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You don’t have to go far to find adventure

Discussion in 'Jollies Bar' started by Grey man, Jan 30, 2020.

  1. Grey man

    Grey man Royal Marines Commando

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    Did you know just how awesome some of our wilderness is here in the UK?

    So if you do decide to explore our more remote areas of the country it won't be long before you stumble across a bothy. A bothy is a remote cottage or lonely hut, some of them clinging to a barren hillside, others tucked away in a hidden valley.

    They are hardly luxury but, maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association, they are good for getting some gonk to break up multi-day yomps. Some of the best are up in Scotland, such as the Shielin of Mark bothy, up in the Cairngorms. Stone-walled, slate-roofed and a decent space to get a fire roaring is about the only home comfort - and even then you still have to bring your own logs to burn! But no one will be writing to TripAdvisor over this joint- last year, not long before Halloween myself and three other Royal Marines spent a week dug in the Cairngorms. For, well, fun and our unit supported it! We are supposed to be outdoors in nature, walking up hills, breathing the fresh air, looking at the views. There is a primal reward system hardwired into us that can be unlocked by just getting up a mountain and looking at the view. Not sitting under artificial lights and eating crappy takeaways. Nature is like a medicine. I didn’t learn this until I joined the Corps and earned that green lid.

    The sole cost for our board was that you respect the bothy for the next group. The feeling of isolation is unparalleled, and with
    nothing more than a fire, half decent scran and good mates it can really lead to some hilarious chats better then any therapy. Furthermore, at over 650m above sea level,it gives you early-morning jump on access to some of the UKs highest climbs before the day-trippers arrive.

    Last year we also smashed the forest-lined dirt paths that includes lung-busting climbs and hairy descents by cycling the Gwdir Mawr Trail. Also last spring we headed over to a Northern Ireland and covered over 150k’s of Strangford Lough via kayaks. It is the largest inlet of water in the British Isles and has the dramatic scenery to match, it’s also f*çking icers if you decide to dip in!

    This year we have ear marked a slightly warmer long weekend- the Camino de Santiago hills in Spain for some yomping. Had I not joined the Corps and pushed through hell, I’ve no doubt that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do these things with literally my best mates!
     
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  2. Caversham

    Caversham Former RM Commando, Moderator

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    Cracked the last 100k of the Camino last year. Great yomp.

    Alan
     
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    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  3. Grey man

    Grey man Royal Marines Commando

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    Winner! I’ve yet to visit. Raring to go though.
     
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  4. Chelonian

    Chelonian Moderator

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    Traditionally the final 100 metres into the cathedral is done on one's knees. :eek:

    Done some stretches of the Camino in earlier years. Cracking one of the routes from France across the Pyrenees is on my wish list.
     
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  5. Johnny_Anonie

    Johnny_Anonie Moderator

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    Can I just say- Strangford Lough is stunning! Great shout and great effort Royal!
     
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  6. Caversham

    Caversham Former RM Commando, Moderator

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    We started in Lierganes, Cantabria and set ourselves a target of around 15k per day, which meant we arrived at our daily destination before 14.00 hrs, which was just in time for a menu del dia and then crash out for the late afternoon.

    We also stayed in 3 and 4 star hotels, rather than hostels or bivvy bags and because of our advancing years and my crocked knees, made use of one of the numerous companies that took our baggage from one hotel to another. (I've done my share of lugging heavy bergens!)

    After arriving at Santiago de Campostella and having a couple of days there we went onto Cape Finisterre to see the actual end of the Camino.

    Didn't feel in the least bit guilty of the way we done it, the only regret being I didn't do it 30 years ago and crack the full 700k.

    Alan
     
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  7. Chelonian

    Chelonian Moderator

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    Good choice. I definitely won't be overnighting in another pilgrim hostel! :)
     
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  8. Johnny_Anonie

    Johnny_Anonie Moderator

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    On the topic of Strangford Lough-


    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/strangford-lough/features/strangford-lough-canoe-trail
     
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  9. Grey man

    Grey man Royal Marines Commando

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    Unique experiences and new challenges are a constant feature of life as a Commando. You’ll have the option to take part in our annual Adventurous Training weeks, or even tailor your own training if there’s something you’re particularly keen to try. My unit is incredibly flexible with AT requests!
    Adventurous Training gives you the opportunity to try new sports in new environments. Whichever you choose, AT helps you develop physical and mental robustness, while honing those all-important leadership skills that are indispensable. Every serving member of the Naval Service is entitled to five AT days every year. I’ve just signed up to partake in a two day jolly on a protected climbing route found in the Alps later in the year.
     
