Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Review of Karrimor X-Lite 8L Running Pack

This little running pack has been a brilliant add-on to my list of 6 rucksacks...

Sadly as of the time of writing, Karrimor have seemingly stopped making this little beauty. No idea why, although they are doing the 15L version still...

It was on a trail run in 2017 when I decided I needed a smaller lightweight running pack. Trying to run with a strapped down 32L pack became quite comical - almost as comical as my fitness level trying to run up a scree slope and mountain that day...

"I must get a running pack" I kept on repeating, convincing myself that this was obviously the key to my improved running times... Fitness and training may work for some, but for me it's getting a running pack... Or something like that.

Attempting to keep up with a friend up the scree

The pack has a top opening (on the picture below, the zip runs around the black material), a space for a small hydration bladder (inside the pack at the back as usual) and a front zipped pocket. The Karrimor logo is reflective and the small bits of material that hold the yellow bungee also have reflective elements. The hydration bladder can run out of the pack to the back left or right which is useful.

To the rear of the pack there is a mesh bit which won't do much but it really doesn't matter with a running pack. There is a 'waist belt' of sorts which is enough to help keep the thing attached to you when running, as well as a chest strap. Two zip up side pockets are great and the mesh outers just about hold a 500l water bottle but only just.



Inside the pack there's enough for me to stash a drink, some food and an insulated layer.

The outer material is lightweight. It is ripstop but I have slightly damaged my pack on the front as it's not designed to be super-resilient. Still, it's nothing that McNett tape won't fix (I've had that stuff on an old rucksack and gaiters for years without it coming off!)

Recently I've even used it for cycling, stashing a fair bit of kit - repair kit, pump, food, lightweight chain, repair tools, extra layer. Definitely not its intended use but it had more than enough room.

This cost around £8 or so when I bought it in 2017. For running it's perfect. I can't see why it's been discontinued or why anyone would use a 15l pack except doing longer runs or ultras. And then I'd probably buy a more features and well-known pack anyway, just in terms of reliability. For what it is, it is brilliant.

I'm not a gear snob but (as always) the low price does make me think about where it was made and the conditions of the workers (let alone the poor quality conditions of Sports Direct staff and the allegedly questionable business practices of its management). That aside this is a well-featured running pack and for the average amateur runner needing a small pack it's perfect.


Thursday, 11 July 2019

Simond Men's Mountaineering Pants Review

Over the last couple of winters I've been using the Simond Mountaineering Pants for general outdoors wear and mountain excursions. Simond kit can be found at Decathlon and has gained a reputation as having some excellent kit at very good prices.

Having used a pair of Sherpa winter pants that I'd got cheaply on eBay and having been impressed with their resilience, I took a punt on the Simond pants simply so I had two pairs of winter trousers (from experience!) My conclusion is that I've started wearing these Simond ones almost exclusively.

Simond Mountaineering Pants - from decathlon.co.uk website

These are very resilient pants. Decathlon says they have a 275gsm weave but in English that means these are good for climbing, scrambles and pottering around in. The inside of the lower legs are reinforced and nice and tough for protecting from crampon scratches - or at least helping! In practice I wear gaiters anyway so while the gaiters have been torn, the pants have been protected!

The pants are quite fitted in terms of wearing them but without hindering movement. They definitely have some added articulation which I've found perfect for climbs, scrambles and walking over boulder strewn hills and moors.

Murk on Dartmoor in winter
The pants also come with accessories that would make me consider wearing them even on skis - there are some detachable inner gaiters which although I haven't used are very helpful. I think they'd just about fit over ski boots. The pants also come with detachable braces. If you haven't used braces in winter then it can be a useful, if acquired, taste. But simply to have these with the pants and the fact they can be removed just adds to their value.

Can't find any close-up pics of the pants except these - with the Rab gaiters guesting...

The lower leg has a zip and the option to close them on one of two snappers, which gives you a decent fit over boots. In practice I've found these can cause the pants to ride up the boot a bit. Not a deal breaker and this can be slightly remedied by choosing to close the pants on the slightly 'looser' popper giving the pants more space over the boot.

Winter course on Blencathra, image courtesy of Grahm Uney
The tops of the pants also have zips on the outside of the legs for added venting option. Useful especially when hacking up deep snowy wanders or moving fast - I tend to get very hot and then get cold quickly, so venting helps!

