Held every year in Scotland since 1994, LAMM is a trail running and orienteering event for pairs, with overnight camping at a remote location. To ensure fair competition and add an air of mystery the location is always kept secret until the last minute!
LAMM 2010 is to be held on Saturday 12th to Sunday 13th June 2010. The cost is £80 per team. In addition you must have a Sports Ident card. To enter the 2010 LAMM event and buy a Sports Ident card, click here.
Martin Stone and all at the LAMM team recommend entering the mountain marathon as soon as possible to avoid disappointment:
We have another great area lined up in one of the classic mountain areas of the Scottish Highlands with a scattering of big hills. Our planner this year is Andy Spenceley, who planned the excellent routes at Inchnadamph 2006, Glenfinnan 2008 and was our controller at Kintail 2009. Competition for places in the LAMM is now very keen and the event is always oversubscribed.
To cater for differing abilities there are several different courses: Elite, A, B, C, D and score course.
Elite and A courses will be similar to previous events
B course will be positioned mid-way between 2008 B & C courses
C course will be positioned mid-way between 2008 C & D courses
D course will be positioned mid-way between 2008 D & Novice courses, with less technical controls than the other courses.
The score course is limited to the number of hours shown above, and competitors choose which orienteering controls to collect.
Lowe Alpine Outdoor Gear
Unsurprisingly, the main sponsor of the LAMM event is outdoor gear manufacturer Lowe Alpine, whose gear highly regarded by adventure racers, hill and mountain runners and participants of many other outdoor sports. If you need any trail running gear, a rucksack, waterproofs, thermal wear or any other outdoor kit, it can be found at CheapTents.com!
Although the event takes place in June, event organisers warn competitors not to be complacent about the weather and how serious the Scottish Mountains can be. Taking enough trail running outdoor gear is vital, since the freezing level can be at between 800 and 1000 m, even in the summer. It can still snow!
Please bring a selection of heavier garments to the event so that you can choose appropriate clothing/tent before you start. Please don’t make the same mistakes as in 2004 and come to the LAMM with only Summer equipment.
The 2010 LAMM Mountain Marathon will follow a similar format to previous years events, with big mountains being the order of the day. The 2009 event took place in Kintail, starting at Morvich, Shiel Bridge, on the main A87 road between and Kyle of Lochalsh and Invergarry. The mountains known as the five sisters of Kintail are a famous landmark in the area. Those in the elite section had the pleasure of orienteering checkpoints at either end and either side of the five sisters!
The Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon 2009 took place around the Five Sisters of Kintail. Source: Flickr by Graham Lewis (Grinner).
Around 1000 competitors took part in the mountain marathon, which took place in the mountains north of Glen Shiel. Many of the hills there are very steep with lots of rock, so there was more climbing than usual, however the courses were made a little shorter to compensate. There was even an orienteering checkpoint at the summit of a Munro.
The prize for the leading Elite team was more punishment: a free entry to the Swedish Bjorkliden Arctic Mountain Marathon (BAMM), inlcuding flights and accommodation. This was won by Andy Symonds and Jethro Lennox.
The Adbu Dhabi Adventure Race, climbing in the desert.
Winter is upon us now in the UK. There was a frost this morning and there has been snow on some our higher peaks for some time now. Its time to put on lots of layers and maybe get out our winter accessories. You can’t beat hiking on a sunny winters day, seeing the snow in the trees and on the ground. The fresh, cold air invigorates your face, making your nose go cold. Best of all there is a log fire and a pint of real ale with your name on it, waiting in the country pub at the end of the walk. So why anyone would want to go to Abu Dhabi to take part in a gruelling adventure triathlon across the desert is beyond me…:-)
Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge
The adventure racing triathlon starts today, the 4th, and runs until the 9th of December. The action will start off in Abu Dhabi and take place in the surrounding sea and desert. Teams of varying abilities take part from all over the world, including from the UK. There are 40 adventure racing teams altogether, both males and females, representing 20 nationalities. Whilst many world class top athletes take part, less well known athletes are encouraged too. The race organisers even pay the entry fees and flight costs for a few teams with no previous international adventure racing experience.
The innovative nature of this demanding sporting and cultural odyssey, with its unique emphasis on fairness, accessibility and camaraderie, represents adventure racing’s most exciting opportunity to race against the world’s most international field.
Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge 2009 Itinerary
Each days racing starts and ends at the same place for every team. The Adventure Race itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: Introduction – Quadrathlon. Abu Dhabi, Corniche Beach to Lulu Island and back. A 30 km warm up event featuring biking, running and kayaking, followed by 900 m swim “in case you overheat”.
Day 1: Main event – Sea Kayaking. A 33 km paddle to a small island north of Saadiyat Island. The night will be spent bivouacing on the island.
Day 2: Sea Kayaking. Starting at 6:30 there is a choice of two sea kayaking routes back to Corniche beach. The route choice is either 50 km or 80 km. Bus transportation takes the teams to their overnight desert bivouac at Liwa Dunes, Rub Al Kahli.
