Thursday, 25 October 2012

An exciting future for the Lake District's Visitors Centre

In the atmosphere of cut-backs we find ourselves in, it is indeed refreshing to hear about the success of the Lake District Visitor Centre at Windermere - Brockhole.

The next monthly meeting of the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) members will be told the strategic masterplan redevelopment programme for Brockhole is well on the way to turning around the fortunes and future of the centre.

The man in charge, Programme Director Adam Thomas (right), will explain how the number of people visiting the popular lakeside attraction is increasing and at the same time the centre is dramatically reducing the financial  impacts it has on the LDNPA’s overall budget.

His interim report detailed how, in July 2007, the authority set out its intention to turn Brockhole into “a world class visitor attraction”. Already the centre has been transformed by:

The new jetty at Brockhole - photo courtesy of LDNPA

  • building a new jetty to accommodate all Windermere Lake Cruises’ ships;
  • creating a Tree TopTrek woodland adventure course;
  • increasing watersports availability;
  • improving catering facilities; and
  • developing greater retail opportunities.

Visitor numbers to the centre have increased from under 100,000 to 230,000 and the amount of subsidy required has fallen from  £315,000 to £187,000 in the current financial year.

In November, members will receive an updated report detailing in full future plans for areas such as: building a new visitor centre; garden restoration; improving viewing areas; staging large-scale events; car parking; and access changes to the main entrance.

With the news of so many visitor facilities facing reduced opening hours or indeed closure, it is fantastic news to hear about the success of Brockhole.

Please let us know what you think about this news by leaving comments below.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Make strides with Berghaus' Lonscale range

Berghaus has announced a range of outdoor trousers perfect for year-round adventures - just in time for the autumn walking season.

The Lonscale Pants come in a rangle of styles both for Men and Women, and are idea for walking and trekking.  They are part of the Trail range, and are made out of 100% nylon together with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish - which is Berghaus' special finish that is applied to the face fabric to maintain waterproofness and breathability.

The trousers come in long-leg, short-leg and a zip-off leg versions.  For more information, visit the Berghaus website.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Hungry pub goers and walkers help the Yorkshire Three Peaks

Special pub meals and a book of walks have been raising much-needed cash to help maintain footpaths around the Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The Lion in Settle decided to help by donating 15p every time a hungry visitor to the pub ordered a main course dish called ‘Butchers Board’.

And manager Ian Pilcher has handed over a cheque for £250 – raised from more than 1,600 meals – to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) for its Three Peaks Project, which was launched in 2009 to maintain the heavily-used network of paths connecting the famous hills.

“I think it’s really good to support a local organisation that conserves the area,” Ian said.
“Most of our customers come to walk in the Three Peaks, and the menu choice proved very popular. We’ll do the same again over the coming winter.”
From left to right: Ian Pilcher, Chris Grogan and Steve Hastie in the restaurant at the Lion in Settle.

The first Three Peaks Project was established by the YDNPA in 1987, after a study by the Institute for Terrestrial Ecology carried out a study of the condition of the path network in the Three Peaks area.  It  concluded that the region had the sad distinction of possessing the most severely eroded network in the UK.

Originally started with a staff of 13, its remit included trialling new path-engineering and re-vegetating techniques to provide sustainable routes and to allow damaged surrounding land to recover.  The mid-90s and early 2000s saw a number of externally-funded projects completed, each with one or two extra staff appointed.

However, since 2004, the management and maintenance of the Three Peaks network has reverted back to the YDNPA’s Rangers – a team of just two officers covering the whole of the wider Ribblesdale area.

The latest project aims to create a sustainable source of both practical and financial support that will help protect and enhance the area and the rights of way network into the future.  Since its launch, many of the charities that regularly use the Three Peaks for sponsored events have volunteered to donate money towards the upkeep of the area.

At the same time, the authors of a book of walks from stations along the world-famous Settle Carlisle railway line have been doing their bit to help the project.

Tony and Chris Grogan from Saltaire-based publishers Skyware Ltd decided that a proportion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of ‘Dales Rail Trails’ would be donated to the Friends of the Three Peaks, a group run by the National Park Authority.

