How to choose the right map scale – 25k, 40k or 50k?

How to choose the right map scale – 25k, 40k or 50k?

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 reading

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REVIEW: Grayl Ultralight Water Filter

REVIEW: Grayl Ultralight Water Filter

Water filters are becoming increasingly popular in the Uk hiking and outdoors market, and what was once seen as a niche item for overseas travel and expeditions are now starting to be habitually carried in the UK by adventurers of all types.
The Grayl Ultralight purifier bottle is a bit of a hybrid between a filtration bottle and something that can be used to transfer that cleaned water to another container – something that dedicated water filter/purifier bottles often struggle with.
I have been trying it out since late summer, using it on wild camping trips and expeditions with clients in Snowdonia, the Lake District and Scotland. Continue reading

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Pacing, timing or ticking off – measuring distance when navigating on foot

Pacing, timing or ticking off – measuring distance when navigating on foot

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 reading

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UK Wild Camping Laws Explained

UK Wild Camping Laws Explained

Can I Wild Camp in the U.K?
Good question. I suppose it depends on what you mean by ‘can’.

If you mean ‘is it physically possible to find somewhere to camp?‘ then of course the answer is ‘yes’. I wild camp somewhere in the UK about once per month and have a decent success rate. I have been camping in the mountains and forests and on the coastline of the UK since I was about 18 Continue reading

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Survival Tips for Travellers

Survival Tips for Travellers

As you have probably guessed – what Lonely Planet wanted was somebody to write some unique content for them (for free) and then for them to make money from selling that content as one of the ‘expert voices’ in the book. Apparently they “never pay interviewees (they benefit in terms of exposure)“. Well, quite. Exposure can be a dangerous thing – too much of it and it can kill you. That’s why our survival courses always include some training in awareness and prevention of hypothermia.

However, it prompted me to write this post – are there any generic survival tips I can give for people travelling the globe? Something quick and easy to read and as applicable to someone travelling to Mongolia as it would be to Mali? Tips that would work in Belgium or Belize?

It turns out I can. So here are some of those top travelling survival tips – given away to you for free – but I like you, so it’s OK. Continue reading

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REVIEW: GP Xplor PHR15 Head Torch

REVIEW: GP Xplor PHR15 Head Torch

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 reading

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REVIEW: Wunderbird Gyrfalcon Hoodie and Kestrel Tee Shirt

REVIEW: Wunderbird Gyrfalcon Hoodie and Kestrel Tee Shirt

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

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Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus

Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus

Within the UK you will find Bilberry bushes growing amongst heather and gorse plants on upland acidic soils. I’ve found them on pretty much every UK mountain I have climbed or visited, even if the species was only represented by a few straggly bushes clinging on between some rocks, away from the relentless grazing of sheep or deer.

It is sometimes known as the Judas Tree, from the tale that Judas Iscariot hung himself from the bough of an Elder. There are also many (often paradoxical) folk tales surrounding the use and planting of the tree – from seeing the devil himself after burning the wood to planting Elder near a home to ward him off. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Firepot Dehydrated Meals

REVIEW: Firepot Dehydrated Meals

Firepot are a relatively new supplier in the UK expedition food market but the information both on their website and what I had heard from other users was encouraging. I’ve been trying them out on wild camping and bivvying trips over the past few weeks – and so far I haven’t died. Continue reading

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Course report – Wild Camping Weekend June 2018

Course report – Wild Camping Weekend June 2018
Course Report - Wild Camping Weekend Photos and notes from our June 2018 Snowdonia Wild Camping Weekend Last weekend I was joined by Richard, Allan and Amy for our 2018 Mountain Wild Camping course in the hills of Snowdonia. This course has two learning outcomes - planningRead more...

MSR WindBurner Group Stove System Review for UKHillwalking

MSR WindBurner Group Stove System Review for UKHillwalking

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 reading

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The mystery of the Cwm Tryfan ice axe

The mystery of the Cwm Tryfan ice axe

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 reading

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Outdoor Fashion Shoots in Snowdonia

Outdoor Fashion Shoots in Snowdonia

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 reading

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We want your outdoor questions!

We want your outdoor questions!

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 reading

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Our 2018 course dates are online!

Our 2018 course dates are online!

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 receiving

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UKH Review – Fjallraven Kaipak 58 Rucksack

UKH Review – Fjallraven Kaipak 58 Rucksack

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 be

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