Day 3 & 4: Trekking. Again competitor’s have a choice of distance for this next stage. It’s either 70 km or 120 km, but at either distance, the trek through the desert will be a tough challenge, before collapsing exhausted at the end of the day at another desert bivouac.
Day 5: Mountain Biking. There are two mountain bike stages. The first is 33 km to the Qasr Al Sarab. The second is 55 km along a desert trail. Bus transportation takes the adventure racers to the nights bivouac location at Jebel Hafeet, near Al Ain city.
Day 6: Trekking, Mountain Biking and Running. The 21 km trek takes the adventure athletes on an ascent of 700m up the Jebel Hafeet mountain and includes an element of climbing with ropes. From there its a 37 km mountain bike ride into the city of Al Ain Oasis. The last section of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge 2009 is a 3.2km run to the finish line, at the Al Ain Museum.
Where would you rather be? Biking, running, kayaking and swimming in the scorching hot desert sun or going for a bracing hike in the snow in the UK? Let us know…click on the comments link at the bottom of this post!
The 700 m ascent of Jebel Hafeet Mountain. Photo credit Monica Dalmasso.
Carl Loftus practising adventure running at the Winter Hill Fell Race.
We are always interested to hear from people of are taking on an outdoor related challenge to raise money for their favourite cause. We were recently contacted by tri-athlete Carl Loftus, of Warrington Tri Club, who is planning to do a bit of adventure running…
Running The Standstone Trail
The sandstone trail in Cheshire stretches from Whitchurch to Frodsham and takes in 34 miles of stunning scenery including Beeston Castle, Rawhead, Delamere and finally the Mersey view at Frodsham. And I’m going to run it all in one day!
Warrington Triathlon Club
The reason behind this is to raise money for a new junior section of Warrington Triathlon Club. The club started in 2004 and has steadily grown over the years, with club members representing Great Britain in the world championships for the last four years, we’ve also had regional champions and recently one of the club’s coaches was voted North West coach of the year. Last year we held our first open race, The Northwich Aquathlon. This was primarily a junior race, catering for ages 7 to adults. With almost one hundred competitors the event was considered a great success, and it was this enthusiasm from the participants that convinced us that the club should have our own junior section.
To get things off to a good start for the junior club we will need some financial backing and in order to do this Warrington Tri Club are going to be holding a few fund raising events. One of these will be my attempt to run the length of the sandstone trail. Having completed the Sandstone trail race a number of times, which, at 17 miles is only half of the distance, I have always fancied having a go at doing the whole thing. The incentive to raise money for the junior club is just the push that I’ll need.
Trail Running: Carl Loftus from Warrington Tri Club.
I came to the triathlon club in 2006 with a background in running and have done some landmark races including the London Marathon twice. Although this is a road race I have always been attracted to the off road side of things and have often found myself scrambling up hills or wallowing in mud on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I have been building up for this race by entering a few long fell races including the Windgather fell race, and the Winter Hill race, but none of them are as long as this!
Due to the race being so long I will probably have other club members running with me for sections along the way and hopefully they will bring extra supplies to keep me going throughout. I hope to complete the full length of the trail in around six hours but this is really an estimate, as I have never run this far before. The weather will probably play a big part in the run too as I will be attempting it at the end of February 2010. So mud and rain will probably play a large part in the post event discussions and whether people are going to be running it with me.
Can you help?
Running the 34 mile off-road Sandstone Trail is certainly going to be tough challenge! If you are interested in sponsoring or supporting Carl in his fund raising efforts, please contact him at Warrington Tri Club: email@example.com
There was universally superb feedback from competitors after the 2009 iroc event, with the fell race route being described as “worthy of a British Championship course” by elated competitors and the MTB Enduro circuit being described as “the toughest Enduro circuit in the UK” by many (rather tired) competitors.
The weekend of racing kicks off with the Night Orienteering race and competitors will be able to start whenever they want after 10pm on the Friday night. The course will be open for four hours, allowing competitors travelling from further afield sufficient time to complete the first race. Best of all, free meals will be provided to all competitors as they finish each night race and also at the MTB Enduro.
Saturday daytime will be given over to a series of fun “Come and Try It – Adventure Races” for kids and spectators, whilst the competitors get the opportunity to test ride the Night MTB Course and experience labyrinth orienteering! Saturday night marks a change in tempo for the competitors with the races coming thick and fast thereafter. The night Fell Race and MTB Time Trial promise to be visually spectacular experiences for both competitors and spectators in the valley, with the courses being way marked with hundreds of glowsticks and many kilometers of reflective barrier tape.
Sunday’s Orienteering Race will be incredibly exciting as well, with competitors having to navigate through a complex labyrinth maze as they start and finish the race. The combination of the labyrinth maze, rapid fire block starts and gaffling, which all take place in the event village, will ensure an action packed experience for everyone.
