As some of you may know, over Easter Evan and I set of on an almost 50 mile hike around the New Forest National Park with the aim of making a little film for the New Forest Film Festival.
Armed with a couple of smartphones we recorded nearly 4 hours of footage, which we then beat and moulded into the 10 minute run time limit required in the submission guidelines.
Last week we were delighted to find out that we had made it the semi final stage of the competition in 2 categories, “International Documentary” and “Zero Budget”. We’re really pleased with this, it’s our first film and first submission so it’s given us heart that someone else liked our little story and maybe we’re on the right track.
So without further ado, We proudly present our first film, hope you enjoy it.
Our first trip of the year was kind of a special one. We went to Portland. Now before you get all excited about artisan bakers/coffee houses/woodworkers/hipsters it wasn’t that Portland. We visited Portland, DORSET. The home of the famous lighthouse(s), cement and some of the best sport climbing and bouldering in the South of England.
One of the things I hate carrying but always carry extras of “just in case” are batteries. And while they can be recycled, usually they end up in bin in a trail town and we can get through quite a few.
My camera needs AA as does my GPS device, ah but my head torch needs AAA and the kids headtorches need those funny flat ones that are like the hearing aid batteries but a bit bigger. Oh, and I need a USB battery pack for the phone. And Hazels phone. And AA batteries for her camera too.
It’s not always strenuous hikes and long trails. Sometimes we like to find other things to do while out and about. This was the case last year when, with time between a visit to the Peak District and a family occasion in Doncaster, we headed up for a day at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
We had camped the night before and were feeling a little dishevelled when we arrived at the park. We negotiated the toilets and as it had just started to rain a little we had look around the indoor galleries which were pretty impressive. Some of the stuff went straight over my head but Hazel was really enjoying herself and there was even an area for the kids to contribute some works of art of their own.
We headed outside, through what I would describe as a well kept sculpture garden, just with far cooler sculptures than I usually see in gardens through the course of a day at work, and out into the larger park, complete with a lake, parkland, woods and livestock. Now things got interesting. While we had a map we didn’t use it to navigate, we just wondered down paths and between hedges and in circles, all the while being surprised and excited by what came around the next corner. By the end of the day we had probably covered 4 or 5 miles and that counts as hiking to me.
The biggest highlight for me was simply how these massive installations just looked at home in the countryside. The army of sculpted figures in an open space felt like that was where they were meant to be, as did the giant head amongst the trees across the lake, even the massive rabbit headed lady didn’t look out of place and I suppose that’s the point of it right? Right? Just making sure!
I’ve just been on the website and they’ve got an exhibition of Norman Ackroyd images called The Furthest Lands until February 2019 so we might try and organise another trip in the new year.
Located in West Bretton, near Wakefield, and it’s basically a 500 acre art gallery with loads of contemporary sculptures spread throughout its park and woodland.
It is home to pieces by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
(My far more cultured wife tells me these are important creators).
Its extremely child friendly, accessible and cheap, you only pay for parking AND you get the added bonus of a half decent hike if you explore for a whole day.
Welcome to Just Up The Trail and thanks for joining us here at the trail head. Whether you’re an outdoor veteran, just starting to get out there or coming along for the adventure from the comfort of an easy chair, we’d like to welcome you to our little band of adventure seekers.
We believe in the power of the trail to surprise, inspire and rejuvenate. It brings our family closer and provides opportunities for kids to show just how capable, adaptable and resilient they can really be. Test them, they will surprise you!
Meet the Family
If your curious about the type of people who hike 100 miles with a tiny tent and 3 kids and still call it a holiday, then you read a little about each of us on our Meet the Family page.
Then drop us a note to say Hi or to tell us about your latest adventure or to tell us you think we’re crazy, send us an email or use the comments section at the end of the page.
Join Our Band of HikerMums, HikerDads and HikerKids
While solo hiking has it’s place, it’s far more fun for us to hike as family and we benefit so much from the support of this little community we’re building. We’d love for you to be a part of it.
Follow our adventures, give us ideas for future expeditions, help us navigate this trail we’re on and inspire us to carry on.
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There’s our growing Facebook page for more regular updates on trips and trails and we use Twitter and Instagram for live updates from the trail. Just click the links below.
