or visit www.jebeljais.ae to keep up to date with the new developments in the mountains.

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Antarctica

THE SEVENTH

CONTINENT You don’t have to be Sir Ranulph Fiennes to embark on an expedition to Antarctica. Maxwell Roche gives a glimpse into the joys that a polar cruise can deliver…

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Antarctica

ARGENTINA

Atlantic Ocean

CHILE

Pacific Ocean

Punta Arenas

Falkland Islands Ushuaia

Stanley

Drake Passage

South Shetland Islands King George Island

Anvers Island Lemaire Channel

Snow Hill Island

Adelaide Island Weddell Sea ANTARCTIC PENINSULA

s I cracked a second vial of Ondansetron (a strong anti sea-sickness solution) into my morning orange juice, I braced myself for the next gut-wrangling roll. Life aboard the MS Ocean Endeavour, bound for the Antarctic Peninsula, had been, shall we say, ‘internally challenging’ thus far. ‘Drake Passage’ (said in a low ominous voice), the notorious 500-mile stretch of ocean that separates Antarctica from the southernmost tip of South America, frothed outside my rainlashed cabin porthole. Instead of waiting like a pig in a barrel for the drugs to kick in, I decided to take my mind off the nauseating motion in the ocean, don my sports gear, and visit the onboard gym. I couldn’t help but feel slightly ridiculous as I slipped on my trainers, jogged down the swaying corridor and skipped up the stairs to the deck seven spa. I was travelling across the most feared stretch of ocean on the planet, to the wildest, most extreme, most remote destination there is, a place that has claimed the lives of many venturesome travellers before me and here I was in skimpy nylon running shorts, after a full English breakfast, on my way for a light gym session, followed by a massage, sauna and spa. Clearly a lot had changed in the one-hundred-and-four years that have elapsed since Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed and sunk by pack ice in the Weddell Sea 50 miles off our port bow. Feeling distinctly wimpish in comparison to my heroic predecessors, I abruptly decided to pass up the luxuries, pull a U-turn, change into my wet weather gear and start going about my voyage in the old fashioned way – on deck, facing toward the grey horizon, crow’s feet ever deepening, squinting to protect my eyeballs from the frigid saline wind. The shrouding mist cleared momentarily to reveal one of the most salient sights I have ever beheld. Using invisible currents and its 11.5-foot razor-tipped wings, a giant wandering albatross glided like a pterodactyl over the ships wake. It skimmed inches above the frothing swells hunting for unsuspecting, surface-dwelling fish. The sleek and monstrous bird then soared up and over the ship mere meters from my nose. “They can spend up to twenty years at sea,” says a bearded gentleman from over my left shoulder, “and they can fly 250,000 miles in a single year”. Dumbfounded by such statistics I groaned and looked back toward the gloom. Time passed and the bird didn’t reappear. As the fog thick-

A

who’s writing? MAXWELL ROCHE (like the chocolate but without the accent) is a literature graduate who spends time in antiquarian bookshops taking great long sniffs. He also hurls himself off, down or into anything for a story or a photograph, and travels in search of a view, because it’s all about the view. He’s a desperate climber, addicted surfer and frivolous cyclist, horrified by the prospect of missing out and tormented by indecision regarding his future.

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Antarctica

ONE OF MANY MAGNIFICENT ICEBERGS

M E E T I N G T H E LO C A L S

E X P LO R I N G T H E I N T E R I O R

ened, and the drizzle turned to sleet, my commitment to the deck wained. Set on beating my retreat, I blew into my palms, ramming them deep into the quilted pockets of my parker. It was then that providence rewarded me with yet another striking and significant sight: my fi rst iceberg. A shocking thing to behold, colossal and rectangular, it emerged in a foreboding fashion from the fog. The berg approached, growing steadily until its sheer vertical walls rising hundreds of meters out of the black and white surf dwarfed the ship. Along with the chap next to me, I squinted in the direction of its jagged zenith, our necks craned in unison. “That’s a tabular iceberg,” he said knowingly. “It’s cracked straight off the Antarctic ice shelf and because it’s so massive, it’s floated 400 miles north without melting”. I groaned with surprise for the second time in as many minutes. The bearded gent then went on to introduce himself as Michael Hambrey, resident glaciologist aboard the MS Ocean Endeavour. I looked back toward the berg, unsettlingly proximate as it passed, and began to worry about the strength of the captain’s binoculars. Beyond the bow of the Zodiac dingy, above the cobble and black ash beach loomed Brown Bluff, a Basalt Tuya (a rare flattopped, steep-sided volcano formed when lava erupts form below a glacier). As we neared the shore I was struck, not by the size of Brown Bluff but by its colour. There are colours I expected to see in Antarctica: white for one, certainly blue, but not brown. The day was as still as a day could be; downy clouds and an electric sky reflected in the oceans mirrored surface which scrolled like an endless tapestry beneath our boat. Icebergs formed by ancient glaciers were scattered all around, some the size of coffee tables and some the size of buses. The bergs, so dense and devoid of air, pierced the molten glass water and absorbed the entire spectrum of light. The only colour that escaped their avaricious walls was high-en-

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ergy, brilliant blue. The blue faded to black along their perimeters, suggesting a vastness hidden below. As I pondered the vastness of the bergs and the vastness of such a place in general, the Zodiac motor died and we slid up the basalt beach. We were a team 12 strong, and the order of business for the day was not simply to explore the coastline, but to mountaineer high up into the Antarctic hills, an activity reserved for athletic and adventurously inclined explorers looking to gain a unique perspective. Our excursion was being led by Pete Cammel, a jolly Kiwi mountain guide of 40 years and ex-president of the New Zealand Alpine Club; Pete has many coveted summits to his name, Mount Denali and Mount Everest among them. Needless to say we were in good hands, one of which extended to me as I stepped down from the Zodiac. “Welcome to Antarctica,” said Pete with a grin once we were all safely on shore, “population zero”. I looked down and admired my footprints, the tread of my insulated wellingtons clearly stamped into the mythical Seventh Continent. Before we could begin our climb Pete issued us each with a set of crampons and an ice axe (briefi ngs on the proper use of which had been carried out during our Drake Passage crossing). Bent double in a semicircle, we begun the tactical task of donning crampons with cold fi ngers and a chorus of huffs and puffs ensued. Huffs and puffs quite suddenly turned to oohs and aahs as we are met by an unexpected surprise. Whilst we’d been concentrating on our boots, a solitary Adelie penguin had sauntered its way into our circle. Pete motioned for us to move aside and let the little fl ippered fella pass. After we’d all taken a step back the penguin, seemingly in thanks, put its head back, let out a hoot, and waddled off toward the water’s edge. Before long hundreds of Adelie penguins (one of the two


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penguin species indigenous to Antarctica) emerged from behind a giant lump of sea ice and followed in the footsteps of their audacious leader. Pete explained the penguin’s lack of concern was due to the fact that they have no land predators on the continent. They’ve also had little or no contact with humans (except in 1914 when Shackleton ate a couple), giving them no reason to treat us like anything other than a curious inconvenience. What we weren’t allowed to do, Pete stressed, was interrupt their natural behaviour (i.e. get in their way). I thought back on the scornful look given to us by the fi rst penguin, and decided he or she, after a lifetime of smooth, unhampered waddling was perfectly entitled to be a bit miffed when suddenly impeded by a group of 12 goggle-eyed tourists. Delighted to have come face-to-face with the emblematic and comical little creatures so early in our trip we lined up single fi le and begin our journey skyward. The going was easy at fi rst; even the complete novices amongst us were getting to grips with the crampons and their initial awkwardness. Pete’s jolly tones up ahead were soon accompanied by a chorus of heavy breathing as the terrain steepens. After an hour or so we mustered. Pete explained that we were soon to be moving onto glaciated terrain and would need to travel ‘alpine style’. He helped us into harnesses, and connected us into teams of six using two long ropes. Pete led and we were advised to follow in his footsteps in order to avoid the many lethal crevasses waiting to swallow us up. Before we recommenced our journey skyward, I took a moment to gaze over my shoulder at the vista. I took an immense breath, trying for the fi rst time to really digest where I was. Antarctica offers very little in the way of smell, just an underlying threat of cold that caused my nostril hairs to crackle. The view, however, was more than adequate compensation

for the disappointing lack of odours. Except for the MS Endeavour, anchored way out in the bay, and our slender trail of footprints cascading toward the shore, not a single trace of human existence was visible. Th is singularity is perhaps the most powerful Antarctica has to offer; the opportunity for a person to stand and look out upon a landscape totally untouched by, and devoid of, his/her own species. Travellers can expect to experience something that has no equivalent, except perhaps to the experience had by Neil and Buzz in 1969 when they landed on the moon. “Brace, brace, brace” yelled Pete from up ahead. We had been hiking for two hours and were approaching the fi nal summit. Unfortunately for one of our party, Ian, an army captain from Highgate, the ground had indeed opened up. Ian looked down at his crampons swinging freely, starkly contrasted by the azure glacial blue at the bottom of the crevasse. Sat in the snow around him, our heels dug in fi rmly, leaning back to secure the rope, we could only see the top of his head. An Afghanistan veteran, and lover of danger, Ian surprised us with a grin as we pulled him to safety. “That’s why we rope up,” said Pete as we muster on some solid ground. “I think it’s time we descend”. During our downhill march back to the penguin colony and our Zodiac at the base of the Bluff, Pete bewitched us with calamitous crevasse anecdotes befitting of a man who’s spent his life amid snowy and severe topography. Back aboard the Endeavour, showered, watered and with a four-course meal imminent, Ian and I sat with Pete and plied him with pints, angling for further tales of mountain heroism and the mighty Mount Everest. As I unrolled the bivvy bag, and laid it down carefully in my freshly dug coffi n-shaped ice trench, a chill ran through me. To celebrate our last night in Antarctica we’d decided to www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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© Dominic Barrington

Destination: Antarctica, at the bottom of the world Duration: 13 to 23-day expedition voyages Season: October 2018 – February 2019 Ships: MS Fram, MS Midnatsol and MS Roald Amundsen Activities: Daily landings with hikes and boat safaris Locals: Cute, cool, and curious MISSION: Connect with your inner explorer

