Walking News...Hiking developments...
Catching up with the news in Kunming, China
There are lots of news stories about walking and hiking appearing every day, and new local developments going on locally that never make it to the national media.
Whether it's stories about well-known or little-know hiking destinations, conservation projects, walking events, innovative hiking gear, or the health benefits of walking - we'd like your help in spotting these stories and sharing them with other walkers.
You can put in a short summary with a link to a more detailed story on the web, or put in a fuller story yourself. And you can comment on stories submitted by others, giving an opposing view, or providing additional information. Let's hear from you!
Just click on the relevant link to get a selection of stories.International
Iran says it will free US hiker accused of espionage
One of three hikers detained by Iranian authorities in July 2009 and accused of espionage after mistakenly crossing the border from Turkey/Iraq is due to be released on Saturday (11 September) according to a report in the New York Times.....more
Lycian Way in Turkey - new book and signage
Just received the attached news update regarding the Lycian Way, one of two long distance routes developed and promoted by Kate Clow and Terry Richardson. It's worth finding out more from their website: http://www.trekkinginturkey.com/
I've not walked in Turkey but it sounds fascinating - any walking stories from there would be welcome!....more
Eight feared dead on Mont Blanc
It seems that eight mountaineers from Austria and Switzerland have been killed by an avalanche on Mont Blanc, just a few weeks after a similar incident killed 11 on K2. These remind us of the deadly conditions that can arise at any time on the world's highest mountains, but it's worth remembering that mountains closer to home can also be dangerous - as many as a dozen walkers and climbers have died on Scottish mountains so far in 2008.....more
Eleven die on K2
Disaster struck on K2 in early August when eleven climbers were swept to their deaths from several different climbing parties. See also the story of one of the leaders, Wilco van Rooijen, who survived but saw many others perish including an Irish member of his team.....more
Earthquake in Sichuan, China
A powerful earthquake in China has hit a mountainous area north-west of Chengdu in south-west China, noted for its scenery and population of giant pandas, but also with cities nearby which are home to millions of people. There's an interactive map linked to the New York Times report. See also the walking stories from a visit to the area at the epicentre in 2005. ....more
Warning for smoking hikers from Table Mountain
A trial currently under way in Cape Town vividly illustrates the risks of smoking whilst out hiking - particularly in areas with dry vegetation. You could end up being charged with culpable homicide, like British tourist Anthony Cooper. Another British tourist, Janet Chesworth, was killed by the blaze which resulted when Cooper flicked a burning cigarette on to the grass, causing a devastating fire on Table Mountain in January 2006. (Recalling the dreadful fires in Greece and California during 2007, this could happen in any areas affected by prolonged dry weather, even Scotland!) ....more
Medical team climb Everest to understand oxygen deficiency
BBC's Horizon programme carried two programmes on 23 and 30 September telling the story of a team of medics who climbed Everest to carry out experiments on the effects of low oxygen levels (hypoxia), to help find better ways of dealing with people in intensive care where many die due to oxygen deficiency. There's a full story of the climb and the experimentation on the Horizon blog. ....more
Where is the deepest gorge in the world?
According to a small item in the Guardian travel section, the world's deepest gorge is the Vikos gorge in Zagoria, north-west Greece. Rather than the Samaria Gorge in Crete (which may still qualify as the longest) or the Grand Canyon, or the Colca Gorge in Peru. I was pleased to hear this, after once finding the Vikos Gorge by accident... ....more
Everest in the news
Everest hit the headlines twice in two days, firstly with reports from Greenpeace showing photographic evidence of the effects of climate change, then with news that a 71-year-old Japanese climber had become the oldest person to reach the top. ....more
Tackling Poverty and Climbing Mountains
This is a fascinating interview with Rodrigo Jordan, a management professor in Chile, who is also a world-class mountaineer. It is published on the Knowledge@Wharton website of the University of Pennsylvania. Jordan relates some of his experiences of climbing mountains, and the importance of teamwork and human relationships, then draws lessons from this for the world of business and for tackling poverty in communities in Chile. It concludes with the highlights from his recent climb of the world's 4th highest peak, Lhotse. (If you have trouble linking to this article, please notify firstname.lastname@example.org ). ....more
Tiger Leaping Gorge threatened by plans for hydro dam
This may be "old" news but it's still topical if you plan to visit Tiger Leaping Gorge, in Yunnan, South-West China. We spotted this after walking through part of the Gorge in June 2005 (see the walking story). Now it seems it is the focus for a challenge by the growing environmental movement in China, and by local communities which would be displaced if a plan for a hydro dam goes ahead. Half a million people could be relocated over the next 10 years in the region as China seeks clean alternatives to nuclear and coal power stations. Many of these are already under construction, acording to a report in the Guardian filed by Jonathan Watts, which you can access via the link below. ....more
Scottish Government announces new Walking Strategy
The Scottish Government will produce a National Walking Strategy to maximise the number of people using walking as a mode of transport, to get active and to stay active.
This is part of an initiative to use walking to combat lack of fitness, obesity, and other health problems. The health benefits of walking are often underestimated, even short walks to the shops or taking the stairs instead of the lift.
