Review Of The Noughties – 10 years of highlights, Part 1 2000-2004

As we reach the end of the Noughties we thought it was time to take a look back over the last decade and reminisce. It’s been a strange ten years when not a lot seems to have happened at first glance, but take a closer look and it’s been eventful, innovative and a decade to remember.

2000:    The new decade, and new millenium, kicked off in spectacular fashion with the passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Although not fully implemented until October 2005 after a long rollout process the “Right to Roam” has been possibly the biggest step forward in a century for walkers in England and Wales. The legislation may not be perfect, and offer less freedom than Scotland’s later Land Reform Act, but has succeeded in opening up over 6000 square miles of mountain, moor, heath, down and forest.

On the gear front the year 2000 brought us Gore-Tex XCR, a revolutionary new, more breathable, fabric from the membrane masters. Available in 2 and 3 layer versions XCR lasted the whole decade as the fabric of choice for high end mountain clothing and the leading waterproof liner for boots.

2001:    A bad year for outdoor enthusiasts as Britain was gripped in the Foot and Mouth outbreak. Cumbria and The Lake District got hit particularly hard and huge swathes of land were closed off for much of the year. Elsewhere the Mont Blanc Tunnel reopened following the fire of 1999 and an expedition found the camp of Mallory and Irvine’s 1924 Everest expedition.

The big news on the gear front was the introduction of eVent, an alternative membrane to Gore-Tex in what was a hard year for manufacturers and retailers.

2002:   The United Nations designated 2002 The International Year of Mountains in a campaign to preserve mountain ecosystems with special events worldwide. The Kendal Mountain Film Festival was joined by The Outdoors Show at Birmingham’s NEC on the annual calendar and the country began recovering from the previous year’s Foot and Mouth.

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2002 saw Loch Lomond opened as Scotland’s first National Park

Kinder Trespass leader benny Rothman died in the 70th anniversary year of the trespass, and Loch Lomond became Scotland’s first National Park. Further afield Alan Hinkes summited Annapurna making it 12 out of 14 in his 8000 metre quest.

Stretch XCR was the new fabric of the year along with the latest “in” word – Soft Shell. Paclite got a revamp, seeing the end of the characteristic dots, and Scarpa launched the legendary Cumbre boot. Haglof brought us their LIM range

2003:    Britain got a new National Trail in May with the opening of the Hadrian’s Wall Path, and the Ice factor artificial ice wall in Kinlochleven. Scotland got the Land Reform Act 2003 that enshrined the rights of access in law.  After being under threat Wainwright’s famous series of Lakeland Guides was saved with a new publisher, but no such luck for Aaron Ralston who cut off his own arm with a penknife after being trapped by a boulder. Competing for the headlines with Aaron Ralston we had the release of Touching The Void, Joe Simpson’s classic tale of survival. Sir Ranulph Fiennes also threw his hat into the ring with seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.

Rab brought us the classic Latok  jacket and trousers, whilst haglofs invented their Turtleshield pack technology. Overseas a sign of the times came with respected New Zealand manufacturer Macpac switching production to the Far East for the next season’s products.

2004:   The year the lightweight revolution really took hold. Cottage and small industries from the USA started to gain more widespread fame through the internet and specialist retailers started springing up around the country. Go-Lite brought us the world’s lightest rucksacks whilst long term favourites like Thermarest introduced new lightweight ranges. Terra Nova lightened the load with the introduction of the Laser tent, which went on to spawn a comlete range of ultra-lightweights.

Planning permission was given for a proposed new cafe on Snowdon, whilst over in the Himalayas Alan Hinkes was closing in on a record with his ascent of Dhaulagiri. In the Lake District Wasdale got it’s first live webcam in a trend that’s spread to wilderness areas around Britain, and the first 4X4 ban came into force on the Ridgeway.

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Beneath your feet

The reasons we love the great outdoors are as numerous and varied as the mountains and hills we climb, but whether it’s the nature of wilderness, the scenery, the challenge or even the solitude most reasons come back to a single factor; what’s under our feet.

From the limestone of the Peak District to the slates of the Lake District the geology beneath our feet shapes everything from the use we put our lands to through to the existance of the mountains themselves. The position of streams and bogs, cliffs and plateaux are all determined by the geology that underlies our island, and even the prevailing weather relies to an extent on the rocks beneath us. This is why the decision to make maps from the British Geological Survey available online is good news for the outdoor community.

