Showing posts with label Lake District. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lake District. Show all posts

Thursday, 14 March 2013

What we did last Summer!

As we look forward to a gr8 summer this year, we thought to reflect on some golden moments in 2012. Which started with gr8trails filming its first video in the cold and crisp Dark Peak, Derbyshire. You can watch the fruits of our labours http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nULokc63sY on our very own YouTube channel.

Pre Easter we managed to get out walking in North Wales to experience the most spectacular cloud inversion around Snowdon and the Glyders. We experience cloud inversions quite rarely, but to walk along the top of the Glyder range above the clouds and look across at Snowdon, Crib Goch & East/West Peak as if they were islands in a sea of cloud, was something special.
April, saw us return to Scotland with some beautiful  snow covered tops. Walking with stunning views over Loch Tay and down Glen Lyon. We found a great little hotel on the shores of Loch Tay, the Ben Lawers Hotel, which made some fantastic full Scottish breakfasts, gr8 for a full days hill walking.
Somehow we managed a quick bike round the North Face trail at Grizedale with its wide fireroads and tight technical singletrack and northshore, this is a mountain bikers playground, whatever your ability and experience. And from the tops of the forest you are rewarded with views across to Coniston and over Lake Windermere.

Late April, caught us walking a well known route round the valley of Nidderdale, Yorkshire Dales, which is also gr8 mountain biking territory. With some cool views of the dam at Scar House Reservoir. If you ever head that way, there’s a remote walk around both this and Angram Reservoir.









Early May saw us in the Lake District for a spot of walking and mountain biking. We know a great little route round the Elterwater and Langdale Valleys which we just thoroughly enjoy. Add to that a little wander up the ridge onto Coniston Old Man from the 3Shires Stone for some awe inspiring views over south Lakeland and the Irish Sea.



At the end of May we came back to one of our favourite haunts in the Lake District; Waterhead and Ambleside. From there we walked the Fairfield Horseshoe and got the bus back into town! (after rehydrating at a local establishment at the bottom of Heron Pike. A well earnt dinner in the Priest Hole, Ambleside was much appreciated by all.

The Island of Skye beckoned us in June, and we were blessed with the weather. To be honest, we’ve never experienced such consistently good weather on this Isle in all the years we’ve been visiting (and the midges weren’t biting too bad then either!)






We were headed Wales direction also in June, staying at the lovely hotel the Gwesty Gwernan Hotel and Fishery. We can’t recommend this little, hidden, boutique hotel enough. From its doorstep you can walk the slopes of Cader Idris or bike down the estuary from Dolgellau to Barmouth.



We returned to more local hills and the Peak District in July, with an easy walk from Jane Eyres Hathersage. This is a history rich, beautiful area within easy reach of a lot of the UK’s population but sadly most people don’t make the most of what they have on their doorstep – we guess that makes it more special for the people that do visit! gr8 for walking, biking, climbing and caving.





High Summer at the end of July, we ventured back to the Lake District. This time staying in the hidden Newlands Valley at the working Littletown Farm Guest House. From here you can venture straight onto Catbells and High Spy to look down on Derwent Water & Buttermere. A days biking at Whinlatter Forest (which also has Go Ape high ropes), finished the weekend away. Don’t forget the sensational ‘thunder and lightening’ homemade ice cream you can get with their homemade chocolate brownies at Littletown Farm (which has since been renovated).

Our Autumn months had us biking back in the Lake District around Rydal & Loughrigg Terrace, the Yorkshire Dales up and down Wensleydale before turning north again to Scotland, for some early winter walking in the Cairngorms over the New Year.











We hope that a little of this has inspired you to get out there this Summer to enjoy what truly is our green and pleasant land. Or, if you don’t have the confidence as to what to do, where to stay or where to go, then join us at one of our recently announced Summer 2013 weekends, on our events blog, clickhere.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

What to pack this Spring for your outdoor adventure?

