Wild Camping on a Mountain, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, a series that almost killed my enthusiasm and much more of the coast path completed. Its another quarterly review of Summit or Nothing!
After a quite eventful first quarter year, we had another good run into the summer of 2018 with plenty of opportunities and fine weather too, which made it one of our best seasons yet. Except for April. April wasn’t so great, well, not to start with.
It began with another hike and wild camp on Dartmoor. It had been three months since we last went camping on Dartmoor, and the winter had shown hints of finally giving way to summer. Unfortunately for us, our first outing back onto the moor was sure to scare any hint of the sun away, as Nath was once again determined to get back under his DD hammock superlight tarp.
We drove towards Dartmeet area, and pulled up just before, at Dunnabridge, where under the looming presence of Bellever Tor, we began to sign on. No sooner had we begun, a passing vehicle drove passed and whilst tooting us frantically, the vehicles inhabitants hollered “SUUUMMMIIITTT OOORRR NOOOTTHHIIIINNGG!!” as they sped past us. That was a moment that meant a lot to us, we were starting to get recognised. It lifted our spirits on this cold and gloomy day, and we stupidly took it for a good omen.
We set up camp soon enough, at the outside edge of Bellever Forest (which upon sharing a handful of pics to our facebook page, we were promptly informed that we were not authorised to wild camp in – my bad!). We were near a river, so Nath could pop off and pick up his water – an experience that he said was horrendous in the cold temperatures. He had his pack down to 10Kg’s or there about at this point, whereas I was down to 17kgs from 20Kg’s a short while ago – yet after our failure on the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons, where relying on the MSR Trailshot (Water filter) had us turning back, I had bought drinking water, plus an extra 2 litres. Nath was horrified!
As the rain came in, we made hot drinks under Nath’s Tarp, and I was absolutely awestruck by the amount of room underneath. It made my Vango banshee 200 pale in significance, in fact, it was kind of depressing climbing back into that thing afterwards, in wet clothes too, which soon got everywhere inside. “Use the vestibule!” I hear you all cry in outrage at my wild camping naivety! And to those who say that I have but one response… “Have you seen the size of the Vango vestibule? There isn’t one!)*.
*Please note, however, that up until this moment my Banshee had done me proud, and although definitely not a two-man tent, it was just about right for me and my kit!
But now, for the first time really, I strongly considered getting myself a tarp, and over the next month, the idea would begin to cement. Even taking into consideration the appalling night that Nath was about to endure as strong wind and rain rocked in and hammered us all night, and Nath found his roll mat doubling as a life raft as his ditch began to fill with water.
After such a horrendous night, it seems surprising to me that the next event we should arrange was a wild camp on Cadair Idris – in Snowdonia. Maybe we were both a little pissed with Dartmoor, and the bad run of it that we seemed to be having there of late, but it seemed that now was the time to have a go at a spot of mountain camping. We arranged it for the following month.
Apart from our eventful camp at Bellever, the rest of the month was all quiet on the Summit or Nothing front, and for me, fairly leisurely, mainly comprising of little bursts of hiking when the sporadic springtime weather would allow. A few walks with the family, and another stab at the South West Coast Path for a large chunk that would fill some gaps. On one of my favourite outings yet on the South West Coast Path, I walked from Welcombe Beach to Hartland Point, a strenuous walk of 11 miles along the rugged North Devon Coastline.
On what was actually late into spring, but felt – at last – like the first day of spring, I had a wonderful walk, taking in some rugged – ship wrecking – coastline, and some great landmarks along the way, such as Hartland Point Lighthouse, the old ruin in the middle of nowhere and the poets? clifftop retreat, although the highlight for myself was the Waterfall at Spekes Mill, a fantastic location with the most beautiful landscape, and the fall was a twin falls on this spring day as well. I also saw two adders out sunning on the paths, but they were so alert that they soon vanished – although I did manage to get some very brief footage of one as it disappeared into the longer grass. You can watch the video here!
And, April also saw us finally hit that 1000 subs mark, and the occasion was celebrated by a free T-Shirt Give Away draw and a Q&A with us answering questions from our viewers, and the response to this video was astonishing, we had received some great questions from a brilliant bunch of people, and we enjoyed answering them.
In fact, the response was so good that we have now installed a merch page (found in the about s section on our website) just for those people who messaged to say that they really wanted a T-Shirt! Thanks guys – we are humbled!
The month started off on a high… literally, as we travelled up to North Wales, and visited Snowdonia for the second time and for a leisurely stroll and wild camp on the ridge of Cadair Idris! I won’t go into too much detail here, you can read the blog that we wrote already ( or alternatively the video is better). For once, the weather was on our side, so it seemed that having a break from the damp and unforgiving Dartmoor was a good idea after all. It was a magical excursion, with some stunning views, a touch of snow and ice through the night and the most gorgeous sunsets and sunrise that we have thus far caught on camera.
