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Providing some clarity on Open Badges 2.0

It’s been five years since the public beta of the Open Badges specification was released. Since then version 1.0 was released (2013) followed by some smaller updates. The next major release happens in the next few weeks with version 2.0.

As a result, I thought it was worth taking the time to explain what this means both on a technical level and, more importantly, in practice for those issuing, earning, and displaying badges.

Background

Although Open Badges has grown into somewhat of a movement, at its core is a technical specification. It’s a ‘standard’ in the sense that those who provide platforms and solutions based do so in an interoperable way. Just as there are web standards meaning that you can use any browser to access your favourite website, so the Open Badges specification ensures everything ‘just works’.

The Open Badges specification is now stewarded by IMS Global Learning Consortium, having taken over the role from the Badge Alliance at the beginning of 2017. You can read more about the history and evolution of Open Badges.

Digitalme are looking after the evolution of the Open Badges backpack, the place where uses store and share their credentials. I’ve written about this recently here.

Development of version 2.0 of the Open Badges specification was informed by a ‘use cases’ document developed by the community. The technical work and discussion around it took place via regular, open meetings, and via this GitHub repository.

Most, but not all, of the proposed changes outlined by Kerri Lemoie in her post last September, were included in this update.

What’s changed?

The new, canonical page for Open Badges 2.0 is on the IMS Global Learning Consortium website. It’s pretty technical, and even the ‘non-technical’ guide involves some discussion of terms many people won’t be familiar with.

Readers of this post are more likely to be interested in what’s new in the specification. What can we do differently to before? Before we look at that, let’s just look at what was previously possible, reminding ourselves of the difference between a ‘badge class’ (i.e. metadata contained in every badge of that type) and an ‘assertion’ (i.e. metadata contained in a badge that’s unique to the individual).

What's inside an Open Badge?

Image CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers

Version 2.0 of the Open Badges specification makes new features available both in the badge class and assertion, as well as other, ‘miscellaneous’ features. Here’s a list of what’s changed. Let’s break those down.

Badge Class
  • Endorsements — a type of badge that is issued to a whole range of people can now be endorsed by a third party.
    • Use cases include badges that are issued by teachers that are then endorsed by a school, and badges issued by local awarding bodies that are then endorsed by national/international awarding bodies.
  • Embed criteria — criteria about what an individual had to do to earn a badge can now be embedded directly into the badge class, using Markdown. Previously, issuers had to provide a hyperlink to a URL on their website giving details of badge criteria.
    • Use cases include making badge criteria more machine-readable for issuers, helping their badges become more discoverable. For badge earners, it shows at-a-glance what they had to do to be issued the badge, instead of badge ‘consumers’ having to click through to an external site.
Assertions
  • Endorsements — a badge that is issued to an individual, or subset of the whole group of people who have earned that type of badge, can now be endorsed by a third party.
    • Use cases include colleagues endorsing you for a particular workplace skill (kind of LinkedIn endorsements, but on steroids), and getting a well known person or organisation to endorse a badge you’ve already earned. This allows for badges to grow in value over time.
  • Embed evidence — the evidence proving an individual has met the criteria to be issued a badge can now be embedded in assertions, using Markdown.
    • Use cases include representing the types of evidence that are acceptable to meet the criteria for a badge to be issued, and displaying several pieces of evidence towards a single badge.
  • Fully portable — badge classes and issuer metadata can be embedded into assertions, meaning Open Badges don’t have to rely on links that may disappear.
    • Use cases include issuers cryptographically signing the entirety of the metadata associated with a badge, to enhance verifiability, and badge earners not being faced with ‘incomplete’ badges if a badge platform no longer exists.
Misc.
  • Internationalisation — badges can now be issued in multiple language, and users can see that this is the case.
  • Version control — the specification now allows updates to be made to badges and, like a wiki, the differences between versions can be viewed.
  • Embed information about badge images — just as regular images on the web have ‘alt’ tags to allow them to be more accessible to people with disabilities, so Open Badges can now include information about the image representing them. This also helps make badges more machine-readable.
  • Award badges to non-email identities — some of the biggest complaints about Open Badges stem from email-based issuing. Now, badges can be issued to identities other than email, including social logins and verified profiles.
  • Improved alignment — while it’s already possible to enter a URL that shows a single framework or standard that a badge aligns with,  version 2.0 allows a badge to reference multiple frameworks/standards.

