The best of weekends in Lakeland

It’s been over a year since I’ve visited the Cumbrian fells. My last trip – for the other half’s 40th birthday – was a wonderful week of friends, campfires, canoes, great food and liberal imbibing.

During that trip I managed to squeeze in a couple of classic Lakeland walks – the Coldedale Round and Blencathra via Sharp Edge – although the card on my camera corrupted so those excursions didn’t make the pages of this blog sadly.

Last week we returned. A number of motivational factors aligned: we needed an escape, we had a new tent to ‘test’ and the forecast looked OK. I booked the Friday off work and we trundled up the M6 amid seemingly endless road works to Keswick. Continue reading

First look – MPOWERD Luci inflatable solar lantern

Just before I headed to Scotland I had an email from a company in the United States asking about distributors for their inflatable solar lantern. I duly responded and the company sent me a sample to try.

MPowered Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern
The MPOWERD Luci inflatable lantern is intended for outdoor leisure users including hikers, campers, anglers, kayakers, cyclists… you get the picture. It is constructed from soft clear transparent plastic, is waterproof and features a square solar panel in the base charging a slim 3.7V DC lithium polymer battery. This is sealed in the base with no facility for replacement.

Light is provided by 10 led lights arranged in a circle in the base providing a maximum of 65 lumens. In the top of the cylindrical lantern is a flexible reflective disc that helps distribute the light to a claimed area of a square metre. The top disc also features a mouthpiece with stop valve for inflation/deflation while plastic handles are located at the top and base allowing the lantern to be suspended.

A switch at the centre of the solar panel toggles the lantern between ‘bright’, ‘super bright’, and ‘flashing/beacon’ settings and powers the unit down.

The manufacturers claim 12 hours on the bright setting and this seems plausible in summer temperatures. I left the unit on all night on the hearth and it was still emitting good light in the morning after nine hours. Charge time is eight hours and the unit will still provide four hours of light if not used for a year from full charge.

Inflation and deflation can be a little tricky, though. The mouthpiece features a stiff valve making it quite difficult to inflate by blowing straight from the lungs (as if you were inflating a Thermarest). Musicians familiar with the embouchure technique will have an advantage!

I found it easier to inflate the lantern by opening it gently like an accordion (forgive the musical references) while holding the valve open with the point of a pencil or other pointed (but not sharp) implement. The lantern can then be topped up by blowing air in the mouthpiece.

This is a well-designed and well-made lantern that performs well based on early use. It may be a luxury for lightweight backpackers given that it weighs a little over 110g but I will find room for it in my cycle panniers as it illuminates the inner of my Vaude Hogan XT perfectly. It has particular practical benefits for anglers fishing at night and those who love messing around in boats.

If you are interested in finding out more check our MPOWERD’s website. Interested retailers should contact

Cumbria ramble

As winter weather batters the north this week, a little over a fortnight ago I enjoyed unseasonable balmy temperatures during a ‘late season’ Cumbria camping trip.

Coledale Beck

The other half and I packed the bell tent and headed for Scotgate Holiday Park in Braithwaite, near Keswick. This is not really my kind of site, but it is well placed for the attractions of the town, not least the The Dog and Gun.

It has the most heavenly loos and showers, too, eagerly used by folk keen to wash off the effort of climbing the fine, neighbouring fells. The heating is so effective in the shower block that my better half was convinced the loo seats had heating elements of their own.

Continue reading

Bell tents and… rabbit stew

I get quite a bit of traffic on this blog as a result of searches for ‘bell tent’ or, heaven forefend, ‘bell tents for glamping’.

Bell tent at nightI think I’ve already been clear on my thoughts on ‘glamping’ so I won’t exercise the grump lobes of may brain again here. Instead, I offer a bit more practical feedback on living with a bell tent and a word of warning following our last outing. Continue reading

Back from my grand tour

Just back from another superb trip touring the Highlands.

I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the landscapes we travelled through so I think I am going to recount my experiences through a number of postcards.

They’ll follow once I’ve done the first edit of my pictures.

And they’re off

There’s a mountain of kit in the garage ready to be crammed in the car.

It’s rather exciting not having a plan… being able to roam just where our mood and the weather take us.

I won’t be posting while away as it is forbidden to look at a computer. However, I hope to have some good stuff to put on here upon my return.

Until then…

Cae du, Tywyn

I’ve just spent the most superb six days at Cae Du campsite, near Tywyn. The weather was great and the company top class.

This is a charming site, reassuringly low key and boasting a fantastic location. In fact, it’s so good that you begin to question whether camping on a site can really be this perfect.

Even the commuter trains, which run through the tent fields, are infrequent and quiet. They serve as an entertaining distraction rather than a nuisance.

We were lucky… the rain stayed away from most of the week and we enjoyed some fantastic sunsets followed by stunning, star-filled night skies. With the campfire roaring (eventually), we were reluctant to turn in.

Have a hunt for this site. It has no formal web presence and the pictures are few and far between. It is rather wonderful, though, and leaving on Sunday was a strain.


Traditionally the preserve of school and university field trips, I’m off for a wet week in Snowdonia.

It’ll be interesting to go back there after so many years distracted by Lakeland and the Highlands.

We are camping on the coast with some friends fromdaarn saaarf‘. The site allows fires so I’m hopeful of a couple of dry, still nights watching the sun set.

Looking forward to it!