Category Archives: UK

Our route along the South Downs Way

Comedy photo of reading a map next to a signpost
Comedy photo of reading a map next to a signpost

Some people have contacted me to ask for our precise route along the South Downs Way, including walks to and from train stations.

We covered the South Downs Way (from Winchester to Eastbourne) over four weekends, carrying our own tents, food and stoves. This meant we could only walk up 15 miles per day comfortably, stretching to 20 miles only if necessary Continue reading Our route along the South Downs Way

A review of campsites along the South Downs Way

Camp for the night
Camp for the night

Here is a list and review of each camp site that Ishai and I stayed at during our hike across the South Downs Way. We carried our own tents (sharing a two-man tent), stove, food and water and always booked the camp sites before arrival.

We covered the South Downs in four weekends, arriving on a Friday afternoon at the first site, walking to the second campsite on the Saturday afternoon, and then continuing the walk to a train station to return home in London. (Incidentally, if you are planning to do something similar, investigate a Friends and Family railcard to save a small fortune on rail tickets).

This required a fair amount of research beforehand. The first source was the Official South Downs Campsites and hostels. This was compiled in 2013 and doesn’t include some of the campsites that we stayed in (I asked the owners to add their campsites to the guide). Continue reading A review of campsites along the South Downs Way

Walking the South Downs Way: Weekend #4

Arriving at Falmer station
Arriving at Falmer station

This was our fourth and final weekend walking the South Downs, totally self-sufficient carrying tents, food and cooking equipment.

This weekend started in Falmer, next to the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club stadium and opposite Brighton University, and finishing in Eastbourne. We agreed with the rest of the family to meet us half way through the second day (Sunday) for lunch and join us for the walk into Eastbourne.

We were aware that during the winter period we’d have lost our training advantage of the previous three weekends – our bags felt heavier and the hills felt steeper and longer. Continue reading Walking the South Downs Way: Weekend #4

Staying hydrated on hikes

Once this water has been treated it will be good enough for humans
Once this water has been treated it will be good enough for humans

When you’re re drinking two litres of water a day in Europe on long hikes, or 4-5 litres a day on Kilimanjaro it’s easy to get sick of the taste of water.

I use SiS hydration tablets for long hikes. They don’t offer any energy (i.e. they are calorie-free), but they taste nice (which encourages you to drink more) and replenish good thingies in your system. During the summer I was getting some cramps on cycling commute and after using these (one every other day) I stopped getting cramps.

As with all these things, try them before you go hiking. Continue reading Staying hydrated on hikes

Walking the South Downs Way: Weekend #3

Autumn... a season of a thousand reds and oranges, and my favourite season
Autumn… a season of a thousand reds and oranges, and my favourite season. And a great time to walk along the South Downs Way (if you’re young or fit)

This was our third of four weekends (read the first and second weekends) walking along the South Downs. The plan was to walk 16 miles – from Amberley to Small Dole on the Saturday and then 17 miles on to Farley on the Sunday.

Like most hiking plans, a month before we set foot, in the warm and dry of home, looking at the Ordnance Survey map it looked easily achievable.

I was in the US travelling with my work during the week before this hike. I’d carefully been looking at the weather forecast for Brighton, which improved steadily from constant rain to dry and low wind. Excellent. We were good to go so I booked the two camp sites for the rapidly approaching weekend. Continue reading Walking the South Downs Way: Weekend #3

The ideal packing list for climbing Snowdon

A backpack always seems to feel heavier with each day of hiking
A backpack always seems to feel heavier with each day of hiking

When we go to Snowdon this is the equipment list that I send to everyone.

The list changes a little depending on whether we’re camping or sleeping indoors, and the time of the year.

A good tip is to pack the rucksack you’ll be walking with while you’re still at home. And then leave it alone when you arrive.

When walking with children, it’s important to take more spare clothes so that they stay dry and not become miserable when damp.

Carrier bags are great for keeping kit dry (Ziplocks are even better, but more expensive), for litter, for storing the dirty clothes, and for covering muddy boots back in the car.

Black bags are great for keeping everything dry, and can turn into a 100% waterproof overcoat if the rain becomes torrential. I always carry a few spare of both. Continue reading The ideal packing list for climbing Snowdon

Our first microadventure

On Tuesday night my Dad asked my sisters and I who wanted to go on a microadventure. We didn’t know what that meant, so only Shelley and I said yes. It sounded interesting.

We looked at different bivvy bags and bought three for me, my sister Shelley and Dad.

On Saturday night we packed our stuff together. All we took was the clothing which we were wearing, a fireproof cup each, a sleeping bag and some matches to get our fire going.

Microadventures use bivvy bags not tents

So last night we slept in a divvy bag without a tent.

We rode our bikes 5 miles from our house to a local camp site. When we arrived at the field we were sleeping in, a scout group was there. They only took up about an eighth of the field, so we had plenty of remaining space.

We picked the place we were sleeping at, then laid out our bedroll, then made a fire. There was a really good wood pile that at the camp site, and we started the fire with just one match.

While our fire was scorching hot we made hot chocolate and ate marshmallows on sticks.

We ended up getting to sleep by 10:15pm and we slept in our full clothing.

Eventually when my Dad woke me up at a cruel 7:30 we didn’t have breakfast, but we rode our bikes back home and straight away had breakfast and a very warm shower.

I didn’t think I was that tired, but ended up falling asleep for three hours this afternoon.

I enjoyed the microadventure because it was a different experience sleeping outside of a tent. I’ve camped in a tent for over 60 nights in total, but sleeping in a bivvy bag was warmer (although my face felt colder), had less space yet was more fun than a tent.

Now I’m looking forward to the next microadventure. Definitely.

Our first microadventure

The plan for this weekend’s #Microadventures

Microadventures by Alastair Humphreys - I can't wait to put this book into action
Microadventures by Alastair Humphreys – I can’t wait to put this book into action

Presumably, if you’re reading this blog, you like outdoor adventure. If you haven’t read Microadventures by Alastair Humphreys, go to the library or just order it from Amazon now.

Microadventures consist of a most-simple overnight stay in a field somewhere. No need for a tent – use a bivvy bag instead. No need for food – get dinner from a pub nearby and breakfast from a café nearby. With no food, it means no camping stove. Microadventures should be basic.

At this point people I’ve spoken to have a Marmite moment. You’re either wondering “COOL!” or “That sounds like a tramp – why would you do this?“. If you fall into the latter group, read another article on this site. I won’t be offended. Continue reading The plan for this weekend’s #Microadventures

13 Top Tips for Camping in the Rain

One surprise outing during our wettest summer camp was to the local laundrette
One surprise outing during our wettest summer camp was to the local laundrette

This year we had our wettest-ever Scout summer camp. It’s not one of those awards which one looks back on with any smiles or pride, other than the thought that “we made it” through the camp.

Although rain isn’t welcome during any type of camping, it’s inevitable here in the UK. Some of the prettiest places in the UK are in the top 10 wettest places.

So it’s worth being prepared. Here are some top tips about camping in the rain. I’ve split the tips into two sections – kit related, and at-camp related. Continue reading 13 Top Tips for Camping in the Rain

South Downs Weekend #2

The weather had been so nice in London recently that I was worried about how Ishai and I would stay hydrated on the South Downs. We’d been sent the Steripen for review, which seemed perfect timing. I resisted the urge to take bigger water bottles, although on reflection we could have done with them.

Saturday was due to be a sunny 23 degrees and Sunday was forecast 19 degrees with light rain. In England, we have to pack suntan lotion and waterproofs. Continue reading South Downs Weekend #2