Wales adder bite hotspot

I knew the UK had wild snakes but I wasn’t aware that we had  Adder’s in Wales that bite!

Apparently getting bitten is a rare occurrence but as the numbers are on the increase due to warmer weather, more reports are appearing of hikers getting bitten. So I thought I would share a link from the BBC which includes a quick “what to do if you get bit by an Adder”. (2012 report) (2016 report)


New Gear!

I was bought a new tarp by DD Hammocks (3x3m) back in February this year and I have just had chance to set it up. I chose two configurations. However, even though I have many trees in my garden, none were suitable to hang a ridge line correctly. In fact, I had to use my conservatory window as one anchor point so I couldn’t put too much torque on the ridge line. Never mind, I wanted to see how easy it was to set up and thought I would share it with you.(10 pegs, two walking poles and a ridge line were used and pitching took around 5 minutes).


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I’ve also had a Thermarest Ridgerest SOLite and self inflating air bed; the Alpkit Airo 180 (, which I haven’t field tested yet but I could still feel a lot of reflected body heat while lying on them in my front room.

Finally, in my last post I touched on the large purchase of my new backpack; the Osprey Atmos AG65 (, featuring the Anti-gravity suspension. Which helps lift the weight of the pack away from your back. I’ve only tested it out once on a 10 mile hike and I only had issues with my Osprey 3L reservoir bladder (separate purchase). The water kept running back up the tube and back into the bladder, leaving the tube empty. An annoyance at the time but I think it was my issue rather than the Osprey bladder. Further testing is needed!

With any luck, I will get to use this new gear  in Wales and the Lake District this year. I already have maps for Snowdon National Park and the English Lakes and some hikes picked out. Just comes down to a positive mental attitude to get up and go!

The Urban Hike

Firstly, I would like to apologise for not adding to this blog for quite a while. It was in part writers block, being busy with work and family and the rest just being lazy. So with the blog rebooted for 2016 I’m going to kick it off with what I’m titling as the urban hike.

I’ve written in the past about hiking through areas that are on our doorstep. Just to get out of the house and breath in the fresh air is a good way to relieve the stress of everyday life, which is increasingly becoming virtual as we rarely raise our heads above the parapet of our smart devices.

“our cocoon of transportation which
encases us in a womb of steel”

I tend to drag my family along on day hikes just off the event horizon of cities and towns, giving my children the illusion of being in the wild back country. Although my eldest daughter refuses to come along, the rest of us enjoy a day away from society for a few hours.

IMG-20160102-WA0000-01It’s amazing how memories are made just by walking, talking and listening to the wildlife and each other. The moment you stop to drink and eat to the point where your legs begin to ache along the trails. Surprisingly, the achievement your children feel from completing a small adventure resonates throughout the lives and possibly stories are passed on to their children. What also surprises me is the endurance and energy children have walking long distances and bearing up to the adverse weather conditions.

It was soon after Christmas that my car was being used by Kate while she was training to be a supervisor for Lloyd’s Pharmacy and then it had to go for a service and MOT. I was without my car for a week. How would we cope? The children were hyperventilating at the prospect of having to walk to and from School. How will I collect my car from Toyota? By local transport? No, I hate local transport. I prefer my own space rather than someone coughing on me and invading my personal bubble. It was a testament to how lazy we have become. How anti-social and insular our cocoon of transportation which encases us in a womb of steel has made us avoid other people.  Even a short trip to the local shops had become a car journey.

“I remember a time we had a novel way of getting from one place to another. I remember as a child being taken everywhere by this mode of transport” I said. “What’s that Dad?” my youngest said. “Walking!” I replied. Moans filled the room with grumbles of “it’s too far to walk”.

Once I had explained that it was less than we would walk in a single short hike spread over the week and it was sort of training towards longer hikes, I had (almost) everybody agreeing that it was in the realms of mankind to make such epic trips on their own two legs.

By the end of the week however, even I was ready to hug my car. Something about walking along streets to make an appointment to be on time for school was not as enjoyable as our trips out as a family on the trails. Maybe it was the time constraints. No time to stop and smell the flowers if you like. Maybe the sights were uninspiring. After all we see them everyday. Maybe it was the confinement of not seeing wide expanses of fields and hillsides. I’m not sure….actually that’s exactly what it was. The point of enjoying a walk is to be untethered from the normal chains of life and feel free. Even if it is for just a few hours.