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  10. thirdtry

    thirdtry Member

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    Big fan of bothies.

    On the subject of long distance walking routes. Anyone done The Pennine Way?

    268 miles from Derbyshire to Scotland.

    I'm thinking of trying to do it light and fast (under 10 days with a daysack, getting food in the towns en route) soon.
     
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  11. Caversham

    Caversham Former RM Commando, Moderator

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  12. Grey man

    Grey man Royal Marines Commando

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    Yep done it and loved it, you’ll enjoy it.


    Hebden bridge to Edale is a great leg. Climbing on/off Kinder-Bleaklow plateau can be hard going, but the use of gritstone slabs in this section being destroyed by the number of walkers is brilliant and both makes progress much faster than previously and reduces damage to the fragile moorlands.
    But this route, despite being very accessible to civvies, does need both preparation and the right kit as seasons can change within a single day out. Nav skills is still necessary as the clouds come down and shut out the way ahead. Never neglect basic drills. Pack adequate wet/warm kit, bring more water than you think you will need, to avoid dehydration. As well as eating well before you set off, remember to bring high energy snacks with you for the journey,
    first aid pack, emergency shelter, head torch, tell someone your route and itinerary, bring your phone (I always pack a small, well charged burner phone as a back up) and invest in a power bar that you can recharge your phone with. Do not walk at night.
    Some sections are well signposted while others have none except where they are least necessary (as when crossing main roads). If you aren’t bedding down yourself then Accom needs planning ahead, and if it is off the route it can easily add miles at the end of an already long yomp. As winter lingers the lack of daylight hours can create problems, particularly in giving ever less leaway if things go wrong. Last late November it was sub-Artic with wind and snow. Don't be too proud to use the many excellent guides and route maps.

    I’m acutely aware some reading this will have zero military experience. So please pause and think. Don’t just whack a Bergen on and crack on! Some very basic safety advice but I encourage you all to actively research safety advice for being in the hills. Basics- As you’re route planning off, identify populated locations such as pubs and petrol stations, that you can come back to and where someone can help you. It’s better to go back to something you know is there than yomp into the unknown!

    Should something go wrong and it’s starting to get dark and you’re far from safety, calm yourself down. Get your pulse down and get your head in the game. Being hysterical can kill you. If you can see electric lights somewhere, head towards them. There’s someone or something there with the power to get you help. Get your phone out. It’s likely you’ll have poor or no signal in the peaks but check every five minutes as you do dip in and out of mast coverage. Even if you haven’t got 3G, if you make a call people can find you from it. Turn off your apps to save power. As I said above, this is when investing in a cheap burner phone with a pre paid SIM pays dividends. Those little phones tend to hold charge brilliantly- definitely consider getting one as an emergency spare. Load essentially numbers in. Always pack a fire lighting kit. Literally as simple as a small tobacco tin of cotton wool doesn’t weigh anything, but with a lighter will get you a fire going even in wet conditions. Once you get it going, keep it going if things go off plan.

    If you are in an emergency situation in the hills, you’re going to have to consider staying where you are and surviving the night. It’s dangerous, because the weather closes in and you can’t see where you’re going, and it’s very cold… So start thinking about warmth and shelter. Don’t sleep in wet kit if you can help it, so get your dry stuff on, then look for shelter. Get out of the wind, get cover from the elements and get your fire on. The thing that will keep you alive more than anything else, even when the threat level is high, is belief in yourself. It stops you from dropping into utter panic, which is when people die.

    Do not take any of this as gospel and please research for yourself how to manage emergency situations. This is a very rough guide!
     
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    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  13. Chelonian

    Chelonian Moderator

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    Just to add to the sound advice above, when out in the sticks generally—but especially in the hills—pack an emergency whistle. They are light, cheap as chips and require no batteries. One of mine is permanently attached into my work coat on a length of paracord. It's out of mind but always there.

    The international distress signal is six whistle blasts per minute with an interval of one minute between each series of six blasts.

