Almost Off Road.

For most of our first day on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path we had to share the route with some of the busier roads on the island. Now admittedly these roads aren’t major carriageways but having to shout to each other over the incessant burble of traffic isn’t fun. We hike to spend uninterrupted time in each others company, sometimes chatting about nothing, sometimes plotting our futures and sometimes just enjoying the silence. So imagine our relief when, between Whippingham and Wootton we find the first stretch of trail where traffic can’t go and we didn’t have to share.

 

Day 5 Totland to Home

Robs Round the Island - 462We left Totland before dawn, headed done to the bay and followed the seawall around to Colwell. No one was around and the sun was just coming up as we took another alternate along the beach. We climbed the concrete slipway and made our way through the holiday village and into the woods around Fort Victoria. From here we followed our second solar system trail of the trip (The first was Bonchurch to Ventnor) and came out on the top of the island with fantastic blue sky and Yarmouth Pier just ahead. It felt a bit strange to be honest, usually Yarmouth means were just getting home on the ferry and the trip is over but this time we still had a long way to go.

Robs Round the Island - 547We got some doughnuts for breakfast and sat on the benches by the green to eat them. It was 9 am. We wandered along the sea wall before nipping up and along the road for a little way before nipping into Bouldnor Forest and probably only the second stretch of this trail that we hadn’t hiked before. It was wonderful, with proper beaten earth trail being kind on our feet, tree cover for the kids to play their games while charging ahead and seeing just what happens when a forest meets the sea.

We broke out onto heath a while later and were surprised to see how far inland we had come but were soon plunged back into tree cover and then open fields as we reached Hamsptead. (which marks the start of another trail on our list). Here we decided to bypass a 2 mile loop which would bring us out about 1/4 mile down a gravel road led us away from the coast and as we crossed a little bridge we marked passing 70 miles on trail. Strange seeing as it’s only supposed to be a 68 mile trail. Back through tree’s passing close to Newtown Creek and into fields on the way to Shalfleet.

Shalfleet to home was a stretch that was worrying us as it appeared to be mainly on the road, we were pleased when the first section took us off the main road toward the quay and then across the creek to join the quieter back road a bit further along but we still had to negotiate a few miles of twisting, narrow country lanes. With nerves shredded and patience in tatters and feet on fire from the tarmac we stopped in Porchfield for a final treat in the pub before the last 3 or 4 miles home.

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The Trail to Thorness Bay started on the road but soon diverted through some fields and into the holiday park. We garnered some funny looks from holiday makers as these 3 feral kids and there unwashed parents came through with big packs but we were quietly pleased with our “Hiker-Trash” appearance. Thorness Bay opened out in front of us as the sun started to dip and we hastened to get done before sunset. The kids knew the way home from here and with that mission in mind they practically sprinted the last mile and a half, Hazel and I struggling to keep up. Of course they paused at the rope swing, where we did catch them and we hiked the remaining yards to our starting point together.  Looking at the GPS, we had hiked 18 1/2 miles on that last day, our furthest on any trail so far, AND we had hiked a grand total of 77.7 miles on this 68 mile trail.

As we strolled up the lane back to our home, we chatted about how far we had walked, how strange it felt to walk from our door and back to it 5 days later and we started to think about what we might do next?

 

Day 4 Chale to Totland

We woke up for the sunrise and for the first time on this hike there were clouds in the sky. It was quite chilly so Hazel took the kids on while Evan and I packed up. In our haste to get the children fed the night before we had inadvertently eaten all the porridge and with the alternative being pasta snacks we hiked on empty stomachs and a hope that the snack van that often frequents Compton Bay would be there.

Robs Round the Island - 392Our route took us along the tops of the cliffs that run along the south coast of the island, occasionally cutting inland to bypass a chine and it wasn’t long before we were passing through our favourite island campsite, now closed for the winter, and meeting the first other thru-hikers of the trip, although they did think we were brave to be camping at the end of October. Soon we reached Brighstone and the pearl selling place and into the strangest abandoned holiday park. It really felt like everyone had just left in the night for fear of falling into the sea. Through broken windows you can see cutlery left on tables and what remains of the still full swimming pool.

After a few more miles, Isaac got the stubborn go slows, and the other two had hiked on ahead in search of the snack van. I knew they had spotted it when they broke into a run from almost 1/4 mile away. They waited patiently for the rest of us to catch up where we all had a healthy breakfast of Mr Whippy ice creams (with a flake!!!) and some fizzy pop. Of course, from here we could easily see our next stopping point of Freshwater Bay and with the promise of lunch so soon after “Breakfast” we picked up the pace.

