Outdoor Gear Blog - CheapTents

CheapTents Outdoor Gear Blog

…not just tents…a camping equipment blog too!

One of the most exciting aspects of walking can be an unexpected sighting of birds or other wildlife. Some of our most popular blog posts are about the wildlife we can encounter whilst out in the countryside, such as birds or prey, bats and hares. In this interview we find out about an iconic bird that is in trouble and how walking and adventure are helping to bring attention its plight.

The Turtle Dove is smaller than a collared dove

The Turtle Dove has distinctively mottled with chestnut and black upperparts. Source: Flickr by Andy Morffew.


That bird is the Turtle Dove and our interview is with naturalist Jonny Rankin who is campaigning to save it from extinction. Jonny is a bird watcher, beer drinker and BMX biker who has has combined bird watching, walking and adventure to raise money and awareness for the Turtle Dove.

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With views along the Avon valley from Bath to Bristol, an iron age hill fort, a horse racing course, a battle monument and wildlife sightings this turned out to be a superb and fascinating walk!

Kelston Round Hill near Bath

Kelston Round Hill, on top of which stands a coppice of trees

Starting from the village of Upton Cheney my route took me down through fields and across a wooded stream to a cluster of houses at North Stoke. Walking up past the church brought me to the first historic site of the walk: an iron age hill fort, known as Little Down Hill Fort. This promonotory fort consists of ditches and embankments around the outside of what are now cultivated fields. The footpath goes right across the middle of the fort. Looking behind me were excellent views over to Bristol.

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Cnicht Mountain in Snowdonia

The ridge shape of Cnicht

Cnicht is fondly known as the “Matterhorn of Wales”. This is due to its similarity, when viewed from Porthmadog, to the iconic alpine mountain of the same name. However, it was when I was hiking on Elidir Fawr that Cnicht caught my attention. When viewed from the north, the ridge like nature of Cnicht is clearly visible. A traverse of the ridge looked like a fun walk and after identifying its exact location on my map, I decided that Cnicht should be on my hiking list for Snowdonia.

Just after Christmas the weather was dry but there was quite a lot of low clouds. Tackling some of the higher peaks in Snowdonia seemed pointless since their summits were shrouded in cloud. At 689m, the lower summit of Cnicht could clearly be seen as I approached Nantgwynant along the A498.

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Last September, whilst on holiday in Ireland I was able to get my hiking boots out and do a bit of hill walking. Knowing that I would have one day available near Sligo, I did an internet search to see what was around. There was no doubt that I’d have to have a crack at Benbulben (Benbulbin). Steeped in local legend, this 526m limestone hill looks hugely impressive due to the cliffs that surround most of the summit. Situated near to the coast, I imagined that there would be excellent views in all directions.

Benbulben has steep sides topped with cliffs

The impressive steep sided Benbulben near Sligo

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Cheap Tents logo on a sheep

Sheep Advertising Baarmy!

A new advertising campaign has sparked controversy in the walking community. In an un-ewe-sual bid to promote online outdoor gear shop CheapTents, sheep have been painted with the company’s logo. After teaming up with farmers located in popular walking areas, including the Lake District, the sheep can be seen now be seen on some of the UK’s most popular hiking routes.

The CheapTents logo, featuring a schematic picture of a tent with the letters “CT” on an insipid yellow background, has been painted on 1000 sheep and will remain there until the sheep are sheared next spring.

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Well, we did it! We got round the Yorkshire 3 Peaks’ course despite Martyn falling into a bog, losing the path, and myself and Daniel detouring to “save” a sheep. But the main thing is that we have raised almost £300 for St. Rocco’s Hospice, and we had a great day in the process and no blisters!

4am – The Middle of the Night

Getting up at 4am is my idea of hell, so it was a surprise to me when my alarm went off that I actually shot out of bed as if it was on fire. Despite this I still managed to pick Daniel up 15 mins late. I needn’t have worried as he had expected me to be late so was just ready as I arrived.

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This was an enjoyable 11 mile walk in Mid Wales. The main thing that stood out being the differing types of scenery which included farmland, pine forests and moorland. With about 400 m of height gain there’s not too much uphill!

Starting from the car park in the village of Llangurig, there was gentle introduction to this walk along a short section a flat road. Crossing over the River Wye, the single track road lead us towards Clochfaen. Once off the road, the footpath climbed up Pant-gwyn Hill. Looking back, the village of Llangurig with its church can be clearly seen. Llangurig is said to be the highest village in Wales.

The village of Llangurig in Mid Wales

Llangurig, the highest village in Wales and the start of our hike.

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At the weekend we were blessed with some sunny weather, so with the mountains beckoning I headed over to Snowdonia for a hike up to Carnedd Llewelyn. There had been quite a bit of snow previously and I was hoping that there would still be some left. From the valley I could see small patches of snow but most of it had thawed. Ever hopeful I left my crampons in my rucksack just in case.

Pen yr Ole Wen mountain, Snowdonia

The route up Pen yr Ole Wen is climbs steeply from the outset

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Penguins on South Snadwich Islands

What was your favourite post on the CheapTents Outdoor Gear blog this year? Photocredit: Phil Wickens

A Great Year for the CheapTents Outdoor Gear Blog!

As the year draws to a close we like to look back over our blog posts and share our favourites. As ever, we’ve posted some amazing interviews, great gear reviews, insightful outdoor news and thrown in a little bit of fun too!

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Walk or run for the Hunger Project bannerThis time last year we announced that The Hunger Project was seeking walkers and runners to raise funds through participating in the London2Brighton Challenge. In the event, which took place in May 2012, 28 walkers and runners raised an incredible £20,000 to help with The Hunger Project’s mission of providing a sustainable end to world hunger.

This year The Hunger Project are once again calling for people to join them. If you would like to take part please see our updated blog post with details about the London2Brighton challenge 2013 and information about The Hunger Project.

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