Dark Skies – staying safe at Night

As you will all have noticed October is here now, the weather has cooled a little, but the nights have really drawn in and the sun seems to take just a little bit longer before it decides to rise and shower us with its brilliance.

One aspect of staying safe, particularly whilst you are out in the hills and mountains is having a form of lighting that will support you and enable you to be safe, should you over run a late afternoon walk or indeed if you are competent enough to be spending your time out night navigating.

Everyone will typically have their own personal favourite ‘bits of kit’ and with that in mind let me tell you a little about mine, that being the LEDLENSER H7R CORE headtorch.

Just to give some context, I have been using this product for over 9 years now, since I was first introduced to this brand, and as such I am an advocate of this quality product.

These are the details of this model – the H7R Core

  • IP Class 67 rated – means its waterproof
  • Advanced focus – from broad flood of light to long distanced beam focus (approx. 250m)
  • 7-year warranty – coupled to quality German engineering, you’ll probably never need it!
  • 130-degree rotating head – allowing you to adjust the angle of the dangle!
  • 1000 Lumens light output – It’s bright!
  • Quick magnetic charging system -means you don’t need to remove the battery to charge, just attach the magnetic charging cable to a standard USB port.

That’s the Corporate details of the product, but for me, in layman’s terms these are the aspects that I believe make it an exceptional piece of kit to have in your rucksack.

The headband/cradle is great, its sits comfortably on your head and is made of an Anti-microbial material stopping gremlins from growing on it, its also detachable for washing.

Its easy to operate, the push on switch is easily located on the right-hand side and has a dimming function when you don’t need full visibility (helps when viewing maps)

The advanced focus, on the lens, is easy to operate between near distance (flood light effect) and far distance (narrow spotlight beam effect)

It ‘feels’ robust, you know that this little rascal is going to cope with a few ‘bumps and bruises’ along the way and still perform.

And finally, it has a neat little charging/charge indicator (see picture) displaying what life you have left in the battery before you need to re-charge it.

Because the people at LEDLENSER are seriously nice people, they have offered a discount code as follows:

PO365LL15 – use this to get 15% off any of their products on the LEDLENSER website.

www.ledlenser.co.uk

Shine brightly folks

Martin

Aircraft Hunting – Peak District

Sunday afternoon, all chores done, the weather looks OK, so what better than spending a few hours in the glorious surrounds of the Peak District National Park, hunting for aircraft wrecks.

Disclosure time here, I already knew how to locate two out of the three wrecks, but having seen a recent post on Instagram identifying a wreck that I did not know about, the ‘pull’ to go and test the navigational prowess was too much for me to contain!

So that’s it, we’re out to play on a slightly overcast Sunday afternoon.

Starting from Old Glossop a quick dash up alongside the Blakemoor plantation followed by a slightly a further 130 meters of climbing and the first location was secured. Cock hill Trig appeared to have been overrun by some very berry cocky Jelly babies!

Next stop, the Bristol Blenheim L1476, located on Sykes Moor, Bleaklow.

The route from Cock Hill Trig to the spot height along Glossop low passed in a flash, and I was quickly descending toward the Pennine way along Clough Edge.

Turn Right along Clough Edge and the next objective was the big Left turn at Wildboar Grain. It was quickly arrived at and now I took my time just to collect my thoughts about the next important aspect of this short hop, that being, locating the contour at 530M and determining how far North along this contour I needed to travel to hit the objective.

If you know the Peak District at all, you will completely understand how difficult this potentially can be, largely due the vast number and scale of peak Groughs which litter the Moors. Sykes Moor is no different and I was quickly encountering plenty of ups and down across the contour line.

First wreck found, time to head for ‘Over Exposed’ which is located in close proximity to the Trig at Higher Shelf Stones. The weather had changed from being quite humid to fine drizzle which had the effect of rinsing the sweat off my head into my eyes, deep joy!

After wiping the sweat from my eyes and recovering some degree of sight I pushed hard across the Moor to relocate the Pennine way and use this as my handrail to locate Wain Stones. I managed to disturb a huge mountain hare along the way, if only I could cover the Moors as quickly as they can, they are always just so impressive to see as they gallop off into the distance!

Flashing past Wain stones, head down, I pressed hard onwards across the bog that is Shelf Moss and whistled passed Hern Stones, disturbing a resting hawk along the way. Too quick for me to capture on the camera I just had to stand and watch its graceful flight off the stones and away into the distance, stunning!

Next Objective B29 Over Exposed achieved, with two quick pictures, one being with the OS Locate app’ and I was already looking for my route off to the final Objective for today’s little outing.

Its just a short(ish) downhill hop from Higher Shelf Stones across Shelf Moor and up onto James Thorn.

This site is quite interesting in that it has two plaques in memory of two different aircraft incidents. But today I wanted to capture the plaque for Lancaster KB993 which crashed on 18th May 1945.

Job done, all I needed to do is safely get myself off James Thorn and down to the track alongside Mossy Lea Farm to head back to the car.

Summary.

Two Trig points

Three Aircraft sites

  • Bristol Blenheim L1476
  • B29 Superfortress Over Exposed
  • Lancaster KB993

One Mountain Hare

One Sparrow Hawk

18KMs in the bag.

Some good contour navigation practice

Another great day out, time for a beer.

Martin

Hill Fit – What does it take

For those of us who are regulars in the hills you will probably have noticed that we are seeing more and more people when out on our little jaunts. The last 18 months have been difficult for all of us with numerous government restrictions dictating what we can and can’t do, but one thing I have to say is that maybe, just maybe, the 2020 restriction on exercises which allowed only one hour a day may have had a positive effect on some people who started to take up activities they may not have considered previously or may have restarted activities they had lost the passion for.

Hill walking, hiking, or mountain climbing; call it what you will, is a pastime which is easily accessible by all. You don’t need a massive level of fitness to tackle a hill – or do you? Well, I guess the answer depends on what your definition of a hill is but for me, as a fitness trainer, no matter what the hill is, you still require some level of fitness.

So, what exactly is required?

Below is a high-level summary of the kind of things you may need to work on if you are looking to get serious and more importantly stay safe in the great outdoors. I have broken this down into two main areas.

Cardiovascular fitness

Firstly, hiking as we’re going to call it, requires a certain level of cardiovascular fitness. This is the fitness relating to the amount of oxygen which can be taken in and pumped around your body in any one beat of the heart. In a nutshell, breathing and heartbeat.