Hazels Round the Island - 393We have walked this stretch of trail so many times before but there was significant land slippage along this section that hadn’t occurred when Lil and I had hike this way for her birthday back in July.  At one point we had to negotiate wide cracks in the ground, just wide enough to swallow a small child. The track takes us alongside the Military Road for a little way but once it had veered off away from the cars, the kids ran on, knowing the trail, most of the way to Freshwater Bay. Here we made a little camp for our late lunch, it was about 2 pm, our stuff spilling out everywhere as we just dropped our heavy packs and sat. I walked the extra 1/2 mile to the shop to get supplies for lunch and some extra food for the evening.

Robs Round the Island - 434After lunch we headed up the second and last decent climb of the hike. Tennyson Down which took us up from Freshwater Bay to the monument to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, he of “Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward,” fame, from where we could see both sides of this little island, and the chimneys at Fawley that we can see from behind our home. Now it felt like the homeward stretch.

We pressed on towards the setting sun, along the headland that leads to the Needles and the most western point of the Isle of Wight. The views back across the island were fantastic, those to the nearby New Forest and further away Isle of Purbeck magnificent. Our view of the Islands most famous landmark however was not so great. It was obscured unless we were willing to pay entrance to the Old Battery, which owned by the National Trust is a worthy monument itself, however with tired legs it simply felt like another commoditisation of our natural landmarks (A rant for another day I think!).

Hazels Round the Island - 439

We dropped down to Alum Bay with a spectacular sunset behind us and hiked a little further to our safe haven for the night, Nana’s basement. We wandered down to the chippy for tea and made some “beds” on the floor of Hazels mum’s cellar. We decided it was the best option for a good nights sleep and without needing to pack a tent away we could get away super early for the final, and long, leg home.

Robs Round the Island - 460

Day 3 Shanklin to Chale (ish)

We left camp with happy hearts for today held the promise of being the best on the trail. The forecast was great (again), there was very little tarmac, we had only hiked a little of this section before and tonight we would be wildcamping! But first shoes!

Robs Round the Island - 234At the end of the road from the campsite there was a Lidl, which occasionally carried cheap hiking stuff, at the very least we might be able to get Lil some trainers that would have to do. If we’re out of luck we’ll have to go around the charity shops in town before getting back on trail. Turns out, Lidl had one pair of hiking boots left in stock. In Lils size! Amazing luck. We also got some nice pastries for breakfast and made our way back to the trail.

The trail took us twisting and turning through the landslip at Luccombe and the woods had a unseasonal humidity to them for late October. The kids ran ahead through the trees and down onto the sea wall at Bonchurch. From here we followed a scaled down version of the solar system all the way to Ventnor and lunch at the Island shaped paddling pool opposite the little harbour.

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Hazels Round the Island - 264We hiked along another esplanade and climbed the path leading up the headland and onto views of blue skies and shiny seas. The path went from headland to cove and back again until we got to the beautiful, hidden beach at Steephill Cove. After climbing the (unsurprisingly) steep hill we stayed up on the cliff tops for a couple of miles of stunning hiking before heading inland through St Lawrence and up onto downs.

From up her the views only got better, and as we found our stride we covered miles without stopping, past St Catherines Lighthouse, along the edges of fields and down hedgerow lined lanes with the sun starting its descent to meet the the sea once again. We were just heading towards Chale when the sunset began and it was truly magnificent.

Hazels Round the Island - 348

As the sun dipped away, so the moon rose behind us and illuminated our path along the cliff tops where, as it was now getting chilly, we stopped to make some dinner. It was also at this point we discovered Evan had left both his woolly hat and his warm coat in the shower block at last nights campsite. Obviously he didn’t go cold. Hazel gave him her jacket, which lead to me giving her my brand new down jacket (unworn to this point) and Evan my hat. What a Guy!!! To speed things up I just made us all some instant porridge for a quick bite and we hiked on in the moonlight for another hour or so before setting up camp on the cliffs.

 

Day 2 St Helens to Shanklin.

We woke up cold, a little sore but ready for the day. A heavy dew had formed on the tent in the small hours but a quick shake and gentle rub down got the worst off and it was almost dry as I ploughed it into the stuff sack. The kids and Hazel had left me to pack away the last few things before I joined them down on the beach for a breakfast of coffee and squashed doughnuts, left over from the previous days hiking.