The MTB courses for both the Night Time Trial and Enduro are being upgraded with a significant new section of uphill single track in the forest. The downhill single track section that literally induced nightmares for some competitors is also having a makeover, becoming faster, smoother and more ridable than before. The Enduro Race is being increased from four hours to six hours, but with a flexible start time, so that competitors can choose the amount of riding they want to do.
iROC™ will once again be held at Eastgate in the Durham Dales, an amazing venue exclusive to this event. The venue is surrounded by stunning moorland and on the boundary of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The site itself is largely hidden from view but is complete with a large quarry, steep hillsides with complex contour features, forest and a perfect event village location with self-contained campsite at the bottom of the valley. With a prize giving ceremony after each race and an event village featuring a great campsite, fire barrels, BBQ’s, music, a bar, atmospheric lighting and activities for the kids, it’s a brilliant venue for a memorable weekend for all. Set in a beautiful and quiet area of the Durham Dales it will be well away from the Bank Holiday crowds.
have a look at the events schedule below:
Friday 28th May
2200 to 0200
Race 1: Night Orienteering (Score Format)
Saturday 29th May
0900 to 1800
Test Run, Ride and Orienteering
Saturday 29th May
1000 to 1700
Come & Try It – Adventure Racing
Saturday 29th May
Race 2: Night Fell Race
9km / 430m
Sunday 30th May
Race 3: Day Fell Race
14km / 620m
Sunday 30th May
Race 4: Day Orienteering
10.4km / 475m
Sunday 30th May
Race 5: Night MTB Time Trial
18km / 500m
Monday 31st May
0930 to 1530
Race 6: MTB Enduro
If you are thinking of signing up and want to manage to make it to the finish line why not have a look at some of our training tips.
Entries have just opened and are limited to 400 competitors for more information and to register visit wwww.iroc-race.com
Mountain villages are at risk from natural disasters. Source: Flickr by www.viajar24h.com
In order to improve the welfare of the indigenous peoples of mountainous regions the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) has initiated an annual International Mountain Day. This year the theme is Disaster Risk Management in Mountains.
Mountains are hazardous places. Many mountain communities live under the threat of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, landslides and floods.
José Antonio Prado, Director, Forest Management Division, FAO.
The main reasons that people live in these dangerous mountain communities are cultural ties and poverty. The risks to these people can be reduced through sustainable agricultural, pasture and forestry practices. Local and national strategies also need to be put in place to help prevent loss of life.
It is very likely that heavy precipitation will become more frequent and likely that future storms will become more intense.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios.
This year International Mountain Day coincides with the United Nations Climate Change talks in Copenhagen, which is why Disaster Risk Management in Mountains was chosen as this years theme.
The risk of natural disasters occurring is not just confined to the rural mountain environment. City slums are often built up the sides of mountains are particularly vulnerable due to the large numbers of people living in them. Rural mountain communities have a particular disadvantage since it is difficult for advanced warning to be given and also for emergency services and relief aid to reach remote areas. Men from mountainous regions often leave home to earn money in low-lying cities or abroad, leaving women, children and the elderly in the mountains. Since the women are not landowners they are not always eligible for emergency relief. They are often restricted in their social interactions and consequently do not receive risk management advice.
Half of the deaths caused by natural disasters occur in mountains and adjoining lands.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Disaster Risk Management in Mountains
Deforestation increases the risk of natural disasters. When there are no trees there is nothing to hold the soil together and landslips occur more readily. It also increases the amount of water run-off flooding land at the foot of the mountains. Trees also provide a barrier against avalanches. Increases in mountain populations of people and grazing of animals plus outside pressure from commercial logging companies increase the amount of deforestation that occurs. Other factors that increase risk from natural disasters are road construction, building of settlements on exposed slopes and poor terracing.
In developed countries, mountainside forests are planted to provide protection around cities and roads. It is often the tax payer who funds this type of project, however the cost of emergency relief and re-construction far out weighs the cost of preventative measures.
International Mountain Day 2009 - Disaster Risk Management in Mountains
Payments for environmental or ecological services (PES) schemes can help to reduce the risk involved in natural disasters in mountain regions. For example, the FAO, through a project funded by The Netherlands, reduced the amount of damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in the Lempira Sur region of Honduras when compared with other nearby regions. The FAO project initiated the practice of growing sorghum, beans and maizebeans with trees distributed between them. Maximum soil cover was maintained at all times through mulching crop stubble. These soil conservation techniques helped to protect the agricultural infrastructure. The project also help to create diverse interest groups and committees. Through these, producers in Lempira Sur obtained crucial first-level warning and assistance during the emergency.
Through PES schemes, and by educating mountain people and governments about risk awareness, the FAO can help reduce the number of casualties in natural disasters and also help break mountain people out the cycle of poverty.
Each year International Mountain Day focuses on a key aspect of mountain life or the environment. The issues raised to date are outlined as follows:
At CheapTents.com we are always interested to hear from walkers, climbers and campers about what they have been doing and where they have been enjoying the outdoors. For example, Freddy Phillips recently got in touch with details about his wild camping expeditions. In this post, Steve Dempster praises his favourite walking destination: The Malvern Hills.
The Malvern Hills
– The Heart Of England’s Best Feature!
The Malvern Hills straddle the border between Worcestershire and Herefordshire, running in an almost perfect North-South line for some nine miles. Though of relatively modest height – The Worcestershire Beacon is just under 1,400 feet – and virtually surrounded by the town of Malvern and villages such as Colwall, there is a surprising feeling of remoteness once the ascent begins.