Chris has passed on a cheque for £200 generated from sales of the book over the spring and summer.

“I’m very happy that we are able to donate to the Friends of the Three Peaks, and that sales of the book have gone so well,” she said.

“It has only been on sale since the spring so we’re hopeful that we can make further contributions.”

The book was funded by the YDNPA’s Sustainable Development Fund – which is managed by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust – and has sold more than 650 copies since going on sale at the beginning of the year priced £8 99.

It contains 32 walks from stations along the railway line as well as a guide to the popular, 24-mile Three Peaks Challenge route and details of the 48-mile Six Peaks Trail, which links stations from Settle to Kirkby Stephen.

Steve Hastie, the YDNPA’s Three Peaks Project Manager, said: “The great thing for me is that these fundraising ideas came from Ian, Chris and Tony.

“Our Corporate Friends have really started to get to grips with the challenges facing the wonderful Three Peaks and they are making very useful, positive contributions.”

If you'd like to become a Friend can log on to the YDNPA website at and follow the pages to join online.

And you can watch our walking video around the Ribblehead Viaduct, which takes in part of Whernside below.

Friday, 19 October 2012

An action-packed weekend - the 1st Buxton Adventure Festival

The first Buxton Adventure Festival kicks of on Saturday with an action-packed programme of events.

The festival programme of illustrated lectures followed by short films will be packed with speakers from the world of adventure, travel, photography and sport.

Headline speakers include downhill mountain bike World Champion Danny Hart (interviewed by ITV Cycle Show presenter Anna Glowinski) and the Queen’s Olympic Opening Ceremony stunt-double Gary Connery who this summer became the first person to jump from a helicopter without a parachute.

Squash Falcolner
Gavin Newman
The weekend feature some of Derbyshire’s finest adventurers and athletes including Derby born adventurer Squash Falcolner who climbed Everest and was the first British woman to paraglide from the top of Mont Blanc.  There’ll be talks from Bamford’s internationally renowned travel photographer John Beatty and Belper writer Gordon Stainforth - who’ll be talking about his latest book ‘Fiva - An Adventure that Went Wrong’ chronicling he and his twin brother’s brush with death on a teenage climbing expedition.  Other speakers include author of cult fell running book ‘Feet in the Clouds’ Richard Askwith (interviewed by adventure sports writer Nik Cook); chair of the River & Lake Swimming Association Rob Fryer; and award-winning cave-diver and film-maker Gavin Newman.

Maddie Thompson
And on Saturday and Sunday mornings they’ll be two special Young Adventurer sessions with stunt mountain biker Danny Butler and Castleton’s very own 17 year old Paralympic basketballer Maddie Thompson, fresh back from the 2012 Games, followed by an afternoon of activities.

In addition to the events at the festival, there's also the first Peak District Autumn Walking Festival - details of which can be found here.

Our October podcast featured an interview with Lissa Cook about the festival...

For more information about the Buxton Adventure Festival, visit the website at

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Making improvements in the Ogwen Valley

With around 250,000 visitors every year, the Ogwen Valley is an extremely popular location - it's just a shame the current Warden's building does not do justice to its setting.

The building was originally designed as a garage, snack kiosk and toilets at the end of 1970 and, over the years, it was converted to provide office, storage and interpretation areas.

But, in early November, construction will start on providing a brand new building.  The proposed new facilities at the Centre will include an office for 3 people, toilets, changing areas, food kiosk, and a sheltered area for interpretation which will be suitable for groups, monitors providing 24 hour weather information and visible from the outside, interpretation panels, assembly points for groups, and curtilage area which will separate cars, people and parking facilities for bicycles.

These much needed improvements in the Ogwen Valley - which is to the North East of the peak of Snowdon - has come through the Cwm Idwal Partnership, a combination of the Snowdonia National Park Authority, the Countryside Council for Wales and the National Trust.  Funding is from the CAN strategic project (Communities and Nature) through the European Development Fund and the Countryside Council for Wales through the Welsh Government.

