New Kid On The Block

In addition to



Built To Send (not all their range is now made in the UK)

and AtomPacks

there is now Broken Spectre on the rucksacks hand made in Britain block.

Made by hand by Will Hempstead in Lochaber.

At first glance they seem to be end user focussed, durable and bells, whistles and bullshit free.

Some pictures (shamelessly lifted from the Broken Spectre socials)

If like me you have an entirely unhealthy and eternally unfulfilled desire for doodling and designing that one ‘perfect’ sack (for the last 30 years and having probably bought and subsequently sold 200 rucksacks in that time as part of the iterative process) it might be worth dropping Will a line …..

or seeking addiction counselling 🤷‍♂️😳

or try the Marie Kondo 5 step method to de-cluttering ….

…… right that’s me off to put this months assortment of ‘not quite right’ sacks … a BD Blitz 28, a Montane Utra Alpine 38, a Montane Fast Alpine 40, a Blue Ice Warthog 26, a Simond Speed 33 and a (original) PodSac Black Ice … ont’ eBay ….

Freeze / Thaw

‘Climbers are out there—we climb the highest peaks, roam deserts, and explore the woods for the most inspiring boulders. And the climbing community has been increasingly seeing anecdotal evidence of climate change impacting our climbing landscapes. But stories are one thing–scientific evidence, on the other hand, can be our topo for advocating for change. In a first-of-its-kind study that was a finalist for the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) Mountain Protection Award, a team from the American Alpine Club joined up with climate researchers from the University of New Hampshire and the University of Calgary to take a close look at the historical data on seasonal temperatures and ice season length in the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire, one of the premiere ice climbing destinations in the United States. With the context of this historical data, the team ultimately created a climate model to predict the length of ice climbing seasons in the future under moderate and high emission scenarios. The AAC team also interviewed dozens of guides in the region to gather qualitative data about how tumultuous climate impacts are impacting the guiding economy that is an integral part of these NH mountain communities. Ultimately—climate change is impacting climbing and the economies built around it. But we’re ready to do something about it. Learn about our climate research and how it’s impacting climbing by diving into this film!’


Background article and details on the scientific study HERE


For a European perspective on the impacts of climate change in the alpine there is lots of information on the CREA Mont Blanc website HERE

the Mer de (almost no) Glace

One organisation working to educate and involve adventure sports participants in the impacts of climate change on the mountains is POW – Protect Our Winters – they have activists involved across the planet – read about them and get involved HERE

Patagonia Action Works is another super helpful way of connecting people who are concerned about climate change and environmental damage with opportunities for activism in their local area – HERE

The Sweet Smell of Home

Aaaaah ̶B̶i̶s̶t̶o̶ Burning. The sweet smell of home.

The parking, traffic, fires, environmental damage and general dickheadedness all seemed to be worse in Wasdale. It’s like everything in the Peak condensed in to a small steep sided valley with one dead end road. I was greeted on Saturday morning by the sweet smell of someone boiling water on a hexamine cooker outside their £60k campervan and setting fire to the ground and the hedgerow …. all for that genuine wilderness experience.

But what i missed in Wasdale was that ‘aaaah burning’ smell which, as i sit here on Higger Tor, i can see wafting across the Dark Peak as those pillars of landscape protection known as ‘grouse moor managers’ burn the life out of acres and acres of moorland for ‘biodiversity gain’ and ‘habitat regeneration’.

Breathe in all that goodness like a good lung full of Bisto. Aaaah the sweet smell of home.


The above post on social media generated (as it always does) the usual questions around ‘why are they allowed to do this’ and ‘how is that even illegal’. The recent cool dry spell in the Dark Peak has led to the ‘right’ weather conditions for significant moorland burning which in turn has had a massive impact on the air quality of Sheffield and the Hope Valley. Similar burns have been reported in North Yorkshire. Environmental activists like Chris Packham and some political groups like Sheffield Green Party and Olivia Blake (Labour MP) have taken a robust public ‘ban the burn’ standpoint.

Burning is banned on land owned by Peak District National Park Authority (a reminder that they only actually own 5% of the land in the National Park) and also land owned by Sheffield City Council.

The situations in which a DEFRA / Natural England license to burn heather moorland are required are articulated HERE

A few resources –

THIS well written explainer page on the National Park website articulates the differences in law around peat moorland that is above and below 40cm in depth.

THIS article from the RSPB also focuses on the how and why and the impacts of burning and includes a mobile app for reporting burning.