This month saw me step up my conquest of the South West Coast Path, well, why not? The weather had finally turned for the better, the spring was here, and soon gave way to what would finally feel like the summer. The first heat wave to hit the country was early in the month, and on a glorious summers morning, without a cloud in the sky, I thought to myself, what a great time to get back down to the Coast Path for an impromptu walk – a 13 mile hike from Padstow to Treyarnon Bay on the North Cornwall coastline.
What I didn’t realise was that the dramatic change in temperature caused the cold ocean to steam profusely and so my coastal hike was shrouded in mist, which actually made for quite an interesting walk, and if I’m honest was probably a godsend in keeping me cool.
May is the month of my Wedding Anniversary, and my better half Donnah had shown an interest in wanting to join me out on the trail, so we thought it would be a great idea to get to the start of the South West Coast Path in Minehead and walk two days to Lynmouth, and for once, we managed to secure an overnight babysitter for our three children (the first time we had ever had any considerable time to ourselves, too).
We booked a B&B in Porlock, and on day one walked from Minehead to Porlock Weir. The route we took branched off at one point, you could either follow the inland hike, taking in some high points of Exmoor, or you could choose the rugged coast path.
We both wanted to take different routes, so Donnah took one camera inland whilst I ventured along the coast with my camera, enabling us to capture both sides of the walk to share in the video.
The second day saw us walking in reverse from Lynmouth to Porlock Weir (which made sense when we had to travel through Lynmouth to return home, so we had a car at either end). This day was a bit different to my coast walks so far, with a long and steady climb out of Lynmouth for the first third, and then the remaining two thirds was a stomp through 8 miles of Woodland, which although was fairly featureless for the video, was probably a Godsend as the tree’s kept us sheltered from the sweltering heat.
23 miles of the path conquered in two days, not a bad outing, and Don made it look easy too. I can’t wait for us to get back out together, we are hoping to do so before the summer is through.
The final walk of the month saw myself returning to a patch of the coast path between Clovelly and Hartland Point, a short 7-mile walk that was a bit of gap filler, on which my friend Carl joined me. The weather was not so great here, and the views were somewhat evasive, but we enjoyed it none the less. So at this point, I had walked a continuous stretch of the coast path between Treyarnon Bay in North Cornwall, to Clovelly in North Devon, 78 miles altogether! And in this month alone, I had managed to walk 43miles of the Coast Path. Not bad going!
Somewhere between May and June, we have the Summit or Nothing birthday, two years this year. Last year to celebrate our 1st year, we did a talking heads green screen interview style video where both Nathan and myself reflected on the previous year’s antics, which we called One Year In. The video went down well and we decided to do the same again this year. However, it didn’t go quite to plan this time around.
As we had had quite a fun-filled year, it was going to make a long video. We realised this after the first night of filming the interviews when we ran out of time and had only managed to get through the first third. Then, to add insult to injury, I somehow managed to delete the footage, and so had to record it all again.
This was going too laborious so we decided on another idea, which was basically to each choose our top five videos from the previous year and we both discuss them, which would save time… at least that’s what I thought.
On our second night of interviews, we just about managed to get through Naths top 5, and couldn’t get back together to film mine until the following week. What was supposed to take an evening had now run into three, and had put us behind schedule. And that was just the filming. I also struggled to get the videos edited in time, in fact, the night it was due to go out, I had only managed to edit Nath’s 5, 4 and 3 choices, so at the last minute I had no choice but to throw the Number 5 vid up on its own and then release each video as a series each night throughout the week, which meant that my back really was up against the wall editing the rest of the series in time.
By the time I came to editing my choices, Nath’s had already started to run, and the response was not as great as it had been the previous year. Views, likes and comments were slow burning, which made editing my videos even more soul destroying, and it was taking up every spare minute of my time to do so. I didn’t enjoy it as I did last year, I kept asking myself why didn’t we just choose our top 3? I felt like a weight was bearing down on my shoulders and by the time the last video was finished, I was literally left with an hour to upload it, and felt completely exhausted. It had been two weeks of manic editing and juggling home life that I could have done without.
The response on these videos did eventually pick up momentum, with many of our followers commenting and liking, but I think that next time I will consider something different as a celebration for our third year! If you are interested in seeing this series here is Nath’s Top 5 Playlist and click here to watch Trev’s Top 5!
Our first Summit or Nothing Outing was a day hike around Bodmin Moor, in Cornwall and a hike up the famous Brown Willy. It was a great day, leisurely and fine weather, with Nathan once again taking his DSLR camera and having a bit of tit about with loads of new gear that he had purchased. His newfound hobby has lead to him creating his own Instagram page that you should all check out, and hilariously enough has seen him pile the kilo’s back into his backpack, but then I suppose if he hadn’t have made the weight savings beforehand, he wouldn’t have room to add to.