© Martin Haasenritter

© Gudkov Andrey

© Esther Kokmeijer

THE WHITE AND WILD CONTINENT

TO BOOK, PLEASE CALL 0203 553 9830 OR VISIT YOUR PREFERRED TRAVEL AGENT hurtigruten.co.uk

V7545

88888 / 88888

WORLD LEADER IN EXPLORATION TRAVEL


Antarctica

T H E M S O C E A N E N D E AV O U R A N C H O R E D I N T H E B AY

LETS GO HOW TO DO IT Maxwell travelled to Antarctica with Quark Expeditions (www.quarkexpeditions.com), a polar adventure travel company offering expeditions between November and February each year. Other tour companies that offer trips include Hurtigruten (www.hurtigruten.co.uk) and Exodus (www.exodus.co.uk). Trips tend to include all activities such as mountaineering, camping and wildlife spotting. WHAT TO TAKE It should come as no surprise that you’ll need cold weather gear. Layering is key, so warm base layers are a must (merino wool offer great warmth and they are naturally anti-microbial) for both top and bottom while you’ll also want several warm layers on top of this (think fleece and technical midlayers). Sunglasses with UV protection shouldn’t be overlooked, nor should hats, gloves or scarves, and depending on the tour company, you may need a warm winter jacket, sturdy, waterproof walking boots and waterproof trousers. WHEN TO GO Most polar excursions to Antarctica take place between November and early March and you’ll need to plan according to these. Unless you plan to embark on a long, tough and remarkable expedition on your own, you’re going to be limited to going on predetermined tours and dates.

relinquish the cosy confines of the ship and camp out ‘on the ice’. Instead of a traditional tent, we had elected to snooze with nothing between us and the elements except a fleecelined waterproof bag. With only two hours of semi-darkness in December (Antarctic midsummer), and an expected overnight temperature of –10C, I wasn’t entirely sure how much sleep I’d be getting. Before we turned in Ian, Trudy and I pulled up a pew down by the beach at Dorian Bay. We poked fun at the 95-stone crabeater seals as they rolled around clumsily with their bellies full of fish, yawning and groaning. “Ironically, they don’t eat crabs,” said Trudy, as Ian handed around a hipflask of 16-year-old Scotch. After a warming draft we parted ways and disappeared off to our respective ice coffins. I laid awake a short while with just my eyes and nose protruding from the bivvy, listening once again to the sounds of ‘Antarctic Thunder’. As the booms and cracks echoed across the landscape I attempted to slow time. With our trip nearly at an end, this moment, alone in the half-light amid the unfathomable wilderness, was a moment so special there was nothing to do but savour it. “Wake up Sleeping Beauty!” shouted Ian from the water’s edge. Bewildered by the noise, I peered above the wall of my ice trench only to be blinded by the newly risen sun glinting off fresh snow. When my vision returned it revealed a completely abandoned campsite. Ian could just be made out waving energetically from the last remaining Zodiac readying for departure on the beach. Contrary to all expectation, I had slept as still as a prehistoric stone for a full eight hours. Annoyed to be so rudely awakened and rushed out from within my perfect cocoon, I packed up my frozen belongings and charged across the snow to meet the others. Once all were on board, I let out an audible sigh; our Zodiac driver, Marine biologist Jimmy Zakreski, shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows at me knowingly. As we motored below the imposing ice-strengthened bow of the MS Endeavour for the very last time Jimmy’s radio crackled. “They’ve spotted some humpbacks,” he announced. “It’s going to be a little rough, hang on!” Before we had a chance to ask questions he cranked the motor and pointed us in the direction of the open ocean. “There she blows!” yelled Jimmy, as the whale spout blasted visibly on the horizon. The next spout was so close the savoury mist, caught by the gathering wind, spattered across our faces. “OK,” said Jimmy cutting the motor, “now we let them come to us”. Some minutes passed without a sighting. Many of us who had stood in anticipation took our seats once again, convinced that the whale, alarmed by our presence, had vanished into the deep. “HHHHhhhhhhhoooooooogh!” went the 49-foot, 36-tonne humpback whale as she surfaced within touching distance of the Zodiac, her calf close behind her. The noise that erupted from her football-sized blowhole was so loud and so deep that it shook my very bones. Testament to the cavernous capacity of the lungs that had created such a note, I began to wonder whether the pipe organ at St Paul’s Cathedral could rival it. As the mother and her calf sunk slowly back below the surface, and the vast quantity of water that has been displaced rushed to fill the void, I stared across at my shipmates still cowering in the bottom of the boat, Jimmy included. “Woooooooohooooo!” screamed Jimmy jumping bolt upright. “I have never been that close to a humpback!”. Jimmy simmered slowly and settled sufficiently to track the whales a while longer; we were treated to countless further spectacular surfacings, but none so stupefying as the first. www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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THE LONE MOUNTAIN As the nation celebrates its 150th birthday, George Turner heads to Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador to explore Gros Morne National Park, an area of immense natural beauty that you’ve probably never heard of…

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Newfoundland and Labrador Alberta

Manitoba

CANADA

GROS MORNE NATIONAL PARK

British Columbia Saskatchewan

Quebec Ontario

s the blue swell lapped against the side of the zodiac, we approached our target. At this point the captain’s work was done and he let off a booming “go, go, go!” My excitement was already at fever pitch and I’m sure I was in the water before he reached the first vowel. At first, nothing. Then I saw him emerging from the deep, a fully-grown humpback whale. The moment lasted no more than five seconds as he changed course, mouth fully open, feeding away. I surfaced, to see his spouts moving further and further away, headed in the direction of 12-storey tall icebergs. This was my first morning in Newfoundland and Labrador and it set the precedent for the next 14 days. I’d been longing to visit Canada’s easternmost province since I was a boy, mostly for its Viking history. Now, as a photographer and avid hiker, I yearned for its pristine wildernesses, famous fjords, remote islands and of course, the huge variation in flora and fauna. The affinity I had with the province is a result my love of farflung places. Whilst it’s only a four and a half hour hop from the UK, its population density of 1.4 people per square kilometre speaks volumes. I’m a firm believer that it’s only when you reach the earth’s limits that you feel closest to its heart. That was my mission: find, hike, climb, swim in, and discover the real Newfoundland and Labrador. Gros Morne National Park has been top of my mental list of must-see places for a long, long time now. Glacially carved mountains, wild rivers, majestic waterfalls, remote plateau lakes and stunning coastline. Whilst that may not sound too different from its mainland Canadian neighbours (or indeed, the US) the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Upon entering the park boundary, the typical Newfoundland undulating roads leave you wondering how you get from A to B. The landscape around you completely envelops any sign of human presence, with granite mountains soaring into the sky, becoming increasingly larger as you travel into the park’s core. After a quick visit to the Parks Canada Gros Morne Visitor Centre, something soon became abundantly clear: in this park, you work for the views. Nature demands it. Unlike its other Canadian cousins, every attraction in the park requires effort, whether it’s a quick one-mile return or a four-day traverse. There are no pull-ins for ‘check-list’ tourists here. The park itself is split into two sections: north and south. Each part is neatly divided by an inlet, which extends some 12 miles inland. Both sides have wildly different landscapes, the northern side boasting Newfoundland’s tallest mountains and

A

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who’s writing? GEORGE TURNER is a 20-something wildlife and landscape photographer. When not out in the fields of Dorset, he can be found anywhere between the savannahs of Kenya and the wetlands of Zambia. His website is www.georgetheexplorer.com and you can follow him on Instagram at @GeorgeTheExplorer (landscape) and @GeorgeBTurner (wildlife).

steepest fjords, the southern side the Tablelands, a 720m-high plateau where NASA astronauts train, as it’s the closest environment we have to Mars on this planet. Whilst the geology of the southern side was fascinating - and I would eventually visit on my last day - my eyes were fixed on one target: Gros Morne Mountain. It’s literal translation from French means “great sombre” but the majority of walkers refer to it as “the lone mountain”, as it seemingly rises vertically on all sides from the land around it. I preferred the second meaning which I felt gave it a certain grandeur and mystery. Gros Morne itself is an 806m-high flat-topped mountain, with 360 degrees of steep - sometimes near vertical - scree slopes leading to the plateaued summit. The top is often covered in thick, typical Newfoundland fog, which can turn this day-hike into something a lot more treacherous. Parks Canada takes this seriously, with warning signs and disclaimers over all hiking maps, route signs, and dotted around the visitor centre. While it may be 15C and sunny at sea level, go above 600m and you’re in a subarctic climate with no cover