Is everyone using 2.0 now?

No. It’s up to individual providers to update their systems. All of the sponsors of Badge News are 2.0-compatible, and the rest of the ecosystem should adopt the new standard in the next few weeks and months.

Verifiers, backpacks and issuers begin to be updated to support the 2.0 Recommendation. Once 2 open source verifiers, 2 open source backpack providers, and at least 2 issuer platforms or applications are updated to support 2.0, we expect adoption to be considered final and 2.0 to be the official version of Open Badges. (source)

If you’re already issuing badges, you might wonder about compatibility between different versions of the Open Badges specification. The short answer for 99% of use cases is that yes, the specification is backwards-compatible. The longer answer is explored on the IMS Global changes page.

Further reading

If you want to go into a bit more detail, Nate Otto, Director of Open Badges for Concentric Sky (and former Director of the Badge Alliance) has written some helpful posts.

Questions?

I’ve spent the last six years working in and around Open Badges, first as a volunteer, then for Mozilla, and now as a consultant. If I don’t have the answer to your question, I’ll probably know someone who will!

Final note

I’m co-founder of We Are Open Co-op and we’re currently working  Badge Wiki, which will be a knowledge repository for the Open Badges community, made possible by Participate. It will eventually contain the kind of information that this blog post covers, so make sure you sign up for updates to find out more.

Image CC0 Aaron Burden

Weeknote 23/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’ll be configuring Badge Wiki, preparing to present at an Open Badges event up at the University of Dundee, doing some research about open practices in the NHS, and making some important decisions about the future…


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

Digital Employability for the New Economy [Stir to Action]

STIR Issue 18, Summer 2017I’m delighted to announced that my article for Stir to Action magazine, ‘Digital Employability for the New Economy’ will be published in their Summer 2017 issue entitled The Cult of Innovation.

Those paying close attention to this blog will have already seen the draft of this article and I encourage everyone to buy the magazine, or better yet, become a subscriber (like me!)

Contents:

  • Law Column — Ana Stanic
  • Commons Column — Michel Bauwens
  • The Cult of Innovation — Dan Gregory
  • Rural Project — Ben Eagle
  • Rethinking Education for Co-operation — Cilla Ross
  • Digital Employability for the New Economy — Doug Belshaw
  • Interview: Brianna Wettlaufer & Nuno Silva‍
  • The William Morris Economy — Simon Parker
  • Post-Brexit: English Futures — Andy Goldring
  • Q&A: Imandeep Kaur
  • The Ethics of Economics — Matthew Wilson
  • Playing for our Lives — Inez Aponte
  • Review: Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics — Anna Laycock 

     

     

Some thoughts on the future of the Open Badges backpack

Update: I’ve slept on this, and think that the ‘Credential Switch Guarantee’ isn’t quite the correct metaphor, as there’s nothing ‘in the middle’. A better model might be that of escrow, but even that isn’t perfect. I’ll keep thinking…


Last week, Jason McGonigle, CTO of Digitalme got in touch to say he’d written a blog post about the future of the Open Badges ‘backpack’. For those unaware, here’s a quick history lesson.

In the early days of Open Badges it was felt that Mozilla needed a place that any earner, no matter where they had earned their badges, could store and display them. This was seen as somewhat of a ‘stopgap’ measure. The priority after launching v1.0 of the specification in 2012 was to ‘decentralise’ the Open Badges ecosystem by federating the backpack.

This federation, in practice, was more easily said than done. Three things caused it to be problematic. First the inevitable politics. There’s no need to go into details here, but the spinning out of the Badge Alliance from Mozilla was doomed to failure. As a result, the focus on federating the backpack (and on creating BadgeKit to make badge issuing easier) went by the wayside.

Second, there were technical issues beyond my understanding with federating the backpack. Apparently it’s a very hard thing to do. Third, the need for federation is just something that’s quite difficult to explain to people. We’re so used to centralised services. I used to try and do so by talking about the way email works. These days, my example might be Mastodon.

As a result, Mozilla’s backpack became a central piece of the Open Badges puzzle. That, I think, actually worked to the advantage of badge advocates. While the Open Badges specification can be rather technical and dry, there’s something about the backpack that’s ‘homely’ and easier to explain to people. Having somewhere to store and show off your digital credentials just makes sense.

Carla Casilli, my former colleague at Mozilla, wrote a post this time last year in which she gave her views on the backpack and explained how it is rooted in ideology:

So much ink has been spilled already on the subject of the Mozilla badge backpack: almost from the start it has been both an important philosophical stake in the ground about personal data ownership as well as a raging battleground about its necessity. Questions about it have abounded. What works, what doesn’t. Who uses it, who doesn’t. What’s happening with it, what has happened to it. And yet, even with all of this back and forth, there has always been so much more to say about it.

Jason alludes to user sovereignty in his post, but I think Carla really nails it in hers:

One of the best unheralded benefits? When a badge earner used the reference implementation of the Mozilla Open Badges backpack, there was no requirement for them to be a member of a separate, corporate-owned social network in order to display their badges. Not at all.

In other words, users need a place to store and display their badges that aren’t tied to badge issuers. End of story.

These days, there’s no-one at Mozilla working on Open Badges. That’s been the case for at least a couple of years now. Instead, Digitalme were given a contract by Mozilla to continue work on the Open Badges backpack, while overall development of the standard is now the responsibility of IMS Global Learning Consortium. This, and the fact that there’s no badge track at MozFest 2017 tells you all you need to know about Mozilla’s future plans around badges.

So we’re left in the situation where one of the major players in the Open Badges landscape is responsible for a key bit of infrastructure. It’s not ideal, even if I know and trust the people at Digitalme.

The backpack is, and always has been, a place focused on user choice and control. I certainly hope it stays that way, and think that Jason’s vision of a ‘Credential Switch Guarantee’ might be a workable one. Users need something tangible that’s independent of commercial offerings.

Long live the backpack!

Image CC0 Alexandre Godreau


Interested in Open Badges? Subscribe to Badge News!

Weeknote 22/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’ll be in Dubai from Sunday to Tuesday, then I’m working from home on Wednesday and Thursday. I’d planned to get in another couple of Quality Mountain Days next weekend, but my son’s got an important swimming gala, and a football tournament, so I’m postponing for now.


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

Friends don’t let friends use Facebook

Facebook, on the other hand, only offers its users a forum to connect and share information. Facebook’s income derives from selling targeted advertising to be delivered to those same users, based on preferences the site has learned from their comments, friends, and preferences. It has no goods or services to sell, and its users don’t buy anything. Thus, its only product to take to market is, in fact, its users’ data. (source)

I don’t use Facebook. You shouldn’t either.

I scraped the trackers on these sites and I was absolutely dumbfounded. Every time someone likes one of these posts on Facebook or visits one of these websites, the scripts are then following you around the web. And this enables data-mining and influencing companies like Cambridge Analytica to precisely target individuals, to follow them around the web, and to send them highly personalised political messages. (Jonathan Albright, source)

Personalised advertising isn’t useful. It’s invasive, and it’s used to build a profile to manipulate you and your ‘friends’.

