Saturday, 19 May 2012

"50 Great Coastal Walks" - from The Telegraph and Countryfile magazine

We didn't get much advanced warning about this, but in this weekend's The Telegraph newspaper there are two 48-page walking guides - that's the 19 and 20th May.

The guides have been produced in association with Countryfile Magazine, and are introduced by BBC TWO "Coast"'s Alice Roberts.

For the price of two newspapers, you get two 48-page, glossy walking guides to help you explore Britain's beautiful coastline - sound's a good buy!

For more information, visit

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Podcast Edition 004 - Show Notes

Edition 4 of the Walks Around Britain podcast features Gareth Jones on top of a mountain using Social Hiking - and its creator Phil Sorrell tells us about the site. There's two sponsored walks in England later in the year and the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival later in May.  And The Natural Navigator himself, Tristan Gooley talks about exploring and his second book.

Social Hiking

Social Hiking allows you to share your outdoor adventure live on the internet - as well as having a permanent record of them later.  To find out more, visit the Social Hiking website.

To see the route Gareth Jones was walking at the time, click here

Gareth's Flick album of his Brecon Beacon backpack walk/camp

Sponsored Walks

The For All Events' walk in the Yorkshire Dales has several different lengths of walks available - 26 miles, 14 miles, 5 miles and 4.5 mile walk and wheel.
To find out more visit their page here.

The St John Ambulance's Cotswold Way Challenge has a 6 mile, a 13 mile and a 24 mile version.
To find out more visit their page here.

Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival

Now in its 8th year, the festival offers over 90 walks taking place in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and surrounding countryside, enticing you to explore the landscape and heritage of this stunning part of Lincolnshire.  To find out more, visit the website.

The festival runs between Saturday 26 May to Sunday 10 June 2012.

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

Tristan Gooley

Tristan's second book The Natural Explorer is out now - to find out more about the book visit the publisher's website here.

You can buy the book in hardback from Amazon here and for the Kindle here.

Tristan's own website The Natural Navigator has details about his various courses, including A Beginner's Guide to Natural Navigation.

Our review of The Natural Explorer mentioned in the podcast isn't yet ready - but we'll put a link to it here when it is :)

So, that's the forth edition done then! Please get in touch with us if you've any comments or suggestions.  E-mail themtweet 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.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Ben Fogle at the Royal Geographic Society

What are the driving factors which make a good explorer?  Curiosity?  Stamina?  Well, this month intrepid TV presenter Ben Fogle will be discussing just that at the Royal Geographic Society in London.

The man who famously achieved an N in A-Level Geography is The Adventure Company’s Ambassador for Adventure, and he will relieve his recent Year of Adventure during this 50 minute talk.

The Year of Adventure saw Fogle travel all over the world testing his own limits of endurance, strength and agility and demonstrate what anyone can achieve if they really put their minds to it.

From making the perilous 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco Bay to diving under an Icelandic glacier in freezing waters to see where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates join, Fogle’s pursuit of action and adventure has taken in some of Earth’s most breath-taking place.

Speaking of his partnership with The Adventure Company, Ben Fogle said: “Adventure for me is what you make of it – there will be moving moments, challenging moments and exciting moments but ultimately that’s what adventure is all about and you’ll have stories to tell for years to come.  Adventure has changed my life and given me confidence.  I have overcome many physical and mental obstacles and every trip I go on I come back a changed person.

“20 years ago the sort of things you can do now with The Adventure Company were never available. It just takes a little bit of trust to step outside your comfort zone – don’t be blinded by fear; if you surround yourself with experts like The Adventure Company then it will lead to unforgettable experiences. I really can’t wait to start sharing my passion for adventure and travel with my kids and to take in new experiences together as a family. It’s almost education by stealth – learning about geology, history, ancient civilisations and cultures without them even realising. And it’s fun!!

Ben Fogle’s talk with The Adventure Company will take place at 7pm on 31 May at the Royal Geographic Society, Kensington. Doors open 6.15pm. Tickets £10pp.

To book your tickets visit or call 0845 450 5310

Friday, 11 May 2012

BBC TWO's "Coast" is back home

Finally – it’s back.

It’s one of the most consistent programmes on British television – taking us around the shores of Great Britain and beyond since 2005 – and telling us some fascinating stories along the way.

What am I taking about?
 “Coast”, of course, which returns to BBC TWO and the BBC HD channel on Sunday May 13th 2012 for its seventh series – and for this series “Coast” is back home with 6 programmes focused on the UK.

The first series – with Nick Crane as lead presenter – circumnavigated the whole of the coastline of the UK in 12 programmes starting and finishing in Dover.

From Nazi concentration camps in the Channel Islands to the Menai Straight’s famous bridges; from a special method of "air mail" between the islands of Scarp and Harris to the first Butlins resort at Skegness, the small expert team of Nicholas Crane, Neil Oliver, Alice Roberts, Mark Horton and Miranda Krestovnikoff discovered fantastic stories from around our coast.  Their different styles of presenting, wonderful & artistic camerawork, measured & impressive computer graphics, remarkably clear sound recording and intrinsic & painful research and production led to a greatly significant series – and a BAFTA win in 2005.