Most people visiting the hills for the first time opt for the swift ascent of The Worcestershire Beacon (aka Great Malvern) from Wyche cutting car park. This is a walk for everyone as the path is wide and even and – for the greatest part – tarmac-surfaced! This affords great access for those less able and to get a wheelchair to the top is fairly easy. If you like birds, from here are regularly seen Stonechat, Ravens and even guided-missile-like Peregrine Falcons.
Walking in the Malvern Hills affords excellent views!
At one time a cafe stood at the top of The Worcestershire Beacon – now long gone – and the only signs of man now there are the Trig. point and the splendid topgraph. To the North lies Worcester, Birmingham and the towering bulk of Shropshire’s Clee Hills. To the South, the ridge of the Malverns stretches away with the Cotswolds Scarp off to the South-East and the Severn in the remote distance (on a good day you can easily see Cheltenham). To the East lies the Severn plain, with Bredon Hill in the mid-ground, last outlier of the Cotswolds – The Malverns are a totally different geological formation, being some 400 million years old. There’s the often-quoted fact that there is no higher ground than the Worcestershire Beacon lying due East – until you get to the Ural mountains. No wonder it’s windy! Then the West – a stunning and far-reaching view over the Hereford landscape and on into Wales and the Black Mountains.
There’s More to The Malverns!
For many people that’s as far as they will ever go – and you really can’t blame them. Yet the Malverns have so much more to show – little-used paths along their flanks, a deer park at the Southern end, secretive woods carpeted with bluebells in spring and much more. And don’t forget the Malvern Springs! Bottled at Colwall, Malvern Water is famous world-wide – and yet there are a number of spouts along the Western flanks of the hills where the water is free for the taking.
To sum up, a visit to the Heart of England would really not be complete without a visit to the Malvern Hills. So why not pay them a visit? If you are looking for further information about walks on the hills or places to stay, do drop in on my website at http://www.countrywalkers.co.uk – it’s got several great Malvern walks on it that you’re free to print off as you like!
Your Favourite Walk?
Thank you Steve for your insight into the Malvern Hills. If you think that you are not familiar with the Malverns, you may be wrong! If you have ever driven along the M5 motorway south of Worcester the profile of the Malvern Hills can be seen dominating the Western Horizon and is an inspiring view.
What about your good self? Where do you like to go hiking, climbing or camping? Let us know using the comments link below, or send an e-mail.
Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team have put together a very cute little video to promote the sale of “Mountain Rescue Teddies” as part of their fund raising efforts. The video which is posted on You Tube is embedded below. It shows the teddy mountain rescue team embark on a heroic mountain rescue typical of the type of rescue the real Wasdale team embark upon in real life.
Two teddy bear climbers need to be rescued in this typical Lake District rescue scenario. One climber has fallen sustaining head injuries, the other cannot move after seeing his climbing partner fall. The Wasdale Mountain Rescue Teddy Bears are called into action! The team of four teddies, complete with rucksacks assemble at the foot of the crag. The teddies must climb up the crag and lower themselves back down to reach the first injured bear climber. They bring with the a trauma sack and provide care to the casualty. Meanwhile, two other members of the teddy bear mountain rescue team must climb further up to rescue the other teddy bear climber, facing an overhang followed by a grass rake. Climbing high up the crag they eventually reach the cragfast climber and lower him down. The day is saved thanks to the herioc teddy bears of Wasdale Mountain Rescue team!
Aren’t the teddy bears cute…and heroic too! Mountain Rescue Teddies can be purchased from Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team, their contact details are on the video.
The Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) are volunteers who are totally committed to improving their rescue capability, for which they need climbing equipment, communications equipment and training. It costs about £15,000 per annum for them to operate. They rely almost entirely on donations from the public, so buying a mountain rescue teddy is a great way to help!
There are twelve teams altogether in the Lake District Search and Rescue Association. Wasdale MRT covers Wasdale and Eskdale valleys and extends over Cold Fell towards the coast in the north, and onto Ulpha Fell in the South. Each year there are 50 to 60 call outs, the majority of which take Wasdale MRT up England’s highest mountain: Scafell Pike. There are over 40 members of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team, who have an operations base in Gosforth. Each rescue requires about 25 volunteers who are interrupted from work or leisure to join the rescue. Rescues are normally carried out using Land Rovers and on foot and often require casualties to be carried on a stretcher, but they can also require assistance from the RAF helicopter.
Stepping Lightly on his climb up Blackpool Tower, August 2009.
In August this year, climber and urbex legend “Stepping Lightly” hit the headlines in the national press following his covert ascent of Blackpool Tower. Stepping Lightly has climbed many structures including one of Battersea Power Station’s iconic chimneys, Willington Power Station cooling towers and the famous Angel of the North in Gateshead. He also likes bridge climbing and has climbed the Forth Rail Bridge, and the Humber and Severn Bridges.
But its not just climbing structures… Stepping Lightly is also into urban exploration: exploring things like abandoned military installations or disused hospital buildings, as well as underground exploration of culverts and sewers hidden beneath our cities. Under the streets of Manchester, for example, there are many interesting things to see, including old air raid shelters, photos of which can be seen on the Cathedral Steps exploration post by Angel on the Urban Adventure website.
