The Vault Regulars

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hiking goggles

When its windy or cold walking in exposed places my eyes stream non stop. It's a real nuisance. It makes map reading all the more harder. I've used glasses of various types and even yellow goggles that would have looked good on Ali G.
Many glasses have a tendency to steam up or are too bulky to be practical for hiking so when I came across these paragliding/skydiving goggles I thought I would give them a try.
Goggles are also a big benefit when rain, sleet or snow is coming at you horizontaly, and even better when hail stoning.

I wore them the last time we were out on White Pike in the Lake District and they work very well. The conditions were 20mph wind gusts, low cloud, intermittent hail, rain and snow with an ambient temperature of 4 degrees but felt cooler with the wind chill. Perfect testing weather.

The goggles are made from one piece UV400 shatterproof Polycarbonate double sided anti fog coated lens. Mine are clear but alternatives are available in smoked and yellow.
There is neoprene padding around the edges to keep wind out.
Keeping them firmly in place is a fully adjustable headband rather than side stays.

They weigh 41 grams including the micro fibre cleaning pouch.

I might have to make a bit of an alteration to the foam pad that stops wind getting through. The reason is that when paragliding you don't actually work a sweat up like you do hiking and so the generated warm air needs a space to escape. Although the foam is breathable and they are anti fog, I think a small slot would be beneficial and won't detract from the performance. But i will try further testing before modifying.
I found these at Global eyewear. Cost £10.99.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Walna Scar, White Pike and White Maiden. (From Dunnerdale)

The Duddon valley was quiet. Any noise being masked by the low mist. Tarn Beck was in spate and sound of the rushing water was quite musical. There was no one around except Sheila and I, no cars, tractors or kids breaking the silence, just the tapping of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker high up in an adjacent tree.
Occasionally part of the surrounding ridge line would appear and then it was gone but there was enough time for us to see that the tops were white with snow. From the look of it the snow line started at around 500 metres.
In the valley the temperature was high for this time of year at around 8 degrees.C. No wonder the clagg was down.

Walking through the fields between Turner Hall Campsite and High Moss showed signs of previous heavy rains. Water logged ground in abundance. Beyond High Moss a tall ladder stile crosses the boundary wall and from there we could see that no one was camping.
At the start of the Walna Scar the high temperature had us both taking layers off. No sooner had we set off again when hail started to fall. Stop again to put waterproofs back on. For the next twenty minutes we had all four seasons.
Mid way up the Walna, the clagg thankfully lifted and we saw eight tiny figures almost at the top. Amazingly the snow line was receding fast, it was certainly a bit higher now than it had been when we first glimpsed the tops earlier on.
The Walna is a steady climb and today was proving how unfit we both are. Numerous pauses made between  the slow progress. My knee ached as it has been for some time now and I was hoping that the top wouldn't be too slippery and cause me problems.

                              The start of the Wana Scar road with Harter Fell in background.

As it happened we caught up with the eight folk we saw earlier. Three carried on up to Buck Pike whilst the others stood and drank warm drinks.
The col where the Walna starts to drop down to Coniston was bitterly cold and a biting wind was painful on the face. My anemometer showed 20mph wind speed but a temperature of 4C. It seemed far colder than that, we layered up again, putting everything on including a new pair of goggles which stopped our eyes watering perfusely. They worked fantastically well and will be staying in the rucksack. We had a couple of new bits of kit which I will say more about in a separate post.
Looking down the Duddon Valley from The Walna Scar Rd,

Top of the Walna looking to Coniston Water.

It was too cold to linger and the mist was coming in again taking away our views but it was fast moving mist with the strong wind. The views we had down to Coniston water and out to sea were dark and foreboding, occasionally the sun would burst through the black cloud in strong sunbeams.
My camera doesn't do justice to the light show.
 Top of the Walna Rd, with the path up to Dow Crag behind left.

 Clagg closing in again.

On Walna Scar 621 metres, en route to White Pike.

We headed for White Pike using the path which crosses Walna Scar along the ridge. Behind us Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man recieved fleeting glimpses. Across to our left Harter fell and beyond that the Scafells had their heads covered.
The hail returned and this time along with the powerful wind. The goggles were working a treat and didn't fog up, but most importantly gave us the advantage of having a clear unrestricted view.
As we approached the summit of White Pike 598 metres, we came across footprints in the snow coming from the opposite direction to ours. We hadn't seen anyone so this person must have been out early?
The top of White Pike has a couple of stone cairns and a windbreak of sorts. No use to us today, it was too cold to linger here. As we were taking the usual summit photos three walkers approached and also didn't linger.
 Sheila sporting useful goggles. Almost at White Pike Top.