Our lungs are made up of a network of small air pockets or sacks each of which fill with air as we breathe in. As blood passes through the lungs it filters out the oxygen and carries it to the heart which then pumps it around the body with every beat. Every muscle in our body needs this oxygen to breathe and function efficiently, so the more we can take in through the lungs in a single intake of breath, the less we need to breathe, and the more oxygen we can pump around in a single beat of our heart the lower our heart rate will be as it doesn’t need to beat as much to circulate the same amount of oxygen – make sense – GREAT!

So now we have the basics of cardiovascular fitness or cardio what can we do to improve it?

The obvious answer to this is we need to take part in exercises which raises our heart rate and makes us breathe more heavily. As previously mentioned, our lungs are full of tiny air pockets and our heart is just like any other muscle. The air pockets in the lungs can get larger and can multiply to allow more oxygen in, therefore making the stronger so it can pump harder but only if they are forced to do so through exercise.

Interval training is the best as it involves random periods of high exertion, and decreased effort making your body work, harder to keep up with the rhythm of switching between fast and slow. For example, jogging for 30 seconds then sprinting for 10 seconds. I would suggest a minimum of 20 minutes total exercise 3 times a week to train your cardio vascular system.

Functional Exercises

The second form of exercise to get you hill fit could be classed as functional exercises which are essentially exercises based on things we do in everyday life such as bending down, lifting our legs or walking up stairs.

Training these muscle groups will clearly help strengthen the muscle groups used in hiking and prepare us for the challenge

  • Goblet squats / back squat

Squats target the gluteus maximum muscles which are the largest muscles in the body and are found in the bottom. There are responsible for posture and help us stand upright.

  • Step ups

Using a step machine or simply a flight of stairs sep ups are ideal as they mimic the kind of motion used for hiking and involve all muscles of the leg including quadriceps, the large muscles in the front of the leg as well as the calf muscles ( soleus and gastrocnemius)

  • Knee raises / high knees / mountain climbers

Knee raises are a strange one to have in this list as they mainly target the psoas muscle group which is the only muscle to cross the pelvis from upper to lower body as well as the lower abdominal region . These groups of muscles are responsible for strengthening the core and helping us with over balance and stability

  • Lunges

Lunges target the thighs (quadriceps) so it is obvious why these may be included in this list.

Whilst this list is only a small outline of some of the ‘essentials’ to get you on your way towards your own ‘fitness goal’, I can be reached to design, support and deliver individually tailored personal training support, if you feel you need that incremental ‘shove’ and/ or someone to assist you in maintaining the discipline.

Good luck, stay healthy

Best wishes

Craig

Positiveoutdoor365. (Martin) I have had the good fortune to ‘bump’ into Craig whilst out in the Dovedale reservoirs, sitting admiring the spectacular views of the Trinnacle.

He is a great advocate of using the Outdoors as a supportive element to enable people on their way to achieve their own fitness objectives.

In 2015 he trained as a fitness instructor and personal trainer and began his amazing journey into helping others become the best version of themselves.

You can find Craig at:

Adventuremonkey

Email: Adventuremonkey@gmail.com

Scotland 2019-Project 944

‘Feeling Nostalgic’ – A look back at our biggest Mission, Project 944

It was the start of 2019, and as ever, Chris and I were looking for a challenge that would get our minds thinking and so therefore we needed to map out something on our travels for this year that would be both challenging and rewarding.

Over the past few years, we had tackled much of the glorious Lake district, visited Snowdonia in all its glory several times, and the Peak district, I think, was glad to see the back of us for a change!

As it was my 60th year on the planet, I was keen to do something very memorable and so was Chris, so in a moment’s creative genius, we determined that we would go ‘BIG’, and tackle the 9 highest mountains in the UK, which all just happen to be located North of the Border in ‘Bonny Scotland’.

Now not only did we decide these were our ‘Mountains of choice’, but we also decided that given we still had some fitness capabilities that we could do something to support some worthy causes, therefore we decided we would aim to raise £4,000, that being at least £1,000 for each of our four ,yet to be chosen, charities.

Which charities to chose though? Given that there are so many worthy causes and we had elected to only pick four.

For those of you that don’t know me well, I spent some time in the Military and given that our launch date was the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings, our first selection was made. Help for Heroes.

I’ve also done some voluntary work in the past for an organisation called ‘Stockport Christian Counselling’, (it does what it says on the tin) in fact I was Chairman there for a period of four years during which time I was introduced to a company called ‘The Message Trust’ a Christian fellowship that does many wonderful works for the disadvantaged in society. Charity two now sorted! (Amen to that).

Charities three and four were actually ‘no-brainers’, both Chris and I have both had experiences of people close to us who we have lost to cancer, so Marie Curie was our third selection, and given that we are both strong believers in the wellbeing benefits of the great outdoors, and that we also believed that we could make a small contribution to challenge the stigma of ‘Mental Health’, Mind was the final piece of the Jigsaw.

Planning. 

Making the decision was the easy part, the next part was the ‘how’, and what did we need to consider before we set off on our epic quest.

We had our purpose, and we also had a sort of story about what our intentions were, so it was time now to get busy with the network marketing and more importantly, get the fitness sorted before we get anywhere near those Huge Mountains and all of the associated challenges that they would bring.

Chris sorted his fitness challenge by bashing out literally hundreds of KMs across the fields and dykes in the Netherlands, there are not many hills there, so he determined that if he got his fitness really sorted the hill work would take care of itself.

I went a bit more leisurely with my approach, being situated close to the Kinder Scout plateau (which is pretty similar to the layout of the Cairngorms, apart from the scale that is) I would be bashing out the hill work in rain, sleet and snow so that I could keep up with ‘Chris the racing snake’.

Funding.

We worked hard on this and spoke to just about anyone we knew, we also developed a small initiative to get some companies that I knew well in the UK, to sponsor a mountain, and in return we would maximise our marketing efforts for them through social media.

Time for a namecheck here, the following companies were very generous with their support of our initiative and gave funds and support to enable us to arrive at our financial target.

The UKs 9 highest mountains

There are 9 Munros in Scotland that are over 4,000 feet. These 9 Mountains are all contained within two mountain ranges, 5 are in the Cairngorms National Park and 4 in the Ben Nevis range.