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TA B L E L A N D S S U N R I S E

and no phone signal, which is never a wise idea. The hike has a lasso-shaped route, with a steadily ascending three-mile walk (near sea-level) past clusters of ponds, eventually reaching the base of the mountain at 320m. From there, it’s an extremely steep boulder/scree gully for just under 500m upwards, to then loop around the back of the mountain and descend a steadier route. All in all, it’s approximately 10 miles of hiking. I’d booked in two days in the park to complete the hike, just in case Newfoundland’s weather had other ideas for me. On my first day (Monday), despite glorious conditions, road works meant I wouldn’t be able to complete the six to eight hour hike in time to descend. Whilst there is indeed a campsite area – ‘Ferry Gulch’ - on the descent, I was already too late to checkin with the relevant parties. This left me with Tuesday, where I’d mistakenly booked a boat tour down the famous Western Brook Pond (which is essentially a land-locked fjord) for 13:00, rather than leaving it later. To get to the tour requires a 45 minute walk, as well as a 45 minute drive from Gros Morne Moun-

tain’s trailhead car park. So, I was left with only one option: a seriously early wake up call! Thankfully 4am alarms aren’t an issue; as a photographer, it comes with the territory. In this instance however, I was already aching from a week’s worth of day-hikes further south in Newfoundland - mostly on the famous “East Coast Trail” and hadn’t given myself time to recover. As it turned out, my excitement woke me up before the alarm so I broke camp and made for the trailhead. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a popular mountain. It’s Newfoundland and Labrador’s equivalent of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, or Snowdon, only with trickier sections on the ascent. To climb the mountain is a rite of passage and Newfoundlanders will gladly boast they’ve “hiked the mountain”. Given that it was early July and the schools had just broken up, I was fully expecting to see plenty of cars/hikers getting ready to go. Much to my surprise though, nothing. Absolutely nada. Given that I was about to hike ‘the lone mountain’, there was poetry in myself being ‘the lone hiker’. www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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For the first couple miles, the trail neatly wound through beautiful woodland and over a few rivers. Dawn was just breaking and my senses were heightened, the incredible aroma of pine needles and wild flowers melding together. Although I was pressed for time, I’d find myself constantly stopping to properly, deeply inhale the air. I’m not usually one for romance but with each intake I felt closer to the environment around me - being completely alone no doubt added to that. Moving further on the trail begins to gradually become steeper, with some short sections of easy scrambles/leaps up, which are then punctuated by flat areas of bog and well maintained boardwalks. I enjoyed the latter, as the mud revealed the footprints of others sharing the trail; moose, bobcats, caribou and even black bears. Thankfully for me, the latter only ever made themselves known through their toilet habits, rather than teeth! Soon boardwalks gave way to narrow rocky paths, framed by signature Newfoundland flora and the first view of ‘the lone mountain’, with the first light bursting over its eastern flank. I could see the gully ascent and excitement flowed through me. I picked up the pace and quickly moved onwards. Upon breaking the tree line (roughly a mile from the base of the mountain), the national park began to come alive. In the distance, the Martian-like Tablelands was illuminated by the first light, its ancient rock burning an intense orange. Birds began singing, dipping into the nearby ponds for a refreshment. To think, all this to myself. I was one seriously lucky man. After a brief break to appreciate the surroundings, I gobbled up the distance to the mountain’s base fairly quickly. In case you’ve [the hiker] forgotten, there is even more signage, warn-

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ing against the impending ascent and of rock fall. Wayward feet generally cause the latter when the gully is busy, but this obviously wouldn’t be a problem for me. Finally, I was face-to-face with the infamous gully. The first section was marked with occasional orange pegs, mostly to ensure you’re staying on the right-hand side; there’s no clear path, as the gully is entirely large rocks/boulders. After taking out the first 100m fairly swiftly, I did wonder whether the warnings and hearsay about the gully were ‘hiker goreification’. That’s my own terminology for what is essentially a hiker version of ‘don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story’. Thankfully, this proved not to be so. The following 200m or so were challenging, with rocks turning into tiny stones/scree and some slow going. Footholds were almost non-existent and small slips fairly regular. For an inexperienced hiker, this would prove somewhat treacherous should they not know how to properly distribute weight. Given that the best light was fading I was keen to summit, so minimised breaks. On the occasion that I did swivel around, the view opening beneath me only encouraged me on more. Suddenly, the forest floor seemed tiny and the added elevation afforded new, fresh views across the park. After a steep middle section the gully became easier to navigate, with sturdier, larger boulders wedged into the ground. This allowed some old-school ‘hopping’ which was far more enjoyable than the slippy scree next to it. False summits are the bane of any hikers life and Gros Morne Mountain is no different. Despite being told there was a false summit, I seemed to have conveniently forgotten that after the


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B O A R D W A L K S W E R E M O S T W E LC O M E

THE WILDLIFE WAS EASY TO MISS

THE ROCKY SUMMIT OF GROS MORNE

gully. Scree slopes turned into heather and a path reappeared, this time pegged with tall directional poles, most likely for when the snowpack is deep. Behind me, the deep blue sea inlets of the national park began to dominate the view, with the Tablelands forming a stunning backdrop. The environment now was definitely as advertised: subarctic. Despite it being a sunny morning - and that I’d just raced up the gully - the wind picked up and I had to put my fleece back on. Not only that, the summit plateau looked like Thor’s hammer had smashed it moments before, with no continuous solid surface in sight, just large, sharp rocks. At this point (spoiler alert: things would change) it seemed devoid of life. In fact, how could anything survive up here? Reaching the summit was a strange experience for me personally. With Norway and the Alps being my regular haunts, I’m used to (and weirdly, more comfortable with) that final summit push, along with the exhaustion it comes with. In this instance, the satisfaction had already come after finishing the gully and fake summit rather than Gros Morne’s peak itself. The plateau compromises a huge area and from the top, at least half the view is filled with rocks. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks. The real views are on the edges of the lasso-shaped trail, so I headed off promptly. Now, I’ve said previously that I was alone in my hike. Well, it turns out I was mistaken and worse than that, I was gatecrashing a date. Halfway between the summit and western edge I came across a pair of rock ptarmigans (or just ptarmigans in the UK) gobbling up the small insects hiding under the boulders. As you can see above, their summer plumage makes them nicely cam-

ouflaged so I’d hasten to bet many hikers would walk right past. Nevertheless, they were extremely at ease with my presence and enjoyed eating the insects my footsteps were disturbing! On the far western edge of the lasso loop you’ll find Gros Morne Mountain’s most famous vista: Ten Mile Pond. The view that’s worth a thousand gully ascents. When researching the route and the park more generally, this was an image that’d constantly surface and it’s easy to see why. Given the topography of the mountain, the view reveals itself at the last moment… and what a view it is. Formed by glaciers in the last ice age, the ‘pond’ (technically a lake) is beautifully framed by near vertical cliffs to the north and gentle, forested hills to the south. Its deep blue hue is indicative to the lake’s depths and the gorgeous summer sky above. In my mind, this was the summit I’d been waiting for. I walked further down the ‘lasso’ to experiment with different angles for photographs. The path at this stage is clearly marked by neatly spaced rocks. Whilst this might be uncomfortable underfoot, the surrounding grass and mosses are incredibly delicate. If stood on, some of these species can take decades to grow back in a subarctic climate. The next photo stop dished up the exact composition I’d wanted all along: the water snaking from right to left towards the distant ocean, mountains at its side. It’s at this stage I wondered whether the UK’s three peaks had a ‘signature’ view such as this and well, I’m not so sure. This one, single frame is Newfoundland and Labrador in a nutshell (see overleaf). Descending around the backside of the mountain, hidden ponds nestled between mountainous peaks became visible. The www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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TEN MILE POND: GROS MORNE’S BEST VIEW

hardcore hiker in me day dreamt of multi-day traverses across these peaks, cooling off in the fresh water lakes. This actually is possible, with the Long Range Traverse a popular route for hardier types. Taking three to four days to complete, the route is 22 miles long and completely unmarked. In fact, you need to prove your navigational skills to a park warden before you’re able to head off. Time hadn’t allowed me this time but I’m already planning a return to make that dream come true next year. Boardwalks created perfectly placed leading lines pointing towards distant peaks, which made the descent far more interesting. Subarctic flower species returned, followed by shrubs, bees, birdlife, and even people! The Ferry Gulch campsite - mentioned earlier - is tucked into the eastern edge of the loop, giving good protection against the prevailing northeasterly wind. I felt envious of those who’d been able to spend longer here, which speaks to the impression the trail had already had on me. After a few rocky gullies - far shorter than the ascent - I was back on the main path. By this point, plenty of hikers were at the base of the mountain and eyeing up the ascent. In fact, ‘the gully’ is so notorious that worried walkers stood around debating whether it was worth it; I broke out my best Mr. Motivator impression and promised them that it wasn’t that bad. Brimming with energy, I practically ran the two and a half mile forested path back to the trailhead. There’s something in the air of Gros Morne that nourishes your body, giving that extra-added push. After all my fretting and worrying about missing the Western Brook Pond tour, I completed the entire trail in a smidge under four hours. The waterfall pouring from my forehead and fingertips told a story in themselves.

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The drive to the Western Brook Pond was most welcomed with the window down, music on blast and blue sky above. On the 45-minute trail down to the Pond, information points stud the path’s edge for the majority of the way. The area was once ocean floor, now a marshland. As a result, the flora and fauna of the area is quite miraculous; carnivorous plants, bonsai-like trees, and so on. As you approach the trail end, the view into Western Brook Pond opens up. Huge mountains soar vertically upwards from the deep blue water – you’d be forgiven for confusing this with Norway or New Zealand’s fjords. Except, this was a fjord. After the land rebounded when the glaciers melted, its saltwater flushed out and it became a fresh water lake. Sailing into the ‘pond’ is the closet to Jurassic Park I’ve been. There are no other boats like New Zealand’s Milford Sound and, unlike Norway’s Geirangerfjord, there are no towns at the fjord head. In fact, there is nothing. The waters feeding the pond are very low in nutrients and the lake is classified as ‘ultraoligotrophic’. In simple terms, this means there are next-to-no fish and as a result, few birds, insects, and so on. This emptiness added to the allure of the place. Here, the forces of nature were in charge. Huge rock falls littered the mountainsides, waterfalls cascaded from the cliffs, hanging valleys sat above. After the aching had left my legs, I looked up at the high plateaus and began to conjure up routes in my head. I’d think to myself, ‘I wonder if I’d be the first person to place a foot on that piece of land’. It’s for that reason why I fell in love in Newfoundland and Labrador. As I said earlier, it’s only when you reach nature’s limits that you feel closest to its heart.


Canada

Suggested itinerary L’ANSE AUX MEADOWS MAIN BROOK

TWILLINGATE LEWISPORT

BONAVISTA TRINITY

GROS MORNE

ST. JOHNS LITTLE RAPIDS

BAY BULLS

NEWFOUNDLAND

The sheer variation in what Newfoundland and Labrador offers is astounding. Trekking, sea kayaking, swimming with whales, general whale watching, bird watching, spotting icebergs, and the list goes on. It’s possible to squeeze all of the above in, so we’d suggest a two week itinerary (above), criss-crossing the island of Newfoundland at a leisurely pace, allowing time to soak up everything this beautiful province has to offer.

T H E FA M O U S W E S T E R N B R O O K P O N D

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PHOTO: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism.