In terms of pockets, there's a zipped leg pocket at the front of the right leg. This isn't at all huge but good for stashing some small gloves, food etc. The main pockets at the sides are zipped and again they are not huge, meaning that if you've got a larger phone with tough case on, you may not be able to fit in the pocket. This is one area where the pants need a tweak - larger pockets please. The toggles are fairly long and grab-able in winter snow with a liner glove or larger glove.

I've seen some reviews on Decathon saying these are a slightly strange fit, but I haven't found that to be the case! The pants don't have a belt or belt loops, so if they don't quite fit, use the braces. At the top there is zip fly with a couple of clips for you to get a good fit around your waist. As I say I have found these to move very well with me and not hinder movement at all.

A wintery and gloomy Blencathra


My advice is to try a pair and see if they work for you - if they do, then at £50 it's a bargain!

Happy winter days!




Monday, 31 December 2018

Environmental responsibility in and out of the outdoors!

If you drive anywhere, you'll see our countryside is strewn with litter. Far too many people demand many rights but live without responsibility. In a throw-away society with little that is valued, people live in much the same way. The trouble is that with every packet that gets thrown down there's a consequence; every item that is irresponsibly discarded leaves its mark, with the impact being felt in animals, birds, insects and humans. There's a bit in the Bible that says we reap what we sow. And our natural environment is no different.

Hound Tor, Dartmoor with my sister near the top
One day myself and a friend went bouldering at Hound Tor on Dartmoor. But instead we saw some litter and started picking up litter around the north side of the Tor. We filled two bags we found and then some...

It was horrible work without gloves but once we started and saw the need, we couldn't help ourselves. And every time I'm in the mountains or on the Moors, I am finding and picking up litter. I recognise many others do the same.

We can't do everything. But we can can all do something. And our little something can become a big thing if we all do our part.

There's a famous story of a beach full of starfish and one boy throwing starfish backing the sea one at a time. Someone tells them there are too many and what the boy is doing won't make a difference. "It made a difference to that one" the boy replied, as he threw another starfish back into the water...

So what can we do and equally important, how can we be responsible in the outdoors and out of the outdoors? Thankfully in the last few years, some companies are thinking in this way too, especially as consumers demand more ethical and environmental responsibility. Looking back, it's hard to believe that outdoors manufacturers would be doing things that were harmful to the environment in the first place. But this is perhaps thinking with hindsight. What's important is what we do now and next.

Here are some things that manufacturers are doing, along with some ideas of what we can do and encourage others to do... Please note I have no connections with any of the mentioned companies and am not paid for anything I write.

1. Patagonia - https://eu.patagonia.com/gb/en/environmentalism.html


It is impossible to mention sustainability and the environment without Patagonia being at the top of the list. Not only were Patagonia set up with sustainability and green credentials in mind, they have delivered since day one.

Things such as their 'Worn Wear' idea where clothes are freely repaired or repurposed was a pioneering idea. To this day, Patagonia can be found at places like the Kendal Mountain Festival freely repairing clothing from all brands. Of course they also pioneered using non live-plucked down feathers in their jackets too.

Patagonia are also ones who give out grants, support environmental projects, reducing their impact on the environment and working to make their products have a lower carbon footprint. Their most recent campaign to protect Europe's wild rivers ('Blue Heart Campaign') has raised great awareness of the destructive impact of dams in wild areas.


2. Vaude - https://www.vaude.com/en-GB/Company/Project-Campaigns/


Vaude's range of 'Green Shape Core Collection' is set of products that are sustainably based, such as those from wood cellulose and recycling pre and post consumer made products.

This is a fantastic range of materials and ideas that Vaude should be hugely commended for. Vaude also have a 'second use' ebay shop, another helpful idea (ebay.de so it's in German / Euros).


3. Primaloft Bio - http://primaloft.com/primaloftbio


Primaloft Bio is 100% biodegradeable and sustainable according to Primaloft. These fibres, available in 2020 only biodegrade once they meet with landfill materials, so don't fade or fail before time, with the fibres returning to natural materials 100%.

This process takes just one year, unlike for example polyester which remains almost intact after the same amount of time.

Again, this is brilliant piece of news for the environment and outdoors industry. Brilliant to see Primaloft not only investing in this but making the news public (often innovations are kept secret for years due to marketing forces). Of course Primaloft already to their Eco range of fills which have apparently saved 85 million plastic bottles from landfill.