What is the best way to climb structures and what is the attraction of exploring sewers?…Stepping Lightly tells us in this exclusive interview…
Stepping Lightly Interview
CheapTents.com: What made you decide to climb man-made structures, and how did you get started?
Stepping Lightly: I suppose it was because I started rock climbing at 12 and although my father (who is also a climber) did take me to the crags. During the week I use to climb rail embankments, small bridges and buildings because I had no means of getting to real rock.
As I got older I loved rock but I’d developed an underlining passion for climbing man made structures.
CheapTents.com: What have been the most challenging structures that you have climbed, and why?
Stepping Lightly: Blackpool tower so far because there are so many factors to take into account, weather, fitness, works in progress, random people (who all have phones), security, police, choice of partner and danger…
Angel of the North was like tufa climbing with huge rock ups very pumpy.
Battersea chimney was easy but hard to get to.
Willington power station cooling tower was fine once I’d made the right tool for the holes.
Forth Rail bridge was ace: just me, the wind, the bridge and the sea…
Stepping Lightly on top of the Angel of the North.
CheapTents.com: What are the main differences in techniques between rock climbing and climbing structures?
Stepping Lightly: The main one is fear of being spotted, on the crag that’s fine but if you are a couple of hundred foot up on a building and someone sees you its trouble sometimes with a capital T!
So we develop the stealth technique…
I do try to free climb everything first but am not bothered if I have to aid a section if it is going to stop me achieving my goal. And because no damage has to be done we sometimes cannot use the easiest route.
CheapTents.com: What is your biggest weakness?
Stepping Lightly: Funding as I would like to get more European and Stateside stuff done…
Physical weakness, because I climb, m.t.b., kayak, slack-line, skydive, fell-run and urbex I’m usually sporting some kind of injury, so what ever is injured at the time is my weakness.
CheapTents.com: What has been your worst injury (if any) from climbing or urban exploration and how did it happen?
Stepping Lightly: My worst injury was at work a building collapsed and I had to jump 3 stories, I broke my leg in 6 places. My worst climbing injury was the same leg, I fell and bust tendons ligaments and couple of bones. Urbex wise I have been very lucky, a few near misses but just a deep cut in my arm off a rusty fence and a bolt in my hand slipping on a mossy roof.
CheapTents.com: What are the most challenging climbs that you are planning for the future?
Stepping Lightly: It would be nice to rhyme off a list but the Internet is huge and read by all walks so if you don’t mind I will keep that to myself for now…
CheapTents.com: What are the most important aspects of planning your climbs and route selection?
Stepping Lightly: If it can be done with limited danger to me and no danger to other people and cause no damage to the structure, after that its just exposure time limitation, not spending too much time in an area that will cause unwanted attention and getting the feature shots.
CheapTents.com: What inspired you to get into urban exploration, such as exploring drains and culverts?
Stepping Lightly: Its a strange story that, I was about 7 and my Dad had took me into Ellis Brighams in Manchester when it was in the corn exchange, my Dad was chatting away and I asked to use their loo, it was out of order so he pointed me to one 2 stories down in the basement and told me to keep right and I would find it. As I tried to find my way back I walked out into an underground street, being 7 it was not a place to dwell so I hurried back up stairs.
So for the last few years I’ve been trying to find a way to see that again, whilst doing that I’ve found some other truly amazing sights…
CheapTents.com: Have you ever been cautioned or arrested for climbing structures or for urban exploration?
Stepping Lightly: Yes a couple of times both on chimneys. One was just a friendly can you come down and leave. The other was a police chopper, anti-terror police and very angry security! I’m still waiting for it to be on Police Camera Action or something like that. We did ask for footage but no luck!
CheapTents.com: What are your favourite bits of gear, and why?
Stepping Lightly: I have a fifi hook I use as a grid lifter and doubles up as a fence climbing aid, 10 slings that I use for everything, slings are king in Urbex, a 30m length of 8mm that is light and easy packable and my little rucksack with 10 pockets, so I know what is where even I the pitch black.
CheapTents.com: Any people you would like to thank?
Stepping Lightly: Yes all the people I’ve met doing this, some of which have become my best friends, names are irrelevant as they know who they are.
CheapTents.com: Anything else you would like to say?
Stepping Lightly: Choose clothes appropriately, if you are in the city don’t go camo or SAS, just blend.
If you are tackling something mega take extra in case, most of my wardrobe is outdoor gear, its just so hard wearing and reliable.
CheapTents.com: Thank you Stepping Lightly for taking the time to answer our questions.
If anyone has any suggestions of structures which Stepping Lightly could climb or potential places for some urban exploration, click on the comments link below and make a suggestion!
Urbex, exploring the urban environment can lead to the discovery of abandoned tunnels. Source: Flickr by Paulio Geordio.
Climbing structures and urban exploration (urbex) are potentially dangerous activities. Since they involve trespassing they could also land you in trouble with the police, therefore we cannot condone them. It should also be noted that Stepping Lightly always ensures that he does not cause any damage whatsoever when climbing structures or taking part in urbex.
