Five Great Reasons You Should Be Kayaking Regularly!

This weekend I’m feeling under the weather – last night I didn’t sleep until 5am, snuffling and unable to sleep with the “man-flu” only to rise again at 8 to go out in the rain and sit on a wet plastic raft in the freezing cold sea…  And it was amazing!  (Excuse the image quality on my pictures – there’s no way I can take my camera out with me! )

Kayaking Alberta by Chris Burkard on 500px.com

 

Kayaking Makes You Feel Great, No Matter What

“I’m ill, it’s cold and raining – and I couldn’t be happier.”

It was a bit of a shock to the system carrying the kayak from the car to the sea, and then standing in the freezing cold British water, but it certainly woke me up. Once I was on board and paddling out to sea, my heart rate increasing meant my sniffles had gone, my headache was dulled, and I could breathe again! I felt refreshed and full of energy! I paddled long and hard, forgetting at times that just a few hours before, I was feeling sorry for myself in bed, wafting olbas oil around the room. What an amazing cure!

Why you Should Be Kayaking Regularly Image

You’ll See A Whole New World

OK It’s not quite a magic carpet, I’ll give you that – but being on the water means you’ll find hidden areas you’ve never seen before. We dipped in and out of beautiful caves, saw an old shipwreck, found our own private beaches inaccessible by land, and saw wildlife I’d never witnessed before, in the shape of birds and fish who won’t (or can’t) come anywhere near your office in the week!

You’ll also have a new perspective on things – areas you thought you knew will be seen in a new way! You’re essentially sitting on the water! It’s beautiful! IT’s a shame I don’t have a waterproof camera!

Why you Should Be Kayaking Regularly Image

The Exercise Is Like No Other

One you get into the habit of paddling yourself along, you soon pick up a rhythm, and you glide through the water effortlessly. After a while, you may start to ache, but you’re never too tired to carry on. I guess that’s the beauty of being sat down the whole time! depending on how upright you sit, you’ll work different muscles in your shoulders and chest, and even in your stomach as you twist your core to paddle on each side. You can also adjust your grip and paddle in a different way to work on new muscles on your arms! You’ll be constantly working out and hardly notice…. But when the wind picks up and you need to paddle against it – that’s when the hard work is needed! paddling against the wind is the most tiring part of kayaking, but if you get your technique right, you’ll be out of the wind in no time, and you’ll have a fantastic body by the end of the summer!

You’ll be constantly working out and hardly notice…. But when the wind picks up and you need to paddle against it – that’s when the hard work is needed! paddling against the wind is the most tiring part of kayaking, but if you get your technique right, you’ll be out of the wind in no time, and you’ll have a fantastic body by the end of the summer!

Ultimate Privacy, Unbridled Freedom

When you’re out in the water, you’re in your own world – as long as you pay attention to your own safety, you’re free to go almost wherever you like. Paddling down the coastline, you can continue for as long as you want, and turn around when you want – there’s nothing stopping you. If you’re kayaking alone (I was in a group for this occasion) You’ll be completely alone, and the peace of the ocean waves is bliss. Try anchoring your kayak and sunbathing on it, or reading a book – you’ll fall in love with the experience guaranteed. You’ll be wishing you could bring your desk out there on a tough day! (wait.. do I need a waterproof laptop too!?)

Why you Should Be Kayaking Regularly Image

You Can Live Off The Sea

Now this last reason may not be for everyone, but many people choose to go fishing whilst they’re out on the water! You can get a casual hand line and try your luck, or you can go the whole hog and get a fish detector and bring your reels! There’s nothing like some fresh mackerel for dinner, and it tastes so much better when you catch it yourself!

 

Is there anything else you love about kayaking that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below! 

 

Wildcamping On Dartmoor: Day 2 – Foggintor Quarry Camping

Following on from our Wildcamping on Dartmoor: Day 1 post – we leave the woods and head out onto the moors.
( That’s our red tent in the middle)

Beginnings

Upon waking the next day, we packed our bags (always seems to be harder than when you’re at home, nothing fits in!) and got moving. As we didn’t have much time on the moors, we decided to take the car to another point of interest to make sure we weren’t wasting any time seeing the most beautiful places!
Again we didn’t have a set plan for where we wanted to go but knew that next we wanted to camp near a big beautiful lake! As I drove, I had S do some googling next to me, and eventually pulled over to discuss our destination further! ((when we could find data signal) not exactly wild, I know – maybe net time we should go analog and go maps and compass only! I’m not sure what S would think of that!)
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | North Hessary Tor View
Anyway – Our chosen destination was found, and a good walk around some tors to match. We stopped for lunch first – kelly kettle out, this time for some sausages in bread for some makeshift hotdogs! Perfect fuel!
On the move again, we arrived at our first destination – an old pumping station, just outside of Princetown. We left the car here, and grabbed our gear, excited for the night ahead of us – we were heading for Foggintor Quarry! It looked beautiful online and I hoped I’d get to get some great pictures – it didn’t disappoint!