With the vagaries of the British weather, the only thing you can guarantee is that the weather during a weekend in the great Outdoors could very well vary from wind and rain to glorious sunshine. So, for a walk in the countryside this Spring don’t forget to pack a few of those essentials.

A waterproof coat and trousers are invaluable. A good set of waterproofs will not only keep you dry but also act as a brilliant windproof, keeping you nice and warm inside.
Plenty of layers underneath will keep you warm but also allows you to remove a layer or two if you get too hot or the weather turns out for the better whilst you are out and about. Layers also trap warm air between them, acting as additional insulation.

Layers made from high wicking fabrics and fibres (wool & synthetics) are recommended, since these do not hold moisture as you perspire during activity. We wouldn’t recommend cotton tshirts or jeans, these get heavier when wet, do not dry quickly and denim also chaffs, ruining your day out.

If you’ve seen the forecast and it looks to be staying fine, new fabrics jackets made from softshell are far more breathable than your waterproof and yet insulating at the same time. They would weather well in rain showers too, but perhaps not so well in persistent rain!

Even at this time of year, the weather can be cold, especially with the effect of the wind, so don’t forget to pack your gloves and a warm hat in your pack. Most forget that you can loose up to 30% of your body heat through your head, so you can very easily control your body temperature through the use of a good warm hat.

A good pair of walking boots would be recommended. If you have ‘worn these in’, perhaps around the home before your weekend, this will ensure that you don’t develop any sore spots or blisters once out and about. A good pair of socks, or a double pair, will ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable day out.


Whether it’s forecast to be warm or not, don’t forget to pack a drink. Hydration bladders, that can be carried in your backpack are great, since they allow you to drink little and often, keeping you hydrated throughout your day. As well as your lunch, remember to pack a few extra snacks (flapjacks, raisins, nuts are good energy foods) for Justin (Case!)

The weather can be exceptionally warm here in the UK, especially in the Spring months, when the sunlight is more direct. Make sure you have extra water, sunglasses and sunscreen when the weather is forecast to be good.



gr8trails offers, all inclusive guided mountain biking and walking short breaks and weekends away, throughout the UK. Bringing ‘adventure to everyone’, no matter what your age, experience or ability.

Our short break and weekend destinations include the stunning Lake District with dramatic mountains, endless lakes and golden wooded meadows. Alternatively, history-rich North Wales and Snowdonia or hiking amongst the wide green views and rugged edges found in the Derbyshire Peak District or Yorkshire Dales. For those willing to venture a little further and wish for greater challenges we offer week long breaks to our Scottish destinations.

gr8trails founders, Rick and Adrian are passionate about the outdoors, with over 10 years of successful group guiding in the UK.

Whatever your inspiration, your ability or experience, contact us to tailor make your perfect break.

07786 343990       info@gr8trails.co.uk or complete our online choose your own adventure form.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Gregory Z35, an understated, lightweight hillwalking pack, again with cavernous versatility!

Gregory do it again!, from off the shelf, the Z35 sets out to impress. Just like the Gregory Miwok18 action pack, loading the Z35 with gear from my old hillwalking pack, it still had more than enough room to spare.

Like most good sized daywalking/guiding packs the Z35 follows the typical design, of main compartment with drawstring top access and flip over top hood. The additional feature is the front zip access to the main compartment, allowing you to retrieve/stow gear without having to release the hood buckles and drawstring. A great idea when you need something in a hurry eg waterproof top and trousers!


The main compartment is expansive, fitting at least the quoted 35litres of gear inside. The hood follows the same voluminous theme, with 1 internal and 1 externally accessed zipped pocket. We like, the under hood pocket zip, opening in such a way that all the contents don’t fall out when opened!, like in some other packs available in the market – something to look out for. Nice addition of a key loop in the top pocket too!

The main compartment also has a top tensioning webbing strap and quick release buckle, allowing quick stowage of a loose fleece or to keep the contents of a half filled pack closer to your pack and maintaining your centre of gravity.

Hydration bladder can be stowed within the main compartment in its own pocket, with a fabric port for your drinking tube on both sides of the pack, allowing you to route down either shoulder strap.

