Monday, 23 April 2012

Chesterfield Area Walking Festival

This years’ Chesterfield Area Walking Festival in May promises a 9 day feast of walking with, as always, a large variety of different walks on offer.  And this, the festival’s sixth year, is it biggest ever – with 58 walks through the Peak District’s Historic Border Country.
History, heritage and the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ will help put a spring in to the step of those taking part in the festival, featuring a murder, a Crooked Spire and a Pudding Pie Hill – all between the 12th - 20th May.

But already the highlight of the festival – the new walk the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ has sold out, but there’s plenty more to tempt at the Festival,

Walkers can enjoy beautiful countryside, charming villages and one of England’s oldest market towns – with most walks free.

Walking highlights include a ‘Chesterfield Football Club’ walk highlighting quirky sites and facts along the way, a linear walk from the Crooked Spire Church out to Bolsover Castle and a stroll around Hardwick Hall, the stunning family home of Bess of Hardwick, one of the richest and most remarkable women of Elizabethan England.

There’s also the ‘Chesterfield Murder Walk’, an atmospheric tour around this medieval town in the footsteps of murderers and their victims, and ‘Chesterfield Art Walk – From a Crooked Clock to a River of Rock’, a chance to discover amazing works of art by famous artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Angela Conner and David Mach.

Or how about a Ramble to Pudding Pie Hill? Enjoy picture postcard villages and beautiful countryside with views looking over the market town of Chesterfield on this walk to the fringes of the town.

The Real Ale Ramble offers stunning scenery from the edges of Chesterfield plus the chance to find out more about the real ales of the area… and even trying one or two along the way!

And if you were wondering what the Beast of Bolsover walk was, well it was a “beast” of a walk through the area’s coal mining country passing historic houses along the way, taking its title from the fearsome nickname of local MP and keen walker Dennis Skinner.

Already sold out, organisers are hoping to run the walk again for next year’s Festival.

For a full programme of walks, or to book your tickets, contact Chesterfield Tourist Information Centre, Tel: 01246 345777/8 or go online to book at

Saturday, 21 April 2012

New films from the Natural History Museum

As passionate supporters of the British countryside, we do spend some time looking for interesting videos on YouTube - so when we were pointed to these excellent short films, we wanted to share them with you.

They feature one of the Natural History Museum botanists, Fred Rumsey, who talks about many of the seasonal flowers and plants you can discover our and about in Britain.

The latest films are Spring walk and Spring Blooms in the Wildlife Garden...

Spring Walk | Natural History Museum

Spring Blooms In The Wildlife Garden | Natural History Museum

Hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

New National Park Photography Competition

Many people take a digital still camera with them whilst going out walking – and many more have cameras built into their mobile phones.
So a new competition launched on last Thursday (12th April) will be of great interest.

The UKs National Parks have launched a photo competition with a special prize – submit your winning landscape taken in a UK National Park and you could win a pair of boots.

There are 15 National Parks in the UK - Brecon Beacons, The Broads, Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia, South Downs and the Yorkshire Dales.  They cover some fantastic scenery and a broad range of landscapes from rolling green meadows to mountains and rocky coastal cliffs.

The idea is that if views could compete in the Olympics, views from the UK National Parks would be up there on the podium.

The competition will be judged by TV adventurer Ben Fogle President of the Campaign for National Parks (CNP), Kathryn Cook from the UK Association of National Park Authorities (UK ANPA) and Emily Carr from its partner organisation, outdoor gear specialist Merrell.

Ben Fogle said:  "The UK's National Parks offer some truly gold medal-winning views, which is why I think the UK National Parks team's idea to seek out fans' best photos is a great idea. I look forward to seeing some stunning views and to judging the winning landscape in May."

The winning image will be picked from a shortlist of up to 10 photographs and the lucky winner will get to pick one pair of footwear from Merrell’s excellent spring/summer 2012 collection.

The competition has already started and closes at noon on May 10th.  To upload your image, visit the Competition page on the National Park’s website here

Our website has some handy hints and tips for taking better landscape photographs - visit our page here.

