zondag 30 december 2012

Nichts neues im Westen (no news from the West)

I've send in my route 44 days ago and haven't received a vetter's comment yet. I've contacted the Dog at HQ in Settle by email after the advised 21 days of silence but he said to be patient.
Of course I'm willing to be patient but after checking my mailbox multiple times every day for weeks on end I'm turning into a mental patient myself.
The only therapy I'm doing is to research anything there is to find about my route on the web.
I'm using Geograph and Google to find pictures and tripaccounts. Isn't that taking away the adventure once you're there, I here you say ? Perhaps, but it's also fun to do the research beforehand. And believe me if I say circumstances will be different in real life. People don't tend to make pictures in really bad weather and in zero visibility it's good to now a bit about the terrain that lays in front of you.
Pictures say a thousand words but taken from a different angle a seemingly steep ascent or grade I scramble can turn out to be an easy stroll  into the sky. And vice versa of course.
I also found a warning about midges near Lochan Coire an Lochain (Chno Dearg), better make camp on the ridge if there's no wind. I hate the little monsters but they like me very much.

I've booked a bed at the Mallaig Backpackers and Glen Nevis Youth Hostel but haven't received a reaction from the Dalwhinnie Bunkhouse so far. Traintickets Montrose-Mallaig, Mallaig ferry and leaving the car at the Montrose campsite (if possible) still have to be arranged.
And receiving the devastating comments from my vetter of course.

zaterdag 8 december 2012

Winter has arrived.

Yesterday and the day before saw the very first snowfall this season. Only ten days ago the last leaves were blown from the trees. Yesterday the ground was still sodden from previous rainfall but today molten snow was frozen solid on firm surfaces making walking difficult from time to time.

The temperatures are around zero and a little rise is expected for the next days, followed by a colder period. I was cosy in my Paramo Alta jacket and the dogs, Atilla and Djengis, enjoyed the snow also. 

Part two of the treefelling that started the previous winterperiod has restarted a few weeks ago and some of my best friends have been chopped down. Beautifull Douglas Fir with 4ft wide trunks.
I don't like it.

woensdag 21 november 2012

TGO Challenge 2013 : my route

For my first Challenge, in 2007, I had planned a high level route with lots of Munros. On day 1 I took an almost leathal fall while approaching The Saddle and ended up with a total of just 2 Munros, all bagged on day 1.
For 2013 I've again planned a high level route containing 45 Munros this time. Don't say it, I know I'm mad.  I'm aware of all difficulties that one can encounter during the Challenge : injurie, bad weather (like in 2011 and 2012), snow covering the summits, even meeting old (and new) Challenge friends can change ones plans.
Not to mention the vetter's comments ! I'm sure there'll be plenty of that.
"Rising the 45"
Day 1 : Inverie to River Carnach (camp)
Day 2 : River Carnach to Lochan Dubh-Glen Pean (camp)
Day 3 : Lochan Dubh to Glen Suileag (camp)
Day 4 : Glen Suileag to Glen Nevis (Youth Hostel)
Day 5 Glen Nevis - Mamores - near Sgurr Eilde Mor (camp)
Day 6 : near S.E.M. to near Chno Dearg (camp)
Day 7 : near Chno Dearg to near Coire Pitridh (camp)
Day 8 : near Coire Piridh to Dalwhinnie (bunkhouse)
Day 9 : Dalwhinnie to near Beinn Bhreac (camp)
Day 10 : near Beinn Bhreac to Loch nan Eun (camp)
Day 11 : Loch nan Eun to near Tolmount (camp) 
Day 12 : Tolmount - Lochnagar - Glen Mark (camp)
Day 13 : Glen Mark to Glen Esk (camp)
Day 14 : Glen Esk to St.Cyrus (campsite) 
Are you still there ? Did someone faint ? No worries, mate ! The weather will be superb so I won't be needing all those Foul Weather Alternatives I made in advance.
I'll have one spare day that I'll probably need. Not for resting but for being behind schedule so I've booked my Challenge dinner for the friday. I'll will try to finish on Thursday though.
I'll be the bearded, fit looking, tanned guy at the bar. 

zaterdag 17 november 2012

TGO Challenge 2013 : before you know it...

