A Local Litter-Pick

As walkers and outdoor people, many of us moan about litter, but the truth is that we are usually preaching to the converted. I chose to support this grass roots action to highlight how bad the problem is becoming and how we can help.

Many small individual actions can make a big impact, so hopefully you will feel inspired to take a walk on your local patch. The action is to complete a one hour walk, collecting plastic litter as you walk and tag KidsVPlastic or KidsAgainstPlastic with a note of how many pieces you collected at the end.

Litter Pick 2
My cache of 19 plastic items

The problem in the Tyneside country park which I chose for my walk has become really dire, so hopefully these pictures will say more than words can. I didn’t see any bins on the route which was thronging with people on this busy Sunday.

Litter Pick 3
Into the recycling bin

Thanks to Outdoor Bloggers UK and Kids V Plastics for suggesting this initiative which is aimed at raising awareness.

Rucksack Rosie Redesign

Just a quick post to say that I hope you like the revamped site. The old theme was beginning to show it’s age a bit, so after some experimentation I opted for this fresher looking design. Happy Hiking. Rosie🌹

RRAny4

Twitter Detox

As a digital immigrant, I didn’t really know much about online safety when I started Rucksack Rosie using a pseudonym in 2012. My aims were to celebrate the life of my late mother and to remind myself that beauty and kindness still existed in the world. I wanted to connect with outdoor people who are normally excluded from outdoor debates. Naively I thought that is what the internet was for.

Because of this, I didn’t know how to react or who to turn to when my sites were targeted by cyberstalkers, malware and organised trolling following a terrible trip out with a stranger on Twitter to Wideopen Hill in 2014.

For 5 years I made repeated attempts to refer the Twitter gang to my personal site for information and news, but the main thing I have learned is that trolls like them can’t, or won’t, read. After my studies in 2016, issues from the same people flared up again when I mentioned that my application had been accepted for the TGO challenge, and their sheer unpleasantness resulted in my withdrawal from the event. 

This was soon followed by another outburst from a couple of people from the same group (without even knowing the circumstances) when I mentioned that I had made a call to Mountain Rescue for advice during a walk in memory of a relative.

RR Bullying 1
Blow the whistle on trolling and harassment

This group seem to have nothing better to do with themselves than to wreak emotional devastation on Twitter. After haranguing me for over two years, they eventually pressured me into disclosing private information which was really off topic on this blog. All this finally culminated in a trip to the police and a solicitor in 2017.

All these experiences have changed my approach to blogging and social media, which is ironic on a blog intended to share beauty and kindness. As a result I have put Twitter on hold as I’m not sure it is the right platform for remembering people, beauty, kindness, survivors or fledgling businesses. When I try to balance out the positive contribution it has made to Rucksack Rosie against the emotional damage being caused by trolls, and the lax safety responses from the company involved, the option to come off Twitter became an increasingly tempting one.

Otherwise everything else will hopefully carry on with improved productivity in a less toxic environment. Thanks again to the people who have stopped by. It means a great deal to me.

Wild Flowers
Wild Flowers near Malham

Postscript: After taking advice from various people, I finally came off Twitter completely in February 2020, having ceased to enjoy the experience at all some time ago. For those who are not here for the outdoor content and are still sniffing around for personal info, I wrote a post about the backstory to this blog in December 2019. I am now hoping to rediscover the pleasure in walking which drew me to blog about it in the first place. Names of trolls available on request.

Perthshire Conservation

I have just completed my first working holiday as an outdoor conservation volunteer for the National Trust for Scotland’s Thistle Camps in North Perthshire. If you’re interested in conservation and the outdoors, this is a great opportunity to learn more about Scotland’s unique natural heritage. To read and see more about this trip, take a look at my Perthshire Protection page.

Foliage at Garry Bridge, Killiecrankie

The working holidays are residential projects, based at National Trust for Scotland properties, which help the NTS to conserve and manage the historic locations under its care.