Our May podcast will feature professional photographer Dan Santillo's top tips to help you too!  You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes here.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

More Lake District "Coming Soon" videos

We've made 3 new "Coming Soon" walking videos for walks in the Lake District - and just in case you haven't seen them yet, here they are...

Bowness to Brant Fell

Windermere through Claife Heights

Glenridding Dodd

We're working on the full versions, and they will be available as soon as possible!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Gear Review - Dicky Bag

You may already know that I own 2 dogs, Maisie and Merlin.  Both are Border Collies who give my family a great deal of enjoyment, company and companionship.  In fact, we look at them as members of the family – and my youngest daughter often refers to them with our surname at the end – “I love Maisie White”

And we’re not alone, for around 5.5 million people in Britain own a dog.  The vast majority of those number exercise their dogs regularly, whether it’s a quick walk around the block or a major trek in the country.  What brings dog owners and walkers into conflict with other users of open spaces is the unwillingness of some to clean up after their dogs.

There is an estimated 900 tonnes of dog faeces produced every day and research indicates that as much as half of all owners never clean up after their dogs.

Dog mess is a major problem.  It’s not just unpleasant to step in, it also carries Toxocariass – a disease which can be passed from dogs to humans through contact with dog faeces or contaminated ground.  Children are particularly at risk from the disease, and in severe cases can led to permanent loss of sight.

We always clean up everything our dogs do – and to do this we’ve used nappy bags.  I put my hand inside the bag, grab the business, pull the bag inside out and then tie up.  Voila – poo safely contained; hands not contaminated and public health not at risk.

If only I had a better way of carrying around a growing number of bags as my walk progresses than tying them to my backpack…

Well, there is.  They are called Dicky Bags.
At first glance you wonder whether it’s a bit of an over engineered product – however, when you start to use it, you realise it’s extremely well thought out.
The bag is a semi-ridged structure, made from Neoprene – which makes it light and robust.  The zipped lid opens to reveal a storage area for pick-up bags inside the lid.  At the bottom of the main storage area is a fragranced card which can be replaced when needed. 

On the outside is a belt loop and a universal clip designed to be attached to you or your dog’s lead.
So how does it work in practise?

I can say very well.  The bag dangles happily from the backpack until it is needed.  Then, a quick zip open and one of the bio-degradable pick-up bags can be deployed over the hand to pick up the deposit.  After a quick tie, the bag containing the offending items is placed inside the Dicky Bag and zipped up – job’s a good ‘en!

But does the inevitable smell start to seep out – especially on a long hot sunny days walk?  Well, I can say even after a long trek, we didn’t get any whiff of nasty odours whilst walking thanks to the glued and blind stitching of the bag.  Interesting, even when the lid was unzipped to throw the waste away, the inside didn’t smell too much either – so the fragranced card did its job too.

If, after several trips out, you do find the bag starting to retain a smell, then simply pop it in washing machine and let it dry – smell gone!

Since getting hold of the Dicky Bag, we’ve taken it on every long distance dog walk and we find we can’t go without it.  It’s a great feeling to know at least we won’t be contributing to the dog fouling on our walks with our 4-legged best friends.

What's good...
Good range of colours
Excellent at containing both the poo and the smell
Strong but flexible design

What's bad...
Expensive delivery when ordered direct from the Dicky Bag website - £1.95 for 2nd class.

Dicky Bag - Rough price - £32 for the large
Walks Around Britain rating 9/10

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Gear Review - Regatta Tectonic 2 jacket fleece

Having been converted to the benefits of fleeces, I have another one here – the Regatta Tectonic 2 – which does give you the impression of something ground-breaking.  I’m not sure it’s that quite the case, but it’s certainly a good mug’s eye-full.
Firstly, this isn’t a standard “jumper style” fleece – it’s actually a fleece/jacket – which makes this a good choice for getting outdoors.

