Outdooractive app

As followers will know, I have been uploading my routes on to the ViewRanger app for several years. Apparently ViewRanger has now merged with the Outdooractive app, which is available from all the usual places. This is a subscription app offering high resolution maps.

Apparently Viewranger routes will remain with them indefinitely but I have now synchronised my routes onto the new app and will run both in tandem for the time being. I hope walkers will benefit from having the choice until I am able to compare the two apps more.

I wish them well at Outdooractive. It may take a while for me to update the links on this blog and my YouTube Channel. In the meantime, links to both sites can be found in the sidebar of this blog and on YouTube, and for Viewranger read Viewranger or Outdooractive in my blogposts. Thanks. šŸŒ¹

Back in Lockdown

For out of town readers, Edinburgh and most of Scotland is in full lockdown again. All residents must stay at home and only go out for essential journeys and local exercise. I would like to assure readers that ALL photos posted since the first lockdown, and any posted in the coming weeks, are taken during permitted exercise in my local area, as I don’t have a car, and haven’t used buses for quite a while.

As a distraction, these are some pics of the city gradually being reclaimed or re-wilded by nature, as ground maintenance contracts ground to a halt last Spring. I have found something uplifting about watching this process and seeing the distinction between town and country blurring just a little.

Please stay as safe as you can and follow the guidelines. šŸŒ¹

Lockdown Routes

I have added a new section to my Edinburgh walks called Lockdown Loping which consists of some of my much needed lockdown walks around the city. They would suit anyone who just wants to get out of the house for exercise and a bit of vitamin D during the present restrictions. These linear routes avoid busy roads as much as possible, and are all accessible by public transport or on foot. They are all available from my Outdooractive site.

Hopefully following the rules until we get the vaccine will mean that walkers and outdoor users can expect a return to some kind of normality soon.

Don’t forget to refresh your website links with my new domain rucksackrosie.com with an i.

Scottish Day Walks

For information, I have divided up my Scottish day walks into geographical walks and themed walks.

Under geographical walks so far there are two new sections entitled Border Beats and Edinburgh Exploits (including Lockdown Loping). Under themed walks there is a section called Perthshire Protection about outdoor conservation work. I look forward to expanding all these in the fullness of time. Check out my Outdooractive route collection too.

Looking across towards the Cairngorms from the Speyside Way near Aviemore

Obviously the walks I can do at the moment are limited by the present restrictions, but they may appeal to other people in the same situation.

2019: A Year in Scotland

Although my first complete year in Scotland has been a relatively quiet year since losing my father in July, I think I have made the right decision to move here after living on the border for 10 years. I have had some great day walks, trips and life experiences, which only living in Scotland could have afforded me. I wish you all a very happy and successful year for 2020 and hope you will return to my sites in the New Year.

Rosie šŸŒ¹

Hostelling

The Youth Hostelling AssociationĀ for England and Wales, the Scottish Youth Hostelling AssociationĀ for Scotland, Hostelling International NIĀ for Northern IrelandĀ and the many private hostels & bunkhouses springing up around Britain can be a hidden treasure.

If there are rooms available when you need them, hostelling can enable you to stay in or near places where accommodation prices are at a premium, as well as places which are only accessible on foot. In comparison to the blandness of some budget hotels, hostels embrace a cornucopia of styles and periods, from humble cottages to grand mansions.

The Sill Entrance
Entrance to The Sill YHA, Northumberland

Unfortunately there has been a recent tendency towards whole hostel letting by the YHA which has had the effect of sidelining individual and family customers like myself. In spite of the name, I am told that you do not have to be young to stay at a youth hostel. Apparently the remit of the YHA is aimed at people of all ages.

Windermere YHA
Windermere YHA, Cumbria

There is no such thing as a “typical” hostel which is why they can be such a pleasure to stay in.

Berwick YHA
Berwick YHA, Northumberland

Hiking can become an expensive hobby by the time you have spent money buying your kit, paid high season B&B prices & possibly employed a courier. I was told by many hikers that camping was the answer, and to some extent it is. Keeping open the option to camp will mean that you are never stuck for somewhere to stay.