Other Ideas


Descending Swirral Edge
Of course many other companies also have sustainable and environmental policies and activities. Companies such as Nikwax, Graingers and jacket manufacturers moving away from harmful PTFEs in their products are excellent ways ahead, as are manufacturers working to reduce carbon footprints and make more sustainable clothing - Alpkit, Fjallraven, Haglofs etc.

Startup products that are using wholly or mostly sustainable materials are also to be commended.

What we as consumers need to think about is what happens to our item of clothing etc once it has finished its usefulness. Here are some ideas...

1. Can a used or unused item be donated to the incredible Gift Your Gear to support young people and other groups - http://giftyourgear.com

2. If not Gift Your Gear, then can you donate to the Salvation Army, a clothing bank in your area or similar? How about giving away unused items anyway.

3. Can you buy from and support companies with ethical and environmental policies to avoid creating the problems in the first place?

4. When you're out in the hills, pick up litter and support groups who work to fight against the kinds of selfishness we see in the Trossachs for example around Loch Lomond where mindless people simply abandon tents and items they don't want. Places like Glastonbury now give away used abandoned tents, but the issue should not be there in the first place.

Educating people about the outdoors should be a priority from outdoors companies. Are there any companies that would like to take up that baton? As a schools worker, I'd be more than happy to help!

5. One of my friends used to work for Cotswold at a leading store. She purposely encouraged the manager to take recycling more seriously. Before her interventions, the store was not always recycling packaging properly due to focusing on sales, so she suggested doing so. By the time she left for another job, the store was recycling more effectively. I hope it continues to do so.

I'd also like to encourage every single outdoors retail store to make recycling, reducing carbon footprint etc much more seriously. Showing you act sustainably, ethically and have integrity will always positively affect business. Not doing so will negatively impact business.

Final question is to every one of us reading this - how are we going to act to make a positive difference? Not acting is no longer an option, especially if you say you care about the outdoors.




Friday, 1 June 2018

Montane Halogen 33 Rucksack Review / First Look

Having used the Montane Medusa 32 for some years now (since its release) and it having seen some battering, I was intrigued to see what the new model was like - the Halogen 33.

So what is the Halogen 33 rucksack like and how does it compare? This isn't an 'out in the field' review but some initial thoughts and pictures to show some of the differences.

In this picture review, the Halogen 33 is the red rucksack and the Medusa 32 is the 'greeny-orange' pack, for want of a better colour description..!

Quit Your Waffle - Cut To The Chase

The Halogen 33 is an upgrade in a number of ways, not all of them obvious. There's a *better ventilation system, a slightly bigger size, tall side pockets, an adjusted hip belt, what appears to be a slightly contoured shoulder strap. The gear loop on one of the hip fins has been replaced by a pocket. The shoulder straps and hip belt has had the old 'contact mesh' replaced by a different lighter 'contact air mesh plus'. The pack is slightly lighter than the Medusa 32 by about 80g.

Overall, I would say that the old Medusa 32 had a nod towards climbing (even in winter) with a gear loop on the one hip fin, whereas the Halogen 33 appears in my view to be aimed more towards walkers. The pack is still incredibly sturdy. As with everything I'd say try it on with weight and see if it's the pack for you.

Size

First things first - the Halogen 33 is a bit wider - and the Medusa 32 is a bit 'taller'. It's hard to see in the picture as obviously the Medusa 32 (left) has been heavily used and is compressed in the picture.

Montane Medusa 32 (left) and Montane Halogen 33 (right)

The Front Of The Halogen


The Halogen has bungee cord on the front as standard (Medusa has cord inside the inner lid as an option). The Halogen also has an upgraded tool lock at the bottom for an ice axe. The Medusa has had this tool lock system developed over time. Finally, the hip fins both have zipped and are slightly contoured ('fish' shaped), unlike the Medusa fins have are more of a 'straight' fit

Front of Halogen 33

Front of Medusa 32

The Straps


As you'll see the Medusa 32 didn't have mesh styled straps whereas the Halogen 33 does. It's also more flexible than the slightly more rigid Medusa straps.

Mesh on the Halogen shoulder strap (right)

The shoulder straps on the Halogen appear to have a slightly contoured angle around the top of the 'shoulder' which does help with the comfort of the pack.