Throughout series one, Nicholas Crane mentions more than once the series was a "once in a lifetime journey" – this may well have been the case originally, but its success ensured at least a second series came a year later in 2006.

Despite the suggestion the team might run out of stories – further series came along every year (apart from 2008 for some reason) and jaunts to Ireland, France, Norway, the Faore Islands, the Netherlands, Sweden and Demark.

For this seventh series, Coast is firmly based in the UK – and in a departure from the established format, each of these 6 programmes will feature stories from every part of the British Isles, instead of following a path along a coastline.  The programme team have said this is the first time they’ve done this, but I think they’ve forgotten about the series opener of series five – which centred on the Isle of Man’s seemingly unbelievable position of being almost equidistance from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  In this programme, each of the team presented a report from each of the nations of the British Isles – which seems to have been a pre-cursor to this new format.  I happen to remember this particular programme well, as it is my favourite (yes, I’m a Coast junky - I have a favourite episode and below is a clip!)

Each of the six programmes has a different theme…
  1. The Mysteries of the Isles
  2. Life Beyond the Edge
  3. The Hidden History of Harbours
  4. Peril from the Seas
  5. The Riddle of the Tides
  6. The Secret Life of Beaches

This should bring a fantastic fresh feel to the series – and ensure it a large appeal across the UK.

The theme of the first episode is one which has always fascinated me – “The Mysteries of the Isles”.

Nick Crane signs on as a deck-hand with a tall ship, reliving the great days of sail on a gruelling yet exhilarating journey between the Northern Isles of Scotland.  He also hopes to fulfil a childhood ambition (and one of mine too) by setting foot on tiny Fair Isle – famous for its traditional knitwear and mentioned several times a day on the Shipping Forecast – it is the most remote populated outpost in the British Isles and home to just 70 hardy souls.

At Scapa Flow on Orkney, Neil Oliver explores the conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious death of Britain’s most famous solider of the First World War, Lord Kitchener.  Kitchener, the face on the iconic poster ‘Your Country Needs You’, was one of over 600 soldiers and sailors who perished when their ship went down as they set off from Orkney to Russia on a top-secret mission in 1916 – and Neil uncovers the truth about what happened.

Historian Tessa Dunlop hopes to witness an extraordinary and uplifting sight that’s special to the Western Isles of Scotland: the mysterious ‘Green Ray’, whereby a beautiful ray of green light can be glimpsed for a few precious seconds as the sun sets on the far horizon.  What causes the exceptionally rare ‘Green Ray’ and how can Tessa be guaranteed to see it?

On the Isle of Wight “Coast” newcomer, ex-soldier, zoologist and climber Andy Torbet finds himself scaling slippery new heights on the Needles to conquer an amazing pinnacle of chalk jutting up vertically from the sea.  Andy’s achievement might be a first for Britain; there are no records of his climb being done before. He hopes to collect a sample of the Needles’ chalk for the British Geological Survey to analyse, so they can re-write the map of Britain’s ancient rocks.

There’s a special appearance by legendary Folk Singer June Tabor who tells the tale of the mysterious “Selkie’, a mythical creature that can take the shape of man or a seal.  June sings the heartbreaking ‘Song of the Selkie’ a tragic traditional ballad passed down through the generations on the western isles of Scotland.

Here's a promo for the new series...

I’ll let you into a secret – it was the first two series of Coast which inspired me with the style of the Walks Around Britain videos.  And producing our videos has given me a fresh appreciation of the hard work all the Coast team puts in.

So, I’ll be one of the roughly 3 million people watching the new series on BBC TWO and the BBC HD Channel.  I hope you will be too.

There's more information on the Coast website here.

Previous editions of Coast are also showing at the moment on the digital channel Blighty

Chris Townsend Outdoors: TGO Challenge 2012

Chris Townsend Outdoors: TGO Challenge 2012: Camp in Glen Quoich on the TGO Challenge 2009 In just over eight hours I'll be heading to Torridon in the Northwest Highlands for the st...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Podcast Edition 003 - Show Notes

The third edition of the Walks Around Britain podcast features Angela Charlton, Director of Ramblers Cymru talking about the Wales Coastal Path, a great photographic competition in the UK's National Parks, 2 walking festivals in May and interviews with Dame Fiona Reynolds and Mike Harding at Kinder 80.

Wales Coast Path

On 5th May, the whole of the 870 miles of the coast of Wales - from the outskirts of Chester in the north to Chepstow in the south - will be opened to walkers.  Angela Charlton from Ramblers Cymru explains on the podcast all about the history and the background behind the path - and if you want to find out more, there's the official Wales Coast Path website and the Ramblers Wales website.

Walking Festivals

The 2 walking festivals we featured are the Rutland Walking Festival and the Suffolk Walking Festival.

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

Winning Landscapes

The photographic competition mentioned on the podcast is open until the 10th May - upload your photo and find out about the terms and conditions at the website.

