In October 2009 we interviewed John Loder, RSPB Campaign Talks Officer, about the RSPB’s Birds of Prey Campaign. In many countries around the world wild birds of prey are under threat from habitat loss and systematic killing. In some cases reintroduction programmes are helping to restore bird numbers. For example, Red Kites in the Chilterns and Mid Wales and Hen Harriers in the Forest of Bowland.
Whilst out walking, hiking, camping or climbing you may be lucky enough to spot wild birds of prey. If not, where can you see birds of prey? The answer is RSPB Bird Watching Centres. There are many of these across the UK. Below are a list of the wildlife centres where it is most likely to be able to spot a wild bird of prey. If you are new to bird watching, you may also be interested in our guide to bird watching gear.
You could be lucky enough to see a Peregrine Falcon in flight. Source: Flickr by Michael 'Mike' L. Baird.
Nearest town: Penrith, Cumbria
Grid reference: NY469108 Birds of Prey: Golden Eagles, Peregrines, Buzzards
Golden eagles are resident at Haweswater. If you visit between April and August the viewpoint is open and there will be experts on hand to show you the birds. If a pair is present, you can see their nesting activity.
Peregrines nest on the rocky crags around Haweswater. These falcons can be spotted flying across skies, although it can take much patient observing before one comes into view.
Buzzards can be seen circling overhead at any time of the year. If you visit during the summer it is possible to see the young birds perfecting their flying technique.
Nearest town: Thurso, Highland
Grid reference: NC891425 Birds of Prey: Hen Harriers
Hen harriers can be seen at any time of year at Forsinard. You may be lucky enough to see one hunting close to the road – a car makes an excellent hide.
The short eared owl can be seen at RSPB reserves on the Orkney Islands. Source: Flickr by snappybex.
Hen harriers breed on the moorland in the Orkney Islands and can be seen scouting for prey. The males are grey and the females are rich brown in colour.
Our smallest falcon, the merlin, is not much bigger than a mistle thrush. If you keep your eyes peeled you might be lucky enough to see one on a high-speed hunt.
The afternoons are a good time to spot short-eared owls. They can be seen hunting over the farmland all year. Watch them banking and gliding just above the ground as they search for voles moving in the grass.
Nearest town: Kirkwall, Mainland, Orkney
Grid reference: HY427275 Birds of Prey: Hen Harriers, Merlins, Short Eared Owls
Birds of Prey – Quick Reference Guide
Golden Eagle – All year round
It lives in the wild, open moorlands and mountains of Scotland, favouring islands and remote glens. Best looked for soaring high over hillsides in the Scottish Highlands. The few English eagles can be looked for at the RSPB’s Haweswater reserve and watchpoint in Cumbria.
Peregrine Falcons – All year round
Found along rocky seacliffs and the uplands of the UK are both good places in the breeding season. East coast marshes where there are large gatherings of birds can be a good place in the winter.
Red Kites – All year round
At one time confined to Wales, a reintroduction scheme has brought them back to many parts of England and Scotland. Central Wales, central England – especially the Chilterns, central Scotland – at Argaty, and along the Galloway Kite Trail are the best areas to find them.
Osprey – March to September
Its main UK stronghold is in Scotland – nest sites with public viewing facilities are at Loch Garten, Speyside, and Loch of the Lowes, Perth. It recently began breeding in England at Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, where there is a public viewpoint, at Rutland Water (where it was introduced), and a pair can also be found in Wales in the Glaslyn valley where there is a public viewpoint. Can be seen at almost any large body of freshwater during spring and autumn migration.
Buzzards – All year round
Greatest numbers in Scotland, Wales, the Lake District and SW England. Found on farmland with wooded hills, moorland and in more arable areas to the east where it is spreading. Look for birds soaring over wooded hillsides in fine weather, or perched on fence posts and pylons.
