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Quality Mountain Day 14: Whiteside Pike, Ancrow Brow, and White Howe (Lake District)

Yesterday, after 24.63km as part of Quality Mountain Day 13, I followed a route that was both similar and different to what I’d experienced the previous day.

QMD 14 - 3D

The similarities? It was a horseshoe route, and around the same overall distance. The differences? The ground was boggier, and I wasn’t following a pre-defined path.

Selside church

As it wasn’t a defined route, I had to find somewhere to park. I decided to park next to the church at Selside, which meant a slightly longer overall walk. I began properly at where the path crossed the A6.

Notice next to gate

Interestingly, there were a few occasions during the route I chose where notices posted last week indicated a change to public rights of way. This was the most interesting one, near the start of my walk. Evidently, the farmer had padlocked the gate and the notice was re-enforcing a public bridleway. I just jumped over the fence.

Heather

The ground was covered with heather and other low-lying vegetation that like boggy ground. I knew I was in for a bit of a hike. It was also clear that I wasn’t going to see many other people, unlike the previous day.

Whiteside Pike

The first peak I ascended was Whiteside Pike (397m). The views were breathtaking, and the climb up there straightforward. I then had to decide how to get across to Todd Fell (401m).

Wall stile

The most difficult thing about this walk wasn’t the length or even the height I ascended to with each peak. It was the ground, which varied between clumpy and extremely boggy.

That mean that even the relatively simple task of getting from one peak to another often involved detours and figuring out the lay of the land.

I spotted a stile built into a drystone wall as I descended Whiteside Pike, and so made my way towards, and over, it.

As I looked over to the east, I noticed that the next valley had very low-lying cloud. Unfortunately, this had dissipated by the time I got round the horseshoe to have a closer look, but it did lend a certain ethereal quality to the walk.

Low-lying cloud

My biggest problem during this walk, as I’ve already stated, was the boggy ground. This made things hard going at times, and also meant that I had problems with my walking boots. I’ve bought gel insoles that are great, but sometimes work their way loose and ‘ruck up’ inside my boots. This causes me pain, so I had to stop three times in total to sort them out.

Walking boots

I was walking with two poles which made life a lot easier. I learned to lengthen and shorten the poles depending on whether I was going uphill or downhill. One of my favourite things to do with them is to use them as a kind of way to ‘pole vault’ across small streams and boggy ground. On one occasion I put my pole into the ground and it… kept going!

Tarn

I made my way up to Cappelbarrow (512m) and then round to Ancrow Brow, stopping to drink and eat occasionally. It was a glorious day, and this part of the walk was the easiest.

Route up to Cappelbarrow

There was a real diversity of vegetation on the ground, including some areas that were almost red with a plant I’ve yet to identify.

Vegetation

As it was a bit of a trudge going through the boggy ground, I took the opportunity to follow trails made by animals and farmers’ quad bikes wherever possible. So my route around to Long Crag (493m) wasn’t as I’d planned, as I didn’t stick to the fence but instead followed the trails.

White Howe

By the time I got to White Howe (530m) I was looking forward to making my descent, getting to the car, and driving home. It had turned into a bit of a slog. I phoned my wife to let her know I was OK and made my way towards what is marked on the map as ‘Lamb Pasture’.

Lamb Pasture

I’m not sure whether it was because I was distracted while talking to my wife, or because of the streams of water that I had to navigate around, but I made a wrong turn which meant that I ended up next to Wolfhowe Plantation.

Stream

All that was left to do was to find the bridleway and make my way down to the A6. Due to the speed of the cars going along the road, and how intermittent the paths were, I took a detour to get back to the church. I’m not fond of going through fields full of cows (it’s the way they stop and stare at you…) but I found my way back eventually.

Church from a distance

As I was pretty much out of water by this point, it was a good job that I got talking to an old guy who was busy doing some gardening. He allowed me to fill up my bottle from a tap attached to a bore hole. As he promised, it was perhaps the most refreshing water I’ve ever tasted!

