Essential Hiking Accessories for Your Young Ones

Why should you have to carry all the gear?

Although it can make for a painfully expensive shopping trip, it’s important that you kit your kids out with the necessary gear.

Unfortunately for parents, outdoor pursuits companies are often loathe to reduce their prices for their kids goods, so it might well be that you could end up spending a lot of money, especially if you’re intent on buying the newest models.

If your kid is in need of some brand new gear, but you don’t quite fancy paying through the nose for it, then you can have a peruse through this handy list of (mostly) reasonably priced gear that will turn even the most civilised of urban kids into true mini-Indiana Jones style explorers:

Amelia Jane’s Fur Pom Pom Hat

Some might well question the efficacy of Amelia Jane London’s fur pom pom hats, especially in a rugged outdoors environment but its’s really quite hard to deny their comfort and warmth.

At £24.00 for a Kids size they are a touch on the pricey side, but it’s important to remember that this is a designer brand. For parents who want to match with their kids, you can buy matching adults versions of all the kids styles.

Deuter’s Kikki Children’s Rucksack

This is the perfect gift for any tiny hiker who wants to carry their own weight and a great way of including your kids in the fun. There’s a mighty 6L capacity in this deceptively high-quality pack, as well as external Velcro pockets, chest straps and a good amount of reflective detail – so it could also double up as a sturdy school bag.

The designs on this piece of gear are extremely eye-catching and at the relatively decent price of £38.74 (at outdoorgb.com) it’s hard to see any downsides.

Quechua’s Arpenaz 50 Children’s Hiking Shoes

It would be a bit of a stretch to refer to these shoes as boots, as they don’t quite have the rigidity to be described as such. What they do have, though, is a sturdy design with tonnes of traction so your little one is less likely to take a tumble when you’re on your next hike.

These shoes probably won’t survive long-distance hikes, but as they’re for little feet, that won’t be too much of an issue. Most importantly, they’re completely waterproof and have handy velcro straps – these are a steal at £9.99 right here.

Spotty Otter’s Explorer Down Chillicub

Finally, we thought it was worth sharing this big ticket item that is currently on sale over at Little Trekkers. The Explorer Down Chillicub might have an odd name,  but it is probably the most effective all-in-one waterproof shell currently on the market.

This suit combines the warmth of duck down with a high-tech, breathable nylon-synthetic that is guaranteed to keep your little ones both warm and dry – until they grow out of it that is. This item is currently on sale at £172.49, down from £229.99, so get it whilst it’s cheap!…

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Places To Stay in Dartmouth

Come to Dartmouth for the sea breeze and bracing walks.

It’s often easy to overlook the coastal wonders that Devon has to offer.

Although some of the most challenging walks in Devon might well be found in the more rugged climes of Dartmoor and Exmoor, ramblers who would prefer to have a public loo and a cup of cream tea close to hand should consider visiting Dartmouth for an idyllic weekend trip.

With enough stunning coastal hikes to keep you busy for many-a-day and some charming restaurants as well, Dartmouth has plenty to offer the intrepid explorer and whilst you could pitch a tent up and rough it for the weekend, there are a number of affordable hotels and B&Bs that you should probably consider first…

Capritia Guesthouse

As a seaside town, Dartmouth offers visitors a chance to settle into a quintessential coastal town. Whilst you could spend the night in a cheap, faceless chain hotel just a few minutes outside of the town centre, the most central accommodation options are by far the most comfortable. The Caprita Guesthouse is a perfect example of a B&B that offers everything that you’d expect from a modern establishment (Television, Wi-Fi etc) whilst also remaining delightfully traditional.

Website: http://www.capritia.com/

Prices from: £80 p/night for a Double Room (inc. Breakfast)

Mounthaven

The grandly named Mounthaven is one of the few establishments in Dartmouth to have attained the much coveted 5-star rating from the AA and for good reason! The hosts are also trained chefs, which guarantees you a decent brekkie before you head out for your day’s hike. All you have to do is take a look at the views on their website to get an idea of the kind of treat this place is, for some B&Bs it’s really all about location, thankfully Mounthaven has that and so much more.

