Outdoors

Hatchbag's top walks for you and your furry pooch this autumn

Dogs are wonderful creatures, they’re loyal, they’re cute and all they ask for in return is a little love. So, what better way to show it to them than with a walk? Here at Hatchbag, our work-experience student, Harry has been searching around the country to find the best places for you, the family and your four-legged friends to enjoy this autumn.

Sheffield Park

If you’re living in the South East then why not pay a visit to the Gardens at Sheffield Park. This National Trust location fully welcomes dog walkers and offers an excellent experience for all the family, with autumn being one of the best times of year for you to visit these lovely grounds. Here your dogs can jump through the streams or play in the 250 acres of beautiful woods and grassland.

Dartmoor National Park

If, however, you are based in the South West of England then there are no shortage of lovely walks and parks. However, one that definitely stands out is the Dartmoor National Park. This stunning location is the perfect place to take your dog out for a whole day of fun and enjoyment. And if you want to do more than just take a walk, then why not participate in one of the many activities on offer such as cycling, horse riding, climbing, canoeing, and letterboxing etc. So, whatever takes your fancy you will be sure to find something for you and the whole family to enjoy.

Lyme Park

Perhaps you are looking for a day out in the North of England. And one of the most stunning parks, full of natural beauty with a magnificent house and gardens is Lyme Park. There are over 1400 acres to explore in this beautiful park, offering you an array of different walks to take in the best views at Lyme. And whilst you’re rambling through the magnificent views, keep an eye out for the deer, who are sure to make a spectacular appearance.

Northumberland National Park

Or, if, you are venturing or based even more northern then why not check out Northumberland National Park or one of the most beautiful places in the country, the Lake District. Not only can you take in the vast beauty available at Northumberland National Park, but, why not download the Poems in the Air app and as you explore the park, you will be able to hear selected spoken poems at unique locations throughout the park. And when it comes to the Lake District there is an abundance of scenic routes and trails along with gorgeous views to take you and your family’s breath away. Whether you fancy walking, hiking, running, swimming or cycling, there is something available for the whole family.

Wales

Snowdonia National Park, the Brecon Beacons, and the Pembrokeshire coast are but a few of the possible locations for dog walkers in Wales. There is no end to the rolling hills, ancient woods, and gorgeous streams, perfect for you and your four-legged friend to enjoy. So, put on your walking boots and click on one of the above potential places for more information.

For those of you living in Scotland, the list of locations for days out with your pooch is endless. You could travel to Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park or the Cairngorms National Park. All of these have incredible scenery and are a sight to behold. Cross wide open fields or witness spectacular waterfalls all in the company of your adoring pet. What is for certain, is that you and your furry friend are not going to be bored of finding spectacular scenic walks for you both to enjoy.

Hatchbag Boot-Liners

As usual in this country, the weather will probably take a turn for the worse at some point. And as for us dog owners, however, we know that no amount of effort will stop our dogs from jumping in every puddle, every stream, and every muddy patch that they find. And although there may be nothing we can do about the weather or keeping our dogs clean, we can prevent your car boot from turning into a bog, with one of our Hatchbag boot liners.  All of our liners are expertly handcrafted by a team of dedicated people and are available for over 400 car models. They can be customised with a multitude of extras such as bumper flaps, tailgate covers etc. to make sure that your boot has as much protection as possible.

And don’t forget to share with us all your autumn activity photos on our Facebook Page, Instagram Page @thehatchbagcompany or on Twitter with the #HatchbagAutumnAdventures and we will re-post, re-gram and retweet them all.

If you also have any other recommendations of where you and your four-legged friend like to explore then please share them with us, as well. And you never know, we could be recommending your favourite haunt in our next blog.

Put your riding to the test this year by trying something new - Cyclocross

Are you familiar with the discipline of Cyclo-cross? Often referred to as ‘cross’, ‘CX’ or ‘cyclo-X’, cyclo-cross is a style of cycling that combines criterium-style riding with uphill running - for the most part. Global Cycling Network do a fine job in explaining exactly what this fun sport entails - check out the video here:

Sounds intriguing? We think so, and here are 3 reasons why you should give it a go. Just make sure you’ve got your Hatchbag boot-liner secured as, one thing is for sure, you’re definitely in for a ruddy ‘muddy’ time.

You can use your cyclo-cross bike for more than just ‘cross’

Unlike road & mountain bikes, your cross bike can be used for multiple uses. Whether it’s commuting to work with your trusty panniers in tow, venturing off-road for a blast around the local trail centres or competing in that local 50k sportive. A cyclo-cross bike fits the bill for pretty much all riding styles.

2) You get to compete against the pros

What other entry level sporting event allows you to compete against the professional heroes? Cyclo-cross races allow amateurs to race against the best athletes the country has to offer.

Whilst this may well mean you get lapped more than you’d like to, you will be able to boast to your friends about racing a National Champ - and that’s pretty awesome!

3) The FUN factor

Cyclo-cross is a racing event which will give you endless amounts of fun from start to finish. With many races to choose from up and down the country, and with your loved ones guaranteed to have just as much fun watching you race as you’re having competing, why not plan ahead to get some races in your cycling calendar?

Check out British Cycling for events and races near you.

If this has whet your appetite, then make sure you arrive at your race with your Hatchbag boot-liner to save those mud stains from ingraining in your beloved boot.

We’d love to see you in action if you do decide to give Cyclocross a go this autumn, so be sure to tweet us your snaps @hatchbagcompany and tag us on Instagram @TheHatchbagCompany.

5 reasons why you should go hiking in nature this weekend

Stepping one foot in front of the other is a simple concept, yet add some walking boots, a little planning and mother nature’s finest mountains and you have an endless supply of fun and your own micro-adventure.

Here are 5 reasons from The Hatchbag team as to why you should get your hike on this weekend.

1) Hiking makes you happy

Research suggests that hiking can improve your mood, enhance your memory and even decrease anxious feelings you may have.

2) It’s a great way to stay fit & healthy

Hiking is a fantastic low impact cardio activity, and if you hike at a reasonably brisk pace, you can expect to burn around 500 calories per hour.

3) Exploring just got better

As human beings, it’s a natural instinct we have to explore, and what better way to explore than by climbing great big mountains or exploring woodland trails to really feel that golden sense of achievement.

4) Hiking stimulates your creativity

Ever feel as though your creative flow is just - well, not flowing? According to a report published by Stanford University, walking is the key to new idea generation vs sitting still.

5) Time spent with family, friends & loved ones

Going out for the day to explore some beautiful mountains and trails is made better when done with family, friends and loved ones. What better way to start your love affair with hiking than with those you love the most.

As can be expected, hiking can lead to some mucky boots, and mucky pups if you take the kids or doggies out with you, so make sure you pack your Hatchbag boot-liner to keep your boot in tip-top condition.

We’d love to see where your micro-adventure takes you, so be sure to tweet us your snaps @hatchbagcompany and tag us on Instagram @TheHatchbagCompany.

5 Ways to Embrace the WildLife

On September 4th it was National Wildlife Day: a celebration of all creatures great and small. Founded in 2005, the day was created in memory of animal enthusiast, Steve Irwin, and also aims to bring awareness to the fantastic work of sanctuaries, zoos and conservation charities across the globe.

Here at Hatchbag HQ we were so inspired by the day that we put together our top 5 ways to embrace your nature-neighbours and local wildlife:

1. Visit Your Local Zoo

What better way to tap into your wild side than visiting the zoo! If you are feeling brave, why not get up close and personal and enjoy an animal encounter experience? Many zoo’s offer experiences that allow you to work alongside expert keepers, enabling you to learn a huge amount about a chosen animal and life at the zoo.

2. Get Snap Happy!

Capture nature at its best by getting snap happy. Create an album of all your favourite creatures and critters. If you are a bit of a Picasso then why not get arty and draw or paint an image of nature at its best. Be sure to send us your snaps! You can tweet us @hatchbagcompany, tag us on Instagram @The HatchbagCompany or message us on Facebook on The Hatchbag Company’s page

3. Create A Nature Highway

Many of our garden creatures need to move about freely between gardens. Like humans, our wildlife friends are highly sociable animals and love to hang out together. So, let’s give them a little helping hand. By creating a safe pathway from your garden to your neighbours, it removes the need for hedgehogs, frogs and all sorts of animals from using our busy roads.

4. Start a Compost Heap

Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste. The production of compost has a huge positive impact upon the environment and in turn wildlife. Compost enhances soil quality, which in turn enhances the quality of shrubbery and garden plants making it an attractive home where wildlife can flourish!

5. Volunteer

Making a difference doesn’t mean donating money; why not donate your time instead? Whatever time you have to offer, whatever your skill, there is sure to be a volunteering opportunity suitable for you.

Feeling inspired? Be sure to visit National Wildlife Day and the RSPB website for tips on celebrating wildlife and giving nature a home.

The 3 Best Walking Routes in Scotland

This year we have been exploring the Great British Isles, uncovering the best walking paths Britain has to offer. Earlier this year, we wrote about the breath-taking paths of England, explored the enchanted trails of Ireland and uncovered the rambling haven that is Wales. This month we pack up our picnic basket and unearth the three best walking routes Scotland has to offer.

Fife Coastal Path

Stretching over 100 miles along the coast of Fife, you are guaranteed to discover something new every time. Whether you are looking for a leisurely evening stroll or a rambling challenge, the route offers a range of experiences for all walkers of all abilities.

Fife Coastal Path Markerg

One of the key highlights is the Chain Walk at Elie, which can only be tackled when the tide is low. Be sure to brush up on your fitness beforehand as negotiating the ascents and descents using the chains can be fairly challenging.

And if you do manage to complete all 117 miles of the path be sure to download an official certificate here.

Affric Kintail Way

Whether you tackle the Affric Kintail Way on bike or foot you are sure to enjoy stunning views over the rolling Scottish hills and valleys. Taking in deep lochs, ancient woodland and historic drove roads, the trail is steeped in Scottish history.

Affric Kintail Way

Stretching over 44 miles, the Affric Kintail Way is a great two or three day challenge for the more accomplished walker.

John Muir Way

John Muir, also known as "John of the Mountains", was a Scottish-American naturalist and early advocate of preserving wildlife. The route was named after him following an opportunity to grow recognition of his inspirational work in Scotland.

Running between Dunbar on the East coast (also Muir's birthplace), to Helensburgh in the West, the John Muir Way spans an impressive 134 miles across the heart of Scotland. To complete the walk stat-to-finish it takes between 7-10 days, or if you would like to go by bike then it will take between 3-5 days. Some sections are also suitable for horse riding.

JohnMuirWay

Wherever you decide to walk this summer, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot liner with you and protect your boot from those muddy wellies and walking boots. For more about our boot liners visit our website here.

And, if you think you have uncovered one of the best walks in Scotland then why not share it with us? You can tweet us @hatchbagcompany, tag us on Instagram @The HatchbagCompany or message us on Facebook on The Hatchbag Company’s page.

On Your Bike!

The last couple of months have not only been great for sport in general, but more specifically, cycling.

July saw British great, Chris Frome, defend his Tour De France title and clinch a third victory at the event.

In August, The Olympics hit our screens providing a flurry of highlights both in the velodrome and out on the road. This resulted in the Great Britain Cycling Team winning a combined total of 9 medals.

With September now upon us, attention turns to the Tour De Britain: A multi-stage cycling event, which takes place across Great Britain; starting on the 4th September and ending on the 11th September.

With so much cycling inspiration in the air, we couldn’t help but saddle up to discover some of the best biking trails Britain has to offer…

Coed Llandegla Forest | North Wales

LlandeglaCycling

If you are looking for adrenaline filled, muddy good fun then be sure to check out Coed Llandegla Forest! Escape the stress of everyday and discover the thrill of forest mountain biking. Whether you are new to the sport or an experienced adrenaline junkie, Llandegla has mountain bike trails for all abilities.

New Forest National Park | Lymington

Cycling-in-the-New-Forest

Enjoy the last few days of the summer holidays and head to New Forest National Park for some family cycling. With over more than 100 miles of waymarked cycle tracks along country lanes, New Forest is the perfect location for a family bike ride.

Get closer to nature and the park’s forest friends as you discover the New Forest’s stunning countryside and wildlife.

If you want to brush up on your skills be sure to book onto a coaching course, which covers everything from core skills to jumps and drops.

River to Ridge | Cheshire

CyclingCheshire

Do you want to schedule a refreshing pit stop on your next cycling ride? If so, this ride is for you! Taking in the best of Cheshire, this ride also encompasses a couple of great pubs which are perfect for pausing for refreshment.

Starting in Farndon by the River Dee, this 22 mile route takes in the iconic Peckforton Hills, Larkton Hill National Park and an 18th Century corn mill at Stretton Mill.

Wherever you decide to cycle this summer, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot liner with you and protect your boot from those muddy wheels and helmets. For more about our boot liners visit our website here.

And, if you think you have uncovered one of the best cycling tracks in the UK then why not share it with us? We love to hear about your adventures so be sure to tweet us @hatchbagcompany. You never know, your walk could feature in our next blog!

The top 3 holiday destinations in the UK

With summer well and truly upon us  you may be thinking of ‘jetting off’ and enjoying the sunshine abroad. However, with UK staycations on the rise be sure not to overlook the beautiful British destinations right on your doorstep:

No. 1 Abersoch, Wales

Home to the annual wakeboarding and music festival, Wakestock, Abersoch has quickly become one of the places to holiday in the UK. This fashionable seaside resort is well known for its water sport credentials and beautiful, sheltered beaches. The town is also adorned with boutique shops and stylish eateries, all of which are family (and pet!) friendly.

Click here for more information about Abersoch.

Abersoch

No. 2 Isle of Arran, Scotland

The Isle of Arran is often referred to as a miniature Scotland. Located off the South West coast of Scotland, the North of the island is home to rugged mountain ranges, while the South enjoys a softer landscape. The island has a wealth of activities from enhanced walking trails, ancient monuments and traditional whiskey distilleries.

Click here for more information about the Isle of Arran.

IsleofArran

No. 3 Looe, England

Located in South East Cornwall, Looe is a hidden gem on the Cornish coast. With a flurry of narrow streets lined with boutique shops and tea rooms, Looe is one of Cornwall’s best kept secrets.  The beach is ideal for families and a range of boat trips operate from the harbour during the summer season.

If you are in the area, be sure to make the spectacular walk along the coast to Polperro. This enchanting place is a quintessential fisherman’s village bursting with culture and history.

Click here for more information about Looe.

Looe

Wherever you decide to holiday this summer, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot liner with you and protect your boot from those sandy towels and flip-flops. For more information about our boot liners visit our website here.

And, if you think you have uncovered one of the best holiday destinations in the UK then why not share it with us? We love to hear about your adventures so be sure to tweet us @hatchbagcompany. You never know, it could feature in our next blog!

School's Out For Summer!

As the school term draws to a close, it is time to put away the textbooks and enjoy some quality family time. This summer, switch off the TV, grab the sun cream and enjoy the great outdoors with the kids. Britain is bursting with family activities and here at Hatchbag HQ we have shortlisted our top four:

No. 1: Crocky Trail, Cheshire

A family friendly outdoor adventure playground. Enjoy a mile long, muddy adventure filled with pure adrenaline. Be sure to pack a change of clothes as well as your Hatchbag boot liner.

Charlotte at mummyfever.co.uk says

“We love the Crocky Trail in Cheshire as a family day out as it is great to have fun and get a bit messy and everyone can challenge themselves a bit more each time we visit. Plus if it rains it doesn’t matter!”

No. 2: Hyde Park, London

Hyde Park is one of London's largest parks. From boating on the Serpentine, to enjoying a family picnic, there is something to suit everyone.

Franca at amomentwithfranca.com says

“We love spending time there, especially during the summer when it is warm and nice to be outdoors. It has lots of space for my girls to run about and it also includes the Serpentine Lake, Speaker’s Corner and the famous Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.”

No.3: Rockpools, Cornwall

One of the best ways to discover more about coastal wildlife is to spend time rock-pooling. The Wildlife Trust has a list of the best beaches and bays around the UK to explore. Polzeath Beach in Cornwall is the perfect location to discover rock-pool wildlife. Be sure to pack your boot liner for wet wellies and pooches alike.

Lucinda at bakesbooksandmyboys.com says

“We love Rock Pooling in Cornwall. It’s a fabulous free way to spend the day by the sea and get back to nature. The boys spend all day clambering over rocks and investigate the sea life - what an amazing way to discover a world outside.”

No. 4: The National Trust, Nationwide

With over 300 historic buildings and acres of beautiful British countryside, The National Trust has a wealth of destinations just waiting to be uncovered.

Donna at whattheredheadsaid.com says

“Our favourite thing to do in the summer is visit National Trust properties. We look around the grounds and there are usually lots of fun activities to do with children too - adventure playgrounds, nature trails and exciting things to look at.”

If you are looking for more ideas for having fun with the kids this summer then check out our Best of British 101 Guide here. Created with the help of more than 100 of the best British bloggers, each of the ideas suggested come straight from the heart and is a long-established love of each blogger.

A beginner’s guide to the Tour de France

What is the Tour de France?

Only the greatest cycling event in the sporting calendar! It is an annual cycling event that takes place over multiple stages. It is primarily held in France, but routes can occasionally pass through neighbouring countries.

The race was started back in 1903 by Henri Desgrange as a ploy to raise the profile of the newspaper he worked at. One hundred years on, the event has grown into one of the most iconic sporting events in the world.

The tour is a team event. Each team has nine riders, comprising of a leader and eight ‘domestiques’. A domestique is essentially there to support the leader to ensure that they win the most stages or points.

Over the course of 23 days and 21 stages, nearly 200 riders cover more than 2,000 miles. During the event riders can expect to burn off up to 118,000 calories – best pack that extra pack of Jelly Babies just in case!

What makes the event so great?

Anything can happen. Like with all great sporting occasions you can never predict what is going to happen. One puncture or one fatal collision is all it takes for the favourites to make a crashing fall from grace.

How can I tell who is winning?

The famous yellow jersey is worn by the rider who is winning. This means they have completed the stages in the least amount of time so far. The opportunity to wear the jersey, even for just one day, is a career high for any cyclist.

There are also a couple of other jerseys to keep an eye out for:

Green: This goes to the rider with the most points overall. Points are given to the first 15 riders across the finish and intermediate sprint line at each stage.

Polka-Dot: Also known as the ‘King of Mountains’ jersey. This is awarded to the rider who has gained the most points in the mountain sections of the stages.

White: This is essentially a yellow junior jersey. It is given to a rider under the age of 26 with the lowest overall time.

The Tour de France takes place from Saturday 2nd July – Sunday 24th July 2016. This will be the 103rd Tour de France and it is shaping up to be one of the most exciting yet. For live coverage of the event, be sure to visit the official site here.

Walking in Wales

Over the last few months we have been seeking to uncover the best walking paths that the UK has to offer. In April we wrote about the breath taking walking paths of England and last month we explored the enchanted trails of Ireland. This month, we lace up our boots and uncover the best walking routes Wales has to offer.

In Wales you are never far from a walking path; it is a rambler’s haven. From challenging, rolling hills to scenic coastal walks; Wales has it all when it comes to walking.

Llyn Brenig | Denbigh

Located in the heart of the Denbigh Moors in North Wales, Llyn Brenig is one of the most popular places to go walking in Wales. As a reservoir it is used to manage the flow in the River Dee and protect the water supply for North West England and Wales.

The Archaeological trail is 4km and takes around 2 hours to complete. The flat track mirrors the lake shores; perfect for that picnic pit stop.

Llyn Brenig is a forested site with a wealth of activities including trout fishing, cycling and water sports. The Visitor Centre is open all year round making Llyn Brenig a great destination for a fun packed day out.

The Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk | Laugharne

Laugharne is a small, picturesque village situated on the estuary of the River Taf, Carmarthenshire. The village was made famous by the poet and playwright, Dylan Thomas who lived there from 1949-1953.

In 1944, Dylan wrote 'Poem in October' in which he reminisces about the sights and sounds of the very same walk he took on his 30th Birthday. The official walk takes you from the Boathouse where he spent the last years of his life, past the 12th-century castle and up a steep climb from Sir John’s Hill to Salt House Farm for spectacular views across the Taf peninsula.

Snowdon

Snowdonia is a fantastic place to walk. With a network of trails and walks for all abilities, you are sure to find a walk to suit you. But no “Walking in Wales” blog would be complete without mentioning Snowdon.

As the highest mountain in Wales; Snowdon is not for the faint hearted. At 1085m the mountain dominates the landscape of Snowdonia National Park. There are 6 routes to conquer this Welsh giant; The Llanberis Path, PYG Track, Miners’ Track, Watkin Path, Rhyd-Ddu Path or the Snowdon Ranger Path. Whichever route you choose be sure to check the weather forecast and ensure you have packed all suitable equipment.

For those quite not up for the challenge, you can always opt to take the Mountain Railway. For more information on the Snowdonia Mountain Railway, click here.

If you are determined to get active this summer, why not take part in Wales’ Pedometer Challenge? Over 2000 people have already taken up the challenge and walked 206,044 miles between them. The challenge is free to join; so what are you waiting for? Click here to get involved.

Wherever you decide to walk this summer, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot liner with you and protect your boot from those muddy wellies and walking boots. For more about our boot liners visit our website here.

And, if you think you have uncovered one of the best walks in the UK then why not share it with us? We love to hear about your adventures so be sure to tweet us @hatchbagcompany. You never know, your walk could feature in our next blog!