Now, as it’s a jacket, it is going to be your outer layer – so it has to be to some extent waterproof and windproof.  On the waterproof front, the Tectonic 2 has an Isotex 5000 membrane drop liner which has a hydrostatic head of – wait for it – 5000mm.  If you’re not a camper, then you might not be too familiar with hydrostatic head – so here’s a summary…
To see how waterproof a fabric is, a column of water is pressed against it.  The amount of water in the column is increased until the water penetrates the fabric.  This amount is measured in millimetres and is called the hydrostatic head – so the higher the number, the more waterproof the fabric is. 
We work on the rough scale that 3000mm is decent waterproofing on a jacket, so the Tectonic 2’s 5000mm will be good news whilst out walking.  In addition, the outer finish has a water-resistant coating.  I’ve been testing the jacket in various weather conditions, and it is quite water-resistant – most light showers will be no problem for the Tectonic 2.

Inner lining of the Tectonic 2

Toggles to adjust the fit at the bottom
I’m really happy with the neck cinch, which can be adjusted, as it manages to keep your neck warm without you feeling strangled.  The bottom of the jacket can be adjusted too with the same style of toggle.  Two outer pockets are provided which are zipped – very handy for ensuring your car keys stay with you on a walk (I’ll go into that one another time!)  There’s an inner pocket too – also zipped - which is supposed to be bigger enough for an OS map, so here goes… 

Will an OS map go all the way in?
Yes - and it zips up too!

Yes, standard size OS maps fit in the inside pocket no problem – some thought has been given there.  What’s the fit like?  Well, I liked it – it’s comfortable and cosy and it doesn’t feel too bulk either.

The only down side – and it isn’t just a problem with this jacket – is the type of material on the outer layer traps dog hairs like wasps and jam!  They can be removed with one of those special brushes or by simply picking them off, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re a dog owner.
Dog hairs trapped in the fabric - although they do come out with a brush.

That said, the Regatta Tectonic 2 is a great jacket and at full price – near on £60 – it would have got an 8.  But, the jacket has recently moved into the Regatta Outlet – their online clearance store – so it’s available with some cracking discount.  For example, the small in Navy is £30 and the large in Red is an amazing £18!  At those prices, the Tectonic 2 is a fantastic buy.

What's good...
Great fit
Waterproof for most walks
Excellent sized pockets
Fantastic price from the Regatta Outlet

What's bad...
Dog/cat hairs get trapped in the fabric
Fairly expensive at its normal price of £60

Regatta Tectonic 2 jacket fleece - Rough price - £30
Walks Around Britain rating 9/10
To buy the Tectonic 2 from the Regatta Outlet, click here for the direct link.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Podcast Edition 002 - Show Notes

This second edition of the Walks Around Britain podcast features exploring around Britain with Richard Vobes - aka The Bald Explorer, three walking festivals from around the country in April and an interview with Pauline Sanderson who undertook the World's Longest Climb.

We hope you enjoy the second edition of our new podcasts, and here on our blog we'll be putting show notes - with photos, short videos and links to relevant sites about the topics covered in each edition.

The Bald Explorer

Richard Vobes - aka The Bald Explorer (left) - has 3 great programmes on his website at the moment, and work is progressing on the forth.

You can find these 3 programmes, as well as countless podcasts, photos and updates on the massive amount of work it takes to make the forth programme on the website.

Richard also has a Facebook page for The Bald Explorer, which we highly recommend liking :)

Walking Festivals

The 3 walking festivals we featured are the Newton Stewart Walking Festival, the Swanage and Purbeck Walking Festival and the Boscastle Walking Week.

To find out more walking festivals in Britain, have a look at our Great British Walking Festival calendar

Pauline Sanderson

To find out more about Pauline's epic adventure, book "The World's Longest Climb" is available from Amazon here.

She's speaking at the Keswick Mountain Festival in May, and if you want details - here the link to her page on the site to book tickets -

Pauline's own website is

So, that's the second edition then! If you've any comments or suggestions, please e-mail them, tweet or facebook them. Or use the "Send us a Voice Message" tab on the right of the blog to let us know your thoughts via audio.