IMG-20160102-WA0007-01Have we gone back to using the car for every journey? Well for now we use it a lot less. What did I get from this? Well, I’m aware I’m happier in a rural setting. I’ve walked more often in the countryside and along canals just for the hell of it. I’ve enjoyed it and felt fitter. I have even lost weight! All in all that can’t be bad.  Will I do another urban hike? Probably not. I need to escape the confines of the digital, industrial and social aspect of urban life once in a while. I wonder what your thoughts and experiences are. Do you hike and do you prefer urban or rural hikes?




Knife Law (UK)

I’m a big fan of Ray Mears and Bear Grylls or of anyone whom I can learn from regarding  survival techniques. All talk about the essentials of survival: water, food, shelter, fire and the one essential tool that can help you gather food and water,  build your shelter and light your fire… the most important tool you can carry is your trusty survival knife. After looking at Bear Grylls Gerber Ultimate Pro fixed blade ( which has the specifications below, I thought yeah, this will be perfect or something similar.

  • 4.8-inch fine edge, drop-point blade for smooth, versatile cuts
  • Full-tang, premium stainless steel construction for durability
  • Ergonomic, non-slip rubber grip for comfortable, precise handling
  • Lashing holes in handle
  • Military-grade, mildew-resistant nylon sheath
  • Pull-through carbide sharpener in sheath, for guaranteed sharpness
  • Built-in fire starter rod in watertight holder
  • Lanyard with loud emergency whistle
  • Bear Grylls “Priorities of Survival” Pocket Guide
  • Backed by Gerber’s Lifetime Warranty

Now here comes the problem. In the UK it is a criminal offence to carry any knife in public that exceeds 3″. A lock knife or a knife opened via a mechanism or if  it has a fixed blade is illegal. If you carry any knife or potential weapon (axes, screw drivers, household knives or scissors etc) in a government or public area or private area that general public could access you will quickly find yourself on the wrong side of the law and fined up to £5000 and four years imprisonment. Actually if you carry a knife under 3″ and don’t have a good reason for carrying it, you can also get fined and imprisoned.

“..what if I’m in a Bushcraft or survival group of enthusiasts”

We are all aware of the dangers of knives and that there are some crazy people in this world who don’t use them for the intended purposes but it left me thinking, how can I learn and practice survival techniques other than to sit in front of a television/computer screen or joining the Forces (of which I’m too old to do).  If you go into wild terrain in the UK, the chances are the land is privately owned but with public access or be retained for public access (National Trust). Which then results in being in possession of a knife in a public place with the Rozzer’s breathing down your neck.


So, what if I’m in a Bushcraft or survival group of enthusiasts. Well, it turns out there is only one exception.  Privately owned land is the only place to legally use the knife. Where nobody outside of your group can wander onto. Obviously you need the permission of the owner first.

Here’s another fly in the ointment. The UK public are not allowed to purchase knives from other countries and import them back into the UK. Not unless you want the customs to seize your imported property. You can however purchase them from licensed shops in the UK (invitatio ad offerendum), Assuming the product is legally sold in the UK,  then the shops can sell them. As soon as you leave the shop you will be committing an offence. Basically if you don’t have that good reason for owning it, you’re nicked mate!


Where does this leave me? Am I breaking the law when I go camping with the family and pack cutlery and scissors to prepare and eat food? I doubt the Rozzers would arrest you for that unless I walked into a shopping center wielding the scissors. Assuming we are using them in the intended way and securing them afterwards the law takes a softer approach. Even though we’re essentially using them in a public place and where the public can wander onto. This is where we start to get the ambiguity of the UK law. In the end it comes down to common sense. In terms of furthering my survival techniques I guess my chances are greatly reduced using a swiss army knife and in terms of  feelings of  inadequacy with those who can carry appropriate survival knives, yes,  yours is probably much bigger than mine but it’s how you use it that counts!

Foot note: Always seek professional legal advice concerning knife laws.