    If your whistles are heard, you should hear three whistles in reply. Keep repeating the whistle blasts so that your exact location can be determined, particularly if you are hunkered down into cover from the elements.
     
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  14. Grey man

    Grey man Royal Marines Commando

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    Nabbed from mountain rescue’s webpage.

    ————

    IN AN EMERGENCY DIAL 999

    We are proud to be working alongside The Mountain Rescue Organisation, a registered charity of volunteers who are dedicated to saving lives and making our mountains, countryside and costal paths a safer place to enjoy for all.

    Mountain Rescue's top 10 tips for staying safe.
    Whether you’re walking in the hills, bagging peaks or rambling across moorland here are ten key points to help keep you safe and make the experience so much more enjoyable!

    1. Always carry a map, compass, torch, and whistle – and know how to use them! The ability to take a bearing might just be the key to your swift rescue. And check you have at least one reliable watch in the party.

    2. Keep a running check on energy levels – yours, your party’s and your mobile phone – and don’t rely on your mobile phone to get you out of trouble. Some areas of the mountains have no signal.

    3. Take enough food and drink for each member of the party – plenty of water and even a hot drink if the weather’s cool. Sunscreen and insect repellent are a good idea, as is a basic first aid kit, and don’t forget to carry any essential medication (for diabetes, asthma, angina or allergies, for example), even if you plan to be home before your next due dose.

    4. Check the weather forecast before you leave but treat with a healthy scepticism! Remember it’s often substantially colder on the tops than in the valleys, conditions can be localised and change at the drop of a woollie hat.

    5. Leave an outline of your planned route at home, hotel or hostel with your estimated time of return. Keep your party in the picture too, taking time to orient yourselves with the map. It should be fun!

    6. Invest in decent footwear – treaded sole, waterproof and good ankle support – and warm, windproof, waterproof clothing. Always carry spare clothing, including waterproof overtrousers, hat and gloves even in summer.

    7. Know your party – the weak, the strong, the eternally hungry – and stay together. If you’re walking alone, be aware of the added risk. Know your limitations and stick to your intended route.

    8. We know time is precious, weather windows can be short and peaks are there to be bagged but please see the summit as a bonus. Don’t be afraid to turn back if the weather changes, tiredness sets in or injury strikes. The chances are it’s cloudy up top anyway, so just enjoy being out there!

    9. In case of emergency, dial 999, ask for ‘Police’ and then ‘Mountain Rescue’. Give your grid reference and contact number and the nature of the incident, keep the phone switched on and stay where you are!

    10. If you can’t make contact, try the international distress signal – six whistle blasts or torch flashes repeated at minute intervals to signal emergency.
    Information supplied from ‘Call Out Mountain Rescue? A pocket guide to safety on the hill’ published by Mountain Rescue England and Wales.
     
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  15. thirdtry

    thirdtry Member

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    Phenomenal advice. Too many people assume they'll be ok because "it's only Britain" and don't actually realise the magnitude of how the seasons can change by the hour.

    I used to think the whole hiking in flip flops thing often quoted by old ramblers was a joke until my civvy ML assessment, when I passed a bloke in a dish dash and leather sandals praying on top of the Carneddau!
     
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  16. Parhelia

    Parhelia Well-Known Member

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    I'm reluctant to comment as I can't speak much about proper hiking, but I do know things about weather and thought I could add something on that front.

    If you are up a hill or mountain and hail starts falling, try to descend as quickly and safely as you can. If it is too dangerous to do so, lie as flat as you can. By physics, you do not get hail without lightning, and you don't want to be up on something tall when there is lightning.
    Similarly, if you can hear thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning.

    Thunderstorms tend to pass relatively quickly, so as much as lying in the grass under a shower would be unpleasant, you'd only be doing it for a few minutes - but it genuinely could save your life.

    It's worth noting too that thunderstorms are not limited to summertime. In the UK it's actually a lot easier to grow thunderstorms in the colder months than in summer. Therefore don't assume that lightning and hail is only an issue in summer.

    (I recently attended a severe storms conference in which a guest speaker, a seasoned hiker, spoke of an incident in which his friend was killed by a lightning strike while they were climbing a hill in Wales. They did not associate falling hail with a thunderstorm and so continued to climb. Given the other advice on this thread about safety when hiking, I thought this was worth adding so people are aware.)