Trekking

We started walking south-east- up to Hollow Tor: – on the OS map I saw there is a small unused quarry here, but on arrival it was so small and was full of swampy moor water – not the most picturesque place to stay!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Quarry near king's Tor
so we moved onwards and upwards. up next was Hollow Tor. a great outcrop of rocks jutting out over the scenery – of course, we had to stop for a picture pretending to hang off the edge!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | King's TorWildcamping on Dartmoor | King's Tor climbing
When our little climbing session was done, we continued onto the next Tor, we could see it in the distance. Rundlestone Tor. not quite as impressive as the previous, but we still had fun climbing on the rocks and some good pictures. next up was North Hessary Tor – this one is pretty easy to find as it has a HUGE television transmission aerial on top of it!!
I think we got a little sidetracked here, we climbed a stile into a field, thinking it would lead us to the Tor, but instead we found ourself stuck in a field, cut off from the Tor and surrounded by sheep!!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | North Hessary Tor Sheep
Backtracking, we went back over the stile and continued toward the TV mast. It’s a bit uncertain where to go here, so we skipped this Tor, in fear of trespassing but I’ve read since, that it’s totally fine to skirt around the mast and have a look! 😃
 Wildcamping on Dartmoor | North Hessary Tor
Next, from memory of the OS maps , we needed to head west (I think we need a compass) we headed slightly more south than we wanted, and ended up heading more towards Princetown than to our quarry destination – but it’s ok, we soon corrected our path when I realised my error and got to see some amazing wildlife – a small herd of wild horses with their young foals nearby. I made sure to keep my distance and move slowly around them, using my longest lens! I love wildlife, but I’d rather keep my distance and appreciate them from afar – it’s safer for me and for them; I’d hate to scare the mother or the young ones!
 Wildcamping on Dartmoor | North Hessary Tor Horses
Continuing on and correcting our path, we found a trail at the bottom of the hill. Originally a train track that linked Princetown to Yelverton, this was used from 1800 to transport the granite mined from Foggintor Quarry over to Princetown, to build most of the town and Dartmoor prison. It was even used in Nelson’s column! The views around the area were amazing as the old track arced over the landscape below.
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Quarry Trail View

Foggin Tor Quarry

As we drew closer to the quarry, you could see the rocks and landscape around us rising up – we approached  the entrance… a tiny little stream and an overgrown path… this didn’t look like the destination we planned on! “Maybe this won’t be so great after all”, we thought. I climbed higher to have a look down into the Quarry – no water, and pretty dried out, what a shame. I didn’t give up hope though and started climbing down the other side, into the quarry, along a steep path. S followed me dubiously – I could tell she was a little disappointed and unsure if we should go on! I insisted she follow me and continued along the path, the quarry seems to branch off into another section, and as we navigated the bottom, it opened up into a great lake enclosed by cliffs! Breathtaking! This is exactly what we were hoping for. We stopped to appreciate the view – noticing that down one of the cliff faces was an instructor showing a student how to abseil! amazing!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Quarry
We checked the area and found the perfect camping spot for our tent, a little balcony of grass overlooking the lake, with just the right amount of room for our tent, giving us an amazing view as the sun set over the edge of the quarry. After the tent was set up and S was safely snuggled in her sleeping bag, I scouted out for some rocks to use as a base for the Kelly kettle’s hobo stove. luckily being a quarry there was plenty to be found. I set it up nice and level and got cooking! For tea tonight was noodles! (I must admit we did stop at a shop on the way to get an extra 2 litres of water! ) delicious with a bit of curry flavoring! We couldn’t help but marvel at a tiny little duckling and it’s mother swimming about in the lake below, searching for food and splashing around – I could have watched them for hours!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Kelly Kettle
Of course, I then set off getting a load of pictures of all different angles and found the perfect place to set up my camera for a time-lapse of the area with the sun setting over us. I didn’t pack a tripod for this trip, but it would have been handy! I found a good rock for it to rest on, but still, I was worried it’d fall! I think I left it for around 2 hours and hopped my way back across the rocks with a head torch to retrieve it after the sun was gone, stopping on the way to meet (and make sure I didn’t step on) a new friend who had jumped onto the path!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Toad
When I got back with the camera, it was time for a quick cup of tea (yet again thanks to the incredible kelly kettle – I can’t hype them enough!) and off to bed! Being close to the water, condensation and the dew was getting heavy this night – although it didn’t rain, everything was DRENCHED! I woke u multiple times with a wet head, my feet soaked through my sleeping bag and freezing cold. I tried my best to curl up a little, but didn’t have much room! A pretty miserable night’s sleep, but eventually managed to drift off and get some shut-eye. I definitely need something better than a cheap ‘Festival’ tent.