GROS MORNE & BEYOND

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR VACATION EXPERTS Offering customized self-drive and escorted tours. Based in Newfoundland and Labrador, we are the experts on where to go and what to do while discovering Canada’s youngest province. Our clients benefit greatly from our on the ground knowledge and expertise, providing an insider’s view into some of the most amazing, unique experiences you can have in Newfoundland and Labrador. Please visit us online, or call today to learn more.

maxximvacations.com 1-800-567-6666 request@maxximvacations.com


Canada

le t’s go CANADA

warmer, and the wildlife will be buzzing. If you’re wanting to sea kayak with icebergs, Newfoundland and Labrador’s eastthe earlier in June the better. For whales, erly location couldn’t lend itself better early July onwards. The two cross over for to a traveller. In just four and half hours the ultimate kayaking experience in very (with WestJet) you can touch down in late June: whales in front of icebergs. St. John’s. Even better, the province Gros Morne National Park has steadier is only –three and a half hours behind weather - meaning, less fog - from early GMT, meaning you’ll leave London in the July through to early September. Assummorning and arrive in Canada… in the ing you’re out of the sea fog, day tempermorning! Return tickets are available atures can reach 30C at sea level, getting under £400 from London Gatwick. Tour company Discover the World (www. cooler at higher elevations. discover-the-world.co.uk) offers the “Newfoundland Discovery” trip, taking you Where To Stay Newfoundland is famous for its countalong the rugged Atlantic Coast enjoying less B&Bs and Inns. These offer a brilsea kayaking and hiking along the way, liant chance to meet Newfoundlanders searching for whales and icebergs and of and learn more about the province, local course, plenty of time to hike everything trails, and more. For camping in Gros that Gros Morne has to offer. Maxxim Vacations (www.maxximvacations.com) also Morne, register early with Parks Canada offer a self-drive tour in the area and may to avoid disappointment. be worth checking out.

Getting there

When To Go

Newfoundland is best enjoyed from early June through to mid-September. The icepacks should have cleared from harbours, the continental winds will be

What To Take

Footwear: Sturdy hiking boots for rocky, mountainous trails and lighter shoes for coastal walks. Temperatures can swing wildly, so be sure to bring a variation of good walking socks.

Clothes: The old adage of ‘prepare for the worst and hope for the best’ couldn’t be more true. Waterproof shells and trousers are a must while gaiters are also recommended, as some trails have river crossings. On sunny days, wear lightweight trousers and breathable longsleeve tops, as the insects can become quite the annoyance. Other: Insect repellent, insect repellent, and more insect repellent. This can’t be stressed enough. Summer days can be humid and mosquitos will have a field day. Also, bring plenty of strong sunscreen.

Further Information

The Parks Canada website offers fantastic information on trails, safety, and more. Their website is filled with endless suggestions: www.pc.gc.ca. Discover the World – the company that George travelled with – offer eight different Newfoundland and Labrador itineraries, and can tailor each to your needs. See their website at www.discover-the-world.co.uk. Don’t forget you need Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada, so be sure to get this well in advance of travel.

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Waterproof jackets

O n t e s t:

Wat e r p r o o f jackets Rob Slade and Naomi Dunbar put 24 waterproof jackets under £250 to the test to show that you don’t have to spend big to get a quality piece of kit…

A

s the first line of defence in the war against the elements, getting the right waterproof jacket is vital. As much as we pray, dream and hope for dry weather on our adventures, there’s no getting away from the fact that the heavens can quite easily open, and often do, especially for those of us in Britain. The truth is, it doesn’t matter where you are, the weather can change in an instant so the need for a decent waterproof jacket cannot be overlooked. If it is, you could end up very wet, cold, uncomfortable and, ultimately, you could be putting your health at risk. So what makes for a good waterproof jacket? Well, you’re (hopefully) not going to be wearing it the whole time, so ideally it will pack down nice and small into your rucksack. The lighter it is, the better, but there needs to be a compromise here as we still like a jacket to have a useful amount of features. A properly designed hood with adjustment points is a must, as is enough pockets to fit a map, snacks and valuables such as a phone or camera. If you’re planning to take on more extreme outdoor activities, you may want the hood to be helmet compatible too. Some jackets will feature branded waterproof membranes such as Gore-Tex or e-Vent, while others are constructed with a brand’s in-house technology. Most will also

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feature a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, though quality can differ. All tend to offer decent levels of water proofing, but some do become saturated (otherwise known as wetting out) quite quickly, affecting breathability and leaving you cold and damp. As you’re likely to be wearing a rucksack while in your waterproofs, we’re also fans of a durable material on the shoulders to face up to wear and tear caused by straps. Ventilation is also crucial, so you’ll want to look out for deep pit zips, while long arms and a lengthy cut on the body will help offer the best protection. Ultimately though, the perfect jacket for you may not be the perfect jacket for someone else and you need to pick a product based on your requirements. For example, if you travel fast and light, you may not want a long cut, multiple pockets and a double storm flap on the zips. Whereas if you are predominantly going to be using the jacket for day walks in the Lakes, you would want it to offer a good amount of coverage and be fully-featured. What you’ll find on the pages that follow are 24 jackets (both men’s and women’s options) being put through their paces to see how they perform in the field. For this test we have set a price limit of £250 in order to show just what you can get for your money, and you’ll be pleased to know there are some very good jackets out there are respectable prices.


Waterproof jackets

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101


Waterproof jackets

f e at u r e s O F A waterproof jacket

Hood Collar An effective collar should keep the wind and rain off of your neck and chin. You’ll want it to fit fairly closely and have a soft fabric on the inside for added comfort.

Pit zips Ventilation is an essential component to keeping you dry and comfortable while wearing a waterproof jacket, so deep pit zips will help manage your internal temperature and allow vapour to escape. Without them, things can get pretty hot.

Cuffs In order to keep drafts and rain from running down your sleeves, you’ll need decent cuffs. With this in mind they should be able to fasten tightly with Velcro or some other sort of closure, ensuring that they don’t ride up your arm when scrambling or climbing. They should also offer enough room for gloves underneath them and be wide enough to roll up if you get hot.

Hem An important part of the jacket that keeps warm air in and cold air out, the hem should be easily adjustable via toggles and operable with gloves on.

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It doesn’t matter how great the rest of the jacket is, if it doesn’t have an effective hood then you are going to suffer for it, with the elements creeping in. Ideally, you want an adjustable hood so that you can cinch it in around your face and get the perfect fit. A toggle at the back of the hood and at the collar tend to do the best job of securing it. A stiffened peak will also help keep driving rain off your face.

Zips. When it comes to staying dry, inadequate zips are one of the greatest threats as, by nature, they just aren’t waterproof. Most are classed as water resistant or make use of storm flaps to keep the wet stuff at bay. A double storm flap with rain channel is one of the most effective ways of keeping rain out. Zips shouldn’t snag on the material and should be easily operable when wearing gloves.

Pockets Vitally, a jacket’s main handwarmer pockets should be accessible when wearing a rucksack with a hip belt or a harness. They can be fleece-lined for warmth and comfort, or mesh-lined for greater ventilation. Unless going lightweight is of utmost importance, we also like to see a large pocket which can hold a map, plus a small internal pocket for our most valuable items.


MEN’S Waterproof jackets

Men’s

AT RATING

7

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 6 WEATHER RESISTANCE 7 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

7

VALUE

9

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 10 WEATHER RESISTANCE 7 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

7

VALUE

8

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 10 WEATHER RESISTANCE 7 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

8

Regatta

Mountain Hardwear Patagonia Stretch Ozonic™ Jacket £160

Stretch Rainshadow £190

www.regatta.com

www.cotswoldoutdoor.com

www.patagonia.co.uk

For the price, the Oaklahoma II is impressive (and it can usually be found much cheaper too) as it’s a very well thought out and well-designed jacket. It has all the features you would expect to find on a jacket twice the price, including armpit vents, a two-way zip, a fully adjustable, decent-fitting hood, hem toggles and internal zip pocket. It also has a chest pocket and two-hand warmer ones, but unfortunately none of these can fit a map, and they’re quite awkward to get into when wearing a hip belt. The jacket faces up to the weather well, with the durable water repellent coating (DWR) shedding water without issue in most situations. Although, it did start to wet out in sustained heavy showers which made the jacket pretty heavy and in these cases, it does take a little while to dry. Despite the armpit vents and twoway zip, we did find the Oaklahoma II to be quite a warm jacket to wear due to its lining and, once it has wetted out, this is even more of an issue due to the reduced breathability. It’s also one of the bulkiest and heaviest (673g in medium) on test so we wouldn’t necessarily fancy carrying it on strenuous walks. For countryside ambles and casual walks in the hills, it’s more than up to the job.

I’m going to be straight up with you now. I love this jacket. It’s one of the best looking jackets on test and it feels great to wear as well. Unfortunately, its performance in heavy, sustained rain left me slightly disappointed. The outer became saturated pretty quickly and as a result breathability suffered and things gradually became pretty sticky. As a barrier against wind, light rain or short showers it is more than up to the job though. Another thing which was slightly disappointing was the length of the sleeves, as I found them a touch too short, especially when scrambling. Pit zips helped with ventilation, though others on test were larger and more effective. Two mesh-lined hand-warmer pockets (rucksack friendly) were large enough to take an OS map and a small chest pocket complete with storm flap offered extra storage. The helmet-compatible hood was more than adequate, with two hidden toggles on either side of the collar offering easy adjustment, but we did find it impeded our field of vision somewhat – something that a volume adjuster at the back might have sorted. Impressively, the Stretch Ozonic Jacket was the lightest (275g in medium) on test and it was one of the most packable too.

What can I say about Patagonia’s Stretch Rainshadow jacket? It looks incredible. Our black version is sleek and stylish, and I would be just as happy wearing it around town as I would on the hill. However, it doesn’t perform quite as well as it looks in heavy downpours. In light rain or short showers it is fine, but when faced with heavy and sustained rain it did wet out after a while, meaning breathability levels took a tumble and water vapour begun to struggle to escape. Despite being one of the lightest (297g in size medium) and most packable on test it carries a lot of really good features. It has a simple-but-effective helmet compatible hood which does a great job at cinching in closely thanks to the adjustment point at the back. Hem adjusters pull the garment in at the waist, while the cut was favourable and at no point did we feel exposed when moving around and reaching up high. Range of movement is great and the two map-friendly hand-warmer pockets are easily accessed even when wearing a bag. Due to the light material and large armpit vents, temperature regulation is also impressive, but there are slight question marks over the product’s durability due to how thin it is.