Hazels Round the Island - 097Making our way through St Helens Duver, across the causeway and towards Bembridge, our hearts sank when we hit tarmac again but were soon lifted by the early morning sunshine as we tried to decide which of the houseboats we would most like to live in. The map and signposts tried to take us through the village but as, the tides were in our favour, we took a little alternate route along the beach, passing the lifeboat station, which was both easier on the eyes and kinder on the feet.

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Robs Round the Island - 210From the outskirts of Bembridge we left the tarmac behind again heading, towards Culver Down on proper trail, through Whitecliff Holiday park and hitting our first notable climb of the hike, we were all in good spirits and really enjoying the day.  From here we could see where we had been and where we were heading; a previously promised rest stop at Sandown Pier. It took us about an hour to come of the hill and the kids practically ran along the promenade to play on the penny arcades inside the pier. Hazel kindly allowed me to go to the shop to get some supplies while she supervised the carnage. It was so hot and noisy inside the pier and busy and just about the exact opposite to the reasons we go hiking. The kids enjoyed it though.

Hazels Round the Island - 171From Sandown it we wandered along the prom at Hope Beach to Shanklin where we realised that Lil had once again destroyed her hiking boots! We were hoping they would last the trip and we could get her some new ones next spring but, just like on the West Highland Way, her toes were showing.  We left the trail in search of the campsite which was surprisingly busy but we had a good spot, it wasn’t as cold and we enjoyed the showers and the took advantage of the restaurant for our dinner.

We had enjoyed a shorter day than the one before but felt we deserved it. As we lay in our sleeping bags we chatted about the day, the climb up Culver, the chaos of the pier and whether we’ll be able to get some boots for Lil the shoe killer!

 

Day 1 Gurnard to St Helens

We got up nice and early with a plan to leave before dawn which didn’t happen. By the time we had a second bowl of porridge and got everything together it was nearly 9 am but hey, we hadn’t confirmed our plan to hike around the Island until only 2 weeks earlier.

I suppose we had always threatened to hike around this little island we call home but the mainland always seemed a little more enticing. Back in the summer we had moved house and the coastal path was only 5 minutes walk away now so it seemed rude not to hike it. Besides, once we’re done we can get back to the exoticism of the UK mainland!

Most of the guides online showed the route going anti-clockwise from a ferry port, I suppose for visitors from across the water, but we would start at Gurnard Beach just down the lane and head clockwise to Ryde and get the worst of the road walking out of the way first.

Robs Round the Island - 012So with laden packs and the sun starting to warm our bones we headed along Gurnard sea front which was nice and quiet, through the sailing mecca of Cowes to our first little “cheat” of the trip, the floating bridge which is the only way to East Cowes other than a 9 mile detour inland along the river.

From East Cowes to Fishbourne was some of the worst hiking I’ve ever done. Either pavement or road, with traffic being all smelly and noisy right next to us and having to cross the busy road multiple times for no apparent reason. So when we reached the path from Fishbourne to Ryde I was both relieved and disheartened at the same time. Great to be away from the road but still hiking on bloody tarmac. Plus, we hadn’t seen the sea since the floating bridge and wasn’t this supposed to be a “Coastal” trail.

Robs Round the Island - 045We pressed on through Quarr Abbey which was beautiful but busy. We pulled faces at the pigs and the kids enjoyed their first opportunity to run on and just hike like kids. Mind you we were seriously flagging when we reached the soft, soft sanctuary of the beach at Ryde, and coupled with a bag of chips and a can of pop we recharged a little.

We had about half an hour on the beach and with the sun starting to make its rapid descent, we pressed on knowing we still had 4 or 5 miles until we could camp and quietly looking forward to hiking along in the dark. The sunset just as we were heading into Puckpool Park, and as Evan and I were ahead we went through the park. Hazel and the the other two went around and we were separated for a little longer than was comfortable but ultimately were reunited after a couple of forays off trail in search of a toilet.

Robs Round the Island - 115It was  proper dark now, but with the occasional street lamp and the bright lights of cruise liners on the water and Portsmouth across it, we had a lovely wander through the night. The trail disappeared at one point so we retraced our steps and found an alternate route which was much nicer and led to a night hike along the beach and we only realised we’d missed the trail when we got cliffed out at the far end of the beach. Fortunately someone else came of the trail as we were looking for it so we weren’t delayed for long as we headed into the trees.