Take only photos, leave only footprints.
Simon Cornwell of urbex|uk
More information about urban exploration, including safety tips, can be found at Urbex 101.
A red kite By Sue Trantor, courtesy of rspbimages.com
Being out in the countryside hiking, camping and climbing often gives us the opportunity to see wildlife. A most impressive sight is that of a bird of prey circling high above, in the clear blue sky, sightings such as this have at times been rare, but thanks to the hard work of individuals and societies such as the RSPB something is being done to conserve an important factor in our ecology.
The RSPB is currently running a campaign to protect birds of prey by creating more awareness and hopefully more respect for these creatures. CheapTents.com asked John Loder, an RSPB Campaign Talks Officer to tell us all about the campaign and how we walkers, campers and climbers can get involved and do our bit to help preserve a better future for these magnificent birds.
John is a volunteer, and is passionate about the RSPB and the important work that is done, he gives up his spare time to travel the North West of England giving lectures, talks and tutorials to all types of people on the work of the RSPB, its’ campaigns, how people can help and the pleasure that is gained from giving up time for others.
Interview With John Loder, RSPB Campaign Talks Officer
Since 2003, nearly two thousand incidents of bird crime involving or targeting wild birds of prey in the UK have been reported to the RSPB.
John Loder RSPB Campaign Talks Officer
CheapTents.com – The focus of this interview is to talk about the RSPB’s Birds of Prey Campaign, can you please tell us how this came about?
John Loder: “The Society feel it is the right time to bring the plight of our birds of prey (also called raptors) to the public’s attention. There have been some successes recently, think of the spread of ospreys, and the spectacular increase in red kite and white-tailed eagle numbers due to re-introduction schemes – all very high profile. But behind this is a tragic story of the systematic killing of many of these birds, by shooting, poisoning, trapping and nest robbing. Since 2003, nearly two thousand incidents of bird crime involving or targeting wild birds of prey in the UK have been reported to the RSPB.”
CheapTents.com – What are the aims of the campaign?
John Loder: “Put simply, we want the killers of these birds to stop it; to obey the law of the land. Often the illegal killing occurs in remote locations and is therefore difficult to detect. We want to ensure that:
Birds of prey continue to be fully protected.
The law is properly enforced so those choosing to break the law are punished.
These criminals know that public opinion is against them: that society is watching.
We have a stronger voice to help to protect these magnificent birds and allow everyone to experience the joy of seeing them.”
This peregrine falcon was trapped in the Midlands, tragically the RSPB got to this bird to late, the distress and pain on it's face is obvious and it had to be euthanised. This is one of the reasons for this campaign. By D Bromley, courtesy of rspbimages.com
CheapTents.com – Why does it matter if we are losing birds of prey, what value do they have?
John Loder: “Firstly, we all know about biodiversity – as creatures at the top of the food chain, birds of prey have their role. Persecution of birds of prey invariably has knock-on effects to the food chain
Environmental indicators – birds in general have been recognised as excellent indicators of the health of the environment and birds of prey have played a role in this. Think of DDT in the 1960’s – the danger of this chemical in agriculture was picked up very early when studies into the decline in birds of such as sparrowhawks found that it made their eggshells thinner, causing them to break during incubation. The connection was “If that does this to a bird, what is it doing to me?”
‘Heritage’ is a common buzz word nowadays, and names of birds of prey have found their way into our cultural heritage – just think of eagle, hawk, falcon, merlin, all used to imply excitement and speed, and used as a name for racing cars, fighter aeroplanes, and aero-engines. On the other hand there is a champion beer called ‘Hen Harrier’ produced in the Forest of Bowland – it is difficult to imagine that just a few years ago.
[The] hen harrier is known as Britain’s most threatened bird of prey…research has shown that the natural population in England should be around 200 pairs, but there are only about 15.
John Loder RSPB Campaign Talks Officer.
There is a value that can be quantified in financial terms – the pleasure people take from seeing birds of prey has been turned into financial gain where tourists are attracted by the possibility of seeing these spectacular sights. People flock to Mull and Skye to see white-tailed eagles. I persuaded my family to visit Mull recently, and we played our part in bringing in £1.6m extra to the island that year. Later on that same holiday we visited Loch Garten, one of a number of viewing sites run by the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts to encourage people to visit places where the fabulous osprey can be seen raising their own families. 290,000 visit osprey sites every year, bringing in £3.5m.
Significant numbers of visitors visit mid Wales to see red kites at Nant yr Arian and Gigrin Farm. Peregrines bring in £0.5m to the Forest of Dean, and the 8 peregrine ‘Date with Nature’ sites have 120,000 visitors per year. The vast majority of these sites are in remote rural communities, bringing much needed revenue.”
CheapTents.com – How will an increase in Bird of Prey populations affect other endangered species of birds and small mammals that they hunt?
