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  • Long Mynd Hike Tips

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    Having completed the Long Mynd Hike 15 times these are my Top 10 Tips that might help you complete the 50 miles with limited suffering, so you can enjoy what I consider the primary aim of the event; Fun through comradeship.

    2017 is the 50th year for 'The Hike'. A 50 mile, figure-of-eight course through the beautiful South Shropshire hills and the Welsh Marches, 8,000 feet of climb with a target of 24 hours to complete.

    Staged over the first weekend of October on the cusp of autumn the weather can certainly vary. Expect a range of conditions from torrential rain to desert heat and blazing sunshine, one year it was 38 degrees and not much cooler at night. Over the years I've experienced it all, but mostly something in-between.

    For me, night is certainly the best part of 'The Hike', it can be overcast, foggy and damp or clear with amazing star filled skies and moon lit landscapes, with hooting owls, barking foxes and swirling bats which all make up for the lack of distant views but help to maintain the interest along the way.

    It's obvious I could cover into a myriad of other boring gear tips but what works best for you is usually the best for you. The following are what I consider the more important general nitty gritty tips :-

    Tip 1. Don't carry more than is necessary.  Only take the required official 'Hike' gear list. Don't try to be clever by taking 'little extras'. Travel as light as possible. You should be able put all your gear in a 10 to 15 litre rucksack.

    Tip 2.  Wear a light pair of shoes or boots, preferably shoes.  Inov 8 Roclite/X-Talon/Mudclaw or Salomon Speedcross/Speedtraks are good. Mel Price our High Sports fell racing ambassador who holds 'The Hike' women's record completes in a pair Salomon Speedtraks for their comfort, lightweight & grip. Your shoes should be as comfortable as your house slippers and you should be able to forget you are wearing them. Boots are OK and give added ankle support if you have suspect ankles, but obviously heavier (especially leather boots) so maybe consider a Mid boot. If you don't like getting your feet wet wear waterproof socks. But remember sometimes Goretex lined footwear is okay for trying to keep your feet dry but it can also create a bath barrier slowing down water escaping if your footwear gets waterlogged. None waterproof shoes are the common choice by most runners and distance movers because the shoes and feet dry out quicker on the move.

    Tip 3.  A new pair of socks.  Have a new pair for the day of the event, fresh and spongy. If you seriously feel you want to increase your rucksack weight then nothing is more valuable than a fresh pair of the same socks wrapped dry and ready in a plastic bag for changing on route. A combination of Injinji lining socks and a Darn Tough 1/4 light sock or Light Hiker have become a popular choice by distance runners for their extremely good fit and prevent toes rubbing.

    Tip 4.  Spend as little time as possible at check points. Try not to sit down but keep going. If possible, check in, grab a handful of sweets, some water then check out. The temptations of a check point; hot drinks, fantasy lights, seductive music and a long sit down, you don't need. Be focused, think about your next check point and help yourself by reducing the overall suffering time, believe me it works, NEVER STOP MOVING !

    Tip 5.  Eat and drink while you walk.  Have your food in a place you can reach without taking your rucksack off. If needed get a member of your team to get your food out of your sack. Eat on the hoof.   Don't forget to continually rehydrate, even if it's raining you still sweat. Drink plain water, plus water with added fruit flavoured electrolytes like Nuun or High Five which help replenish lost body minerals and aim to avoid cramp.  Worth noting that the longest stretch without available water is usually between Bridges and Bank Farm, getting on for 10 miles, so fill your bottles at the Bridges checkpoint !

    Tip 6.  Get to know the route, especially your intended night section.  The first miles to the Stiperstones are the easy bit, it should still be daylight and there'll be lots of folk about. Practice the route from Shelve to the Stiperstones, especially the section from Woodgate Farm to Black Rhadley Hill as you'll probably be in the dark. Try before the day to cover this part of the route in daylight. Medlicote Cottage to Pole Cottage is a night section for most competitors and appears featureless with thick fern vegetation it can be a navigational challenge even for the experienced.  The Ordnance Survey Landranger maps and scale Nos 126 & 137 are usually more than adequate for planning and on route finding, but remember a suitably waterproof map case or clear plastic bag is vital.

    Tip 7.  Always grab a bag of free sweets from the High Sports 'sweet handout' just before Stiperstones. They help as a fun energy and morale boost during those early hours.

    Tip 8.  Be prepared for pain. Remember it's 50 miles over 8 hills, 8,000 feet of up, and down which is often the killer for aching knees. It will hurt. Your feet and legs will get sore, you will wish that you had never heard of the Long Mynd Hike. But after a period of agony, when you think you cannot go on, persevere, you will enter a euphoric time when nothing will seem impossible. Keep going, the hike is as much a psychological exercise as a physical one.

    Tip 9.  In your mind break the course into smaller bits.  Think check point to check point. Don't look at it as a whole and don't even think of the final climb, Ragleth Hill, that belongs to another universe. When you reach Ragleth Hill, just do it in small sections; From the house to the grave (yes, there is a grave) - From the grave to the finger post - From the finger post to the style - From the style to the tree - The tree to the rock - Then up the final short stairway to the post at the top. You have now walked 48 miles, you have 2 miles to go 'mostly' downhill.