Marsh Harriers – April – Sept/Oct
Mainly found in eastern and south-east England, with some in the north-west, south-west and Scotland. Seen over reedbeds and marshes, as well as farmland near wetlands. Marsh harriers can be seen at: Elmley, Kent; Leighton Moss, Lancashire; Minsmere, Suffolk; Titchwell Marsh and Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk; Ouse and Nene Washes, Cambs, and Blacktoft Sands, Yorkshire. Other nature reserves with marsh harriers include Stodmarsh, Kent and Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire.
Upland breeding areas: March – Aug/Sept,
Lowland: Oct – March
The hen harrier lives in open areas with low vegetation. In the breeding season UK birds are to be found on the upland heather moorlands of Wales, Northern England, N Ireland and Scotland (as well as the Isle of Man). In winter they move to lowland farmland, heathland, coastal marshes, fenland and river valleys. Those found in eastern and south-east England are probably mostly visitors from mainland Europe.
Merlin – All year round
Birds leave their upland breeding areas between August and october. They return again in April and May.
The UK breeding population is at the south-west extremity of the merlin’s European range, and is thinly scattered across upland moorland from south-west England north to Shetland. In winter birds leave upland areas and come down to inland lowland and coastal areas. They can be seen in almost any open country but are often found near coasts. They can be found at roosts in reedbeds, bogs and on heaths, often with hen harriers.
On Saturday, February 12, 2011, Upper Limits will host the 10th Annual Gateway Bouldering Bash and Access Fund Membership Drive. Last year we hosted over 120 competitors from across the country, making it one of the premier indoor climbing competitions in the Midwest, and we anticipate an even greater turn out in 2011!
Noel Sofley is a downhill mountain biker from Northern Ireland. He recently contacted us with a view to raising both his profile and that of his sponsor, KOBC. Here at CheapTents we like to give some exposure to up and coming outdoor athletes, so we asked Noel to tell us about his passion for mountain biking, his achievements and his goals in his favourite sport…
Noel Sofley with his MTB
Noel got his first inspiration for mountain biking at the age of 9, when he picked up a copy of Mountain Biking UK magazine in his local newsagents.
I felt a buzz and felt amazing! I just wanted to try it, which I did and it stuck with me ever since.
Noel’s granddad used to walk the dogs up at the Leadmines, which was where Noel started riding mountain bikes. That was 12 years ago, now Noel is sponsored by KOBC and rides trails all over Ireland. Although his favourite trails are still to be found at the Leadmines, between Newtownards and Bangor in northern Ireland, Noel also like riding in the Mourne Mountains.
When I’m off work I’m always riding my bike, I also do weight training and running. I’ve run in the Belfast marathon twice in order to raise money for two missionaries who recently went to Mozambique. My best time for the marathon was 4 hours 15 minutes.
He is currently working towards becoming a pro-downhill racer and aims to race in the world cup. You can look out for Noel at the following mountain biking competitions this year:
Winter League (soon to be Ulster League) – all races
With a total descent of 2600 m, part of which is on snow and ice, the Alpe de Huez Mega Avalanche is one of the hardest and most famous downhill races in the Alps. It takes place in the last week in July over a weekend, although riders will normally go over a week in advance to get practice on the middle and bottom sections. The top section is only run on race day because it’s extremely steep with snow and ice, which makes for a tough and exciting course. We asked Noel about his choice of bike for the race:
Although I think it would be best done on an all purpose mountain bike, I want to do it on my downhill bike with both shocks hardened up, which will help on the sections where I need to pedal.
Noel’s favourite race of the year is the Irish DH Championships, but unfortunately he didn’t race last year due to snapping the back end of his Scott high Octane Team race bike a few days before the event!
As an member of the RAF cycling club, Noel rides in their downhill competitions and intends to organise an urban downhill race in aid of Help for Heroes.
Look out for Noel Sofley in the Irish DH NPS!
Whilst Noel has had many crashes throughout the years, his worst one would have to be when he crashed onto rocks and broke his baby finger. That was in the Leadmines on a rock drop that went in to a narly rocky chute. Whilst he was recovering he had to give the downhill biking a miss, but fortunately was still able to ride his cross country bike.
Noel Sofley’s MTB Favourites
Noel rides a Zumbi f-44. It has a Rock Shox vivid 5.1 rear shock and a pair of Marzocchi 888wc forks.
