Planning Our Way

A little while ago I stumbled across a Facebook post about the New Forest Film Festival. This perked my interest because a couple of years ago Evan and I made a little film as we hiked across the National Park in an attempt to reach Salisbury. Once I checked the guidelines for submissions I noticed that we had filmed that hike just a little too long ago to enter it this time around, so without needing much arm twisting we set our sights on making another film.Continue reading “Planning Our Way”

Portland 2019

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.

Continue reading “Portland 2019”

Batteries not Included

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.

Continue reading “Batteries not Included”

Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2017

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.

A place where Mum can get inspired, the kids can be kids, and Dad can go hiking

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. 

Kids will be Kids

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.

Start Here

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!

Mile One
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.  

Mile Two.
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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Trail Magic
The biggest thing you can do for us is join our community and shout about it. Find a post you enjoy, feel free to share it, tweet it or how about this, grab your friends phone or laptop or tablet and bookmark Just Up The Trail for them. They might not ever notice….. or they might be buying hiking boots next week! 

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.

 

Mile Three
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.

Mile Four
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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Review: Alpkit Numo Sleep Mat

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.

IMG_0117
Our Massive Packs for the WHW.

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.

Lils Birthday - 17
Wild camp with Lil on Brook Down. Numo hidden under sleeping bags.

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.