This is great recognition of the benefits of walking - it's not only pleasurable, whether you like walking on your own or with friends, it's also genuinely good for the body and mind. More details in the press release attached.....more
More needs to be done to meet demand for paths
Although access legislation allows people to walk across most of the Scottish countryside, footpaths make it easier to follow your intended route without affecting other landusers. Scottish Nature Heritage is the Government agency responsible for promoting access to the countryside and it has just completed a lengthy review of its policy to develop and promote footpaths. It has concluded that more needs to be done to extend the network of paths and encourage a wider range of people to use them, especially with the increasing emphasis on healthy exercise. However, it doesn't have the resources to do this "top-down". This press release and the detailed report on the new "Approach" to footpaths sets out the important factors to be considered. ....more
Rare woolly willows planted in Corrie Fee, Angus
Corrie Fee is a delightful glacial hollow in Glen Doll, on the ascent of Mayar. It's benefited from a lot of conservation work in recent years including upgrading of footpaths and the latest development was announced by Scottish Natural Heritage in August 2009. Rare woolly willows have been planted to add to the existing willow scrub in the corrie. It's good to see the determined effort that can be made to preserve disappearing elements of our natural environment, helping to preserve the landscape for walkers. ....more
Scots soldiers break record for crossing Greenland
A team of solders has broken a 120-year-old record for crossing Greenland on skis (OK, it could be called skiing, but it could be walking with the aid of skis). The record of 40 days was set by Fridtjof Nansen in 1885, and the soldiers managed to achieve it in just 27 days despite having to cross vast crevasse fields and the limitations of their high-energy diet. More details in this article from The Courier. ....more
Ann Gloag wins
After a lengthy legal case, businesswoman Ann Gloag has won her battle to keep ramblers outside the grounds surrounding Kinfauns Castle, a couple of miles east of Perth. This is regarded as a significant test of the "Right to Roam" legislation in Scotland, and there are concerns that other wealthy landowners may take similar steps to keep walkers away from their properties. Others however see it as a reasonable recognition of the right to privacy and security for people in their homes. ....more
Foinaven fails to make the grade as a munro
The mountain of Foinaven, on the west coast of Sutherland in North-West Scotland, has failed to make it to the list of munros - summits over 3000 ft (914.4m). It had been recorded by the Ordnance Survey at 2999 ft, but it was expected that a re-survey would come up with a more accurate measurement putting it into the munro category. Instead, it resulted in a lower height of 2989 ft. The list of munros therefore stays at 284 - at least until the result is announced in August for the re-survey of Beinn Dearg in Torridon, also currently set at 2999 ft. Lots more to read in the linked Guardian report.....more
Dundee to host mountain film festival
Dundee Mountain Film Festival is to be held on November 25 and 26 2006, at the Bonar Hall, according to a report in the Dundee Courier. It includes the world premiere of Jen Randall's film "Brick and Mortar Disorder", and there will be a number of special guests at the festival with stories of their adventures. You can find further information at the website linked below. ....more
Anne Gloag seeks to keep walkers away from her home
The controversy over the Stagegoach founder Anne Gloag's attempt to keep ramblers away from her home at Kinfauns Castle, near Perth, continues. The Dundee Courier reported on the first day of the hearing at Perth Sheriff Court where security was the main issue highlighted. ....more
New system of wayfinding maps helps walkers in London
New techniques are being introduced in London to encourage more people to get out of the Tube and walk to nearby destinations - this article gives a fascinating insight into the thinking behind the scheme.....more
BBC Comic Relief party reaches summit of Kilimanjaro!
BBC's Comic Relief party of 9 celebrities have just completed a climb using what looked like the Lemosho route, taking one more day. Follow the link to see the BBC website for stories & videos. Read more about the different routes for climbing Kilimanjaro, including a day-by-day climb via the Lemosho Route, via the Tanzania page.....more
Ullswater Walking Festival
Looks like there's a busy and varied programme for the forthcoming Ullswater Walking Festival. It takes place between Saturday 10th May and Sunday 18th May. There's a load of activities, not just walking but Mountain Biking, Navigation, Photography, Steamer Rides, Music and Talks, and all totally free!! It's being promoted by the Catstycam Outdoor Shop at Glenridding. The detailed programme is available via this link.
Satish Kumar: Earth Pilgrim
There's a fascinating piece in the Guardian about Satish Kumar, the Indian-born programme director at the Schumacher college in Devon. He also featured in a wonderful programme on BBC2 on Friday 18 January 2008, walking around Dartmoor in the different seasons of the year, captured with superb photography of ancient trees and swirling clouds of starlings. Here he finds spiritual fulfilment in the works of nature. He has walked the world in protest at the destructive power of nuclear weapons. Now he encourages leaders to take account of ecological and spiritual values to counterbalance the contemporary emphasis on economic "realism". It's well worth reading. ....more
Disabled access and kissing gates
Suffolk County Council have been told to replace kissing gates and stiles on rights of way to improve access for disabled people. John Humphries on the Today programme this morning expressed some disbelief in this conversation with two of those involved.....more
Is pathbuilding getting out of hand?
I've just heard an item on BBC Radio 4's "You and Yours" drawing attention to the new paths being built in the Lake District. It questioned whether these are actually ruining the landscape at the same time as giving better access to it. From the evidence of recent walks in Scotland, it's a big issue up here as well. Comments welcome! ....more
Coastal footpath proposed for England
Environment Minister David Miliband has launched a consultation on a Government proposal to open up the entire coastline of England to walkers. Landowners are concerned that they will not be compensated for the loss of land and for potential damage, but the Ramblers Association welcomed the proposal. Follow the link to the detailed BBC coverage, with further links to other related websites. ....more
How does walking compare with gyms as exercise?
There was a good discussion on the Radio 4 programme "You and Yours" about the respective merits of joining a gym or going walking as means of keeping fit. It seems that as long as you take moderate physical exercise for half an hour, 5 times a week, it doesn't matter what sort of exercise it is! ....more
The Adventurer's Spirit in the face of adversity
This was the theme of the BBC Radio 4 "Excess Baggage" programme on 28 October, when John McCarthy interviewed several individuals who had overcome dangerous and challenging situations during their respective expeditions. It's a fascinating discussion, which gets to the heart of what it is that makes people want to take on the challenges of nature, before shedding light on what this means for coping with the ups and downs of everyday life. ....more