Website: http://www.mounthavendartmouth.co.uk/

Prices from: £100 p/night for a Double Room (inc. Breakfast)

Royal Castle Hotel

Whilst it can often be a little tricky to spot Dartmouth’s historical landmarks from the raft of cleverly replicated new builds, the Royal Castle Hotel stands a mile out from its competitors with it’s grandiose architecture and central positioning looking out over the marina. This handsomely kept hotel has been open since 1639 and has played host to Queen Victoria, Sir Francis Drake and an entire production of an Agatha Christie movie adaptation, starring Donald Sutherland.

Website: https://www.royalcastle.co.uk/

Prices: £95 p/night for a Double Room

Cafe Alf Resfo

You could easily walk straight on by Alf Rescos and assume that it’s simply a pleasant looking seaside cafe, but there are some cosy rooms to stay hidden within its upper floors. The ‘penthouse’ suite is affectionately known as ‘The Captain’s Cabin’ and features nautically themed decor, as well as a fully equipped kitchen. If you’d rather have the full seaside B&B experience, then you can have your fill from the cafe’s well renowned breakfast menu downstairs when you stay in one of the two B&B rooms on the first floor.

Website: http://www.cafealfresco.co.uk

Prices from: £75 p/night…

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21st Century Hiking Gear for the Fancy Rambler

Hiking is one of the oldest extreme sports in existence.

Before we had fell-running, rock climbing or even mountain biking – we had hiking.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the stereotype of a hiker was depicted as essentially a grown up Boy Scout; kitted out with heavy looking leather boots, a green canvas army surplus rucksack and a pair of beige shorts. Back then, the whole idea of hiking was to get as far away from technology as possible and to do so using equipment that was ideally a few decades old and weighed an absolute tonne.

Things have changed a little bit since the hey day of hiking in the 70s and the outdoor pursuits industry has expanded to adopt numerous technological advances, making every step that much easier for the hiker willing to spend the money. Each year outdoor activity manufacturing companies compete to combine the best materials possible with the most innovative of designs, in order to attract the attention of hikers eager to update their gear and drop some cash.

The following products probably won’t be considered essential by everyone, either due to their slightly superfluous nature or expensive price tag, however, if you look online in the right places you might well be able to pick yourself up a bargain:

The Under Armour Compression Shirt

Once a garment that was solely reserved for professional athletes, this slippery base layer has slowly made it’s way into the hiking world after gaining traction within the football and rugby communities. A compression shirt is essentially a tight fitting Lycra top that acts as a second skin, insulating the wearer better than any cotton shirt would.

Since the explosion of the leisure wear market a couple of years back, you can find shirts made by a whole range of good companies. You’ll be able to find an Under Armour wholesale distributor that suits your price range by taking a quick look online at either eBay or other online marketplaces.

Exposure’s £120 Head Torch

A decent head torch is a must-have item for any hiker who’s thinking of tackling a long distance ramble and might risk losing sunlight towards the end of the day. It’s up to debate (and personal opinion) as to whether you can justify spending £120 on such a small item, but you can pretty much guarantee that if you take the plunge with Exposure’s powerful, yet lightweight, head torch you’ll never need to buy another.

Berghaus’ Ultra-Light Hyper Jacket

The Berghaus brand has been synonymous with quality hiking gear for decades now – indeed, some older hikers still swear by their ancient walking boots, claiming that they’ve never lost their waterproofing, despite years of use.

Whereas more mature hikers might well be happy staying put with their outdated models, those who are ready to embrace the new generation of walking gear should look no further than the brand’s excellent Hyper Jacket. At under £100, this super-lightweight shell is a must buy for any hiker who needs to move at a rapid pace.

Suunto’s Unbelievable Adventure Watch

Last, but not least, we had to mention this excellent piece of kit. Although we’re sure most hikers would happily get by without dropping the £250 for Suunto’s highly adaptable adventure watch, this is a gadget that could prove to be an absolute lifesaver in so many situations. The list of features that they’ve packed into this timepiece are almost too numerous to mention: everything from GPS navigation, route planning, altitude meter and step counter is provided with a tonne of other features that communicate with your phone as well.