Find your Trail Legs
Just Up The Trail started in 2017 as a way for us to document our adventures for the kids to look back on when they’ve grown up and found trails of their own. While that remains its core purpose, we’d feel selfish if we kept all the fun to ourselves so we decided to share them with you, our new hiking buddies.
Our first ever trip was up Snowdon in 2015 when the kids were 8, 6 and 4 and since then we haven’t looked back. Multiple trips to the mountainous regions of the UK spurred us on and in 2017 we headed out on our first major backpacking trip. The West Highland Way. Not every thing goes according to plan as we found out in early 2018 but we have finished this hiking season off in a great fashion.
And while we’d encourage you to get off trail a little and explore the site, it’d be a little rude not to provide a few waymarkers to help you navigate your way Just Up The Trail. So here’s a few posts to get you underway.
Hike your own Hike
One of the biggest benefits of hiking with kids is that we have no choice but to take our time. We hike at the pace of the slowest (which isn’t always the smallest) and we have more than enough time to take it all in and the next day we do it all over again.
So if your here, and you have time, feel free to dig deeply into this little site. You might find something enjoyable, or interesting or maybe even useful and if you do, please let us know through a comment or an email. And don’t forget the Trail Magic.
We’re working really hard to build something rather special over here at Just Up The Trail but we do need some help from time to time.
The number one, top of the tree, thing you can do to help us out is to spread the word. Shout about us on your Social Media channel of choice. Just find a post you like and click the button to share.
By signing onto the trail register you are confirming your support for Just Up The Trail. It tells us we’re on the right track in building this little community of adventure seeking families. If you haven’t yet done so, its below.
Sometimes we need a little helping hand to get to the mainland as often as we’d like to. Here’s a few ways you can help us get on the trail more often.
If you see a link to a product* or a brand, the chances are that they are an affiliate link. Basically, you click the link, buy that product you were going to buy and the RETAILER/BRAND gives us a little commission for sending you there. It costs you nothing and we get a little something. Thanks.
We won’t send you anywhere we wouldn’t go ourselves.
*any reviews are of products that we have bought ourselves and have personally tested. If that isn’t the case we’ll shout loudly about it.
We long for adventure in the mountains and wild spaces. However the high cost of ferry travel restricts our visits to the mainland
If you would like to sponsor a future trip financially please get in touch or donate via Paypal.
Any monies collected will be used to fund the next adventure and contributors will be credited on this site.
I bought this product with whatever money I had left after the kids had been fed, clothed and sheltered.
The opinions expressed in the post are my own.
Here’s an idea. Plan a hiking trip with your family. The kids are small and can’t carry much but that’s ok because Mum and Dad can carry most of their stuff. We won’t go far, just around 100 miles on the West Highland Way. That will be a perfect first hike. Great. Until you grab your pack and realise its just far too heavy to carry for even 2 or 3 of the proposed 96 miles. So you start culling stuff. That extra fleece can go, how much underwear do I really need. Those 2 self inflating sleep pads that weigh nearly a kilogram each are probably overkill, and what difference do those thin foam ones make anyway.
It’s the first night in the tent, in Scotland, in very early April. We’re wishing we had carried the sleeping mats. The kids have got one of the foam ones each and are surprisingly cosy but Hazel and I are freezing. I emptied my pack and slept on the empty rucksack. Turns out those mats make a huge difference so we picked up 2 more foam pads before hitting the trail and we were much less cold.
This year I treated myself to a new sleep pad. I was tired of carrying the weight of the self inflating one and the foam ones were just a little bulky so I thought I’d try an inflatable one. After a while trying to decide which to go for, I went for the Numo from Alpkit. It was reasonably priced and so much smaller and lighter than the ones we had. It was cheaper than similar options from other manufacturers and I felt a nice warm feeling inside by supporting a smaller UK company besides, I’d previously bought a top and a crash pad from them and was very happy with the speedy service and the hand written thank you note that was in the package.
It came out of the box, even smaller than expected and weighed next to nothing in my hand. I immediately went to the Gear Store (or the cupboard under stairs as Hazel calls it), grabbed the old one for comparison and bounced into the living room to excitedly show off the size difference to anyone who was there. Evan said it was cool but no-one else seemed interested.
Time to blow it up. The info said you could inflate with 12 breaths and it wasn’t many more before I’m lying down on it in the kitchen. It was nice and comfy and surprisingly non-slidy and as soon Hazel had tried it out (again on the kitchen floor) I was back on the computer ordering one for her.