Emyr Williams from the Partnership, said,
"The facilities at the Warden’s base in Ogwen were limited and basic, and did not offer the best service or provision for the 250,000 visitors who visit Ogwen each year. The new Cwm Idwal Centre will be a gateway to Snowdonia, and one which will improve people’s understanding and enjoyment of Cwm Idwal, Ogwen Valley and the surrounding area. It will also attract a wider audience to take advantage of the various recreational and educational opportunities available here. "

Construction work should be finished early in 2013 ready for opening in the summer.  In the meantime, snacks and drinks facilities will not be available at the site - but there will be temporary toilets and parking spaces will be limited during the construction period.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Five tips to spot wildlife on your Autumn Walk

Autumn is a great time to be spotting wildlife, and it's simpler than you might think find your inner Chris Packham...

1. Take A Break

Instead of racing through on your walk, take it steady and rest for a while to look around.  Not just to make sure you don't tread on anything, but also to keep your eyes open for footprint trails.  If you are stopping for any length of time, make sure you're layered up to keep warm.

2. Blend into your Environment

Leave that red fleece behind, turn your mobile phone onto silent and zip your car keys away in your pockets.  Blending in is the name of the game when trying to spot wildlife - so dark coloured clothing and hinding away into the shadows helps your chances.  Also, if you are snacking, try to avoid crunchy snacks which make loud noises in the quiet of the landscape.

3. Rhythm of the Rain

Don't just be a fair-weather walker - getting out in the rain will mean you'll see all the insects and worms who love wet weather.  And they then bring out more birds... Who then bring out bigger birds...

4. Dawn or dusk

Picking the right time greatly increases your chances of wildlife viewing - and the best times are either at dawn or at dusk.  With a bit of research you'll be able to identify animals favourite drinking spots, shelters and hind-outs.  And don't forget to bring a torch to light your way - a head torch is a great idea to keep hands free.

5. Remember to put it back

It's so important not to disturb things, especially during breeding seasons - and if you do, replace it.

And remember also to take a camera - and post some top pics to our Facebook page please!

What wildlife have you spotted on Autumn walks - please let us know.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Five of the top British Isles walking destinations

Taking a walk with the family is a great way to spend some time together and to get healthy exercise, but how many times can a family walk around their own neighbourhood.  After a while, the same old route may get a little boring.  That’s why planning a walking holiday for the next family trip may be just what the doctor ordered.

A walking holiday is perfect for people of any age that want to get away, see some spectacular sights, and not gain weight while traveling!  That’s why walking holidays are great for the whole family – it keeps mum and dad active and allows the kids plenty of things to see and do.  A walking holiday can include everything from a long-distance hike to relaxed strolls along a coastal path; it just really depends on the destination.  So here are five of the top walking destinations in the British Isles to consider for the next family holiday.

Lake District

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful and serene destinations in the United Kingdom.  The scenic beauty of the lakes and mountains has attracted millions of visitors over the years and is the ideal backdrop for a walking holiday.  Be sure not to miss the Southern Fells, home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England - though every area within the district is ideal for an extended trip or a quick weekend getaway.  Families may rent a cabin or choose to camp in the Lake District National Park.  Camping allows families to bring their own village garden furniture for comfortable al fresco dining.  Using a campsite as a base the family can enjoy the easy, moderate, and difficult walking trails, which vary in length, at their own pace.

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is one of the best locations for a walking holiday simply because there is so much space.  Measuring 33 miles in length and being 13 miles wide, this destination offers some of the most breathtaking countryside views in the British Isles.  For families that want to get a taste of every type of scenery the British Isles has to offer, the Isle of Man has it all – majestic highlands, layered cliffs, valley slopes, woodland glens, and of course sandy beaches.  With miles of footpaths, the Isle of Man is ideal for hiking beginners, leisure walkers, and families with young children as well as the most experienced walker.  Remember though, the Isle of Man isn't part of the UK, so you'll need some form of photo ID to travel to and from.

Norfolk Coast Path

Between Cromer and Hunstanton, the Norfolk Coast Path offers an enjoyable route for any enthusiastic walker on holiday.  Following along the coastline, this national trail has an abundance of wildlife that can only be seen in the UK. There is birdlife in abundance and the walk passes through some nature reserves.  Salt marshes, sandy cliffs, and crashing waves are features of the Norfolk Coast Path.  Because the path remains at sea level, there is some walking on the shingle shoreline and the beach itself; these sections can be quite tiring.  Do not be put off by this, as this is a wonderful coastal path that rewards its users with some wonderful scenery.

