Archive: October, 2011

Reading: Parliamentary Reform 1785-1928

I just finished reading Parliamentary Reform, 1785-1928 by Sean Lang and this is approximately what I learnt (some if it I knew before to some extent).

The book itself is intended as a study guide for A-Level History students and has questions and worked answers.

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Ascending Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK (1344 meters / 4409 feet) located a couple of miles from Fort William, Scotland. I’m not particularly inclined to do things just to feel I’ve ticked a box and walking up and back down the same route feels kind of pointless. My brother asked me whether I was and I pondered for a bit and decided whilst I was there it would be something to do, there might be a nice view!

In summary it was fantastic – surreal arctic-like conditions.

an american walking towards me (still someway off the summit)

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Reasons to love Scotland: #1 Bothies

Bothies are dotted all over Scotland (maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association), they are basic accommodation to be used by anybody, aimed at walkers and climbers needing shelter in remote locations.

I’ve only stayed in one so far and it looked like this:

Corryhully bothy near Glenfinnan

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Strong winds

I got my tent just in time for some winds that my tarp would probably not have survived.

somebodies failed tent – I watched the owners come back after their day out looking a little dismayed (the bench didn’t blow there it’s to stop it from totally blowing away)

Here’s some videos of my tent in the same winds that caused that.

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Winter is coming

The tarp has been a great way to camp (see my earlier post about the tarp) – it’s so small, light, discreet, and gives a wonderful sense of being really in the outdoors.

However it has some limits and this trip is not supposed to be a macho endurance test to show how tough I am – days on end of rain and frequently heavy winds are more than a tarp can really be asked to handle. I’ve adapted my tarp setup to be as enclosed as possible and I’ve kept warm and dry in some pretty windy and rainy nights but I don’t want too many more times like this (this isn’t the worst of it):

The time has come to upgrade to something more substantial: a tent

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The West Highland Way

The West Highland Way is a 96 mile route from Milngavie (on the outskirts of Glasgow) north to Fort William. It’s primarily a walking route but bikes are permitted – you have to decide whether it will be passable though.

The terrain varies and some would be passable on a full-on road bike, whereas some would be only barely passable with the toughest full suspension mountain bike and no luggage. As I have a tough but very heavily loaded bike I was cautious – only if the track had TWO dotted parallel lines (i.e. a “road” of sorts) then I’d give it a go. I also did small sections of single track and lifted the bike over a few styles which is not fun.

There is also many opportunities to meet people along the way and I found at my penultimate stop I recognised 10-12 people in the bar and had spoken to 5 or 6 them. On a related note, in that bar one guy actually recognised me as I had cycled past him about a month ago near Newcastle! (we didn’t even have a conversation the first time round).

Overall it has been simply stunning with some breathtaking views and a very “spiritual” experience…

section across Black Mount (thats what it says across my map anyway)

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Wild swimming

As the year is getting on now I might not have many more opportunities for wild swimming. It might be a good time to reflect on the lovely times I’ve had so far. Wild swimming has become quite popular to talk about (there is a book about it) – although I get the impression people don’t get around to doing it that much.

I have the book about it but haven’t actually swum in any of the places it’s mentioned – it did undoubtedly inspire me though. Here’s a set of pictures to inspire you – there are SO many lovely places to swim…

Note: there is a fair bit of my flesh on show in these photos, so do/don’t look depending on how you feel about that!

my first swim – in a small stream off a footpath

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Managing clouds

I just got back from a visit to London – the purpose of the trip was to carry on with a project I had started earlier in the year before I left on my trip. I had made most of it but it was not sufficiently ready to put into production without a little bit of a nudge from me.

This is going to be a reasonably technical post explaining how the system works.

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