Tuesday, 16 June 2015

30 Days Wild: My first 12 random acts of wildness

This June, the Wildlife Trusts are campaigning for everyone to spend a little time enjoying something wild each day. 30 Days Wild has boomed across Social media with hundreds of people updating their daily Acts of Wildness.

Even though I spend a lot of time outside and I am lucky enough to have wilderness right on my doorstep, I’ve still needed to remind myself to do something wild each day. It’s brought home the fact that many children and adults don’t regularly have the opportunity to come into contact with nature. I can’t imagine a life without nature. Nature is a huge part of my life. In fact, it is my life. I love seeing the influx of social updates by people from all walks of life sharing their wild activities. If we can teach the children of today the importance of nature, then maybe these adults of tomorrow will fight to protect it.

This is a log of my first my first 12 'Random Acts of Wildness':

1. Smelt the wildflowers growing below the canopy in the wood.

2. Sat peacefully under the trees for 10 minutes, listening to the gentle hum of insects pollinating the wildflowers around me.

3. Caught the hornet that was flying around the house and dare myself to get as close as possible to her to take some photos.

4. Prodded some jelly-like jew’s ear fungus growing on a rotting stick.

5. Crept up to an open-fronted nest box to peak at the robin eggs nestled inside.

6. Walked through a rape seed field which was full of beautiful wild poppies in the evening sun.

7. Visited the local nature reserve, North Cave Wetlands, to watch the abundance of bird life, including hundreds of black-headed gull, artic turns, shelduck, shovelers, and gadwall.

8. Filled my new Ring Pull bird feeder from Living with birds and put it out for the garden birds. I’m running a giveaway for one of them here.

9. Took a close up photo of a vibrant, flowering fox glove in the wood.

10. On the upturned root of a tree I discovered a mossy wrens nest.

11. Walked through the long, wet grass in my wellington boots.

12. We took in a baby magpie, now named Magnus, at around a week old. He’s now fully feathered and learning to fly (I’ll blog about him soon). We have hand reared several orphaned corvids (members of the crow family) over the years. I posted about them here.

So why only 12 Random Acts of Wildness when there have been 16 days in June? Well, here come the excuses- for three of the days I didn't do anything wild. Shock, I know! I was just simply too busy doing other things and didn't have time to dedicate to the challenge. For a moment, I thought about sticking some extra images in from May, but as well as being dishonest it would have been misleading. It proves that doing something wild everyday is difficult; even when you make the effort to plan wild moments into your everyday schedule, life can get in the way. It also proves that we need to make time for getting closer to nature, all the time, not just when this fantastic campaign from The Wildlife Trusts is running.

I'm going to make an extra special effort to do something wild everyday for the rest of the month, starting tonight!

Follow me on Instagram to see what I get up to 'in the wild'.

PS. If you are taking part in #30DaysWild please
 share your Twitter handle, Instagram URL 
or blog with me so I can follow you :)

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Giveaway: Ring Pull bird feeder

The fantastic online garden bird food and accessories supplier, Living With Birds, is giving one of my lucky readers one of these fab Ring Pull seed bird feeders in this lovely mint colour, worth £22.95.

I love the ingenious ring pull design. The whole feeder comes apart with just a pull of the pin that runs down the centre of the feeder, making it super easy to clean. The fittings are made from rust proof metal and the overall design is impressively robust. The colour is a beautiful cottage-style mint which contrasts wonderfully against dark green foliage.

I hung mine in the place of an old plastic feeder which looked cheap and tacky next to the stylish, high quality Ring Pull Feeder. Within minutes a marsh tit landed on it, which was quickly spooked away by a great tit that I managed to get a photo of. The birds are quite tolerant of us and I was stood just 2 meters away when I took the photo.

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Prize: 1 x 360mm Ring Pull Feeder in mint worth £22.95
Seed not included
Open to UK mainland addresses only
Closes Monday 22nd June
Winner picked from validated entries using Rafflecopter’s winner generator
Winner will be notified by email and will have 28 days to claim their prize
Living With Birds will post the feeder to the winner

Best of luck!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

I'm going to complete the Lyke Wake Walk Challenge

In one week's time, at 4.00am on the morning of Saturday 13th June I shall be setting off on one of the most difficult journeys I have ever faced; the Lyke Wake Walk.

The Lyke Wake Walk is a 40 mile route across the bleak North Yorkshire Moors from the village of Osmotherley to Ravenscar. The challenge is to complete the route in under 24 hours. Yep, that means walking non-stop until the finish line is crossed. Women who complete the walk are titled Witch and males are titled Dirger.

I wont be facing the challenge alone, thankfully. I convinced Zoe of SplodzBlogz.co.uk to join me on my mad expedition.

From research we believe it takes the average walker around 16 hours to complete. Our aim isn’t complete it as quick as we can, we just want to complete it!

Our plan is to get a good half-night’s sleep at the campsite and begin the walk at 4.00am in the morning. At the crack of dawn. Are we mad? We will then walk, walk and walk for 40 miles until we reach the finish line where we will be collected by a taxi. That’s it; that’s our plan. The only thing that will prevent us doing the challenge is the weather. If the weather is due to be very poor we won’t attempt the walk as it could be too dangerous, let alone a horrible experience. We do aim to have fun!

Zoe has been preparing for the challenge by taking regular long walks. I have not. Time has got the better of me.

My plan is to not think too hard about it- I tend to get myself worked up over things which turns out to be wasted worry when whatever it is comes around. If I think about the distance, the possible blisters, the likeliness of rain, I will start to worry. There’s no point worrying because these things are out of my control. Well, mostly at least. I have done several walks in my new boots and bought blister plasters so hopefully my feet will be ok. The title of this post is a bold statement- I'm going to complete the Lyke Wake Walk Challenge. That's me expressing positively.