Our trip meant that we would ascend them all by spending 2 days in the Cairngorms (1-night wild camping) with our route being Cairn Gorm, Ben Macdui, Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine (angels peak) and finally Braeriach.

Day 3 we would tackle Aonach Morr and Aonach Beag, and the final day we would tackle the awe inspiring Carn Mor Dearg, traverse the arete, and then finish on ‘Big Ben’

Scotland’s 9 Highest mountains

The nine highest mountains in Scotland are also the nine highest in the UK.

1.    Ben Nevis 1,345 metres (4,413 ft)

2.    Ben Macdui 1,309 metres (4,295 ft)

3.    Braeriach 1,296 metres (4,252 ft)

4.    Cairn Toul 1,291 metres (4,236 ft)

5.    Sgor na Lochain Uaine 1,258 metres (4,127 ft)

6.    Cairn Gorm 1,244 metres (4,081 ft)

7.    Aonach Beag 1,234 metres (4,049 ft)

8.    Aonach Mòr 1,221 metres (4,006 ft)

9.    Càrn Mòr Dearg 1,220 metres (4,003 ft)

Day one – the Heavy one! 

Day 1 – as we got out of the car at the Aviemore Ski Centre and saddled up, ready for the start, we pushed the button on the camera and the first dedicated mini video was sorted for Help for Heroes.

 

I always maintain that the hardest part in most of these adventures is successfully navigating your way out of the car park, today was no different. Furthermore, the weight of the rucksacks with all of our overnight belongings felt like we had been more than a little over zealous in packing what we thought we may need, however we were here and it was time to go.

As we progressed uphill on the first challenge my immediate thoughts were “Will this first hill ever end”?

We trudged our way up the small path adjacent to the Funicular railway until we got to the Ptarmigan station, where we were both pleased to shed the load for a minute to grab a drink and a small snack. By now though, the weather had turned shitty on us (as Peter Kay would say it was that fine rain that gets you wet!)

Motivated by the fact that we could now actually see Cairn Gorm our first summit, we took off and got slightly giddy as the first peak was ‘knocked over’, only another 8 to go!

 

Right, this is where I make my honest disclosure here, whilst we had planned for the route and the respective objectives along the way, we had not ‘counted in’ the incremental summits that were going to get in the way of our journey. ‘Stob Coire an t-Sneachda’ was to be the first such little extra on the way, thank goodness we had put in the effort with our respective training!

4 KMs later we had made it to Ben Macdui our official second objective, en route we had encountered rain, snow, and plenty of wind at this point, but our spirits were high. All I had to do now was get us down the col’ between Ben Macdui and Sron Riach to the river Dee, which we would follow to the footbridge and cross it to head towards the Corrour bothy.

We located the bothy, which was partially occupied and a little bit dark to say the least, so we elected not to bother and pressed on to a grassy area just near to the fords at ‘Allt a Choire Odhair’, which was to be our wild camp for tonight in the shadows of ‘The Devils Point.’

Camp made, food sorted and a cheeky little wee nip of some of Scotland’s finest Malt, and we were both ready to crash out.

Day two – the incremental Mountains one! 

The sun rose early in the Cairngorms, in fact we were up just after 4:30 am, and it was glorious!

 

Breakfast was taken at a quite leisurely pace, and then we broke camp. We went ‘head on’ into a bit of a climb that would put us on the plateau that would take us to objective three, Cairn Toul, however number two of those pesky Mountains ‘that get in the way’ needed to be sorted, ‘Stob Coire an t -Saighdeir’ was tackled with some gusto, and we were on our way to ‘Cairn Toul’.

Both ‘Cairn Toul’ and ‘Sgor an Lochain Uaine’ (Angels Peak) went by in a flash, we were on fire and knocking these Mountains off for fun!

 

We had a bit of a hike ahead now towards objective number 5, but of course, you’ve guessed it, another pesky extra summit stood in the way. ‘Carn Na Criche’ sorted we pressed on to ‘Braeriach’ but decided to stop at the ‘Falls of Dee’ to both pick up the views and refuel! 

The Falls had plenty of snow around and we gingerly crossed to the over side without incident.’Braeriach’ we’re coming for you! 

So, the 5 summits for this leg of the adventure were well and truly sorted, and we were both feeling slightly elated to be heading off this leg. Just the small matter of ‘Sron na Lairige ‘ to get over, and we would drop down the spur and into the ‘Lairig Ghru’ aiming for the ‘Chalamain Gap’.

It’s at this point I would highlight the fact that Chris, whilst being an absolute monster at getting up hills, is less confident going down them, and he’s particularly uncomfortable when we get into ‘rock hopping’ across boulder fields, welcome to the ‘Chalamain Gap Chris’!

The gap was a proverbial ‘pain in the arse’ and slowed us down considerably. Poor Chris probably spent more time on his backside than he did upright and of course it took its toll!

Eventually we exited the footpath from the Gap and made our way along the minor road to the car park at the Ski Centre, the second half of the day had been draining, and we now needed to get over to Fort William for the night!

Day three – the short one! 

After a decent evening meal with an accompanying pint or two, and a solid eight hours sleep we we’re ready to go again. This day was going to be an absolute breeze compared to the last two and the ‘Joys of Chalamain’, so with our rucksacks packed sufficiently for our day, we headed out.

Parking at the Ski centre we took the gondola to the Adventure activity centre to commence our next leg. We initially wandered over to the beauty spot at ‘Meall Beag’ and enjoyed the breath-taking views up the valley between ‘Carn Mor Dearg’ and ‘Anoch Mor’.

 

Its there that the fun stopped! If I were to describe our route up, I would have to describe it as ‘relentless’! Elephant grass tufts everywhere, and it was damp too, meaning every step taken was more than a bit squelchy!

Anyway, enough of my moaning we pressed on, with Chris up front as usual and me hanging on in his wake, we eventually hit the top and from there it was all plain sailing.

Summits 6 and 7 were now in the bag, we allowed ourselves the privilege of watching the numerous people summitting ‘The Ben’ on the other side of the valley, it was almost as if a coach party had pulled up as they were swarming all over it like tiny ants!

We temporarily ‘toyed’ with the idea to drop off the ‘Aonachs’ down the col’ at ’Seang Aonach Mor’, given that the weather was good, you could see for miles, and it would have given us an incremental day to go out to play somewhere else. Sense prevailed fortunately, and instead we opted for an early finish and to head off into Fort William for a Maccy D’s! 