My favourite feature of the Zumbi f-44 bike is the floating pivot system which has a real progressive feel when I am pinning it down the trails. My favourite mountain bike kit is my full face helmet and gogles with knee/shin guards as they minimise the risk of injury if I crash!
Noel’s favourite mountain bike rider is the legendary Steve Peat.
Steve is my favourite rider because of the aggressiveness and technique he has over the ground on a bike and also, he said he was going to win the world cup and although it took him a few years to succeed he did it. I admire his motivation and dedication to the sport.
As well as downhill mountain biking, Noel is into pike fishing, camping and walking.
I go camping at Annaginny campsite and Park Farm at Tullymore, just off the Mourne Mountains, which ties in nicely with the downhill events!
If you would like to contact Noel Sofley regarding sponsorship please e-mail us, email@example.com, and we will pass on any messages.
Are you an up and coming athlete and want to increase your profile? It doesn’t matter which outdoor pursuit you take part in: biking, climbing, fell running; get yourself noticed on the CheapTents.com blog! Simply post a comment or send us an e-mail.
Was to “walk more” a part of your new years resolution? If so you will be joining the many thousands who also share this resolution. However, if this wasn’t your resolution … it is never to late to make a resolution.
Firstly, congratulations on your choice of exercise. Walking can aid health, fitness and can help towards weight control. Walking is also a fantastic way to fit exercise into your daily schedule without too much hassle, it may be as simple as parking your car further away from work each day and walking for an extra few minutes.
However, as with a good number of new years resolutions, walking can be fairly easy to displace in favour of something “more fun” … often sitting and watching TV for an extra 10 minutes when it is raining will feel better than parking further away from work. We are all subject to this kind of thought pattern, but with the help of the tips below I hope to get you into the swing of things and not looking back.
10 Walking Tips for Beginners
Plan Your Walking Route
Route planning is often considered by some to be the hard part, where do I walk? how long will it take? etc. Well there are several solutions. You can walk around your local area or park, you could park further away from work or you can use a predetermined route from an online guide, I mentioned a few in my review of Google City Tours last month. One thing that I always find helpful when thinking about going for a walk is planning a route that takes me by a point of interest or through some stunning countryside, it can really help spur you on.
Predict & Target Your Walking Time
This may sound a little odd but in predicting and targeting your time you can set goals, in theory the faster you walk for long the fitter you are (not always correct but a good rule of thumb). When you first start walking I would suggest predicting around 20 minutes per mile as an average, so if you park a mile away from work take into account it will take you this much longer to get there … we don’t want your boss telling you off now.
Start with the Correct Walking Shoes and Socks
When it comes to walking, the shoes you wear are the most important part of your walking gear. The correct walking shoe will protect you from the hard pavement bashing which can cause injuries to you feet, knees, legs, hips and back. As a rule of thumb if you are using trainers to walk in that are older than 6 months, get a new pair. Walking Socks can be very different to your “normal” socks, they may be waterproof, breathable, have extra support or any number of other features. The good news is despite a bucket load of features they are fairly cheap.
Have an Alternative
Some days the going will get tough, whether you are just tired or the weather turns bad or for some reason, you may not want to go for a walk. It is at this point you need to knuckle down and really try, but you don’t have to go for that big 30 minute walk you normally do. My advice is to split the walk down at times like this into shorter more manageable walks, a 10 minute walk to the supermarket, a walk to a friends house or maybe nip to the gym and use a treadmill.
Bring a Friend
Sounds a little odd, but having a friend to support you in your efforts can really help boost your confidence, especially if that friend is at the same level as you are. Maybe you car share going to work, if there are 3 of you in the car that is 3 of you getting a little more exercise and being a little healthier. If no body is around no worries nip to the gym, everyone in the gym is there to get healthier, everyone supports one another and you will never be without support.
