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Sierra de Grazalema

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the sierra de Grazalema – the wettest place in Spain, so they say. The village established in Moorish times is a typical “pueblo blanco” ensconced by several 1500m-limestone peaks. These peaks are the first barriers for clouds blown in from the Atlantic by warm humid winds having met no other significant obstacles en route east. Upon arrival at the sierra they condense and dump their rainfall on the sierra Grazalema in the province of Cádiz. It’s not uncommon to see snow here in during some of the winter’s colder days too. The draw to Grazelema for me is not particularly the village itself, although beautiful with plenty of places to eat well and...

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Northcott Mouth

We visited Northcott Mouth beach during an early January trip up the north Cornish coast. Searching for somewhere to overnight in the van we heard  about a shipwreck visible at low tide. With prospect of a little adventure before losing daylight we headed down to the beach.  The wreck eluded us, but the geology made up for it. Sandstone and shale strata in wild folds and a beautiful palette. Further along the beach, what appeared to be a stack was in-fact a massive rock fin, at 40m impressively vertical, but only an armspan wide. The strata run in 45 degree ridges  along the entire beach, so its not the easiest to navigate but this adds to the rugged beauty.

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No Such Thing As Bad Weather

  When we introduced Verena in our previous post she mentioned liking clouds more than sun. Appropriate then that Cumbria was the location of her recent photography workshop, and they were treated to some of the best weather that region has to offer. Some great images of George Buttery and Verena making the most of it. The workshop was hosted by Jack Anstey and @theworldwithsarah.  Throughout the weekend Verena put our Fell Zip Backpack through it's paces, “we got soaked and nothing, really nothing was wet inside. I was worried at first but so relieved that all my equipment was completely dry.” We're lucky to have met Verena at this point in her photography career, as she builds on her portrait and landscape experience and begins to explore brand and lifestyle work. If...

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Verena Splett

We're really pleased to welcome Verena Splett to the Utility Archive family. Born and raised in Berlin, Verena began her photography career whilst living in New Zealand and moved to Scotland earlier this year to pursue this further. We were immediately drawn to Verena's photography. In her own words 'I love the outdoors, prefer clouds to sun'. Her landscapes are bold, and carry drama and warmth in equal measure. The impact of her Scottish move seems clear.  A confident portrait and landscape photographer she's now extending her talent to brand and lifestyle work. Lucky us. More to follow.

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Dezeen Gift Guide

We're young, green (in more ways than one) but ever so keen. As such we're very grateful indeed to the design gods at Dezeen for featuring our Fold Rolltop Backpack in their 2019 Gift Guide. Scroll down, bit further, keep going, there you go. Christmas sorted. Praise indeed.

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The Magic Blue Light

A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have entertained the idea of setting a 6.30 alarm for a mid-November lake swim. Now I’m in on the secret. A couple of weeks ago, heading north for the Kendal Mountain Festival, and with a place booked on the outdoor swimming film session, I was already inspired to swim.  I contacted a Kendalian friend who gathered some of her local swim buddies and we hatched a plan to head to Windermere. With dawn breaking, and armed with a sense of humour and a box of flapjack we met at Millerground, home to an informal swimming club called Buoy 13. The madness of the early rise rewarded us with a magical blue light. There...

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An Interview with Adam

I've worked at the creative end of the bag industry for over 25 years, helping lots of brands make great product. One of those, Brydon Brothers, dropped into the studio recently to chew the fat and take some photos. With my focus now on Utility Archive, that's what we talked about most; how my background inspired the brand, and the creative process involved to get it up and running. Read the interview here. Big thanks for the photos Tom D Morgan.

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Pointe Percee Hike, The Aravis Range

Ben Adams and Joanna Brigham take on the challenging Pointe Percee, highpoint of the Aravis range in the French Prealps.  The Pointe Percée hike was actually our second attempt. We tried earlier in the summer but were forced back by bad weather. We started from the Col des Annes. It’s possible to do it from the Col in one push, but common to break the ascent with a stop at the Refuge de Gramusset.  We were really keen to get this one done, but when we realised it was the refuges final day of the summer season, and with the weather being so good we opted to stop for a plat du jour and cafe noisette. The Aravis area is...

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An Autumn Dip

Kirsty Atkinson documents her weekly moment of north London in-water escapism.  We meet every Friday, four friends from different parts of London. It’s starts with a walk down a wooded lane, chatting giddily about our weeks and the weekend ahead. We arrive at the pond and check the board, twelve degrees. It’s dropped two degrees since last week. The chat continues into the changing room, ‘What are you wearing? A cossie? Shorty wetsuit? Socks? Gloves?’ We all opt for a cossie, in solidarity with the many other women who come here every week to enjoy a cold, restorative dip.  We’re ready. We cross the jetty to the steps in silence. This is the worst part, the first few seconds. We’re in,...

