Friday, 12 March 2010

Spring is afoot

The weather here in the Peak District is starting to show signs of spring. Last weekend I spent the days out at Millers Dale and Parsley Hay ranger training. Had two great days out with some good training from the rangers I was attached too.

Navigation training on saturday around Ecton Hill was wonderful, with a little micro navigation and map reading. Sunday was a patrol and talking about countryside safety which was very useful.

Dogs are starting to become more of a focus now in the National Parks as we get nearer to lambing time. I never realised that its not just the lambs but also ground nesting birds that we have to watch out for. Personally we always keep Tilly on a lead so its not a problem.

Activity at Wapentac is well underway now for The Outdoors Show. With lost of new products on show like the Snowdon and Ben Nevis Wapenmap and the framed Wapenbox themed Wapenmap there will be lots to see. you can see more at

I've just started my first twitter account, you can find me at findonnorth. I have no idea where this will lead so its exciting.

Tomorrow is my last ranger training day before the first residential training weekend. I had to get 10 in before then, which was tough, but a good thing I guess as it shows committment. I have enjoyed all the training days and the rangers have been great looking after me. Tomorrow I am on a guided walk from Fairholmes Ranger Station. The walk goes along the Derwent Valley and talks about Tintown, the temporary town built to house the construction workers who built the dams. I may try and take some photos if the weather is fine. I like to take photos, but haven't felt it was right whilst training with other rangers. Its one of the reasons I am looking forward to passing my training and being able to go out on my own.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Deep snow at Stanage Edge

Had a great walk this weekend starting from the ranger centre below Stanage edge. We climbed to the top of the ridge and walked along until we reached Burbage Bridge, then across to Higger Tor and back round below the edge to the centre. There were quite a few people out depsite the mist and limited visibility. There were some mountain bikers crashing through the fog along the top of the edge, which is a footpath only. This is really irritating for some walkers and gives the responsible bikers a bad name. Shame but like any portion of society there are always those who dont think that the rules, or laws apply to them. Same with the car parking. There are two large car parks along the bottom road, yet some still park on the grass verge. It onlyy costs £3.50 for the day and all that money goes back in to providing amenities for the public. Anyway, none of this spoilt a good day walking. There were some climbers out on the ridge and I am always impressed by the youth of today who get involved in the great outdoors. Walking up to the top of the ridge we had to cut steps in the snow which was still 6ft deep in places. The area reminds me a little of Scotland, with the ridge and pine tree plantations.

We are starting to get ready for the Outdoor Show in which we have a trade stand. If you are going come and see us. You can find details at or

Monday, 4 January 2010

A Monochrome Day in the Peak District

The first foray out this year brought me in to contact with crisp snow in the Hope Valley in the Peak District.

I had decided to take a walk along the Longshaw Estate towards Hathersage, doubling back along the line of the Sheffield to Manchester Rail Line.

First though I stoked up on a full breakfast at the Grindleford Cafe, still in full spirit after the untimely death of its famous owner. I can remember Philip when he had a small shed on the Snake Pass, before he bought the station. Its sad to see him not there, but he lives on through the signs he put up around the place, especially the one about not asking for mushrooms, and his sons work.

Brunts Barn is the local Ranger centre and sits at the side of Padley Chapel, the remnants of a 14th century Manor House. Two priests were caught here in Henrys day and suffered the consequences.

I followed the track down towards Hathersage, at one point doing a very good impression of a tortoise on his back, as I lay felled by the ice and snow. There were plenty of people around so the humiliation was total which brought a smile to most, including me.

The track passes Greenhow Farm, a well looked after farmstead that looks down the Hope and Grindleford valleys. I could not belive that gorse that was still clinging on to some yellow buds in the snow. A welcome splash of colour in a very monochromatic world.

All in all a good day out. The weather changed just as I reached the car and within minutes Fox House and the road to Sheffield was almost impassable. I only just made it through. There were some idiots overtaking and pulling out, causing traffic to skid to a halt and then become stuck in the snow. Amazingly once Dore Pub was reached the snow disappeared and Sheffield was in dryness.

It was good to get out and about, as this last few weeks has meant looking after ill relatives, which effectively put walking on a hold.

I have been officially accepted on to the Peak District Ranger training course, which begins immediatley. So this will keep me out of trouble for a little while.

The Wapentac website had a good Christmas with excellent sales, the Wapenmaps catching the imagination of many people. Alison has been updating the site and started a new competition, FIND TILLEY. Have a look, you never know you might win a Wapenmap. Alison is also getting ready for the Outdoorshow at the NEC between March 26th - 28th which Wapentac have a stand. Wapentac has also started a Facebook site, we have no idea where it will go, so it will be interesting to see how it develops. So its all systems go, now that Christmas is over.

Monday, 14 December 2009

The inventor of Wapnemap

The above link features my wife Alison Counsell the inventor of Wapenmap. I am so proud of her and would be pleased if you paid her a visit. You can visit her website from the link at the bottom of the article.

Many thanks

Friday, 4 December 2009

New York New York

We,ve been away in New York this past few weeks and then on getting back got caught up in life so its been awhile since the last blog.