So we’ve used them for all this years camping trip since our snowy Glyndwrs Way hike where they would have been useful. They’ve performed really well in the tent and under a tarp both with and without a groundsheet. I would be extra careful if you don’t have a groundsheet because I’d imagine a gorse or bramble thorn would lead to a harder nights sleep but so far no punctures and we’ve been wild camping more this year than we have been to camp sites.
There are a couple of huge outcomes for us after buying these mats. The first is the weight and bulk savings, and while I’m sure you could get a lighter mat, I reckon you’ll struggle to get one at this price point and made from the same tough material. The second is that we actually sleep well on them so we’re better rested to wrangle 3 kids along the trail
The only drawback is that the kids want one each now I’m happy to get them one because they’ll last them for a couple of years at least, I’m not sure if I can fit 5 of them in our little blue tent.
For some strange reason the kids can’t seem to wear anything without ultimately destroying it. Just check out Lil’s boots from our last trip. Ok they weren’t brand new when she got them and she did easily put another 100 miles through them so it shouldn’t have been a surprise really.
Just before we headed off on that trail we found a huge tear in the sleeve of her waterproof and not having the time to sew it up, or the money to replace it we went about fixing it with gaffer/duct tape. And it only went and worked!
So when, after the trail, we found some small tears in her insulated jacket, probably from the brambles she just had to run through, we set about fixing that in the same way only this time we photographed the process to share with you.
Pay Attention now, it’s very complicated.
Locate the holes in the jacket and pop any loose stuffing back inside with a finger.
Cut a big enough bit of tape to cover the whole. REMEMBER Measure Twice. Cut Once. If you can’t find scissors use your teeth.
Place the tape on the hole and make sure it’s stuck.
Wear your newly repaired jacket with pride. A taped up jacket not only looks cool but you can do that “lets compare scars” thing like in Lethal Weapon (Only with less kissing!)
Start making pre-taped jackets and sell them on the High Street like those jeans you can buy brand new with holes in them. Once you’ve made enough money you can place that order for a new Patagonia puffy.
In all seriousness though it’s a really important way to help reduce our impact even further. We often use Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but how many of us actually Repair. At the end of the day a bit of tape will help Lil’s jackets get through another winter so surely it’s worth spending those 5 minutes to save both the money for a new coat and the resources needed to make it and get it to the shop.
And she gets to look really cool too!
*I bought this product with my own money.
The post contains an affiliate link so if you choose to purchase this product from that provider, we will see a small kickback if you use the link provided.
We have also included direct links to the manufacturer if you prefer to order direct.
It seems it’s really hard to review a water bottle. I’ve been sat here for ages, typing a bit, deleting, starting over. How do you review a bottle. It holds water. Done. What I think I’ll do is try to tell you why I like these particular bottles so much. And if that helps you in the decision making process, I’ve done alright.
- They feel solid. These are the metal ones and feel really durable. We’ve bought cheaper alternatives before and once they’ve been dropped a couple of times they split. These bad boys have already been dropped numerous times and wear their scars beautifully. Also the lids fit well while on cheaper ones there’s always a fear that the seal will go or the lid will get cross-threaded, not on these.
- The Hot and Cold bottle does exactly what its supposed to do. The heat retention is amazing. I take one with me for work everyday and because I work so, so hard, I can make 300ml of black coffee last all day. And it’s still hot, not warm but hot. In fact, after making my coffee at 7 am, it’s just about cooled down enough by lunchtime. The instructions say to warm the flask before filling but unless you like your coffee at the temperature of a thermo-nuclear war you may want to skip that step.
- They look good! For once I’m not the guy on the trail or at the climbing gym with a scrunchy plastic water bottle. People have even commented on the coolness of my SIGG bottles (the black & orange one especially) and believe me as I near 40, cool matters!
- And this is probably the biggest factor. I use them. Maybe it’s my subconscious justifying the extra money spent on these bottles but I’ve always got one nearby, so I drink more water, which I’m told is good.
- As we’re yet another blog taking on single-use plastics with our Zero Waste Hiking plans, I need to mention this. Any reusable water bottle, even the cheap ones are better than their single use alternatives but by spending a little more cash on a simple item, we look after it better. The chance of it getting left behind is reduced as is the risk of dropping off a ledge, and while these seem to last longer than others, if you do lose a lid, SIGG actually sell spare parts!
