I’ve been fortunate over the last few months to be able to spend some time watching and photographing dragonflies down at my local nature reserve, Wolverhampton’s Smestow Valley. The reserve is well served with potential breeding sites for these enigmatic and beautiful insects, with three suitable ponds, a canal and several brooks. Invariably I have … More Here be dragons…
I am delighted to have been awarded the ‘Llysgennad Eryri Ambassador’ gold award for 2021. Participants in the ambassador scheme gain an enhanced knowledge of Snowdonia National Park’s special cultural, historical and natural qualities. As an ambassador I am pleased to be able to play an important role in enriching the Snowdonia visitor experience!
Happy New Year everyone! While I think it’s fair to say 2020 has been somewhat challenging for many (to put it politely), we can at least hope for a steady return to some semblance of normality later this year. With that in mind, over the coming days and weeks I’ll be finalising the timetable of … More New year, new stuff
In my last blog I mentioned that Mrs. C and I were planning to walk ’40k in a day’. Our aim was to visit a variety of local sites of importance for wildlife while raising funds for the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country – see here for more details. Well, on Wednesday … More Walking for Wildlife – a very soggy 42km
Both Mrs. C. and I have been members of the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country (WTBBC), our local trust, for a number of years. Over the last four years I have been a regular conservation volunteer with them, working at a couple of local nature reserves. Back in November last year, following … More Walking for Wildlife – donations welcomed!
A combination of recent lockdown relaxations and a decent weather forecast proved much too hard to resist and we headed back to Wales for a long overdue walk in the hills. In the spirit of social distancing we headed for the unaccountably perma-quiet Cambrian Mountains of mid-Wales. Crowning glory of the range, and one of … More Back in business!
With the hills off limits to many of us at the moment and local, daily exercise encouraged, now’s the perfect time to explore from your front door, to seek out those green spaces where you can exercise both body and mind – in accordance with local regulations and government guidelines of course! Despite living in … More Stay local, enjoy the flora!
If you’re missing the mountains during these strange times, why not try some mountain jigsaws? I’ve taken a few of my photos and turned them into jigsaws for you to have a crack at online. I’ll keep adding more over the coming weeks but be warned, it’s addictive! You can find them at: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/julianmountains/uk-mountains
Despite being the tallest hill in Shropshire, Brown Clee (540m/1770ft) receives a fraction of the visitors of its showier neighbours further west. Visit the Long Mynd or Stiperstones on any weekend and you’ll be sharing the well-trodden paths with plenty of other people, all out enjoying the fresh air. Perhaps it’s the lack of obvious … More Brown Clee
Few of us can have failed to notice recent headlines proclaiming the ongoing loss of the UK’s flora and fauna. The State of Nature report 2019 paints a bleak picture: 15% of our species face extinction. Since 1970, 41% of species studied have declined and 133 species have already been lost from the UK. The … More Walking for Wildlife!
Soft rush (Juncus effusus) will be familiar to many hill-goers. This unassuming, clump-forming plant is frequently overlooked and often actively avoided, growing as it does in wet places. However this wasn’t always the case: The word ‘rush’ stems from the much earlier ‘rezg’, meaning to plait, braid or weave and hints at the plant’s usefulness … More “Burning the candle at both ends”
To support the Government’s Year of Green Action Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust are organising lots of Wild Action Days where you can get involved to make your neighbourhood a wildlife haven. A team of experts and volunteers will be on hand to help you sample practical conservation activities, make nature crafts or join walks … More B’ham & Black Country Wildlife Trust ‘Wild Day of Action’
It was my great pleasure to be working with my friends at Mountain Escapes on the longest day of the year, leading a group of 20 enthusiastic walkers to the top of Snowdon to watch the sunset. After assembling in Llanberis we took the Sherpa bus to Pen y Pass and began a steady ascent … More Snowdon Summer Solstice Sunset
It seemed like ages since Deb and I had wandered amongst Snowdonia’s higher peaks so with a free weekend looming, we booked a couple of night’s stay at the National Mountain Centre, Plas y Brenin, emptied the contents of our ‘outdoordrobe’ into the back of the car and piled up the A5 to Eryri. Woohoo! … More Snowdonia’s Idwal Skyline
My article on the Mountains of Macedonia from the Autumn 2018 edition of the Mountain Training publication, “The Professional Mountaineer”: Ask people their favourite European walking destinations and it’s unlikely Macedonia will receive a single mention. Yet this sparsely populated Balkans republic has much to offer the adventurous hill walker. Innumerable peaks rise to over … More The Mountains of Macedonia
Pumlumon (pronounced “Pimlimon”, meaning ‘five peaks’ and often anglicised to “Plynlimon”) dominates the wild, empty uplands of mid-Wales. Its windswept summit, Pen Pumlumon Fawr (752m/2467ft) is the highest point in the Cambrian Mountains, while its flanks give rise to three major rivers; the Rheidol, the Wye and the Severn (the UK’s longest river at 220 … More Pumlumon – from summit to source
A one day introductory course on navigation by map and compass, for those seeking to be more independent in the UK’s hills and mountains. Set in the glorious surroundings of the Shropshire Hills, this course is ideal for anyone with little or no prior navigational experience. If you are a more experienced navigator, we will … More Introduction to Navigation – Shropshire Hills
For a long, long time I’ve been meaning to visit the Howgills, that appealing range of velvety lumps on the wrong side of the M6 from the Lake District. That was our plan for the weekend. On Friday evening a route was plotted and bags were packed and early Saturday morning we were off… to … More The Howgills…erm The Aran Ridge
Some years ago I remember someone saying that the Cairngorms were “a bit boring…just rounded hills, lacking in interest”. Looking back, I now wonder if they’d actually ever been there because my word, how wrong they were! For wild and remote mountains, huge views, dramatic crags and wonderful wildlife, the place has few equals. Since … More A couple of Cairngorms classics
For a good number of years my lower half had been clad in Montane’s ubiquitous Terra trousers when out on the hill. They’re tough, light, reinforced in the right areas and allow for a good degree of movement. The fit’s OK too, mostly (some pairs fit better than others, despite being the same stated size). … More Review: Rohan Stretch Bags