Day Four – The wet one! 

We had decided that we would both like to wander along ‘Glen Nevis’ to witness the marvel that is ‘Steal Falls’, although as we travelled along the route it was ‘wetter than an otters’ pocket’ and it took an element of the fun away, but only for a short spell.

Today was the big one, so we needed to stay focused if we were to complete our last day and close out on ‘Big Ben’.

We had switched from our usual map of choice, the OS Explorer 1:25.000 to Harveys as this highlighted a neat little track alongside the stream ‘Allt Coire Ghiuthsachan’, which was most helpful.

 

The pace was slow and damp, and slow and even more damp, and made the going slower than we had anticipated. That said, we encountered a large red deer on the way up which was both beautiful and majestic in equal measure, Glad we came this way!

 

We eventually arrived at the hole in the wall on the East side of ’Carn Mor Dearg’ and chose to stop here for our lunch prior to commencing the final push!

Throughout our journey we had thoroughly enjoyed the freeze dried food , kindly provided by ‘Summit to Eat’ , it’s fair to say every meal had been both tasty and filling, so today I was particularly looking forward to something warm, as the drizzle along the valley had cooled me down somewhat.

Food warning: whatever you do, please don’t ever buy the ‘scrambled egg with cheese’, from Summit to Eat, it’s disgusting!!!

I had to make do with snack bars and warm coffee, along with as many jelly babies as I could stuff into myself as I was starving! That’s a major learning point right there, make sure you know what the food your taking is like before you set off!

Improvised lunch done, we steadily tackled the route upwards until we arrived at the summit. Eight summits done, but for me, what we were just about to encounter was the absolute highlight of the whole trip, the awe inspiring ‘Carn Mor Dearg Arete’.

We stood on the summit for several minutes waiting for the fog and mist to clear.

 

Wow, once the wind took hold and moved the fog along, the view was spectacular! Time to get after it, afterall, you can’t beat a brilliant ridge walk.

The ridge walk was fabulous, and Chris did a sterling job capturing me in my element wandering along it, but that was now sorted and the final push onto the summit of ‘the Ben’ was all that separated us from our Project achievement.

I legged it ahead like a keen puppy, but unfortunately for Chris we were back into a boulder field that I often describe as being like ‘moon rock’. Rock hopping when your tired can be a little challenging!

It felt like the longest two hundred metres climb we had ever taken on, but soon we hit the top.

 

The day prior, the views on the top had been spectacular, today however was to be the opposite, we were in the ‘clag’ and could see only for a limited distance. However, we were here for a purpose, we touched the Trig Point, objective nine done!

We took several photos and made a small video to thank all of our sponsors for the brilliant support they had offered us which enabled us to achieve our goals, and had one last look around at the summit.

I completely lost it at this point, completly overwhelmed with emotion so much so I could not hold back the tears of joy of the accomplishment that we had just achieved. Chris felt the same, and after a big ‘blokey hug’ some composure was regained, and we prepared ourselves for the route off the Mountain.

For those of you that know navigational expressions, we were definatly getting ‘Flirty at thirty’ and on occasions we were difinately being ‘naughty at forty’ with our route off, but the challenge was done and we had the prospect of 9 hours in the car to face!

Goodbye ‘Ben Nevis’, we were sorry that we had not enjoyed the awesome views that you would offer up on another day, but we had conquered you…we’ll be back!

Summary

After much careful planning and brilliant execution, we achieved all the goals we set out with Project 944 walk.  

We climbed the 9 highest Scottish (UK) peaks in 4 days (plus 4 more for good measure!)  

* We walked over 60kms in doing so.  
* We ascended over 5,076 metres.  
* We raised over £4,651 for our four chosen charities.   

We both loved Scotland and its rugged beauty, we’ll be back again soon! 

Martin & Chris 

Windmill walk

Most people know that I live in The Netherlands, and I am asked many times when family and friends come over to visit can we look at some Windmills.

History about the windmills in the Province of Overijssel, there are 66 windmills some still working and all being used in the past for different jobs. Click on Link for information.

So, my walk is based on walking from Zwolle to the small city of Ommen and on the way I will pass the town of Dalfsen and little village Vilsteren to the small City of Ommen. My challenge today is to capture all of the 7 windmills on the way.

I started nice and early and it was dry so was happy , the weather for today was light rain later in the morning and heavy rain in the afternoon. I had made sure I had plenty of food and drink to keep me going but also my rain gear and warm fleece etc .

It was still dark and was headed to the first Windmill around 3kms away from my house, it didn’t take me long to find it and take a photo.

This was my first windmill of the day and it was called De Passiebloem was built in 1776 and was used for making oil from seeds.

So off to the next stop travelling past the football stadium of PEC Zwolle and onwards towards the Dijk along the river Vecht which flows all the way to Dalfsen and the next windmill. This route was really nice along the Vecht and the sun was coming up and the sheep and cows were waking and following me in their fields along the way. It was great because I had the path all to myself along the Dijk so no problem with the usual mass of bikes, it was heaven to be able to take photos and also watch the birds on the small lakes along the way.

I could see Dalfsen in the distance and crossed the road and walked beside the train track, this took me passed the statue of stones on the side which is built like a mushroom . I headed towards the bridge as the windmill is in the centre of the town.

Dalfsen is a little town on the river Vecht where boats can stop to visit and where visitors can drop into. Also, there are some great restaurants, yes, they have two Michelin restaurants , the first one called Sugerieje and the other one called Herberg de Witte Gans. Also has a church in the centre called the Grote Kerk which then has nice shops and pubs around it.

I found my second windmill and took my photos. This windmill was called De Westermolen and was built in 1818 and used for making flour. All done and I was off to my next Windmill in the small village of Vilsteren.

I crossed the bridge again and the light rain started but really didn’t need a jacket at the moment due to my Brubeck shirt was doing its job keeping me dry by regulating my body heat. The route took me towards Castle Rectheren, as I walked past it I was amazed of its beauty and the gardens looked stunning with a small lake too, next time I told myself it would be worth a visit .

