On Plastic Patrol..!

The world is filling with litter.  You only have to walk down a street, look in a lay by or attend a sporting event to see it.  The aftermath of any music festival is a disgrace, and people attending seem to think that whatever they dump doesn’t matter.  Dog owners pick up dog poo and the leave the bag on the floor.  A few miles from my house is Junction 28 on the M1, which is legendary for its waste.  I’m sure there is an invisible road sign which reads ‘Please chuck your litter out of the window before joining the Motorway’.   That’s the bad news, but there is some good…

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Uganda 2017 – To the the Mountains of the Moon, and Back… Part 2

We left the Bujuku Hut at 4am in our attempt to summit Mt. Speke 4890m (16.042ft).  Initially the terrain was thick bog and undergrowth, but this gave way to more open ground as the sun tried to break through the dense clouds.  We ascended a large scree field suffering faltering disability, reaching the ridge early morning.  This is where our problems began.  Thick rime ice had plastered the rocks, making what should have been a challenging scramble, impassable.  The only way we could summit was to circumnavigate the peak and approach it from the opposite side.  It’s all sounds so easy to read it here, but what followed was a two-hour slog up and down scree scattered boulders and exposed edges.  At least the clouds broke occasionally and allowed extensive views over the range and the tongue of the Ruwenzori Glacier.  This ice used to allow easy access to Ruwenzori Peak, but its retreat has made any ascent of the mountain a real challenge.  Few ever venture there now because of the loose rock and unstable ridge.

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Uganda 2017 – To the the Mountains of the Moon, and Back… Part 1

I rarely look for adventure.  Adventure finds me.  The years of scouring maps and magazines for interesting places are gone.  I’m extremely lucky to have wonderful friends across the world who share my passion for travel, as we love to share our experiences.  Sibusiso Vilane and myself met many years ago, climbing Carstensz Pyramid in Iran Jaya.  Since that day, we have been great friends.  Sibusiso has had some wonderful ideas, including cross the Drakensburgs and trekking the Otter Trail.  So when he said ‘how about climbing in the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda..?’  I leapt at the chance.  The Rwenzori’s were extensively explored during the colonial era and even starred in Rider Haggard adventure books.  The Idi Amin era saw much change, but people are back.  I have to admit however being surprised when asked to bring Wellington’s as well as an ice axe, crampons and mountain boots..! Continue reading “Uganda 2017 – To the the Mountains of the Moon, and Back… Part 1”

Crossing the Cuillin…

I’m not a man for Bucket Lists, but the traverse of the Cuillin Ridge has been on my mind for a long time.  The legends it has created are long seated in the history of British Mountaineering and an opportunity appeared for me to give the ‘Royal Route’ a go.  I had recently been climbing at altitude in Uganda and felt strong for the challenge.  Guided by Martin Moran, I crossed the 12 Monroe’s faster than I could have imagined, but wore my skin grafts almost to the bone.

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Wild Night Out…

We should all spend more time outdoors.  Its simple to say and easy to do, but still as a nation we struggle to get people outside.  Because of this, Belinda Kirk created ‘Wild Night Out’, to enthuse people to enjoy the wonderful world around us.  The Ordnance Survey teamed up with Belinda for 2017.  Some people choose to wild camp, others sleep in their garden.  Some camp with youngsters, others with their pets.  Whatever and wherever, example is better than talk, and I lead by example.  I decided to do more of a marathon than a wild night, and joined by fellow outdoor enthusiast Jo Elson, the adventure began…

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Let’s Explore..!

People these days spend much of their lives indoors.  Whether it’s working, watching television or hiding from the rain, survey after survey tells us to get outside more and get some exercise.  Many surveys spill doom and gloom across the media, telling horror stories of overweight, unfit people suffering in their lives.  As an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion for 2017, I’m showing people how to enjoy the outdoors, even when you have a full-time job, work shifts and have serious injuries.  Society fails when we sit on our ever-widening backsides, eating processed food and assaulting our eyes with the world of digital media, but it’s not all bad news…

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Coming of Age…

Reaching your 18th birthday is seen as a coming of age.  You can marry, drink, vote, serve on a jury and legally get a tattoo..!  My 18th birthday was marked with a disco.  It was 1987 and Rick Astley was riding high in the charts, as was Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, The Bee Gees and most of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stable.  The Compact Disc was launched and I was driving a 1977 Metallic Gold Morris Marina with a huge Ghetto Blaster across the back seat.  I thought I was cool…

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The Shifting of Time…

There are more quotes about time than probably any other subject.  How we use it, pass it or waste it, there’s always a sentence of reflective words to describe it.  People ask me how my time is used because of my travel, life and importantly, my work.  ‘You’re always away’ seems a common statement, and ‘how do you get out so much when you have a job..?’ is another.  During my engineering life, I’ve worked part time, normal days, 24hr stand by and more recently, shifts.  They disrupt your life, both physically and socially, but it’s not all bad news.  They do allow you to get into the outdoors, provided you’re effective with your time…

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Holding Your Nerve – The Eighth Frostbite Report…

My eyes had been stuck on the weather forecast for weeks, before my annual trip into the Highlands with my friend Ian.  There had been snow, sun, snow, sun, ice, melt, ice, melt, and then Storm Doris had her day.  Reports of driving blizzards and road closures filled my heart with joy.  There would at least be snow..! Continue reading “Holding Your Nerve – The Eighth Frostbite Report…”

‘We Do Not Remember Days, We Remember Moments…’

…so wrote Italian Poet Cesare Pavese.  We may think that our minds are sharp and that we commit to memory everything that our senses detect, but when it comes to remembering, only certain moments appear.

