On 17th September this year it was 5 years since I began to create Rucksack Rosie on this blog and YouTube. For those who don’t know, Rucksack Rosie was originally dedicated to my mum, and was intended to share the good and simple things in the outdoor world such as beauty and kindness.
I had great plans for this fifth year but bullying by a small group of Twitter trolls laid waste to some of them, which was a very sad moment for me and for this blog. Anyway, having taken advice, I am pressing on. Can I simply ask that if you don’t respect me, my content or my aims, you just unfollow. It’s really not that difficult.
Anyway, to those who have stuck by me for all or some of the last five years for the right reasons, I would like to say a big thank you for over 101k YouTube views, 103k blog views, as well as your advice and inspiration. I genuinely appreciate all these things and I will continue to try and keep to the original intentions of the blog which are outlined in the About this Site section.
I have been gradually adding day routes onto Outdooractive 👣 for some time. As long as the routes don’t seem to involve any hazards, I have made them public and free for people to download on an ad hoc basis. As I have realised how helpful good quality downloads can be, I decided to start adding GPX files for all my day routes and publishing some routes retrospectively to replace the slightly vague descriptions I had been giving on early YouTube and blog descriptions. I have also been improving and standardising the route information provided with the downloads.
There are now over 50 free, downloadable routes on Outdooractive. I am pleased to see that there has been a steady interest in downloading these routes, so I have added links to my blog posts and YouTube. I hope you will find them helpful if you are considering walks in this part of the world, and that they will work well in conjunction with the blog posts and videos.
The world of routes has become more complex than it used to be. Personally I like to use paperback route books, but I usually read non fiction, adventure and technical books on my e book reader.
Regarding navigation, I prefer to keep my options open and switch from one method to another, having lost maps and had phone battery run out. I explore maps, route books and apps to get ideas for my walks as well as downloading and recording routes on Viewranger. At times I have relied entirely on GPX routes, but I am finding that maps and books remain important resources for me. I now try to ensure that I have a map and a digital route back up on all walks.
It is a new hybrid world that outdoor users live in now, with proponents of different methods debating which is best.
In acknowledgement of the good use I have put my route books to, I thought I would mention a few of the route books I use as well as the download sites:
Living in a town as I currently do, every walk now begins and ends with a rail or road journey which has to be considered and planned for, which is why I include a discussion of transport here. Since I began walking in the Scottish Borders at the time of the foot and mouth epidemic, I have become aware of the fragility of the environment I enjoy so much. My earliest walks involved swilling my boots in troughs of chemicals aimed at halting the spread of the disease with some paths completely sealed off, but the farmers were keen to encourage outdoor people to continue visiting the countryside.
Through my walking I have experienced up close the effects of things like disease, invasive species, erosion, flooding and climate change, as well as confronting the realities of threatened species such as elm, ash, red squirrels and bees. As a result of this experience, I have learned to respect the places I visit and to minimise the traces of my being there. Without shouting about it, I have also tried to make this blog consistent with the development of my environmental beliefs.
When I created the blog, I was lucky enough to have a car which I was able to jump into at the first sign of good weather like a true weekend warrior. When resources, transport and time are available, it is easy to write prolifically and pleasurably about the things I love. However when running a car became more costly, and I began to become aware of the environmental contradictions of my outdoor pursuits, I did my utmost to make my blog work using public transport. I am proud to say that I got to and from all my long distance walks on public transport.
For my shorter walks and trips, I really have battled with the logistics of trains, coaches, taxis and buses, which often don’t visit the places I want to reach, or run once or twice a week, but I have achieved less in the way of interesting blog posts. Because large areas of my local stomping grounds are inaccessible by bus, I tried car hire for a while, but found it a bit inflexible. After much deliberation, I have finally opted to join a car club to enable me to reach the wilder places and trails I love with some degree of spontaneity.
I won’t be abandoning public transport (where it is feasible) any time soon, but using a car club seems the ideal way of achieving the best of both worlds; minimising my environmental footprint and exploring wild places. I hope that this will find some kindred spirits among my readers.