    Tip 10.  Try to enjoy it. The Hike is a massive fun social event on the hoof. The first 20 miles are a long afternoon walk with lots of folk. The real fun starts when it gets dark and you have to find your way through woods, bogs, uneven, rough, jagged terrain and fields populated by strange, dark mounds which might be cows! The sense of camaraderie is terrific, we're all in the same boat, we have a common goal so let's do it.

    I really envy those hikers who are embarking on 'The Hike' for the first time, especially as 2017 is the 50th anniversary year. The 2017 - 50/50 Hike, eight of Shropshire's most iconic and difficult hills. Your sense of accomplishment will be inexpressible, you've done it, now nothing is impossible.

    All the best.  Chris Roberts,

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  • Stiperstones Fell Race 2017

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    The Stiperstones Fell Race is in the Shropshire fell racing Summer Series and is a 5.1km race with 244m of ascent that starts and finishes near the Stiperstones pub in the village of Stiperstones.

     

    (If your type of computer does not support Adobe Flash then please click here to view the photos in our Flickr album for this race.)

  • Pontesbury Fell Race 2017

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    A 4.9km fell race with 354m of ascent: part of the Shropshire Summer Series that took place on the 24th of June 2015.

     

    (If your type of computer does not support Adobe Flash then please click here to view the photos in our Flickr album for this race.)

  • Angus and his Nightmayer

    During a spell of fine weather in May '17, HS ambassador Angus Kille made the 4th heroic ascent, since Mayers & Lovich first climbed the route in 1992, of NIGHTMAYER E8+ 6c  on Dinas Cromlech, North Wales.  Reputed as one of the hardest run out trad routes, anywhere, this is a climb that demands a total fusion of many rarely aligned factors for success, hence it's low head count of successful applicants. Not just perfect weather, totally dry rock, and a new'ish rope all help, but a climber's skill level at the top of the game, and being psychologically prepared for a potential decking  !   After an unnerving fall on his Angus's first attempt this was a stunning achievement and yet another imposing example of his continuing exceptional form, and commitment. Well done Angus.

    The following is a short account by Angus, it's highly recommended you also read the following link to get a flavour of the seriousness of this climb written by Nick Bullock on UKC it concludes with Angus's ascent.

    Thanks to Robin Mazinke & Jez Brown for contributed photos.

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    “ Nightmayer has been at the top of my list all year, it takes a direct line through the classic ‘Lord of the Flies’ on one of my favourite British crags, Dinas Cromlech. The route has a minimalist feel as the holds are so thin and protection is available only when you need it most. After a long, poorly protected first half, sparse but good gear protects a long and thin crux sequence to the top. With its length, boldness and technical difficulty, this route really demands a lot from the leader and deserves its unforgiving reputation.

    On my first lead attempt I fell from the crux, unable to continue the precise sequence after being shaken by the wind and the lonely run-out. I was up at the Cromlech on my own two days later, retrieving some kit I had stashed there while practising the route, when I bumped into Nick Bullock and Mick Lovatt. They were keen to see me on the route and it would be my last chance to go for the lead before the weather broke, so they offered me a belay, a rack and some friendly encouragement. I hadn’t expected to try the route that day, thinking I had missed my window of good weather, but decided to take the chance and give it a go. Leading on an unfamiliar rack made for an unexpectedly sketchy first half, but after a shake-out on the girdle ledge I continued desperately through the long crux sequence to reach the top. It was an unforgettable lead and made all the better for being such a close one. 

    I didn’t know falling off would end up being such a positive experience. Without pushing through every move near the top where I felt I was falling off is what makes it worthwhile, the uncertainty is what makes the climbing experience such good value “.

    ARTICLE: Nick Bullock's Nightmayer

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  • LUCI Light best product 2017

    LUCI Outdoor Light. After many years in the outdoor trade it’s not often I get impressed by new products, cynical about reinventing the wheel, but the LUCI Outdoor Solar light easily romped into my ‘must have’ BEST PRODUCT 2017.
    I admit I was semi reluctant to include a LUCI light on a recent two week lightweight cycle camping and exploring trip around some of the Scottish Hebridean islands, always keenly scrutinising items on the packing list their worth “If it’s not potentially going to be used every day it’s not going”. The 125grm Luci light was indispensable; used and loved using it every day. Strapped to the panniers it remained on constant charge, costing nothing to run (no batteries). At night it’s super bright 4 setting lights were so impressive the low setting was more than adequate, never failing on power (lasts up to 18 hours) whether cooking, reading, setting up camp or just walking back from the pub..... totally waterproof and massively versatile !
    But the Luci light isn’t just an invaluable addition for adventures, it’s saving on battery landfill and gets a big thumbs up as a leading light in 3rd world NGO partnership projects through its purchase and use. Make sense and Get LUCI !
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