Slight contouring of the shoulder strap

The mesh on the hip belt is shown below. Again it's nice and squishy to touch and won't be abrasive to clothing.



Front of the Pack

The bungee cord stretches across the front of the pack as 'standard'. The Medusa has some spare cord in the inside lid of the pack if you want to rig up some bungee at the front - useful for stashing clothing or even crampons at a push...

Bungee Cord

And here's the tool loop. Stash the ice axe down the front of the pack as with the Medusa, put the adze through the lower loop (pictured left in pic), through the 'alpine safe sleeve' and then twist the lock (the metal bit to the right in the picture) into the the hole in the adze to secure it. More info on Montane's website. The tool system is much neater than my original Medusa system which flaps around.

Tool Attachment Points
The hip fin on the Halogen doesn't have a gear loop as the Medusa had. Instead there's another hip fin pocket instead.



The ZephryFX Back System


Replacing the Medusa back system is the Halogen's ZephyrFX contact mesh back system. In essence there's a lightweight moulded back pad with mesh on the top. To wear this is pretty comfortable it has to be said and rests against the back more securely than the Medusa's ridged back. The area in contact with the back is also wider on the Halogen, again adding to comfort.

Halogen contact meshed back

Montane Medusa back system

Close up on the mesh with the moulded back pad behind

Close up on the mesh

The mesh itself seems fairly resilient but I'd be slightly concerned about the possibility of it breaking or snagging. However, the mesh is very flexible so that works in its favour.

The back lengths are the same on both packs (S/M) and (M/L). Pictured are M/L packs.

Side Pockets

The Halogen has a great side pocket feature - the baguette pocket - a side pocket that stretches further up the pack than is normal and much higher than the Medusa. It means poles can be stashed in there more securely, plus things like a flask. There is a gap half way down the baguette pocket so you can get something in the lower side pocket. The opening at the top of the baguette is slightly stretchy but isn't very wide so you won't get a Nalgene bottle in there!

The arrows show the size of the side pockets (Medusa below)

Side pockets on the Halogen (top) and the Medusa (underneath)

Lids

The lid has a slightly upgraded draw closure system ('Cord Lord Lite') and the inside of the pack has an amended 'Cord

Inside the Halogen 33

Halogen 33 (top) closure compared to original Medusa

Other Features


Front Haul Loop next to the lid

Click and Go chest strap release

Conclusion


When I got a Lowe Alpine pack years back (before they were bought out), the back system on the pack wrecked 2 baselayers and damaged a softshell. So when Montane released the Medusa 32 with a back system that didn't abrade clothing, I got the pack without question! Since then it's served me incredibly well.

The Halogen 33 is a worthy upgrade and the baguette pocket is especially helpful. The pack actually sits against the back more comfortably than the Medusa. I'd be interested to know how the Halogen functions in the snow compared to the Medusa which has shed snow relatively well.

I am also slightly uncertain about the new ZephyrFX back system in terms of durability and not snagging when a pack gets thrown down etc. But I'm sure it will breathe more effectively than the Medusa as the gaps in the back moulding are deeper and the mesh will allow set out and away.

Finally the Medusa does have more of a nod to climbing so if that appeals then you may need to look elsewhere (Lower Alpine, PodSacs, ME etc) for their climbing specific packs.

Otherwise the Halogen is a worthy upgrade.



Wednesday, 31 January 2018

'Britain's Favourite Walks: Top 100' on ITV

The ITV programme, 'Britain's Favourite Walks: Top 100' has caused a bit of a stir.

In my view, rightly so. Too many flat city walks and nowhere near enough walks in Scotland!

On the other hand, it does mean the better routes are left for the rest of us to do in quiet. Result!

My best walks are exclusively in Scotland, Snowdonia, Brecons, Lakes & Howgills, Peak District, Dales, Pennines and Dartmoor. OK, so there are some other cracking venues but for me the outdoors means mountains and wilderness (and for that you need to be in Scotland).