I have always tried to be an ambassador for the outdoors as it has been a sanctuary for me during difficult times. However Twitter can sometimes be an aggressive place where people can become really unpleasant. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this kind of trolling or harassment, please don’t suffer in silence, but seek advice and report it.
It is important to remember that the majority of responsible people and organisations involved in the outdoors don’t want it to be diminished by the trolls or the bullies, and should have procedures in place to tackle the issue.
Blow the whistle to send a message that we all know who the trolls and bullies are.
Many of the endurance athletes I respect have managed to cover long distances by camping in farms and gardens or using bothies, rescue huts, hostels and bunkhouses. In spite of this, wild camping seems to have become a by-word for outdoor proficiency. Listening to discussions, I have realised that some women share my apprehension about wild camping. It has been a relief to hear this discussed by people with amazing achievements under their belts.
I backpacked the Pennine Way in 2013, staying in some very small campsites, on farms and in gardens, and my first wild camp was with a group of people in the Peak District, shortly afterwards. On the whole this was a fairly good humoured introduction to wild camping. I learned a lot by simply watching what was going on around me and left feeling encouraged.
About 6 months later I was pleased to be invited out for a second wild camp by Chrissie Crowther, a retired woman from the Peak District on Twitter. This trip didn’t go so well. After a winter which was largely spent indoors supporting my father, I was a bit out of condition, but I didn’t regard it as a competition. I joined the other walker (and her partner Geoff Crowther briefly) at their motorhome at Jedburgh for a bright and sunny day of walking on the St Cuthbert’s Way, which I had walked once before using hostels and B&Bs.
Unfortunately by the time we pitched our tents, the invisible enemies of dehydration and heat exhaustion were causing me to feel very unwell. I had a throbbing headache, my head was spinning, I felt sick and a bit delirious. Whatever assessment Chrissie claims to have made of my condition was made from zipped inside her tent.
Most rescue people advise that if you don’t feel well you should turn back, and that is what I did. In retrospect I think this was the right decision.
I packed up and left Chrissie, who had refused (from inside her tent) to make a call out or come with me, but by the time I reached the road in the dark, I was feeling too sick to walk. I finally decided to call the hotel we had passed earlier in the day. The owner heroically came out in his car to pluck me up from the side of the road in the dark and take me back to the hotel where I was given tea and a much needed room for the night. The people at the hotel were critical of Chrissie’s decision not to come with me.
I mentioned some of this in an online review of the hotel made at the time in early 2014, and I have not seen either of the people involved since that time. A month or so later I discovered that I had been blocked by the couple on Twitter, so I emailed Chrissie again to apologise and reiterate that I had had too much sun.
I may be useless at some things, but I can recognise the symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration, having suffered from both before. Chrissie’s decision left me quite hurt but, because she had offered to take me out, I spared her blushes by not discussing what had happened on social media for over two years. Sadly I now realise that saying nothing has given this couple the opportunity to claim that they know me far better than they do and to spread malicious untruths about me within the outdoor community while I was doing my M.A.
I don’t tend to gossip and I didn’t know how to respond to any of this unpleasantness after my course. I have been advised to point out that I began writing this blog, which is dedicated to my mum, for pleasure, and at the time of writing this is still being marred by the online hate campaign which began after this trip. So reader beware of apparently kind offers from strangers on Twitter which can turn toxic.
My own appraisal of the day.
For what it’s worth, my own appraisal of that day is that I was affected by the sun because it was a bright & sunny day and I had been indoors all winter. I had not taken a sunhat as I thought it was too early in the year to need one, but this was the wrong decision. I had also recently abandoned my rucksack hydration system with a hose because several had leaked whilst I was camping. Instead I had put a 1.5L plastic bottle of water in the back pocket of my rucksack, which meant that I had to stop and take my rucksack off whenever I wanted a drink. During the course of that day I only did this once or twice at the most which caused me to become dehydrated.