North York Moors

For a dramatic coastal walking holiday and a taste of the wild upland moorlands, the North York Moors are the perfect destination.  The interesting ancient villages with ruined abbeys and a restored steam railway complement the beautiful rural scenery.  Walking enthusiasts will enjoy the well-developed footpaths offering a wide range of walks.  Covering almost 600 square miles, the North York Moors is home to one of the most picturesque national parks in the United Kingdom.

South West Coast Path

For those hoping to experience a walk to remember, the South West Coast Path is one of the longest national walking trails in the UK.  With a variety of landscapes and seascapes, it is also one of the most challenging.  Don’t forget the camera and good walking shoes on this trail, as the high cliffs and rich wilderness are a sight to behold while proving to be a great challenge every step of the way.

You can find walks in the Lake District, the North Yorks Moors, the Isle of Man and the South West Coast Path on our website - Walks Around Britain.  We're adding some along the Norfolk Coast Path very soon.

Have we missed out you're favourite destination?  Please let us know what it is and why.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Derbyshire and The Peak District: A dog walker's guide

When you've got dogs, it is sometimes hard to find walking routes suitable for them.  Treks you think look great on the OS map can often be obstructed by stiles and other hazards.

That was the reasoning behind Peter Naldrett's latest book Derbyshire & The Peak District: A Dog Walker's Guide - published by Countryside Books.

Talking about the book, Peter said "I know from my own experience that it is hard to be sure, once you are off your home patch, where you can walk safely with your dog without the frustration of getting lost, finding your route blocked with impassable stiles or encountering busy roads.  I have put together this collection of dog-friendly walks so that others can discover Derbyshire and The Peak District’s glorious countryside without these frustrations'.

The 20 circular routes have been designed with maximum off-lead time and minimum exposure to roads, and vary in length from 2 to 5¾ miles.  Each walk has information on the distance and terrain, livestock likely to be encountered, number and type of stiles en route and, in an emergency, the nearest veterinary surgery.  In addition to the clear, numbered route instructions, each section also includes a matching numbered map, information on how to get to the start, places of interest along the way, and local pubs and cafes which welcome dogs.

The routes give dogs and their owners the chance to explore the glorious countryside of Derbyshire and the Peak District, with walks beside the river Dove in beautiful Dovedale; over Monsal Head with its breath-taking views; around Torside Reservoir and Ladybower Reservoir, surrounded by lush meadows and woodland; through Poolsbrook Country Park, a glorious example of regenerated land; and along the river of Lathkill Dale with its tumbling weirs and lovely views.

There is also the chance to see the historic ‘plague village’ of Eyam; the ancient packhorse trail on Stanage Edge; impressive Chatsworth House; and many charming and picturesque villages such as Tissington, Osmaston and Milton.

‘I hope my book will provide readers and their dogs with many happy hours of inspiring and enjoyable walks together’ says Peter Naldrett.  ‘Happy walking!’

DERBYSHIRE & THE PEAK DISTRICT: A DOG WALKER’S GUIDE by PETER NALDRETT is published by Countryside Books and is available from all good booksellers, some local garden centres and attractions and direct from the publishers at

And don't forget we put information about the dog-friendliness of each walk on our website, and we've made some specific dog-friendly walking videos in association with Bob Martin.  Here's our walk along Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District...

Monday, 8 October 2012

Details for the Snowdonia Walking Festival finalised.

In October, the Snowdonia National Park Authority and the Wales Air Ambulance are again joining forces to organise the Snowdonia Walking Festival.

Every day, at 10.00am, on October 12th, 13th and 14th, twelve interesting and educational guided walks will start off at different locations in Snowdonia.  Each one is led by a local, knowledgeable and experienced leader and will vary in distance, grade and time.