So here are some of the best walks I've done / recommend:

- Helvellyn via Striding / Swirral

- Helvellyn via Nethermost Pike and back down by Dollywagon Pike, Lakes

- Coledale Round, Lakes

- Fairfield Round, Lakes

- Coniston / Wetherlam, Lakes

- Blencathra via Sharp Edge and Halls Fell, Lakes

- Snowdon via Crib Goch and down via Y Lliwedd, Snowdonia

- Tryfan to Bristly ridge, Glyder Fach, Snowdonia

- Y Gribin, around the tops and back down via Hell's Kitchen / Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia

- The Cobbler, Arrochar Alps

- Aoanach Eagach ridge traverse, Glen Coe

- Buchaille Etive Mor and its four 'tops', Glen Coe

- Ben Nevis via CMD Arete

- Ben Macdui via Fiacaill Ridge, Cairngorms

- The Mamores (can do all in a day but better to take some at a time)

- The Torridon Hills (Beinn Eighe, Liathach, Beinn Alligin, Torridon Munros

- Ben Lomond etc, The Trossachs

- The Cuillins (pretty much anywhere), Isle of Skye

- The Newlands Round, Lakes

- Buttermere - Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks, Red Pike

- High Cup Nick, Cumbria

- Malham Cove, Yorkshire

- Belstone / Yes Tor / Black a tor Copse, Dartmoor

- Carnedd Dafydd / Carnedd Llewellyn via Mynydd Du

- Lochnagar, Cairngorms

- Pretty much anywhere around Glen Coe!

- Scafell Pike / Scafell either via Lord's Rake or via Corridor Route from Seathwaite or from Langdales, Lakes

- The Langdales / Crinkle Crags / Bowfell, Lakes

- Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia

- Cadair Idris, Snowdonia

- An Teallach, Northern Highlands (Scotland)


The list could go on....

And on...

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Rab Latok Alpine Gaiters Review

I've been using the Rab Latok Alpine gaiters for two years now.

Previously I was using a pair from 'Highlander' but these started to show the classic signs of cheaper gaiters - namely they were unbreathable and caused more moisture inside the gaiter than they kept out. The same is true of clothing and hard shells in general.

The lesson is don't compromise but wait and buy what is good quality unless you absolutely cannot. The Rab gaiters are quality!
Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter - image from Rab's website

These have travelled to Wales, Scotland, the Lakes and Dartmoor and have been invaluable. Not only do they help keep rubbish and muck and rain from your trousers or waterproof hard shell, they are hard-wearing and do what they need to do. They've got a tough exterior and a crampon patch on each gaiter all the way around the lower part of the gaiter.

The gaiter features a velcro closure, a popper at the top, a drawstring at the top, a strap over closure at the foot of the gaiter and a hook to connect to the laces of your boot. There's an adjustable strap for under the boot which can be adjusted from inside the gaiter cleverly.

Drawstring at the top of the Rab Latok Alpine gaiter


These have been worn in the snow, the rain, the mud and on ice. They've climbed up things, scrambled over things, walked through Dartmoor heather and gorse and held up pretty well.

Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter showing velcro, strap, closure tab, hook etc


The eVent has breathed brilliantly as expected and the only issue has been that the eVent on the rear section of the gaiter has begun to rub away on the stretchy part. Nothing too serious but being stretchy and strapped to the back of the boot inevitably causes some wear. Seems to have happened on one gaiter more than the other.

Where the gaiter's eVent has 'rubbed' on the inside, presumably from the back of my boots


The gaiter did get a rip in one of the gaiters from one of the spikes on my crampons (always a risk), so I patched it up with Tenacious Tape which has been pretty solid. This didn't happen on the stronger corder lower leg part but on the 'normal' gaiter part (

Inside of the Rab Latok Alpine gaiter showing the eVent material

I did think I had a picture of the Gaiters on in the snow, but in fact you can't see them. Sorry...

Halls Fell in the snow (from slushy snow to nevé). Can't see the gaiters, sorry. But there were on!


I did a mini review of these on the Go Outdoors website, which says the following:


They've gone through 'field and fountain, moor and mountain' (not always following yonder star) but been brilliant. They've been scrambled in, walked in, climbed in, 'summer, spring, winter and fall' and even suffered an ice axe piercing (tenacious tape to the rescue). Incredibly breathable compared to other non 'branded' membranes, easily adjustable and strong velcro etc. I did get them in large as a medium male but possibly could have got them in medium. The back section (around the heel) which is stretchy (great idea) is beginning to lose some of the eVent on the inside but aside from this, all good!


The final thing to say about the gaiters is about the sizing. Mine are the large and while they are fine, I wonder whether medium would have fitted better. My feet are size 9 1/2 - 10 (UK) and I've got an athletic build if that helps.

