Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pure Adventure Weekend

Plans are coming together for the Spirit of Adventure Foundation's Pure Adventure weekend. This will be held in and around Brantwood in Coniston, Cumbria, UK the weekend 9th -10th March 2013. From Brantwood on the shores of lake Coniston there are fine views towards the Lakeland Fells

The view from Brantwood House

Brantwood is the former home of John Ruskin. Ruskin (1819 - 1900) was a Victorian writer, thinker, artist, art critic, socialist and philanthropist.

Ruskin as a young man

The venue is well chosen because Ruskin and The Spirit of Adventure Foundation share common ground in terms of their beliefs about wilderness and wild places.

'Every increased possession loads us with new weariness'

Booking essential - Places are limited and will be on a first come first serve basis

Click here for Booking Form

Saturday 9th March - £20 pp incl. simple evening meal

Sunday 10th March - £20 adults. £10 child (16yr and under). Family (Up to 2 Adult & 3 Child) = £50

Saturday 9th March:
10.30am            Introduction - Connecting with Nature - Outdoor practical
                          (activity optional)
1.30pm             Registration. Tea and coffee
2.00pm             Introduction to Brantwood - Howard Hull Director of Brantwood Trust
2.10pm            The Spirit of Adventure Foundation & Concept of Pure Adventure - Colin Mortlock
2.40pm            Pure Adventure - taking theory into practice - Richard Little / Andy Ligema
3.10pm            Tea and coffee break
3.25pm            Examples of Pure Adventure
3.35pm            Workshops -
                        e.g.      Technology in wild Nature - friend or menace?
                                    The Search for Truth -‘Truth is a Pathless Land’ (Krishnamurti)
                                    Family Expeditions - ideas and inspiration
                                    Environmental Awareness
                                    The Journey Inwards
                                    Virtues, Vices and Wisdoms
4.20pm            Report back from workshops
5.00pm            Tea and coffee break
5.15pm            Solo Experiences and self reliant journeys for young people - Colin Mortlock
6.00pm            AGM - The Spirit of Adventure Foundation
6.30pm            Dinner
8pm                 Steve Scott - Kendal Mountain Festival Director's selection of best films

10am               Meet
10.30               Pure Adventure Courses - practical experience in the outdoors
                        in partnership with Impact International and Real Adventure
4pm                 Final Remarks ‘Uniting the Fragments.’      
4.30pm            End

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cruel Crossing

In November 2011 BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme (in 2 parts) called The Freedom Trail. In it we follow Edward Stourton as he makes the crossing from France into Spain following the route of an old WW II escape route called Le Chemin de la Liberté or Freedom Trail.

The programme, narrated by Edward Stourton, is an account of his 4 day journey as he walks the most dangerous WWII escape route over the Pyrenees. As well as a travelogue of his own crossing, Stourton uses this a jumping off point and broadens the picture to include escape routes over the whole of the Pyrenees. There are the remarkable stories of those who escaped to freedom but also of those who risked their lives to help those attempting to escape Nazi occupied France.

Edward Stourton has now turned the radio programme into a book which will appear in April 2013. It is called Cruel Crossing: Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees.

The book is based on his own experiences of crossing the Pyrenees and first hand accounts from those who made the journey during  WW II. As well as interviews with survivors from the time, Stourton also had access to diaries and journals. Relatives were also a precious source of information.

It is obvious from the book that tremendous courage and determination was shown by those attempting to escape and all those in the support network that helped so many to succeed. Exhaustion, malnutrition and sickness had to be contended with and there was the constant fear of capture, torture and death. Many of those in the Allied forces who successfully crossed into Spain, later returned to fight or to gather intelligence and work with the French. 

We also learn that  it was not only forces personel who wanted to escape. A large number of Jews and communists made the crossing to escape persecution and the Death Camps. Young French also crossed to escape the STO (Service du travail obligatoire) or Compulsory Work Service/Forced Labour.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bear Naming


The 3 bear cubs born in the Pyrenees in 2011 have just been named. Over 20 000 suggestions were made to the organisers of the naming operation Pay de l'Ours - Adet. Pay de l'Ours - Adet is an orgaisation campaigning for a viable brown bear population in the Pyrenees.