I walked on and while looking around I saw a sign on the side informing me about a Belgium RAF pilot who crash and died in the ww2, his name was Adjutant pilot (Flight Sergeant RAF) Léon van de Werve de Vorselaer (°14 October 1919 Antwerp), pilot in 349 Squadron, who was hit by anti-aircraft fire during an armed reconnaissance over the Gorinchem region on 3rd Feb 1945, and crashed with his Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX PT549 near Hessum , 2 km east of Dalfsen.

The Belgian formation bombarded a German road convoy. During a second dive, van de Werve hit the treetops or was knocked down by the Flak. He was buried in Dalfsen General Cemetery but repatriated to Evere in 1950.

I carried along the route along the bike path looking and enjoying the beautiful houses and woods on each side dreaming and wishing I had time to explore. I had arrived in Vilstteren and my guide to find the next windmill was to take the road left with the church on the right-side. Church found which was called St. Willibrordus with its pointed tower and clock was looking outstanding.

I turned left down the road and saw windmill number three called De Vilsterse built in 1858 and 1901 and is a flour mill, photo done and started my journey to the city of Ommen but remembered one of my good friends wanted to meet me at the first windmill in Ommen, so I gave him a quick phone call and told him its now 9oclock I have 5kms to go till I meet you, will be there at 09.45am don’t be late .

Off I went the light rain was still falling but to be honest was happy everything was going well and I was over the 20kms and had only 10 to go. I enjoyed again the route walking along with lots of woods on each side and noticed the people parking up with their dogs going mad waiting for their early walk.

I came out of the woods and noticed in the distance the river Vecht on the left side which I had followed mostly all the way from Zwolle was hitting the banks of the city Ommen .

Ommen is a busy place and is visited by many tourists for the river but also for shopping and its old streets. There are many campsites and has woods surrounding the area. The woods of Laarbos and Ommerbos are well known for its beauty but also its nature. It is a nature reserve also was also in 2013 elected Walking Municipality of the year. It also has many events such as the Ommer Bissingh an annual market with a long tradition.

Yes, I was saying to myself, I had to find my fourth windmill which was on the right-side before the bridge . I saw it standing out and looking at my watch was pleased it was nearly 09.45am and could see my good friend Jan walking towards me in the distance. We greeted each other and I had a quick refill of food and drink and took my photo of the windmill number four called De Konijnbelt ,built in 1806 and also was used for making flour. This was a very Beautiful old mill.

So off we went to windmill number five which was 2kms away, we turn right past the railway station and crossed the road passing all the nice restaurant’s which I was thinking were going to be busy later if the rain stops. Past the stunning houses and we both saw our target Mill number five standing out and looking awesome this one was called De Basthenermolen and was built in 1862 and rebuilt in 1995. And yes, used as another flour mill, photos done and it was onwards to the last two mills.

We were lucky the rain had stopped and we made our way back towards the bridge and crossed over and saw mill number six on the right side next to the river Vecht . Standing tall and shining in the sunshine now. This windmill was called Den Oord built in 1821 and rebuilt in 1961 and has been used as a sawmill and now for making flour.

Yes, I was thinking last mill and was done, Jan and I made our way to the mill number seven of the day which was 5mins away and in the centre. We turned a few corners and there it was the last one of the morning.

Windmill number Seven was called Bokkers Molle started in 1729/1866-1895 was used as a flourmill. Photos done and it was time for a well-earned drink as Jan said, so off we went to find a place for a nice hot drink and cake .

All in all, this was a great walk just over 30kms with the weather being sunny with a sprinkling of light rain. I had enjoyed the route and all the things I had seen on the way. It’s always strange, I had been many times over the years to these places but have never noticed the windmills or castle and all the other things which I had seen this morning , just shows how busy we are in our lives and how we carry on and miss so many stunning and beautiful things.

What I have learned over the years with my walking, is that there is so much beauty missed in modern life we all need to take time and slow down , it’s good for your wellbeing, stress and mind .

I thanked Jan for meeting me and took the train back to Zwolle well pleased with myself, I was feeling good. I dreamed about my hot bath which was getting closer, however there was one small problem, I had forgotten to capture the first windmill in Zwolle, it was dark so had to go back to take a photo , oh well never mind .

Chris

Safe through September

After the recent visits to Scotland (Loch Lomond) and Wales (Ogwen Valley), it was time for a wander over some local hills and moors to capture the fading purple heather and maybe a grouse or two on route.

I parked at Old Glossop at the bus terminus and headed along the hard track to pick up the small footpath that would take me up Lightside and onto the top of the slope of Yellow Slacks.

On the way up Lightside there are a couple of small enclosures, believed to be old mortar stations, which of course have aged significantly over the passage of time, nonetheless they make a great frame for a picture!

A gentle plod uphill followed after this picture stop, adjacent to the unfortunately named ‘shittern clough’, until I arrived at the boundary fence which offers a great view back towards the start point of today’s adventure or alternatively if you look North, you can pick out the Trig point at Cock Hill.

My objective today was to ‘attempt’ to capture a picture or even a small video of a grouse taking off on flight, as on this walk there is an abundance of them to be heard, chattering away as you approach, which is normally followed by a startled flight off into the distance.

My luck was not with me today, despite my best efforts I think I must have nearly tripped over about 50, none of which was I prepared for, so instead you’ll just have to see the short video of the heather and No Grouse!!!

As I was wandering along, I was thinking around the key message for this blog, which centred around the reduced light as we march towards September, and the accompanying drop in temperatures meaning the requirement for an extra layer of clothing is becoming more important.

Couple all of this to the many articles that I have read on social media of people suggesting they navigate via their Phone Apps, or with their preferred GPS tool, gives rise to the reminder that in the cold the batteries on these ‘tools’ can potentially diminish more quickly than normal.

More importantly for me though, is the prospect that whilst using the mobile phone to navigate, should your batteries fail, it then begs the very important question of how you might contact the emergency services in the case of an emergency?

So that was the video but that was based on an ‘actual’ encounter with three Doncaster lads wandering towards me as I progressed East along the small path next to Yellow Slacks Brook.

The best way to describe this in simple terms is that the lads first question to me was “Are we anywhere near the aircraft wreck”?

The Blue pen is pointing to their location along with a direction of travel arrow (they might have stopped when the arrived at Old Glossop)! The Green pen is pointing to their starting location, and the Red pen is pointing to the location of ‘Over Exposed’ where they were heading to!!!

As you can see, they were well ‘off piste’.

The next commentary that followed was that they did not possess a map or a compass (if they had, I very much doubt they would have known how to drive it)!!