Music, the Constant Companion
This one sounds a little more loopy. If you are walking around a park or in an area with little traffic consider using your MP3 player to help you. The faster the beat the faster you walk, if you have your music on shuffle you will never know what is coming next and so your walking speed will vary. Having music will also mean you can control your mood when walking, having lots of happy songs will mean you are much happier walking and less likely to find it a drag.
Don’t Let the Weather Get You
Think about when you will be walking, where you will be walking and what the weather could do. This means in the summer wearing sun screen, a hat and not too many layers. In the winter keep warm and wear waterproofs, if you need to carry an umbrella do.
Listen to Your Body
If you are finding yourself feeling over fatigued or feeling unwell, stay home. You wouldn’t go to the work with the flu, so don’t go walking. Walking when fatigued or ill will only mean your recovery period is extended. Whilst walking it is normal to feel some discomfort as you push your body to it’s limits, outside of its normal comfort zone. As long as you feel good walk and walk, but if you experience pain, nausea or dizziness slow down and take a seat until you feel better. At this point it is worth mentioning that for the first few times you go walking you should take a mobile, in case you get lost or don’t feel well.
Staying hydrated when walking isn’t the easiest of tasks. I don’t know anyone who wants to carry round big bottles of water as they walk, however there is little alternative. This said there are pieces of gear to help, a running belt with bottle straps means you can carry bottles, phones and other gear as needed, there is also the CamelBak and Platypus systems you may wish to look at.
Enjoy and Reward
Enjoying yourself is a vital part of any exercise routine, for many people who walk or run the enjoyment can come from being healthier or more so the beautiful surroundings they may encounter. For others, like us city dwellers, it is important to reward yourself still with things that will encourage you to continue. Once a month treat yourself to a new gadget or book, or even better get someone else to buy it as a reward.
Finally, we would like to know about your walking adventures and ideas, especially if you are new to walking or have taken it up as a new years resolution. Let us know by leaving a comment below.
During 2010 we’ve managed to rack up over 100 articles on this blog. These have included interviews, products reviews, industry news and much more. To celebrate the end of another great year we’ve choosen our favourite posts (of all time) and the 10 most popular posts of 2010 to share with you once again.
Since joining the CheapTents team in July I’ve written many articles including several of this years most popular, one of which is the family camping checklist. During my time so far as part of the team I’ve concentrated on improving the CheapTents website, which last month resulted in a huge roll-out of updates to the website. When I’ve not been busy updating the website and writing articles I’ve spent time reading through some of the older posts on this blog and so here are my top 5 articles of all time.
In the summer of 2009, Google released City Tours to it’s “labs”. Google Labs is where Google places potential new services and tools for testing and improvement before launch. It’s now a year and a half later and City Tours is still stuck inside Labs, though many features have been implemented within Google Maps.
Google City Tours - Source GoogleSystem Blog
What Google City Tours Does
Google City Tours is in essence an interactive map that allows you to plan your walking route, itinerary and print your guide, plus a little more on the side. Whether you are looking for a single day walk or a walk lasting 5 days, Google has several routes in most major cities. From these you can add and delete attractions, view more suggested attractions of interest and also plan how long you will be at a location so that you can plan your day. And of course like many mapping services you simply enter the town name and/or country to find a suggested route for your walk.
Now this sounds just like lots of other systems we have talked about in the past such as the WalkIt Urban Walk Planner. However the twist is this is Google and there are a bunch more features within City Tours.
One great feature of City Tours is that when you plan a route you set a date, from this date Google will take into account when attractions open and close meaning you never turn up to a closed attraction. Google will also show (via a little dot) other attractions near by, which means if they are on your path you can stop by or maybe simply add them to your itinerary. Another important factor is the huge volume of data Google can use, this means if they list an attraction you can get details on this attraction and see what it looks like with Google StreetView in Google Places. Another feature is that you set your start and finish location, even for pre-planned routes you can change this location and Google will plan around you, this is a handy feature I haven’t seen in many places.
