The Flexible Curriculum – how do you pack for the journey ahead?

The Flexible Curriculum – how do you pack for the journey ahead?

This is an abstract I had written for @CharteredCollege for a possible article in their Impact magazine with Curriculum as the central theme.

Abstract for Impact magazine

As both a partitioner in adventure activities and a teacher in the BTEC Public Services qualification I have been influenced in the curriculum devised by Kurt Hahn in the 1930’s which is still used in Gordonstoun the school he founded [1]. He believed that students learn through experience rather than simple instruction and outdoor education was an essential part of Hahn’s curriculum. BTEC introduced their Public Services qualification in September 1990 and to the present there has always been a unit involving expedition skills [2]. This has provided an opportunity for Hahn’s curriculum to be accessed on a wider scale. Currently learners undertake at least two expeditions within challenging outdoor environments. However, what approaches determine this curriculum at subject level? For me I use the analogy for what essential equipment would I pack for an expedition to a challenging outdoor environment. I would need to ensure I select the lightest clothing and equipment to not be burden by excessive weight. In the back of my mind would also be do I include extras to allow for a margin of safety just in case things go wrong. Therefore, the dilemma for missing out what could be essential is mirrored in both a curriculum perspective and in an outdoor environment partitioner one. So there needs to be a flexible approach to the curriculum to meet the challenges arising on the journey.

Their reply:

“Following careful consideration by the editorial board, I’m sorry to let you know that we are unable to accept your submission this time.

Although your abstract is interesting and engaging, it has a very specific remit, and with the number of submissions we have received for this issue, we can unfortunately only accept those that have a wider application across the curriculum.  

We thank you for your interest in writing for Impact, and certainly hope you choose to submit another abstract for future issues.”

After this feedback I decided to continue and do more research as I personally thought that this idea was worth pursuing.

Definitions for analogy

A few definitions for analogy [3]:

  • A comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
  • A thing that is comparable to something else in significant respects: works of art were seen as an analogy for works of nature.
  • In logic – a process of arguing from similarity in known respects to similarity in other respects.

Introduction: The Flexible Curriculum – packing for the journey ahead

Knowing that a curriculum is a course of study in an educational environment and one needs the essentials in order to complete whatever requirements are needed. Can these essentials be compared with what is needed when planning a journey in a challenging outdoor environment? A curriculum for a short course lasting a term might have to cover the same content as a unit lasting an academic year but not necessarily in the same depth. If I go for a short five miles countryside walk lasting two and half hours I might need to pack the same items for a day long twenty miles adventure walk. However, for the short walk I might check the weather forecast before I embark on my journey to be sure I really don’t need to pack my waterproof clothing. Underpinning these two statements is that a flexible approach is required in order to have successful outcomes in both academic and expedition environments.

The Flexible Curriculum 3b JPEG

The essentials are: protection; nutrition and hydration; safety and navigation. In the table above it shows the relationship each essential has with both context for a curriculum and packing for an expedition.

The Curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland not only provides an outline of core knowledge around which teachers develop exciting and stimulating lessons but also a recognition that learning in and about a natural environment contributes to a varied and enriching curriculum.

“Giving children the opportunity to discover, learn about and experience the natural world is hugely important – it can help create a sense of belonging rooted in their local environment, enhancing their health, wellbeing and educational outcomes.” Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools, Lessons from the Natural Connections Project. 2016 [4]

Summary

As can be seen the Curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland certainly supports a model for a flexible curriculum recognising both parts played within academic and expedition environments. Also if we consider linking the essentials as mentioned above we will know what to pack for the journey ahead.

References

http://www.gordonstoun.org.uk/unique-curriculum [1] accessed 10th June 2018

https://qualifications.pearson.com/content/dam/pdf/BTEC-Nationals/Public-Services/2010/Specification/Unit_9_Outdoor_and_Adventurous_Expeditions.pdf [2] accessed 10th June 2018

Apple Dictionary [3] accessed: 28th June 2018

https://www.johnmuirtrust.org/assets/000/002/837/LOST_WORDS_Explorers-Guide_original.pdf?1515059070 [4] accessed 30th June 2018

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Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry? An update May 2018

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry? An update May 2018

This is basically an update of an article I wrote back in May 2015 just before I started the 75 miles National Forest Way. In that year I completed 40.75 miles of the route ending at Ticknall with 34.25 miles still to complete before the finish. Three years have now passed by but I was reignited with the idea of completing this route whilst on recent local walk. A case of wanting to explore different footpaths. After an evening planning the next day found me back at Ticknall to walk the 13.25 miles to Sence Valley. An amazing walk and 13.25 miles towards my Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2018 challenge. Now I have only 21 miles from Sence Valley to Beacon Hill in Leicestershire to complete the National Forest Way. Hopefully I can complete this route before this year is out and perhaps I will accomplish this distance in one go as an endurance walk. 

In endurance walking it is necessary to keep weight down to a minimum to aid enjoyment. Selecting equipment needs thought as when conditions dictate it maybe that you are carrying and not wearing items of clothing. Here you need to be aware that the clothing you use is not only light in weight but is compact and can be easily compressed to reduce volume when packed. Please note that the following observations are based on an endurance walk undertaken from late spring to early autumn in a low level environment close to human habitation over terrain that consists of public rights of way, paths and tracks.

Gear for edurance walks 2018 1

Equipment for an endurance walk – some are old, some are new, none are borrowed and most are blue

Rucksack

The rucksack is the container for your ‘life support system’ during the trek and this is the starting point to keep weight down. Therefore, the pack does not need to be made from rock proof material or require extras like ice-ax fittings, attachment points for crampons and automatic cup holders! All these add unnecessary weight. One item of equipment I haven’t changed since May 2015 is the Black Diamond RPM rucksack. This is my go to pack for endurance walks, and indeed short rambles, in low level terrain due to being an uncomplicated design, comfortable to carry, light in weight and with a capacity of 26 litres. The latter feature is important as it limits the volume and weight I carry. Access to the main body of this pack is via a zipped lid and inside is a bladder pouch holder and a front compartment. The lid has a zipped outside pocket and a zipped inside one which includes a clip to hold your keys etc… On the exterior are two mesh pockets each capable of holding a 600ml drinks bottle plus a lunch bar. The volume of the pack can be adjusted by an external draw cord on its front face which ensures everything loaded is held tight and close to your back. 

Inside the pack – clothing

Waterproof Jacket & Trousers

My latest waterproof jacket is a Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic waterproof jacket. I bought this to replace my leaking Marmot Nano AS jacket. This is again a lightweight waterproof jacket that has a chest pocket to hold my glasses when it rains hard and provides storage for my iPhone SE. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a volume adjuster for the hood which can easily accommodate a full face F1 drivers helmet if the need arises! When reading the information on the hang tag before buying I found out this jacket was made from a fabulous sounding material called Dry.Q. This, they state, is a four-way all over stretch fabric that boasts excellent performance in wet conditions. Since using this jacket I have found it provides a comfortable and effective barrier to the wind and rain with the under sleeve zips allowing ventilation when needed. In contrast the oldest item of clothing I am still using is a pair of Rohan overtrousers. I bought these maybe 25 plus years ago and Rohan’s Waterlight H2P fabric still does the business. Although they are lined they are lightweight and fold up compactly.

Warm jacket/windproof jacket

The Marmot Ether Driclime Hoody was a jacket that I felt was an ideal replacement for my Marmot Driclime Jacket until I found out that it wasn’t available in the UK. Then suddenly I found it in a local mega camping store with a high price tag! Returning a few months later it was in a sale with a third knocked off the original price and after purchase another garment found its way into my rucksack. Just like my original Driclime Jacket the Ether Driclime Hoody is a most effective and efficient garment providing warmth and an element of wind resistance in a lightweight and compact package. The latter two points being equally important when carrying the item. I have found the hood extremely useful and the full length zip provides ease in getting the garment on and off as the need and conditions require. It also has three very useful pockets all with zips which comprise of two base and one chest pocket all accessed from the outside.  The outer is wind resistant nylon and the inner is a lightweight polyester fleece. Unlike my original Driclime jacket the Driclime hoody doesn’t look out of place walking through civilisation which can happen frequently on the National Forest Way. At times conditions can just be windy without the need for a jacket with thermal properties and my Patagonia lightweight jacket fits the need perfectly. It doesn’t have a hood but I have never seen the need for one on a jacket of this type and it only has a chest pocket. With any ultra lightweight design there will be compromises but I have found this jacket to be a very useful layer. 

Hat & Gloves

In weather that is forecast to be changeable, which is most of the time in England, I take a warm hat and gloves. These don’t need to be full on mountaineering styles but lightweight and effective ones. My warm hat dates from the last century and is made by Patagonia from their stretch Syncilla fabric whilst my gloves are a similar vintage with thermal properties and are extremely lightweight. A recently bought Patagonia Roger That Hat baseball cap provides useful protection when the sun decides to come out.

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A close-up of the contents of the first aid kit together with the torch and compass laid out on the Sitz mat

Inside the pack – other necessities

First Aid Kit

The usual stuff: assorted plasters, antiseptic wipes, pain killers and Compeed blister plasters (I needed these on my first National Forest Way walk) are contained in a fold out pouch. Included in this pouch is a SwissCard due to having a pair of tweezers and a neat pair of scissors along with a tooth pick and nail file!  An additional item from my original article is a Lifesystems Safecard Tick remover card. I decided to include one after ticks and Lyme disease were discussed on a ramble I went on last April. From late spring to early autumn the sun may be out and it is essential to take sun cream. On recommendation from my daughter, who is a snowboarder, I am taking Piz Buin Mountain Suncream with a 50+ SPF! This provides protection not only from the sun but also cold, wind and high altitudes! The latter not being a problem along the National Forest Way.

Torch

An LED Lenser P5E one AA cell torch is included in my pack. No need for a spare bulb  with this torch and I will check the battery before going out. It also has a handy lanyard to secure to the outside of the pack just in case navigation becomes a night activity and I need quick access to a light source.

These essentials, the first aid kit and torch, are kept together in a Lowe Alpine U-shaped mesh bag and then placed in a waterproof bag.

Sit (Sitz) mat

A small piece of closed-cell foam is carried to ensure that when I need to sit down to eat or enjoy the view I can in relative comfort.

Nutrition

I will carry two 600ml plastic bottles of diluted orange drink for liquid whilst food will consist of a variety of flap jacks, fruit, snack bars and dried fruit. There is a possibility that these can be supplemented along the National Forest Way as the route passes through many villages that have shops and some have a pub but don’t count on them being open at the same time you pass through.

Spares

On a low level walk like this carry spares is not really necessary. Also it is light until late and the essence is to keep moving at a reasonable pace hence not taking the kitchen sink! However, space will be found for a length of paracord which has a multitude of uses including make-do laces.

Keeping it all Dry

Plastic bags will ensure everything is kept dry.

Navigation Aids

Route Plans

I have downloaded the route guides from: http://www.nationalforestway.co.uk/downloads/ and have laminated them to protect them from the elements.

Maps

The relevant Ordnance Survey Explorer 1:25,000 scale maps will be carried and used depending on the stage I am walking: 233, 245 & 246. 

Compass

A Silva Expedition compass will be taken along as a ‘just in case’. On my recent National Forest Way walk I did need this to check the direction I was going in as in some cases the  route had changed since the brochures I was using were printed. Plus I needed it on a path just before I entered Ashby as a new housing estate diverted the route.

GPS Receiver

I have one but as yet still debating whether it is worth carrying in this kind of environment. OK it doesn’t weigh much but every kg counts in this game.

iPhone SE

Ordnance Survey digital maps can be accessed through OS Online and a SMART phone is a multi-use device. My main use is as a camera to record my ventures but I can send images and updates of my walk to my wife.

I hope you have found this helpful and I welcome comments.

Link to my original article published May 2015:

https://chrisnavigator.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/essential-endurance-walking-skills-what-to-carry/

 

#FourMonths440miles

#FourMonths440miles

After completing Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2017 I asked the question: “Shall I continue this challenge in 2018?” Yeah, why not and four months into 2018 I have completed over 440 miles. Unfortunately, this early part of 2018 will be remembered as a very muddy one.

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The Beast from the East gave the East Midlands unusual weather conditions for March.

The #BeastfromtheEast and the #MiniBeastfromtheEast dumped snow in volumes and most of this soaked into the ground. Any rainfall has added to this and kept the terrain far more muddy than this time last year. The majority of my country walks this year have been in boots whereas last year I wore them on two occasions!

The Tree with February blue sky

The same tree as in the snowscape but this time photographed two weeks earlier! 

My plan this year was to walk every day and this I did manage for January and February reaching over 240 miles. This compared to the 127 miles completed the at the end of February in 2017. March I missed eight days and April I missed six days where I didn’t complete a walk. This has resulted in completing 447.76 miles for this April compared to the end of April 2017 where my total was 459.5 miles. 

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There was an impressive display of Snowdrops in early February.

This year I have plans to do a National Trail. Two high on my list are the Pennine Way which I originally planned to do this when I was 16 (45 years ago) but never made it to the start and the West Highland Way mainly due to positive reviews from walkers completing this route. Depending on the information gained from research regarding the distances adding both these trails together will net around 350 miles towards #walk1000miles in 2018. This leaves only 210 miles left and I know I can do this in one month as I achieved this distance during last April.

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On some paths the mud was replaced by water! Yes, the first four months were very wet.

Let us hope that the next four months sees the sun shinning and the mud drying.

January to April monthly totals for #walk1000miles in 2018

January 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles

January total 183.9 km 114.27 miles

February 28 days X 2.74 miles / day = 76.72 miles 161.66 miles

February total 203.4 km 126.38 miles cumulative total = 240.65 miles

March 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 246.6 miles

March total 140.2 km 87.12miles cumulative total = 327.77 miles

April 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 328.80 miles

April total 193 km 119.925 miles cumulative total = 447.76 miles

Now 552.24 left to do.

Walking 1,250 miles in 2017

Walking 1,250 miles in 2017

Scanning Twitter at the start of 2017 I came across Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles challenge. With nothing to loose and all to gain, judging from 2016 completer’s feedback, I decided to accept the challenge. All I had to do to complete 1,000 miles in one calendar year was to walk 2.74 miles per day every day for 365 days. This certainly made it easier to assimilate the task ahead and with this in the back of my mind it was a case of chipping away at the target distance at regular intervals hopefully on a daily basis.

Meindl Cambridge GTX muddy

At the start of the year Meindl Cambridge GTX Shoes proved to be essential footwear

There were a few hiccups on the way but I stuck with it and was delighted when I reached the 1,000 mile target two-thirds of the way through the year on 22nd August. On the last day in December my total distance achieved for 2017 was 1,253.3 miles. Amazingly converting this into kilometres equates to 2,017 km!

Lego MiniFig Navigator with snowdrops

In 2017 I finally saw the wonderful spectacle of the Snowdrops in Dimminsdale Woods with a Lego Mini Figure I called Chris Navigator assisting with scale

Early in the year due to dark nights and muddy field paths I concentrated on short walks and with one of these I devised I was able to do during my lunch hour. When both the weather and terrain conditions improved from Spring I completed longer walks during weekends and continued whenever possible with the lunchtime walks. Having achieved the target distance before the end of August there was a loss of focus in September. However, with two challenge walks organised in November, on the 11th the Seagrave Wolds 16 miles Challenge and on the 26th an 18 miles walk I was leading for the Long Distance Walkers’ Association’s Anytime Anywhere Group, there was a renewed energy from the start of October. This refocusing enabled more miles to be added and ensured I completed both events.

Blue and Yellow

A typical late Spring landscape in the South Nottinghamshire Wolds countryside

Fitness wise the first few months was a steady progress as the majority of walks were short distances to accommodate either the limited timeframe of my lunch hour or available day light. However, this gradual fitness progression was beneficial as it laid the foundations for the successful completion of longer walks undertaken from the Spring. In particular April was an amazing month as I achieved 210 miles and successfully completed the 29 miles Erewash Valley Trail in ten hours.

Tree in a field

This lone Ash tree was a distinctive feature and I was able to photograph it through the seasons and here it is in the height of Summer

Whilst I enjoyed writing about each walk after completion I found manually adding distances and time after each activity a bit of a bind. In late January I suddenly realised I had a Suunto Movescount account and decided to use this to record distances and times as it updated these automatically after I provided the details. Movescount even works out the overall km/h for each walk and gives information on the distance completed for each month as well as providing a neat way of displaying information. The latter was beneficial for providing updates of my progress on social media. 

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Late Autumn and a second generation Red Admiral taking advantage of the sunshine

Just under 190 miles, 188.77 to be precise, were from urban walks on wholly surfaced paths which mainly came from my lunchtime work walk. I did this walk over 50 times but I never got bored with this route and it was only a change of work venue from September that prevented me doing more. Incidentally this walk went through two green ‘lungs’ of a city which included a wonderful Arboretum.

Winter treescape

That lone Ash tree again this time photographed in December when the landscape was transformed by snowfall – unusual in South Nottinghamshire

The remaining 1,000 plus miles were from walks located in the countryside and mainly ones that I was able to start and finish from my front door. For these I had planned a variety of routes that I repeated on regular intervals but this enabled me to become intimately engaged with each walk. Having a series of routes fixed in one’s mind frees one to think, discover and explore. This empowered me to notice subtle changes occurring within nature throughout the year and with farming through the seasons. From mid April I decided to undertake night hikes and I was surprised how walking through twilight and darkness enhanced my awareness and brought me closer to the landscape.

2017km 1253.3m 462.35hrs 111217 Movescount

A screenshot from Suunto’s Movescount displaying an overview of 2017

In summary taking up Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles challenge in 2017 has been an extremely positive experience in many ways. Improvements in fitness is the first area that comes to mind but I also feel healthier. In addition it has enabled me to be more resilient to changes at work and the challenge has resulted in vast improvements in my mental well-being. In 2018 I am taking up the #walk1000miles challenge again to continue trying to walk every day but hoping to include mountain walks and perhaps thru-hike the Pennine Way.

#teacher5aday #pledge #2017 #reflection

#teacher5aday #pledge #2017 #reflection

For the #teacher5aday pledge for 2017 which I posted on 2nd January 2017 in summary I decided that I would:

#connect

Keep Tweeting and hopefully meet #teacher5aday tweeters during 2017. Walking wise I wanted to do more walks with rambling and walking groups to engage with like-minded people.

#notice

Focus on noticing elements in the natural world whilst out on walks and record these in blogs.

#learn

In 2016 I presented at three conferences all in England including one located in London and suggested, tongue in cheek, I could add New York and Paris as venues in 2017.

#volunteer

Lead a ramble for a local Ramblers’ Group or organise a walk for the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA). For the latter this could be part of my celebration of 40 years continuous membership of the LDWA. Also I could plan and lead a walk for #teacher5aday as I did for #UKFEchat community in 2015.

#exercise

Try to do basic flexibility exercises everyday and complete a long walk every weekend.

Link to original #teacher5aday pledge Blog posted on 2nd January 2017:

https://chrisnavigator.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/teacher5aday-pledge-2017/

So on reflection how did I do in 2017?

Canal reflection

Reflection – Nottingham Canal

#connect

Still Tweeting but during 2017 have not meet anyone face to face in the #teacher5aday community but regularly made connections through Twitter. It’s great to connect with positive, like-minded people. I did some walks with groups. These included a 29 miles walk on the Erewash Valley Trail with the LDWA’s Anytime Anywhere Local Group back in April, two walks with the Ramblers’ Nottingham Group Wednesday Walkers which I was able to access whilst on holiday and the pre AGM walk organised by the Ramblers’ Rushcliffe Group.

#notice

I did many more walks in 2017 compared with 2016 and this provided me with further opportunities to observe and notice nature. One of my Blogs: ‘Puddles and Biodiversity’ posted on 22nd October was published on-line by the Canadian based imaginED education site led by Gillian Judson on 24th October 2017 – link:

http://www.educationthatinspires.ca/2017/10/24/puddles-and-biodiversity/

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One of the images for the ‘Puddles and Biodiversity’ Blog

From Spring I noticed lots of butterflies whilst walking and was able to identify most of them. However, those I could not I used Richard Lewington’s ‘Pocket Guide to Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland’ and was able to confirm my first positive identification of Green-veined White and Brown Argus butterflies. This gave me confidence to take part in the Butterfly Conservation’s ‘Big Butterfly Count 2017’ held from 14th July to 6th August.

 

Ringlet 140717

Ringlet – one of nineteen butterfly species I observed and identified during 2017

After receiving ‘Hidden Histories – a Spotter’s Guide to the British Landscape’ written by Mary-Ann Ochota as a Christmas present in 2016 this also opened another area for me noticing features of the British landscape that I may have overlooked whilst walking.

#learn

I presented at one education conference in Nottingham and had an invite to present at one in Canada at Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. This was organised by the Health and Physical Education Council during mid May. Unfortunately, I couldn’t accept due to work commitments. One of the problems of being a teacher is taking holiday in term time.

#volunteer

At the Ramblers’ Rushcliffe Group’s AGM held in November I volunteered to be a committee member and take on this duty from January 2018. To celebrate 40 years as a member of the LDWA on 26th November I led a 17.8 miles walk for the Anytime Anywhere Group on my local patch in the Wolds countryside bordering Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

#exercise

Although I didn’t do basic flexibility exercises everyday I did manage to complete the Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2017. I achieved the 1000 miles target on 22nd August and finished 2017 with a total of 1253.3 miles which just happens to convert coincidently to 2017 km.

Tree in a field

Exercise – I was delighted to walk over 1,200 miles in 2017

During 2017 I completed my 27th year in teaching and I attained Fellowship of the Royal Institute of Navigation and was presented with my certificate by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at an event held at the Royal Geographical Society’s headquarters in Kensington. 

I wish everyone a Happy New Year, don’t be to obsessed with work, and ensure you build time for you every day.

Puddles and biodiversity

Puddles and biodiversity

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Ash leaves in an Autumn puddle

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Autumn puddles on a path – a perfect line for a child to run through

On today’s walk I decided it would be a slow journey exploring the delights of Autumn –leaves, berries and puddles. For some reason as I wandered along pausing to take photographs my thoughts began to wonder what could live in these puddles. After watching The Blue Planet and those of us of a certain age, Jaques Cousteau, we know what lives in oceans. For what lays lurking in lakes we have Jeremy Wade to thank. Any young child that has been pond dipping has fair idea what lives there. What about puddles? Has anyone studied what lives in a puddle? We all know that a puddle is a small pool of water formed usually by rainwater captured in a small depression. Young children know what to do with a puddle. Run and splash through them and have great fun in doing so. But what lives in a puddle?

Perhaps as I write David Attenborough is currently secretly filming a brand new series “Life in a Puddle” to fully complete his “Life on Earth” franchise. 

My reasoning for “What lives in a puddle?” is likely based on what I was reading a few weeks ago. This was Edward O. Wilson’s “The Diversity of Life” [1] and I was particularly fascinated in the “Biodiversity Reaches the Peak” chapter. Here the author informs us that we also need to look at small worlds in what he terms as “microwilderness”. In one of his examples of a microwilderness he wants us to picture a large beetle, a weevil is featured in the accompanying drawing, 50mm long living on the side of a tree. Then imagining as it walks around this trunk, which has a circumference of 5m, browsing on lichens and fungi. As it goes about doing the most important thing to exist, eating, it is scarcely aware of a much smaller world at its feet. This micro world has many dips and hollows in the bark of the tree which the weevil, due to its comparatively large size, negotiates without issue. However, in this undulating terrain there are beetles small enough to make it their home. They exist in a different scale of space. To these smaller beetles irregularities in this terrain are not trivial. As they crawl down the sides and climb back out of them, the circumference of the tree trunk is about ten times what it is for the weevil, which knows nothing of these tiny crevices. In this microwilderness the giant is the weevil and the surface of the trunk is 100 times greater for the smaller beetles than what it is for the weevil. This disparity translates into more niches as different crevices will have their own regimes of humidity and temperature. With this diversity a variety of combinations of algae and fungi have evolved on which these smaller insects can feed. Wilson then takes the reader even further and descends into the microscopic realm where he starts at the feet of these smaller beetles. Here he informs us that there are still smaller crevices and patches of algae and fungi too narrow for them to enter. Here the smallest insects together with amoured oribatid mites [2], measuring under a millimetre in length compete for this food source. Finally, these minute arthropods [3] stand on gains of sand lodged in algae films and rhiziods of mosses, and on a single gain of sand may grow colonies of ten or more species of bacteria. Scanning the geometry at this level reveals that this diminutive fauna live as if the surface of the tree trunk were a hundred times or more greater than the surface embraced by beetles the next size up, and a thousands times greater than the titan weevil occupying the apex of this particular environment.   

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An Autumn puddle – an ephemeral microwilderness

If this biodiversity has evolved to live on a small section of a tree trunk in a tropical forest what could live in a puddle in a temperate landscape? Whatever lives there will also need a survival strategy when the puddle dries up as in temperate environments puddles are an ephemeral microwilderness providing a transient dimension to support life.

Now what microwilderness lays below the surface of a puddle?

Note:

Walk took place on 21st October 2017

References:

[1] Edward O. Wilson; 1992; The Diversity of Life; Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press

Biodiversity Reaches the Peak” chapter pages relating to microwilderness as discussed in this article are on pages 207 – 209.

For details of the latest edition published in November 2010 with a New Preface: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674058170 Accessed 22/10/17

[2] Oribatid mites: http://www.hutton.ac.uk/research/groups/ecological%20sciences/our%20science/orbatid-mites Accessed 22/10/17

[3] Arthropods http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Arthropod Accessed 22/10/17 Although front page shows last updated in October 2014 it provides links to a wealth of BBC film clips from their natural history programmes. How about a caterpillar that feeds on flies! There is one such species, it lives on Hawaii and a clip shows a caterpillar catching then devouring a fly.

#walk1000miles challenge completed

#walk1000miles challenge completed

Harvested field

Through Twitter I became aware of Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2017 challenge. This seemed to be the ideal New Year’s resolution with an activity that not only improved personal physical fitness but also mental wellbeing. Country Walking stated that all you needed to achieve this target was to walk 2.74 miles every day for 365 days.  However, with many commitments, especially from work, would I be able to keep to this schedule every single day? Self doubts began to creep in. But after reading some inspiring stories from people on Country Walking’s website who completed the #walk1000miles in 2016 I decided it would be worth giving it a go. I devised a plan to keep me on target for each month based on the number of days in each month times 2.74 miles. Then I simply just needed to start and my first walk for this journey commenced on the 3rd January. I realised it was steady progress as I hadn’t achieved my January target at the end of that month. The main reason being that the first two weeks of this month involved a heavy workload finishing off UCAS student references and approving their applications. During February I exceeded my monthly target but was over 30 miles under the cumulative total for that month. However, by the end of March I had exceeded the cumulative target by just over 2 miles. Now I needed to keep ahead each month even if it was just by a few miles. April was a brilliant month as I walked almost 211 miles during this period. On 7th May was the break through as this was the date where I hit over 500 miles and therefore reached the half way point with almost two months to spare. I was delighted to be so far ahead of the target I had set myself. Late Spring and early Summer was a drive to keep well ahead of the set targets and then the realisation that I could hit 1000 miles before the end of August if I maintained this pace. In mid August there was a lapse in my recording and as I feed the latest data into Movescount I suddenly found that I had achieved the 1000 miles target a few days after actually completing it. So my journey to a 1000 miles ended on 22nd August which just happened to be pay day! This could be seen as the reward as there was no red carpet or fanfare as I crossed the 1000 miles finish line. This personal challenge was really enjoyable and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to finish it with over four months to spare. Special thanks to Country Walking for devising this challenge and providing the ongoing motivation through Twitter and regular e-mails. I certainly feel physically fitter and the activity provided a vehicle to promote my personal well being.

Wheat field with heavy cloud

This year was a good yield for cereal crops

What next? Well if I completed 1000 miles in two-thirds of the year then it should be possible to complete another 500 miles for the remainder of this year. Perhaps I will start the #walk500more and aim to complete 1500 miles before the end of 2017. On the last day of August and as Summer comes to an end I have walked a fraction over 1030 miles and tomorrow sees the start of a new journey in another season.

Canal reflection

Walks along canal towpaths also contributed to the distance completed

January to August monthly totals for #walk1000miles in 2017

January 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles

January total 36.6 miles (58.91 km)

February 28 days X 2.74 miles / day = 76.72 miles 161.66 miles

February total 91.22 miles (146.8 km) cumulative total = 127.82 miles

March 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 246.6 miles 

March total 120.98 miles (194.7 km) cumulative total = 248.8 miles

April 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 328.80 miles

April total 210.7 miles (339.1 km) cumulative total = 459.5 miles

May 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 413.74 miles

May total 153.6 miles (247.2 km) cumulative total = 613.16 miles

June 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 495.94 miles 

June total 114.6 miles (184.5 km) cumulative total = 727.62 miles

July 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 580.88 miles

July total 130.98 miles (210.8 km) cumulative total = 858.7 miles

August 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 665.82 miles

#walk1000miles target achieved on 22nd August = 1003.5 miles

August total 172.07 miles (276.9 km) cumulative total = 1030.85 miles

Used Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping for route planning and Suunto Movescount to record walks.

Tree in a field

Footnote: I have taken photographs of this tree throughout my #walk1000miles venture and here it is after the harvest with a fabulous blue sky as a backdrop