New York was wonderful. My wife Alison, took me there for my 50th birthday. We walked a lot, which is what I like to do in cities. I love the worlds top class cities almost as much as I like the countryside. We also visited some of the museums and galleries. And we kept just missing celebrities as we walked around, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Douglas. But we did walk straight in to Barry Humphries, Dame Edna.

I love the buildings of New York, my favourite being the Seagram building by Mies van der Rohe. It has such perfect lines and proportion and sits so well in its surroundings. Even the furniture is to die for.

Seagram Building

I wanted to find a walking gear shop and see how the Americans do it. But try as we might there were no outdoor shops at all in the whole of Manhattan. Something that surprised me. In the bookshops, there was no section for walking books, no guides, nothing it was really odd.

Flatiron Building

We,ve been busy on our return. I've finished my job and start a new contract next week for a short time at Youngs the seafood people. Then its off to work for the government next year.


Alison took part in the Sheffield Galvanized exhibition with her Wapentac stand and she sold lots of Wapenmap and also received a great deal of interest. Coupled with this Wapentac and the Wapenmap has just been featured in the gift section of the January issue of Trail magazine, and orders are starting to come in from this. So it looks as though December is going to be a busy month all round.

Nwe York

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Millers Dale Ranger Training

Another Sunday and another Ranger Station for training. This time it was Millers Dale, a real Will Hay production, with station platform and waiting rooms. It has occurred to me that the young ones, Peter et al, may not know who Will Hay, those of you that do will have to admit to age so be careful.

Anyway here is the great Will Hay

Today we walked around Sir William Hill, that doyen of the betting world. WE also walked around Abney and lots of villages I had never been in before. This was somewhat of a shock to me, having spent my years since 14 year old, when I started to follow Mark Richards walking guides, walking around the area. It was only when we reached the top of Abney Moor that I realised why. I stopped for a breather and looking back saw the Millstone Edge, Hathersage, Ladybower in the distance, Froggat over to the right. It was a wonderful scene, the sun breaking through the clouds, illuminated the moorland and edges, giving a warm autumnal brown hue. It was then I realised why I had never been in the area. I had always walked on the edges above Hathersage. I had never seen the views down the valley. Except from Surprise View or Millstone Edge. It always amazes me the different perspective we gain. It’s the same with linear walks. Mine always used to be circular. But recently I have done a few linear walks, turning around at the end and returning from whence I came. I get a completely different set of views. It may have taken me a long time to realise this, but it’s a real bonus to me.

Anyway the walk took in some nice villages and idyllic settings. The only blot, to my mind on the landscape is the new apartments blocks to the rear of David Mellors factory at Hathersage. It’s only my opinion but they are a real eyesore, and do not fit in with the landscape at all. I’m not a believer in keeping the Park I aspic, but I do think that there is a need for balancing future developments with the surrounding country side.

That’s the end of my pre visit training days. I have to go for what they call a rigorous interview next to see if I fit in.

The next post I’m going to do is about camera gear. People have been sending me their thoughts on the subject and I want to have a detailed look at it, from the perspective of gear for walking and taking good photos. So if you have any further thoughts then let me know.

Take care and have a good week.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Langsett Walk

A tough day yesterday. My third pre visit training day for the rangers and what a difference from the other two. Yesterday I visited Lansett Ranger station. I had been watching the weather all week and for once the weather men seemed to have got it right. As I arrived it was torrential rain and the ranger station closed as I was early. So it was across the road to the cafe for a bacon butty and a cup of tea. Back to the station to meet the rangers. Gordon the head ranger is in the mold of all other rangers I have met. Horizontal in aspect, nice manner and with a sense of humour. It seems this particular ranger station is more akin to a Will hay comedy than the others, all though they are pretty close behind. Don't get me wrong, they are nothing but dedicated. They just have this slightly anarchic air about them when it comes to authority, yet they are supremely professional and helpful.

The ranger I spent the day with was great fun, full of chat and stories, tested me on my navigation and questioned me on my reasons for becoming a ranger. We got on great.

We left the station and walked down by Langsett dam following the path up onto Thurlstone Moor, then dropped down on to the Trans Pennine Trail.. The first time I have ever been on this trail, even though it virtually passes my house. The rain was hammering it down, so we lunched in the bus shelter at Dunford Bridge and lo and behold the rain stopped. Unfortunately the wind then picked up to 60 mph + gust down the road we were walking up. It was back breaking work to reach the summit. We turned left then and crossed the moor to reach South Nab Trig Point.
Across the busy A628 and Langsett and Harden Moor. Take care whenever you are up here. In the war this was a favourite target practice area and there is loads of ordnance around. Only this year a ranger found 300 cartridges, some live just lying by a path. They have a black museum in the ranger centre of large mortar and rocket shells, although they are not too sure which ones are live !!!

Anyway, if you have survived follow the grouse butts to Barmings and pick up the 4x4 lane that takes you through two fords, well swollen with all the heavy rain, and follow the Little River Don back to the Langsett car park. The rivers were so swollen on Sunday that they looked like a raging torrent. The Moors for the future project has started with a view to allowing the moors to soak up more of the rain and protect the likes of Sheffield and Oldham. Hopefully this will work, without destroying the country side. You can find out more about the project here..

All told a good walk on a very very windy day. A good soak in the tub put the world to rights and my back as I lay there wondering if any of those shells I had my head against were live !!