This week I received good news from the honourable Mr.Manning from Settle. I was lucky in the draw for the TGO Challenge crossing of Scotland in May 2013. I also got permission from SWHTBO, she's lovely.
Yesterday I submitted my route : "Rising the 45", starting in Mallaig and finishing in St.Cyrus.

Today I started my Challenge training. Apart from Chris Highcock's 'Hillfit' and the indoor hometrainer I've got to get the legs used to walking distances again and the back to carrying heavy rucksacks.
With the dogs I covered 12,5km today in just over 2 hours with a staggering 25m of ascent. Yep, it's hilly over here.

I'll keep you informed about my progress and the vetter's comments on my route.

woensdag 24 oktober 2012

maandag 22 oktober 2012

Warmest 22nd ever recorded

Today was the warmest 22nd of October ever recorded in The Netherlands. With a staggering 22 degr.C. it was one of the warmest places in Europe today. T-shirts all day.
However, it will all change in 5 days time when the max temperature will be 8 C..
I'm afraid the colours of autumn will leave us soon. 
The Gooilust estate - beeches.

vrijdag 12 oktober 2012

TGO Challenge 2007 day 11 Clova - Tarfside

Another episode of my TGO Challenge crossing of Scotland from westcoast to eastcoast in 2007.
Like the previous episodes it's a video from the Anquet 3D flythrough.

Just one and a half day to go now.
Received an email from Fotopic, the previous host of my pictures, that they're not back in business but it's possible to download the pictures I've uploaded in the past. I'll just do that.

zondag 30 september 2012

TGO Challenge 2007 day 10 : Braemar - Clova

Another stage of my TGO Challenge crossing from 2007. A video taken from Anquet 3D flythrough.
The application form for the 2013 crossing has been sent so fingers crossed for the draw in November. The route is ready : grade VS (Very Severe).

vrijdag 31 augustus 2012

A beautifull summer. Really !

While it's raining cats and dogs, goldfish, rabbits, horses and even some elephants outside some will say it's been a bad summer. Sun lovers mostly. I don't agree. It has been wet while working and that doesn't count for me. Selfish, I know. While not working it has rained also but there's a major advantage : a lot of people stay inside so I've got the forest (almost) all for myself. Selfish again, I know. Last sunday me and the family went for a walk on the Veluwe. During the 65km drive it rained. Within 10 minutes from getting out of the car it stopped raining and the sun started shining. Lucky me.
The Zandenbos south of Nunspeet has a big advantage : dogs are allowed to walk freely. 
Or do some mudwrestling like our Tasmanian Muddevil.

He takes home several kilo's of sand but at least he's having fun. I was able to resist the mud - the wife wouldn't appreciate me joining the dog - but had fun nevertheless.
After an hour and a half we arrived at a little lochan. The sky was getting dark and we were just in time to put on our raincoats. The downpour lasted for five whole minutes during which five people huddled together underneath one umbrella. That's how I was able to take this picture without ruining the camera.
Tomorrow it's the first day of the meteorological autumn. Am I being selfish when wishing for changeable weather ? I don't see myself as 'ard but at least it keeps away the softies.

zaterdag 18 augustus 2012

It has been a long time...

 ...since I've been on a bike for hours. The Dutch are famous for wooden shoes, windmills (the oldfashioned ones) and riding bicycles but I haven't cycled a significant distance for at least 35 years.
A week ago I opted the possibility of biking around the IJselmeer with my two sons. A distance of 400km in 4 days. Untrained. Common sense took over and I decided to restrict the distance and time to 66km and 1 day. From home we cycled a few km north to Muiden, a town at the mouth of the river De Vecht. Long ago the river De Vecht was a major river between the river Rhine and the former Zuidersea.
The castle Muiderslot has been of military and economical importance for centuries. Muiden itself has a canal and forts around it for defense and is part of the Hollandse Waterlinie, a line of forts combined with land that could be inundated to protect the west of Holland during times of war.
Zuidersluis - Muiden
We had started at 9.30 and the air was already warming up considerably. It was going to be a hot day with temperatures rising to near 30 C.. Luckily the headwind was low to moderate in force. 
Oldfashioned windmills along the Vecht.

