Whether it’s walking boots, waterproofs or a lightweight stove, Swaledale Outdoors has it covered.

Ruth Addicott finds out how a trek in the Andes inspired its owners to open a shop in Reeth.

FORGET glamping – when you’re stuck on top of a mountain with a cracked compass and no sign of life in sight, the last thing on your mind is ‘do I look glam in these gaiters?’.

Whether you’re planning on walking, fell running, climbing or camping, if it’s outdoor basics you need, Swaledale Outdoors is a must.

Since it opened in May, the shop in Reeth has become an essential pit stop for local walkers and people doing the Coast to Coast.

Specialising in good quality clothing, boots, rucksacks and lightweight camping equipment, it caters for everyone from Alpinists and experienced fell runners to families going out on an afternoon stroll.

South America may be thousands of miles away, but it was trekking in the Andes that prompted owners Richard and Sarah Gale to go into business.

After a life-changing trip that saw them cycle from Peru to Argentina, they decided to put their knowledge to use and open a shop.

As outdoor enthusiasts – they both enjoy walking, climbing, running and cycling – they know from experience what works and they make a point of only selling brands they trust.

“It’s only by using the kit that you get an understanding of its function and performance,”

says Richard. “Things can get uncomfortable very quickly in the hills and become life-threatening, so it’s important to use clothing and equipment you know won’t fail.”

In 2006, they cycled 8,500km across the Andes from Lima, in Peru, to Ushuaia, in Argentina.

They had to take everything they would need to survive for nine months on the road and they researched every piece of clothing and equipment thoroughly before they went.

Apart from beautiful scenery and incredible wildlife, the thing that struck them most was the hospitality of the people.

Richard says: “We arrived at one farm in Patagonia after dark asking for some drinking water and they invited us for dinner. They explained they had to leave for work in the morning, but we could leave whenever we woke up. We got up to find the table laid out for breakfast. They wanted nothing in return.

They knew they’d never see us again, but these weather-beaten gauchos with three teeth between them took the time to prepare our breakfast before they left for a long hard day on horseback rounding up sheep on the Patagonian steppe.”

Richard and Sarah struggled to settle down into office life after coming back to the UK and Richard went back to Patagonia to set up a tour company, but began to get homesick.

“I missed North Yorkshire,” he says. “I missed the climbing, the low cloud, the drizzle and much more.”

As soon as they saw the shop up for sale in Swaledale, they decided to go for it.

One of Richard’s favourite routes in the region is walking up Gunnerside Gill and around Blades and Winterings.

Richard urges all walkers to be fully prepared wherever they’re setting out.

“It’s important to carry – and know how to use – a map and compass and take a whistle and a head torch,” he says. “Even if you use a GPS, take a map and compass as a back-up.”

He says a good pair of boots is a must (look for brands such as Zamberlan and Meindl) and gaiters for extra warmth.

He also stresses the importance of good base layers – a merino-based fabric will help maintain a constant temperature for added comfort, he says, and is naturally anti-bacterial so it can be worn for days.

The other essential is a waterproof jacket.

“It has to stop rain getting into your insulating mid-layers, but it should also keep you dry by breathing and getting rid of the warm moist air you’re creating when you’re climbing hills,”

he says.

Surprisingly, black is still the best-selling colour when it comes to jackets – despite being a no-no in terms of safety.

As someone who grabs his walking boots at every opportunity, Richard also has some top tips of his own.

“Always have a nice pair of dry socks waiting in the car and keep a small dry bag in your rucksack with cash and a few high-energy treats,” he says.

As well as carrying a £20 note (for a hot meal or taxi back, should you emerge miles away from your car), he recommends a lightweight cooking pot or stove. “Wherever you end up, you can always make a nice cuppa.”

■ Swaledale Outdoors, Bagshaws Yard, Anvil Square, Reeth, DL11 6TD. Tel: 01748- 880298, email rich@swaledaleoutdoors.co.

uk or visit swaledaleoutdoors.co.uk

Wool gathering

A SECOND annual celebration of wool from the Humber to the Tees will be held at Danby Village Hall, tomorrow, from 11am to 4pm.

This year, there will be demonstrations of spinning, knitting, rag rugging and willow weaving.

There are artists on hand to show you the secrets of their craft and you can learn about the many different types of wool produced in the region and the items local crafts people create.

The North Eastern Textiles Open Day is being organised by Phillippa Joad, a spinner, feltmaker and dyer who works in Ryedale with her own small flock of sheep.

Danby is on the moors bus route and is home North Yorks Moors National Park Moors Centre.