These are some pictures of the historic and beautiful locations in which I worked, in one of my favourite parts of mainland Scotland.

Killiecrankie – (Site of the Battle of Killiecrankie on 27th July 1689).

Charcoal Kiln
Making charcoal at Killiecrankie

Linn of Tummel

Garry Bridge
View from Garry Bridge, Linn of Tummel

The Hermitage, Dunkeld.

Hermitage
Woodland at The Hermitage, Dunkeld

I hope that these pictures show what a beautiful and unique area this is, and give some indication of how much there is to see at these three National Trust for Scotland sites.

Many thanks to the NTS Rangers, the Camp leader and co-leaders, and my fellow volunteers for a fun, fascinating and informative week. I paid the listed price towards my upkeep on this camp.

3 Roman Romps

With the recent opening of The Sill on Hadrian’s Wall, complete with its shiny new Youth Hostel, I decided to put together a collection of day hikes which incorporate some of the excellent Roman sites, such as Housesteads, Vindolanda, Chesters and the Roman Army Museum, along the Northumbrian section of the wall.

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall sites in Northumberland

So, if you enjoy history, archaeology, ancient walls, forts, turrets, milecastles and temples, but don’t have the time to do the complete National Trail, Roman Roaming offers three moderate hikes between 5 and 10 miles long. Together they offer a great introduction to this famous World Heritage Site. The page includes maps, photos, videos and GPX downloads.

Housesteads
Housesteads Roman Fort

Rucksack Rosie at 5

On 17th September this year it was 5 years since I began to create Rucksack Rosie on this blog and YouTube. For those who don’t know, Rucksack Rosie was originally dedicated to my mum, and was intended to share the good and simple things in the outdoor world such as beauty and kindness.

RR5
Rucksack Rosie 5th Birthday

I had great plans for this fifth year but bullying by a small gang of Twitter trolls laid waste to some of them, which was a very sad moment for me and for this blog. Anyway, having taken advice, I am pressing on. Can I simply ask that if you don’t respect me, my content or my aims, you just unfollow. It’s really not that difficult is it?

To those who have stuck by me for all or some of the last five years for the right reasons, I would like to say a big thank you for over 101k YouTube views, 103k blog views, as well as your advice and inspiration. I genuinely appreciate all these things and I will continue to try and keep to the original intentions of the blog which are outlined in the About this Site section.

RR Thanks
Thank You

Happy Hiking. Rosie🌹

Using Mountain Rescue

In May I walked the Speyside Way as a way to remember a relative who sadly passed away this year. During the walk I made a call to rescue services for navigational advice as there was a route discrepancy between my map and the signage. It was getting late and I was stuck in a seemingly endless rocky barbed wire corridor which wasn’t indicated on my map, and wasn’t wide enough to pitch my tent in. My tired reasoning was simply that a call for advice now might prevent a call for help later. Unfortunately the people I spoke to were unable to answer my query. When I mentioned this dilemma on Twitter after my return, James Boulter and the usual suspects began making unpleasant remarks about my decision to make a call, so this is just a quick response to them.

In the 20 years since I began hiking, I have once requested a call out from Mountain Rescue following an attack of vertigo, and have sought advice (usually regarding route diversions) two or possibly three times on solo long distance walks. On each of these occasions I made a donation to the relevant team.

Speyside Way
Speyside Way Map courtesy of LDWA and Ordnance Survey ©

I would just like to quote a DM I received from a professional rescue person (who shall remain anonymous) regarding my call for advice:

“I think if your call prevented you from getting into danger then it was worthwhile. The Mountain Rescue teams would rather you didn’t get hurt and so would I…I’ve met lots of people who should have done what you did”

I would also like to point out that, as I have a relative who was involved in mountain rescue, I realise how valuable their service is to the outdoor community. My relative sustained a permanent injury whilst carrying out a rescue with his team, so I am fully aware of the risks teams face while providing this service. I am also aware of my personal responsibilities to use their resources sparingly, to donate as and when I am able, and to provide the best outdoor advice I can.

