Newsletter > Newsletter archive > November 2015

November 2015

A time for ancient processions

As the winter solstice approaches, it's worth considering how much more important the passing of the shortest day would have been to our ancestors thousands of years ago. It must have been a huge relief to witness the sun starting back on its regular course towards spring.

There are many prehistoric monuments aligned for the rising or setting of the sun on the winter solstice. Perhaps most poignant of all are the passage tombs, like Newgrange in Ireland and Maeshowe on mainland Orkney, which were constructed so that a shaft of sunlight penetrated the main chamber at the shortest day of the year.

Even at monuments where there are no obvious alignments it is hard to imagine them not being the focus for ceremonies at the winter solstice. In this month's chapter from our Pathway's book we explore the avenues, henges and tombs at Avebury, along with the enigmatic Silbury Hill. In the chapter we consider the likely role of the stone avenues at Avebury and elsewhere as processional routes from one part of a ritual landscape to another. You can read this chapter online now, or download the whole book in a Kindle edition for just £1.99.

A few ideas for Christmas

It's late November so we've decided that it's finally reasonable to mention Christmas, so here are few ideas for the person you know who already has everything.

Just out: the paperback version of our Pathways book is now available from Amazon for £6.95, for those who don't use Kindle or who would like a 'real book' to give to someone.

A Walkingworld gift subscription gives your lucky recipient the run of the 6500+ walks in our library for a whole year. After buying the gift subscription you can print out a sheet telling them how to activate their subscription, which they can do whenever they want. A gift subscription costs the standard subscription rate of £18 - find out more

The Wainwright Society Calendar has always been popular with Walkingworld members, not least because it has beautiful photos for each month and Alfred Wainwright's inimitable line drawings. At £10 including P&P it's also very good value. All profits from the sale of the 2016 calendar will be donated to Animal Rescue Cumbria and the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs Association. The money will be used by Animal Rescue Cumbria to support the work of taking in unwanted dogs and cats and helping to re-home them. The Search Dogs Association need to replace the training radios of dog handlers. The calendar can be purchased direct from the Society website using PayPal.

There are also a few of the First Aid Bags specially made for Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team left. These are being sold at £10 a bag, including P&P (mainland UK only), which includes a £3.50 donation to the team. The bag was designed to carry the personal first aid kits of members of the team and has been taken up by a couple of dozen other search and rescue teams from around the UK. Please note that it's an empty bag to fill with your own kit – there's plenty of room for whatever you plan to put in it and it's made out of strong material with a variety of compartments. Find out more on the Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team website.

Personalised maps direct from OS
This is an excellent and highly personal present that we've created for ourselves and our friends quite a few times now, including making a map of the paths around Walkingworld's HQ in Cumbria (pictured left complete with picture of Walkingworld dog, Brough). You can choose anywhere in Britain as your centre point, add your own title and subtitle and upload your own cover photo to create a unique personalised map in classic OS style.

The map can be either 1:25,000 Explorer or 1:50,000 Landranger scale. For this weekend only, until Monday 30th November, the cost is from £14.99, for either a folded map or a flat one to mount and hang on the wall. Delivery is included. Whether it's to explore a friend's favourite area or as a memento of your last trip, it's a unique gift that will always raise a smile.

Use the simple online map creator on the Ordnance Survey website and you will have a gift for any lover of the outdoors sent to you in just a few days.

Winter walking in the Alps
In an idyllic location at the head of its eponymous lake, the charming village of Fuschl am See in Austria exudes an air of tranquillity and calm – an ideal base for a true get-away-from-it-all holiday amid the ethereal beauty of Salzkammergut's lakes and mountains.

Here, you could be tempted to simply sit back and soak up your surroundings, but with such magnificent scenery on your doorstep, it would be remiss not to head out on foot into the snow. You don't need specialist equipment to enjoy winter walking, and snowshoes are easy to master, whether you set out around the lake from your hotel; follow a trail from Strobl to picturesque St Wolfgang before catching the boat back, or explore myriad beautiful trails that criss-cross the meadows and woodland surrounding Fuschl itself.

Inntravel offer a week at the superb 3-star Hotel Seerose in Fuschl am See, from where you can follow up to 50km of prepared and waymarked trails. For sightseeing, the imperial town of Bad Ischl, and the city of Salzburg are both just a short bus ride away; while in December, you can also visit the atmospheric Christmas markets in St Gilgen and St Wolfgang, reached by boat.

If you like the idea of exploring snow-covered Alpine scenery on foot, Inntravel also offers special winter walking weeks at two idyllic Swiss villages: picture-book Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland, or magical Guarda in the glorious Engadine Valley.

For more walking holidays in the snow on the 'quiet side of the mountain', take a look at Inntravel's website, or speak to their expert team on 01653 617034.

Salzkammergut, Austria
- Charming 4-star hotel on lakeside
- Single-centre, walking & snowshoeing holiday
- Prices from £698pp, inc flights Heathrow-Salzburg, 7 nights' half-board accommodation, plus detailed notes & maps
- Available 27 November 2015 to 22 March 2016

In search of a waterproof phone
We're always on the lookout for a smartphone that will survive a dunking. When Motorola announced that its latest budget smartphone, the Moto G 3rd Generation phone, was water resistent (to IPX7 standard), we couldn't resist giving it a go. Priced at around £160 for an unlocked version it could be a decent option for outdoor use as a phone-cum-GPS, providing of course that it does the job. Read our review

Dark Skies Festival
The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Park Authorities are teaming up to hold their first joint week-long Dark Skies Festival during next February's half-term holiday (15-21 February 2016). The low light pollution in both Parks makes them an ideal location for spotting constellations, shooting stars and other cosmic happenings. The programme includes other activities such as a dark sky trail run, evening caving, storytelling, glow-in-the-dark writing, poetry readings, solar system scavenger hunt, telescope-making and craft activities throughout the week.

The main events will be held in and around Reeth, Aysgarth Falls, Danby, Sutton Bank and Hawes, the latter two of which are designated Dark Sky Discovery sites, with skies that have been found to be sufficiently dark that the Milky Way can be seen with the naked eye.

Tenerife Walking Festival
The largest island in the Canaries is gearing up to host the second Tenerife Walking Festival from 29th March - 2nd April 2016. The event features 15 trails varying in length and intensity. Participants can choose routes from three categories - volcanic landscapes, coastal paths and green trails - enabling them to discover the huge variety of terrain and protected landscapes on the island. All the walks are scheduled to last a full day, including travel to and from the starting point, cultural visits and lunch breaks.

Participation costs 20 euros and includes a welcome pack; daily transport to each trail; guided walks with a professional expert; and a wristband to enjoy discounts in shops, restaurants, hotels and museums in Puerto de la Cruz, the festival's home base. The event could well be combined with some of Walkingworld's routes on the island to make a superb holiday somewhere nice and warm. Register online