We went from a bright, almost full moon on a deserted beach to thick woods, illuminated by a thin corridor of light from our headtorches, stopping at every turn to make sure we hadn’t left the trail and it was here, on the last mile that the tiredness really hit the kids so you can imagine the excitement when we finally broke from the tree cover onto the beach at St Helens and spotted the campsite.

There were a few other campers on the site overstuffed with static caravans (Funny story, Hazel and I lived in a caravan on this site when we first lived together, long before the kids were around) but there was plenty of room for our little blue tent. We got the beds set up and found out we needed a code for the toilet block. I was going to pay in the morning so I was hoping someone might be around. There was and while he did give me the code for the washroom, he also made me pay there and then. A grand total of £6. I was the happiest hiker ever, we normally have to pay £25 for a night at a campsite so that was a result.

Robs Round the Island - 143The kids were tucked up with their kindles when I got back and it seemed a shame to turf them out into the cold to use the facilities, but we did and it wasn’t long after that they were snoring.

The night hiking was great and even the walk through the dark, dark woods was alright especially compared to the rest of the day. We had hiked 17 1/2 miles, our longest ever day as a family, and I would guess 16 of it was on tarmac, and 13 of it along roads and nowhere near the sea. Not being funny, I would never, ever, ever repeat this section. Fellow hikers, if your doing this trail, start/finish at Ryde. Do not bother with Ryde to East Cowes, I can think of ZERO redeeming features and we only did it to be completist. Its not even worth that.

Please rest assured better days followed on this trip!

Children! Know Your Limits.

I was just reading another blog about hiking with kids and they mentioned the importance of  “Knowing your children’s limits.” Now my first reaction was “Well, obviously” but then I thought about it a little.

Every time I plan a trip, it’s at the top of my considerations.

  • How far can they hike in a day.
  • How much can they carry in their packs.
  • How much food do we need to carry to keep them happy/full/not crying/on a sugar high
  • Can they cope with the weather and trail conditions
  • How far is it to the trailhead, do we need to stop on the way?

And many other considerations I can’t remember. I suppose its everything you would think about for yourself but your making that decision for someone else, much smaller than you.

So every time we hit the trail, I’ve gone through this process of asking myself these questions and at times they can cause some anxiety, am I doing the right thing? What if we haven’t enough food? or do the kids really want to hike 10 miles today?

The problem is, it’s all wasted time and effort. Every time I thought I knew my kids limits, they’ve surpassed them and more. If you would like some examples please read on;

October 2015. The kids are 4, 6 and 8 and we hike up Snowdon for the first time. It takes us 9 hours up the PYG track and down the Miners. There is no carrying, no crying and nothing but good spirits and excitement. The furthest they’ve walked before today is 3/4s of a mile around the rather flat Gratham Water. Tomorrow they’ll hike the Mynffordd Track up Cadair Idris and our family love affair with the mountains begin.

cropped-cropped-west-highland-way-116111.jpgApril 2017. The West Highland Way. I plan the trip to last 12 Days, each one spent hiking for approximately 8 miles. The kids will carry as little as possible, maybe their water bottles, a few snacks, a teddy and their waterproofs in the unlikely event they aren’t wearing them.
We complete the trail in 9 1/2 days, including an almost 13 miler on the penultimate day. The kids carry their own sleeping bags, as well as the stuff I had planned on and Ev carries a full 25l rucksack over 100 miles by the time you add on travel days. Isaac is 5 and hiked every single step.

snow

Easter 2018. Glyndwrs Way. I plan for good, if a little damp trail conditions, cool temperatures and the potential for sunshine, warming days but potentially cold overnight. We aim for 12 miles a day to complete the trail in the time we have.
What we get is a corridor of ankle deep mud, persistent drizzle and a cold wind. We can’t find any rhythm to our hiking due to the constant slipping and sliding. We manage 10 miles on day one and nearly 15 on day two. We wake up on the next morning covered by 3 feet of snow. The kids are excited to press on. We lose the trail in zero visibility. We are cold and wet, the tent is soaked from the previous night and there is no where to get dry. The forecast is for more rain and snow overnight. I make the decision to call it off. Now the children cry, they want to keep going. In the hardest hiking conditions I have ever encountered, they are loving it.