Is it perfect? No
But there are a few bugs in the system. For all the lovely walks Google has pre-set there are a few with bizarre routes. Such as an 88 minute walk between 2 locations, this isn’t bad in countryside but I’d not expect to see this on a sightseeing map unless you had put it there in your own planning. Another issue is the current inability to save a map, you have to print the map and directions … no second chances right now, this is the same when you plan a trip using Google Maps and I dare say it is a choice Google have made. However on Google Maps you can send the map and plan to someone via email or via a web link, this is something that I hope to see on City Tours as it is quite useful. Also this is a service that seems to be available only in the main towns and cities, and not in rural locations.
In all honesty I could not tell you to use just one or another mapping system, they all have features that the others don’t and they all have limitations to some degree. This said I feel Google City Tours is just a few features off beating it’s competitors, If you could save a map more easily, send it to a friend or even just print it more readily then Google would win hands down. But I think City Tours is more than just about mapping your route.
Does Google City Tours have a future?
City Tours for me has a huge future. Imagine you are walking down the street smartphone or GPS in hand and a guided tour of the city on your screen, pointing out cafés and more attractions of interest. Also maybe even giving you magically coupon codes for discounts in shops you are passing, so not only do you get to see the city but you save cash too! Another use for such a map would be for public transit usage, tracking where transport is and updating (for instance) bus stops via a map showing the location of the 5 nearest buses. Another addition Google could make to this service, should it become an application, would be adding a walking tour guide similar to Walk Talk Tours or Tourist Tracks. The possible uses of this kind of service are pretty much unlimited and I can’t wait to see where Google takes this service in the future.
Amazing Armenia – as described by Rock and Ice editor Jeff Jackson is a spot where it is worth hanging out for 10 days with Festival crew, to climb, have fun, and share this unique experience with other climbers from around the world.
Whether you are an avid first ascensionist, a climber who relies on the guidebooks to find the most popular, beautiful, and fun routes, a traditional climber looking to plug in some gear, or a beginner just looking for fun and safe sport routes, you are welcome to our event. The festival will be held at the three of Armenia’s premier rock formations. Please find more about the event in our website.
Here at CheapTents we fully understand the chaos that surrounds most people at this festive time of year, especially those of us taking part in the annual practice of last minute shopping.
But never fear, for CheapTents are here! That sounded much catchier in my head…
Well kind of, if you are needing to last minute shop you will need to pop down to our physical store, in Warrington, the Adventure Centre. That is because our last shipping dates for pre-Christmas delivery have now been and gone, meaning orders placed online from Monday 20th will more than likely be delivered post-Christmas.
Our store will be open throughout this festive period, excluding Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.
Day – Opening Times
Mon 20th Dec — 0930 – 1800
Tues 21st Dec — 0930 – 1800
Weds 22nd Dec — 0930 – 1800
Thurs 23rd Dec — 0930 – 2000
Fri 24th Dec — 0930 -1600 25th Dec / 26th Dec — CLOSED
Mon 27th Dec — 0930 – 1630
Tues 28th Dec — 0930 – 1800
Weds 29th Dec — 0930 – 1800
Thurs 30th Dec — 0930 – 2000
Fri 31st Dec — 0930 – 1600 1st Jan 2011 — CLOSED
Sunday 2nd Jan — 1030 – 1530
Monday 3rd Jan – Normal Store Hours
You can of course continue to buy online 24 hours a day every day throughout the holiday period and our team will despatch to you as soon as possible. That means that you can take advantage of our great special offers, whilst staying nice and warm in your home.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
This is the 8th edition of Girivihar Rock Climbing Competition. It is a Bouldering Competition on Artificial and Natural in CBD BELAPUR, Navi Mumbai, India.
Each year we receive participation from the Iranian National Team and also, host guest climbers from the Petzl International Team and Independent as well. Previous guests have been; Jacques Perrier, Alex Chabot, Micheal Fusllier, Julien Nadiras, Florence Pinet, Gerome Pouvreau.
Each year after the competition we head for the Girivihar rockTrip and this year we are heading to Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh in Central India where mostly unknown sandstone cliffs await new routes!
A video of the 7th edition can be seen here : http://vimeo.com/12609906
P.S.:If you are a professional climber, we could perhaps bear a portion of your expenses in India. We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest.