2018 Round-Up Part 1: Camps

Persistent readers will no doubt be aware that for the last few years, I’ve had a camping out competition with my daughter, who does quite a few camps due to her involvement in several sections of the Scout movement. We did it again this year, but with 2018 being A Level year, it was pretty obvious I’d almost certainly win. In the end I won convincingly and broke a record in the process.

Ever since I began wild camping in 2012, the number of camps has been on an upwards trend almost every year. I’ve now camped out around 31 times a year in the last 3 years (30, 32 and 31 respectively). Of these 2016 and 2017 both featured 26 wild camps, reflecting me forcing myself to camp out at least once a month in 2016, and doing my first TGO Challenge in 2017. In 2018, however, 30 of my 31 camps were wild, reflecting both the conversion of tame camps to wild on the 2018 TGO Challenge and the lack of social camp meetups. In terms of stats alone, 2018 would rank as the best year for camping yet. But was it really ?

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The “No Wainwrights” Lake District Backpack

After all the shenanigans getting ready for my art exhibition at the start of the month, and then helping a friend with her exhibition which immediately followed mine, I’d managed to rack up a couple of months without any significant time in the outdoors. Other than a brief snatched camp out locally, but then a tent hidden between a farmer’s field and a landfill site is hardly quality outdoors. It was high time I got out into the hills.

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The Secret Achipelago Expedition

As a kid, I was engrossed by Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series of books, and must admit to having re-read them as an adult too. The same goes for Cath too, and she’s been trying to get her son into them (I gave up on this with my offspring years ago after being constantly called a “muggle” by them – it was a forlorn hope). Now every time I’ve mentioned to Cath about the walks I’m doing in the top right-hand bit of Essex, she has been reminding me of Secret Water and, basically, pestering me for us to arrange a suitable Expedition.

And so it was, that nearing the end of the Essex Way, and mentioning that it goes within a mile or two of “Secret Water”, a plan was hatched to attempt the audacious combination of a circumnavigation of that area and the completion of the Way. I think she sees herself as a bit of a Nancy Blackett (really ? Peggy maybe, as she’s a bit of a galoot). For this trip, as the local guide, I would take the role of the Mastadon (albeit sans splatchers). Continue reading “The Secret Achipelago Expedition”

The Essex Way: Part 3 – White Notley to West Bergholt

It has been a month, and high time I ventured out to knock off the next section. Luckily the forecast was for two days of bright weather, little or no rain and wind and reasonable temperatures. It would have been wrong not to go for it.

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The Essex Way: Part 1 – Epping to the A1060

The Essex Way is a long distance route of 130km (81 miles) stretching from Epping in the West to Harwich in the East. It was created as a result of a competition organised by the CPRE in 1972, and some of the original CPRE-branded waymarks can still be seen on the route (although now largely replaced by Essex County Council waymarks). The route is described as “… lovely, taking you through ancient woodland, open farmland, tree-lined river valleys and leafy green lanes, with plenty of picturesque and historic villages along the way.” So it seemed like a decent candidate for a mini-project. Continue reading “The Essex Way: Part 1 – Epping to the A1060”

Unexpected Joys in the Clag

Barely am I back from my cruise to Greenland, Iceland and Norway (more about that if I get around to it in due course), then the post-holiday gloom of returning to work hits full face. A lack of decent walking opportunities on the cruise, means it’s 3 months since I did any form of backpacking, and I’m itching to get out. One break from work quickly spawns the need for another.  Continue reading “Unexpected Joys in the Clag”

Never invite someone called Dale to somewhere all the places have “Dale” in them

Cath’s (@wellycath) been wanting to get a group together for a camp around her birthday for a couple of years now, and finally managed to seize her chance last year when Team Social Hiking decided not to contest the 5-in-5/10-in-10 this year, and instead to try to get together socially sometime in June. This also brought it into the range of my personal festivities and so it came to pass that this year my Official Annual Birthday Camp would be in the company of friends rather than hiding away solo and forlornly at the edge of a field in Kent. Continue reading “Never invite someone called Dale to somewhere all the places have “Dale” in them”

The Quest for a Furthest South

Just as I arrived at Paul’s, he had the news on and a general election had been called. I took this as an omen that there could be no better time to lose myself for 3-4 days in the middle of nowhere. Continue reading “The Quest for a Furthest South”

Cambrian Way #9: Bryn y Fedwen to Mallwyd (Days 20-21)

The euphoria of knocking off 15 miles and nearly 1000m of ascent on a day when I was feeling sluggish soon wore off. The wind picked up in the night and was really pressing on the tent. Again I had bits of cheap Chinese inner in my face. I was glad to get up, but boy was it cold. I set off wearing 4 layers. Continue reading “Cambrian Way #9: Bryn y Fedwen to Mallwyd (Days 20-21)”