Pennine Way
Pennine Way route map courtesy of LDWA and Ordnance Survey ©

Thanks. Rosie🌹

Books, Maps and Digital

The world of routes has become more complex than it used to be. Personally I like to use paperback route books, but I usually read non fiction, adventure and technical books on my e book reader.

Books
Outdoor book and map shelfie

Regarding navigation, I prefer to keep my options open and switch from one method to another, having lost maps and had phone battery run out. I explore maps, route books and apps to get ideas for my walks as well as downloading and recording routes on Viewranger. At times I have relied entirely on GPX routes, but I am finding that maps and books remain important resources for me. I now try to ensure that I have a map and a digital route back up on all walks.

It is a new hybrid world that outdoor users live in now, with proponents of different methods debating which is best.

Berwickshire Coastal Path
Berwickshire Coastal Path route

In acknowledgement of the good use I have put my route books to, I thought I would mention a few of the route books I use as well as the download sites:

Reference Books

  • Townsend, Chris. ‘World Mountain Ranges – Scotland’ Cicerone. 2010
  • ‘The UK Trailwalker’s Handbook’ Eighth Edition. LDWA. 2009

Route Books

Northumberland:

  • Bagshaw, Chris et al. ’50 Walks in Durham and Northumbria’ AA. 2010
  • Baker, Edward. ‘Walking the Cheviots’ Sigma. 1996.
  • Hall, Alan. ‘Walking in Northumberland’ Cicerone. 2010
  • Hallewell, Richard. ‘Short Walks in Northumbria’ The Ramblers. Collins. 2011

Cross Border

  • Brooks and Conduit. ‘Northumberland, The Borders and Hadrian’s Wall’ Pathfinder. 2000.
  • Hall, Alan. ‘The Border Country – A Walker’s Guide’ Cicerone. 2010.

Scotland:

  • Jackson, Peter. ’25 Walks. The Scottish Borders’ Mercat Press. 2009
  • Turnbull, Ronald. ‘Ben Nevis and Glencoe’ Cicerone. 2007
  • Scotways. ‘Scottish Hill Tracks’ Scottish Mountaineering Trust. 2011.

Downloads

My go-to sites for digital downloads are:

  • LDWA website (Long Distance Walkers Association) for long distance walks in Britain (downloads only available to members)
  • Walkhighlands.co.uk for long distance walks and day walks throughout Scotland
  • Viewranger (now Outdooractive) navigation app on which I upload and download routes.

Rosie🌹

If you would like to recommend any new or interesting route books, sites, apps or maps, please let me know.

Chesters5
Good paths heading north to Ingram

Blow the Whistle on Trolls

Anti Bullying
Blow the whistle on trolling & harassment

I have always tried to be an ambassador for the outdoors as it has been a sanctuary for me during difficult times. However Twitter can sometimes be an aggressive place where people can become really unpleasant. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this kind of trolling or harassment, please don’t suffer in silence, but seek advice and report it.

It is important to remember that the majority of responsible people and organisations involved in the outdoors don’t want it to be diminished by the trolls or the bullies, and should have procedures in place to tackle the issue.

Blow the whistle to send a message that we all know who the trolls and bullies are.

Wild camping and me

Many of the endurance athletes I respect have managed to cover long distances by camping in farms and gardens or using bothies, rescue huts, hostels and bunkhouses. In spite of this, wild camping seems to have become a by-word for outdoor proficiency. Listening to discussions, I have realised that some women share my apprehension about wild camping. It has been a relief to hear this discussed by people with amazing achievements under their belts.

campingpics
Campsite Pics. Clockwise: My garden, Wasdale, Edale and Knarsdale

I backpacked the Pennine Way in 2013, staying in some very small campsites, on farms and in gardens, and my first wild camp was with a group of people in the Peak District, shortly afterwards. On the whole this was a fairly good humoured introduction to wild camping. I learned a lot by simply watching what was going on around me and left feeling encouraged.

image

About 6 months later I was pleased to be invited out for a second wild camp by Chrissie Crowther, a retired woman from the Peak District on Twitter. This trip didn’t go so well. After a winter which was largely spent indoors supporting my father, I was a bit out of condition, but I didn’t regard it as a competition. I joined the other walker (and her partner Geoff Crowther briefly) at their motorhome at Jedburgh for a bright and sunny day of walking on the St Cuthbert’s Way, which I had walked once before using hostels and B&Bs.

