Caving, Wombling & Snapping

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All good things come to those that wait?

It’s been a while since our last update here – some four months – and it’s fair to say that’s a long time between drinks.

Things have been pretty hectic at Mascarandy towers with a book deadline and several other things happening to preclude some thought on these pages.

So here’s an explanation (kinda…)


Folk will know I’ve long been a keen caver. Since moving my ‘day role’ to the Yorkshire Dales it has allowed me to be closer to the caving areas – and open the door to finally joining the Red Rose Caving and Pothole Club.

It’s a club I’ve wanted to be part of for a while; initially because I thought the hut looked cool, but mostly, and now I’ve grown up, because it is based in the best caving area in the country at Ease Gill.

My Secret Dales book project allowed me to interact with members of the group and finally submit an application. I’m pleased to say I was accepted and have begun to finally learn how to get up and down a rope.

Down in fine – my sizeable frame helping the descent. Up isn’t – gravity working against my sizeable frame.

It’s been fun so far, but hard work, and I’d like to thank Jack Overhill, the training officer at the club for being very patient.

Why caving? It’s the fascination of not knowing what is around the corner. I find crawling in enclosed spaces somewhat comforting too. No idea why…


Trees … millions of them. That’s the plan for the country to help it meet its climate targets and at Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust they have ambition to plant 100,000 in the next two years. So far, we’ve planted close to 60,000 taking our in total figure to around 1.5 million since 1996.

That’s a lot of trees … and a lot of tree guards.

YDMT has been leading the way on finding an alternative – and you can see why from the pic below. They were removed from Bargh Wood in Stainforth with the landowner – and we were featured on Farming Today over the Christmas period.

I’m really pleased to be part of an organisation that is a real ‘doer’ when it comes to things like this. It’s outdoors, in the fresh air and making a difference.

(I’ve been to Bargh Wood so many times over the last few months planting and wombling that I am petitioning the owner to have it changed to Mike’s Wood. Catchy eh?)


My deadline for Secret Dales is fast approaching and therefore I’ve been out and about researching and gathering as many snaps as I can. The book will have nine chapters and focus on things like landscape, folk tales, notable people, mining and cottage industries for example.

At times, it’s been a difficult write. Changing jobs meant a chance in circumstance and time management issues, but I’m pleased to say I’ve got on top of that over the last few months.

It’s made me realise two things. When the draft wasn’t proceeding as well as planned, I felt it was because I was spending too much time on my research; typing up notes for example. When it came to crafting the draft, that research made life a lot simpler. Lesson number one – enjoy the grind, it pays off.

The second thing was bringing my eldest up to the area I now work in. We went walking on Giggleswick Scar and cave hunting / cooking down at Ease Gill. It was lovely to be able to introduce her to a new environment even if she is a reluctant walker. I hope this is the start of her getting to know the outdoors a lot more.

And finally…

Just some further updates. The Mascarandy Meanders podcast will be returning shortly! It will continue to feature me meandering on about whatever outdoor or writing subject is bothering me at the time – but I’ve also lined up a few interviews too which I hope you’ll find interesting!

I’ll also be blogging a bit more about my journey to 10 books and various other things like top 10 bivvys, caving trips etc.

This site will be having a small update shortly too with some new banner artwork, giving it a fresh look.

Finally (again), if you’re unable to buy a book, postcard or print from my shop, then there are a couple of things you could do to help me keep this site up and running.

The first is to check out two of my partners and consider supporting Mascarandy through them.

Splash Map is an innovative company which designs wearable, washable, all weather maps for the real outdoors. Basically, any map – Ordnance Survey etc – can be printed onto fabric that can be worn or stored in your pack.

FATMAP – I’ve been submitting walk ideas to Fatmap since they joined the scene and the link is my walk up Ingleborough. Check it out and my other walks and tell FATMAP if you like them!

Secondly, the proceeds of every book, picture and postcard sold on the site goes back into writing more books, taking more pictures and creating more postcards. If you can’t buy a book, picture or postcard, then would you buy me a brew to keep this site up and running?


Nice, I take sugar in tea or alternatively you can click on the button below.