This post is intended to be an occasional feature showcasing some of the websites which I have enjoyed recently. I would welcome your suggestions about good sites.
Chris Townsend Outdoors Blog by a very experienced backpacker with an impressive outdoor CV. Unparalleled knowledge of gear and environmental issues.
Grough Magazine An independently owned site featuring news and features about the outdoors and outdoor activities.
Hiking in Finland A European backpacking blog in English written by the multi skilled Hendrick Morkel
Homemade Wanderlust Blog and Vlog following trailhiker Dixie’s interesting and involving attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail and become a hiking triple crowner.
John Muir Trust Founded in 1983 with the aim of conserving and protecting wild places for the benefit of present and future generations
Northumberland National Park This site is growing into a well researched and interesting website about the area. They are quite responsive to comments and criticisms from users.
The Outdoors Station Podcast A professionally produced podcast covering many aspects of the outdoors from the Cartwrights at Backpacking Light UK
Tramplite Gear Ultralight long distance hiker who designs and makes his own line of hiking equipment when he isn’t hiking trails around the world.
Walk Highlands All aspects of walking in Scotland are covered in this engaging blog which has a good mix of trail data, downloads and long form posts. It is supported by accommodation providers who want to appeal to the outdoor market.
Rucksack Readers: Coast to Coast, St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay (2018).
This new edition of the Coast to Coast walk guide is produced in line with the range of Rucksack Reader editions from this Edinburgh publisher.
This Coast to Coast Guide is printed on weatherproof, biodegradeable paper and the spiral bindings enables the user to open it out flat. It is published in high spec full colour with photographs by Karen Frenkel. It also contains introductory sections to aid planning and preparation, well researched background information and a thorough final section of further information and references.
The walk is divided into 16 daily stages with concise directions, route options, altitude profiles and 1:55,000 colour maps by Lovell Johns. At 220mm x 150mm and 295g, the guide should fit in most garment or rucksack pockets, although it is slightly on the tall side for me. There is the option to download the Daily Stages section of the guide as a pdf which could be used during the walk as an alternative to carrying the book. There is also some additional content and a downloadable GPX file available from their website.
On the whole the book has been thoughtfully produced, addressing some of the physical problems many walkers will have experienced with walking guides (rain damage and spine deterioration). I also appreciate the thoughtful extras such as the downloadable pdf guide and GPX file which allow the walker to get everything they require in a one stop shop.
Many walking books are self consciously low spec on the reasonable assumption that they will take a bit of rough handling during a walk. It is therefore quite nice to find a guide that subverts the trend by proving that quality doesn’t have to be sacrificed to durability.
This was a free review copy available on request from the publisher.
If you are looking for inspiration for gifts for the outdoor person in your life, these are 25 gift suggestions under £25, for walkers of all abilities – from first timers to experienced hikers. They are all items which are in regular use in my kit.
Buff – A versatile item available in a wide range of colours and designs to suit the person you are buying for
Head Torch – Very useful to have in your rucksack during winter walks when the days are short so you don’t get caught out
Gloves – Available in a huge range of colours, styles and fabrics
Mini Tripod – Popular items available for smartphones for those outdoor selfies
Drink Bottle – Possibly the most important item of kit. Available in plastic and metal
Flask – For that timely brew on the hills
Maps – One or two local maps could encourage a novice walker out on a walk
Waterproof Phone Case – Another increasingly popular item to protect your phone from getting wet
Lapel Microphone Clip – The perfect present for anyone wanting to vlog about their walks using their phone. Stops you being drowned out by wind
Beanie – Economical, versatile and easy to shove in your pack or your pocket when not in use
Compass – Another ideal gift for a newbie walker. Worth getting a decent one on a lanyard to attach it to a pack or jacket
Pen-knife – A good quality pen knife is a permanent part of many kit lists. Obviously it must conform to knife laws wherever you are.