It may have been a great day trip to visit Cornwall’s highest point, but it wasn’t what we had originally planned. We were supposed to be paying a return visit to the Brecon Beacons, once again for a wild camp attempt, but in the week I had thrown my back out (by blowing up a balloon for my daughter of all things) and I was still a bit twingy One day, we shall camp on the Brecon Beacons.
June is my Birthday, and I was about to receive some fantastic gifts that I would look forward to using throughout the month. My main present was to be a DD Hammocks Ultralight Tarp tent, a must-have addition to my backpack, and a massive weight saver too. Although Nath’s last night out in the tarp was horrendous, it was still that occasion that had convinced me to get one. Another reason was that my exploration of the coast path was getting ever further away from my home, and so at some point I was going to have to consider going out for a few days, and the last thing I wanted was to carry the weight of a tent.
I vowed to get out and do as much walking of the South West Coast Path as I could for my birthday month. I managed to get out for a 12mile hike between Clovelly and Westward Ho! The weekend before my birthday (and the day before Brown Willy), and my actual birthday was spent walking 18 miles between Westward Ho! And Fremington Quay – in all honesty, not the most attractive part of the coast path so far, what with it running beside an estuary with all the mud flats dilapidated boats left to rot, and then later the mind-numbingly featureless three or four miles of the Tarka Trail, but still, it gets it done and was my longest walk to date (even though it was all flat).
That walk was also the debut of my new walking App, one to rival Viewranger, Relive! A fantastic map that tracks your walk and then plays it back as an animated line printed across a satellite image of the terrain. Its fantastic, and I managed to edit it into my video, too. Later that same weekend, I got to try it out once again, as I met up with a friend of mine called Stan (that is actually called James) at Brixham in South Devon, for my first hike along this stretch of the South West Coast Path, between Brixham and Kingswear.
It was a ten-mile walk (allegedly), and was classed as strenuous. It actually turned out to be closer to 15 miles and was haaaaard work! An absolutely stunning part of the coast, and in glorious weather, we both had a fantastic walk, for the first two thirds at least. I think I had chosen quite a hard walk for Stan, as he soon found it hard work, and was starting to flag. He had drunk all of his water (except for the water that he tipped onto his head, that is), but that didn’t stop him doing an entertaining Rocky run for the camera up these massive steep concrete steps built into the side of the cliff (footage that I had somehow managed to lose, too… whoops!). But we did get to see a Seal feeding off of the coast. So another good month with regards to the coast path – another 45miles ticked off.
Next, it was time to test out my new tarp, as Nath and I did a hike and wild camp on Dartmoor’s South Moor, beneath Gutter Tor, which is quite near Burrator. The hike was a late start, and pretty stark and bleak, with the weather threatening above us, but by the time we got to tarp it, we actually enjoyed two things we have missed from our previous Dartmoor camps.
One, was daylight, or an evening, and the other was dry weather. We were actually able to sit outside and chat, cook our coffees and tea in the outside air, and open a present that a viewer of ours had sent us. Without ruining the video, my first outing in the tarp was not half as eventful as Nath was used to. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that the following weekend, I took my youngest son Coen for his first wild camping experience on Dartmoor.
We were invited by a friend, Will, who’s son George is in the same class as Coen at school. When I asked Coen if he wanted to sleep in the tent or the tarp, he chose tarp, and then added “I am the next generation of Summit or Nothing, don’t forget!” Good answer. Having only just got used to packing for myself (and proud of the fact that my weight at the Gutter Tor camp was 13kgs), I was soon thrown into a dilemma of what to take along for Coen.
We ended up filling my backpack and two rucksacks, easily pushing 20kgs again I should suspect. When I saw Will’s kit (and Georges) my eyes practically popped out of my head. He was packed in a day pack and a lunchbox-sized backpack for his son, and everything they took weighed about 5 Kilos. Absolutely amazing! Will is a massive lightweight enthusiast, and it was great to see first hand some of the gear that he had. It goes to show, that Nath and I are still finding our feet. This guy had it nailed.
And how did Coen do with his first tarp wild camp? He absolutely loved it. No being scared in the middle of the night or wanting to go home (although he did wake up at about 2am all tangled up in his sleeping bag and Bivvy bag). We camped near the river at Bellever Forest, and he and George were leaping from rock to rock, like a pair of wild boys, loving every minute of it.
Anyway, that was my hiking / wild camping / outdoors / vlogging quarterly blog. Who knows where the next three months will take us, well, we know one thing for sure, we are all booked in to take on a certain big fella called Ben. So until September, thanks for joining us. Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube to keep up to date with our adventures, and please, feel free to comment and share. Thanks, guys! See you all soon!