Using personality targeting, Facebook posts can attract up to 63 percent more clicks and 1,400 more conversions. (source)

There’s several pretty scary implications to where this could take us by 2020:

  1. Public sentiment as high-frequency trading — algorithms compete to sway the opinions of the electorate / consumers.
  2. Personalized, automated propaganda — not just lies by politicians, but auto-generated lies created by bots who know which of your ‘buttons’ to press.
  3. Ideological filter matrices — what happens when all of the other ‘people’ in your Facebook group are actually bots?

So, not only will I not use Facebook, but (like Dave Winer and John Gruber) I won’t link to it. Nor will I accept organisations that I’m part of setting up Facebook groups ‘for convenience’ or using a Facebook page in lieu of a website.

 Facebook is designed from the ground up as an all-out attack on the open web. (John Gruber)

The web is a huge force for good. We shouldn’t let inertia and a lack of digital skills turn it into a series of walled data mine.

Get a blog. If your ideas have any value put them on the open web. (Dave Winer)

From a business point of view, you’re mad to put all of your eggs in once basket. Get a website. Facebook’s content is, by design, not indexed by search engines. It’s invisible to search engines.

Look, I get that I’m the nut who doesn’t want to use Facebook. I’m not even saying don’t post your stuff to Facebook. But if Facebook is the only place you are posting something, know that you are shutting out people like me for no good reason. Go ahead and post to Facebook, but post it somewhere else, too. Especially if you’re running a business.

[…]

It’s 2017. There are a million ways to get a web site set up inexpensively that you can easily update yourself. Setting up a Facebook page and letting your web site rot, or worse, not even having a web site of your own, is outsourcing your entire online presence. That’s truly insane. It’s a massive risk to your business, and frankly, stupid. (source)

I feel more strongly about Facebook’s threat to the web than I did about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer at the turn of the millennium. Scarily, it looks like Twitter might be going the same way. I blame venture capital and invasive advertisnig.

Individual actions build up to movements. Resist. Find alternatives. Don’t be a boiled frog.

Header image based on an original by rodrigo

3 reasons I’ll not be returning to Twitter

This month I’ve been spending time away from Twitter in an attempt to explore Mastodon. I’ve greatly enjoyed the experience, discovering new people and ideas, learning lots along the way.

I’ve decided, for three reasons, that Twitter from now on is going to be an ‘endpoint’, somewhere I link to my thoughts and ideas. It’s the way I already use LinkedIn, for example, and the way I used to use Facebook — until I realised that the drawbacks of being on there far outweighed any benefits. This model, for those interested, is known as POSSE: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.

There’s three main reasons I came to this decision:

1.  Social networks should be owned by their users

Last week, at Twitter’s 2017 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, there was a proposal to turn the service into a user-owned co-operative. It failed, but these kinds of things are all about the long game. You can find out more about the movement behind it here.

However, it’s already possible to join a social network that’s owned by its users. I’m a member of social.coop, which is an instance of Mastodon, a decentralised, federated approach to social media. I’m paying $3/month and have access to a Loomio group for collective decision-making.

I imagine some people reading this will be rolling their eyes, thinking “this will never scale”. I’d just like to point out a couple of things. First, services backed by venture capital can grow rapidly, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re sustainable. Second, because Mastodon is a protocol rather than a centralised service, it can provide communities of practice  within a wider ecosystem. In that sense, it’s a bit like Open Badges.

2. Twitter’s new privacy policy

Coming into effect on 15th June 2017, Twitter is bringing in a new privacy policy that signals the end of their support of Do Not Track. Instead, they have brought in ‘more granular’ privacy settings.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is concerned about this:

Twitter has stated that these granular settings are intended to replace Twitter’s reliance on Do Not Track. However, replacing a standard cross-platform choice with new, complex options buried in the settings is not a fair trade. Although “more granular” privacy settings sound like an improvement, they lose their meaning when they are set to privacy-invasive selections by default. Adding new tracking options that users are opted into by default suggests that Twitter cares more about collecting data than respecting users’ choice.