We pedaled along the Vecht in a leisurely way, occasionally stopping to take a photograph or a little break. Yachts were going up and downstream. At noon we had a lunchstop in Loenen aan de Vecht and gave our buttocks some rest.
Loenen aan de Vecht
The southern half of the Vecht is famous for its many 'castles' and big mansions build by rich merchants in the 17th, 18th and 19th century. Just south of Breukelen is castle Nijenrode, going back to the 13th century. After having been destroyed during several wars it was rebuild in the 18th century and some additions were made later on. It now serves as a private business university.
Castle Nijenrode
Dark clouds covered the sky by now and I expected rain or even thunder as is always the case being furthest away from home. It didn't rain however and soon we were back cycling in scorching hot sunshine again. We left the river Vecht to enter the peatmoors of the province of Utrecht.
In the past lakes appeared where peat had been cut and those lakes our now mainly used for yachting, kite- and windsurfing and swimming. The small stretch of land in between these lakes is completely occupied by marinas and (holiday)houses. I found it quite depressing. The final part of our journey was mainly through our neck of the woods and gave us some shelter from the burning sunshine.

We'd covered 66km in 4hrs and 15mins with an additional 1hr15min for breaks. There were hardly any complaints from the boys although we used just ordinairy bikes so I think we'll be able to cycle around the IJsselmeer, covering 400km in 4 days, in the future. 

vrijdag 20 juli 2012

TGO Challenge 2007 day 9 : Derry Lodge - Braemar

I know, I know. 2007 is 5 years ago. I'd to rewrite my account after the previous host stopped hosting and republished that account earlier this year. You can read it at theooutdoors.
It thought it would be nice to create a 3D-fly-through using the Anquet OS maps. Problem is I'm a very busy man and it's a timeconsuming project so you'll have to be patient to be able to read the last day. I'll get there in the end.

donderdag 12 april 2012

Over the Hill Club Easter Meet 2012

Once again Suus and Bert had arranged the annual Dutch Challenge Reunion or Over the Hill Club Meet. A splendid get-together for British, Belgian and Dutch walkers to revive old memories, talk about the upcoming TGO challenge and to enjoy the Dutch countryside. This time the meet was held near Bennekom on the Veluwe.

