This blog post is primarily aimed at those who have just attended one of our Level 2 (Mountain) Navigation courses, either on a public course or as a private client. That doesn’t mean that the information below is ONLY of relevance to those who have just visited us in North Wales, but that is the intended audience. Continue readingRead more... →
I’ve been aware of UK veteran-owned brand TRC Outdoors for a while, so when Brian from surveillance and fieldcraft specialists Kamouflage Ltd offered to send me the TRC Outdoors Cierzo shirt and Timmy hat to try out over the summer I was happy to help out.
I had the opportunity to try them both out over the last few weeks on some of our Outdoor Professional courses and a few mountain trips. This review is based on that use in the mountains and forests of North and Mid Wales and a few Scottish excursions. Continue readingRead more... →
If you have visited the mountains of Snowdonia, in particular the area around Snowdon itself, you will probably have come across one of these small, blue circular plaques pinned to a gatepost or stile. Their purpose is fairly self-explanatory, with “CYFEIRNOD GRID/GRID REFERENCE” printed around the edge. Continue readingRead more... →
I reviewed the 2019 Mountain Equipment Firefly down sleeping bag for UK outdoor news and discussion site UKHillwalking.com. It’s small, light and cleverly designed – but is it warm enough for a Welsh spring? Continue readingRead more... →
There are two mapping scales that tend to be used for walking, mountaineering and other human-powered travels across the landscape in the UK – 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 scales. The main producer of topographical maps for outdoor activities (and everything else) is the Ordnance Survey (OS), and the 1:25,000 (Explorer) and 1:50,000 (Landranger) scales are readily available at outdoor shops, online and local retailers. They also produce various digital mapping products, as well as an online mapping service and smartphone app. Continue readingRead more... →
On our navigation courses we always end up coming around to the subject of distance. Indeed, it’s one of the ‘D’s of navigation and unless you intend to just stand still and survey the surrounding countryside you’ll need to deal with the problem of measuring distance both on the map and on foot at some point or another.
There are three ways that we cover in depth on the EST Framework navigation courses – ‘pacing‘, ‘timing‘ and the enigmatically named ‘ticking off‘. They each have their merits, but also a few drawbacks. Like pretty much every other navigational technique – they are just a tool in the toolkit, and it is up to you to select the right one for the right task Continue readingRead more... →
Head torch technology has come on a long way since I started working in the outdoors. My first ‘proper’ head torch was a Petzl Zoom. It had a massive alkaline battery and came with a spare bulb – it was also like a candle in a jam jar.
LED head torches started to creep in soon after, with the early ones being fairly disappointing affairs – and quite expensive. Now it seems we can’t move for fear of tripping over inexpensive and fairly powerful LED headlights – is the new Xplor range from pocket-power supplier GP Batteries worth a look, and does their 300 lumen Xplor PHR15 rise above the competition? Continue readingRead more... →
The two Wunderbird items I have been trialling are the Gyrfalcon Hoodie and the Kestrel Short-Sleeve Tee. Both garments have some interesting design features, including slightly padded shoulder areas and zipped pouches on the chest and similar pouches on the front of the stomach area. The Kestrel is a technical base layer and the Gyrfalcon is more of a thermal mid-layer shirt.
The idea with this range of garments is to provide the user with technical outdoor-appropriate clothing that also supports (literally) the use of binoculars. The chest and stomach pouches both support the weight of binoculars when worn from a neck strap or chest harness (what some of our instructors call a ‘Binocular Bra’) and stop them from bouncing around too much when walking over rough ground or uphill. The padded shoulders give some relief from tripods and similar long, heavy items being carried across the shoulder. Continue reading
The MSR WindBurner range has been updated for 2018 with a wind-resistant remote canister stove, new pans and even a huge 4.5L stockpot. Richard Prideaux has been reviewing it in the mountains of Snowdonia and Scotland over the winter of 2017-2018 for UKHIllwalking.com Continue readingRead more... →
The trip to the summit and back was uneventful (apart from my stirring rendition of Auld Lang Syne on the South summit), but as we descended the path out of Cwm Tryfan alongside the stream leading to Gwern Gof Uchaf something strange occurred… Continue readingRead more... →
It seems like 2017 was the summer of location work for Original Outdoors. We have been putting our experience of working in the world of outdoor adventure in North Wales to use as consultants and location scouts for several years, but this was a busy summer for us.
We were contacted by Claudia from German production company Natural Born Explorers for a project they were working on for a European outdoor clothing and equipment retailer. They had already chosen Snowdonia as a general area for their shoot but wanted some help finding locations, gaining permissions and just the logistics of shooting in a different country. After several Skype conversations and emails we narrowed it down to some key areas in the mountains and forests of Northern Snowdonia.
Then it was down to the usual pre-shoot planning – working with landowners to gain permissions for commercial photography on their land, timelines to make sure we had enough time on location to get what the client needed and be in the right place for the ‘golden hour’ at sunset. We also needed to keep an eye on the weather and make sure that the entire crew were equipped for several days in the mountains. Continue readingRead more... →
Every year we are asked to put together a private training day or adventure for somebody. This particular client first came to us in 2016 and asked for a 50km day in the mountains of Snowdonia for him and his friends – which we put together and executed one cold day in November.