Morning

We awoke to the light spilling into the quarry behind us… and damp feet.
Groggily, we started packing in time to witness some school boys arriving arrive with their parents, and insisting that they swim in the lake. Rather them than us!! It looked freezing, and from the sound of their shouts, it definitely felt it! It’d have been nice and refreshing I’m sure, but too cold for us. (The parents kept out of the water too I noticed!!)
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Camping View
Packed up, we went on our way , I chose to climb out over the quarry one last time and marvel at just how beautiful the area was. Incredible how it’s so close to so many people to appreciate for little to no cost! who needs a holiday right? 😉
We walked out along where the old hill cottages used to stand, now ruins where the quarry workers used to live.  Appreciating the area and just how amazing it is , with nature overlaying the man-made structures, forgotten and left in the past. For all my videogaming readers, the quarry and the surrounding area looks like something out of “shadow of the colossus“, it was truly a sight to behold!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Ruins
Our time up and our journey over, it was time to head back home. we made our way back (A shorter route this time) to the car with our things and loaded it up. unfortunately, something terrible happened at this point of our adventure…
As we started to drive, I noticed someone flashing their lights and pointing to us –  I had no idea why and carried on…
After a few moments of thought I asked S:
“did you leave something on the roof?”
“oh my god, the camera!!”
She had forgotten to remove her new hat and my Sony RX100 camera from the roof! We pulled over straight away and checked – NOTHING!
I drove back to the pump station , where we walked up and back to the place we turned. The hat and camera were nowhere to be found! I loved that camera to bits, it’s so great for travel photography! But even worse – the SD card with all our memories of the trip were lost! Heartbroken and with no way to find the lost items, we had no choice but to continue home.
I’m hoping a good samaritan has picked up both of them in order to return them, As I noticed a lot of cyclists on the road. But nothing has been returned yet, even after our efforts to report it missing on facebook, to the police, and to the park rangers office.
I’m disappointed that we’re missing a lot of good images for this post and for S’s blog too – but life goes on! maybe it was the moor’s way of telling us to forget our history, leave technology behind and live in the now. We’re safe and we had an amazing time, and that’s all that really matters.
I have a few more pictures left over so I’ll just tag them on the end here! 🙂
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Trail Veiw
The vast expanse of the moor ahead of S
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor tent
Our pitch from above
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Quarry Bottom
and from below!
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Helicopter view
A Helicopter flies through an ominous landscape
Wildcamping on Dartmoor | Foggintor Sheep
The proudest sheep I’ve ever seen!  😄

Planning the Ultimate Outdoor Backpacking Adventure

The great outdoors is one of the great treasures this country has to offer. There is such a range of climate, geography, and landscape. But, you don’t have to stay here, of course, to enjoy the wilds. If you’re a bit of a jet setter you might decide you want to head off to a different country to go on an outdoor backpacking adventure. Whatever you choose it’s pretty clear that something like backpacking has a broad appeal.

This is because it gives us a more stripped back experience, and allows us to be at one with nature. Anyone who has the travel bug and enjoys being outdoors will get a lot out of a backpacking trip. But, you need to know and plan for what to expect so you can take steps to have the best possible time.

12. Fact: Quick change in weather conditions by Cludes Tomato on 500px.com

Do You Have Supplies?

First things first, you need to make sure you have the right supplies for backpacking. There are plenty of things you’re going to need for your outdoor adventures. And it’s important to make sure you have everything you need. Don’t forget that most of the time you’re going to be out in the middle of nowhere. So you have to have important supplies with you. You’ll need a first aid kit in case of any minor injuries. Your own tent wouldn’t go amiss either unless you plan on paying for hostels the whole time. It’s important to have a large and sturdy backpack and to make sure you carry a map and compass safely. Bringing the right supplies is essential for having a great adventure.