John Loder: “By definition, birds of prey do what it says on the tin – they prey on other creatures. They can be sub-divided, however, into those that eat carrion and those that eat live prey, although raptors are opportunists and will eat a bit of both if it presents itself. Red kites are mainly carrion eaters, but that didn’t stop them being wiped out by the turn of the last century. Hen harriers, peregrines, and golden eagles are all persecuted in upland areas for the same reason – because they eat game birds, most notably red grouse. In some circumstances, grouse may form a major part of their diet and they can take a sizeable proportion of the shootable surplus of grouse. Conservation bodies, however, attribute declines in red grouse populations to a combination of the loss and deterioration of heather moorland, disease, and increased predation by foxes and crows, rather than from bird of prey activity.
There are misconceptions out there, and they have been around for hundreds of years.
John Loder RSPB Campaign Talks Officer.
Peregrines are persecuted by some members of the racing pigeon fraternity, but research has shown that 86% of pigeons lost each year fail to return to their lofts for reasons other than predation by birds of prey.
Similarly research was conducted to investigate the loss of songbirds by the poor old sparrowhawk and other raptors. Surprise, surprise, then, when they concluded that there was no evidence that birds of prey had population effects on songbirds.
Declines in farmland birds, and many of these fall under the ‘endangered’ banner, were mainly down to changes in our farmland practices having a detrimental effect on their habitat. So there are misconceptions out there, and they have been around for hundreds of years.”
CheapTents.com – What species are endangered?
John Loder: “As creatures at the top of the food chain, the natural order of things means there will never be vast numbers of birds of prey. Some species have always had low numbers for many years as our islands are at the extremities of their natural range. Others such as the white tailed eagle, osprey and red kite have relatively low numbers in most areas, but are recovering from near extinction a few decades ago, as a result of lots of TLC. But those that concern me most are the goshawk, golden eagle and hen harrier.
The white-tailed eagle, the largest bird in the UK. By Ian McCarthey courtesy of rspbimages.com
The goshawk is a bird of the forests, looks like a sparrowhawk on steroids, and has been systematically persecuted in the Northern Peak District to just a handful of pairs.
The hen harrier is known as ‘Britain’s most threatened bird of prey’. Recent research has shown that the natural population in England should be around 200 pairs, but there are only about 15. This year was a particularly bad one, with only about 10 pairs breeding successfully in England.
The word ‘icon’ could have been invented for the golden eagle. The ultimate predator, symbol of the Scottish moorland, but again their numbers are being kept artificially low by poisoning, nest destruction and shooting, and there are just over 400 breeding pairs in Scotland.”
CheapTents.com – What direct actions are the RSPB doing to increase bird of prey populations?
John Loder: ” The programme of reintroductions may catch the headlines, but the resources needed are mind-boggling. This tactic of ‘pump-priming’ the populations of red kites has been very successful and now needs less attention. We seem to have got the recipe right for the white-tailed eagle, and there are hopes that an English population can be established soon. Protection of birds and nests is the priority for the RSPB Investigations Unit, that works closely with the Police and other agencies in rural areas. On a more day-to-day level, the RSPB recognises the value of input from farmers, and carries out a vast amount of research, education and co-operation on wildlife-friendly farming.”
golden eagle….numbers are being kept artificially low by poisoning, nest destruction and shooting, and there are just over 400 breeding pairs in Scotland.
John Loder RSPB Campaign Talks Officer.
CheapTents.com – Our readers spend a lot of time in the outdoors, is there any general advice that you can give them as to the best ways and times in which birds can be seen whilst hiking in the countryside?
John Loder: ” Birds are more likely to be heard than seen, so use your ears. Practise learning the songs and calls of common garden birds first – early mornings are the best time. Get yourself a cheap bird book that will fit in a map pocket. Compact binoculars don’t have to be expensive, and I use mine to help find a path when I’m out on the hills. Oh, and if you’re walking and birdwatching, go with like-minded people, as you do tend to stop fairly regularly.”
CheapTents.com – In the most popular walking areas in the UK which birds of prey could we expect to see?
John Loder: “In the Cairngorms the ospreys are returning to the lochs if there are plentiful fish stocks, and up on the moors there is the merlin, which is like a small kestrel, and the rare hen harrier, which has it’s stronghold in Scotland. If you’re lucky you may spot a golden eagle soaring at height. But they do have peregrines – they nest on the crags; listen out for the youngsters’ high pitched calls.
A Harrier. By Chris Gomersall, courtesy of rspbimages.com
In the Lake District, ospreys are back in Bassenthwaite, and the lowland woods have sparrowhawks, which are secretive ‘ambush’ predators. You’ll spot buzzards in many rural areas, they can usually be seen soaring on the thermals, but they have a taste for insects so are found in the fields.
Mid-Wales is a haven for red kites, and on many of our coastal paths look out for kestrels hovering, and there’s a possibility that you will find peregrines here as well – they move to the estuaries to chase waders in Winter.”
CheapTents.com – As walkers/wild campers or climbers how can we minimise our impact on birds and wildlife?
John Loder: ” We now have the ‘right to roam’, but you have to be sensible and follow the Countryside Code. Many of the upland species of birds are ground nesters, so keep to the paths and ensure dogs are on a lead in the nesting/lambing season. I have an 8 metre lead: it gives the dog plenty of freedom and he learns not to pull after a while. As an ex-climber, I know that most of the routes are away from nests, but the tell-tale signs are a bird calling in distress. You will normally hear/see this at the bottom before you start.