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Places To Stay in Dartmoor

Dartmoor is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Devon and for good reason.

Covering 954 square kilometres, it offers miles and miles of unspoilt hiking and trekking that can prove to be more than a challenge for even the most able of ramblers.

Hundreds of tors (Dartmoor’s iconic granite landmarks) are dotted around the landscape as well as stone cairns, bridges and the occasional sinking mud marsh. One of the big draws of this area is the complete isolation and sparse nature of the landscape – whilst this is very beautiful to walk through, it can make finding a place to stay a little difficult.

There’s a great range of accommodation options to choose from, depending on your taste, budget and level of required comfort. Before you book your next trip down to Dartmoor, have a look at our options here and see if one takes your fancy:

The Dartmoor Lodge Hotel

Situated on the South Eastern edge of Dartmoor, the Dartmoor Lodge Hotel has been open since 2008 and is perfectly positioned for any hikers keen to start from the edge of the moor and work in. It’s position, on the periphery of the park is easy to access from the local major roads and the hotel also happens to have a lovely bar and restaurant offering a wide lunch and dinner menu. There’s enough home comforts here to keep a rambler happy and the prices are also very reasonable.

Website: http://www.dartmoorlodge.co.uk

Prices from: £98 p/night for a Double Room

Langstone Manor Park

On the western side of Dartmoor, just a short drive from the border town of Tavistock, lies Langstone Manor, a huge holiday site which caters for all manner of holiday makers. If you’re looking to rough it in a tent, then you can pitch up at Langstone right next to the camper vans and motor homes. If you’d like to not deal with the hassle of a tent then they have camping pods for hire, as well as whole apartments and cottages to rent.

Website: http://www.langstonemanor.co.uk

Prices from: £18 p/night for a Pitch for Two

The Plume of Feathers

There aren’t many other places that can boast a better position than The Plume. Sat literally between the moor and the outer limits of Princetown, this traditional English pub is the perfect place to warm up your feet after a long day of hiking. As far as sleeping arrangements go, you can either opt for a B&B arrangement, in one of 10 en-suite rooms or you can choose the more rough’n’ready Bunkhouse or Old Bunkhouse which offers dormitory-style bunk beds. There’s also a campsite for those wanting to eschew home comforts.

Website: http://theplumeoffeathersdartmoor.co.uk

Prices from: £90 p/night for a Double Room

Prince Hall Hotel

For some, the joy of experiencing somewhere like Dartmoor is having a truly luxurious room to return to, once the day’s walking has been completed. The 18th Century, Prince Hall Hotel has bags of luxury to spare and it’s central position (just down the road from Two Bridges and a short drive from Princetown) makes it a great base from which to start a day’s exploration of Southern Dartmoor. Whilst the rooms might set you back a fair whack, you’re guaranteed to get a good night’s sleep at this historical mansion.

Website: http://www.princehall.co.uk

Prices from: £160 p/night for a Double Room with Breakfast…

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Forest of Bowland with Bowland Fell Park

For those of us advancing in years, the prospect of a long drive book ending an exhausting ramble can be simply too much.

Thankfully there are alternatives that might delay your return home, but will certainly make your rambling experience a much smoother one.

If you’re looking to get away from Devon for a long weekend, then Bowland Fell Park in Yorkshire is worth exploring for a change of scenery. This amply equipped static caravan site is a great choice for ramblers who don’t quite fancy roughing it in a tent.

At Bowland Fell Park, you have the option of either staying in a spacious static caravan, complete with kitchenette and bathrooms, or renting a luxury apartment. Either way you’ll find yourself with a comfortable base of operations, somewhere that you can relax after finishing a ramble.