Langdale YHA
Langdale YHA near Elterwater, Cumbria

However there will sometimes be days, even when you camp, when you need some rest and recuperation, as well as some first world facilities such as warmth, power supplies, hot showers, laundry facilities, cooking facilities, meals, a bar, wifi and even an en-suite private room. These are some of the facilities sometimes on offer when rooms are available.

Berwick
Restaurant at Berwick YHA, Northumberland
Haworth YHA
Dining room at Haworth YHA, West Yorkshire

Some routes and areas are more generously appointed with hostels and bunkhouses than others. The Pennine Way and the Lake District for example, because of their popularity, are very well provided with excellent places, but Northumberland has very few.

Butharlyp Howe YHA
Butharlyp Howe YHA at Grasmere, Cumbria

One advantage of joining one of the hosteling organisations is that you can get a discount on the cost of a room and membership of the International organisation Hostelling International.

Greenhead
Greenhead Hostel, Northumberland

In addition to YHA hostels, a huge range of independent hostels and bunkhouses can be found on theĀ independenthostelguide website. They are sometimes easier to get in to than the YHA hostels.

Rothbury
Rothbury Bunkhouse, Northumberland
Kendal Hostel
Dining Room at Kendal Hostel, Cumbria

I was quite a late starter to hostelling, so in case you are like me, here are some pointers about what to expect when you stay at a hostel:

What to expect.

  • Rooms are sometimes only available at weekends or in high season for individuals and families because of block booking.
  • You will usually have the choice of a shared dormitory room with bunkbeds (usually but not always single sex) or a private or family room.
  • You may be expected to make your own bed up when you arrive and put your used bedding in the laundry baskets when you leave.
  • Youth hostels sometimes close during the day from about 10am until 4pm for cleaning so it is unwise to arrive during these hours.
  • You may have the choice to self cater or eat meals provided by the hostel. It is worth indicating your intention before you arrive
  • There are usually lockers available on request for your gear.
  • There is sometimes a curfew time when the doors are locked but you should be given a key or code which will enable you to get in after hours
  • Three things which are often useful in shared dormitories are a little torch for creeping in after other people have gone to bed, an extension lead as there are sometimes not enough sockets for recharging if the room is full, and ear plugs if you are easily disturbed during the night.
  • Staff are normally knowledgable about the local area and are happy to suggest facilities, walks or climbs nearby.
  • You can wash and dry clothes and boots at most hostels and they are usually willing to hold parcels for you until you arrive.
  • Wifi is available in most hostels except those in remote locations.
  • Most hostels are relaxed and friendly but the ethos is fairly DIY.
Kirkby Stephen Hostel
Kirkby Stephen Hostel lounge, Cumbria

This is an updated re-issue of a page originally published in 2013 following a couple of years of using hostels on long distance walks and some shorter trips.

Creating a walk

Having created a long distance route from a map for a challenge event, I was reminded that following pre-existing routes with signs, guides, waymarks, apps and other hikers for company is reassuring and even soporific at times. However as you may know, once you can absorb the information contained in a map, it becomes easier to create a route of your own. If you have ever looked at Foul Weather Alternatives or taken a short cut, then you have created your own walk.

OS Maps

My background has involved following a lot of other people’s routes, and a helpful spell of route checking for the Ramblers. Their training covered areas such as safety, legality, accessibility, topography, themes and focal points on routes. There are then two stages involved in the process of creating a route. One involves looking at the route on your map and in satellite view (which can reveal inaccuracies in the map), and the other is to reccy the route on foot with all these issues in mind.

Harvey Maps

What should a good route involve?

The legality of a route is essential if you are offering it for other people to follow. It is therefore good to familiarise yourself with the symbols which denote what type of track it is; right of way, bridle way etc and any rules and exemptions which apply.

Route signage

Safety is a crucial issue so it is important to be aware of any potential hazards such as river’s in spate, slippery rocks, eroded tracks or obstructions such as fallen trees. You should then try to incorporate these into your route data. 

Fallen tree

In case of access issues and the use of wheeled vehicles, it is helpful to mention any steps or stiles on the route and a note on the condition of the tracks i.e whether they are full of potholes or overgrown.

Boardwalk

Focal Points

The received wisdom when I trained was that a good walk should involve a focal point/s. This could be a view, or historic, natural, sacred, architectural or topographic features in the case of a day hike. In the case of a distance hike there is the opportunity to introduce a theme or feature such as the Pennines (Pennine Way), historic landmarks (Hadrian’s Wall), Abbeys (Borders Abbeys Way) or geographical features such as a river (Speyside Way). A walk could also follow a person’s life (John Muir Trail) or encompass a pilgrimage route (Camino di Santiago).