By the time I got back to the car, I’d walked 21.57km. As I peeled off my sodden boots and walking socks, I saw the mother of all blisters on my left heel. From prior experience, I decided to do something about that, especially as I had a two-hour drive ahead of me. I got out my first aid kit, sterilised my scissors, cut a small nick in the blister, and drained it of fluid. I then covered what was left with plasters and drove home.

Things I learned:

  1. Boggy walks are tedious and energy-sapping.
  2. Always use poles to test the ground if unsure.
  3. Stop still for phone calls to ensure I don’t get distracted and wander off-course.

Quality Mountain Day 13: Park Fell, High Street, and Ill Bell (Lake District)

I’m still attempting to get in the twenty Quality Mountain Days (QMDs) I need before I can book myself on a a Mountain Leader course. I contracted to work four days per week for Moodle. As I worked five last week, I took the opportunity to work three this week and sneak over to the Lake District this Thursday and Friday.

QMD13-14-getting-there

I’ll get my excuses in now: I developed a bit of a cold the day before I went, my right knee felt a bit weak, and the Mountain Weather Information Service was forecasting winds of 35-50mph on the peaks in the Lake District. That’s why, instead of plotting my own route for QMD 13, I chose one of the ‘premium’ routes provided to Ordnance Survey Maps subscribers (like me!)

QMD 13
In the event, I modified the 24km route a bit. It ended up being the same length but, of course, the bit I changed as a ‘shortcut’ ended up being the hardest part!

QMD 13 - map

It was easy going at first. I parked at Low Fold, and walked down to Church Bridge, along through Limefitt Holiday Park, and along the valley towards The Tongue. I had nipped up the hill quickly to see if I could see the cairns supposedly on my left (I couldn’t) and stopped for a coffee.

QMD 13 - Troutbeck Park

As I sipped my less-than-stellar brew, I looked up and realised what my ‘shortcut’ entailed: a steep ascent up Park Fell. I girded myself and plodded up it, stopping occasionally to, ahem, ‘admire the view’.

QMD 13 - Thornthwaite Crag

I continued on to Thornthwaite Crag in the glorious sunshine and more to eat and drink. There were quite a few other walkers out and my walking poles made this shallower ascent much easier. The next bit was just a saunter around the corner to the top of Racecourse Hill. Annoyingly, it was just off the edge of my paper OS map, but I’d seen on the online version that it wasn’t much further.

QMD 13 - mist

As I started back from Racecourse Hill, the weather started to turn. I could see it coming in from a distance, so I had to decide whether to continue with my planned route or whether to modify it. I decided to keep going as modifying would mean either walking further or a steep descent.

QMD 13 - Ill Bell

By the time I got past High Street and on to Froswick, I couldn’t see the top of the next summit, Ill Bell. In fact, as I got to the incline to start the ascent up Ill Bell, the girl who was walking in front of me abruptly turned round and decided to go back. I, however, decided to power up it. It’s not often I put on music when I’m walking, but I needed some motivation. Getting to the top felt like an achievement.

QMD 13 - gate and map

From there, walking over to the Yoke, and then down to Garburn Nook was straightforward. I was tempted by what looked like a shortcut down to Limefitt Holiday Park, but when I got there saw that there was a lot of bracken. I’ve been seduced by that option before, and it didn’t turn out well. I kept going.

Six hours and 23.63km later, I arrived back at my car. It wasn’t the hardest walk in the world, given that I stuck to the paths, but I had to make decisions along the way and deal with changing weather conditions. So I reckon that counts as a QMD!

Things I learned:

  1. Think carefully about ‘shortcuts’ before taking them.
  2. Sometimes it’s OK to stick to the paths.

Weeknote 38/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m working three days for Moodle (Mon-Weds) and onboarding a new member to the MoodleNet team. I’m then planning to head up a mountain.

The fate of private social networks

I knew this had been coming for the last few years, really, but today I discovered that Path, the social network I use with my family, is shutting down. We’ve been using it since 2010 to share photos of our children growing up, and to keep each other up-to-date with family life.

Last year, I started paying for Path, as a small effort towards making it sustainable. Obviously not enough people were doing so. To be honest, the value proposition for paid versus free accounts wasn’t exactly awesome. After all, there’s only so many sticker packs you can use!