The Park lies on the very edge of the Forest of Bowland, an officially designated Area of Outstanding National Beauty. Over 500 listed buildings and 18 monuments litter this vast area of wilderness, which also contains the Geographical centre of Great Britain. Landmarks and geographical oddities aside, you can get easy access to the network of excellent footpaths in the local area directly from the Bowland Fell Park site. You can check out some more routes right here.

This 7-mile ramble shouldn’t take you any longer than 2 and a half hours, just in time to freshen up and head out to Crowtrees Inn, the Park’s onsite pub which is open 7 days a week.

It’s usually best to arrive at the Park for around 10am, unpack your things and meet the welcoming hosts. Take a little tour of the site to get your bearings, then head out to Stephen Park to begin your walk around the local area.

You’ll find Stephen’s Park (BB7 4TS) from Bowland by taking a left out of the Park grounds and heading town to the village of Tosside. When you reach The Dog & Partridge, cross the road and head on to Bailey Lane.

You’ll soon find yourself plunged into the Forest. After just under a mile, you’ll see a left turn down the Gisburn Green Bike Trail.

Whilst keeping an eye out for downhill bikers, follow this trail through the forest until you reach Stephen Park.

Once you’ve regrouped, you can head further down, following the same path, into the forest. Continue to follow the Gisburn Bike Trail until it turns into Dugdale Lane. You might need to look out for the odd car passing by here, as there are a few farms in the local area.

Take a left when you hit the B6478, this minor road will take you back up through the Forest and out by The Dog & Partridge for a quick pint, or perhaps something stronger. Of course, if you’d rather put your boots up back at the Park, then you can do that. Head on back the way came, to rest up at Bowland Fell Park.

Once you’ve changed your clothes you can take a well-earned break by the indoor swimming pool, that all residents of the park have access to. After your dip, take a shower in your cabin and then walk on round to the little on-site pub.

Packed full of character, the Crowtrees Inn was a farmhouse in the 17th Century. Now it’s a great place for the inhabitants of the park to enjoy a drink as well as a well cooked meal, at the end of the day. Drink and eat your fill, then take a relaxed walk back to your cabin for a good night’s sleep.

In addition to being able to take your dogs with you, Bowland Fell Park offers Launderette facilities and a Farm Shop that sells everything a rambler could need.

Prices in Spring are cheaper than in the Summer, so now’s the time to book a quick weekend away and take in an especially beautiful part of the country!

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Rambling the Trossachs with Highland Heather Lodges

Rambling is a hobby that can take you all over Great Britain, even as far as Scotland.

There’s some great rambling to be done up in Scotland, with the Highlands being one of the stand outs areas for experienced mountain climbers and hikers.

However, for those looking for a more sedate ramble, with less scrambling and easier to navigate routes, Scotland’s National Parks hold a treasure trove of paths and routes, offering long days of rambling without too many strenuous sections.

Although it might be tempting to simply stop at the stunning Galloway Forest Park, on your way up through Scotland, resist this and make the trip further up to the larger Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. This area may well lack the overtly dramatic nature of the Highlands, but there is still a rugged appeal to this place, whilst remaining relatively close to civilisation.

To guarantee yourself a good night’s sleep and the best chance at an early start in the morning, book a luxury holiday cabin (this site here is my personal favourite) close to your start point and make sure you’ve stocked up on supplies on the way up; there isn’t much in the way of shops this far North!

Trossachs, Loch Katrine and Callander 

Although you can tackle this 12 mile ramble from either direction, it’s recommended that you organise a drop off at the point furthest into the Park. Jump out of a car at Trossachs Pier Car Park (FK17 8HZ) and head down along the public road.

Soon you’ll drop off this road and head deep into the forest. Say goodbye to civilisation, you won’t be meeting back up with a real road for another 8 miles or so. For now take a right turn off the road, after passing a Scottish Water sign for the Loch Katrine dam you can take a left, this should lead you to a foot bridge, taking you over the Achray Water.

After the bridge, turn left on the far side of the track. Follow winding paths through the trees, you should be treated to a few views along the way of Ben A’an and Tigh Mor. Stately homes sit next to glittering Loch’s and dense forests, you can see why this is such a popular walking destination.