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

Oaklahoma II £120

A jacket with great features that’s best suited to more casual walks.

Avoid the worst of the weather and it will serve you very well.

A good looking, well featured jacket best suited to summer use and short showers.

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MEN’S Waterproof jackets

AT RATING

9

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

9

VENTILATION

10

VALUE

9

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

7

VENTILATION

9

VALUE

8

Outdoor Research Salomon

AT RATING

9

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

9

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

9

Mountain Equipment

Foray Jacket £200

X Alp 3l Jacket £200

Odyssey Jacket £200

www.outdoor research.com

www.salomon.com

www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

The Foray Jacket is Outdoor Research’s entry for this test, and it’s one of those jackets that just does everything you want it to do. It has a nice, long cut both on the arms and torso ensuring decent coverage, while there is plenty of room for multiple layers. The cuffs are brilliant, combining Velcro and elastic to ensure you have a secure fit without it being restrictive in any way. The two (rucksack friendly) handwarmer pockets are covered by substantial storm flaps that do a good job of keeping the wet stuff out and you’ll have no problem fitting an OS map in here. A chest pocket adds extra storage, while the helmet compatible hood does a great job with three adjustment points and a large laminated peak protecting you from the weather. It particularly excels in the ventilation department with the brand’s TorsoFlo technology. Essentially, it consists of a pit zip on each side of the jacket that extends from the base of the bicep, all the way down to the bottom of the jacket, allowing a great amount of air through. The jacket is packable, pretty lightweight (420g in medium) and offers fantastic protection against whatever the weather throws at you. It dries quickly too.

The X Alp 3L Jacket comes with a super sleek design both in visual and practical terms. With a great fit, a long cut and long sleeves you can be sure that you are well protected from the elements. Although, the Velcro on the cuffs could do with covering a larger area, as I found it didn’t get much purchase when fastening. There’s a singular hem toggle which helps keep the wind out, but I did find this a bit fiddly. The X Alp 3L did a great job against the weather, keeping us dry and comfortable in heavy downpours. It didn’t wet out quickly and when the storm clouds disappear, the jacket dries impressively quickly. A huge helmet compatible hood with a large wired peak protects the face, but we did find the collar was a little loose regardless of how much adjusting you did. The jacket is well ventilated thanks to the integrated Flowtech venting system. Essentially, on each side of the garment you can zip up from the bottom of the garment to the armpit, offering brilliant ventilation when things get sticky. Bigger zip pulls would be appreciated as it does get quite fiddly. With a pretty decent pack size and weight (422g in medium), the X Alp 3L is well suited to most excursions, but we did feel some of the features needed a little refining.

Mountain Equipment is a brand renowned for making top quality kit, and it continues here with the Odyssey Jacket. One of the first things you notice upon pulling the jacket on is the cut. The sleeves are almost excessively long, but this does mean you’ll never have an issue with them riding up, while the length of the jacket also provides suitable coverage and the range of motion is unhindered. Two hem cord adjustments are easy to use with one hand and ensure the rough stuff is kept well at bay. In practise, the jacket faced up to the weather impressively, shedding rain without a problem, drying quickly and acting as a good barrier against the wind. The wired hood offers great coverage and has a large peak, while the chin guard pulls in nice and snug so you won’t have water dropping down your neck. It’s helmet compatible and has multiple adjustment points meaning you can easily achieve the perfect fit. You also get two hand-warmer pockets that are just big enough to hold a map, plus pit vents and a two-way zip to aid ventilation. The 3-layer Drilite fabric also felt fairly durable, so we don’t have too many worries about it getting damaged while out on the hills. It’s not too heavy (389g in medium), packs down small and looks good too.

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

A jacket that will stand up to pretty much anything you throw at it.

104

A great all-rounder that is just let down by a few minor gripes.

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk

A fantastic jacket that will face up to the task impressively.


MEN’S Waterproof jackets

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

6

VALUE

8

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

6

VALUE

8

AT RATING

7

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 7 WEATHER RESISTANCE 8 FEATURES

7

VENTILATION

7

VALUE

7

Sprayway

Haglöfs

Craghopppers

www.sprayway.com

www.haglofs.com

www.craghoppers.com

The Nant Jacket is new from Sprayway for autumn/winter 2017 and features the brand’s classic logo which was recently reintroduced – a great move in our eyes! Our sample came in an awesome electric blue, which we loved, and for all intents and purposes it looks like a traditional walking jacket. It acts like one too, doing its job impeccably well. The wind doesn’t touch you, while the rain just runs straight off of the fabric, and we had no issues with the product wetting out. After use, it dried impeccably quickly with most of the water just shaking straight off. A helmet compatible (just) hood is great at keeping the rain off your face with the wire-peaked brim and three adjustment points doing their job perfectly. The fleece lined collar pulls in nicely to eliminate any rogue drafts or stray water. There were great storage options with two map-friendly chest pockets, an interior pocket and two hand-warmer pockets, but we found the latter were awkward to get into while wearing a hip belt. There are also questions about the Nant Jacket’s ventilation, with a lack of two-way zip or pit vents being missed. The entire jacket is also lined, so it does get a bit warm in the summer. Pack size is respectable, but doesn’t match some of the lighter jackets on test.

The Virgo Jacket feels luxuriously soft against the skin and, with a two-tone colourway, it looks the part too. We had one in the Habaniero colourway which was basically a combination of red and orange, and it was a breath of fresh air style-wise. The sleeves are plenty long enough, the cuffs are easily secured with large Velcro tabs and I didn’t have any issues with the jacket riding up either. There are two hem drawstrings which are easily adjusted with one hand and two hand-warmer pockets, but unfortunately you can’t fit an OS map into these. You’ll also find an interior pocket which is ideal for valuables. The Virgo Jacket faced up to heavy rain like a champ, with water running straight off throughout a sustained heavy shower, and it dries quickly too. The hood, which is adjustable in three places, provides great coverage against the wind and cinches in well. A lack of armpit vents and two-way zip was a shame and ventilation suffered as a result. Due to the half polyester, half mesh lining you may find you run hot in summer, but outside of this you should be fine. Despite the inclusion of a lining, the Virgo Jacket is pretty light (427g in a medium) and packable, so I’d have no qualms about chucking it in my bag for a weekend of multi-day hiking.

The Midas Gore-Tex Jacket from Craghoppers is a good-looking garment that wouldn’t be out of place around town, but it does a decent job on the hills too. As we have come to expect from Gore-Tex, it does its job here, providing a great level of water proofing. We didn’t notice any weak points and didn’t have any issues with wetting out in heavy showers. The collar is a bit low for our liking though, as it doesn’t provide much coverage of the chin. The collar toggles are pretty easy to operate and doing so in gloves was not an issue, but we were disappointed by the level of coverage the hood offered compared to others on test. We were also surprised not to see any vents in the jacket and found it started to get a bit stuffy when worn in warmer weather, while you can only just fit a map into the pocket. The jacket also tends to ride up a bit when at full stretch so we would have appreciated a longer cut here, and the same can be said with the sleeves. The pack size of the garment isn’t too bad, but it is one of the heaviest jackets in test (596g in medium), so you may want to look elsewhere for protection on longer adventures. As a casual jacket, or something for shorter walks in poor weather this is a great option.

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

Nant Jacket £210

A well-made, traditional hiking jacket offering great protection against the elements.

Midas Gore-Tex £225

Virgo Jacket £225

A fashionable jacket that stands up to poor conditions well.

A great barrier against poor weather.

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MEN’S Waterproof jackets

AT RATING

9

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

10

VENTILATION

9

VALUE

9

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 9 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

7

VALUE

8

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 7 WEATHER RESISTANCE 8 FEATURES

9

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

8

Mammut

Arc’teryx

Sherpa

www.mammut.ch

www.arcter yx.com

www.sherpaadventuregear.co.uk

After spending some time with the Masao Jacket I have really come to love its understated looks. The blue ‘Orion/ Atlantic’ colourway works really well and the fit and cut are pretty much spot on. The sleeves are wonderfully long and are fastened by brilliantly robust and functional straps. Toggles on each side of the hem are operable with just one hand and ensure you won’t be exposed to any drafts here. There wasn’t a feature we wanted that the Masao didn’t have. Both hand-pockets were large (easily taking a map) and were accessible with a rucksack on, while a chest pocket offered extra storage. An internal mesh pouch with headphone outlet offers a perfect place to keep your phone too, while large pit vents and a twoway zip helped offer decent ventilation. Even in the heaviest and longest of showers the water just runs off, while the helmet compatible hood keeps you nicely covered thanks to multiple adjustment points and its perfect ergonomics. Eventually the shoulders did start to wet out a bit, but we never got touched by the moisture and the garment dried impressively quickly afterward. It’s not one of the lightest (564g in size medium), but it is packable, so I’d happily carry this around for days on end.

Arc’teryx is best known for its technical gear and the Alpha SL Jacket doesn’t shy away from that reputation, but it does prove you don’t have to spend mega bucks to get kit from this respected brand. Waterproofing is provided by Gore-Tex Paclite and a DWR finish which, as you might expect, does a brilliant job at shedding water. It shook dry in a matter of minutes too, while the hood provided decent coverage with its massive laminated peak. I did, however, feel that it was excessively large and somewhat dwarfed my head, but presumably this is due to the fact the jacket caters for technical users who need a helmet. Interestingly, you only get one chest pocket and nothing else, so storage is a bit limited, but you can still fit a map in there. We were also surprised by the lack of pit zips which meant ventilation isn’t quite as comprehensive as others on test. The sleeves are long enough to avoid any wrist exposure, but we would have liked a slightly longer cut as the jacket does ride up slightly when reaching upwards on scrambles. One of our favourite things about the Alpha SL Jacket is just how small it packs down into its stuff sack and, at only 316g (size medium), we’d have no issues with carrying this around all day.