This year he wanted to push it a little further, and asked for something a little more exciting. After compiling a few route options they picked a run along the Anglesey coastal path – but how to get them to the start?
We had spoken to the team at Rib Ride earlier in the year at a North Wales outdoor tourism event where we were both delivering sessions. After a bit of planning and holding out for the weather we came up with a plan – a dawn pickup on the Menai Straits and then hooning it over to a point 51km further up the coast where we could jump (literally) ashore and start the run.
The morning of the trip promised calm weather on our side of the island and everything was set for the trip. We climbed aboard and set off along the Menai Straits out past Beaumaris and Penmon before turning westward, the sun breaking through low clouds over the Carneddau behind us.
As we pulled away from the relative shelter of Red Wharf Bay and Moelfre the sea became a little rougher, crashing over waves and steering into the swell as we neared our destination – Point Lynas and the hidden cove of Porth Eilian.
We motored into calmer water as we entered the cove, and our skipper carefully placed the bow on the beach, giving us a short window where we could disembark and get safely ashore before the waves carried him over to the rocks. Once on dry land we set off – retracing our outward route on through the fields, dunes and beaches of the western shore of Anglesey.
The rest is a bit of a blur, as they put down a good pace from the very start. We dodged falling pheasants and were showered by lead from a shoot next to the Dulas estuary and fought through overgrown paths above Moelfre. We hit the halfway point at Red Wharf Bay in good spirits, refuelling on everything from chicken soup to marzipan stollen (doing events this close to Christmas does make food shopping a little more interesting). I had thought that the big climb from Traeth-coch to the hillfort of Bwrdd Arthur was going to be one of the most challenging sections – but I hadn’t reckoned on the energy-sapping boulders of the beach section before Beaumaris Continue readingRead more... →
We want your outdoor questions!
Pretty much every week we receive an email, Facebook message, Twitter DM or comment somewhere that is asking for advice, information or just somebody asking for help with their own adventure.
Of course we try to help as much as we can, and it’s not unusual to find ourselves on the phone for quite a while talking through one subject or another.
This has given me an idea – why not make this more of a public process? The questions we get are often very similar to each other and I know that more people would possibly benefit from those answers.
So this is the idea – you can submit your questions to us via one of the following sources, and we will do our best to answer them in our upcoming videos: Continue readingRead more... →
The 2018 Courses are now live! Around this time of year I normally find myself pretty much locked in the office working out course dates and descriptions for the courses next year. We’ve found that a good number of our course participants attend our courses after receivingRead more... →
UKH Review – Fjallraven Kaipak 58 Rucksack Review During this summer I have been trying out the the Fjallraven Kaipak 58 rucksack in the mountains and forests here for our work with UKHillwalking.com There is enough padding on the waist and shoulders for them not to beRead more... →
Private Expedition Training with Mike and Wayne In the winter of 2016 I was contacted by a gentleman (Mike) who was enquiring about the possibility of some bespoke private training. Funnily enough, Mike had found us through the review of the Katadyn Gravity Camp Water Filter weRead more... →
Mammut Ayako High GTX Boot Review A hillwalking boot that performs well on the rocks I have been using the Mammut Ayako High GTX boots for a few months and they are sticking equally well to rock and to mud. The full review is on the UKHillwalking.comRead more... →
How to put together a first aid kit outdoors Wilderness personal medical kits How do you put a first aid kit together for the outdoors? Or a bushcraft first aid kit? Are first aid kits for mountain biking different to ones for kayaking? Carrying a first aidRead more... →
MSR TrailShot MicroFilter Review Compact pump microfilter for fast-and-light travel It looks like a medical appliance and promises impressive performance – how does it hold up in the field? I reviewed it for UKHillwalking.com, and you can read the full review here.Read more... →
MSR Access 2 Tent Review Lightweight 4-Season Backcountry tent The MSR Access 2 tent is lightweight, innovative and comes with a lot fo features – but is it worth that hefty pricetag? I reviewed it for UKHillwalking.com, and you can read the full review here. The videoRead more... →
I like this coat. I wear it pretty much every week and it has been deep into the mountains, dragged through forests and buried under piles of kit. But it has some serious issues…
Back in the middle of 2016 we visited the Fortis Clothing factory shop and this is the coat I walked away with. I wanted an all-round tough outdoor jacket, and the Fortis SAS Smock fitted my needs. I ended up with one of the last with the older ‘Country Covers’ branding, Fortis being the new name for the family business run by Oliver Massey-Birch, but as far as I can tell this is the same build and design as the current Fortis SAS Smock. It’s worth noting from the outset that I have sewn a patch onto the arm pocket, through the outer pocket layer only. Continue readingRead more... →
Gift ideas for outdoorsy people Christmas present ideas for that tricky adventurous person on your list There’s always one. That person who is always a bit untidy, always either just off on or back from an adventure. They are always a pain to buy for, and youRead more... →
RSBC 2016 Ben Nevis Trek Raising money for RSBC – featuring Jon Culshaw Back in October we helped organise a trek to the summit of Ben Nevis with RSBC – the Royal London Society for Blind Children. This is the accompanying video of the trek, featuring RSBCRead more... →