Unfortunately by the time we pitched our tents, the invisible enemies of dehydration and heat exhaustion were causing me to feel very unwell. I had a throbbing headache, my head was spinning, I felt sick and a bit delirious. Whatever assessment Chrissie claims to have made of my condition was made from zipped inside her tent.

Most rescue people advise that if you don’t feel well you should turn back, and that is what I did. In retrospect I think this was the right decision.

image
St Cuthbert’s Way

I packed up and left Chrissie, who had refused (from inside her tent) to make a call out or come with me, but by the time I reached the road in the dark, I was feeling too sick to walk. I finally decided to call the hotel we had passed earlier in the day. The owner heroically came out in his car to pluck me up from the side of the road in the dark and take me back to the hotel where I was given tea and a much needed room for the night. The people at the hotel were critical of Chrissie’s decision not to come with me.

St Cuthbert's Way
St Cuthbert’s Way II

I mentioned some of this in an online review of the hotel made at the time in early 2014, and I have not seen either of the people involved since that time. A month or so later I discovered that I had been blocked by the couple on Twitter, so I emailed Chrissie again to apologise and reiterate that I had had too much sun.

I may be useless at some things, but I can recognise the symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration, having suffered from both before. Chrissie’s decision left me quite hurt but, because she had offered to take me out, I spared her blushes by not discussing what had happened on social media for over two years. Sadly I now realise that saying nothing has given this couple the opportunity to claim that they know me far better than they do and to spread malicious untruths about me within the outdoor community while I was doing my M.A.

I don’t tend to gossip and I didn’t know how to respond to any of this unpleasantness after my course. I have been advised to point out that I began writing this blog, which is dedicated to my mum, for pleasure, and at the time of writing this is still being marred by the online hate campaign which began after this trip. So reader beware of apparently kind offers from strangers on Twitter which can turn toxic.

My own appraisal of the day.

For what it’s worth, my own appraisal of that day is that I was affected by the sun because it was a bright & sunny day and I had been indoors all winter. I had not taken a sunhat as I thought it was too early in the year to need one, but this was the wrong decision. I had also recently abandoned my rucksack hydration system with a hose because several had leaked whilst I was camping. Instead I had put a 1.5L plastic bottle of water in the back pocket of my rucksack, which meant that I had to stop and take my rucksack off whenever I wanted a drink. During the course of that day I only did this once or twice at the most which caused me to become dehydrated.

March 2017.

I have since taken advice regarding the problems I have been having with this couple and reported them. When I tried to post a link to this post on Geoff’s blog, it was deleted and I was threatened with legal action for slander and libel. The advice I have been given is that something cannot be libellous or slanderous if it is true which it is, and so.

wasdale
Camping in Wasdale

Anyway, to return to the much more interesting present, and to answer some questions, the main reasons that I haven’t wild camped again until recently are:

  • I have been completing an M.A. for the last year
  • I have been trying to support my father
  • I have no car
  • I am an assault survivor which still makes me afraid of some situations.
  • I was really put off wild camping after the trip I have just described

Apologies to my readers for having to use my blog to counter gossip rather than just write about the outdoors which is all I really want to do on here. Thanks very much to the people who have stopped by since I first published this post in December of 2016. It really does mean a huge amount to me.

img_3845

NB In February 2020 I finally listened to advice and came off Twitter completely and have never looked back.