Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Geocache Walk - Bollington Walking Festival

As part of the Bollington Walking Festival, we have set up a Geocache walk.

If you would like to take part in the walk, it is still possible. The maps and geocache clues are available from the shop but are also below if you would rather take an note of them now...

Don't have a GPS? Don't worry. If you take the first 3 numbers of each reference, you can use these to find the grid reference on a 1:25k map.  For example 'Private Place' is grid reference 936, 777 reading along the 'bottom' of the map and then up the 'side' of the map.  The OS map that covers this walk is Explorer 268.

The caches will be removed Friday morning (26th October 2012).

If you want to take part, each cache contains one or two letters. Once you have the letters, you need to complete the anagram and return your answer to us at Campfour.  All correct answers will be included in a prize draw that will be announced on Friday at the David Hamilton lecture (see earlier blog).

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call at the shop on 01625 619 204 or email us on info@campfour.co.uk.

Please note that this walk is not guided and is undertaken at your own risk.  Campfour cannot be held responsible for anything that happens whilst undertaking this walk or anything relating to this walk.

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt. Using your map and GPS, you try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches.  You can place your own geocaches and register them.  You can also use some of the online geocaching community websites and forums to share your geocaching experiences.

Essentially, it add a whole new dimension to walking that is great fun for kids and adults alike.

What is a geocache?

It can be any container - plastic tub, film canister etc. - and will usually contain a note pad and pencil so that you can write in it when you find the cache.  There may also be a couple of small items in there that you can 'trade'.  If you take something, you must put something in there to replace it so that the 'trading' can continue.


Useful links:

Garmin Geocaching: http://www.garmin.com/uk/geocaching/
The Geocaching Association of Great Britain: http://gagb.co.uk/
Geocaching.dom: http://www.geocaching.com/
Geocache Trails: http://www.geocachetrails.com/
National Trust Geocaching: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/activities/geo-caching/
Yorkshire Geocaching: http://www.yorkshiregeocaching.co.uk/

Trekking in the Himalayas with David Hamilton

As part of the Bollington Walking Festival, we are running a talk with David Hamilton.  The full title of the talk is "Trekking in the Himalayas: visiting the Base Camps of the World's highest mountains (plus a little bit of climbing)"

Experienced high altitude mountaineer, David Hamilton, has led 14 expeditions to 8,000m mountains in the Himalayas. He will present highlights from the treks in Nepal, Pakistan and China, visiting the Base Camps of Everest and K2 on both the norther and southern sides of the Himalayan range.

As well as looking at the high mountains from the valley bottoms, he will also show a few pictures showing what the valleys look like from the mountain tops!

A very interesting and amusing character, and what promises to be a great evening.

The event will be at the Bollington Arts Centre.

Doors open 7pm for a 7.30pm start.

Tickets are £5, available in advance from Campfour or on the door (if there are any left!).

To reserve tickets, please call Campfour on 01625 619 204 or email us on info@campfour.co.uk.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Alps Training...

Some of you who visit the shop fairly frequently will probably know by now that I'm off to the alps in July with the intention of climbing the Matterhorn via the Italian Ridge (as well as bagging some other peaks and doing some via ferrata in between).

I have started to train for what I'm confident will be an exhausting but exhilarating trip.  The first weekend of training, 3 of us decided to go and get a solid mountain day out on the hills in Wales.  We set off after finishing work on Saturday evening, stopped for some food en-route and then headed straight to the pub for a couple of beers before retiring the the Hut where we planned our route for the next morning.

Our dry weather plan was to do as much scrambling as possible. I had put forward a fairly challenging route which would start in the Ogwen Valley, then head up to a route called Sub Cniefion Rib (V diff rock climb), up Cniefion Arete (grade 3 scramble) onto Glyder Fawr, from there we would walk to Tryfan and scramble back down the North Ridge (grade 1) to the car.  We decided the wet weather plan would be to do a route route called 'Snakes, Ladders and Tunnels'.  This is in the Dinorwic Slate Quarry and follows a route that the old miners would have done all those years ago when the quarry was open.

In the morning we were up, fed and in the car by 8.30am on our way to the Ogwen Valley.  The sun was shining...until we pulled up into one of the laybys below Tryfan.  The Sun promptly vanished and was replaced by a large snow cloud - quickly followed by a fairly heavy blizzard!