Map Your Route

You need to make sure you know exactly where you’re going. And the way to do this is to make sure you map your route out. You have to get a map and figure out the route you’re going to take. It’s vital you know where you’re going so you don’t get lost. This way you’ll also be able to figure out the most efficient and safe route. Make a decision about the sort of backpacking you want to do, such as desert hiking, and then look up the best possible routes to take. You need to map everything out in detail before returning you set out on your journey.

Right direction by Dina Belenko on 500px.com

Don’t Go Alone

It’s important to remember that these kinds of trips and adventures can sometimes be quite intense. And that’s why you need to make sure you don’t try to go it alone. Make sure you always have a buddy or friend with you. This is important for safety and security, and will help you complete tasks much more quickly. You’ll also be able to help and encourage each other if you start to struggle. The best thing to do is approach a friend who is a bit outdoorsy like you, and see if they want to join you.

Planning the ultimate backpacking adventure is important to make sure you have a great time. You need to make sure you truly enjoy the great outdoors when traveling. And the way to do this is to plan out your journey so you can enjoy it safely, and you know where to go and what to do.

 

Night Time-Lapses – Five Things You Didn’t Think About

There’s a lot of information on night time photography out there – but it usually talks about the camera! Let’s talk about what you’ll need to take with you if you’re shooting at night to keep yourself safe! I’ve made a short list of what I needed recently when taking a time-lapse of Pendennis Castle at night-time on the rocks.

 

Light

Taking the time-lapse above from the rocks next to an old shoreside castle, I had to be careful not to slip, drop my gear, or fall into a rockpool! It was important you can see exactly what you’re doing! I used a large Asaklitt battery-powered LED camping lamp to guide my way, keeping me safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t about to step into the unknown! It also sat next to me, illuminating my camera – it’s always useful to see your settings, and to check that your tripod is indeed on firm ground (At one point it slipped and I damaged my widest lens! Be careful shooting on wet rocks!)

Asaklitt Clas Olsen LED Camping Lamp

Of course, be careful where you’re shining it! In the first few frames of images, the castle was lit up from the light where I was looking for a place to sit as I waited! The lamp I have even comes with a remote control attached to the top – useful to leave on the rocks, and check from a safe distance if the tide was creeping dangerously closer to the camera!

Warmth

This may depend on where you’re shooting, what the conditions are, and how long you plan to stay out – but you should make sure you’re comfortable and warm – whether that means wearing a hat, or packing a fully loaded tent, that’s up to you! In my case, I knew I wasn’t staying out all night, but wanted to be warm and comfortable, so I bought along my trusty sleeping bag and self-inflating roll mat.

Once I arrived on the rocks, I soon realised it was too steep and jagged to set up a roll mat. I didn’t want it to get pierced, so I left it rolled up. I also didn’t think I needed the sleeping bag. I started shooting around midnight and felt just fine, but when I was sat on the cold rocks for half an hour, the chill started getting to me and I was glad I bought it along. I unrolled it and found a place I could safely sit overlooking the camera’s shooting position but away from the ever-nearing tide! The roll mat made a good headrest too!

Energy

Not for your camera, but for you!

To get the images above, I prepared the camera and sat on the rocks monitoring it from midnight to almost 3am. I was so glad to have some hot food to keep me going, and to warm me up!

Asaklitt Clas Olsen 6 Piece cook set with Kelly kettle hobo Stove and Beans

All you need is a tin of beans (or any other food you feel like!) camping stove and something to cook it in, and you’re ready to go! I’ve got a neat little 6 piece stainless steel camping cook set that folds down really small, containing a frying pan, 2 saucepans with lids and another tiny little saucepan – the smallest one was fine for this night, but it’s nice to know you can probably cook a full breakfast in the morning if you’re shooting all night!

Just make sure you either get a tin of food with the pull ring or a multi-tool to open it! And don’t forget cutlery like we did in Dartmoor!

Entertainment

Just because you’re out in the wild all night, you may not be able to relax and enjoy nature as much as if you were on a camping trip! Make sure you have something to keep you occupied, as you’ll likely be sat around waiting a while! If you can get far away from your camera’s subject, you can use your light to read a book, or get some paperwork done! If you’re only out for one night, you’ll likely be able to rely on electronics to keep you busy, but don’t count on getting a mobile signal or charging batteries in the middle of a field, or out by the sea! As an avid video gamer, I took my trusty DS Lite for this trip and finished off my current game of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Just make sure the light from any electronics doesn’t mess with your shot!