The names chosen were Callisto et Soulane for the 2 females and Pépite for the 3rd bear cub whose sex is not yet known.

Callisto :
A Nymphe in Greek mythology, Callisto on h
er death was transformed into the constellation The Big Bear by Zeus.

Soulane :
The name in the Pyrenees given to the sunny side of a valley

Pépite :
Nugget as in nugget of gold.
Pyrénées : Les oursons de 2011 ont un nom et un parrain


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Does mountain accommodation get any better than this?

Looking for holiday accommodation in the Eastern Pyrenees? Chalet Ana in Les Angles would appear to have all that you could possibly want.

Chalet Ana is run by Nathalie and Laurent a friendly, happy French/German couple. They named  it after their daughter. A lot of love and care has gone into creating the place that feels more like a stylish home than a hotel.  In the winter you can spend the day on the Les Angles ski slopes or snowshoe into the backcountry. In the summer, the beautiful mountains that surround the chalet are waiting to be explored. At the end of the day whether in summer or winter, there is always the sauna or roof top jacuzzi to help you unwind and relax. 
Summer Walking

Winter Snowshoeing

Located in a natural setting with views over the old village of Les Angles towards Pic Madres, natural materials like wood and slate are in abundance. There are 8 prestige apartments, all finished to a very high standard and as well as the roof top spa and sauna there is a garden that is available for guests. 

Chalet Ana is beautiful, luxurious and peaceful but also respectful of the environment. It is the first accommodation in the Pyrenees to gain the prestigious European Ecolabel.

Not only have natural materials been used in its construction, but the building has been designed and is managed so that energy used is  from renewable sources and  water consumption and waste production are minimised. The owners commitment to reducing the environmental footprint  of Chalet Ana is such that hair dryers are not supplied in rooms but can be requested.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How To Find The Brightest Star in the Northern Night Sky.

In the night sky, there are about 2000 to 2500 stars that can be seen with the eye alone. The exact number visible will depend on a number of conditions including the quality of your eyesight, whether you have allowed sufficient time for your eyes to adjust to the dark, the amount of light from the moon and other 'light pollution' from things like streetlights and the quality of the air.

The mountain environment provides an ideal place to view the night sky because there is much less 'light pollution' and the air is clearer. Once you are able to see stars, you can begin to find the constellations they have been arranged into like Orion.

It is a great time for star gazing at the moment with Orion 'The Hunter' visible to the south. The two brightest stars of Orion are Betelgeuse (top left shoulder) and Rigel (bottom left leg).  3 stars make a belt around Orion's middle with another line of stars (and the Orion Nebula) descending from the belt, forming a sword.

The 3 stars that make up Orion's Belt can be used to find Sirius which is the brightest star in the Northern night sky. If you extend the line through the 3 belt stars downwards this will help you find Sirius in the constellation Canis Major (meaning Big Dog) which is why Sirius is sometimes called 'The Dog Star'. Once you have located Betelgeuse and Sirius it is not too difficult to find Procyon.

Sirius, Betelgeuse and Procyon (in the constellation Canis Minor - Little Dog) are 3 of the brightest stars in the Northern night sky and together they form a triangle called The Winter Triangle.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year

Do you have any intentions for 2013?  W. H. Murray, the Scottish mountaineer and writer, once said  'Find beauty; be still.' This is a wonderful piece of advice and intention to hold at the start of a new year .

From my walking in the mountains I know that there is beauty to be found there. There is obvious beauty in the overview - the grand panorama from a summit or a distant view of a chain of mountains. Less obvious is the beauty to be found in the detail -  a mountain flower, an animal print in the snow.

Beauty in the detail....

As Colin Mortlock, the adventurer, outdoor education pioneer and writer says in 'The Spirit of Adventure', beauty can be found all around us and within us. We only have to look closer......

'Beauty in one's surroundings - from micro to macro,
Beauty in terms of human contact and relationships,
Beauty in terms of one's thoughts and actions.'

Good luck in your search for beauty during 2013.