There’s also all the normal things you’d expect to see on a pack of this quality; haul loop, high vis hits back and front,  adjustable chest strap, high wicking mesh on all contact areas, mesh side bottle pockets, walking pole loop, hard wearing diamond ripstop fabrics etc, etc.

Whilst out walking, the shoulder/waist straps & unique Jetstream Dynamic Transfer System keep the pack close enough to your back, whilst not impeding movement or knocking you off balance. The Jetstream system keeps the pack off your back to allow airflow, but not too far off to unbalance you when walking. Forward pull/quick release waist straps/buckles are intuitive to use and ensure a snug comfortable fit round your waist. The integral zipped waist compartments on both! waist fins, allow easy access to snacks on the move too.

This pack also features an expandable, easy access front pocket for stowage of a map or waterproofs whilst on the move, ensuring there is no need to stop whilst out on the hill. There is also a zipped pocket for stowage of the inclusive waterproof pack cover.

Overall, again very impressed with this Gregory pack. It looks sharp, is understated in its capacity, is lightweight and offers abundant versatility.

Enjoy your walk! Don’t forget the rest of your essentials on our recommended kit list.

A broader range of Gregory packs & Source hydration bladders are available from our retail partner Ellis Brigham, Mountain Sports. Click here to find out more about the broader Gregory pack range our recommended pack brand partner and hydration partner, Source.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

2011: a year in review

gr8trails began 2011 with Rick mountain bike racing the Terra Australis ‘down under’. An amazing 7 day stage race through the Victorian Alpine region also known as the Snowy Mountains. Starting in Falls Creek and finishing in Beechworth 7days later crossing 550km of high country along the way. Rick and team mate Stuart finished 7th in category, against a very competitive and experienced field.

Whilst Rick was away, Adrian headed to Scotland for a weeks Winter mountaineering. Although the conditions weren't as good as the previous year, gr8trails still managed to bag a few snow capped Munro's, only another 224 to go! check out our Facebook and Flickr pages for some gr8 images!

gr8trails opened the UK Spring walking season with several weekends in the Lake District around Wasdale, Grasmere and the Langdales. This included kayaking on Lake Windermere and biking at Whinlatter Forest. Set in the beautiful area between Windermere and Coniston, our preferred accommodation providers in Hawkshead are The Kings Arms Hotel & the Queens Head Inn & Restaurant

May saw the gr8trails team support, guide and sponsor the Yoxall Dads 3Peaks Challenge, with a successful day walking Scafell & Wasdale in preparation for their 24hour Challenge, you can see how they got on at, Yoxall Dads.

gr8trails was also proud to support the annual Pike View Hike for young people in the Scout organisation, by participation in the events safety team. A safe and fun event marked the anniversary of the 10 years of this successful event.

Our second race of the year was in more familiar territory, Eastor Castle and the Malvern Hills for 24hours of Mountain Mayhem. gr8trails sponsored several teams in solo, 4man and 10man categories, you can see how we fared at OSMountain Mayhem.

June also saw us visit the hills and valleys of Wales for another of our short breaks. With stunning early summer weather our walk round the Snowdon horseshoe was very rewarding, followed by a days biking at the little known Penmachno trailhead. gr8trails recommends staying at a variety of accommodation in Wales including The Eagles in Penmachno.
 
July saw gr8trails announce their partnership with premium UK outdoor retailer Ellis Brigham, the UK’s favourite mountain, trek & travel store. With over 75years of expertise, Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports are an established and trusted name when it comes to offering the very best advice and latest equipment suitable for your next gr8 adventure. Stocking innovative outdoor brands such as Gregory packs, Source hydration and Meindl footwear in their 23 stores, it was a logical step for these brands to pledge their support for gr8trails in August.
Meindl have been producing quality handmade, durable, comfortable and award winning walking boots for over 300 years. Gregory is committed to making the most comfortable outdoor backpacks available and Source’s unique, care free antimicrobial hydration products provide a clean, healthy and easily accessible solution for clean water on the move.
August saw the gr8trails crew visit the off road, manmade biking trails of the 7Stanes in the Scottish Borders. Staying at Glentrail House, with days spent at Ae, Innerleithan and Glentress, groups built upon their own existing skills reinforcing their confidence on their bikes and these fantastic trails.