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An Everyday Adventure, London Docklands

London based photographer Joe McGorty takes us on his adventurous Thames Path commute, observing how nature interacts with the post-industrial Docklands landscape.  'It’s early Autumn and the strong winds are today bringing intermittent rain with them. My backpack is fending off the weather, water drops sitting on the waterproof fabric, but I don’t have the right outerwear with me. I’m enjoying feeling unprepared.  I move eastwards away from home, ducking under trees and into old wooden structures whilst each shower passes. So far I’ve seen two joggers, one dog walker and a group of cyclists. The path passes a cement works and I’m forced to stop momentarily whilst a barge unloads its cargo of sand. This area doesn’t feel like London, or any big city....

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West Pier, Brighton

West Sussex resident Will Appleyard spends an enviable amount of time in Europe and further afield, documenting his diving, boarding, climbing and paragliding adventures. In this story he's closer to home, explaining his love of wreck exploration. Most of us don’t have Will’s equipment or experience but we do share his approach to embracing adventure, in whatever form and wherever that may be.  'As a diver, I often visit and explore ship wrecks. I wonder whether my fascination with Brighton's West Pier somehow derives from that interest? The West Pier to me, is almost the opposite of a ship wreck - a land wreck. A relic of times gone by, the pier was formally closed in 1975. But fire finally took away any hope of restoration in 2003. Now...

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Kendal Mountain Festival, tickets on sale now

Tickets to the Kendal Mountain Festival are now on sale. The festival runs from 14 - 17 November. We're excited to report we'll be back on home turf (well, my home turf, Mrs A's from Yorkshire, but we don't talk about that), for some of the weekend screenings; climbing, wild swimming, the family event and some general collections. Tickets moving quite quickly for some events so be quick. See you there?

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Foraging and Photography from Le Tour, Chamonix

Welcome to the first Journal post from our family of Utility Archive ambassadors. A couple of weeks ago Ben Adams, Joanna Brigham and friends enjoyed a late summer day of foraging and photography in the Chamonix valley.  ‘We started from Le Tour, a traditional Savoyarde village in the northern reaches of the Chamonix valley, a stones throw from the Swiss border. Just above the village, at around 1600m the valley head opens into a bowl. This is a beautiful expanse of mountain pasture with the higher peaks of Aiguillette des Posettes and Les Grandes Autannes as a backdrop. The views south down the valley toward the Mont Blanc massif are spectacular, some of the best in the region.  Being so...

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Ben Adams

Introducing Ben Adams, part of the Utility Archive family. Originally from Suffolk he now calls the Alps home, ‘Perhaps it’s because I’m from the flattest part of the UK but I’ve always been drawn to the mountains. From my 20’s I knew I wanted them to be a big part of my life. I tried the city, but when you've spent extended periods in the mountains it's really difficult to go back'. Now based in Chamonix for the ‘deep winters and long summers of endless exploration’, Ben is entirely absorbed in the Alpine environment. Seemingly spending every waking hour hiking, skiing, climbing, fishing and alongside all these activities pursuing his passion for photography. Of which you will see much more here. ...

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Joe McGorty

Introducing photographer Joe McGorty, part of the Utility Archive family. Joe is a professional outdoor lifestyle and portrait photographer. He spends his free time, in his own words 'at climbing crags, trekking in the Alps, sleeping in bivy bags and generally being anywhere that feels wild with a sense of adventure'. Here, a photograph from his excellent deepwater soloing project, Presence of Water'. 

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Benjamin Youd

Introducing photographer Benjamin Youd, part of the Utility Archive family. Benjamin is a professional portrait and lifestyle photographer, Dad and outdoorsy type. He describes his work as capturing subtle and natural emotion through observational moments. In addition to his commercial activities he enjoys working on long-term personal projects and is currently exploring plant-based athletes.

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Will Appleyard

Introducing Will Appleyard, part of the Utility Archive family. Will is an all-round adventure professional. A journalist, photographer and published author. His activities are focussed on diving but he also climbs, ski’s, snowboards and paraglides. His first book Discover UK Diving became a best-seller, he also raised awareness of many dive sites through this and his second book "Dorset Dives". Will is a brand ambassador for O'Three wetsuits, a commissioned photographer for National Geographic Traveller and contributor to DIVER magazine and DIVER-NET. His photographic work has also been used in the national press, diving industry-related media and advertising, as well as supplying content for several adventure brands. Photo by Will from a recent Dolomites trip. 

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Wooden Chapel by John Pawson

British architect John Pawson is renowned as a master of minimalism. Wooden Chapel, located on a cycle path in Unterliezheim, Germany isn’t typical of his style but is stunning nonetheless. Standing seven metres tall and constructed from 144 enormous Douglas fir trunks, rip-cut to a flat on opposing sides and stacked. Photo Eckhart Matthaus.

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Lines (57° 59´N, 7° 16´W)

We’re dazzled by this installation by Finnish artists Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta. Located on North Uist, Lines (57° 59´N, 7° 16´W) highlights the effect of rising sea levels on coastal communities. A predicted future high tide mark is illuminated when the tide triggers a sensor. Stunning. Photo Timo Aho.

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Wear testing at Winspit

With fair winds and following seas Utility Archive will launch in September. Not long now. Here, Mrs A putting the 16L Roll Top Pack through its paces, descending to swim at Winspit on the Purbeck coast last weekend.

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