So thats 5 reasons we love our SIGG bottles and once our children’s plastic bottles for school get lost/broken/chewed we’ll be in the market for a few more.
View the range of SIGG products on Amazon UK*
Ever dreamed of packing everything into an RV and disappear on a never ending road trip. Of course you have but these guys have only gone and done it.
I’ve only watched the first few episodes so far and, “tainted Mac’n’Cheese” and vehicle troubles aside, they all appear to be embracing life on the road, dogs and all.
I’ll put the first episode here but please make sure you click subscribe
As well as new episodes every Sunday you can follow the adventures on social media AND if you’re feeling generous you can contribute to the coffee fund on Patreon
And On Instagram:
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YouTube is up in Michigan! Link in bio! Check it out, I fell in literal love with this bridge. Is that even possible? I'm here to say YES! As we drive away from snow, what is on your plate for Sunday?? #ohtheplaceswellroll #michigan #yooper #mackinawcity #upperpeninsula #greatlakes #lakehuron #roadschool #rvlife #adventureawaits #lifeontheroad #nomadstories #rvlife #fulltimervfamiies #usatravel #travel #youtubers #rvfamily #fulltimervfamily #simplicity #tinyhouse #roamtheplanet #traveltrailer #lifeonthemove #photooftheday #instagood #travelphotography
This summer we visited one of our National Parks for the first time. Somehow, after 6 years of living on the South Coast, within a few hours drive, and after countless trips to Devon and Cornwall for family visits and “normal” holidays I had never set foot on Dartmoor.
The purpose of the trip to was to spend a few days down there and just boulder as much as possible and when we first planned it out the forecast was great for Friday to Sunday with a few showers on the days either side. On the week of the trip the forecast changed and we were faced with the prospect of torrential rain over that weekend. I hadn’t had time to plan any wet weather hiking as an alternative to bouldering so I moved some things around, worked like a dog on Monday and Tuesday, cramming 4 days work into 2 and on the Wednesday morning we jumped on a ferry and headed west.
We took a slow drive down as it was meant to be wet in Devon that day, so we stopped at a few places for a wander and an explore. One of which was going to be Lyme Regis but the “park and ride” car park was bursting and we just didn’t want to put ourselves through that. We did stop at Haldon Forest , which was very busy too but we found a quiet spot in the woods for a picnic and an explore.
Back in the car we decided to take the smaller roads through the park rather than the ironically named Devon Expressway, and we’re so glad we did. We so blown away by the landscape, even from the car, and I said to Hazel that “this place should be a secret!”. My mind started whirring, wondering if we could come back and hike across the park. (If there’s an established route please let me know). We were heading to Down Tor and Sheepstor at the western end of the park, near Tiverton, as I’d found a guide to the bouldering on Down Tor and ,after a chat with Graeme at www.wildcamping.blog/ on Instagram, found that we could camp on neighbouring Sheepstor. (Cheers Graeme!)
On the way across we stopped to investigate some boulders, so we parked up grabbed the crash mat and climbing shoes and hiked maybe a 1/4 of a mile to a promising looking Tor. We climbed for about an hour, just looking for any way up. The kids enjoyed squeezing into a crack and making their ascents that way. We were just playing really but having a great time all 5 of us doing the same thing at the same time and all completely knackered by the time we hiked back to the car.
Suddenly it was 7 o clock and as we got to the car, we heard thunder, then the rain came and then we saw the lightening, none of which was on the bloody forecast! We sensibly decided to head for a campsite lower down rather than wildcamp high on the moor with all this lightening around. It ultimately rained until the early hours but that didn’t stop the kids getting soaked in the play area in the dark while I sorted out the tent and dinner.
The following morning was damp but breezy so we headed into town and treated ourselves to a big, dirty fry up to give the rock a chance to dry off. We drove round some narrow lanes and before too long we were there. A 5 minute hike took us to the first set of boulders, which we ended up spending a few hours at. To honest I climbed really badly but really enjoyed myself. The kids had a blast and after trying a few lines from the guidebook were happy just finding their own ways up things.
