A beginner's guide to caving
A look into the underground sport of caving or 'spelunking' and how to get started.
The UK is one of the world’s quintessential locations for summer rambling, walking and hiking trips, which has inspired many poets of the years including William Cullen Bryant.
In ‘A Summer Ramble’, the 19th century romantic poet William Cullen Bryant beautifully and brilliantly articulates the magnificence of walking amongst nature when “the quiet August noon has come”. He describes getting “away from desk and dust! Away!” to head out into the fresh winds and find pleasure in the “the blessing of supreme repose”.
“The quiet August noon has come, A slumberous silence fills the sky, The fields are still, the woods are dumb, In glassy sleep the waters lie.”
Needless to say, we couldn’t agree more. The UK is one of the world’s quintessential locations for summer rambling, walking and hiking trips, with beautiful landscapes rivalling those in America which inspired Bryant’s poem. From the Scottish Highlands to the Yorkshire Dales, the Welsh Valleys to the Cornish coast, you’ll never run out of new sights to see.
If you’re gearing up to get out and about, here’s our advice on the outdoor gear you’ll need to make your summer ramble superb.
“Beneath the open sky abroad, Among the plants and breathing things, The sinless, peaceful works of God, I’ll share the calm the season brings.”
Before you can get out and share the calm, though, you’ll obviously need to know where you’re going! There are countless amazing walks in the UK, many of which we’ve covered in this blog (check out the Yorkshire Wolds Way, Southern Upland Way, or South Downs Way to name just a few of our recent excursions).
To help you plan your routes, or if you already have a very specific trail you’d like to follow which touches on all of your desired stops and settings, you might want to create personalised custom made maps for you and your rambling partners. Not only will these be invaluable to you on your journey, but they also make great souvenirs when the trip is over.
You’ll also need to think about what you’ll wear. British weather is temperamental at the best of times, so while we can only hope the open sky doesn’t open up, it’s best to be prepared for sun and rain. The Marmot Mica waterproof jackets have adjustable hoods, are lightweight and packable - perfect for an emergency rain shell.
Regardless of the weather, you’ll also need great footwear. The Hi-Tec Altitude Lite Hiking Boots are highly durable, but most importantly comfortable. There’s nothing worse than getting into your ramble and realising you’ve made a big mistake (no one likes blisters).
“When in the grass sweet voices talk, And strains of tiny music swell, From every moss-cup of the rock, From every nameless blossom’s bell.”
There’s no better feeling than being in the middle of a walk in a stunning landscape, surrounded by beauty and people you care about. Of course, being content also means being fully prepared, comfortable, and well hydrated.
For a bag, then, we highly recommend the Camelbak Fourteener 24 Hydration Pack. It’s incredibly comfortable for a bag offering such great storage, and offers maximum ventilation. Should there be any accidents, it’s easy-to-clean, and the side stretch pockets are ideal for your water bottle. You could also grab a Camelbak Eddy 1L Water Bottle while you’re at it, then.
You’ll have your custom-made paper map with you, but it’s advisable to have a GPS system too. If you’re into style and technology combined, you might want consider getting a Garmin Epix GPS Watch. It’s fully loaded with a high-resolution colour touchscreen, and preloaded maps of 44 European countries. You’ll never get lost (or be late) with this gadget. If you’re just after a useful piece of kit, however, the Garmin GPSMAP 64 GPS is half the price and guarantees safe navigation when you’re off the beaten track.
You’ll no doubt have your mobile phone, too. After all, it’s your way of contacting someone should there be an emergency, and it also doubles as a camera (although if you’d like to take more professional looking snaps, check out these action cameras). For charging power, consider the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit. As the name suggests, it can charge your devices from the sun and any USB port, and will give your mobile, tablet, GPS or MP3 device a new lease of life.
“Rest here, beneath the unmoving shade, And on the silent valleys gaze, Winding and widening, till they fade, In yon soft ring of summer haze.”
After a long day of walking, it’ll be time to pitch up. We love nights under the unmoving shade, and have covered many common camping queries recently. Check out our beginner’s guide to lighting a fire, useful knowledge for outdoor first aid, and more by browsing through the site.
But what should you be pitching up? Naturally, that all depends on how many of you there are and how many tents you’d like to have between you. For just two of you, however, we recommend the Vango Bravo 300 Tent. It won’t break the bank, and its pitching-ease and small pack size make it the perfect makeshift home when on a summer ramble.
Along the same lines is the Vango Wilderness XL Sleeping Bag. The ‘XL’ obviously means you’ve plenty of space, so it’s perfect for anyone who feels restricted in your run-of-the-mill sleeping bag. It’s also very comfortable – a pretty important feature, we’d say.
We hope you have a fantastic summer ramble - let us know where you’re going or where you went in the comments below. We’ll leave the last words to William Cullen Bryant:
“Like this deep quiet that, awhile, Lingers the lovely landscape o’er, Shall be the peace whose holy smile, Welcomes him to a happier shore.”