It’s also worth noting that Twitter talks about privacy in terms of ‘sharing’ data, rather than its collection. They’ll soon be invasively tracking users around the web, just like Facebook. Why? Because they need to hoover up as much data as possible, to sell to advertisers, to increase the value of their stock to shareholders. Welcome to the wonders of surveillance capitalism.

3. Anti-individualism

There’s a wonderful interview with Adam Curtis on Adam Buxton’s podcast, parts of which I’ve found myself re-listening to over the past few days. Curtis discusses many things, but the central narrative is about the problems that come with individualism underpinning our culture.

We’re all expected to express how individual we are, but the way that we do this is through capitalism, meaning that we end up living in an empty, hollow simulacrum, mediated by the market. Guy Debord had it right in The Society of the Spectacle. It also reminds me of this part of Monty Python’s Life Of Brian . “Yes, we’re all individuals.”

Sigh.

So, in my own life, I’m trying to rectify this by advocating for a world that’s more co-operative, more sustainable, and more focused on collective action rather than the glorification of individuals.


To be clear: I’ll get around to replying to Twitter direct messages, but I am no longer looking to engage in conversation either in public or private on that platform. I’ve updated my self-hosted Twitter archive and am considering using the open source Cardigan app to delete my tweets before May 2017 to prevent data-mining.

Image CC BY-NC Miki J.

Weeknote 21/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week it’s half-term for the rest of my family. As a result, apart from a bit of  research for London CLC and for Rachel Hammel, and some preparatory work for Badge Wiki, I’ll be taking it a bit easier. We may go away for a night or two.

One thing I will need to prepare for, however, it the virtual conference on the topic of Digital Literacy and Fake News. I’m a keynote speaker, and the resources I’ll be pointing to can be found here.


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

Weeknote 20/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #258 was entitled ‘Keep on keepin’ on’.
  • Walking in the Lake District to clock up two more ‘Quality Mountain Days’. Sunday was glorious sunglasses-and-ice-cream weather and so was easy, but Monday was challenging, and I fell down a crag.
  • Collaborating with my We Are Open Co-op colleagues on Tuesday morning. It was a ‘pre-think’ before the thinkathon we’re running next week for Passbolt.
  • Participating in a pre-conference Livestreaming 101 workshop on Tuesday afternoon, led by Christian Payne. I learned a lot about various approaches and kit, but also about how to run a very relaxed (yet very effective) three-hour workshop. Using Periscope meant I was back on Twitter for a few hours, and you can see the results here and here.
  • Attending the Thinking Digital conference. I’m always blown away by the quality and range of things that the speakers talk about. It was great to see regulars and to meet new people. The highlight for me was Imogen Heap performing a Frou Frou song, using her crazy gloves that can control music in realtime. At the conference dinner, I sat next to Martin Rosinski, the founder of Palringo, who lives down the road from me. His platform serves 30 million users. Wow!
  • Putting together some resources around fake news and digital literacies for an upcoming online keynote I’m doing on June 1st. More details here.
  • Recording and releasing Episode 82 of Today In Digital Education (TIDE), the regular podcast I record with Dai Barnes. This episode was entitled ‘Virtually Education’ and we discussed what we’ve been up to recently, online security, the link between education and poverty, grammar ‘robots’, hacking, virtual reality, and Google’s latest announcements.
  • Catching up with all kinds of people, including Erica Neve from Freeformers, Mike Carter from Tyncan Learning, Rafa Pereira from data.world, Rob Artnsen from MyKnowledgeMapWill Bentinck from Makers Academy, and Paul Stacey from Creative Commons.
  • Making updates and corrections to the Stir to Action article I submitted last week. You can view the draft here.
  • Starting to use 750words.com again to write down my thoughts at the beginning of the day. It’s something I used to do regularly, and I like the stats they give you. The approach is known as Morning Pages.
  • Talking with Cetis, who are (like We Are Open) a co-op that’s part of Co-operative Technologists. We’re putting in a joint bid to the Ufi VocTech Seed Fund next week.
  • Carrying out some research for London CLC around technology-enhanced teacher professional development in various parts of the world. It’s early days, but I’ve enjoyed diving into some of the academic literature.
  • Getting through the funding/sponsorship from Participate to start work on a wiki-based knowledge repository for Open Badges case studies, etc. We’ve also had confirmation from the foundational sponsors of Badge News that they’d like to continue with the arrangement past the first six month trial period!
  • Spending late Friday night with our eldest in hospital after a weird rash and blue lips gave us cause for concern. Turns out nobody knows what’s wrong, but he’s OK. The joys of parenting…
  • Writing:

Next week I’m working from home on Monday and Tuesday, travelling to London on Wednesday afternoon, spending Thursday at the Future of Work Summit and in meetings, and then taking Friday off.


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

Quality Mountain Days 9 & 10: Red Screes, Great Rigg, and Kentmere Pike

As regular readers of this blog will be aware, I’m aiming to get on a Mountain Leader course by 2018. To do so I need to complete (and log) twenty ‘Quality Mountain Days‘. This time around, I headed back to the Lake District on Sunday and Monday.

Journey to Ambleside

The two days couldn’t have been more different, which goes to show how the weather can really affect both your safety and enjoyment when walking at altitude. Sunday was glorious; I wore my sunglasses virtually all day, and enjoyed an ice-cream by Lake Windermere when I came back down. Monday, however, was a completely different story: 40mph winds, incessant (freezing) rain, and low visibility.

Planning

I planned my routes by using OS Explorer Map OL7, and by using the Premium features of the Ordnance Survey website. I’ve found the latter extremely useful since its launch, particularly the 3D mapping feature. It means I (should) know what to expect before I get there.

Red Screes and High Pike circular (3D)

Checking the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS), I could see that Sunday and Monday were going to be very different days. It’s actually the first time I’ve opted to go out at this time of the week, a decision we made as a family so as not to interfere too much with our children’s activities. However, as it happened, that meant an extremely difficult day on Monday, with little time for recovery before work on Tuesday.

Sunday (QMD 9)

The route I planned for my first day of walking took me up Red Screes, across over Dove Crag and Hart Crag, round by Great Rigg, and back past Rydal.

QMD 9 (planned)

Usually, I record my actual route using the OS Maps app. However, for whatever reason, my battery was extremely low by the time I arrived in the Lake District. I think that was down to a faulty cable that made it look like my phone was charging while Google Maps was giving me directions, but that wasn’t actually the case. I prioritised being able to make calls in the event of an emergency over recording my actual route.

On the way up I met a retired guy coming down Snarker Pike. We got chatting, and he mentioned that he’d gone up there early to watch the sunrise! I noticed that, although it was dry where we were, he was wearing gaiters, so I decided to put mine on.

QMD 9 - Snarker Pike

A bit further on, I ended up deviating from the route I’d planned after making a mistake. After checking my map and compass, it looked like I was heading for Middle Dodd. I made a course correction to ensure I was going to Little Hart Crag, but that actually took me off in the wrong direction. As a result, I had to traverse the side of a mountain. That wasn’t much fun on the knees and ankles!

Once back on track, I decided to go up the steeper route to Scandale Head. As my detour had added time onto the route I’d planned, and I knew the next day’s walking was going to be challenging, I decided to come back down via High Pike and Low Pike. I didn’t want to be out for longer than I needed to be.

QMD 9 - Little Pike

On the way back down I met a guy using walking poles. I asked him about them, as I’d intended to buy some when I got back home. He said how inexpensive they were, and how much of a difference they made. I resolved to buy some when I got back down to Ambleside.