View of Dow Crag from White Pike.

We set off for White Maiden 610 metres, just a short distance away. Here in between the wall and the crags we found a sheltered spot to have a rewarding coffee. The three walkers followed behind us but didn't stop, heading off down towards Torver.
Zoom shot of Dow Crag (left) and sun on Old Man of Coniston.

Instead of returning we same way as we came I decided to just walk off the ridge (safely I may add) and head straight down to the wall gate at SD250963. It was a slippery route and I had to be careful not to stress my knee. The Herdwick sheep stared at us and probably thinking that we were mad. I would have agreed with them.
We got to the gate safe and sound and headed for Walna Quarry. The cave in the quarry would make a good place to have our sandwiches i thought. There are actually 2 caves in the quarries, the first one we found to be inaccessible due to a rock fall in the entrance alleyway. This is the biggest cave, so it was a bit disappointing. The 2nd cave is smaller and was accessible but the slate slabs were so slippery we didn't bother trying to get down to it. We were sheltered in the quarry so just decided to find a decent place to sit and have lunch.
Looking round there is still evidence of the quarrymens work. Drill holes ready for sticks of dynamite visible.
Heading down off the tops. Harter Fell now clear.

The 2nd cave which we found too slippery to access.

No sooner had we finished lunch when it went very dark again and the hail started. We set off out through the many quarry buildings, now ruins. There was no shelter.
 Dark clouds approaching fast.

 Sunny one minute.

Dark and hail stoning the next.

The hail was short lived, lasting only 10 minutes. Our route down now joined the Walna Rd again. Coming up to us were two runners and we mentioned to them that it was bitterly cold up on the top. They said they knew already as they had ran over White Pike earlier. We guessed that it must have been their footprints we saw.
Down at the road the temperature was warm and the wind non existent. The layers came off again.
The Woodpecker was still hammering away and the valley had come to life with numerous canoeists.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker, high up in the trees.

Our route today is below. It was 11km. We didn't do this walk in the time showed below on the map. It took us 4 hrs with stops.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Early morning start.

The weather forecast for my part of the woods was for a very cold night, increasing wind speed and a dull day. I wondered if the very cold night would result in a very cold morning and give a nice sunrise.
I was hopeful and went to check the batteries on the camera, got the warm gear out and set my mind to getting out early in time to get up my local hills and see what was happening.

Sheila was up as usual, pre the dawn of man. I think she goes and wakes up the lamp dousers. We still have gas lamps up 'ere. I got up at 6.30 and checked to see what time sunrise was. 8.03 am.

From home to the top would take me about 40 minutes walking and so timed my exit to correspond. It was bitterly cold but still. Glad i had my PHD Minimus on as well as a fleece and Marino wool baselayer.
Passing through the farms and greeting the guys setting up the cows in the milking parlour, they were a bit surprised to see me so early.

The sky was a dull pink and i was hoping that i wasn't going to miss the best of the colour. I sped up the pace and the legs were complaining. Beads of sweat left from under my hat, down my brow and ran down my face. Sweating is not good i thought as standing around in the cold is no fun but i needed to set the tripod and camera up.

Reaching the trig point and the monument to the fallen men of Royton the sun was still below the horizon. The sky unfortunately was getting no redder. The outlying towns of Manchester, Rochdale and Oldham were vaguely visible in the gloom and all around the periphery the cloud was growing.

Frost covered everything but it wasn't a hard frost by any means. A bit disappointing. I got the coffee out and felt the warm glow inside. My hands were soon feeling tingly and the gloves soon went back on. I pulled the balaclava over my nose.

The first sign of the sun came as a red line to the edge of the cloud at 8.05. It wasn't going to be a good sunrise. I moved around the summit to see if i could get a better location for the camera but the trees to the east were preventing a clear view. I was a bit disappointed as the two previous days had produced a reasonable sunrise. Typical.

Still, i was out and it was beautiful. There will be other days and the light is never the same as the sun  rises. I enjoyed my 10k and here are a few photos i took.
















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