Hand Warmers – Nice to keep hands warm in cold weather and available in a wide range of prices
Cheap Poles – My first set of trekking poles were pretty cheap and lasted for ages
Dry Bags – Always useful and available singly or in sets
Socks – A good outdoor shop should stock a good range of these for different times of year. Available in different sizes, colours and designs to suit the person you are buying for.
Outdoor Wallet – A useful gift available in synthetic or cuben to replace a bulky purse or wallet on outdoor trips
Head Net – An essential item in some parts of the country at certain times of year. Light and compact enough to stay in your rucksack during the summer months.
Gaiters – Excellent for wet and boggy terrain
Walking Guide Book – A good book of routes is a great present. The best ones have good maps, are pocket sized and resilient.
Guided Walk – In this age of things, experiential gifts are a growth market. A good experience could be to take someone on a guided trip or walk.
Lunch Box – Along with the drinks bottle and flask already mentioned, a good, robust lunch box is always nice to have and can last for years.
Attachable Accessories – You can get great drink bottles holders and cases in cuben and gridstop fabric which attach to rucksack shoulder straps and hip belts for extra space.
Anemometer – There are a range of hand held anemometers available for measuring temperatures and wind speeds during a walk
Gift Card –Available for high street stuff, digital maps and routes on most route apps
The dark evenings are great for watching films, whether it’s from the comfort of your sofa or tucked up inside your tent on a hill. These are ten great new and classic outdoor films for some wild watching.
Wild Watching: 10 Recommended Outdoor Films (In alphabetical order).
127 Hours. Directed by Danny Boyle (2010).
Everest. Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2015).
Force Majeure. Directed by Ruben Östlund (2014).
Into the Wild. Directed by Sean Penn (2007).
Koyaanisqatsi. Directed by Godfrey Reggio. Music by Philip Glass (1982).
The River Wild. Directed by Curtis Hanson (1994).
The Way. Directed by Emilio Estevez (2010).
Touching the Void. Directed by Kevin MacDonald (2003).
Walking Out. Directed by Andrew and Alex Smith (2018).
‘Those who decry peak bagging as mere list ticking fail to understand the commitment challenge and pleasure involved. Collecting summits means collecting experiences.’ Chris Townsend.
Drawing from more than forty years’ experience as an outdoorsman, and probably the world’s best known long distance walker who also writes, Chris Townsend describes the landscapes and wildlife, the walkers and climbers, and the authors who have influenced him in his latest lucid and fascinating book. Writing from his home in the heart of the Cairngorms he discusses the vital importance of wild places to our civilisation.
Critical acclaim for Chris Townsend: ‘This is what Chris’ books do. They shake you out of lethargy and install in you that love of the natural world that keeps us all going.’ Andy Howell, Outdoors Blog. ‘In the Scottish outdoor world names occasionally shine like the stars and very quickly fade into the night. Chris Townsend has remained a shining light for well over 35 years, a passionate and inspiring advocate for the wild corners of our land, an enthusiast who literally walks the walk.’ Cameron McNeish. ‘I first met Chris Townsend about thirty years ago cross country ski-ing in the Cairngorms. He is someone who practices what he preaches. Since his becoming a JMT Trustee I have much appreciated his insights and knowledge and he is a great voice for our cause.’ Peter Pearson, Chair of the John Muir Trust. ‘Chris Townsend is the all-around world champion hiking memoirist, guide, photographer, blogger, and techie.’ Ron Strickland, founder of the Pacific Northwest Trail.
About Chris Townsend Chris Townsend writes regularly for TGO Magazine and has written 22 books on the outdoors, including the award winning The Backpacker’s Handbook; Scotland in Cicerone’s World Mountain Ranges series; Crossing Arizona; the story of an 800 mile walk along the Arizona Trail; Walking the Yukon, the story of 1000 mile walk through the Yukon Territory; The Munros and Tops, the story of his continuous round and A Year In The Life of The Cairngorms, a photographic study. His recent publications with Sandstone Press feature two long-distance walks he undertook in the USA, Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams (2012) and Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles (2014).