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Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion for 2017..!

It was late in 2016, when I glanced upon a tweet inviting applications for Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champions.  Initially I passed it by, but looked back and thought I’d give it a go.  I had no idea, that not only would I be selected, but what a lovely bunch of adventurers I was going to meet…

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Walking into the New Year…

Around 25 years ago, I started leading a New Year’s Walk.  Initially it was for a small group of friends, brought together by shared experiences on expedition with Operation Raleigh, but it has grown to encompass so many more.  Adventurers from over 25 years of international travel, family, fellow speakers, school friends, neighbours, friends of friends etc. all turn up  to walk, eat, drink and talk.  I have never run the event as a route march, because to me, this is much more than a walk.  It’s an important occasion for people to meet socially and enjoy a day in the hills.

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2016 – A Year For Time, Travel and Tingling Fingers…

I’m not a man to sit about, so during 2016 I travelled to South Africa, Greenland, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Spain.  I took part in the ICEMAN Polar Race, walked the Otter Trail, spoke on two cruises and held down a full-time job.  Phew..!  I’m sure I slept at some point…

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The Duke of Edinburgh Award – Diamonds, Diving and Derbyshire…

stella-divers

My first connection with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme was in the early 1990’s, when I was a young engineer at East Midlands Electricity.  They were a major sponsor back then and had purchased a number large of box trailers, filled with expedition equipment.  I ferried them around schools, helped set up a DofE group at the office and volunteered where I could.  Those days seem long gone as corporate takeovers scrapped sponsorship and abandoned the award. Continue reading “The Duke of Edinburgh Award – Diamonds, Diving and Derbyshire…”

The Kendal Mountain Festival 2016 – BBC, Mt. Blanc, Burton and The Bond…

kmf-signpost

What began as a beautiful autumn day, turned into an aquaplaning nightmare as I passed Manchester.  The Peak District was resplendent in its glowing reds and golds, but the motorway was a silver-grey morass of dotted with beaming brake lights and dousing flood water.  By the time I reached Kendal, darkness had fallen and drizzle filled the air.  What did I expect..?  It’s November after all.

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The Right Frame of Mind…

 

vale-of-edale

Some people will tell you that you must write regular updates on your website, but what if you’ve got nothing to say..?  What, in this modern world of Blogging and Social Media, do you do when nothing really happens.  I’ll tell you what happens.  You write rubbish, post rubbish and spread rubbish.  There’s plenty of it out there, with innumerable tales of people’s eating, sleeping and weeping habits.  What if we only wrote when we had something important to say..?  Lately I’ve not been in the right frame of mind to write.  A combination of medical tests, stress, lame excuses and let downs has distracted my creativity.  I didn’t want to write rubbish, so I wrote nothing at all.   As Cyril Connolly famously wrote in 1933 – “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self’.

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Forcing Your Hand…

Frostbitten Hands

The phrase ‘The day we stop learning is the day we die’, may be old, but it’s true. I thought after 17 years I had learned all there was to know about my frostbite injuries, but I was wrong. Though the amputations were very visible, regular treatment kept my skin grafts in good condition, and all was well with the world. The last few months however, have taught me a hard lesson in reality.

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A Time of Drought…

Coniston Old Man

After all the long running rains of spring, we here in Britain have finally seen blazing sun.  We’ve enjoyed temperatures hotter than the Mediterranean and as usual, many forget to cream so suffer sunburned skin (we never learn..!)  It’s the time to lounge or barbeque, expose our white skin and enjoy a drink – well for some anyway.  Advertising is strewn with images of people relaxing by pools, drinking beer, wines and spirits galore, but for me, for now, the strongest thing I’ll be on is a cup of tea…

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Return of the Phantom Menace…

Wrist-Splints

It’s over seventeen years since my fingers were amputated due to frostbite.  Life has changed, but I manage well with what I have left and continue to lead a normal(ish) life.  For years, all has seemed sorted, until recently…

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Adventuring Alone…

6-Beyond-Baffin

It might surprise you that a mountaineer such as my self may write about Mental Health Awareness Week.  People make assumptions in this world, and I’m afraid to say that many of them are wrong.  “You must be rich”, “You can’t have a job”, You’re never at home”, “You just travel the world as you please”.  If only they knew…

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