Peak District 8 May 2014

I’ve always quite liked the idea of the great outdoors and seeing a bit of what the country has to offer, but never really felt like I knew what I was doing. I didn’t do CCF or Duke of Edinburgh at school and, as far as I remember, my childhood Scout group was more about lighting fires and playing British bulldog than learning much in the way of scouting skills. Contrast with various university mates, who apparently think nothing of going off doing the OMM, or the Welsh 3,000s, or whatever.

So I thought that it would be nice at least to learn the basics of how to navigate, so that if I go out walking with the family when the kids get a bit older we don’t all get lost. Accordingly, I did a weekend course last Summer in the Peak District with the Silva Navigation School in Tideswell and went back last November for the second level.

However, I still wasn’t as confident as I wanted to be about planning a good route and handling finding the way when all the responsibility was on my shoulders. What I really needed was a bit of practice. So I took a couple of days off work and went back to the Peak District for a wander about. As is evident by the fact that I’m writing this, I made it back. So, to that extent at least, the navigation was a success. But it was not entirely without event.

I’d booked a couple of nights in Rockingham Lodge in Tideswell, a comfortable and friendly B&B that I’d recommend if anyone’s in the area. I drove up on the Wednesday evening and off I went on Thursday morning to Edale to walk my route.

I started out from the main car park in Edale in cloudy, drizzly weather. A fiver into the machine for a day’s parking, so remember your change. I went along the road a little ways in order to get to the path to climb up to Hollins Cross on the Great Ridge separating the Edale and Castleton Vales. Just as I turned onto the footpath, I caught up with a school party, who kindly let me past so I could enjoy the tranquility of some time to myself rather than following them around all day.

Upon attaining the ridge, I turned right, heading towards Mam Tor.

Along the Great Ridge from Hollins Cross towards Mam Tor, Peak District

View along Rushup Edge from Mam Tor, Peak District

After passing the Mam Tor summit and trig point, I headed down across the road and up again on the other side along Rushup Edge over Lord’s Seat and across the moor onto Brown Knoll so that I could get around the bottom of the Edale valley onto Kinder Scout. This section across to Brown Knoll felt pretty remote and featureless and was the first potential navigational challenge of the route, particularly since I hadn’t seen a soul since a couple of Canadians going the other way had said hello at the Mam Tor summit. The compass therefore came out to check that what appeared to be the track across the peat followed the correct bearing and the stopwatch went on to time the 2.4km before I should be expecting to reach the trig point at Brown Knoll. A few minutes short of the estimated time and there it was, after which it was time to descend to the top of the Jacob’s Ladder path onto Kinder Scout and on up to Kinder Low.

Brown Knoll trig point, Peak District

I stopped just beneath Edale Rocks for my second cup of coffee of the walk and a sandwich, also putting my waterproofs on against the rain, which had by now increased from sporadic drizzle to something more significant. A couple of guys passed me coming down a paved path from Edale Rocks – the first people I had seen since Mam Tor.

View down into Edale valley from beneath Edale Rocks, Kinder Scout, Peak District

The plan now was to go up to Kinder Low and walk out on a bearing from the trig point to find the 636m summit on the plateau marked on the OS map. I duly found the trig point, sticking up out of an apparently trackless moonscape (this will become relevant later in the story), off to the right of where I had come up from Edale Rocks.

Approaching Kinder Low trig point, Kinder Scout, Peak District

I therefore set out from the trig point on a bearing of 54° and paced and timed to estimate the 750m I had measured on the map to the spot height, checking as I went with a back bearing on the Kinder Low trig point, which remained in view. As I approached the expected position, I spotted a small cairn, approximately on the right bearing but possibly a bit short in terms of distance. I walked to it for a photo.

Small cairn with post on summit plateau, Kinder Scout, Peak District

I then experienced how quickly the cloud can come down in this area. The Kinder Low trig point was now rapidly becoming obscured. However, I got back there without difficulty by walking the reverse bearing.

View towards Kinder Low trig point from summit plateau, cloud coming down, Kinder Scout, Peak District

But it was now time for the big mistake of the day. I thought I would walk along the Pennine Way along the edge of the plateau to take a look at the Kinder Downfall before starting to head for home. The cloud was now quite thick and the visibility only a few metres. Nevertheless, I set off in what I thought was the correct northerly direction, following from cairn to cairn until I soon found a paved path which I assumed would be the Pennine Way. What I should have done, of course, was get the compass out again. But blithely heading along the apparently obvious path without doing so, the first alarm bell rang. Another paved path off to the left, heading slightly down and back on itself. Hmmm, that wasn’t on the map as coming off the Pennine Way. Still, I continued along the path for another indication, confident that I could always follow the paving back if it was wrong.