In the same way that an Ordnance Survey map can tell us a thousand stories of what we see around us a geological map can tell us why a river sinks, or why our compasses go loopy on Skye. The British Geological Survey’s (BGS) new OpenGeoscience portal allows the public to study all the UK’s rocks on a simple Google map, down to a “scale” of 1:50,000 with overlays to show towns and streets. A range of educational and professional tools are also brought together on the website, including the huge national geological archive of tens of thousands of images have been amassed into the BGS library over the decades, showing different rock forms around Britain. The site is divided into six sections covering Data, Education, Maps, Pictures, reports and Software with maps and pictures of particular interest to hillwalkers.

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Geological map of Wasdale area

The beauty of a geological map is the information it gives on both what what the eye can’t see and an explanation of why surface features are what they are. Knowing of the existance of magnetic rocks, for example, can help us understand why a compass can give false readings, or knowing where two different strata meet can help us predict flood routes following heavy rainfall – and so improve our choices and chances of escape when bad weather strikes.

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Wastwater from Yewbarrow

The opening up of these geological maps is part of an overall plan to open up our digital mapping data across the board, with OS mapping due to follow suit early next year. There’s never been a better time to find out exactly what it is that makes our landscape so special – or why our wilderness is so valuable.

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Webtogs – Berlin 04.08.09 – 08.04.09

Berlin Trip – 04.08.09

Having been back in Luxembourg for the last couple of weeks, I decided to go on a short trip to visit a friend in Berlin, and take the opportunity to immerse myself in German culture for the first time. Along with the various sightseeing activities (the Berlin wall, the Reichstag etc…) and of course clubbing, the plan was to;

1.) Try a selection of different Wursts (yes, there is more than one type)

2.) Eat a Doner Kebab (the vast Turkish community in Berlin means that Kebabs are actually nice – nothing like the dog food you find in the UK)

3.) Purchase some lederhosen

4.) Drink copious amounts of German lager

5.) Go dance around to the brutal rhythm of “Die Oompah Band”.

We were unfortunately unable to carry out tasks 1. (this will be explained later), 3. (the band were not available to play) and 5. (Lederhosen are surprisingly expensive)

I travelled to Berlin with the train (8 hours from Luxembourg) and equipment-wise, I decided to opt for a 35L daypack by Haglofs, the LIM 35. The Haglofs LIM 35 Daypack is a super light, minimalistic backpack that, simply put, is incredible – words cannot express just how awesome it is. With more features than the average Samsung phone, it includes several compartments and spaces, a hydration pouch, a multitude of pockets, clips, zips, hooks and a state-of-the-art shoulder strap system which eliminates pressure points and provides excellent load distribution. Pretty much everything is adjustable, making this backpack extremely comfortable to carry for long periods of time (indeed, my bag ended up being quite heavy, partly due to the rather large quantities of Jagermeister I decided to bring back to enjoy at a later date).

Haglofs LIM35 Daypack

Overall Berlin was a great place, one I would highly recommend visiting (sooner rather than later). The nightlife is fantastic, the food is awesome and the people are incredibly friendly, open-minded and easy to talk to. Everything is pretty cheap as well, especially in east Berlin and transport is quick, cheap and efficient – which in my opinion proves the benefits of having a state-owned transport system rather than the privatized nightmare that currently exists in the UK.

My only regret was that I was actually incapable of eating a single Wurst whilst over there, due to an unfortunate episode of food poisoning (I blame the Kebab, delicious as it was).

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Up the world’s biggest creek without the proverbial

One lucky member of the webtogs crew (flight costs and medical not withstanding) has been accepted onto the support crew for one of the worlds most extreme endurance events. The jungle marathon is a 200km stage race through the Amazon Jungle in Brazil, you may have seen the 2008 race on ITV 4’s extreme events program the other night. Although not new to the jungle, our lucky chap is busily bashing his chest and moving all the office plants into the adjacent toilet and running the hot water tap – something to do with acclimatisation he says!

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What a lot of boxes!