Sherpa’s entry into this test is the Lithang, and I’ve got to say, I love the little details such as the prayer flag zip tags. This is a proper jacket that comes with deep hand-warmer pockets that provide plenty of storage for maps, snacks and valuables. We had no problem accessing these while wearing a rucksack. A napoleon chest pocket and inside pocket offer additional space. The fit is roomy, the range of movement is great and the sleeves and cut of the jacket is plenty long enough to keep you covered while scrambling. Deep pit zips offer a good amount of ventilation, which is needed, as Sherpa’s 3-layer Himaltec shell fabric is heavy duty compared to some of the lighter options here. While we love the resulting durability, it heats up quickly. The helmet compatible hood has a wired peak and multiple adjustment points, but it is pretty roomy and takes quite a bit of effort to get a good fit. It did wet out quite quickly, making it feel heavy and affecting breathability, but we had no issues with water repellency. Drying times were middle of the road too. It’s one of the heavier jackets on test (587g in medium) and also one of the bulkier, but it’s one of those that won’t let you down when you need it.

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

Masao Jacket £240

An incredibly well-built, versatile jacket that just won’t let you down.

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Alpha SL Jacket £240

A lightweight, minimalist jacket that packs a punch.

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk

Lithang Jacket £240

A solid all-rounder, but not one for the lightweight brigade.


WOMEN’S Waterproof jackets

WOMen’s

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 7 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

9

AT RATING

8

½ 10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 9 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

9

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 7 WEATHER RESISTANCE 8 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

8

Royal Robbins

Odlo

Mountain Warehouse

www.royalrobbins.co.uk

www.odlo.com

www.mountainwarehouse.co.uk

Being the cheapest jacket in the test and having a lot to live up to against the others, I don’t think this humble little waterproof from Royal Robbins did a bad job. During a heavy downpour the water droplets were tumbling off, and I felt dry. It was only when I took the jacket off, I could see that the water had absorbed a little bit into the back of the jacket making it feel cold and damp. While no water actually broke through, this did affect breathability. It has a decent-sized hood which fits over a helmet with ease and there are also two drawstring cords which help the hood offer extra protection against the wind and rain. The jacket features Velcro adjustments on the wrists, two drawstrings below the waist and stormproof flaps over all of the zips to help protect you from the elements. There are two inner pockets and two hip pockets on the outside. These are lined with mesh so you could open them for extra ventilation if needed. This jacket is very stretchy and gives you a great range of movement, even when reaching up. While on the move, I also found that the jacket was very breathable, I didn’t feel too hot and sweaty, which is always a bonus.

Designed to brave the elements, this waterproof jacket from Oldo is both good looking and practical. The jacket is constructed using breathable layers – the waterproof outer layer and taped seams stand up well against the rain, while the inner layer is soft against the skin, both work together to keep your body dry and comfortable in wet conditions without making you too hot. Overall, the material has a good amount of stretch and allows for free range of movement. There are two hip pockets both protected by storm-proof flaps, but these are not accessible while wearing a rucksack with a hip belt, or a harness. The hood just about fits over a helmet, and when it came to battling with the winds, it kept most of my face protected when tightened with the drawstring at the back. The jacket also benefits from a drawstring below the waist and Velcro adjustable wrists, which are both great little features to help keep the wind and wet out. Weighing in at a humble 223g (size 8) and being the third lightest in the test, this is a fantastic lightweight and waterproof jacket which folds down to a very small size in my bag. I would happily take it on any trip.

This waterproof jacket from Mountain Warehouse is stylish and comfortable to wear, with a subtle feminine shape. A few minutes into the rain test, the jacket was holding out well, with most water droplets rolling off of the fabric. By the end of the test, the water was starting to absorb into the top layer of the fabric which resulted in the jacket feeling colder and taking longer to dry than most of the others. Taking the jacket off, I could see that no water had penetrated the inner membrane or the storm proof zips. If it’s a cold and windy day, you’ll probably want to layer up underneath this jacket, as it gets a bit chilly with the wind breaking through the material, but it is cool enough to wear in warmer conditions. There are plenty of generously sized pockets: two at the hip, one on the chest and a large one inside. There’s also another inner pocket with a Velcro fastening that I managed to stash an OS map in, but I wasn’t able to fasten the top. However, being situated on the inside of the jacket, this wouldn’t worry me too much. The hood is helmet compatible and is secured via three drawstrings. There are also two drawstrings situated at the bottom of the jacket so you can pull it in to get a better fit and keep the elements out.

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

Oakham Waterproof Jacket AEGIS JACKET £100 £110

Good performance and a great price.

108

An impressive performer that doesn’t break the bank.

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk

Aures Extreme Waterproof Jacket £119.99

Stylish and comfortable with average weather protection.


WOMEN’S Waterproof jackets

AT RATING

6

½ 10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 4 FEATURES

7

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

6

AT RATING

8

½ 10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 7 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

9

VENTILATION

9

VALUE

9

AT RATING

9

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 10 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

9

HELLY HANSEN

Columbia

Montane

www.hellyhansen.com

www.columbiasportswear.co.uk

www.montane.co.uk

This is a very nice looking, lightweight jacket but unfortunately, it didn’t perform well during the rain test as, within a few minutes of heavy rain, the outer layer of the jacket had already started to wet out in some places. A few minutes later, I had water leaking in from one of the top back panels, the lower arm panels and my side started to get very wet. These panels are all made from a different non-waterproof material to the rest of the jacket and despite a DWR coating, it won’t hold up in heavy rain. Because of the water absorption, this jacket also took a long time to dry out and still felt damp to wear over an hour or so later, which was disappointing in comparison to the other jackets. The jacket was very breathable and I didn’t feel too hot in it at all. This was helped by the vented flaps on the underarms and the mesh on the back of the jacket. The helmet compatible hood features three drawstring cords, which help keep a lot of the wind out when it’s cold and there are also two hem drawstrings at the waist to help keep the chill out. There are two generously sized hip pockets and two inner pockets, however, I’m not sure I’d like to keep anything in them that’s not supposed to get wet! A good choice for fast and light adventures or casual use.

When I put this jacket on, it just had that feeling of being a really hardy waterproof and it didn’t let itself down during testing. It batted off the water droplets with ease during heavy rain, with no water penetration or wetting out and it took no time at all to dry off. I was also impressed by the breathability and ventilation as the jacket kept me cool and wicked the moisture away efficiently. There’s plenty of room for a helmet under the hood, and a quick adjustment to the two drawstrings and the Velcro tab is all that’s needed when the wind is blowing for most of your face to be protected and warm. For extra protection, you also have two drawstrings at the bottom of the jacket and Velcro adjustable wrists. The jacket features storm flaps on all of the zips which give good waterproof coverage. There are two hip pockets which are lined with breathable mesh fabric and they offer great ventilation when the zips are left open. However, they’re not accessible when wearing a harness or a rucksack with a hip belt. I did feel a bit like a dentist in this all-white jacket when I first put it on, but I was really pleased to find out that fabric is 100% recycled and dye-free – another tick from me.

Being the second lightest in the test, weighing in at 201g (size 8), this waterproof jacket from Montane won’t give you any problems in the packing department. It performed well in the rain test, with all water droplets falling off of the fabric and no water penetration to the skin, while still being very breathable. The jacket’s storm-proof zips also helped keep the water away. There are two good sized hip pockets which aren’t accessible when wearing a rucksack with a hip belt or a harness, however, the chest pocket is. The two hand-warmer pockets are meshed lined, so you can leave them open for extra ventilation. When things got windy, the hood kept my face warm with three drawstrings and a wire-peaked hood to keep it snug. There are also two drawstrings on each side of the bottom of the jacket and Velcro adjustment tabs on the wrists. The jacket features a nice cut to the feminine shape, without being constricting, and there is also a good amount of stretch for easy movement. The Minimus stretch jacket comes in three beautiful colours, ‘French Berry’ pink, ‘Stratus Grey’ and ‘Zanskar Blue’. Each colour is set with bright and funky contrasting zips, making it very easy on the eye.

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

Vanir Heta Jacket £140

Fantastic breathability but not all that great in the wet.

OutDry Ex Eco Jacket £160

Women’s Minimus Stretch Jacket £160

A great waterproof that’s also environmentally friendly.

A stylish and super lightweight waterproof jacket.

www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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WOMEN’S Waterproof jackets

AT RATING

8

½ 10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 8 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

8

VALUE

9

AT RATING

7

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 7 WEATHER RESISTANCE 7 FEATURES

7

VENTILATION

7

VALUE

6

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 7 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

9

VENTILATION

7

VALUE

8

Vaude

Finisterre

Berghaus

www.vaude.com

www.finister re.com

www.berghaus.com

This jacket is a great lightweight waterproof option and is pretty easy on the eye. It packs down very small into my bag, and weighing in at 244g (size 8), it’s the fourth lightest in this test. During heavy rain, the water bounced off with no problems. When it comes to ventilation, this jacket’s got your back. It has two generously sized pit-zips which you can zip open from either end, and the fabric itself is highly breathable. To protect yourself from the wind and rain you can tighten a drawstring on the back of the hood, which pulls it in enough to protect most of your face. You can also adjust the two drawstrings at the bottom of the jacket by pulling the cords situated inside each hip pocket – I thought this was a nifty little feature as your hands will stay nice warm! There is also a nice sized pocket on the inside of the jacket. The material has some stretch to it which gives you a good range of movement, so you won’t be restricted when scrambling or reaching upward. The wrists are also elasticated and are adjustable via Velcro tabs. You can’t fit a helmet under the hood or access the pockets while wearing a hip belt or harness which is a shame.