I have since taken advice regarding the problems I have been having with this couple and reported them. When I tried to post a link to this post on Geoff’s blog, it was deleted and I was threatened with legal action for slander and libel. The advice I have been given is that something cannot be libellous or slanderous if it is true which it is, and so.
Anyway, to return to the much more interesting present, and to answer some questions, the main reasons that I haven’t wild camped again until recently are:
I have been completing an M.A. for the last year
I have been trying to support my father
I have no car
I am an assault survivor which still makes me afraid of some situations.
I was really put off wild camping after the trip I have just described
Apologies to my readers for having to use my blog to counter gossip rather than just write about the outdoors which is all I really want to do on here. Thanks very much to the people who have stopped by since I first published this post in December of 2016. It really does mean a huge amount to me.
NB In February 2020 I finally listened to advice and came off Twitter completely and have never looked back.
Just a quick feedback post on re-launching my blog after a year away and the various plans outlined recently in my Sprucing things up post.
Creating fresh content
Creating fresh content also forces you to confront content which is frankly not fresh. I have therefore deleted the Reviews tab as an old review is about as relevant for gear buyers as an old newspaper is for news. With some regret I have also done away with a couple of geographical sections on my blog to focus on areas which I know more about. This is not an indication that I love them any less than I did, but an acknowledgement that there are very good blogs out there which cover these areas. Regarding producing new content there are more walks in the pipeline
Refreshing all the content and some of the pictures on my blog
I have been gradually working through all my blog posts editing both the text and pictures in the interests of accuracy and appearance. I hope this will bring about an overall improvement in the relevance and interest of the content.
Giving more opportunities for feedback
I am generally happy to get constructive feedback or suggestions which will be beneficial to my readers. I normally respond promptly to comments and messages when I’m at home. Your comments have helped shape my future plans and decisions
Improving my existing and forthcoming videos.
This is a big project as I have over 80 videos on YouTube, but I am enhancing the thumbnails, descriptions, tags and in some cases re-uploading the poorer quality videos. I have also started using a better camera and improved software.
As I have been attempting to study for the last year, I have been unable to improve Rucksack Rose much. However now that I am back in the world, I am implementing several plans to spruce things up and show that I have been thinking about it while I was away. To keep you posted these currently include:
Creating fresh content
Refreshing all the content and some of the pictures on my blog
Improving my existing and forthcoming videos.
Introducing ways to allow people to offer support
Re-establishing contacts and catching up
Seeking adventure collaborators and walking companions
Rucksack Rose thoughts:
I am delighted by the popularity of some of my platforms but I recognise that some have been more successful than others. Some social media platforms have simply fallen out of favour in the last 4 years and I try to move with the times without becoming too slavish about it. I am beginning to feel that quality is more important than quantity online which is partly why I am looking at it all afresh.
Blog – Knowing I am niche but realising that I have something worth sharing with other like minded people has been key to creating this blog and profile. I am gradually refreshing all the content and some of the poor quality, older pictures on my blog.
YouTube – It is hard for walking videos to compete with the new generation of Red Bull™ extreme sports type videos on YouTube, so I have tried to create videos which are an antithesis to these and instead show the peacefulness and beauty of walking in wild places. I accept that the quality of my older videos isn’t good due to my poor camera and editing software. I have therefore been working through the old videos to improve their metadata and investing in new software to improve the quality of future videos.
I have just realised that it is the fourth birthday of Rucksack Rosie this week so I just wanted to say that those four years have opened up the unique world of the outdoors to me as a some time solitary walker in the northern Cheviot Hills, a solitary part of the country.
I guess we all like to feel part of a community and the outdoors community, from the participants to the trail angels and accommodation providers, are mostly a good bunch of people. I recently returned to full time education for a year and attempted to reduce the time I spent on walking and blogging, but I found that I missed it. So Happy Birthday to you and a thanks for supporting me, my blog, and my video walk records, and for sharing your knowledge and experience with me.