I arrived friday afternoon in good spirit. Some had arrived earlier and more were arriving during the afternoon and in the evening. Our base was a Nivon hostel east from Bennekom.
Many hands helped to prepare an italian evening meal. I tried to grate a Pecorini cheese, the hardest cheese I've ever tried to grate. With help of Nicolas from Belgium I finally succeeded.
Buying the ingredients and cooking for 23 people isn't easy but it was a great succes.
The next day day Rolf had organised a walk from the hostel to the river Nederrijn following a former meltwater valley dating back to the ice-age. Two little streams flowing through this valley still contribute to the river Nederrijn. At one point most walkers crossed one of the burns by going over tree trunks and branches laid down in the stream. I waded straight through. It was only ankle deep ! During the Challenge they're prepaired to wade through much wider rivers thigh deep.
Rolf is an expert on the area we walked through - we even walked passed the house where he was born - and explained the legislative history to us. During the ice-age the originally north flowing rivers Rhine and Maas were forced by the icesheet to flow to the west. The icesheet formed moraines and after the ice retreated the wind deposited more sand on top thus creating a height difference of over 40m over a very small distance. Our British guests were impressed.
At one point the Romans created a path through the hillside to reach a rivercrossing. Nowadays there's a ferry at this point. We continued our walk through the river forelands on the north side of the river Nederrijn. At Wageningen most walkers did take the bus back to Bennekom. Only Nicolas, Paul and I walked back through the forest, a total distance of approximately 20km, arriving at the same time as the others. Much to their surprise. Our eveningmeal was an extensive Indonesian dish compiled by Rolf. Delicious.
On Easter Sunday we made a bicycletour. Some of our British friends aren't very experienced in cycling (on the wrong side of the road) but even Big John H. managed and I have to admit it has been a long time ago I did cover such a distance. The first part was through the same forests we walked yesterday only now we were on paved bicyclepaths and we were much faster. The ones in front were actually so fast they had to wait at regular interfalls for the ones behind. At one moment we waited for the last ones who had already passed. Doh ! This time we used the ferry to cross the river Nederrijn and followed the riverdyke west to Opheusden. Just before the next ferry we had a little stopover at 't Veerhuis for a drink and pie. Back on the north shore of the Nederrijn we visited nature reserve De Blaauwe Kamer, the site of a former brickfactory which was operative until 1975. The site was given back to nature.
Several times every year the area is flooded when waterlevel in the river is high thus creating an habitat for water loving animals and plants. You can watch a videocompilation on youtube here.
After De Blaauwe Kamer we continued are journey towards the southeastern point of The Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the western moraine. This point is called the Grebbeberg and was a vital point for the defence of Holland at the start of WWII. A little stream, initially flowing towards the river Nederrijn, had in the past been converted to a canal to be able to inundate the Gelderse valley between The Utrechtse Heuvelrug and The Veluwe. We followed this canal for a while before going east and north to reach The Veluwe again. We visited the Ginkelse Heath, the dropping and landing area for the Allied Forces during operation Market Garden in 1944. Today it was busy - within 100 yards of the parking - with Easter Sunday visitors.
After a short rest we biked to Natuurcentrum Veluwe. Here we had soup with bread and watched a video about wildlife on the Veluwe.

Shortly before sunset we walked to a hut for watching Red Deer. We saw a herd of hinds, soon disappearing between the trees, a red fox and two wild boars. In the dark we went back to the hostel arriving at 10 pm, having done a roundtrip of approximately 40km.

The last two days had been partly cloudy and dry but today the weatherforecast said showers and thubderstorms were expected. The programme was a mixed one. One group choose to go with Rolf to Arnhem to see the WWII infocentre, the John Frost Bridge etc. and a group choose to go to the Nationale Park De Hoge Veluwe with the Kroller-Muller Museum, Sculpture Garden and art deco hunting lodge St.Hubertus by architect Berlage. During the morning the rain was moderate but we were cosy in the museum. In the afternoon it was just light rain so we visited the sculpture garden.
I was walking with JD, Mairi and Suus but lost contact with them. They went with others to see the hunting lodge and I did a Dutch ridgewalk to another part of the sculpture garden.
At 4pm we called it a day and drove back to the hostel. The rain got heavier.

Once again a well organised meet with friends old and new. Many thanks to Suus and Bert for organising and to Rolf for the guided tours. Join us next year !

zondag 1 april 2012


I used to have a photogallery at Fotopic.net but they stopped their activities a while ago. I decided to create a website with pictures and stories of my wanderings in the UK and Holland.
Time is a precious thing and my website is slowly being filled with pictures and tripreports.
Sofar the TGO Challenge 2007, 4 consecutive years of West Highland Way, 2 visits to Skye, An Teallach, South Harris and a visit to the Lakedistrict have been completed. I'm working at a second visit to the Lakedistrict at the moment.

More is coming up - I'm not even halfway methinks - but you've got to be patient.