So my family will be looking for something that replaces Path. This turns out to be something that’s both of personal and professional interest to me at the moment, as I’m leading the MoodleNet project.

My first port of call when I’m looking for an alternative to some software is alternativeto.net. Their crowdsourced list of apps that could replace Path doesn’t quite do the job, unfortunately. I’ve been trying to think about why that is, so fired up Google Slides and created image at the top of this post. You can remix it if you want.

My point here is to show that there’s many kinds of social interactions. I’m focusing on what my family uses, so haven’t put MoodleNet on there, but if I had, I think we’d be looking at it being right in the middle. The small grey arrows show the direction of travel I think that each app is, or has been, on.

It would be easy to look at this and conclude that we’re living in a world where everything’s moving to being more synchronous and public, but I’m not sure that’s true. Ideally, I reckon we want the option to communicate with one another in all four quadrants here.

What do you think? Is there anything out there which would replace Path? We’ve been trying out a private Google+ community, but it’s somehow not as… fun.


Update: after a quick dalliance with Google+ we’re currently trying out Vero.

Weeknote 37/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m working from home all day Monday and Tuesday morning, then I’m off to London for a mini sprint on the front-end development of MoodleNet with Mayel de Borniol and Outlandish.

 

Weeknote 36/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m working from home on Monday, then in Manchester for the ALT conference from Tuesday to Thursday.


Image from p.118 of the excellent Life in Code by Ellen Ullman

Weeknote 35/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Weds):
    • Screening more applicants for the MoodleNet backend developer (Elixir) position.
    • Checking in with Outlandish about UX and front end development.
    • Meeting with Kaye Cheung about branding and the @moodlenet Twitter account.
    • Planning and booking travel/accommodation for an upcoming mini-sprint around front end development with Outlandish in London.
    • Defining sprints up to MVP release.
    • Configuring our GitLab to work as we want it to. We had initially set up sprints as milestones, but are reconfiguring to make it more legible to the community.
    • Creating the first draft of a quarterly team review report which I’ll be finishing off next week.
    • Publicising the first ‘office hours’ for MoodleNet next Thursday. Further details on the blog.
  • Collaborating with my We Are Open colleagues on some upcoming work (Thurs).
  • Joining my family in Devon at the in-laws.
  • Deleting my account on social.coop and reverting to an old account elsewhere on Mastodon.

Next week I’m back working from home working on MoodleNet and participating remotely in a thinkathon for London CLC.

Weeknotes 32, 33, and 34/2018

We’re back! After a wonderful two-week family inter-railing adventure around Europe taking in Barcelona, Lyon, Zurich, Ljubljana, Salzburg, and Stuttgart, we arrived back home just before midnight on Tuesday.

Our favourite place? Slovenia (Ljubljana and Lake Bled). Lyon was a close second, and Barcelona third. Salzburg was good, but we’ll not be hurrying back to Zurich or Stuttgart.

Since being back, I’ve recorded Episode 107 of the TIDE podcast with Dai Barnes, and worked from Wednesday to Friday on the MoodleNet project. That’s included:

  • Catching up with email, etc.
  • Performing a sprint retrospective and reviewing Mayel’s work around specifying the initial data models.
  • Screening applicants for the MoodleNet backend developer (Elixir) position. From 70+ applications we’re planning to have informal conversations with nine, and have talked to two candidates so far.
  • Setting up a server to get started with forking the Pleroma code base.
  • Participating in the internal branding sprint.
  • Meeting with Garnet Berry about presenting at the ALT conference next month.
  • Moving away from Trello in favour of GitLab issues, Changemap, and Teamwork.com, as documented in this blog post.
  • Talking with Mary Cooch about taking over the @moodlenet Twitter account and sunsetting the existing moodle.net site while sunrising the new one. Much more on that to come.

Next week I’m working Monday to Wednesday on MoodleNet, then a half day on Thursday before joining my family in Devon for a long weekend at the in-laws.

