What’s the best way to learn map and compass skills?

Learning complex new skills, and getting outside more often both help us to age well. So what better way to combine the two than to learn some map and compass skills.

A double whammy you might say.

Never too old to learn

Learning to navigate using a map and compass in my forties has given me so much more than the ability to find my way when I’m lost. It’s given me the confidence to explore, a renewed interest in outdoor exercise, and a whole new career in outdoor writing.

It’s also stopped me from getting lost in the first place.

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A year in the grey. How dumping the dye has changed my life?

When my hair first tipped past ‘half and half’ into ‘definitely grey’ Mr D and I both had an emotional moment. Me because I had decided there was no going back. He because he had known me since I was an inexperienced teenager.

I’m not inexperienced now.

I’m silver.

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Walking and yoga. There’s more connection than you might think!

Yoga’s an interesting one isn’t it. All that bending and balancing but none of the puffing and panting associated (by me at least) with walking up a hill or running.

At least that’s what I though until I tried yoga for myself.

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Hormones? Should we dump them in Room 101 or take them outside?

It’s National Weird Question Day.

Not really, that’s on June 31st!?!

Although my researcher team (Google and Wikipedia) tell me that September 30th is sometimes Ask a Stupid Question Day in the United States.

But this question is both weird and stupid!

You are right of course. I first came to it during a ladies-only bunkhouse gathering. Which of course is exactly the type of environment in which all important society-changing questions should be debated.

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Ten really easy 2022 resolutions to help us all look after our outdoor spaces


After a year that saw both COP26 and the continuation of the Covid pandemic, I wonder how many of our 2022 New Year’s resolutions reflect the permaculture principles listed above.

We live in complicated times.

But the basics are still simple. For example spending time outside, and looking after the outdoor locations we love to visit.

We can all do our bit.

And have faith. Each small difference we choose will eventually add up to a happier, healthier planet and community.

Simple resolutions.

When it comes to getting outside, there’s plenty of noise and argument out there.

Go here! Don’t go here!

Camp here! Don’t camp there!

Do this! Don’t do that!

But a few simple actions are far more effective than page after page of social media disagreement.

Here are a few ideas of resolutions we might all like to adopt. But there’s no pressure or judgement here. We all do our best in different ways.

Don’t worry, they’re all really easy!

  1. We could pack a bin bag and pair of gloves in our rucksacks for impromptu litter picks
  2. We could avoid getting caught short outdoors by checking loo locations and opening times (the loo’s not our’s) before we visit
  3. We could carry loo roll for emergencies but also a bag in which to pack it out
  4. We could focus on packaging-free outdoor snacks or remove packaging before we set off
  5. We could research local produce and businesses before we travel
  6. We could keep an eye out for farm shops and honesty boxes
  7. We could travel extra-carefully down country lanes
  8. We could park considerately or be prepared to change plans if this isn’t possible
  9. We could lend our support by visiting local visitor centres and museums
  10. We could avoid geo-tagging sensitive or over popular locations

But I never stick to new year’s resolutions.

Me neither. Which is a really good reason to keep things practical and, most of all, simple.

We’re all learning. And doing our best.

Which is all any of us can hope for if we’re going to get through to December 2022 feeling good about ourselves.

Wishing you all blessings for a happy new year!

Should we be applying permaculture principles to our outdoor writing?

Five ways social media is lying to us about the outdoors



What did you do on New Year’s Eve? I went wild camping on Dartmoor

Leaving the comfort of a warm campervan to ‘sleep’ in a sloping, wind-bent tent might not seem like everybody’s idea of a New Year’s Eve party but, for Mr D and I, it was the perfect way to end a year, which hasn’t contained quite as many outdoor adventures as we would have liked it to.

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Two Blondes Walking Christmas Quiz – Answers

If you haven’t worked it out yet, like all good super heroes, I have a double identity. Not only am I Fi Darby, outdoor writer extraordinaire, I’m also Blonde Two of the (slightly) famous blogging duo, Two Blondes Walking.

Each Christmas we Blondes set up a Dartmoor quiz or fun activity. This year the questions appeared (in pictorial form) on the Two Blondes Walking blog, on Christmas Eve.

If you haven’t seen the quiz yet, this is your opportunity. Just click through here BEFORE you look at the answers below.

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Fed up with Christmas adverts? We have a new game for you!

Warm, athletic, slush-proof.

The words above landed in my in-box yesterday, and were written to advertise winter boots. Nothing new there, and in truth, the boots did look very tempting but they also suggested to me a rather fun Christmas game that can be played online or gathered together.

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Swimming ear plugs. Where exactly am I supposed to put them?

This year I finally got round to treating my ears to a set of ear plugs for outdoor swimming. I haven’t heard a ‘thank you’ for this gift yet but that might be because my hearing isn’t as good as it once was.

What is surfer’s ear?

If you’re a cold water swimmer, diver, paddler or surfer, you’ll know that continued submersion in cold water and exposure to wind can cause tiny bony growths in the ear (sometimes known as surfer’s ear).

Whilst nobody can see these growths, they really aren’t convenient because they can cause ear infections, and have a negative impact on your hearing.

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On the topic of hill walking – ‘Not one of your route marches!’

It should go without saying that an outdoor writer needs to enjoy being outside. Not only that but if you’re going to be writing walking routes for other people, it makes sense to enjoy a bit of walking yourself.

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