After some distance, I passed a mound with a fence around it (I later worked out that this must have been Kinder Low Barrow). I had ended up going completely the wrong way in the cloud, but hadn’t fully figured it out yet. The path dropped down a little out of the cloud and two more big alarm bells. The land was falling away on my left as expected, but on my right, instead of a plateau, the land was also falling away. I appeared to be on a relatively narrow spur, rather than the edge of a plateau. Secondly, to the right and in front I could see out of the cloud down to a reservoir. Which, of course, according to the map should have been on my lefthand side if I had been where I was supposed to be. Time to retrace steps…

This was the only point in the day where things started to get a little tricky. Retracing my steps back to the Kinder Low trig point involved going back into cloud which by now had become even thicker on the top, with visibility minimal. Despite this, I successfully reattained the trig point by following the paved path and the line of cairns that had originally led me astray, but having done so, I was completely enveloped in cloud and soon not a single feature of any kind, or a path in any direction, was visible. After briefly entertaining a frisson of panic that I would be lost up there forever (it is noticeable that I have started getting serious and stopped taking pictures by this point!), I took a bearing off the map to Edale Rocks and walked blindly out with my compass (and a prayer), counting my paces. Sure enough, very soon, the rocks appeared into view out of the cloud and the expected Pennine Way paved path down towards the top of Jacob’s Ladder was there. Time for a sigh of relief and to get the camera out again…

Thick cloud on Kinder Scout just below Edale Rocks, Peak District

Following that path past the left turn for the southern edge path and taking the next left for the Pennine Way, I soon came out of the cloud again. The cairn at the top of Jacob’s Ladder was shortly within sight.

Cairn at the top of Jacob's Ladder, Kinder Scout, Peak District

Top of Jacob's Ladder, Kinder Scout, Peak District

After that, it was an easy stroll along the Pennine Way back to Edale, pausing briefly at the bridge over the River Noe to remove waterproofs.

Pennine Way path towards Edale, Peak District

Upon arriving in Edale, there was time for a well-earned pint of Bradfield Farmers Blonde in the Nag’s Head before heading back to the B&B after an enjoyable, occasionally challenging, but ultimately successful day’s navigation practice around the bottom of the Edale Valley, with a few lessons learnt and a bit of confidence gained.

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Donington Park, 8 July 2013

So, further to the post below, I sold the R1, bought a Triumph Daytona 675 and, having run it in, took it for a spin around the track at Donington earlier this month. Loving it so far. My sort of bike. Enjoyed the R1, though, don’t get me wrong. A few pictures, from Pete Wileman, because it’s a new bike:

Donington Park 1

Donington Park 2

Donington Park 3

Donington Park 4

Donington Park 5

Donington Park 6

Donington Park 7

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Snetterton 300, 3 June 2013

Had my first trackday of the year at Snetterton with No Limits on Monday. Since it was a sunny day, and since I had a new helmet, I bought the obligatory picture from Pete Wileman:

Snetterton 3 June 2013

In other bike–related news, I went over to the Triumph dealer in Hemel on Saturday to have a go on a Scrambler. Nice looking bike, but what was really fun was the Daytona 675 that they also sent me out to try. And which I now want.

Anyone want to buy a nice 2006 R1?!

  • 9,000 miles;
  • Akrapovic carbon slip–on cans;
  • R&G frame, fork and engine protectors;
  • rear paddock stand bobbins;
  • Meta alarm and immobiliser;
  • Datatag;
  • tinted double–bubble screen;
  • gear indicator;
  • just MOT’d and taxed for a year;
  • new front brake pads.

£4,500 ono. Hit me up.

SOLD, to the gentleman from the Netherlands.

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Snetterton pictures

Some pictures from Sunday from

Motorcycle at Snetterton

Motorcycle at Snetterton

Motorcycle at Snetterton

Motorcycle at Snetterton

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Went back to Snetterton for another track day today. Well, track morning, actually, because things got rained off after lunch. Got soaked on the way home. Tried out a new I-phone App that I bought, which uses the GPS and other functions to act as a poor-man’s data-logger and lap-timer. Seemed to work fine with the phone tucked away under the seat. Pretty cool! For the record, the lap-times it recorded were as follows:

Session 1

Didn’t time

Session 2

  • 2:38.79
  • 2:27.67
  • 2:31.21
  • 2:33.37

Session 3

  • 2:54.22
  • 2:41:66
  • 2:38.42
  • 2:28.44
  • 2:25.97

Session 4

  • 2:33.30

It was in ‘novice’ group. There was a fair bit of slower traffic to navigate.

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Donington Park, 24 July 2012

Another track day yesterday, this time at Donington. A super hot day and finally got the shot of the left knee down!

tucola at Donington on motorcycle

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Snetterton 300, 15 June 2012

Went back out on track for the first time in about three years, the last outing having been before my first kid was born. The venue was the Snetterton 300 circuit, which I thought was excellent. After a nervous first session, really enjoyed it. Plenty of knee-down action. Some great left-hand corners in particular, although unfortunately the photographer didn’t capture a left knee-down pic, so I still haven’t got one. Here are the pictures I did get:

Got the biking mojo back a bit and am keen to do some more days this year.

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Why is rent so expensive?