Weeknote 31/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #314 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This one was called ‘Final Holiday Countdown 🏁 ⏲️ 🏖️ ’. Thanks to those who back me via Patreon plus those who continue their support via Gumroad!
  • Playing You’ve Got Crabs! as a family for the first time, which was hilarious. It’s by the same people as Exploding Kittens.
  • Recording, editing and releasing Episode 106 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘Keeping track of all the things’ and discussed MoodleNet milestones, Seth Godin’s approach to learning, assassination markets on the blockchain, keeping track of articles you want to read, and more!
  • Working on the MoodleNet project:
    • Finishing off UX Milestone 2 with Outlandish, which proved interesting after Matt, their Head of UX, went off on paternity leave. This was expected, however, and Rob another UX guy, stepped in seamlessly.
    • Responding to community feedback on the screencasts, and collating it on our Changemap.
    • Starting to put together a job landscape for a back-end developer.
    • Meeting briefly with Steve Watt to discuss MoodleNet sustainability.
    • Testing out the new Jira interface. It’s fine, but we’ve decided to go with GitLab issues as it’s less confusing for our purposes.
    • Meeting with Michael Shaw, Director of Tes Resources about potential ways we can integrate.
    • Submitting our MozFest proposal.
  •  Curating interesting things I came across on the Thought Shrapnel blog during the last few days of July. I’m taking a holiday during August, so only a few links to share:

Next week, I’m wrapping things up on Monday, and then heading off on holiday from Tuesday for two weeks. We’re interrailing and taking in Barcelona, Lyon, Zurich, Ljubljana, Salzburg, Munich, and Stuttgart!


Image by Matt Artz used under the terms of the Unsplash license

Weeknote 30/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #313 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This one was called ‘Mootivation’. Thanks to those who back me via Patreon plus those who continue their support via Gumroad!
  • Hot. This week, it’s been around 30°C at times in the North East of England where I live. That’s pretty much unheard of, and given our bedroom is in the loft conversion, I haven’t been sleeping that well. I also got a bit sunburned watching my son at a football tournament all day last Sunday.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project:
    • Finishing off a sprint which was mainly focused on figuring out MoodleNet integration with Moodle Core. There’s still work to be done, but you can see Mayel’s working document here.
    • Collaborating with Outlandish on UX Milestone 2. This has taken up most of my time this week, with daily stand-ups and feedback as to how things should flow from the user’s point of view. We’ll be recording a couple of screencasts next week to show the community.
    • Meeting with Pat Lockley who has project called Solvonauts which searches OER repositories.
    • Writing up an idea around emoji triplets for persistent identity in decentralised networks like MoodleNet.
    • Reflecting on what the MountainMoot organisers do well and what we can learn from them. Also, the notes from the MoodleNet session I ran there are linked from this post.
    • Mocking up what Open Badges in MoodleNet might look like. You can preview them here.
    • Meeting with our Data Protection Officer to discuss what seems like, on the surface, a simple thing to do: add an email address to our draft Code of Conduct. However, there are layers of complexity in decentralised networks — which I think we’ve resolved!
    • Reviewed our use of Changemap (private beta) for community suggestions.
    • Deciding to move from Trello to GitLab issues for planning within the MoodleNet team starting with the sprint that begins on 7th August (i.e. Mayel’s figuring it out while I’m on holiday!)
  • Recording, editing and releasing Episode 105 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘I dunno… Idaho?’ and discussed emoji triplets, Don Norman’s call for more human-centred technologies, Microsoft OneNote integration with Google Classroom, living in public, and more!
  • Curating interesting things I came across on the Thought Shrapnel blog. This week I collected some quotations and commented on the following:
  • Continuing my streak learning Spanish on on Duolingo. I’m now up to 27 days!
  • Writing posts on my Discours.es blog about things that, for one reason or another, didn’t seem to fit elsewhere:
  • Putting together an introductory guide to Open Badges for a client with other members of our co-op. I’m looking forward to sharing it once complete!

Next week is the last before our family holiday: a European adventure around Europe via plane, train, and automobile! I’m going to be at home working on MoodleNet and some consultancy stuff.


Image by Henry Be released under the Unsplash license

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