Friends Plush Hill Cycles, Church Stretton celebrated their first full year of trading earlier this summer and the gr8trails team joined up with them to give our support and promote mountain biking in Church Stretton and across the UK. ‘Plush’ is a combination of enthusiasm and mountain biking experience from around the world, dedicated to all that is biking. Big on service, Al & Kate offer a wide choice of well known brands as well as fixing and upgrading your bike, they offer a bike demo and hire service too.
The onset of Autumn saw the gr8trails team walking and biking the leafy, golden valleys of the Peak District. For our short breaks and outdoor activities here, gr8trails recommends our guests stay at the award winning, 5 star B&B, Underleigh House or the only 4 star hotel within the Peak District National Park, Losehill House Hotel, both hidden along a leafy lane in the Vale of Edale. Ensuite accommodation, allows you to relax and unwind in comfortable surroundings with your group of family or friends, after your days activities with gr8trails.
Winter is now all about the planning for the exciting weekends gr8trails will be running in 2012. Short breaks to cater for you, whether you are a large group or on your own wanting to meet new people, whether you are wanting to participate in a new sport or build on previous experience, gr8trails hopes to cater for you.

Looking forward to sharing your next gr8 adventure with you.

Adrian and Rick.

Directors & Co-founders

Friday, 11 March 2011

Walking the National 3Peaks, a challenge and a gr8 experience to share!

Walking the National 3 Peaks, may seem an arduous & pointless task to some, but its not a task that is unachievable, whether that be within the 24hours, 3days or a week. Whatever your background and fitness, all you need is the right preparation for when you set out to complete the challenge. Hopefully the following article helps you with achieving your goal.

The Great Outdoors has a meaning for everyone. Some like the challenge, some like the experiences shared, some like the unplanned surprise of lofty views or mist clad valleys, some like the sense of achievement gained, some enjoy something new, or discovering a whole new world is out there for them to experience and enjoy. There are rewards for everyone, young or old, experienced or inexperienced alike. The same will be on your 3Peaks challenge.

Ben Nevis, your first and the highest mountain you’ll walk in the whole of the British Isles, is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William. Simply known as ‘the Ben’, it attracts an estimated 100,000 ascents a year, around three-quarters of which are made using the well-constructed Pony Track from Glen Nevis on the south side of the mountain. The highest summit in the UK, at 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) above sea level, features the ruins of an observatory, which was permanently staffed between up until 1904.

Your second summit (highest in England) is Scafell Pike. At 978 metres (3,209 ft), it is located in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. The summit was donated to the National Trust in 1919 by Lord Leconfield in memory of the men of the Lake District "who fell for God and King, for freedom, peace and right in the Great War".

The final summit (highest in Wales) is Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) lying at an altitude of 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level. Described as "probably the busiest mountain in Britain”, is located in the Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd. The Old English name Snow Dun, meaning "snow hill" originates from  Snowdon offering significant amounts of snow fall from October to April, but in the past, rare fresh late-seasonal snow has been reported to fall on Snowdon, well into the months of May and June!

Your first step towards achieving your goal is to invest in the 3 maps you’ll need for the areas you’ll be walking in. Notably these are Snowdon (OS Explorer Map17), The English Lakes: South Western Area (OS Explorer Map6) and Ben Nevis and Fort William (OS Explorer Map392). As part of your preparation ensure you know the routes you’ll be taking, try to envisage what the terrain will be like as you climb each hill ie where valleys should be, what streams you should cross, what ruins/lakes/tarns/junctions you may come across. It’s also worthwhile checking out points of safety, where to go to in the case of an accident etc.