A direct link to the RSPB burn reporting page is HERE

Where Sheffield City Council can be pressured to do something is on the impact from moorland burning that is within their City boundaries. Burns over the last few days at Strines and Moscar absolutely were. There is scope with existing air pollution laws for the City Council and also the Regional Mayoral Authority to act on this. The legal responsibilities of SCC are outlined HERE Contact information for the SCC Environmental Protection Team are HERE

The other community often impacted by burning in the Dark Peak is the Hope Valley. The Climate Action group there ( Hope Valley Climate Action) have air quality monitors recording the impact of industry, transport and burning – and have various articles like THIS on the local impact.

Things you can actually do …

• use the aforementioned tools / apps to record the location of burning – as many ‘citizen reporters’ is essential here as is the ability to acurately record the burn location

• report air quality concerns if you are impacted by moorland burning

• write to your local Councillor and MP and urge them to take action on moorland burning

• read widely around the subject and understand (but not necessarily agree with) both sides of the activity and debate – an example of the polarising nature of the issue can be read in this 2021 Guardian article

• support, amplify and promote the work of local environmental organisations and individuals in campaigning for a legally binding halt to the burning of peat moorland

Allus the second Saturday

There has been a “Shepherds Meet” at Wasdale Head for over 100 years, little is known of the early years other than that it was originally held in “The Chicken Field” which is the right-hand field just over the old packhorse bridge.

It is believed that the “Shepherds Meet” started off with farmers from Wasdale meeting the farmers from the adjoining valleys of Ennerdale, Buttermere, Borrowdale, Eskdale and possibly Langdale, who walked their Tips (Rams) over to Wasdale Head to trade them, swap them or hire them. This is why the show is held so late in the year, Tip Lousing (Letting the rams loose with the ewes) in the valleys being in November so lambs being born in April. In all probability the showing of sheep also started in the early years and possibly also the showing of shepherd’s dogs, Hound Trailing would also have been introduced in these early years.

There were no Shepherd’s Meets or Shows in WW2 and in 1947 The Wasdale Head Show and shepherds meet restarted in its current location. With farmers having motorised transport, the practice of walking sheep to the show soon all but died out but this also made the Show more accessible and therefore it started to grow. Cumberland and Westmoreland Wrestling and the Fell Race would have been introduced soon after WW2 and at this time the traditional singing took place in the dining room at The Wastwater Hotel (Now The Wasdale Head Inn). Children’s sports were introduced in the 60’s, soon followed by classes for none working dogs as well as the terrier racing.

I’ll try not to wax too lyrical about this one day a year in Wasdale except to say that hands down it is the best day out int’ whole country.

A pilgrimage of sorts for me now. We went up on Friday and swung past Rheged (Penrith) to see the Libby Edmondson exhibition.

This bold and brilliant painting of Wastwater Screes and Wasdale caught my eye. Reminded me of some of the work of Anthony ‘Ginger’ Cain. The colours remind me of geology maps.

The colours in Wasdale were nowhere near as vibrant on Friday evening as it was lashed with cold rains from ominous skies.

Saturday promised a mixed bag of weather so we decided to walk from the Head up to Styhead early doors and then consider our options.

The weather was a bit on and off at Styhead so we opted for a bite to eat and a wander back down via Spouthead Gill.

Before doing so i ended up, as always, chatting to a few dozen folk that had come up from Seathwaite and had no clue where they were nor where the Corridor Route was.

On the way back down i was just rejoicing in the sound of the beck and the sight of Herdwicks ….

….. when i heard a bloke yeling from up on Moses Trod. Herdwicks scattered as his husky dog belted down the hill side after them. I pretended i was fit again and legged it about 500m down the valley to try and intercept the dog as it had singled out a ewe.

think the husky was ‘only playing’ in so much as it could have easily caught the ewe – nonetheless there are red signs all over the valley saying ‘keep dogs on leads’ and the ewe was clearly traumatised by the event.

After that excitement it was a wander down past Burnthwaite Farm

to a bowl of soup in the Wasdale Head Inn before heading to the show fields. As i was queuing for the soup i nattered to one of the shepherds grabbing his lunch. Turns out it was Jonny Bland from Rosthwaite Farm (and the Flock In cafe). A quick rattle through 30+ years of ‘who did we both know in Borrowdale’ and it turns out he is about the same age as me and was growing up ‘below me’ in the Valley when i was living in Millcan’s Cave in the late 80’s. Small world.