Steps on St Cuthbert’s Way

Questions

When working from the map, the following questions could be considered when creating a day hike:

  • Are the start and finish accessible?
  • Is the walk is do-able?
  • What are the gradients like?
  • Has it got a gradual start?
  • Does it have variety?
  • Does it include suitable rest places and shelter?
  • Are there any avoidable eyesores?

For a distance hike you could add these questions to your list:

  • How far apart are the resupply points?
  • Where are the water supplies?
  • Is there a variety of accommodation?
  • Is it possible to backpack the route?
  • Are refreshments available?

Summary

This is just a sketch of some of the issues and questions to bear in mind when walking somebody else’s route or creating your own. It can be interesting to evaluate the decisions which have been made for you on pre-existing routes, and to try and improve on them on your own walk. This can become the first step towards creating your own.

With thanks to the Ramblers for the experience, opportunities and training.

Top Publisher Award 2018

I have been digging my old trumpet out and dusting it off to receive this very exciting ViewRanger (Now Outdooractive) award, alongside 9 other distinguished recipients.

image002

Craig Wareham, Co-Founder and CEO of Viewranger, describes the annual award as follows:

‘The Top Publisher Award recognises people, organizations and publishers creating interesting, engaging, and high quality trail guide content.Ā Each year, just ten outdoor organizations and authors receive our top award for contributing outstanding digital content, including route descriptions, turn-by-turn directions and photos to share with the growing outdoor community’

Press Release Image
All 10 of the 2018 Top Publisher Award Winners

By way of acknowledgement, the ViewRanger app has dragged my blog out of the dusty filing cabinets and card indexes where it was created, and into the digital present. The app provided me with exactly the tools I needed to make my routes accessible to a wider audience and to communicate directly with users.

Thanks to my followers and all at ViewRanger for making it happen for all my Rucksack Rosie sites. Please note that ViewRanger is now assimilated with the Outdooractive app which can be downloaded from the usual places.

rravatarsa4
Rucksack Rosie – Avatars

My GPX Routes

I have been gradually adding day routes ontoĀ OutdooractiveĀ šŸ‘£Ā 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.

Viewranger
My Outdooractive profile

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.

Salters Road
Hartside to Salter’s Road route map on Viewranger courtesy of Ordnance Survey Ā©

Happy Hiking. RosešŸŒ¹

A crack at the Cateran Trail

I chose the Cateran Trail, which is divided between Perthshire & Angus, for my next backpacking trip, partly because it looks to be a fine route, but also because this area was my introduction to central Scotland some years ago.

The Cateran Trail is a 65 mile / 104km circular route which includes Strathardle as well as parts of Glen Shee and Glen Isla. The route is named after the bands of cattle thieves known as Caterans who previously brought terror to these glens.

Cateran Trail
Cateran Trail, Perthshire and Angus courtesy of Walkhighlands and Ordnance Survey Ā©

The Strathardle section I backpacked between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael contains all the different types of terrain which this area is known for; various types of woodland, untamed heather moorland, rolling farmland pastures, and many burns feeding into the Ericht and Ardle rivers. You can read the trip report at Pitcarmick under the camping section.

Unfortunately for me, a recent event on the trail had left it a bit muddy. If I had worn my boots and taken my gaiters, it would have improved things, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Anyway here are a few photos of the varied section between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael, which included a camp at Pitcarmick, to give you an idea of the route.

River Ericht
River Ericht near Blairgowrie
Lornty Burn
Farmland near Lornty Burn
Pitcarmick Burn
Pitcarmick Burn

These pictures give some indication of how lovely the trail is, but avoid the mud underfoot. At this point it began to rain heavily, so I pitched the tent quite early to dry out. Apologies if I should not have camped in this site but it was an unplanned decision brought about by the weather.

Drying out
Drying out in the Duomid

I continued my hike the following morning down the lovely, verdant country lanes into Kirkmichael for a much needed hot breakfast. There I decided to return to this trail when it has had the chance to recover, and I can focus more on the lovely countryside and less on where I am putting my feet.