Most people will ascend Ben Nevis via the well trodden, well built and easy Pony Track from Glen Nevis (GR 123732). If you are trying to complete your challenge within 24hours, there are various recommendations as to when to set of, but the general idea would be late afternoon, ensuring you get to the summit and back as the sunsets and within 5-6hours. This is particularly inspiring, as you get the biggest hill ‘under your belt’, the descent as the sun goes down is truly awe inspiring and motivational. Do not however, ‘race’ this big one, remember it’s a marathon not a sprint and you need to conserve your fitness for the next 2!

A dusk finish allows you and your team to then get some well earned rest on the journey south. We’d recommend sharing this challenge with a group of friends/family or work colleagues and have a designated pair of drivers (who share the driving/cooking). This allows you all to motivate each other, and the last thing you will want to do, is start driving/cooking etc each time you ‘bag’ every hilltop.

An overnight drive to Seathwaite in the Lakes avoids most traffic. And although you’ll start your ascent in the dark (remember your head torches!), by the time you get to summit the Pike the sun will have risen, hopefully with spectacular views down Wasdale and out to the Irish Sea. Most people start at Seathwaite Farm (GR 235121), and walk up to Styhead Tarn on the mostly paved/stepped path. Upon reaching the pass you continue on up the Corridor Route to the saddle between Scafell and Scafell Pike. From there, it’s a short, steep ascent to the summit. We’d recommend descending down into Wasdale via the easy well built path, to join your drivers (who would have transited to your pickup point whilst you where walking some 4-5hours earlier)

Traffic should be light late morning, to drive round to Pen-Y-Pass/Llanberis, North Wales. Most people take the Miners or Pyg track from Pen-y-Pass, which is a shorter but steeper and more exposed route. Others decide to take the longer but easier well constructed tourist path up from Llanberis (GR 584596) which runs beside the railway line. If you think you have enough time, you can now take in the view from the brand new visitors centre and coffee shop at the summit. Making sure you return in time for your 24hour challenge (4hours return)!

Note: Snowdon has one of the wettest climates in Great Britain, receiving an annual average of more than 0.45m (180 in) of rainfall. In fact, any of these hills could throw some different weather at you whilst you are taking part in your challenge, so don’t forget to pack your waterproofs and several changes of clothing for this (spare socks are worth their weight in gold!). But, at the same time, don’t carry everything. Be prepared. Another great reason to go as a group, not only from a safety and motivational perspective, but also from a ‘sharing and lightening the load’ point of view. Ensure that between you, you have a 2nd set of maps, an emergency shelter and 1st aid kit. A couple of whistles, compasses & some emergency snacks, will also not go amiss.

So, that’s all about the event, but 60% of achieving your goal is about the preparation…the training. Most people will do a few single 5-8hour day walks in either the Lakes, North Wales or maybe the Peak District as preparation. Make sure that you get used to reading a map and using a compass. Some useful reading would be the book ‘Hillwalking’ by Steve Long. A very easy to read book, giving you exactly the information you need to know in a great format.

The best thing is to do these day walks with some or all of the people you are going to complete your challenge with. You build up an understanding as to what motivates each of you and also what doesn’t! You quickly learn how to interact with each other, which is extremely important when you have to climb out of a warm minibus at 3am in the rain & dark, to walk up Scafell Pike, when you’ve had little proper sleep!

Don’t forget, there’s also working out at your local gym to help support you between your training days ‘out on the hill’. And probably a few exercises you can do at home. This all helps, believe me!

Hopefully, these are a few bits of advice that have made you think about what you are setting out to achieve. As we said at the start, this challenge is not unachievable for anyone, you just need the right preparation to get it right on the day, 3days or throughout your week away. This is about creating positive memories which will last a lifetime and give you all something to talk about back in the pub on a rainy winters day for years to come!

Adrian, a qualified Mountain Leader (Summer), with his business partner Rick, have more than 20years experience guiding in the Great British Outdoors. Adrian has completed the National 3Peaks challenge on several occasions, in various weather conditions!, as well as successfully managing teams to also ultimately achieve their own 3Peaks goals. We can help you also succeed at this gr8 challenge.