It was a pretty straightforward route back to the car, the only slightly tricky bit was getting down Sweden Crag. I walked back to the car, and then straight into Mountain Warehouse and bought some walking poles. I was out exactly five hours, from 09:15 to 14:15.

QMD 9 - bluebells and tree

The rest of the day I spent eating ice-cream, reading the newspaper in the pub, and talking to people at the hostel. There was one guy in particular who was really interesting and ended up telling me his life story.

Things I learned:

  1. Double-check before doing a ‘course correction’ just in case you were actually on the right path.
  2. Always wear gaiters.
  3. When it’s been dry for a long period of time, overnight rain can make everything slippery.

Monday (QMD 10)

After Sunday, it was hard to believe that Monday’s weather could be so different. However, I trust MWIS, so had planned a route that I thought would be challenging yet safe. Parking the car at Sadgill, I plotted an anti-clockwise walk up to Harter Fell, then Kentmere Pike, and back down and round to the car.

QMD 10 (planned)

I usually enjoy my walks, even if it’s physically (and sometimes mentally tough). I did not enjoy Monday at all. There were times I could barely see. The four layers of clothing I was wearing were so wet I could wring them out along with my gloves. The wind was brutal and the freezing rain and low cloudbase meant I couldn’t see much.

While I had my phone with me, once I’d put it in the right mode to record my route and took a few photos, I left it alone. There was too much rain to use the touchscreen, and any time I put my arms down from the 90-ish degrees of using my walking poles, water gushed out of the opening to my coat. It was pooling in my sleeves.

QMD 10 - signpost

There were a couple of times on the way up to Harter Fell that I thought I was going the wrong way. It’s easy to get disorientated and, stupidly, I’d managed to leave my compass in the car. It was only after triple-checking my map that I was convinced I was on the correct route. Thank goodness for the distinctive shape of some fields. I probably should have done some pacing, but I was too miserable.

While it wasn’t too catastrophic, I did make one mistake on Monday. I mistook one corner of a field for another, went over a stile, and then realised I was rather close to a very steep edge. I retraced my steps, got my bearings, and got back on track.

QMD 10 - cairn

Everything was going fine, and I was looking getting back to the dry warmth of my car. I could feel myself speeding up, as the BPM of the songs going through my head were getting faster.

As happened the day before, I had to climb down a crag on the way back. This one, Wray Crag, shouldn’t have been an issue. The problem was that it was my first day with the walking poles. They’d been great up to that point, really saving my knees. One thing I hadn’t done, however, was keep checking that the clasps keeping the extendable bits in place remained tight. It was as I used my left-hand pole to steady myself as I come down the crag that it gave way.

I must of only tumbled down a couple of metres, landing on my elbow and hip. I got up straight away, cursing myself for my stupidity. Realising I was alright, I counted my blessings, as if I’d hit my head it could have been very different. I tightened my walking poles, and strode on.

QMD 10 - clouds

Getting back to the car, I looked at my watch. I’d set off at the same time as yesterday (09:15) but got back to the car by 13:45. So a four and a half hour walk, instead of the five hours I’m supposed to do for a QMD. I’m still counting it, as it was extremely challenging for me, I didn’t stop for more than two minutes at any point, and I learned a whole lot.

My phone turned off as soon as I got it out of my rucksack, and wouldn’t turn back on. I was convinced it had irreparable water damage, and had to use my car’s inbuilt satnav to get back home. I dried myself and changed clothes rather awkwardly in the back of the car before driving home.

QMD 10 - valley

Given that I’d told my wife to phone Mountain Rescue if she hadn’t heard from me by 17:00, it was important I got home before that time. Fortunately, it’s only a bit over two hours from that part of the Lake District back to my house. I stopped at a service station for all of five minutes for a coffee, a sausage roll, and a cinnamon bun, and got back home in record time.

Things I learned:

  1. Check. Your. Poles.
  2. Don’t go up a mountain without a compass.
  3.  I probably could do with a waterproof phone.
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