We quickly pulled on our waterproofs and boots, and set off to do what we had all secretly wanted to do - 'Snakes, Ladders and Tunnels'. We decided to head up the North Ridge of Tryfan and then drop back down Heather Terrace and back to the car as quickly as possible, the North Ridge was icy in places so it gave a couple of us the opportunity to rope up and get used to moving together as we will be paired up when we are in the Alps. The ridge was pretty straight forward and we just had to be a little bit more careful not to slip on the snow covered rock.

It took us about an hour to get to the summit so we stopped and had a quick bite to eat before making a speedy decent back to the car - all in all it took no more than 2 and a half hours up and down which we were fairly pleased with as the height gain is similar to that we will encounter on the Matterhorn from the Carrel Hut to the summit - which is expected to take 4 hours up and 5 back down!

We piled back in the car and then headed for Dinorwic Quarry.

I had originally written a blow by blow account of our route, but have decided not to include that.  It's not a recommended route due to safety issues and if you are crazy enough to attempt it, you would do better to get some beta before you head out and then enjoy the challenges and views as they present themselves.


We figured fixed chains and ladders would be pretty good training for the fixed ropes we would encounter on the Matterhorn, although the fixed ropes on the Matterhorn will hopefully be safer and more secure than the dodgy rusty chain!


Suffice to say, many large rusty chains, dodgy looking ladders with rungs missing and exposed sections later, we all had grins on our faces as we set off back to Macclesfield.

Walking back to the car, it felt like we had crammed two days worth of activity into one, and Monday morning my whole body ached A LOT!  More training required......

Bring on the next adventures!

Jon - Shop Manager



(Jon doesn't know we're sneaking this picture in...he really was shattered though! hahaha)

Staff Review: Suunto Core

I was lent a Suunto Core watch with the positive face and red bezel to test over the Easter holiday weekend. After admiring the watch briefly it then occurred to me that I would have to work out how to use it, which appeared to be a rather daunting task faced with 5 buttons whereas my current watch only has one! So with no instruction manual (don’t worry – when you buy them they do come with one!) and because I'm too impatient to log on to the internet and download one, I set about pressing all the buttons in all manner of sequences to find out what does what.  You will be pleased to know that it is actually relatively simple to navigate around the different functions and access the menu screen to select what functions you would like displayed.

Suunto Core Watch - Glacier
On the subject of the display, the bezel is about 50mm wide so is by no means huge, even on my fairly thin wrists.  I find the Suunto Core perfectly comfortable to wear and it doesn’t feel bulky either.

The display screen is approx 40mm in diameter and is made from a mineral crystal which is highly scratch resistant and can be found on many high-end watches! The large clear display is means that the watch is easy to read and you are able to have up to 3 features on the screen at once. 

The Suunto Core is waterproof up to 30m and the language can be displayed in English, French, German or Spanish.

So what are the main functions?
  • Time
  • Four language menu (English, French, Spanish, DE)
  • Altimeter
  • Barometer
  • Compass
  • Altitude difference measurement
  • Temperature
  • Depth meter
  • Automatic Altitude/Barometer switch
  • Storm alarm
  • Sunrise/Sunset times
  • User replaceable battery

As you can determine from the list above, the Core provides the wearer with a very powerful and useful set of features and are easy to understand when you’re out on the hill.

If you wear the core everyday (assuming you are not out in the hills everyday!) having the date and time clearly displayed will probably be what you look at most of the time - but when it comes to the weekends, the compass, barometer and altimeter offer you the most valuable information. I have found the barometer to be surprisingly accurate (having never used such a technical watch I was a little sceptical of its acclaimed capabilities).  Having initially set the 'Storm Alarm' feature I got a clear warning when there was a sudden drop in pressure (it usually went off on my way home; just as I got over the Cat and Fiddle and start dropping into Buxton, where it is usually raining!) but sure enough you could see clouds darkening in the sky and 80% of the time (and to my amazement) it rained shortly after the storm alarm warning went off.
For mountaineers and alpine climbers, I would seriously recommend this watch as a valuable companion, as forecasts are not always accurate and this little device can help you make the decision to carry on or turn back to avoid getting caught out in unexpected afternoon storms that are all too common in the Alps and other mountain regions.