The terrier racing was a delight as ever. I also took the time to chat to the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team Members about the tempo of recent call-outs and a few particularly arduos rescues that they’ve had.

As the showers blew in and out the evening light began to play on Wastwater and so we decided to have a wander along the Screes path from Brackenclose. Glad we did as, although we got turned back by another soaking, we were treated to some rather special skies:

A pint in the Wasdale Head Inn and then back to the Screes Inn in Nether Wasdale. We’ve stayed here for at least 3 years now for Show weekend. A lovely traditional Inn with good food, good beer and friendly folk.

Sunday dawned cold.

Back down to the Head and set off on a chilly walk towards Brackenclose and the lower reaches of the ‘stretcher path’ that ascends Lingmell via quite a few contour lines …..

From about 700m upwards the ground was frozen. It was a stunning Autumn morning in the high fells.

We didn’t feel the need to tick off Scafell yet again so wandered down the Corridor Route. Pockets of ice on the path in places and some ice visible just beginning to form on a few buttresses. Lots of folk on their way up. A lot asked where Scafell Pike was.

The Autumn light played on the scree slopes of Great Gable

We diverted down in to the bowl of Spouthead Gill and wandered down towards another bowl of soup – thankfully there were no dogs chasing sheep today.

That was that then for another second Saturday in October. A grand few days out.

Random Thoughts and Observations

• I made a point of taking note of the number of people i saw with a map in their hand or close to hand out on the fells. The total was ‘one’.

• The time is surely nigh for maintenance, parking charges and signage at the mud bath / car park at Wasdale Head ?

• Whenever i walk or guide ascents of Scafell (via any of the routes) i’m left with the certainty that the majority of walkers have no idea where they’re going or where they are on the mountain. I think tens of thousands of folk must get up and down the mountain through a combination of luck and following someone else.


I’ve had the bright idea that in 2024 i’ll offer a week of guided walking which is book-ended by the Wasdale Shepherds Meet (second Saturday in October) and the Borrowdale Shepherds Meet (3rd Saturday in October). The walks will be on the high fells around and between these two valleys in Herdwick country. Logistics tbc. Drop me a line if you’re interested.

‘I will lift my eyes up to the hills from whence cometh my help’
– engraving on the roof beams of St Olaf’s Church in Wasdale

On The Brink

Shrinking Glaciers in the Swiss Alps

‘How do young people cope with living and working in an environment on the brink of collapse?

‘On the Brink’ follows the story of two female protagonists, reflecting on their experience of living and working in the midst of the Alps (Bernese Oberland, Switzerland) for the Summer. It explores their experience educating the next generation of explorers about glacier safety on the Bluemlisalp glacier with the Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC), as well as a summit attempt of the Lagginhorn (4010m).

The film is closely attuned to the changing experience of the mountain environment in the wake of climate change. It aims to educate the audience on the fragilities and realities of the alpine ecosystem, leaving us to decide whether we are to be on the brink of collapse, or change.

Written, directed by, and starring an all-female crew, the film seeks to spotlight a female voice on the impact of climate change on mountaineering in the Alps.

A film by Rosie Aldridge and Lucy Temple

(P.S. this was a very live topic that i discussed with quite a few people on my recent trip to the Alps – from farmer to tourism sector worker to alpine guides to retailers ….. the instability of the alpine climate – and the decimation of glaciated terrain – as a direct result of global warming is perhaps one of the most ‘tangible’ aspects of the climate crisis for Europeans.

civil engineering to facilitate getting humans closer to a glacier that has shrunk as a direct result of air travel to come and see a glacier that has shrunk ……

Spot The difference

between this

and this

One is a toilet.

The other is a legally protected Ancient Scheduled Monument. The sort of trench thingy that goes round the sides of Mam Tor is evidence of a late Bronze Age and early Iron Age univallate hill fort which radiocarbon analysis suggests saw occupation from around 1200 BC.

It’s not a toilet. Don’t do a shit on it.

On Sunday night a local mountain rescue team had to navigate between the piles of human shit and used toilet roll en route to carrying out a rescue there.

Utterly disgusting.

The White Fox

An uplifting film about the benefits of the outdoors on mental health …

‘Charlie Leeds (aka Mark Valentine) has become a bit of a legend in the outdoor world. Famously a modern day hard man, working as a bouncer on the streets of Leeds, his cover was blown when visitors to his bar found him reading “The Nature of Snowdonia” on the door’.