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Blog 2022

Blog updates are only on an "ad hoc" basis when I have something to say and will not be particularly regular. Latest entries first.

30 December 2022

As 2022 draws to a close, I would like to thank all the visitors to my site for their support and particularly for the number of kind emails I have received. There are clearly quite a few people who appreciate my walks and the work that goes into producing them. Usually, we have our family Christmas at my home and my children and grandchildren come to visit. This year however, we opted for a change and went to stay at Grange-over-Sands, which is roughly mid way between where my daughters live. One of them did the hosting and all went very well. I took the opportunity one the one fine day over the break to walk up Hampsfell, intrigued by" Hampsfell Hospice" shown on the map. The route is now on the website. Unfortunately the views to the Lake District were obscured by cloud. Other days were rained off.

I hope everyone has a good New Years's eve and a great 2023.

7 December 2022

For a variety of reasons, not least two bouts of COVID within six months, this year has not been one of my best for walking. What has been particularly disappointing is that having the two lots of COVID plus a booster jab in between, 'immunity' seems a distant goal. The only hope is that subsequent infections are less severe than they otherwise might have been. The latest bout was almost certainly contracted either on the plane or at the airport on my return from Lanzarote. I have started to wonder whether foreign holidays by plane are worth the hassle, if illness is a likely result.. On the plus side the weather in Lanzarote was fantastic, if anything too fantastic on some days!

On the Lanzarote theme, the accommodation we stayed in had a Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee maker. We bought the capsules and gave it a go. We were inpressed. On return to the UK we bought the self same machine and the self same coffee (at least as described on the box). The resulting coffee bore little resemblance to the capsules in Lanzarote. An exchange with Nescafe revealed that even coffees with the same description have different compositions in different countries to suit local tastes. Hey ho.

On the plus side, Christmas shopping almost complete!

1 September 2022

As Mountain Rescue incident occurred in the Lake District recently. An 83 year old woman collapsed. The information given when calling 999 included the location using What3words, which put her near Hawse End on the western shore of Derwentwater, nowhere near where she actually was in Crow Park overlooking the north-east shore. Evidently there have been several instances where rescues have been delayed because the What3words app is not proving sufficiently accurate, despite it being supposed to pinpoint locations to within three meters.

The message from Mountain Rescue Teams is to give the best verbal description of the location, preferably with the Ordnance Survey grid reference. The grid reference can be obtained from an OS map or perhaps most easily by having the free OS Locate app on your mobile phone, which is easy to use. Don't wait until you need it. Just have it on the phone as a matter of course.

On the subject of mobile phones, I have never been bothered about having a smart phone, relying on a trusty old and bomb proof Nokia. However my wife recently upgraded her phone so I have inherited her iPhone SE. The first thing I did of course was download OS Locate (see above) and also the OS Maps app, as I subscribe to the OS Maps website and use it for planning some walks.

A friend of mine has been using this app for a while now and is forever extolling its virtues. So, on a recent walk across Access Land where there were no Rights of Way marked, I thought I would give it a try. Undoubtedly, it is extremely accurate. However, I discovered if you have it on all the time it is very power hungry and I can see why walkers get into difficulties relying on mobile phones. I had switched off everything I could think of but I doubt it could have taken me round the whole walk, only about 8 miles. Fortunately, I have what is now an ancient GPS receiver but it keeps going all day on one set of rechargeable batteries - and I have a spare set, just in case!.

I accept the battery in my "new" smart phone may be not at its best, being about five years old. A newer model, usually larger these days, may retain more power but I treat my experience as a cautionary tale and will only use the OS app when/if I need it for brief interludes.

20 July 2022

Bradford MDC in West Yorkshire has announced a number of closures of Access Land because of the severe fire risk. Moorlands are tinder dry and according to the local weather forecast tonight, no significant rain is forecast in the near future. The areas involved can be seen on the maps below.

1) Forest of Trawden, Wadsworth Moor, Heptonstall Moor

2) Oxenhope Moor, Ovenden Moor, Worley Moor

3) Bingley Moor, Morton Moor

4) Addingham Moor

22 April 2022

Friday 29 April 2022 marks the launch of the Yorkshire Heritage Way long distance walk. The launch is taking place in Bradford Cathedral at 9am (all welcome) and the walk then progresses that day in two stages (to Saltaire and to The Hermit pub). Over the next few days it progresses to Ripon Cathedral via Fountains Abbey (arriving at the Ripon beer festival on Monday 2nd). For further information, see https://www.burleybridge.com/yorkshire-heritage-way.html.