Protection

This time for your gear, not you!

One of the problems with shooting at night is condensation – everything gets covered in it. You can protect your lens with a handy dew heater, but what about everything else?

Asaklitt Clas Olsen Dry Bag

A dry bag is a must to keep all your gear in! it’ll not only protect your camera equipment but also any sleeping gear, and make sure your cook equipment doesn’t get ruined! Mine is an awesome shade of orange, meaning I can see it no matter how dark it gets! I found that with the lamp inside I even have a nice bright orange light to lead my way! It can be folded down to any size you need and clips together with a very useful handle at the top. Very useful indeed. I’m tempted to use to to cover my camera one day – it’ll keep it protected and that window in the middle will allow me to shoot through it! As you can see in the image above, this is also from the Clas Ohlson Asaklitt range.

Once you have your timelapse of images, you process it like the clip at the top of the post, or like the images below! Happy shooting!

Star Trail of Pendennis Castle

Have we missed anything? What would you take with you? Is there anything you’ve found useful in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Truly Enjoy The Great Outdoors When Traveling

They don’t call it the great outdoors for nothing! Whether you’re planning a trip or are currently enjoying one, making the most of it will be right at the top of your priority list. However, the ways that we make the most of a delicious meal, or an expensive coat, are different to how we make the most of the great outdoors. Keen to know how you can truly enjoy your experience while it lasts? Then read on…

Go for the road (less traveled)

There is something incredibly fulfilling about enjoying the great outdoors via an RV or motorhome! This is probably because it allows you the best of both worlds. You can access the places that you want, and have room to take the necessary equipment with you. However, you have a place to cook in the mornings, and shower in the evenings. These little conveniences mean that you can actually enjoy your time in nature, without feeling grubby or peckish!

Sleep under the stars

Whether you chose to travel by RV or not, be sure you sleep under the stars at least once during your time in the great outdoors. The sense of adventure will be magnificent, plus all of that fresh air will do wonders for your lungs! Just don’t forget your sleeping bag!

Dawntreader by zach bright on 500px.com

Join in

If there is a certain activity that is very popular where you are headed try it out. The chances are that it is popular for a reason. Even if you’ve never fished before, try fishing for the first time if it’s a big deal where you’re headed. The same goes for all other outdoor activities too, be that surfing, canoeing, bouldering or something else. Join in and find out what all the fuss is about!

Leave your technology behind

We are such a connected world these days. Leaving the devices that allow us to stay in touch with everyone and everything behind can be touch. But a far more authentic and fulfilling experience will be waiting for you if you let these things be for a while. Chat with a friend you’ve met along the route, instead of telling your friend on Facebook all about it. Turn off the music on your iPod, and listen to the music of bird song instead. It might still be wise to take your phone with you, especially if you’re out in the wild, or deep in a park. Just keep it charged up, switched off and in the bottom of your bag; instead of glued to your hand!

Be spontaneous

When out in nature, things may occur that you weren’t expecting. Imagine this; halfway through a hot and sweaty 10-mile hike, you’ll find a beautiful lake you didn’t expect to find. The water is a mesmerizing blue. Others are swimming in the lake enjoying the sunshine. If this happens, don’t let anything hold you back from getting involved. “I’m not wearing the right clothes!” and “I don’t want to get my hair wet” are excuses that just won’t cut it! Being spontaneous allows you to enjoy nature to its fullest- even it’s beautiful surprises!

Maligne Lake by Chris  Burkard on 500px.com

Wild Camping on Dartmoor National Park – Day 1

It was S’s last day of work as she’s going freelance, so we decided to celebrate by taking a weekend trip to go wild camping on Dartmoor! One of the only places in England where wild camping is permitted! The sun was out, and we were excited to get going! This was going to be both a fun getaway, and a trial run for our week in Ben Nevis that’s coming up next month!

As we packed, we quickly found we’d have to be as economic as possible to save space and make sure we only take what’s absolutely necessary. We have a 30 and a 45 Litre bag, so with a weekend of clothes (and emergency rain gear!), two of our 2kg sleeping bags, two self-inflating roll mats, a kelly kettle and a tent – it was a hard squeeze to fit it all without strapping everything to the outside and toppling over from the weight!

When we were finally packed and satisfied with our efforts, we started our drive – about 2 hours including a quick stop to get fresh water and some tinned food. Not bad for a break from civilisation!

We hadn’t really planned out where to go! Although we’d planned this trip for a while, we hadn’t really planned much more than “Camp in the wild, and see pretty things!”