So overall these are brilliant gaiters and when they give out I'll get another pair. No problems with the eVent and breathability. I've cleaned them fairly regularly with Tech Wash and have re-proofed once. They're gaiters. They work. Say no more.


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

No To Zip Wires in Thirlmere thank you

Looking down to Thirlmere from the Swirls path up to Helvellyn

The Context


Plans are afoot to build a zip wire across Thirlmere in the Lake District. The proposers of this plan (Treetop Treks) have a zip wire and high line activities around Windermere and Brockhole, both hidden away in forest areas. They also have links to Zipworld in Snowdonia which includes Europe's longest zip wire. These are located in old mining sites at the edge of the Snowdonia National Park.

The plan is to have eight zip wires spanning the lake at Thirlmere. There would be significant development of the Swirls Car Park as well as car parks on the other side of the lake such as Armboth. There would be an estimated 50,000 users of the zip wire each year. People using the zip wire would each be kitted out in red overalls and be driven up to the start point of the zip wire in 'military style' vehicles. People would then zip wire over Thirlmere, leaving from near Fisher Crag and landing behind Swirls Car Park.

According to the managing director of Treetop Trek, Mike Turner, this would have 'a minuscule environment impact' as hundreds of people would daily and noisily arrive at Thirlmere, need parking and transport, then be driven up newly built roads in noisy 4x4 vehicles before arriving at the top of Fisher Crag, being fixed to the wires in their red outfits and then noisily scream their way across with constantly buzzing wires. According to Terry Abraham, those locals who originally welcomed the zip wires in Snowdonia are now fed up with the noise they create.

A number of organisations have rightly spoken out against the zip wire proposals, including: Friends of the Lake District, the BMC, the National Trust, The Wainwright Society (eventually), the Campaign for National Parks, the John Muir Trust, TGO Magazine and The Ramblers (albeit with one of the weakest statements I've ever seen).

Vested Interests and Conflicts of Interests?


Of concern is the number of Lakeland organisations that have welcomed the proposals. One of these organisations, 'Cumbria Tourism' has Mike Turner from Treetop Treks as its small operator representative on the board, although they make clear that Mr Turner was not present in discussions about the zip wires.

Terry Abraham publicly stepped down as ambassador of the 'Lake District Foundation' after they expressed neutrality towards the zip wires. The Lake District Foundation's trustees include the National Park, the National Trust and Cumbria Tourism. According to someone who has researched Cumbria Tourism, two of those behind Cumbria Tourism include the Lake District National Park and United Utilities. The Lake District National Park will make the final decision about the zip wires, although their decision making must be based on legislation.

United Utilities own the Thirlmere land and will receive a rent from Treetop Treks if the zip wires go ahead. It's also interesting to note that Treetop Treks have promised to donate money to the Lake District Foundation if the zip wires get permission. Further muddying the mix is the closeness of a staff member of the LDNP and a staff member of Treetop Treks.

At a public meeting of the Parish Council of St Johns, Castle Ring and Wythburn, it was stated that United Utilities had gained permission from the Lake District National Park for the Thirlmere Link Mains, despite saying they had asked local landowners. According to a member of the public this was not true and local landowners were not in support the proposals. Other concerns raised at this meeting included noise, impact on helicopters and MOD flying and that traffic increases had not been properly assessed by Treetop Treks to intentionally underplay the impact. The councillors had sent out 195 surveys to the local residents. Of these, 96 were returned, representing a total of 202 adults. Of these, 1 was in favour, 1 was undecided and 200 were against the proposals. The councillors also expressed their public opposition to the Thirlmere zip wire proposals.

A YouTube video from Andy Beck (the author of the 'Wainrights in Colour'), posted on 6 October 2017 revealed a 'hardcore' laid track from near the Armboth car park all the way up to within a 150m walk of the proposed jumping off point of the zip wire (Fisher Crag) with a nice turning circle area. No marking of trees for cropping had taken place and previously this had only been a basic track up to enable all-terrain vehicle access. As Andy Beck stood there, all you could hear was silence. Something that would be very lacking if the proposals go ahead.

I just need to be extremely clear that I am not against any of these organisations, nor am I alleging any kind of corruption or 'golden handshakes' in darkened rooms etc. It's just clear that there are a number of potential conflicts of interests in the decisions made by organisations (not necessarily by individuals within those organisations who may hold differing opinions than official company policy at times).