October 2018. Isle of Wight Coastal Path. We have 9 days to do 68 miles (on paper) We travel light. We can pick up food most days. The kids carry all their own stuff (except tent and stove which we all share). We finish the trail in 5 days covering 78 miles (according to the GPS), averaging 15 a day but including two 18 mile sections. The kids are amazing, even on the never ending road walking of day 1.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that whatever challenge we give them, they rise to it. They never cease to amaze me and while there is some sense in “knowing their limits”, surely it’s better to be constantly surprised by their determination, capability and adaptability and embrace it wholeheartedly.  After all, they are the biggest adventure.

Review: Xero Shoes Terraflex

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.
*There are affiliate links in this post which will earn us a small commission if purchase these shoes.

Back in the summer I was in the market for some new trail shoes. I like to hike in trail runners rather than a heavier boot, especially in the summer, and while some of our American hiker friends don’t bother buying “waterproof” shoes, I’ve always looked for something that will keep the water out.  To be honest, when you have size 13 feet, the choice of shoe in my budget is rather limited, there’s plenty of choice in the budget range and a bit more in the high end but little around the £60 – £100 mark which for me is a real investment. I ended up with a choice between 2 well known brands but I’ve had well known brands let me down plenty of times in the past.

A couple of days later I stumbled upon a Facebook post from Xero Shoes which pricked my interest. Barefoot/Minimalist trail runners might work for a hiking shoe. But they’re over in the states and won’t have my size. Not only did they have a UK online store but they also carried my size, and in my budget. I made a decision. If I’m risking £80 of my hard earned cash on shoes, I’d rather give it to this smaller company thats doing things a little different than another global behemoth. Two days after ordering they were on my feet.

First impressions were great, really comfy, good fit and looked great. Having read a little about going to minimalist footwear I knew I shouldn’t go out and hike around the Isle of Wight first time. So I started with a few shorter hikes, an overnight hiking trip with my daughter and other than a little extra soreness in my calfs, they were really good and coped with the lowland, Isle of Wight terrain.

Time for a test. We hiked a 20 odd mile loop in the Brecon Beacons including a climb up Pen y Fan and again they performed really, really well. And when the rain came and my feet got wet, they dried out in no time. Another benefit, which may be from the shoes or could be from some weight loss was a lack of the usual knee pain I suffer from while coming down a mountain. I’m no scientist but something was improved.

Over the rest of the summer they have become my shoe of choice for everything except work and so when we decided on our last big trip of the year, I was always going to wear them for hiking around this little island. So how did these shoes cope on a 78 mile hike on mixed terrain at the end of October.


Xero Shoes

TerraFlex Trail Running and Hiking Shoe

XeroShoes UK


Overall they were great and any downsides can be placed on the trail itself. At the end of the first day, the soles of my feet were in agony but they had just hiked 17 miles on tarmac and my wife’s feet were just as sore in here well padded boots.  A little calf soreness the next day which went away after the first mile or so and the shoes felt great on every terrain except tarmac, which wasn’t a major issue again until the last day.  The soles of my feet were sore for the day after finishing but by the second morning they were fine, and there was never the thought of blisters on the whole hike.

I’m glad I took the risk with these shoes and while they may take some getting used to if moving from traditional hiking boots, I’ll definitely be continuing my foray into barefoot hiking. I may try out the Daylite Hiker next season, they look really cool but only have womens sizes on the UK store at the moment.  Now If only they’d do a minimalist work boot!

Round the Island; Not a Trip Report

So while this isn’t quite a trip report of our hike around the Isle of Wight, which will come in the next couple of weeks once we’ve sorted the 1300ish photos, I do feel I want to write something about the hike which we finished less than 48 hours ago. (Today is Friday, we finished Wednesday evening, and this should be up Monday).

Lets call it a highlights package!

Day One – Gurnard to St Helens. 17 and a bit miles.

Ryde Seafront

Highlights – The section from Ryde to St Helens. Our first real experience at night hiking. Isaacs reaction to reaching St Helens, which he recognised, even in the dark, from a recent school trip. £6 Camping.

Lowlights – “Tarmac-geddon”. Apart from maybe the last mile and a half, the whole day was on tarmac or alongside a road, and after leaving East Cowes we hardly saw the coast until Ryde esplanade.

Hazels Round the Island - 110Day Two – St Helens to Shanklin. 13 ish miles.

Highlights – Through the Duver and across the causeway at St Helens. The climb up Culver and resulting ice cream. Late lunch on the beach. Playing the Penny Arcades on Sandown Pier (Kids Vote for that one).