Arrival

As soon as you get to Dartmoor, you’re met by cattle grids and vast expanses of land all around you! An area of beautiful moorland left entirely to nature! It’s not long before you see all the wildlife too! Sheep EVERYWHERE! and because it’s spring, this meant hundreds of adorable baby lambs!  Both gob-smacked by the landscape so close to our home, and by the cute little fuzzy white things beside (and often lying in) the road we were driving pretty slow and had to let a few people pass us so we could appreciate our surroundings!

As we drove we saw some woods in the distance, and S said: “I want to go there!” With the Google and OS map apps, we planned a route to reach them.

Wild Camping on Dartmoor Forest sunset

And reach them we did!

Wild Camping on Dartmoor S looks into the woods

As we walked with all our gear, the light grew dim and the temperature started dropping – we had a couple of great spots, but unfortunately – being woods – there were many roots and branches in the way that we either couldn’t or didn’t want to disturb! We were very concerned with not leaving  a trace of our trip! eventually, we found a spot – not perfectly level, but clear of any debris and situated in a clearing!

Wild Camping on Dartmoor tent in forest

Up goes the tent!

Nightfall

With little wind and no rain, the conditions were perfect for a night under the stars. The tent wasn’t huge (and can barely fit my 6ft height) but we managed to squeeze us both in, with the sleeping gear and our ‘luggage’! The priority now was food!!

Using our incredible Kelly Kettle, we gathered some dry fuel and a flat rock base (to keep the area safe)  and boiled a tin of stew we had bought earlier!  We’d forgotten to bring cutlery, though! So slices of bread were used to pry the food out of the tiny travel pan. Full and exhausted from our somewhat unplanned trip we packed everything up, wrapped our waste in the bread bag (to guard against any creatures sniffing us out in hunger!) and set ourselves to bed. This is where we first realised just how much of a slope we had set the tent on! it doesn’t look like much in the image above, but with our self-inflating mats and our sleeping bags, we were constantly sliding down towards the back! we positioned bags to prop our feet up, and clothes under our head, and eventually fell into a slumber. I awoke a few times uncomfortably squished up in the tent – it’s one I bought for a festival some years ago and isn’t really cut out for heavy camping. I originally used it myself, and lay diagonally quite comfortably! I now realise that with S next to me, and with both our bags, that it’s impossible!  My head and feet constantly touched the sides of the tent, so I either woke up shivering or woke up squashed! S, however, seemed to sleep quite soundly with the advantage of being smaller than myself!

Awakening

After a few false starts, I awoke properly – I could hear birds chirping and red-tinted light shone all around me. I was warm, I was awake and I was restless! I threw on some warm clothes (quietly, so as not to wake S) and went for a quick walk to explore the area – it’s so peaceful there. All you can hear is birds and the wind in the trees. No people, no traffic, no sirens. Just peace! It’s so relaxing being ‘in nature’ for a change, instead of being surrounded by buildings and a man-made environment. I think everyone should ‘escape’ and immerse themselves in the natural world as often as possible, and appreciate the little things.

Wild Camping on Dartmoor River

Small plant Wild Camping on Dartmoor forest

By the time I’d explored and arrived back at the tent, S was stirring and we prepared for another day – this time on the moors!

Wild Camping on Dartmoor - Rocky outlook

Stay tuned for wild camping on Dartmoor: Day 2!

 

How To Choose The Right Sleeping Bag

I’ve been looking at buying a new sleeping bag recently and found how difficult it is to find one that suits every need! I thought I’d write a quick guide to show others the best way to choose their own!

IT really comes down to what you’ll be using it for – are you just looking for something to sleep in on your mate’s sofa after a night out? Or are you defying death in the most extreme places on earth? (Let us know if you are, we’d love to hear about it!)

It’s likely that you’ll need to prioritise some qualities – and I’ve drawn up a little graphic here to illustrate it!

sleeping-bag-choice

Now the problem is, you probably can’t get to the snowy summit of this chart and have all three, you usually have to choose just two!

Light and cheap

Now this one’s pretty easy. You can get yourself a light and cheap sleeping bag, something you would use for festivals or summer camping trips – but be aware that these won’t keep you warm during the colder months, and many don’t go below temperatures below freezing.

This means you’ll have something nice and light you can pack down small into a pack, but it’s too dangerous to use in winter, and possibly even fall or spring! Always consider safety above everything: if you can’t afford or carry a warm enough sleeping bag for your trip, don’t go camping!