Fairly monumental days are occurring here at Webtogs, we had our busiest ever weekend last weekend, I’m not going to mention numbers but we had to get the Royal Mail & Parcel Force lorry’s to come down and help us out early! All in all it’s been a great start to the year for us and we’re really pleased that we’re getting bigger whilst still delivering what we always set out to do, great products from an easy to use site with fantastic customer service and straightforward returns.

Colin busy packing with the small mountain of boxes!

So this is just a little post to say thanks to all of you who have bought from Webtogs, it means a great deal to us all that you shop with us – Cheers!

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Video Live!

Well after rather a lot of delay – our video has finally gone live! We have about 15 that have gone up on the site to start off with and altogether we are pretty pleased with the result. From my perspective it’s pretty embarrassing to see yourself on screen and slightly disconcerting when everyone was watching them in the office and my voice was coming from 5 PC’s at the same time! I am though really pleased with what they will do which is give people more information and most importantly the chance to see them in the flesh.

So far we have videos for the The North Face Resolve Jacket, Meindl Burma & Borneo boots, Rab
Men’s Vapour-Rise Lite Alpine Jacket
, Mountain Equipment Firefox Jacket, Scarpa
Men’s SL Activ Walking Boots
, The North Face Hedgehog XCR trainers and Keen Newport Sandals

We are really keen to get feedback on these so fire away with any comments / suggestions and products to cover and we’ll do our best to get them in the next batch!

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Blandford Shop re-opens

Most of the people reading this blog will know Webtogs as an Online website and may not be familiar with the fact we have a shop in Blandford Forum thats run by Colin, our shop manager and uber guru mountain bikey action man. The shop has been on the go since day one as it has been important for us to get direct feedback from customers on products. It is however a rather small shop and Colin had been concerned that we were trying to be a bit of a jack of all trades. Keith (our buyer) on the way back from ISPO, started to chew the fat with Colin and together they decided the best way forward was to become a lot more specialised and focus more on footwear and boots.

Both these lads are of the get hands dirty brigade and so just 3 weeks later – they had completely changed the shop and refitted it. Last night James and myself, mosied on down for the grand re-opening. To say we were completely blown away by the change is like saying Karl Marx was a little to the left in politics. Gone was the cramped interior filled with gear left, right and centre, to be replaced by a clean, airy store focussing on boots with good local walking essentials (packs, socks, maps etc).

Shop Front

Boot Display

The highlight of the shop for me has to be the central ramp to ensure that people get a good feel for their boots on an upward and downhill slope, it looks frankly awesome. Colin and the gang have also been going through a training programme to ensure that the fitting service we offer is second to none.

Boot Ramp

The opening night was brilliant with lots of local people coming in to see the new style and attendance from the local press. All in all it was a cracking night and I very much hope that the shop reaps the success it deserves as we move in to 2009. If you are in the area, pop on down to 47B East Street to check it out or give Colin a call for more information on 01258 455544

Boot Ramp

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Think you could make it to the top?

Ben Nevis Challenge

Alzheimer’s Society has set a UK wide challenge to raise money and awareness for thousands of families who are affected by dementia .

700, 000 people live with dementia in the UK alone and avid climbers have been set the challenge to conquer Britain’s highest peak. Ben Nevis stands at 4,409 feet and is located within the heart of the Western Highlands.

If you want to find out more please visit: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?categoryID=200257&documentID=477

Or for further information call 0870 417 0192

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Find of the Month – Signed copy of “Who’s Who of Climbing”

Webtog’s team of researchers are consistently crawling the web to bring all our regular followers a unique “Find of the Month” and boy do we have a beauty to start with…

This is every keen explorers chance to own a unique piece of climbing memorabilia – A copy of Who’s Who of Climbing written by Colin Wells! So, I hear you ask? Well this isn’t just any copy of “Who’s Who of Climbing” but a fully signed version by some of the world’s most influential outdoor explorers – Kenton Cool, Alan Hinkes, Ed Douglas, Andy Cave, Colin Prior, Dave Turnbull, Mick Fowler, Alastair Lee, Simon Yates, David Brashears and Lindsey Usher!

This little find can be found on the popular social auction site Ebay – Current bid stands at £57, but you will need to be quick as the auction ends midnight on Sunday (8th February).

Interested?

Enter the code 280307903123 into the search function and start bidding!
The Auction is run by Trail Magazine.

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