This is a really good looking jacket, not only is it suitable for the hills but I’d also wear it about town. It features a wire-peaked hood with three volume adjuster drawstrings and these do a good job of keeping the wind off of your face. The hood is also big enough to fit over a helmet and can be rolled into the collar and secured by a popper when not in use. The jacket has two generously sized hip pockets, both with comprehensive storm flaps. However, they are not accessible when wearing a rucksack with a hip belt or a harness. There is also another hidden pocket inside. The waterproof material did keep the wet stuff out, but after a few minutes in heavy rain the water started to absorb into the outer layer of the fabric, hampering the breathability and meaning it took longer to dry than some of the other jackets in the test. I did also get quite hot in the jacket so I could have done with a couple of ventilation zips, which this jacket lacks. I love the striking yellow colour of this jacket, but it did seem to attract lots of bugs, I had to keep brushing them off! If yellow’s not your thing, there’s a black version too, and both are fashionable, as we have come to expect from a brand such as Finisterre.

As soon as you put this jacket on, you can just tell it’s going to do the job well – it’s hardy and makes you feel protected from the elements. Due to the Gore-Tex membrane and DWR coating, it performed very well in the rain test with droplets simply running off of the fabric in heavy downpours. I got a bit too hot in this jacket while testing in summer, so personally, I’d stick to wearing it in colder conditions than late July. The hood is a decent size, it easily fits a helmet underneath and is also adjustable via three volume adjuster drawstrings, giving a nice snug fit around the face and keeping most of the wind away. There are two generously sized hip pockets, which aren’t accessible when using a hip belt, and there is a very large inner pocket – so large, that it perfectly fits an OS map inside (which many of the other women’s jackets are unable to do). All of the zips on the jacket – including pockets – are storm proof, which is what we like to see. Weighing in at 453g (size 8), this jacket is the third heaviest in this test, but it’s a very decent jacket so I would be more than happy to take it on any trip with cold and wet conditions. With a fashionable twotone design, we’d also be more than happy to be seen wearing it around town.

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

Simony 2.5L Jacket £165

A lightweight jacket with a couple of nifty tricks up its sleeve.

110

Mistral Waterproof Jacket Ridgemaster jacket £185 £195

Good looking, but could perform a little better in the rain.

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk

A hardy waterproof jacket that lives up to its billing.


WOMEN’S Waterproof jackets

AT RATING

9

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 10 WEATHER RESISTANCE 10 FEATURES

8

VENTILATION

9

VALUE

8

AT RATING

8

½ 10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 7 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

9

VENTILATION

9

VALUE

8

AT RATING

8

10

WEIGHT AND PACK SIZE 6 WEATHER RESISTANCE 9 FEATURES

9

VENTILATION

9

VALUE

8

Rab

Jack Wolfskin

Paramo

www.rab.equipment

www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk

www.paramo-clothing.com

As you’d expect from Rab, this jacket is excellent (especially at this price). When it poured, the water droplets rolled off the fabric effortlessly, and once the rain had cleared, a simple shake of the jacket was all that was required for the water to disappear, leaving it pretty much bone dry. Weighing just under 150g (size 8), this jacket is the lightest in the test by a considerable amount and also comes with a tiny stuff sack which it fits into with ease – the jacket folds down like a piece of paper! The only downside for me here is there is only one pocket. I know the idea behind the jacket is to be as lightweight as possible, but personally, I could benefit from at least one more. The pocket is situated on the chest which makes it easily accessible when wearing a rucksack. Both the pocket and the main jacket zip feature AquaGuard storm protected zips, to help keep you and your stuff protected from the elements. When the gales are blowing, you can tighten the wire-peaked hood (which is helmet compatible) by using one of the three draw strings while there is also a drawstring at the bottom of the jacket – perfect for keeping the wind at bay. At £200 it is at the more expensive end of the scale in this test, but you certainly get what you pay for.

This jacket is both a waterproof and a softshell in one, and soft it is! The fabric is super smooth against the skin and is also very breathable, which meant the jacket kept me protected, but I didn’t overheat when moving about. It’s also got two very handy pit-zips which open either way, giving you an extra waft of fresh air if needed. The jacket performed well in the rain, deflecting all the water with ease, and there were no issues with penetration or wetting out. It also dried off pretty quickly too. The hood fits over a helmet, and is tightened via three drawstrings for extra snugness when battling with the elements – this, along with the high collar, kept my face feeling toasty. For extra wind protection, there are two drawstrings to the bottom of the jacket, and the wrists are adjustable via poppers. There are two hip pockets, a good sized chest pocket and also a little inner pocket which is the perfect size to stash a standard smartphone. This jacket has a good amount of stretch which gives a great range of movement and there are three colours to choose from including ‘Midnight Blue’ and ‘Hot Coral’ (orangey pink). All in all, a very nice jacket.

I wasn’t entirely sure on the overall style of this jacket in comparison to the others, but y’know what, after testing it out and discovering some of its handy features, I’ve started to warm to it. Constructed with Nikwax technology, the outer layer is super waterproof, and the inner layer works to direct sweat away from your skin and push it out through both layers of genuinely breathable fabric. In testing, the water droplets just bounced off the fabric, leaving me warm and dry. The jacket has one generously sized chest pocket, which is easily accessible while wearing a rucksack or harness (ideally sized for an OS map) while it also has an inner pocket which you can access via the two ventilation zips on each side of the jacket. When it comes to tackling the wind, this jacket’s got your back with a roll-away, wire-peaked hood (which just about fits over a helmet) set with two drawstrings. There are also another two drawstrings on each side of the bottom of the jacket which enables you to cinch it in and eliminate drafts. Weighing in at 630g (size 8), the Velez Adventure Smock is the heaviest in the test, but you won’t need to wear a mid-layer with it, so that’ll give you the extra packing space needed to take it away with you.

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

IN A LINE

Flashpoint jacket £200

An exceptional waterproof that folds down almost effortlessly.

Women’s Ticume Jacket £200

Fashionable, practical and cosy.

Women’s Velez Adventure Smock £245

This jacket tackles the wet weather with ease and offers great breathability. www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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O n t e s t:

mini test: DRY BAGS

DRY BAGS

Rob Slade tests out 10 different dry bags to see which ones prove good enough for you to part with your hard earned cash…

“A

ren’t rucksacks waterproof?” is a question that I hear all too often, but the simple answer is usually a no. Some manufacturers offer waterproof rucksacks, but the truth is that it is a lengthy and expensive process which would quickly burn a hole in the pocket of the company and the consumer. Instead, most tend to include waterproof covers, and as handy as these can be, their reliability at keeping gear dry is questionable.

The answer then, is dry bags. Packing your kit into a couple of dry bags is the best way to ensure your gear is protected while you’re in the mountains, and it’s a handy way of organising your bag too. Dry bags come in many shapes and sizes with varying features, and it’s up to you to decide what you need, be that a no thrills option or one with all the bells and whistles. To help you decide, here’s how we got on with 10 different bags…

Craghoppers 15L Dry Bag £12

Exped Fold-Drybag £15.50

www.craghoppers.com

www.exped.com/uk-ireland/en

Craghoppers’ submission for this test is a 15L dry bag which is a bit smaller than a few of the others we have here, but there are of course larger sizes in the range should you want more space. Unlike a lot of the competitors, there are no tags or straps at the bottom to hang or grip onto when removing tightly packed things which is a shame, but there is a hook on the top you could use. It comfortably fits a summer sleeping bag, but a three season bag is likely to be a squeeze. We found it stood up to abrasion well and kept our kit dry without fail. For the price, we think it’s pretty good value and if you wanted more space you could quite easily buy two for the price of one of the more expensive options on test.

This 22L bag feels solid and has has PU coated nylon fabric which stands up well to everyday abrasion. The clips are slightly smaller than some of the other options here and aren’t quite as easy to use with cold or gloved hands, but it’s still manageable. While there is no hook at the top of the bag there is a substantial strap at the bottom for carrying and hanging which is useful. The bag stood up to the elements without issue and we had no trouble fitting a three season sleeping bag inside it, so you’ll have no issues with size. For just over £15, we’re looking at a well-built bag that still offers good value and peace of mind.

7/10

8/10

Trekmates DryLiner 22L £13

Haglöfs Dry Bag 20 £16

www.trekmates.co.uk

www.haglofs.com

Straight away you notice that the DryLiner from Trekmates feels much more heavy duty (210D ripstop nylon) than some of the others here, and there’s only a few that we felt were more durable (Ortlieb and Aquapac). Despite this, the bag is still relatively lightweight and is malleable enough to squeeze into small spaces in your rucksack. It has large, solid clips which are easy to use in a range of scenarios and a substantial carry strap at the bottom is very welcome. It appears quite long, but we had no issues fitting in a three season sleeping bag. With the durable material and no issues of water getting in, we’d be confident in this doing the job, and it’s cheap too.

Haglöfs have done something different with their dry bags in that they all come in a soft white colourway. While it might not be as pleasing to the eye as some of the other colours here, it does mean that you can find it easily and you can see what’s inside without having to open it up - handy! It’s super lightweight and is made with 30D ripstop nylon, so it’s not going to make headlines with its durability, but it holds up well when it needs to and should cope fine with rucksack usage. There aren’t any straps at the top or bottom, so you’re limited on where to carry it or hang it. The clips are well-built and are large enough to be easily operated in any scenario. Size-wise, it takes a three season sleeping bag with ease and for £16, it’s not too expensive.

9/10 112

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk

8/10


mini test: DRY BAGS

Osprey Ultralight Drysack 20 £16 Snugpak Dri-Sak 20L £16.95 www.ospreyeurope.com

www.snugpak.com

As you would expect from Osprey, the Ultralight Drysack 20 feels well-made and with its carry hook at the bottom and D ring at the top, it’s practical too. Our kit was kept dry, but the bag isn’t quite as durable as other options as it is so lightweight, and for anything other than casual rucksack use you might want to look elsewhere. It’s one of the best-looking options and takes a three season sleeping bag with ease, but we did find the clips a bit fiddly with gloves on. As it’s so lightweight, it’s easy to squeeze into small spaces in your bag, ensuring you use up all of the room available to you.

Snugpak’s entry into this test feels extremely solid. It features strong, large clips which ensure easy fastening no matter if you’re gloved up or not and the 70D nylon offers great durability. As a result, it’s not quite as lightweight as some of the others, but it will stand up to a lot of rough and tumble. There are also two solid plastic D rings by the clips which are ideal for attaching the bag to anything. Having said that, we were disappointed to see there aren’t any carry straps on the bottom. We were pleased to see the Dri-Sak 20L had a wide opening, as this makes it really easy to pack and unpack. We also had no issues fitting something as large as a three season sleeping bag in there. A good buy.