This path should bring you into brief contact with the A821. After making a safe crossing, turn right to get across the road bridge, then take the forest track to Three Lochs Forest Drive. Stay on this well laid track until you run into Loch Achray, from here you can keep the Loch on one side and enjoy the view of the lake as you ramble by.

After walking straight through a Farm, you’ll begin to follow the Black Water, a charming river that runs from the Loch. You’ll cross a very old stone bridge, before passing the Byre Inn. This is a great place to stop for some lunch, if the time’s right. If you don’t fancy pub grub, ramble on until you reach Brig’o’Turk where you’ll soon be presented by other options.

Once you’re refreshed and ready to continue, carry on the way you were going and head up the hill towards Glen Finglas car park. Head straight across the road and across the signposted bridge, before passing through the gate and bearing left once more. Take a right branch in the path and climb through native woodland to discover a mountain bike path of gravel head.

This convenient path will take you through to your destination, Callander. Ensuring that you keep Loch Venachar on your right, you should be able follow this gravel path carefree for the rest of your ramble.

Once you’ve reached Callander, enjoy a spot of dinner or simply arrange a pick up back to your luxury holiday cottage, so you can kick back and relax for the night. Staying in the Highlands doesn’t always have to be a high octane, high risk adventure.

Don’t forget this is simply a guide to a route, there are a tonne of paths to explore, just don’t forget to take a map.

Take your time and enjoy one of the real treats of Great Britain at your own pace.

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Make Your Rambles Safer with Trail Outdoor

There is always an inherent risk when you go for a ramble.

It doesn’t matter how much mobile signal you might have…

…or how close you might feel to the emergency services, when you take a walk into the unknown you run the risk of injury or ill health.

Thankfully there are a few light-weight additions to your standard rambling gear that should give you peace of mind when you’re heading on a slightly longer trek, you can check out prices for them at Trail Outdoor, in Ivybridge.

Survival Bag/Pop-up Shelter

A basic survival bag (or ‘bivi’ bag) is an extra layer of insulation between you and the elements. Should the worse happen, perhaps you fall in a river or succumb to a surprise cold snap, a thick plastic bag could be the last thing between you and hypothermia. You can buy these for a paltry £5 and they pack away small in you rucksack.


Torch/Batteries

A classic piece of gear for any trek. A compact but effective torch, with spare batteries, is a hugely useful tool. Whether you’re in need of illumination when setting up a tent, or simply find yourself running out of daylight, a torch is a crucial piece of gear. At a pinch, a strong torch can be used as an emergency light, allowing you to communicate using semaphore.


Whistle

By far one of the most affordable safety precautions that you can invest in, you can pick an emergency whistle for around a pound. Hung around your neck, so that it can be reached within a moment’s notice, this little piece of plastic could be your lifeline to others, should you find yourself lost. Six blasts of the whistle (or flashes of a torch) is the international signal of stress.


Warm Clothing

Although you might be able to get away with wearing just one layer of clothes (and packing additional waterproofs) for a short ramble. If you’re heading out on a longer excursion, then you should consider packing some more robust clothes, in case it gets cold or your get unexpectedly wet.

A warm hat, additional pullover and trousers can come in handy, if you happen to be caught out in a cold snap.


Emergency Rations

We’ve already discussed what food you should be taking with you on your first ramble, however, it’s always wise to provide for every eventuality. A stash of Emergency Rations should be packed separate to your initial food stash, so that you’re prepared for the worst.

These Rations should be comprised of foods that are easily accessible and long-lasting. A large bar of chocolate and trail mix are worth packing away. You can buy specialised ration packs online – just make sure you don’t tuck into them on your way home!


First Aid Kit

A compact First Aid Kit is an essential for any outdoors activity. Ideally, everyone in your party will be carrying one of these kits with them, with a designated member of the team carrying a larger pack with some bulkier items.