This story suggesting that private rent is unaffordable struck a chord. I am in the course of selling the two bedroom flat in central London where I have been for the last 10+ years in order to move somewhere more suitable to my current situation (wife and two young kids now). Moving into medium-term rented accommodation was an option that I have been considering in order to ease the chain on a new purchase. But it turns out that a reasonable family house with a sensible commute into London appears to be over £2,000 a month in rent. I can’t afford that and I am a 10 year PQE City lawyer in one of the country’s leading law firms. How the hell anyone with a remotely ‘normal’ job is going to afford it is beyond me (… and I don’t say any of this in order to blow my own trumpet, but the fact is that I am surely fortunate enough to earn considerably more than the average person, although it often doesn’t feel like it in London).

I have three options:

1. Buy somewhere via a 25 year mortgage and the capital that I have built up as a result of owning the flat for the last 10 years. The fact that this would cost me less than half what a similar property would cost in rent demonstrates how utterly shafted Generation Y have been by the property market over the last decade.

2. Move my family of four into a two bedroom maisonette.

3. Move somewhere that will require 3-4 hours a day of travel to get to work and back.

Has this country gone utterly mad?

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Alternative vote

Conservative Home has published a thorough blog post dealing with points arising out of the No2AV case.

Part of it deals why some of the more extravagant claims in favour for AV don’t stack up. I can accept some of that. AV appears to me to be an improvement on FPTP in terms of fairness and representation but I am under no illusion that it is going to usher in a new era of perfect democracy.

It’s the bits about why AV is actually a step in the wrong direction and should be resisted with which I struggle. First, the idea that the 50% threshold is arbitrary. I have already written below about what happens if 50% of the original number of voters is not achieved, because of the way in which preferences are expressed (or not expressed) as voters get further down their order of preference. But I would not accept that 50% is wholly arbitrary as an aspiration. I can entirely see the sense in a principle that, ideally, a candidate should not be returned who more people voted “against” than voted for.

Actually, the threshold ought to be 50% plus 1 vote, to remove a potential unfairness that the second preferences of voters who preferred a candidate who was still in the running going into the final count (i.e. the count after which a candidate will be returned), but does not win, could, if taken into account, have swayed the result in favour of a candidate other than the one who did win. With a threshold of less than an absolute majority, fairness might be said to require a post-final round count, to see whether the second preferences of all the candidates who did not win would have changed the result if added together. This issue is avoided at 50% plus one vote and there is no need to go any further to 65%, or whatever.

Second, the idea that it is not fair that one person’s 6th preference “counts for the same” as another person’s 1st preference. I disagree. As I understand it, the idea behind AV is to enable voters for whom a popular candidate would not have been their ideal choice nevertheless to participate in the selection of which popular candidate will be returned to represent them. With that in mind, it would be giving greater weight to 1st preference votes that would actually be unfair. This would be to favour for no good reason the preferences of the “mainstream” – whose views are middle-of-the-road enough to lead them to support in the first place a popular candidate who has gathered enough votes to remain in the running – when it comes to selecting which candidate should go forward to represent the constituency as a whole.

So what AV seeks to achieve is to allow non-mainstream voters better participation in the process of selecting a mainstream candidate to represent them, while also freeing them to express their absolute preferences to start with, rather than engaging in tactical voting. You can argue about whether that aim is more democratic, or desirable, but I disagree with Conservative Home’s suggestion that only in a “benighted worldview can that possibly be described as ‘fair’”, on the oversimplistic (and incorrect) basis that it involves things that are intrinsically of different values being counted as being worth the same.

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Don’t believe the hype

There has been some excitement in the news and on blogs recently about so-called “hyper injunctions”.

These are a development of a type of court order requiring the injuncted information to be kept secret – colloquially, the “gagging order”.

The so-called “super-injunction” adds the gloss that details about the existence of the injunction itself cannot be revealed either. The idea behind this is to deal with cases where merely reporting that an injunction had been obtained to stop people talking about something that Mr X had done would result in the damage that Mr X was arguing he had a legitimate interest in preventing being caused.

The so-called “hyper-injunction” adds the further specific gloss that the injuncted information cannot even be revealed to an MP.

Cue lots of hyperbole about secret courts and the Magna Carta.

But is the idea of a hyper-injunction really all that objectionable in an appropriate case? It seems to me that if there is a legitimate reason for a temporary gagging injunction to be imposed, it is undesirable if the person principally subject to the gag can just lobby an MP to stand up and mention it in Parliament, thereby getting around the injunction with impunity (due to the doctrine of Parliamentary privilege, which means that anything can be discussed in Parliament and the fact that proceedings in Parliament can be freely reported*). This is presumably what the court had in mind in imposing the additional specific restriction on talking to MPs.

Rather, the real concern would be gagging orders – whether super or hyper or whatever – being imposed for too long a time period or being imposed in inappropriate cases or for inappropriate reasons.

*Edit 23/05/11: The law on this is not as clear as I had thought when I first drafted this. While reporting proceedings in Parliament would be a defence to a defamation claim, Lord Neuberger’s report on super injunctions states that it is not clear that reporting such proceedings is a defence to an action for contempt of court – (see paragraph 6.33). Nevertheless, when John Hemming MP today named in Parliament the footballer who is said to have obtained an injunction relating to his affair with Imogen Thomas, which restrained him from being named, a number of English newspapers appear to have taken Mr Hemming MP’s remarks as their cue immediately to publish his name and photograph on their websites.

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