8/10

9/10

Vaude Drybag Cordura Light 20L £20 Aquapac Heavyweight Drybag £20 www.vaude.com

www.aquapac.net

This entry from Vaude is another which feels very lightweight, but with the inclusion of Cordura (a tough fabric once created for military purposes) we were very happy with the levels of durability it offered. It has a large hanging hook at the bottom, while the clips at the top are of a good size and easy to use. As it’s so lightweight, we had no issues squeezing it into tight spaces in our bag but we did find the narrow opening to be a pain when trying to fit things like sleeping bags in it. At £20 there are cheaper bags on test, but we still feel the Drybag Cordura Light 20L is a good option which offers low weight and decent durability.

This is a dry bag built with more than just keeping your clothes dry in your rucksack in mind. While it will do that, and do that very well (it’s fully waterproof and super abrasion resistant), it is also really well suited to other adventures. It has a carry strap which is really useful for slinging over the shoulder and we feel it would serve you very well on kayaking or stand up paddle boarding trips. You can just about fit a three season sleeping bag in there and the clips are large and tough. There’s no hook at the bottom but there are two solid D rings at the top. As the name suggests, it is a heavyweight bag, so it might not be quite as ideal if you’re packing light.

8/10

8/10

Ortlieb Mediumweight Drybag PD350 £20 Sea to Summit Compression Dry Sack £30 www.ortlieb.com/en

www.seatosummit.co.uk

In a similar vein to the Aquapac dry bag, this entry from Ortlieb is solidly built, with tough material that handles abrasion and the wet stuff very well. It is quite a long dry bag with a narrow opening, and so can be a bit frustrating if you’re trying to fit large objects like three season sleeping bags in there, but it will fit. It has a strap at the bottom, solid D rings at the top and the clips are large and tough, too. We also like the inclusion of a valve which, when pulled out, lets air out so you can compress it nice and small, before sealing again when pushed in. It’s one of the heavier bags on test, but I wouldn’t say it’s overkill for use in a rucksack.

The exciting thing about this dry bag from Sea to Summit is that it’s also a compression sack, so it packs down really small when you need it to. Despite this added feature it’s pretty lightweight, yet still remains durable and it stood up to abrasion well. The clips are a bit on the small side and so can be a bit fiddly if you have cold hands or are wearing gloves, but they are solidly built. Like some of the others on test, the shape is long and thin, so it can be a challenge to fit larger items like three season sleeping bags in there, though it should be doable with a lot of compression and enough elbow grease. The addition of a carry strap at the bottom is also much appreciated.

10/10

9/10

www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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website directory Multi Acti vi ty Adventure Austria

Adventure Tour s Makalu Adventure

www.adventureaustria.com 02035400266 / 0043 699 1731 7344

www.makaluadventure.com +977 9851037083

Undiscovered Alps

Oasis Overland

Chile Nativo

World Expeditions

Equi pment Silverfox Travel & Outdoors

CYCLI NG ADVENT U R E HO L I DAYS Cycling Holidays

www.traveloutdoors.co.uk

Red Spokes Adventure Cycle Tours www.redspokes.co.uk 020 7502 7252

Cicerone Press

Lost Earth Adventures

www.undiscoveredalps.com 0845 0038501 www.chilenativo.travel +56 2 2717 5961

www.cicerone.co.uk www.cicerone-extra.com

www.oasisoverland.co.uk 01963 363400 www.worldexpeditions.co.uk 0800 0744 135

www.lostearthadventures.co.uk 01904 500094

Outdoor Gear for Adventurous Minds Kit and advice from the original experts in ultra running.

Discount code ADVENTURE10 – 10% discount

www.likeys.com Proud to be an independent since 2006

01874 622900 | sales@likeys.com 14

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk


Day Hikes Peru

Get out of your comfort zone and hike THE WORLD’S GREATEST TREKS classic Inka trail to Machupicchu. 3 nights in tents 1 night in a hotel, Inka trail permit included, the fifth day to explore Machupicchu citadel, all land transportation is included in the price. With dayhikesperu.com no GUILT guarantee to use a porter.

OUR 2017 RATES

■ 1 person 2990.00 us dollars per person ■ 2 people 1990.00 us dollars per person ■ 3 people 1590.00 us dollars per person ■ 4 people 1390.00 us dollars per person ■ 5 to 16 people 1290.00 us dollars per person

Self-Guided Peru

Explore the exceptional beauty of Peru at your own pace with self guided tours. With over 5000 years of history you can discover incredible Peruvian archeology and culture, and experience amazing bird watching and all the wonderful nature in this amazing country. Best of all, we plan your trip for you to make it a truly unique experience. Our itineraries are meticulously planned based on altitude and destination to ensure you have a magical adventure.

OUR MAIN TRIPS:

■ Awesome Peru (11 days) Explore at your own pace ■ Adventurous Peru (7 days) Discover Peru your own way Extend your stay to 2 or 3 weeks with our Preand Post-Trip excursions: Pre Trip – ■ Nasca & Paracas (3 days) ■ Before the Incas - Moche Route (4 days)Post Trip – ■ Lake Titicaca (3 days) ■ Lake Titicaca & Colca Canyon (7 days) ■ Amazon Rain Forest (4 days)

Permits are required for the classic Inka trail & they are limited, from January first 2017; is first click first reserve only for Peruvian travel companies with license, non-Peruvian travel companies they have to use a Peruvian travel agent to buy their permit. send us an e mail to:

info@dayhikesperu.com www.dayhikesperu.com

www.selfguidedperu.com info@selfguidedperu.com

www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

15


BO OK ! W NO

WORLDWIDE MOUNTAINEERING EXPEDITIONS, COURSES AND TREKS +44 (0)114 276 3322

jagged-globe.co.uk

PO Box 20144, Amrit Marg, Thamel, Kathmandu, NEPAL Cell: +977-9851037083 / +977-9803301287 t: +977-1-4417522, 4420136 f: +977-1-4417524 e: makaluadventure@mail.com.np, makaluadventures@gmail.com, makaluadv@wlink.com.np

16

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk


Let us take you

on the paths less travelled…

WORLDWIDE TREKKING, CYCLING & ADVENTURE TOURING

0800 0744 135 worldexpeditions.co.uk

www.pennineoutdoor.co.uk

Tel: 01871 810443 SEA KAYAK, BIKE, HIKE, SAIL, SNORKEL WITH SEALS

clearwaterpaddling.com

Unique Adventures

Specialist weather resistant fabrics, p.u. coated fabrics, technical fleece and thermal fabrics. large range of buckles, clips, webbing, zips etc.

FAST MAIL ORDER SERVICE sales@pennineoutdoor.co.uk

cycle kili2coast

15 - 25 Sep ‘18

raising funds for charities supporting children and young people

visit our web site trek4life.com or call us on 01529 488159

children’s

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HIKING T E N E R I F E

ays in the Active holid eauty of subtropical b Tenerife!

WWW.TREKKING-TENERIFE.COM www.facebook.com/trekking-tenerife

www.wiredforadventure.co.uk S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7

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Announcements

expeditions Doing something epic, eccentric or generally exciting? Put it on our noticeboard – email rob@atmagazine.co.uk

Cycling the world

Running Kazakhstan

Crossing Lofoten

who?

who?

who?

CHARLES HANNAFORD Bar staff at Greene King/law graduate.

JAMIE MADDISON British adventurer, explorer, and Christopher Ward Challenger.

ANNA BLACKWELL 23, adventurer and James Nicholson, 23.

what?

A self-supported trek of approximately 93 miles across the dramatic Lofoten Islands in Arctic Norway. We’ll be carrying all our kit and food, covering roughly 10-20 miles a day, and wild camping on beaches, mountains and lake shores along the way.

what? I’m currently cycling 18,000 miles around the world to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Meningitis Now.

when? I set off on my adventure on 1 April and will be cycling for one year.

why? After finishing my law degree and being called to the Bar, I wanted one last big adventure before becoming a barrister. I was inspired by adventurer and fellow cyclist Alastair Humphreys, and thought this was the best opportunity I’ll ever have to raise money for charity and make a real difference. Luckily, my employers at Greene King have been really supportive in helping me fundraise right up until I set off, as well as my sponsors etz Technologies who have helped with food and equipment.

Why should we follow your blog/social media? I’ll be blogging my whole journey under the name Novice Explorer, so you can follow me all around the world on Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and my blog. You can also donate to my fund on www.virginmoneygiving.com/thenoviceexplorer. www.thenoviceexplorer.com /thenoviceexplorer @noviceexplorer

118

My upcoming adventure will see me take on a 100-mile ultra-marathon across the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert in Kazakhstan, in under 24 hours. I will be navigating myself and will be followed by a support vehicle during the expedition. I’m hoping to shine a spotlight on pockets of the world that people back home know very little about.

when? September 2017.

why? Central Asia is one of the most exciting and under-visited regions left for exploration and it’s such a thrill to push my body to the extreme!

Why should we follow your trip? Not only will this physical endurance test push my body to the extreme, but I will also face the mental challenge of crossing a vast, flat and remote landscape, which is yet to be crossed by foot. www.christopherward.co.uk/blog/ @bunchuk Jamie Maddison is part of the Christopher Ward Challenger Programme, which aims to help individuals achieve their ambitions.

S E P | O C T 2 0 1 7 www.wiredforadventure.co.uk

what?

when? August - September 2017.

why? I’m passionate about adventure and setting myself a challenge. I’ve learned that there’s nothing as rewarding as watching the sunset from a tent, knowing what you’ve accomplished that day and discovering what you’re capable of, physically and emotionally. Hopefully this trip will push me and teach me more about my limits!

Why should we follow your trip? You can expect beautiful photographs of the stunning scenery, amusing anecdotes and powerful descriptions of the landscape and views, making you feel like you were there with us. www.annablackwell.co.uk /Anna Blackwell Adventure @_annablackwell @annablackwell


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