This page was launched with a selection of recent news stories on 31 March 2005. Since then the emphasis has been on adding new walking stories.
Another set of more recent news stories will be added early in 2006.
Just click on the relevant link to get a selection of stories.
Mission to reach the North Pole in 37 days - British explorer Tom Avery is on a 413-mile walk to test the claim of Commander Robert Peary to have reached the North Pole in 1909 in 37 days (Sunday Herald, 13 March 2005). Since then, no-one has managed it in less than 43 days, despite technological improvements. The climate is also changing, and one of the challenges is to cope with thin ice due to the impact of global warming. There's a great website providing a daily story of this eventful walk.
Meanwhile, Ann Daniels is aiming to become the first woman to reach the North Pole on her own (Guardian, 14 March 2005), and is taking a longer 576 mile route from Russia, but has a time limit of 60 days. That's a tough challenge, pulling a heavy sledge in temperatures as low as -50C.
At the other end of the world, Clive Waghorn from Fife was one of a team of six who walked 70 miles to make the first ascent of the 8500-foot Mount Walker, the highest peak on the Antarctic (reported in the Dundee Courier, 4 March 2005).
Two other recent stories have highlighted the consequences of global warming:
The peak of Mt Kilimanjaro is being cleared of its snowcap after as much as 11,000 years by rising temperatures, according to the Guardian (14 March 2005). The newspaper's cover featured the summit crater with only a few patches of snow around it.
Skiing resorts in the Alps are pushing ski lifts higher and higher to survive global warming, says another Guardian story from 26 March 2005. This is opening up more high alpine areas to mass tourism, at the expense of the sense of wilderness so appreciated by climbers. Others are opposed to the developments. It's a tricky situation - many resorts in the Alps depend on winter tourism, and that requires reliable snow for skiers.
Just a year ago (Guardian, 31 March 2004), a story from Peru by Mark Lynas illustrated the dramatic impact of the retreat of a glacier over the preceding 20 years.
Doctors to climb Everest - seven doctors from University College London plan to carry out experiments on themselves to find how the human body copes with extreme conditions (Guardian, 16 March 2005). They will look in particular at the process of acclimatisation to the low oxygen levels at high altitude. The leader, Mike Grocott, has more than 30 climbs above 5000 metres to his credit. The climb is due to take place in spring 2007, if funding is secured. One of the practical problems is taking blood samples when climbers are wrapped up in thick clothing.
Nordic walking is gaining in popularity across Europe, according to a "trendspotting" summary of news from other sources in the Guardian (16 March 2005). It's like Nordic skiing, using two sticks and taking long strides, but doesn't need any snow. It looks like the way a lot of seasoned walkers have been walking in the hills with hiking poles for a few years now. Maybe we'll see some of our neighbours using them in the local park on a Sunday.
Paris is to cut traffic in centre by 75%, reported the Guardian on 15 March 2005. This should make it a lot more pleasant for walkers. Speed limits will be reduced and some areas restricted to residents's vehicles.
Walkers heading for Nepal should check for the latest political situation, according to detailed report by Ed Douglas (5 March 2005) and a later briefing by Simon Tisdall (23 March 2005), both in the Guardian.
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There's confusion around the implementation of the Right to Roam legislation in England, according to Chris Baker in the Guardian (9 March 2005). The landowner of the Vixen Tor on Dartmoor is resisting demands to open it to the public, arguing that it is sited on land which is partially "improved", even though to most people it looks like moorland. A number of appeals by landowners around the country have found in their favour, for the same reason.
Ramblers celebrate new freedom was the headline of a subsequent article by David Ward in the Guardian (21 March 2005), focusing on the new access rights to Combs Edge in the Peak District. It is featured in a series of new walking guides marking the new right to roam.
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Network Rail is closing hundreds of rail crossings used by walkers across Scotland, according to Rob Edwards in the Sunday Herald (13 February 2005). This will become the first test of the new freedom of access legislation in Scotland, introduced through the Land Reform Act on 9 February. The closures are for safety reasons, but in many cases are affecting long-established rights of way.
An article in the Herald (Glasgow) on 12 March 2005 emphasised the importance of responsible behaviour by walkers when out in the countryside. They should keep their dogs under control, avoid damage to the environment, respect the privacy of those living in the countryside and the needs of land management. Land managers must also respect people's right to roam. Local issues should be taken up with the local authority access officer or the local ranger service. Test cases will establish the practical application of the new law. The Outdoor Access Scotland website provides more information.
A series of reports in the Dundee Courier have highlighted developments with local walks and footpaths, including:
Work starts on Carnoustie to Monifieth coastal path (11 February 2005) - a 4 km coastal path will link the two towns, cutting through the Barry Buddon military training area. It will complete the off-road coastal route between Dundee and Carnoustie. Eventually Angus Council hopes to continue it at least as far as Arbroath.
Local access forum being set up in Dundee (24 February 2005) - this is being done by the City Council to bring together a range of expertise in relation to access rights, following the implementation of the Land Reform Act.
Tayside Mountain Rescue Team's busiest year (23 February 2005) - there were 21 emergency call-outs in 2004. It included rescuing two men caught in an avalanche, high plateau searches for missing people, and gorge rescues.
Backing for Fife coastal path study (11 February 2005) - a possible extension of the Fife coastal path from the Tay Road Bridge to Newburgh is being investigated. Currently the path links the Forth and Tay Road Bridges and attracts more visitors than any other tourist attraction in Fife.
The cycle route through Dundee Harbour will not be opened to pedestrians (2 March 2005) - this is because of tighter security measures.
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