Fortunately for them, me being the kind, cuddly, caring Navigational type, kindly offered to ‘walk’ them to their point of interest (at no charge I would add)!!

After a small ‘one-minute rollocking’ for lack of appropriate navigational tools or any preparation for escape routes, I took them to ‘Over Exposed’ and pointed them in the most sensible direction to ensure their safety off the Mountain once they had completed their recce.

Good deed done!

Time to move a bit now as the wind was a little brisker and consequently the temperature had dropped a little. I travelled quickly past Hern Stones and directly onwards to Wain stones (or the kissing stones as they are sometimes known) and captured a picture for good measure.

On this part of the route, I met a Doncaster couple who had just departed from Wain Stones after their brew and snack stop, the lady indicated that her partner had been eating Jaffa’s (is it a cake or a biscuit)? But what was entertaining about this she told me that he had been munching his way through ‘Pineapple Jaffa’s’…………who eats those for goodness’s sake?

I picked up the Pennine way along with a couple of the sensible marker posts and headed for my stop of choice at the Grouse Butts at the junction of John track well & Wildboar Grain. Suitably refreshed with my snack and warm Vimto I headed off.

A challenging up and down session followed across the beautifully coloured Harrop Moss moorland and its numerous Peak Groughs and Grouse Butts until I arrived at the spot height at Glossop Low.

Last leg now, and I headed down toward the Trig at Cock Hill (childish giggle to myself here)! A quick stop for a final drink of Vimto, trig picture and a small video to capture the old (now disused) quarry workings

Last leg down now, which is a nice steady decent to head back to the car park.

I said goodbye to the local sheep on the way through and made my way back to the car park. A nice gentle wander out today, 13.67Kms covered, saw plenty of wildlife, captured my Mountain minute video and saved a bunch of lads from a very extended walk, all in all, I’m happy with that!

Stay safe.

Martin

River walk along Zwarte water.

My plan for today was a large walk of approximately 25 kms from Zwolle along the course of the Zwarte water to the beautiful little citys of Hasselt and Zwartsluis and finshing at the end of this river at the lake Zwarte Meer. These attractive little towns are homes to all manner of water sports but also home to a heritage fleet of fishing, Marinas with Yachts and numerous cargo vessels.

Whenever I plan to do a particularly big walk, I like to be ‘up and out’ early, but in order to do so, the night before is always dedicated to my planning for the day. I had checked the forecast and the weather was looking promising, even though it might be a little on the warm side, so I made sure that I was fully hydrated and had sufficient drinks to last the day.

I was ready to go, backpack sorted, and my watch was on standby ready to record the route. Starting in the centre of Zwolle my ultimate objective was the Zwarte Meer, and along this particular route there are a number of beautiful places to see which I hoped to capture as I travelled the route alongside the Zwarte Water (Black river ).

I headed towards the city and located the start at the bridge at the start of Zwarte water, the weather was a little cooler as I set off, however I always like to start a little cooler as once you get underway you soon warm up! I arrived quickly at a small harbour which was a place where they built long cargo boats, and I was fortunate enough to see a few still located there.

On the outskirts of Zwolle there are many bridges which I needed to cross to get on track along the main Dyke which I needed to handrail to the small town of Hasselt. This little city is a must if you like your history, there are many lovely historic building there like St.Stephens Church, the old town hall and a number of lime kilns. It’s thought that the town also boasts over 70 National monuments. I like to stop and think here of the things that happened so long ago, and often wonder what it might have been like to live there during that era.

I was nearly there and followed the dyke past the camping site Camperplaats Zwolsedijk full with tents and camper vans and walked along areas with a few houses or farms selling their milk or ice-cream. I was sorely tempted!!! Hasselt is a very popular spot and tends to get very busy in the summer with many events , it’s a very beautiful old place .

Nostalgic moment over, I had to cross the big road and hit another Dyke to follow the river to Zwartsluis a place which is mainly built and surrounded by water, but like Hasselt, is a very beautiful place. Unfortunately, along this route I had to walk on a path which I call the ‘devils road’. This is an old track around 2 kms long , pretty boring to be honest and undulates! quite a lot. It’s a part of the route where you just want to walk it as quickly as possible and get it over and done with.

The ‘Devils road’ was completed and I was quickly entering Zwartsluis. I enjoyed looking at the boats in The Kranerweerd marina harbour and the town gradually coming to life, the birds were busy in flight looking to find breakfast. I walked across the bridges and saw some of the boats waiting for the bridge to open. This is a very busy place at this time of year, but also a great place to see how a river and all the waterways are connected to keep this place alive.

The small streets of Zwartsluis were fun and dreamed about the past and what it must have been like here in its heyday. I headed back to the big road passing the locks with more boats waiting.

I was back on my route along the river and walked along in the grass with the sun on my back and it was starting to get hot. The birds were everywhere and next to me in the small water ways, I saw two swans with the young one their nest and that really made me smile. I past the little Ferry bring cars, motorbikes and groups of racing bikers ready for their sunday outings.

I was on the last part of the route and was feeling pleased with myself, the walk had been good and I had witnessed some fabulous things along the way, nature is amazing, but also also seeing all the boats in the places and rushing up the river to Zwarte meer , I was thinking how this Lake which I was standing by was in the 1930s called the Zuiderzee and all what I could now see used to be the Sea. Looking across the lake I could see an island called Vogeleiland ( Birds island ) which is a protected nature reserve, Bird Island in the Zwarte Meer is a paradise for birds. On this uninhabited island, at least sixty species of birds breed, including special species such as the bluethroat, nightingale, small spotted woodpecker, hawk and large warbler. Vogeleiland is an oasis of peace for birds and therefore a mecca for bird lovers. So this morning had been a great walk .

All I had to do now was work out where I had to walk to, to catch the bus back to Zwolle , I had a little bit of a wait for the bus, but was happy to sit and wait and eat the rest of my food and have a well-deserved drink .

Arriving home it was nice to reflect on my mornings venture, all in all a nice morning walk, a bit of a suntan and 25kms on the watch nice one Chris!!.

Couch to 5 KM – (plus two mountains)

After our recent excursion to Conic Hill on the banks of Loch Lomond, we decided that it would be good to attempt a bigger hill challenge, perhaps either in the Lake district or Snowdonia.