The common sense stuff about litter applies, as birds can get tangled in fishing lines or swallow plastic bags in the water.”
CheapTents.com – If out walking and I saw someone obviously trapping or hunting birds of prey. What should I do? Is there an emergency phone number or do I just phone the police?
John Loder: ” If a matter is urgent, telephone the police, RSPB or appropriate agency. If your concern is regarding animal welfare or domestic animals, contact the RSPCA or your local wildlife centre.
If you would prefer to speak to somebody call the RSPB on 01767 680 551 (England and Wales) or 0131 311 6500 (Scotland). Lines are manned 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Messages can be left outside these hours.
There is a form on the RSPB website that you can use to report a wildlife crime to the RSPB. The more information you can provide, the more useful your report will be. Although it may be distressing at the time, try and remember a few salient facts, like: when, where, bird species, description of the suspect, evidence etc. Photographs are useful, however do not put yourself in danger.”
CheapTents.com – Finally, How can people help the campaign or get involved?
John Loder: “It’s easy – visit the RSPB Birds Of Prey Campaign homepage and then ‘sign the pledge’. By law you have to be 18 or over, and we will send you a free Birds of Prey booklet in the post.
If you’re in the North of England you may want me (or one of my colleagues) to give an evening presentation on the Birds of Prey Campaign to your local group – it doesn’t have to be a walking or conservation group, and I don’t charge a fee! Call the RSPB Denby Dale office on 01484 861148 and leave your details. And finally, thanks for giving me the opportunity to show how birds of prey are not only great to watch, but also have a vital role in maintaining the balance of our natural world.”
The RSPB does a lot of work to raise awareness of critically endangered bird species and tries to restore declining bird populations. A lot of this work is done in conjunction with the BirdLife International. A large amount of money is raised for bird conservation through the annual Birdfair at Rutland water. Previous international campaigns have focussed on Rimatara Lorikeets, Gurney’s Pittas and the Albatross as well as many other species. For the past three years the main focus of BirdFair conservation has been on the Lost and Found campaign which hopes to verify whether certain critically endangered bird species still exist and where they are. In doing so effective conservation efforts can be made.
Ofcom, the Government body that oversees communications in the UK, has agreed to ‘roaming’ for emergency calls. This means that when a caller has no signal from their provider, the mobile phone system will switch them to any other provider’s emergency signal if there is one available.
This move will hopefully lead to increased safety on the mountains as it should increase the chances of being able to dial 112 or 999 from your mobile in an emergency. The move of course does not guarantee that you will get a signal as there are areas which are not covered by any operator.
Mountain rescue helicopter Source - Flickr:pdam2
It is however important not to let increased coverage to lead you into a false sense of security and not to follow “traditional” safety advice. Remember that good planning is essential before any trip out into the hills. Make sure you leave both your primary and emergency escape routes with somebody who can raise an alarm if they don’t hear from you, and don’t forget to take all the gear you need to keep yourself safe and secure in the worst conditions.
Lastly don’t forget one of the most reliable devices for raising an alarm in an emergency situation that won’t run out of batteries or break when it gets wet…the trusty emergency whistle The alpine emergency signal is 6 short blasts of a whistle with a 1 minute break and then repeated. The reply is 3 blasts with the same pause.
So remember to prepare for every eventuality when you head off into the mountains as you never know what might happen.
TIME ACTIVITIES POINT OF INTEREST
1. Pasyal Chi Kabayan - Held every last week of October, this is an organized trek around the Municipality of Kabayan showcasing its different attractions such as the mummies, mountains lakes, burial caves and rocks, Mount Pulag and the famous Bendian Dance which is the original victory dance of the people of the municipality.
2. Climbing the Rocky Wall of Beauties – As part of the Municipal foundation Day of Kibungan every November 22, this climb is an amazing extreme adventure which allows the participant to be on top of the Rockies and get a perfect view of the municipalities clean rivers, numerous burial caves and rocks, rice terraces, green mountains and meadows. It is an adventure’s delight climbing the rocks of Kibungan stretching as far as the eyes can see.
3. Anitap Festival of Kapangan – This ...
From the Highlandprovince of Benguet, we proudly extend our warm invitations to all adventure enthusiasts around the world. Considered as the gateway to the Cordillera provinces in northern Philippines, Benguet is just a five hour drive from Manila via the historic Kennon road. Just five kilometers from BaguioCity is the sprawling valley of La Trinidad, the strawberry capital of the Philippines and the set of the Provincial Government.
Next to the City of Baguio in terms of tourist arrivals, Benguet is a place where vacation is really worth. Its cool climate, beautiful sceneries, peace loving and hospitable peoples are factors that make a trip to this place truly enjoyable. For use, one can roam around the province’s exotic places without fear of being harassed or disturbed. Reserved in their manners, Benguet people are proud to have the lowest crime rate in the Region, if not the entire Philippines.
The ethnic groupings of Ibalois, Kankanaeys and K...