I do need to plan though- the kit I’ll wear, the essentials I’ll carry and the food I’ll eat. I also need to study the route and take note of any sections that could be difficult to navigate. Zoe is well ahead of me on this one and has already purchased the Lyke Wake Walk guide. My maps arrived yesterday and I plan to pencil the route. The scary fact is the walk covers both maps from one side to the other- that’s a long way. Look! I’m starting to do what I said I wouldn’t do- think about it too much.

We are mad.

I’m going to stop writing now.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

My account of the inaugural Outdoor Bloggers Weekend

Last weekend I travelled to Edale in the Peak District for the first Outdoor Bloggers Weekend.

There, I met Zoe of SplodzBlogz.co.uk for the first time after chatting over Twitter and through our blogs for over a year. Together we decided to launch a network where anyone who blogs about the outdoors can meet other like minded bloggers. We launched a website, OutdoorBloggers.co.uk, and last weekend was our first event.

We were joined by Allysse of Besteglatisant.wordpress.com who writes about her micro-adventures and shares her beautiful photography, and Mark of HalfwayHike.com who shares stories of his hikes around his local area, Yorkshire, and further afield.

We stayed at Greenacres campsite, which was perfectly situated about half a mile from Edale village and boasts a new toilet and shower block with sinks for cleaning camping pots. The shower is free to use- no annoying pre-paid meter. The campsite has fantastic views down the valley and a footpath starts immediately opposite that leads to the pub and joins the path to Kinder Scout; our destination the for the following day. The campsite is adjoined to an equestrian centre and a paddock with 3 playful Reindeer. Yep, you read that right; their very own Dasher Dancer, Prancer*

*may have not been their actual names

Mark was due to arrive early Saturday morning so Zoe, Allysse and I enjoyed an evening stroll in the hills and got to know each other a bit better. We had hugs with two puppies on a farm we passed through then headed back down the valley to Edale and to The Naggs Head pub. The pub is the official starting point of the Pennine Way, the 267 mile National Trail that ends just across the boarder in Scotland. There we enjoyed a hot meal before heading back to the campsite for an early night.

The following morning Mark arrived bright and early and together we set off towards Kinder Scout in the distance. We retraced our steps from the previous evening, passing The Naggs Head before leaving Edale to tackle the steep rocky ascent up Grindsbrook. The thrilling climb required some hands and knees action but once at the top we were met with stunning views across the Peak District.

After a wrong turn we decided to head ‘cross-country’ in search of the path. This meant navigating what, at first, appeared to be easily passable moorland but quickly turned into peat bog terrain with deep crevices cutting through the landscape. We knew it was there and we knew it would be a challenge but who doesn’t love a challenge, right?

Photo credit: Allysse Riordan

Zoe got a wet foot in the bog. Zoe handled her situation very well. It’s one of those times I feel confident saying ‘rather you than me’. Even though she had to deal with a wet foot it was a far better situation for the 4 of us to be in than if I had got the wet foot. Trust me on that one.

The difficult peat bog terrain seemed to go on for what felt like forever and at one point I lost hope for finding the path. Mark pushed us on though and seeing several other people also making the difficult journey across the bog was comforting. Mark used GPS on his mobile to keep is heading in the right direction.

Photo credit: Allysse Riordan

We finally made it to the path that follows a stream which eventually ends at Kinder Downfall, a rocky waterfall down the side of Kinder Scout with stunning views across Glossop and over to Manchester. After sitting a while to enjoy the views and some fizzy strawberry laces we continued towards the Kinder Low trig point.

Photo credit: Allysse Riordan

From the top we took a steep descent down Jacob’s Ladder which was hard on the knees, but the sudden bustle of other hikers and casual walkers coming up in the opposite direction for the view at the top, was pleasant and drew my attention from the unpleasant feeling. God knows what I’ll be like when I hit the menopause. I’ll probably be getting down hills on my bottom by then.

After the grueling steps we reached the bottom, turned a corner and, wohay! A little cafe with chairs and tables set in a yard came upon us. It’s surprising how the brain can so easily forget trauma (the bog) when faced with the prospect of a hot tea and a slice of ginger cake. Even more so when the tea and cake is followed by cider at the pub.

The evening was spent eating our camping dinners around a fire and we chatted about where we can take Outdoor Bloggers next.

I'm super happy that Outdoor Bloggers Weekend went so well and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of Zoe, Allysse and Mark. Zoe and I are already discussing plans for the next event and we are very keen to get more bloggers involved.

If you blog about the outdoors it would be great to have you join us over at OutdoorBloggers.co.uk. Sign up and we will keep you in the loop about upcoming events. You can also join in the conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #OutdoorBloggers.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Mr Fox caught on camera

For the last few days the wildlife camera has been positioned on the trunk of a tree about 20 meteres from the house with some ferret food scattered below it to tempt Mr Fox into view.

Getting up each morning to see what has been caught on the camera is super exciting. Here are some of the best pictures from the last few days:

Even though this is probably the dog fox who attempted to kill a hen less than two weeks ago, I still feel privileged to have this beautiful wild animal so close to where I am. The time stamps on the images shows he has visited as early as 5.20pm and spent quite some time eating food by the camera at 10.00pm when we will have been sat just meters away in the house.

After charging the batteries I'll set the camera lower down on a tree and place food right in front of it to hopefully catch some close up photos of the fox's face.