I should at this point offer a bit of background detail to our previous wandering around the Peak District, where its perhaps fair to say, that Sharon has found anything beyond two hours walking a little bit of a challenge. Normally, it means she suffers from an aching hip joint, this naturally affects her walking style which I can only describe as being akin to Forrest Gump running with his leg irons on!

That’s the background, so now you will understand that the ‘Couch to 5 KM’ has been a mission she has undertaken, to improve her distance and walking capabilities in the anticipation that no further pain or inconvenience would be experienced.

Welcome to Snowdonia, which was our venue for Thursday’s attempt at something a little more challenging than either Conic Hill or the Peak District. Our first challenge, however, was trying to find a safe parking location in the Ogwen Valley, given that the ‘world and his dog’ had all decided that they would go there too!

Parking sorted, although now that our parking location was now at the East end of Llyn Ogwen, it required some dynamic re-routing!

We set off along the footpath near Gwern Gof Uchaf camp site and were soon heading south over Tryfan Bach towards our route along the Heather Terrace. It was good to be out, the air was fresh, probably helped by a strong breeze blowing through the valley even at this low level. Heather Terrace was stunningly beautiful with the abundance of purple heather everywhere, we even encountered a couple of feral goats along the way.

Soon we hit the saddle between Tryfan Far South Peak and the Bristly ridge, time for a picture or two. It was at this point Sharon decided to ask me about casevac (casualty evacuation) procedures and how on earth she would be able to tell any emergency services where on earth she was!!

Never one to miss a training opportunity, I described the usage of map and grid references, which I think went completely over her head, however I then produced my iPhone and demonstrated the easiest way to give a relatively accurate Grid reference complete with the proceeding two letter map prefix reference. (Pictures here of OS Locate, please note the grid reference is NOT for Tryfan!)

Onwards, we pressed on along the Miners track heading south-east until we hit the ridge towards Glyder Fach. I would point out here, that prior to us venturing out to play, my first job was to check the weather forecast for the area. My site of choice is the MWIS service (Mountain Weather information service). This is a MUST, before venturing out into remote areas, but even more important when you are accompanied by others.

The forecast was spot on, as we arrived at the summit the wind hit us!! Gusting at around 35 MPH, it makes walking a challenge and brings with it a reduction in temperature. No time to be hanging around now, we pressed on to our first RV point at the Cantilever stone!

My plan was to have our lunch stop here, but that proved difficult. Wherever we tried to find shelter from the wind, it seemed to change direction and find us!! Instead, we carried on towards Castell y Gwynt (Castle of the wind). This is a stunning feature, and you would be forgiven for thinking that you had just arrived at a scene from Lord of the Rings, arriving at Mordor!

Nonetheless, it proved to be our saviour for our lunch stop as we manged to locate ourselves on the East side in a relatively sheltered spot. Lunch was ‘inhaled’ as we were both famished at this point, the climb in itself is a challenge but is made increasingly more difficult by a full head on wind, which by now was probably at the limit of safe mountain walking where severe drops are present.

Glyder Fawr was in view as we had punched our way through the wind along the nameless Cwm, the wind chill was a factor that we were very aware of, and our new challenge was locating the drop off down to the Devil’s Kitchen.

We traversed down the slightly loose under foot track a bit gingerly and we were soon out of the wind and heading nicely downward.

This is a fabulous photo point offering views over Llyn Idwal towards Llyn Ogwen and the huge imposing lump of Pen yr Ole Wen directly in front of you, simply stunning!!

You can choose to take either path down around the lake, and on this occasion we elected for the left hand path which would offer views of Y Gribin and Tryfan beyond. Our final approach towards the information centre leads you past some spectacular waterfalls, which was a fitting end to this circuit.

All that was left to do was a short hop along the road back to the car, which was a positive breeze along the tarmac path and sheltered from a wind that had truly battered us throughout our little excursion.

In summary, this was a good Mountain Day, covering 13.23 KMs. 1710 metres of ascent over 4 hours, I can honestly say the prospect of a nice cappuccino has never felt so good!

So, the couch to 5KMs training has done the trick, no dodgy hips and no problems getting up or off the hill ! A positive physical and health investment definitely pays dividends.

Safe Navigational Practice

Safe navigational practice when you are in the mountains.

Our collective knowledge is built on many years of experience, including occasions where we have become misplaced. That is not a particular issue in isolation, providing you have the knowledge, skills and thinking capacity to both recognise the situation that you find yourself in, and more importantly, have the competence and capability to ‘fix it’

What we wish to share with you is some rock-solid guidance that should help you remain safe outdoors, but also may enable you to ‘set yourself free’ whilst in the countryside to enjoy all the fresh air benefits that being a Hill and Mountains lover brings to mind, safe in the knowledge and confidence that you can return safely off the hillside when your day is done.

The 5 D’s of Navigation.

1. Distance

2. Direction

3. Duration

4. Description

5. Danger

To adopt these key areas into your own personal kitbag we need to expand a little on each to help put context around them.

Distance:

Of course, it’s very important to understand just how far you will be travelling when you are planning your day out, and in order to do so there are several things at your disposal to enable you to calculate this with a good degree of accuracy.

Use the grid lines on your map it’s the same for both Harvey maps or OS maps.

Be careful when you are using this method as the distance diagonally across a 1km grid square is 1.4km

Using the Romer scale on your compass to calculate linear routes, Fig 1

Checking the scale on your map ; IE a 1:25000 map tells you that for every 1 millimetre on your map, it is the equivalent of 25 metres on the ground.

Finally, use a piece of string and carefully lay it over the track you are following, and then finally pull it tight counting the number of 1km grid squares it crosses.

Fig 1

Direction:

First and foremost, you will know that the grid lines on your map will run North to South (eastings) and East to West (northings), and that the top of the Map is grid North. Fig 2

Fig 2

Before you set off, set/orient the map. The easiest way to do this is to place your compass on the map with the magnetic needle pointing North ensuring that the Grid lines (north to south) are in alignment with the direction the magnetic needle is pointing. This is the basic setting of the map! Fig 3

Once the map is set you should be able to clearly identify several ground features that correspond with your now set map.

Fig 3

If the ground features you have identified are clear and obvious, then you will be able to set off. If you are working in rugged open ground or an area where precise direction is required, you will need to ensure that you are confident on how to take and use a bearing with your Silva compass.