You can buy all-in-one First Aid Kits online and from Outdoor Pursuits retailers. Ideally, your kit will contain scissors, micro pore tape, safety pins, tweezers, bandages, anti-septic wipes, anti-septic cream and plasters. Depending on the walkers in your grip, you may need to take additional medication or preventative measures – make sure to plan this well in advance.


Ice Axe/Crampons

Lastly, this kind of gear will only be required if you are intending on rambling over more extreme terrain. If you’re rambling in the middle of Winter, in particularly rural areas, you might find that ice or even snow, may hamper your progress.

A simple set of crampons can be costly, but will also give you the much needed grip that you need on otherwise treacherous ground. An ice axe is only necessary for particularly challenging rambles on snowy terrain – always ensure that you are trained before using one.

As always, it’s worth considering where you’re rambling and what the weather will be like before you pack your bags.

There’s plenty of options to choose from at Trail Outdoors in Ivybridge, Devon – check them out before going anywhere else.

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What Do I Need to Ramble?

You’d be surprised how easy it is to start rambling.

There are just a handful of pieces of equipment that it’s best to make sure you have before you set out on your first rambling adventure:

Rucksack

A sturdy rucksack is the first tool in any rambler’s arsenal. This bag needs to be lightweight when empty, so that you can fill it up with plenty of gear for your hike. Make sure the shoulder straps are well-padded so they don’t rub uncomfortably on your skin and you have plenty of room for the next important thing.

Water

This is the most important consumable that you’ll take with you on your ramble; water should be seen as a must-have item. How much water you take with you will depend on how long your proposed walk is. Humans should drink around 2 litres of water a day, you’ll need more when you’re hiking. If you’re thinking of heading into wilder areas then you’ll need to pack water sterilisation tablets (make sure you read the instruction carefully before using them!)

Food

You should never head out on a walk without some form of fuel. It’s usually best to take a variety of food stuffs with you so that you’re covered for every eventuality. Slow-burning carbohydrates, like sandwiches and cereal bars, are great for general sustenance. You’ll also need some foods high in sugar, fat and protein to keep your body topped up whilst you’re on the move. Nuts, fruit and chocolate are a good idea to keep as snacks.

Waterproofs

Regardless of the weather forecast expected, you should always pack a decent set of compact waterproof clothes with you. A lightweight set of waterproof trousers and a jacket is all you’ll need from Spring through to Summer. Worn as a final layer over your practical rambling gear (lightweight durable clothes that preferably wick away sweat), these garments will deflect rain and also protect you from the winds.

Hiking Boots

Although you might think that you can get away with going on a hike without boots, you’ll be making a grave mistake and leaving yourself open to a potential injury. Outdoor terrain can never be predicted and shouldn’t be relied upon. Trainers may well suffice for a simple walk around the block, but you’ll need something a bit more rugged if you’re heading out into the countryside. Most online sporting outlets will stock decent hiking boots for around £30-40.

Make sure you ‘break in’ any boots before go on your first ramble. Pop them on around the house for a few days, just make sure not to step on anyone’s toes!

Map & Compass

Hopefully you’ll know where you’re going for a ramble, before you set out. Whilst Great Britain may well be one of the safer places in the world to go for a walk, you never know when the elements could turn on you. It’s always best to make sure that you have a hard copy of a map and a traditional compass, so that you can find your way.

If you’re not quite sure how to use a Map and Compass, then there’s some great Tutorials online that can help or try contacting your local Ramblers group for some hands on training!

Walking Companions

Lastly, and most importantly, it always pays to have some friends along with you for the ride. You should never attempt a ramble in the great outdoors, no matter how trivial, without a friend along with you.

As much as you might be attracted to the romantic ideal of walking out into the great unknown alone, if you do so you are inviting disaster. Regardless of the mobile technology that you believe will help you if you get into trouble, it should never be relied on. The best thing that can help you, if you injure yourself or fall ill, is another person.

Check our Resources page to find out how to build your Rambling connections, so that you can get started all the sooner!

Have you collected all of these things?

Then congratulations – you’re ready to Ramble!

But now you’re ready to go, where are you going to walk? Take a look at some of our recommendations on the blog, to get a head start…

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