Lowlights – The Penny Arcades on Sandown Pier (Dads). More tarmac. Few wild camp opportunities so had to use another campsite.

Day Three – Shanklin to Somewhere along the South Coast – 14 ish miles.

Hazels Round the Island - 263Highlights –  The landslip from Luccombe to Bonchurch, the Sea wall to Ventnor. The Cliff tops to St Lawrence, Steephill Cove, finding new beaches, the views from above Blackgang, Wild Camping on the cliffs beyond Chale, the whole day really.

Lowlights –  None, best day on the trail.

Day 4 – Chale – Totland -Around 17 miles

Hazels Round the Island - 371Highlights – Trail all except last mile. Expansive views.Ice Cream at Totland. Climb up Tennyson Down and along to Needles. Spotting a fox about 3 feet away from us and having a staring contest with it.

Lowlights – Views of Needles obscured by the Old Battery which requires entry fee and was closed anyway. Once again someone commoditising our natural landmarks!

 

 

Day 5 – Totland to Home – 18 and a half miles.Hazels Round the Island - 554

Highlights – Second breakfast in Yarmouth, Bouldnor Forest and Hampstead. Thorness Bay and the last 1/2 mile to Gurnard Beach where we were practically jogging to catch the sunset from our local beach.

Lowlights – Some very dodgy road walking through Shalfleet and around Porchfield. Running out of trail.

We had a really good time on the trail and would definitely repeat some of it again, probably Shanklin round to Yarmouth, but you can keep East Cowes to Ryde, I’m never hiking that section again. #Tarmac-geddon.

I’ll do a full trip report in the next couple of weeks so keep your eyes peeled, click the follow button or find us on social places @justupthetrail

Cheers

Rob

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First Time for Everything

These 3 were so excited to be climbing their first ever mountain and I can’t find the words to tell you how happy I was, just to be in the mountains with the kids at long last. It didn’t matter if we made it to the summit or not (we did) we just wanted to expose the children to the adventure of it all. 3 Years ago but it feels like a lot longer and just yesterday at the same time.

 

Review: DD 3×3 Tarp

*Originally posted back in January 2018.  Updated after our Wildcamp on Pen Y Fan, this summer.

After carrying our 3kg tent for 96 miles on the West Highland Way, and hiking past some lovely spots unfortunately unsuitable for a tent but perfect for a tarp I bit the bullet and ordered a 3×3 tarp from DD Hammocks.

Last summer (2017) we only used it on a handful of occasions mainly as an additional shelter to our little blue tent when the weather has been awful but also once as our only means of shelter when Evan and I hiked through the New Forest (Watch the video here) and camped on the heath, hidden and secluded. That night we used a tent style configuration as Ev was a little nervous about wild camping. (It was his first stealth camp in England and he knew the rules were a bit different to Scotland where we had wildcamped before). It went up fairly easily, although we had practiced setting it up this way in garden on the previous weekend. It stowed perfectly in the side pouch of my small rucksack (also from DD Hammocks) and to be honest, I hardly noticed the weight.

We’ve set it up in different configurations too, as a rain shelter for the kids to play in while camping in the Brecon Beacons, to shield the tent entrance and provide storage space in Snowdonia, and to protect our washing machine drum fire bucket and BBQ while camping in a friends orchard for Lil’s birthday.

tarp

I really like this tarp especially the seemingly unlimited set up options which will give us many more camp spot choices when we head out in the future. I’ll happily carry it on our next long trip even it’s “just in case”.

**UPDATE**

This summer (2018) I think we’ve the tarp as much as the tent and it hasn’t let us down at all. Because of our wildcamp on Pen Y Fan, which turned out to be the perfect night for it, we all fell in love with our tarp. All 5 of us managed to fit under it with room to spare, I hardly noticed it in my pack and it went up with no bother at all, in fact it was our eldest, Evan, who took charge of building our shelter for the night.

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A Perfect Spot for Supper

We were on our way up the South East side of Pen y Fan when we stumbled upon this lovely spot. While the kids tried their hardest to get wet, we cooked tea and brewed up and considered making camp. It was the perfect spot really but by the time the last dog walkers had disappeared from view, the sun had dipped behind the mountain and the midgies were out in force so we pressed onto higher ground and made camp near the the summit of Fan Y Big. Still, it wasn’t a bad spot for supper.

On the way to Pen Y Fan