Dan Santillo's dramatic and expressive photography of the Gower and the Brecon Beacons is here.

Kinder 80

The 80th anniversary of the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout was held at the Moorland Centre at Edale on the 24th April 2012.  Andrew talked to Dame Fiona Renyolds, Director General of the National Trust and the singer, songwriter, broadcaster and walker Mike Harding.

To find out more about the Kinder Mass Trespass visit the official site here - and there's Andrew's post on this very blog here.

So, that's the third 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.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Kinder Scout - Before, during and after the Trespass

“This is the BBC News at 6 – 5 men have been arrested and charged with incitement and riotous assembly following a unauthorised mass trespass and a scuffle with gamekeepers on private land on the hill Kinder Scout in the Peak District”

It seems utterly astonishing today to think anyone would be arrested and spend time in jail for simply walking on a piece of land which they used to be able to walk on – and then couldn't.  But this was the position in 1932 – whole areas of land which previously were available to walk on had been commandeered and given to a small selection of chosen lords, dukes and barons.  These privileged people defended their new-found land vigorously – and even before the events on the 24th April 1932, there had been several incidents of trespassing and violent scenes on the now private lands.

Photo -
It was made worse with the realisation about the Peak District – being composed at it is of moorland and mountains – is completely unsuitable for farming.  Kinder Scout itself was used by the local landlords as an area for shooting game birds – and as such was only used around 12 days a year.  So, if the rest of the time the mountain was empty and deserted, why weren’t walkers allowed to walk on it?  Perhaps if the landowners opened a public path through Kinder Scout, walkers could access the area without problems.  But this seemed to be too much to ask.

By the 1920s, tens of thousands of people – mainly in the North and mainly working class – went walking every Sunday.  It was their way to escape the regimented routine of their working lives – working often long hours between Monday and Saturday.  It was also a way of escaping the smog-infested cities of the industrial North of England – like Manchester, Salford, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Halifax.  By 1932, it was estimated that 15,000 working class walkers left Manchester every Sunday.  What made the whole situation worse was that less than 1% of the Peak District enjoyed public access – and there were only 12 permitted paths to walk on.

This wasn’t a situation certain groups in the working class were prepared to accept, and so the politics of the trespass became socialist.  The mass trespass was organised by a group called the British Workers' Sports Federation (BWSF) – a campaigning group set up in 1928 and largely made up of members and supporters of the Communist Party.  It had campaigned for new Sunday football leagues and new football pitches before taken on the might of the landowners. 

Benny Rothman - photo -
The BWSF held camps at Rowarth in the Peak District, and during the Easter 1932 camp, a group of ramblers – of which the now legendary Benny Rothman was one – went for a walk on Bleaklow and were set upon by gamekeepers.  "It was not at all unusual for ramblers to get very, very badly beaten by them," Rothman stated in an interview later, "and of course if you were working-class there was no redress."

Hence were sawn the seeds of the mass trespass on Kinder Scout.

On the day many more people turned up than was envisaged – some reports say 400, others nearer 500 – but it was a truly significant number.  Joining them, however, was a sizable number of police.  Rothman became the unintentional speaker of the congregation’s meeting point at a quarry in Hayfield.  He spoke about the need to attack the laws of trespass, and after warning the mass against using violence towards the keepers, he led the crowd up Kinder Scout.

In the ensuing battle with the gamekeepers, one keeper sprained his ankle and the ramblers carried on with the gamekeepers fleeing.  On Snake Path, the walkers met another group coming over from Sheffield.  The two groups chatted, heard speeches and then parted.  When the Manchester ramblers returned to Hayfield, they found the injured keeper had informed the police – and six ramblers, including Rothman, were sent for trial.

At Derby Assizes – some 60 miles from the ramblers’ homes – the ramblers were put on trial. Of the six accused, two were cotton piece workers, two engineers, one was unemployed and one a student.  The jury of their peers destined to pass judgment comprised of two brigadier generals, three colonels, two majors and three captains - altogether 11 members of the landowning class.  The social contrasts couldn’t have been any greater.

Five of the six were found guilty and were jailed for between two and six months.  Rothman’s term was four months in Leicester jail.

The arrest and subsequent imprisonment of the trespassers unleashed a huge wave of public sympathy, and ironically united the ramblers cause.

A few weeks later in 1932, 10,000 ramblers – the largest number in history – assembled for an access rally in the Winnats Pass, near Castleton, and the pressure for greater access continued to grow.

In immediate terms, the Mass Trespass of 1932 represented a defeat for the Manchester ramblers. But it turned out to be a catalyst for change: Publicity about the affair led to the formation in 1935 of the Ramblers' Association; the 1949 National Parks and Countryside Act gained access to the moors of Kinder Scout and the Peak District and even further down the line, the trespass led to the modern day Countryside and Rights of Way Act in 2000 for England & Wales and the Land Reform Act 2003 in Scotland.

The mass trespass is rightly celebrated and commemorated as possibly the single most important act for walkers in this country – and long may we celebrate and remember it.