Sunday, 25 November 2018

Not all walks are amazing...

You know me, I'm generally a happy camper who sees the best in everything but whichever way you look at it, today's walk was a bit crap.  The only good thing to say about it is that it was better than being stuck indoors. Marginally.

We planned it as a short Sunday stroll; nothing too taxing, nothing too high but, unfortunately, nothing went right...

First up we got a bit lost looking for the start of the walk, never a good sign. Then all the nice pristine paths turned out to be barely discernable boggy fields.

Then there were the blocked rights of way. Three in total (yes, I'm reporting them) which resulted in us criss-crossing one particularly boggy field 3 times before then having to cross an even boggier one.

Thankfully one of Gods Lunch Huts (aka a church) was open so we could enjoy our sarnies in comfort - always a perk of a low level walk.

Next we met the grumpy farmer - you know the type, zero signs to direct you through the farm but ready to leap out at you from behind the cow shed to point out you're going the wrong way.

Shortly after that was "the path less travelled" - a clearly marked and signposted footpath right through the middle of 4ft high brambles.

Despite all of that, and the obvious near continuous bickering, we still tried to stick to our route before we both eventually agreed to call it a day when our route disappeared into a swamp next to a river.

We diverted to the slightly longer but undoubtably quicker road route just in time to get soaked by a passing downpour just before we reached the car.

On the bright side, these are the hikes that we will laugh and tell stories about in the future. Just maybe not right now...

BEFORE YOU GO:  We do all the had work for you so you never have to end up on a walk like that - our books have loads of lovely routes, clear instructions, FAB facts and amazing pictures.  Click here to find out more & place your order.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

10 Great Gift Ideas for Outdoors/ Cumbria Lovers

It's that time of year again - half of us are still shouting at the Christmas adverts on the TV and the other half have already smugly completed their shopping.  The really smug ones already have it wrapped too...

As I do each year I've pulled together all my favourite gift ideas from across Cumbria and the outdoors.  I haven't received any payments or freebies from folks and I don't get any sort of commission or anything if you buy from them - I am simply a passionate supporter of local small businesses and happy to help out in any small way that I can.

I know it's easier to order from Amazon - I know they deliver next day, postage free and often cheaper than you can get if you buy direct - but there are thousands of small businesses out there, just like me, who rely on people buying direct.  To give you an example - if I sell one of our books directly I get to keep all the profit (apart from the chunks I have to hand over to HMRC and Paypal) whereas if I sell through Amazon I receive 8 - 10% of the profit (NOT the cover price) in royalties.  It's the same for everyone so please, if you possibly can, buy direct this Christmas and help support all the little guys.

1.  Distant Horizons

We have had some fantastic days out with these guys!  I initially bought Steve gift vouchers as a Christmas gift but we had so much fun we've been back several times since and even taken our nephews out too.  They have something for everyone from beginners like me, who can't tell a kayak from a canoe, to advanced folks who want to tackle something more challenging.

Why we love them - lovely folks and a wonderful way to explore the Lake District.

CLICK HERE to visit their website.

2. Conquer Lake District

Anyone who adds a spot of creative colour to the fells is alright in my book.  These guys have created a range of fantastic patches to enable you to commemorate and celebrate your visit to the Lake District.  They are hugely environmentally aware and there's no nasty plastic in any of their products.

Why we love them - because they are fab, funky, bright and original.

CLICK HERE to visit their website

3. The Lakes Calendar to support Mountain Rescue

A lovely lady called Janice Hawes has created this beautiful desk calendar crammed with wonderful images from around the Lake District and all the proceeds are going to support Mountain Rescue.  Hopefully we'll never need to use Mountain Rescue, but it's good to know they're there if we need them, and they are UTTERLY reliant on our donations.

Why we love them - because these calendars are beautiful and could help save a life

CLICK HERE to buy one

4. GYOW Apparel

These guys hand make a glorious selection of outdoor themed goodies - perfect for stocking fillers or "blow you away" main pressies.  Rachel Gaw (the owner) lives and works in the Lake District and has been working as a jeweller since 2005.  Every item is beautifully made and perfectly packaged to impress the one you love.

Why we love them - because everything they make is so lovely I just want it all...

CLICK HERE to visit their website

5. Socks from Keswick Boot Company

It's not Christmas if you don't get socks.  It just isn't!  But these aren't any old socks - these are socks that have been rigorously tested and can tackle everything life in the outdoors has to throw at them AND have a lifetime guarantee.  I've been good friends with Alex and Kerrie at Keswick Boot Company for many years, and I know that they genuinely care about every single customer and know just about everything there is to know about hiking boots.  And if "just socks" seems a bit stingy, get a gift voucher too (available in any amount) for a Happy New Year shopping spree!

Why we love them - because you will never leave that shop disappointed

CLICK HERE to visit their website.

6. The Twig Pen People

They started out by making twig pens and now they make the most wonderful range of engraved wooden goodies.  All of the wood is ethically sourced - the twigs for all of their pens come from a local woodland - and they are such wonderfully lovely people.  They have a range of imaginative ideas to choose from or are happy to chat to you if you'd like something specific engraved.  These days they're based at Farfield Mill where you can visit and support dozens of other local creative businesses.

Why we love them - because they are quirky and beautiful

CLICK HERE to visit their website

7. Jonathan Hunter Art

I stumbled across Jonathan's pictures on Twitter and instantly fell in love with them.  Jonathan began painting when he was convalescing following a serious motorbike accident and is based in Keswick. His bright and colourful images capture the energy and the essence of the towns and villages around Cumbria and would brighten up any room and delight anyone lucky enough to own one.

Why we love them - because they are so wonderfully bright and colourful

CLICK HERE to visit his website

8.  Pure Lakes

If socks are one Christmas essential then surely "smellies" are the other?  But these aren't just any old smellies - these are an award winning range of natural skin care products all hand made in the Lake District.  Everything is made from natural, biodegradable raw ingredients and everything is sustainably sourced with a minimum of processing to keep it as pure and authentic as possible.

Why we love them - because they are beautiful and environmentally sound.

CLICK HERE to visit their website

9. VeloCulture Cufflinks

Brace yourselves, these guys are from t'other side of the Pennines - but how fantastic are these cufflinks?  I need to go an buy a dress shirt so I can wear them! They have perfectly combined a love of jewellery making and cycling and come up with a truly original range of upcycled (!) goodies from things which would otherwise have ended up in landfill.

Why we love them - have you seen the picture?  The are wonderful!

CLICK HERE to visit their website

10.  Our lovely books!

I can't quite believe that we have 5 books out now.  FIVE!  Our two new additions for 2018 are Steve's spectacular book of photos and my rather tipsy toddle around all the distilleries in the county.  They are all available in all good bookshops (and probably a few dodgy ones too!) and you can also order direct from us,  We've been lucky enough to receive some wonderful reviews (and not just from my mum!) so we know these will make the perfect gift for anyone interested in Cumbria, hiking, wildlife, history, hiking, the outdoors and/ or gin!

Why we love them - because we had a LOT of fun writing them

CLICK HERE to visit our book buying page

And if all of those weren't enough check out my lists from previous years here and here.