During the festival, six guided walks will be held in the northern area of the Park and will include walks along the foothills of the Carneddau from Llanfairfechan, Abergwyngregyn Falls, the Bridges Walks from Betws y Coed, Cwm Idwal, and along the Pyg Track.  In central Snowdonia, walks have been organised from Croesor, Cwm Bychan and an archaeological themed walk to Tomen y Mur near Trawsfynydd.  In southern Snowdonia, the guided walks include the Panoroama Circular Walk from Barmouth, Foel Caerynwch from Brithdir and the Precipice Walk from Llanfachreth.

Booking is essential for each walk and a fee of £15 or £20 will be charged per adult but with all proceeds going towards Air Ambulance Cymru.  Participants will also receive a sponsorship pack which includes a sponsor form, Wales Air Ambulance goodie bag and an exclusive discount voucher at Cotswold Outdoor Clothing.

Valmai Mattula, from Air Ambulance Cymru, said,
“Snowdonia is famous the world over for its majestic, rugged beauty and the Snowdonia Walking Festival not only gives you a chance to explore this stunning National Park, but it also provides an opportunity to raise vital funds at the same time. Individuals and families can come along and we can also offer corporate packages for businesses looking for ways of fundraising with colleagues, or who would like to work on team-building skills and fulfil social responsibility schemes.” 

Snowdonia National Park Warden Dewi Davies is one of the Guides during the festival.  He added,
“Going on a guided walk is one of the best ways to learn about the history, geology, culture and biodiversity of the area whilst appreciating the beauty and special qualities of Snowdonia at the same time. What we cannot guarantee however is the weather! Walkers should wear comfortable walking boots, a warm waterproof and windproof coat or jacket, and gloves and a hat. A rucksack with plenty of food and drink, extra water and sunscreen can also be handy.”

Further details on the festival and booking arrangements can be viewed at

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Podcast Edition 009 - Show Notes

Edition 9 of the Walks Around Britain podcast features a walk around The Chines of Bournemouth with writer and blogger Karen Guttridge, we preview the new Buxton Adventure Festival and the Hay Walking Festival - both happening in October - and the co-founder of Rohan, Sarah Howcroft talks about Recycle Outdoor Gear.

The Chines of Bournemouth

Karen Guttridge is a writer and blogger and her travels can be found on her blog as well as her Facebook page and Twitter stream.

The walk Karen embarked on for our podcast is a great one for families - and you can see photos of it on Karen's Flickr stream here.

Buxton Adventure Festival 

Lissa Cook talked about the first Buxton Adventure Festival, taking place on the 20th and 21st October in the Peak District town.

An unmissable weekend of guest speakers & featured films for adventurous spirits and minds at the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton Opera House.  To find out about the speakers and the films in the programme visit the Festival's website

To complement the Festival, the tourist board Visit Peak District & Derbyshire are launching a new Walk & Watch Festival with a dozen guided walks across the Peak District.

Hay Walking Festival

Anna Heywood from Drover Holidays and Trisha Doree from the Brecon Beacons National Park joined Andrew to talk about the second year of the Hay Walking Festival.

The walk organisers and team have assembled a full walks and events for our second anual walking festival to take place in October 2012. A programme of over 50 guided walks is planned, for all ages and abilities, from full days to a few hours, together with some walks of special interest such as foraging and geocaching.

Some of the walks have already sold out, so a visit to the Hay Walking Festival website to book soon would be a good idea.

Sarah Howcroft - Recycle Outdoor Gear

Not content in co-founding Rohan some 40 years ago, Sarah Howcroft launched earlier this year Recycle Outdoor Gear (ROG) - the UK’s first free of charge online service dedicated to helping everyone find a solution to the endless amounts of gently used and unwanted outdoor clothing & equipment taking up space in cupboards, lofts and garages.

Most preloved gently used outdoor clothing and equipment has reuse or second life potential if only you could get the word out. Now you can!  To find out more, visit the Recycle Outdoor Gear website.

Gift Your Gear - the project supported by Rohan in their 60 stores throughout the UK - is only supposed to be during September, so we'll let you know if it is continuing - watch this space.

That's another podcast finished - we do hope you are enjoying them,  Remember you can also find them on iTunes, on AudioBoo, on our YouTube channel and on our website.

Please let us know what you think about our podcasts - what do you like, and what would you like to hear? Leave us a comment below, or send us a voice message on our blog.