20 February 2022

Good Result!

Three years ago, I bought some Mountain Equipment gaiters. I do not use them if I can help it as all gaiters make my legs hot and in summer with lightweight boots, I do not use them at all. Disappointingly, the Velcro, which secures the flap over the zip, pulled away from the stitching.

As they guarantee their products against defects "for the reasonable life of the product", I  complained to Mountain Warehouse, as I did not think three years put them beyond "reasonable life". It was obvious from their condition that they had not been over used. They asked me to send them back. They have now been returned, fully repaired and as good as new. Thumbs up for Mountain Equipment.

Bad Result!

Horrified to learn that Gateshead Cheder, an Orthodox Jewish school, took 13 children, aged between 14 and 15, up Helvellyn in ice and snow, in March last year, without appropriate equipment. For navigation, they were relying on a mobile phone app!

The 2 adults leading had no proper mountain leadership qualifications or experience in winter conditions.

They lost their way on the descent and one boy fell several meters, fortunately only sustaining minor cuts. The Keswick mountain Rescue Team had to be called out to rescue them.

What were they thinking? There are lots of steep drops and it was fortunate nobody was killed.

Please, if you are leading any group but especially children, please think about the requirement for the expedition a bit (lot?) more thoroughly than these teaching staff did.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the school and they were fined 30,000 plus costs and a victim surcharge.

If this is how the school perform their 'In loco parentis' responsibilities, I would be inclined to send my kids somewhere else (I would anyway, as I am not Jewish!)!

11 January 2022

I received a report that someone had had problems following one of my routes and had got lost as a result. Depending on how I feel on such occasions, my thoughts range from "I couldn't possibly have been wrong' to 'oh God what have I done'!  An brief exchange involving a map section and aerial photo revealed that the cause of the problem had been a right turn at the end of a wood and trying to be helpful, I had mentioned the turn was indicated by a blue bridleway arrow. There was no arrow and it sounds as though the writer had continued on, looking for it. Seemingly in the intervening 2 or 3 years, the arrow had dropped off, been removed or whatever. In fact looking at my instructions, a direction to turn right at the end of the wood, on its own, would have been enough. A case perhaps where less is more!

It is difficult knowing how much information to include. Having fallen foul of instructions in books/newspapers in the distant past, which left you hanging and indeed that was why I started my website in the first place, I tend to err on the side of including more rather than less!

I have of course amended the instructions accordingly.

5 January 2022

Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) have reported that the number of rescues having to be done is escalating. It should be remembered that all the people on MRTs are volunteers and have lives! Many rescues are cause by people relying on mobile phones which fail (probably running our of charge) and/or people venturing on to quite dangerous fells with no map or compass. This is not fair on the MRT members. Even if you want to use electronic navigation means, please have a 1:25000 scale map with you and a compass, as back-up. Most of these maps only cost around 7 or 8, which is not much if it prevents you getting lost and having to call out an MRT, or worse, becoming injured, or exposed too long in bad/freezing weather, through taking the wrong route. See Ordnance Survey Maps.

Reasonable compasses are available for under 20 and if you are not sure how to use one, see How to Use a Compass. You do not need to be an expert to use one sufficiently to prevent disaster!

1 January 2022

Happy New Year to all users of this site. I hope 2022 proves to be a happier year than 2021 and that we can cease to be in thrall to Covid and its resulting inconveniences.

This year, Happy Hiker reaches its 11th birthday. As I start the year, there are around 370 walks on the site. One which surprised me with its 'enjoyability' last year was a more urban walk, from the little village of Esholt, not far from Bradford/Shipley in West Yorkshire. This involved passing through a huge sewage works. Most unexpectedly it proved to be a lovely walk with attractive woodland and canal sections. The sewage works was barely noticeable. I might look for some more 'urban' walks in 2022.

1 April 2022

I noted a report in the paper this week that 'rocket powered' paramedics will be zooming over the Lake District fells this summer as part of the Flying Ambulance service. They wear a back pack rocket motor plus more on each hand and can cover a lot of ground very quickly. They can only carry a small amount of medical equipment but coupled with a quick response, could be enough to make the difference.

I have just realised the date but this is not an April Fool, its for real.

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