Duration:

Now we understand how far we are going to travel, and we have a solid grasp of the direction we are going to go, our next step is to calculate how long it is going to take to get to our check point.

When calculating timing it’s good to know what pace you will typically walk at IE: I walk at 3kph, therefore if my distance to the next check point is 2 km, the time it will take will be 40 minutes. Fig 4

Also you may need to take into consideration other aspects like wind speed, whether you are travelling up hill/downhill, the type of terrain (is it easy paths or bog hopping across the moors), the pace of the slowest member of the party (assuming you are not going solo), visibility (we naturally will travel slower at night) weight you are carrying etc. Fig 5

Fig 4
Fig 5

When traveling uphill you will need to apply Naismith’s rule, which is a helpful calculation to plan timings. To use this, you need to apply one extra minute for every 10m contour that you will climb EG: You are walking to a location 2 kms away at a pace of 3 kph, but you will be climbing 600 metres to the top of a hill.

2 kms @ 20minutes per Km = 40 minutes + 600 metres of climb (600/10) = 60 minutes, therefore your total journey time for this leg is 1Hr and 40 minutes.

Description:

This part basically details what you expect to see on the way. Most of these observations will be taken from your studying of the map and your route.

Look for terrain features like, streams, boundary fences, ridges, forests, rows of grouse butts. (handrails and linear features).

You will use these as your collecting features or tick points to confirm that you are travelling on the right route.

You will also probably have a catching feature that you will have located on the map, this should help you to know that you have arrived at your pre-determined check point, and may also be used to alert you if you have over shot your objective. Fig 6

Fig 6

Danger:

This bit is especially important, as we should always look out for potential hazards that we may encounter along our route. Things like cliffs, ridges, roads and streams can all be hazards that we need to be aware of to ensure our safe passage to our check point.

These hazards can be made even more difficult if the weather is particularly bad and where visibility is poor. If the weather is challenging or the terrain is particularly arduous, you will need to be greatly confident in your capabilities to move on an accurate compass bearing, coupled to excellent skills in pacing & timing if you wish to avoid becoming a statistic for the local Mountain Rescue team.

Martin (Compass)&Chris (Clogs)

Scotland Road trip – Fresh Air Leadership Walkshop

Thursday morning, bright and breezy the car was loaded with an overnight bag and some walking gear, and we were ready for the off. Its probably fair to say that rather than the meticulous minute by minute planning that normally takes place before any event, this was anything but!

The objective was to be in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs for Friday morning to participate in a Fresh Air Leadership event, more affectionately known as a ‘walkshop’, aimed directly at teams that need to get away and experience the numerous benefits of walking & talking in the great outdoors, ‘Thinking Bigger, Breathing Deeper & Uncovering new perspectives’ is the strap line that the Founder – Dave places on these events.(quite rightly so in my humble opinion)

More of the Fresh Air Leadership company later, but right now we were heading swiftly towards what potentially could be my second home, the Lake District.

Heading off J36, we would take the tourist route into Bowness and Windermere and experience the ‘joy’ of the conga of tourist traffic, gently meandering through the villages as we headed north towards Ambleside and our scheduled lunch break.

The Apple Pie café is a place that I have frequented too many times to mention, either whilst on DoE assessor duties or just when Chris and I have been conducting our bi-annual pilgrimage to ’The Lakes’.(if you know, you know)!

It didn’t disappoint, a shared tuna and mayo’ baguette swiftly followed by a sausage roll ‘to die for’ and we were suitable refreshed and ready to push on to the North lakes and re-join the M6 towards Scotland.

The scenic route had of course, cost us time, but it was worth it for the reminder of the beauty of the lakes on a glorious summer’s day. We may have slightly changed our tune somewhat once we hit the road works and abundance of traffic on the M74 as we approached Glasgow though!!

We trudged out way through Glasgow and were soon out the other side heading through Bearsden and onwards towards Drymen and ultimately Balmaha, our home for the next two evenings, on the banks of Lock Lomond.

Arriving at The Oak Tree Inn, we checked in easily and booked for both the evening meal and for breakfast, whilst the service itself was excellent their seating capacity is limited meaning a strict rota/timing schedule enabled everyone to be fed and watered seamlessly.

The Evening meal selection was homemade steak pie, served with new potatoes and seasonal veg’, it was what the doctor ordered after a longish day driving from Romiley, but set us up nicely for a quiet night in, in preparation for the mornings event.

The Fresh Air Leadership Company

The weather forecast had been dire for the last three days, and as such from the original 16 attendees, this had now whittled down to 8 plus the facilitators, Dave and Jo’.

Dave, the founder of the business has a rich tapestry of experience, from Rock band, to Mountain Rescue and even a long stint in the British Army, Jo is an Everest summiteer, and doing the highest peak in every continent. She is also a Freelance expedition leader, so collectively an awesome blend of outdoor expertise to lead todays ‘walkshop’.

We gathered around 9:30 for a pre brief, and given the changing weather forecast, we used the initial twenty minutes to introduce ourselves to the group and more importantly avoid the band of rain that would have obviously made for a damp start!

‘We are offering FREE monthly Fresh Air Business Walks in and around Scotland’s Central Belt.  These are NOT Walkshops but are a great way to check us out and sample the power of outdoor conversations!

Loads of business and non-business CHAT, loads of LAUGHS, and loads of FRESH AIR! All loosely packed into around 3 hours of easy paced walking in AMAZING SCOTTISH SPACES’!

So here’s a question for you, what does a Geologist, a COO/Executive coach, a Career Coach (ex-Lawyer), a Venture capitalist Accountant, a VC Director, a Medical Secretary and a Management Consultant all have in common?

Answer: A quest to understand more, share more, network and a love of the great outdoors. (Fun, Fresh Air & Freedom of Expression).

Our route was only short, but the conversations, views and bonding that took place in only a small amount of time was immense. If you ever need a re-set, an opportunity to network with like minded people who are ‘whole people’ rather than the soulless corporate badge wearing types, then this is the business you need to work with.

The range of capabilities that Dave and his team offer are great, visit www.freshairleadership.com to gain a full appreciation of their capabilities, it will be a valuable investment of time, effort and energy that will deliver tangible results.

So, Loch Lomond and Trossachs done for now, we will be back on another of Dave’s outdoor sessions, but tomorrows agenda and plan for the Borrowdale area of the Lake district requires my attention.

Until the next adventure….

Martin ( Compass )