Warm and cheap

Unfortunately the warmer the bag, the more it usually costs, but you can trade off some of the cost in extra weight! Modern sleeping bags are filled with a synthetic microfibre that emulates down. It’s much cheaper than a down sleeping bag, but weighs much more and often doesn’t compact as much! As I’m on a strict budget, for our Ben Nevis trip, I recently purchased the Mountain Warehouse Microlite 1400 which certainly falls into this bracket. It’s comfortable down to -4°c and only cost me £44.99! The only downside is it’s pretty heavy for hiking at 1.9kg and it packs down pretty large! It’s certainly going to go outside of my bag, as it won’t fit in.

Light and warm

This is the bracket you’re lucky to be in! If you can afford it you can go to the best sleeping bag manufacturers and have a wealth of incredible materials and technology at your disposal. For example, at the same weight as the sleeping bag I just bought, you could buy the incredible Alpkit ArticDream that would keep you comfortable at an unbelievable -48°c!! (probably not suitable for summer though!)

 

 

So where do you fit into the graphic? What’s the most important quality in a sleeping bag in your eyes? Leave a comment below!

Our Trip to Snowdon – the Climb

This post follows on from the previous Travelogue entry, Our Trip To Snowdon- Starting Out

We awoke bright and early, and after a good croissant breakfast and a warm shower, we were ready to conquer snowdon. I couldn’t wait to get back out into snowdonia and explore it’s beauty, let alone it’s highest peak!

As we made our way along the 45 minute drive from penmachno village, we watched as the landscape turned more and more epic, opening out to the peaks surrounding snowdon!

Approaching Snowdon

Excited to start, we pushed on as I snapped out the car window!

We arrived at the car park, even the view from here was stunning, with valleys down below, and road winding around the edges. I found it incredible that people created all this in such a difficult environment!

As we got to the parking machine, we realised we had no change! It takes notes, so make sure you have some with you. Luckily we were able to get change from the nearby restaurant and continue on our journey.

This is where it really started!

We decided to take the Pyg track up to the summit, and come back on the miner’s trail. I’d spoken to friends who had been before and they all advised that as a first timer, this would be the easiest and most enjoyable way to go. After actually doing the trails I think I agree with them and we’d decided on the best route for the day.

When we arrived at the very start of the trail (go right at the car park for pyg) we came across this sign:

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“Snow showers above 400m, wind upto 45mph, Snow above 500m, Recommended to carry ice axe and crampons. “

Oh no! We don’t have ice axes or crampons!

We decided we’ll keep heading up, and stop if we feel it’s getting too difficult, or we can’t find safe footing. I think we made the right choice, but please do consider this before you head off. There were some people we met on the way up, who had decided it was too dangerous and they were heading back. The climb would have been much easier had we packed proper snow equipment, but it never reached a point we considered dangerous to ourselves.

We also saw many signs around the start warning NOT to climb the closest peak you see in front of you. It isn’t snowdon! It’s a very difficult climb named crib goch, and should not be attempted unless you’re very experienced. It looks extremely difficult even from the bottom, and we didn’t even attempt it! It certainly wouldn’t have been safe in these conditions.

As we walk up the stone steps, the sheer size already sets in. You’re really climbing a mountain! With crib goch out ahead, and giant valleys spanning to the right and behind you, it’s difficult not to stop and marvel at the landscape!

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That last pic is crib goch looming overhead.

 

So as we continued on, I realised I was getting tired much too quickly. I had packed on the layers and was wearing a giant pea coat over everything. I realise now this was stupid – but I just didn’t have the gear I needed. The coat went into the bag and I continued on – my body heat was more than enough and kept me warm without that huge thing. I wish I’d left it in the car, but it became extra weight on my back!

As you continue up the stone step, you eventually reach a bend, and get to peer down at the beautiful reservoirs below. It serves as a good indication of how high you’ve climbed already!

Snowdon Reservoir Panorama

It’s absolutely stunning, and S wanted to visit just this incredible view alone!

We pushed further onward and up, slowly getting higher and higher, into the snow and wind! It was a bit worrying without ice axes and crampons, but luckily I have the karrimor snowfur boots I bought for our norway trip – they kept my feet nice and toasty!

We met a few people travelling in both directions, we stropped for a chat to everyone on the way down to ask how they managed. Most said it was possible without snow equipment, and seemed confident we could continue! Great news!

Because of the snow, it got a little difficult to find the trail sometimes! We even ended up climbing a treacherous face that we didn’t need to, because we went off track!