After a brew we headed on up the hill and just had so much to play around on. We reached the top of the Tor and found some really fun stuff to climb, some in the guidebook, some not but we didn’t care. It was just great to be climbing outside. We were just discussing the plans for the next day when the rain started so we wandered back to the car for a late tea. We were hoping to camp up on Sheepstor but again there was some lightening around so we decided to just go for a drive and see what the weather does.
Then evening brightened up so we stopped for a little hike up onto another Tor from where we could see where we had spent the day getting sore fingers and grazes and then we went to find a spot to camp. The rain had started again so we found a layby, spent 10 minutes wondering if we could all sleep in the car comfortably and just started putting down seat when another car came into the layby. A young french couple asked if we were planning to camp here, so abandoning the chaos in the car we grabbed the tent and sleeping bags and headed only about 200 yards away and pitched up behind some gorse. The other couple pitched only about 10 yards from their car so we felt like we had at least made an effort toward stealthiness.
It rained all night and into the next morning. The forecast said it was in for the day so we had a slow drive back to our ferry. This time the slow drive wasn’t our choice as the rain and holiday traffic turned our drive into an 8 hour marathon! Never mind.
Even though the weather seemed against us for this flying visit to Dartmoor, I know it will quickly become a favourite spot for us. Outside of school holidays, it should be a really accessible and beautiful “go to” place for us. Its huge amount of climbing, bouldering and hiking and being so close (on a good day) may just move it ahead of Snowdonia as our National Park of choice.
Mind you there’s still a few we haven’t visited yet.
Our continuing mission: To hike as far as we can without relying on single use plastics. To save the world, one cereal bar at a time.
We go for a hike which lasts 5 days, there’s 5 of us. On an average day we consume:
5 packet of instant porridge
5 packet of instant noodles
10 cereal/chocolate bars
1 pack of Tortilla Wraps
1 pack of Tuna
To be honest that’s probably a minimum but that’s over 100 bits of wrappers and rubbish over the duration of the hike. That’s just not good enough so we’re going to change that. And you can help by leaving your advice, ideas and tips in comments below.
Here’s all the posts about our Zero Waste Hiking mission, in one place.
It was this or the drone of the mower engine.
And wasn’t I pleasantly surprised.
You know those days that happen every so often, you’ve got a long day at work, mowing lawns and you’ve caught up on all your favourite listening material. That happened to me a little while ago, after sticking “Hiking” into the search of the Podcasts App and scrolling past those I’ve heard and those I’ve tried, I stumbled upon this “little ripper”.
Pressing play on Episode 1 (there were only 4 at the time) my heart sank a little as the loud guitar riff kicked in and I started to wonder what I let myself in for. As the hosts voices came into my earbuds I realised they were Australian and by putting the opening riff and the accents together I decided that I couldn’t be bothered with listening to a pair of typical Aussie Blokes, probably brash and sweary and anyway what does Australian hiking got to do with me anyway. I listened to something else for a while but the autoplay function put this on while I was mowing a massive lawn so it was this or the drone of the mower engine.
But wasn’t I surprised.
First off, Tom and Craig (our hosts) are both well AND softly spoken and have a real passion for getting out there which comes across during the podcast, and during that first episode I found myself giggling as they recounted the story of their first hike and how they awoke to a massive bush fire and try and save themselves and their new gear.
On later episodes they discuss topics such as photography, Leave No Trace and Trail Safety, all the while dropping little nuggets of wisdom or more than valid opinions, but it’s their reminiscence of their times on the trail that prove to be the real soul of the show. Mind you, even hearing them talk about the stats from their Youtube channel is pretty entertaining.
My own highlight is Episode 3 where they record the episode from the comfort of their rainforest camping spot. The lost coffee sachet is the real star of this particular episode but I won’t reveal its location here because, Spoilers.
I would take this opportunity to apologise for my initial impression of this great little show and I’m really glad I gave it another chance. New episodes appear in my feed every month or so but not on any set date so it’s always a nice surprise when a new one appears in my feed. I would add a little warning; Don’t listen when driving late at night, the soporific tones could lead to an accident, but as it’s tipping it down and the kids are at school and I’m at home, I’m off to listen to Episode 9, Hammocks Vs Tents.
If anyone else listens to this or does so as a result of this post, let me know in the comments below as well as any other Outdoors Podcasts you know of. I’m always in the market for more armchair hiking resources.