Here's the link : theooutdoors.nl , I do hope you'll like the stories and pictures.

zaterdag 4 februari 2012

Coldest night since 1956

Last week we had a little dusting of snow locally - 1cm - before a high pressure area settled in Europe. After a very late start of winter we've had frost now for almost a week and yesterday what started as another dusting of snow in the morning turned into 20cm/8 inch in Lelystad, 50km from where I live. This night temperature in Lelystad was as low as minus 22,8 C. (at sealevel!), the coldest night in The Netherlands since 1956.
The demand for electricity will be high but I don't think there will be any produced by wind.

vrijdag 3 februari 2012

woensdag 1 februari 2012

Mass grave

Treefelling has started last week. It feels like I'm somewhere else. I don't know this place.
Is this an open space in a forest, a breach or a crime scene ?
It feels like part of my body has been amputated.

I know this trees have been planted in the past for the production of wood for commercial reasons but that idea has been abandoned a long time ago in this forest. Perhaps I'll be able to appreciate it ten years from now.

And not a word in the local papers. No questions asked. It's legal I suppose but does it make sense ? Not to me it does. It's a mass grave and a lot of my friends have died.  

woensdag 18 januari 2012


The treefelling in The Spaanderswoud has started. Perhaps you remember my previous post about snipers. The creation of a corridor between two fields of heather had temporarily been stopped because of the presence of badgers in that part of the wood. Badgers are protected by law in the Netherlands, you're not allowed to disturb them or their habitat.
The Gooisch Natuur Reservaat (GNR) therefor decided to start on the northern side of the corridor.

The wood consists of mixed conifer and broadleaf trees. Part of it has been planted as production wood with larch and sitka spruce but cutting them for commercial reasons hasn't been done for many years. There's no profit in treefelling anymore.
Although their value for nature is nominal we still think it's a shame to cut down trees, whatever their origin.

Old pinetrees have been felled also. In Scotland it would be a major crime to cut down the old Scots Pine.

Perhaps the odd slowwurm, lizard and the greendotted yellowblue wingbeetle will be pleased with a sunny corridor to a little patch of heather - do these animals migrate a couple of kilometres ? - but do  the badgers, foxes and smalldeer feel the same ?
Next year the badgers will have moved because of the noise and the GNR will say there aren't any badgers living in the southern part of the future corridor so there's no reason not to cut down the rest of the trees anymore. The steward decides and that's final.

vrijdag 6 januari 2012

Former estate 'De Schaffelaar'

11 year old Cameron participates in a chess tournament in Barneveld today and I had a look beforehand for possibilities to walk the dog nearby. At the edge of Barneveld, in the province of Gelderland, lies former estate 'De Schaffelaar' (210 acres). The original castle was destroyed by the Spaniards in 1585 and a new house was erected. In 1767 the garden was created by a student of Andre le Notre, who designed the palace gardens of Versaille, and the house was rebuild and 33 year later destroyed by fire. In 1852 a new house was build in neo-Tudor style. Currently the house is now owned by the council of Barneveld and the gardens are in care of the 'Geldersch Landschap' society.  

Today was cold but calm and dry at last after several days of storms and rain. It's only 5 weeks ago that waterlevels in The Netherlands were so low that ships couldn't navigate properly on smaller rivers and even Rhine and Maas were difficult to navigate. However, waterlevels are so high at the moment that they had to open dykes in the northeast of The Netherlands to store excess water in polders. Excess water is normally pumped to sea but the lowwater level is too high to do so because of the northwesterly storm. People had to be evacuated.

dinsdag 3 januari 2012

Weatherstatistics december

December 2011: warm, ver wet, sunshine normal.

The average temperature was 6,5 dgr.C. (normally 3,7), lowest temperature recorded was -1,9
and the highest 13,4.

Grafiek temperatuurverloop De Bilt

The average rainfall was 150mm (normally 80mm)

Neerslag De Bilt

Hours of sunshine : 52 (normally 49)
Zonneschijnduur De Bilt

On November 30th I mentioned the driest november ever recorded in The Netherlands and in the comments Alan Sloman offered to share the British torrential rain with us.
The raingods listened and did send us rain, a lot of it. Alan, can you please ask the gods to send us less rain ? The temperature is fine (good for the energybill) but the lowcountries have turned into the flowcountries and enough is enough.