    Thanks for the other information on here! It's really interesting and is making me want to go somewhere nice for a walk!
    :)
     
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  17. Grey man

    Grey man Royal Marines Commando

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    Day-to-day life can quite hectic for me, but if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, in a tent with a jet boil and decent company, you can just sit and talk. There’s something primal about chatting at night with a little non tactical fire crackling away!
     
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    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  18. Grey man

    Grey man Royal Marines Commando

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    Mountains can be inhospitable and dangerous places for the ill prepared. From one hour to the next, from one hill to the next, they can exhibit a dramatic variation in weather conditions.

    @Parhelia am I right in thinking that thunder storms grow when warm air is forced to rise by hills or other geographical features? Therefore are lighting strikes more likely to occur the higher the altitude you are? Also just how common are lighting strikes to the ground in the UK? Am I right in thinking the majority of lightning flashes occur within the storm cloud and don’t come anywhere close to the ground? Should an individual or team find themselves in open ground with no shelter during a thunderstorm what would you suggest as a good immediate action plan? I recall being taught to touch as little of the ground with your body as possible and to never lie down on the ground during lightening.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
  19. Parhelia

    Parhelia Well-Known Member

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    @Grey man
    Mountains can affect weather by either causing certain weather events themselves, or by enhancing or modifying weather systems that interact with them.

    Yes-ish. There are a few mechanisms that cause thunderstorms to occur, and mass ascent by orography is one of them. When air is travelling along a surface and is suddenly forced to rise over a mountain barrier, the air cools as it ascends and condenses water out of it, causing cloud formation. If the air is unstable enough, the cloud will continue to grow taller until the cloud tops become frozen and they're capable of producing thunderstorms. Instability is the key difference here between mountains helping to build thunderstorms, or just causing more drizzle and murk around mountains and valleys! :)
    (There's a lot more to all of this but I don't want to accidentally write loads!)

    I've never thought about that before to be honest! You either get lightning that occurs between the base of the cloud and the ground, or top of the cloud and the base of the same cloud, the top of the cloud and the ground, or between one cloud and another. It's all a case of where the charge build up and potential difference is greatest. If you've got a typical cloud top of 30,000 FT and a typical cloud base of 1000 FT, then technically the higher you are within/near the cloud the more likely you are to experience lightning strikes. I'm trying to think of a scenario where you'd be at height and in close proximity to a thunderstorm. Obviously in an aircraft you'd be sure to be keeping well away from the cloud. The thought of being a person stood on a mountain and near one is scary to even think about! I love thunderstorms but they're scarily powerful and as I deal with forecasting for aviation I just look at CBs and thunderstorms as a massive hazard to be avoided.

    I think the statistic is something like 70% of lightning flashes are cloud-to-cloud/intra-cloud so statistically lightning hits the ground only about 30% of the time.

    It's an awkward one. You don't want to be a locally tall or pointy surface during a thunderstorm, as that's where charge is more likely to accumulate, so being flatter than rocks and trees nearby is safer - but at the same time, you want to limit the amount of flat surface you occupy too. So yeah I definitely shouldn't have said lie down earlier - whoops! I think the official advice is as you were taught: crouching low with hands over your head - but you still want to stay away from tall objects like tents, trees and rock structures.
     
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  20. Chelonian

    Chelonian Moderator

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    Nice one @Parhelia The detail is genuinely informing. It makes sense to think about weather phenomena and potential risks in the hills.

    An anecdotal observation about lightning strikes:

    Living at the top of a sea cliff I've been aware for some years of the risk of lightning, much as I enjoy a cracking good storm. :) My home, built in the 1930s, actually had a mahoosive copper lightning conductor installed on a chimney until recently.

    In my location the most recent (recorded) ground strike was about 1 km distant from me and 100 m lower in altitude. The centre of a minor road was struck. Initially I suspected that underground utility pipes might have attracted the strike but there are none at that location.

    Another anecdote:

    While on a Via Ferrata route in the Dolomites a group of us were in a 'thunderstorm environment' one afternoon. These are frequent occurrences but best avoided. One can sometimes physically 'feel' the presence of some atmospheric conditions. It was a very odd, elemental experience.
     
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