Arguments Against Zip Wires over Thirlmere


So what of the zip wires and the arguments against them. Friends of the Lake District have an excellent summary of the arguments but here are some of mine...

Trees around the southern edge of Thirlmere


1. The zip wire is contrary to the founding of the National Parks and their charter. It is against very clear legislation such as the Sandford Principle which states that nature and the environment must always take precedence.

On January 4, Michael Gove said this:

"So the imperative to husband, indeed wherever possible, enhance our natural capital – safeguarding our oceans, cleaning our rivers, keeping our soils fertile, protecting biodiversity – has to be at the heart of any plan for our country and our world."


2. There would be a huge increase in traffic to the area that is already very busy in summer. Any traffic problems would grind the area to a halt.

3. The incessant whirring and buzzing noises would prove a constant irritation. Already B&B owners are concerned they would lose visitors. According to Terry Abraham, the noise in Snowdonia is already a concern for some locals that had supported the zip wires, within months of launching the zip wires.

4. The zip wire is something that is an end in itself. People are not coming to the Lakes for anything else. Once over they'd leave without much consideration of the area. On a BBC Breakfast interview, it was stated by Mr Turner that the Lakes should be a place for 'fun' and 'thrill' as much as 'tranquility' and 'peace.' This is a straw man argument as the Lake District already is a place for fun and thrill.

5. The zip wire does not engender a respect for the environment. You come, gear up, go down the zip wire and go home. I imagine litter will become a huge issue.

6. The zip wire is very expensive - it will be in the region of £50 to £80 per go. This is not something for the average person - getting to the Lakes and paying for the zip wire would be a very expensive day out with little going to the local economy (but instead to Treetop Treks). I can drive to the Lake District and back from the South West of England for less than a zip wire ride!

7. The argument is that the zip wire would provide employment but employment in Keswick is almost zero. Already positions in the Lakes are filled by (hard working and to me, highly valued) Eastern European staff living in multiple occupancy rooms due to low wages and high living costs in the Lakes. Zip wire employment rates would inevitably be low / minimum wage.

8. The arguments have been made that opposition is from the 'tea brigade' meaning older people (as if their needs should be ignored?) Yet I am in the Lakes regularly with people in their 20s and 30s (all of whom live in Cumbria / north Lancashire) and all are opposed to the zip wire.

9. A zip wire can already be experienced in the Lakes or in most places in the UK. Why do we need one going over Thirlmere? Put it in West Cumbria which badly needs tourism.

10. Many argue that Thirlmere is 'man-made' yet this is spurious. Yes it's a man-made reservoir but it has been done to fit in with the existing environment, unlike zip wires which are an offence to the natural environment. Yes there was mining, but this was in the past. Understanding our world as we do now means that we don't intentionally damage our natural areas. Mining (in its time) was there by necessity. Zip wires are simply there for profit and greed.

11. Things have to 'move on'? Really. Would you say there are areas of life where in our attempt to 'move on' we have made things worse in our world? Oh yes. In many places. Moving forward and progressing has to be done in a responsible and even moral way, otherwise we reap destructive behaviour that costs more to fix than it ever benefits.

12. There is a huge need for areas of quiet, of nature and of serene environments. Stanford University (2013), the '30 Days Wild Survey' (published Feb 2016) and many other surveys have proven the need and positive effects of people being in a peaceful, natural, green environment. These have huge positive impacts on mental health, physical health, ADHD, stress and depression. Our world is full of noise, depression, ill health. Why damage the very places that help people be restored? It's criminal.

13. We also know that being active also releases endorphins. Sitting in a harness on a zip wire may be a brief thrill but it is not being active, nor does it get you anywhere. The ride is the start and the end, it is not adventure in any form.

14. We live in a world of quick fixes and cheap thrills. These actually devalue the essentials of humanity and of being alive. They also bring a long-term cost. Wisdom is the ability to make decisions now that you will be happy with later. This is not a wise decision.

15. People coming for a zip wire are not coming for the Lake District but to 'do the zip wire'. When someone comes to the Lakes, in order for their to be sustainable tourism, something has to be deposited that causes someone to value the place and want to return. A zip wire cannot by its very nature be that thing.

16. There are already a huge amount of activities available in the Lakes. These are done (or should be done) with a view to conserving, protecting and being sensitive to the area. A zip wire is none of these things. Mr Turner in his interview with Breakfast News on 12 January 2018 spoke about getting people onto the 'fells'. But people wouldn't be coming for the fells or getting 'out' onto them - they'd be coming to do a zip wire then zip off home...