The altimeter again is another useful hill feature and provided that you calibrate it as often as possible to obtain accurate readings (best to do it whenever you are at a location with known elevations such as summits or sea level). I decided to use a weekend trip to North Wales (training trip for my Alps trip later this Summer) to test out the Suunto Core. I did forget to calibrate the altimeter and got some a very strange reading at the top of Tryfan, but once calibrated, it was all fine.

Suunto Core Watch - All Black
 The last of the main navigational functions is the compass. For those of you that have ever been out on the side of a mountain and been caught out in a sudden fog the compass can enable you to set a bearing and follow it, however if you do end up wanting to cross reference with a map the altimeter will give you your height and providing you knew where you were before you got lost you can identify your position with relative ease.  The compass was accurate and easy to read.

Overall I have been thoroughly impressed by the watch, I am planning on getting one for my trip to the alps later on this year as the barometer could prove invaluable! Both the Core and Vector are excellent watches, however I have found the Core to be slightly more straightforward to use out of the box.

Jon - Shop Manager


Monday, 23 April 2012

Made it!

I can't believe it, I ran the marathon yesterday! 

Thankfully the pain is already starting to fade and I am chuffed to bits to have finished it - 4hrs 22min.
What an incredible day - the hardest thing I have ever done. The support and atmosphere were indescribable. I felt like a film star with someone calling my name every few metres (it was on my top!). First half was great, second half hurt a lot and took a little longer. Seeing friendly faces (David, mum and Mike) at mile 20 gave me the strength to get into my own zone and focus on getting through the last 6 miles....one foot in front of the other, just keep on running was all the kept going round my mind.

Here are my stats if anyone is interested?! http://connect.garmin.com/activity/171029382.

I cannot thank everyone enough for their messages, encouragement, support and sponsorship - I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have such amazing friends and family. And campfour, thank you for all your support, you have been brilliant (and thanks too for my fab training gear, the start of this all!).

Katie - thanks for the sunshine. This was for you.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

The bit I excel at...

...carbo loading!

Bag is packed, train tickets purchased and nerves kind of under control. Support and generosity from friends and family have been totally overwhelming, I am determined to do them all proud. Finally it is here, bring it on! (ps race number is 8085 if anyone wants to track me live on the official website - clever eh?!).

Katie, this is for you. xxx

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Geocaching - Getting Started Has Never Been Easier!

Years ago, I used to go 'Letterboxing' on walks in Devon with my family.  This may sound like a strange activity, but it added hours of fun to walks in the moors.  Letterboxing consisted of checking each prominent feature along the walk for a small box or canister.  Inside the box (if you were lucky enough to find one) was a stamp and a log book.  You would stamp your log book with the stamp in the box and stamp the log book in the box with the stamp you would take around with you - or just write in the book that you had found it.

This was a little hit and miss as we didn't know the location of these sites - you just hoped with scouring of each wall or boulder; sometimes there was something, sometimes not.  You soon tuned in to which were the most likely places for something to be hidden.  It could add hours to a walk but was very exciting for us.  I think the longest time we were out on one walk was 9 hours.  We found quite a few to keep us going that day.  Pretty exhausted when we got back though!

'Letterboxing' has been given a technological make-over in the form of Geocaching.  No less exciting, but much more hit and much less miss as you follow a GPS coordinate to the site of a box or canister (known as a cache).  When you reach your destination, you still have the challenge of finding the cache, and the excitement of finding out what is inside.  Etiquette is to leave something if you take something from the box by way of an exchange.  You still sign the log book in the cache and can keep your own log book in paper version, on your GPS or online.

www.opencaching.com is a free website that is set up with a great introduction on how to get you started. You can download GPS coordinates for all of the listed caches on the website - all of which you can look up using an area search.  You can then use this website to log when you found the caches. You can even set up your own geocaches and register them at the opencaching website.

If this sounds like something you and your kids (or even just you!) would like to get into, www.opencaching.com is a great place to start.

Garmin have also produced a great geocaching GPS bundle with everything you need to get started.  The bundle includes an eTrex 10 GPS with basemap, a guide to geocaching and the elements you would need to set up your own cache.

For more information, visit www.opencaching.com or take a closer look at the eTrex 10 bundle from Garmin.