Welcome to my blog. I'm an outdoor writer and photographer with a passion for wilderness and mountains. Use the links above to find out more about me and my books and walks. Click on a blog heading to see any comments or to add your own. -Chris Townsend

Monday, 2 May 2016

Walking Man: the biography of Colin Fletcher


Robert Wehrman's long awaited biography of my favourite outdoor writer Colin Fletcher is to be published very soon, probably late June/early July. Robert has sent me the cover - I'm honoured to be quoted on it. This is one book I'm really looking forward to reading.

For those wondering who Colin Fletcher is I wrote about him here.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Great Outdoors Spring Issue


The Spring issue of The Great Outdoors is out now. (It sits between the May and June issues). My gear reviews cover 13 windproof tops and 11 pairs of walking trousers plus the Suunto Traverse GPS watch. In my backpacking column I look at when it's best to decide to retreat or take a lower route. And Out There, my latest book, is reviewed by Alex Roddie.

The theme of this issue is wild places and quite a few are covered from Scotland to Russia. Keith Fergus undertakes a high level two-day walk from Speyside to Deeside; Mark Gilligan photographs the Duddon Valley in the Lake District; Paul Beasley goes bog-trotting on Dartmoor; Rob Collister walks the Aran ridge in Snowdonia; Lenny Antonelli explores the Slievetooey coast of Donegal; and, wildest of all, Alec Forss traverses the Ural mountains on foot and packraft.

Also in this issue there's a superb double-page photo of Suilven by Alex Nail; Roger Smith reviews Terry Abraham's new film Life of a Mountain Blencathra; Robald Turnbull comes up with eight bits of the Lake District he likes least; Carey Davies praises paths; Roger Smith calls for joined-up thinking about the countryside; and Jim Perrin reviews The Mountains of Snowdonia in History, The Sciences, Literature and Sport by H.R.C.Carr & G.A.Lister.




Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Nigor Wickiup 3 reviewed for The Great Outdoors

The Wickiup 3 in the Cairngorms, February 2016

GoLite's Shangri-La 3 pyramid tent has been a favourite of mine for many years, especially for winter camping. With the demise of GoLite a few years ago it vanished from the shops, a good design seemingly gone. Not for good though as Nigor soon came out with the very, very similar Wickiup 3, which has proved at least as good as the original. I've been using it for quite a while and have now reviewed it in my column on the The Great Outdoors website.

The Shangri-La 3 in the Cairngorms, February 2013

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Winter Returns


Here in Strathspey snow has been falling on and off for two days along with occasional heavy showers of hail. This evening the snow has become heavier and the land is turning white. Winter has returned.





The above photos all taken between 6 and 6.15pm.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Ten Of My Favourite Long Distance Walks In The Guardian

Makalu

I've described ten favourite long-distance walks for The Guardian. The walks include Makalu Base Camp, the Scottish Watershed, and the GR20 in Corsica. You can read the piece here.

A splendid view on the GR20

View over Rannoch Moor from the Watershed


Friday, 22 April 2016

Such a silly thing to do ... and plans change


Strathspey & the Cairngorms, April 21

Crossing a road, thinking of the talk I’m to give that evening, holding sandwiches and newspapers for the train journey to come. Suddenly I’m falling, then landing hard, on hands and knees. In the middle of a highway. With that thought I rise and stagger to safety. There’s a lot of blood I notice. Both hands are bleeding. My pale trousers are stained red. I’m still thinking of continuing my journey, giving my talk. I try and clean up in the station toilet. I fail. Back at my car I’m still wondering how to catch the train without getting too much blood on everything. A woman comes up to me. ‘Are you ok?’. ‘Yes’, I respond automatically. She can see I’m not. ‘You need stitches’, she says, ‘we can take you to the health centre’. I’m about to refuse but the sight of my bleeding hands triggers something in my head and I know she’s right. A man with her comments on the amount of blood. I think they followed the trail of it from the station. A few minutes later I’m in a health centre and being patched up by nurses and a doctor. I do need stitches and lots of bandages on hands and knees. My rescuers have gone. I thanked them but never got their names. They were local, from Forres, and very kind. I’m not sure what I’d have done without them.

How did I fall? I don’t know. Maybe I tripped on something or slipped on an oily patch. I have no memory of starting to fall, only of falling. Such a silly thing to do I thought as I sat in the health centre being repaired. Such a silly thing but it’s changed the next few weeks. Today I was meant to be flying to Colorado for the ski tour with Igloo Ed. That’s not possible now. I couldn’t grip a ski pole let alone shovel snow. My dressings need changing every few days, the stitches need to come out sometime next week. I’m on antibiotics in case of infection. Ten days in the mountains, any mountains, is not an option.

View across Strathspey to the Hills of Cromdale, April 20

Back home I thought about coming to terms with the new situation, about how to deal with it. I can’t change it. I have to accept it. Look forward I think. The ski trip has gone now. A couple of local strolls to look at the signs of spring and the distant snowy mountains and to enjoy the sunshine eases any stress. My partner is wonderful, sympathetic and practical. That helps greatly. The ski tour will be next year now. But the TGO Challenge is in three weeks. That suddenly seems close. I need to have recovered by then.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

John Muir Day 'Climb the mountains and get their good tidings'.


John Muir died 102 years ago today. I've written a piece about him and his legacy for The Scotsman.

Two years ago I wrote this for the 100th anniversary.

Here are a few of my favourite quotations from John Muir.

'Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.'

'Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.'

'This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.'

'Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.'