Snow at Snowdon

As we got to the top stone steps, things got much more slippery, and we had to hang on to the fencing to keep our balance. This was the only part of the trip I felt was risky without Crampons – but we continued on slowly, being very careful of our footing and making sure we kept holding ourselves up! Although, as the point in the picture above, we stopped for a bite to eat, and S’s glove flew down to the bottom! Unbelievably we found it on the way back down!

The very top of the pyg track, where it meets the railway, was the hardest part of the climb – It became extremely slippery and steep, and we had to crawl upwards, being careful not to slide at all. It’s difficult to show in pictures just how steep this section was. As we reached the top of this short section, we were pleased to see flat ground and the top marker! It was incredible to see how the extreme winds and cold had made icicles that stuck sideways to everything around us!

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I wish I could say that the view from the summit was the best I’d ever seen – but the cloud cover was too great! We were left with this!

Snowdon summit in the snow

We had no shelter up here – S’s hair was literally freezing, with bits of ice in it, and the wind was very fast, so we decided to keep moving and head back down before we warmed up!

It was an absolutely incredible journey, and it’s got us hooked – next stop Ben Nevis! It’s already booked for mid June!

Our Trip To Snowdon – Starting Out

Sometimes when you’re stuck in a rut, going to work everyday and sitting at home indoors every evening you feel like you need an adventure. That’s why S and I planned a trip for her birthday: to climb one of the highest Peaks in the UK, Mount Snowdon. Other than brown willy in sunny Cornwall we haven’t really Had experience with climbing and especially not in the winter So it was going to be interesting whether it went well or not!!

We set off early in the morning with a car packed full of bags (and camera gear!) ready for our stay in an amazing cottage that we found on airbnb last minute.

The seven hour drive went reasonably fast, even though we had to take a detour from the motorway. Although this just meant we got to see even more of the beautiful welsh countryside. As we drove on, and the mountains came into sight I was stunned by just how beautiful North wales and the National Park of Snowdonia was, and had a hard job keeping my eyes on the road with such incredible vistas around me! I even had to get out of the car to take some snaps!

Welsh Lake with trees

On the way we stopped off at supermarket can get some food and provisions for the climb and the couple of nights stay,  including some birthday treats for S! Steak for dinner tomorrow! By the time we reached the Cottage we were under the cover of night and had to rush through the rain to get all of our bags indoors – The weather didn’t look great for the climb! Once in, we were pleased to see a giant log burner aga fireplace, and didn’t take long to get it set up and make ourselves a tea. We didn’t stay up long as we had a mountain to climb tomorrow!

Warm aga fireplace

 

Should You Use A Tripod For Your Travel Photos?

Today I’ll discuss the matter of tripods, and how they fit with travel photography. Tripod come in a variety of shapes and sizes, made with various materials and with heads for various needs – but do we need them when travelling?

As with many things in photography – it depends!

What and where will you be shooting?

If you’re shooting street photography in Barcelona for example – you’re going to want to travel light and not draw attention to all your gear. You’ll likely want a small perhaps mirrorless camera, and a single small lens with it. And that’s all!

Barcalona Gotico ArchBarcelona Montserrat Landscape

Personally when I’m going into cities and travelling light, I rely on just a small compact and shoot handheld (resulting in the shots above).

However you’re at the mercy of light! If it starts getting darker, your shutter time will increase, leading to blurry images! make sure you’re shooting at a high shutter speed if you want to go hand held! it really depends on your lens, and whether you have image stabilisation, but if you stick to 100th of a second you shouldn’t go wrong! As you get lower, your shot time will get higher, so think about trading it off for a higher ISO. grainy pictures are better than unusable blurry pictures any day.

Another bonus to shooting handheld is not having to worry about taking your tripod on the plane! Although these days, with newer carbon fiber technology you could buy a very small lightweight tripod for perfectly still images if you’d rather plan your shots out in advance.

If however you’re planning on taking long exposure shots or beautiful planned-out spanning landscapes at sunset – you’ll need a tripod, no matter what.You’ll need to have a higher aperture to keep everything in the image sharp, and you’ll want minimal camera shake. None at all if possible. The less light you’re dealing with – the higher likelihood you’ll want a tripod. Especially if you’re planning night shoots. But you always have to think about how possible it is! If you’re hiking for a long way you’ll need a smaller lighter tripod – but if you’re near transport and you don’t have to carry it far, a more sturdy tripod is preferred.

It’s always a trade off between stability and maneuverability. You need to pick what’s most important to you in each situation!

 

 

 

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