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April 2022

Major restoration of historical waterway on Dartmoor
Repairs to a 19th century water way on Holne Common have preserved an historic feat of engineering as well as ensuring local farms continue to get fresh water. Holne commoners have spent the last few months restoring the profile and flow of Holne Moor, or Hamlyn's, Leat, on Dartmoor. Dartmoor National Park Authority youth and junior rangers also gave a helping hand.

The leat is at least 170 years old and is an unlined, man-made water channel, running for nearly five miles. John French, whose family have farmed locally since the 1860s, and whose livestock drink from the leat, explains: “The skill of the original engineers lay in keeping the water flowing from the point of extraction, the O Brook, to its destination. They used natural contours and gradients and at one point the water even appears to flow uphill. Another clever feature is the bullseye stone, a flat slab of granite with a central hole bored through, which ensures each farm gets a fair share of the water.”

The work is part of the 'Our Upland Commons Project', a three-year, £3m, 25-partner project helping to secure the future of upland commons in Dartmoor, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and Shropshire Hills.

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Thank you for your patience if you tried to access the website or the app during some maintenance at our server location in the past month and found you couldn't get through. Our server actually went on its own small ramble to a new network room, so on one morning it was not accessible for a few hours. We are now back to running normally.

Mad about Mountains look at sleeping mats
Following on from last month's information on sleeping bags we look at sleeping mats. You can have the fluffiest down bag going and still be cold on all but the warmest of summer nights if your mat isn't up to it.

Consider how much your super insulating down bag relies on loft to function and then how much of what you're lying on is actually lofting, and you'll see why the mat suddenly becomes so important. Typically mats carry an 'R' rating for insulating quality and a benchmark to help compare mats (at least within the brand).

As well as the 'R' rating, another important consideration can be the thickness of the mat itself. If you're a side sleeper go for a thicker mat, or you might find your shoulders and hips leaching all your body heat straight into the ground!

To help you stay warm this season, we're running a little competition to win the fantastic Salewa Diadem Extreme mat. This is a 6cm thick mat, with an R-value of 4, and an integrated pump sack to stop damaging moisture getting inside. At a mere 540g, and about the size of two baked bean cans, it's a no brainer to carry on all your camping adventures. Head to for a chance to win. Competition runs from 29th April till 13th May 2022 – follow the page and you should get a notification.

Walkers are Welcome in Alton

Alton in Hampshire and the area around it has some incredible history and many interesting places to visit, as well as being a gateway to the South Downs National Park.

It is pleasurable enough to simply explore the town or stroll through the bluebells in Ackender Wood, say, but there also more serious challenges on the doorstep. These include long-distance trails such as The Writers' Way (linking Jane Austen's house in Chawton to Gilbert White's home in Selborne), the Alton Six Hills Walk, the Hangers Way, plus there is easy access to the St Swithun's Way from Winchester to Farnham.  For railway enthusiasts there is a Lost Railway walk and the Watercress Steam Railway with their RAT (Real Ale Train) train.

Just coming up there is the annual Alton Walking Festival running throughout May, with over 100 guided walks on offer. A handful are already fully booked but there are plenty still with places available.

Walks on the Howgill Fells

The Wainwright Society has republished Alfred Wainwright's 'Walks on the Howgill' Fells. The Society has previously republished three Wainwright titles taking in this often overlooked area east of the Lake District: 'A Pennine Journey'; 'The Outlying Fells of Lakeland' and 'Walks in Limestone Country'. The guidebook to the Howgill Fells, which lie between Sedbergh and the Eden Valley, was a companion to his 'Walks in Limestone Country', published in 1970. Wainwright loved the peace and tranquillity of the Howgill Fells, and, indeed, fifty years after the book was first published in 1972, some of the walking routes described in the book are still quiet and unfrequented.

The original book remained in print for 30 years and, like his other guidebooks, was in need of revision. In 2003, Chris Jesty began a comprehensive review of all of Wainwright's guides, walking the routes and updating the maps and written descriptions, where necessary. The Second Edition was published in 2014. This latest edition is priced at £14.95, including postage within the UK.