17. The impact must also be considered on those who currently visit the Lake District. If the zip wires were to go ahead, how many would wish to visit the Thirlmere area or walk around, cycle around with wires buzzing over their heads? Many would want to reconsider visiting the area. I would.

18. Let's be very clear that 'profit' is not simply about money. Money is a useful tool but it is there to serve and not be served. The love of money can be the root of evil. Just because the zip wires may bring in some money is not a reason to have zip wires. True happiness doesn't come from things but from people, from love, from faith, from hope, from doing good and leaving a lasting legacy in this world and beyond.

19. Some of the things said by those who favour this application have been unhelpful at times and even angry, with the rare reasoned exceptions. Comments on Facebook about ' you lot need to give your heads a wobble' or comments made about Terry Abraham being a 'failed' film maker (wrong) are unhelpful and do a dis-service to the cause. There have also been other things said that have been wrong. Treetop Treks at one stage stated that 'most people who responded to a consultation were in favour' of the zip wire. One wonders who the consultation went out to in the first place... Other disinformation has also been spread in order to undermine those opposing the application or to put a positive angle on things that are highly tenuous at best. If there is a need for 'fluff' and 'spin' then you know that your argument is already not a good one.

20. Fundamentally a zip wire is actually quite selfish. More is explained below...

Helvellyn from Red Tarn

Making Adventure vs Buying an Easy Thrill


Most things in life that are good have to be worked at, fought for or earned. It may be chasing after the girl of your dreams and then spending time truly loving her. Or it may be developing a good app for iPad. It can be training hard so you can join the Royal Marines. Or simply doing your job well.

When you come to the fells and mountains, they demand exploration and ask for your respect and time. You're coming into their presence more than they are in yours. But it is mutual.

It also requires work and effort. Adventure is about going somewhere and doing something worthwhile (a bit like Alpkit say). If it can be accessed easily then it's not adventure, it's simply a cheap (or expensive) thrill. If it can't be earned then it loses much of its value. A diamond is priceless because of the forces of nature and time required to work on it. A common stone is less 'valuable' because it's so abundant and is just 'there'.

A zip wire ride requires no effort except mentally to undertake it. It requires no adventure, no real time invested, no thought, no respect, no serious planning, no energy. It's just there. You get in. Strap in and go. That's it. It's easy, effortless and demands nothing. It doesn't improve your character, increase your fitness, open up new worlds, ask hard questions, cause you to evaluate yourself.

A zip wire is a quick fix that means little, lasts no time, gives a brief thrill that wears off and is quickly thrown aside in order to find the next fix. It therefore holds little value. A zip wire is basically self-seeking, self-serving and self-indulgent.

But the mountains demand our time, respect, effort, consideration, planning, time and energy. They require something more, test us beyond our comfort, draw us out into something more and something beyond ourselves. We are forced to go to places that we don't go to normally. They throw challenges at us that we have to respond to. They require the recognition that there is something bigger and more than us and this grounds us as humans. Mountains / fells require sacrifice, service and selflessness: all things that a zip wire can never demand or give.

This isn't some kind of self-righteous, piety about the grandeur of those who use mountains being 'better' or 'above' others as this clearly isn't true. Nor is everything done by people in the mountains necessarily beneficial or caring of those mountains. But mostly people who go to the mountains are those who care about the mountains and they care well.

When we look back on history we see all kinds of things done in the name of progress. Many of these things destroyed people's history and culture. People used to shoot, hunt and kill animals to or near extinction. I can hear people's voices in favour of the shooting back in the day using the same arguments we hear from the proponents of a zip wire over Thirlmere... "It's progress... You can't live in the past."

Yet these activities from the past destroyed animals, wildlife, environments, cultures. The price of progress was a heavy one and one that we can look back on and learn from. The benefit of studying history is that we can learn not to make the same mistakes. I would suggest we should look back and learn that not all progress is progressive and not all development develops.

At its heart the argument about zip wires over Thirlmere is really an argument about being in the landscape and mountains in a self-less way that enhances and preserves and allows people to make their own adventure and connect with the world around, vs an argument of easy come, easy go, self-seeking thrills where the ride prevails over everything else.

What kind of world do you want to live in?