The Vault Regulars

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A sad local 10km walk.

As is usual at some point over a weekend in home territory we go for an amble. Being semi rural we only have to put a foot outside the door to be in the countryside. We usually cover around 10k.
There are lots of farms around us and we see all sorts of animals. Today we saw lots of healthy sheep, cows, pigs, a Heron, lots of Canada Geese,  but unfortunately, one animal brought back memories from my childhood, we came across a rabbit that i’m 99% sure had Myxomatosis.
This poor thing hopped as though drunk, didn’t run away as we approached and bumped into the footpath banking. When i got up close it was noticeable skin and bone and its eyes all puffed up and weeping. Blind.
Probably when i was around 12 or 13 years old i remember there was a huge outbreak of the disease in the UK and i can still see rabbits in large numbers wandering around the streets where i lived in the same state as this one today. At the time my mum told me to stay away from them and don’t touch them. Some organisation came around regularly and cleared them away. I guess it was Defra or whatever the equivalent was then.
I am hoping that this is just a one off. I am guessing that due to the very large amount of chicken farms nearby that probably someone has put poison down for foxes.  Just a guess.

Anyway here are some photo's of healthy animals we saw on our walk just to change the subject.

 An unusual wooly bull.
 Anyone smell bacon?
Nope. Not a sniff of bacon anywhere.
 A smooth bull.
Should we go through or around?

A Heron tried to hide from us but i managed a photo before it took flight. You can see it hiding in the Himalayan Balsam below.
A few shots of fungi too, just for good measure.
 I thought this one above looked like the moon.

And of course there has to be the odd tractor photo. It wouldn’t be a walk without one or two even.
 Above is a John Deere 6630. 6.8Litre turbo diesel 6 cylinder. 130hp.
And like it says on the hood, this one is a John Deere 6150R. A new one and its a big’un but its still a 6.8Litre 6 cylinder turbo diesel. With engine power increased to 165hp.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sowerby Bridge to Marsden

On a gorgeous day although slightly misty, Terry and I got the train to Sowerby Bridge. It’s a 40 minute journey and the train was quiet. We left just after rush hour.
Our plan was to walk from Sowerby Bridge along the Hebble into Brighouse and then get  the bus into Huddersfield for lunch. Then head south to the Huddersfield narrow canal and finish in Marston where we get the train back into Manchester Piccadilly.
It didn’t quite work out as planned, Terry’s back was giving him grief and it was obvious by the time we got to Brighouse that he couldn’t carry on. By sheer coincidence our duo rail ticket included a return trip and so we only had to pay to get back to Sowerby Bridge.

For me this was my first walk along the Hebble and Calder navigation and it was delightful. Very pleasing scenery. And as is usual with walks of this type there are lots of industrial architecture along the way from follies, big old mills to old canal markers and more.

Before setting off we had a quick look at the deep lock in Sowerby which is on the Rochdale canal.
Rochdale canal deep lock.

The large marina in Sowerby was where we picked up the towpath and walked past Lock number 1 of the Rochdale Canal. The marina was bustling and the new cafes were doing a roaring trade. Obviously the Indian summer weather had brought the visitors out. The towpath however was quiet, with only the odd cyclist, runner, dog walker and day walker.

For quite sometime we had the massive Wainhouse Tower in our view on the right. Calderdales highest structure and the worlds highest folly at 275ft, its location is SW Halifax. It was built between 1871 and 1875 as a chimney. There are 403 steps inside its octagonal shape and leads to a viewing platform.
The cost of building the tower was £14,000. In 2006 it had restoration work done to it which took 3 years and cost £400,000. It is open to the general public. It must be a fantastic view from the top.
Sowerby Basin and the Wainhouse Folly in the distance.
The Calder and Hebble navigation starts in Wakefield and the first lock is at Fall Ings. All along the towpath you can find mile stones that show the distance from Fall Ing. Strange name.

Also before and after each lock there is a marker stone that says 100yds. We spent a little while discussing why you would need a marker showing 100yds. We came to the conclusion that during the days when narrow boats were horse drawn the 100yd marker would give the boatman chance to slow the boat down or detach the horse. This conclusion could of course be totally wrong. If anyone knows the correct reason then feel free to put me straight.

After about two miles we passed under the Copley viaduct carrying the Caldervale line between Sowerby Bridge and Halifax and connects with the Manchester to Leeds line. This exceptional viaduct was constructed between 1852 by Sir John Hawkshaw. It has 21 arches at a height of 66ft. It is Grade II listed. The line between Sowerby and Halifax is only a short arm and due to the massive expense of the viaduct and the tunnels it almost didn’t go ahead.

The Copley Viaduct.
Note the Skew brickwork of the archway roof below.
As we walked we saw plenty of birdlife. Mallard, Canada Geese, Coots, Moorhen, Heron, Magpie, Jay, Buzzard,Pied and Grey Wagtail and along the Cromwell section we actually saw a Kingfisher. This was my first sighting of a Kingfisher. We only got a couple of seconds view before it disappeared into the reeds. No chance for a photo unlike the docile Mallard Cross Ducks below.
The day was warming up nicely and the mist of earlier had cleared leaving us blue skies and a windless walk. A few people were picnicking along the locks and soon we reached the pleasant Salterhebble bend with it’s lock and upper and lower basin. Here a branch of the canal turns towards Halifax 1.75 miles long, but it is now disused, abandoned in 1942. We carried on following the Hebble. The locks on the canal are regarded as being short and although wide boats can navigate through, the longest length of boat is only 60ft for a narrow boat and 57ft for a wide beam. 
 Under the bridge, The Halifax branch of the canal, now abandoned.
 A Narrow boat in Salterhebble lock.
Salterhebble lower basin.
 Electrically operated, Salterhebble Guillotine lock.
Just the other side of the guillotine lock is the horse tunnel with its new gate. It is underneath Stainland Rd bridge.
Horse Tunnel
River Calder.
As we approached Elland Bridge and the basin on the otherside we spotted a pub called the Barge and Barrel. Unfortunately we were just a bit too early for it to be open which was a real shame as it is a micro brewery. It would have been a good time to have some refreshment as Terry was obviously suffering at this point. But it wasn’t to be. As we moved off the tow path ends and in our distracted state we missed the sign that said the route goes over the bridge to the other bank.
Elland Basin
Mistake corrected we headed over Elland canal bridge and just prior to taking the towpath again i decided to walk up to the River Calder bridge for a photo. 
The River Calder at Elland
The pub was not open, we were too early.
Passing the old Valley mill it was good to see the neat job of restoration which had been achieved in turning it into apartments. The original tower of the mill was looking good and showed the extravagance of the old mill owners. 

Between Elland and Brighouse, is Binns wood and the walk is superb, here the canal takes on the hue of a slow moving river. The banks are not harsh stone and the signs of nature are everywhere. We passed alongside Cromwell Bottom (Great name) nature reserve and then came up to Park Nook Lock and Elland Lock where there is still what’s left of the Lock keepers cottage. Its looking sad and unloved today. 
Elland lock keepers cottage.
Approaching Brighouse.
The eyesore building that marked Sugdens flour mill, i think it is now empty. It also marked the end of our walk. Although we ended this trip early it was certainly an enjoyable walk and one i will do again. We walked 11.3km in a sedate 3 hours.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Over Trousers - Outdoor Research Helium. 1st Look

 The rainy season is getting closer so I chose the Outdoor Research Helium Over trousers after much deliberation. And “ Yes", i bought them myself with my own money and had great service from Ultralightoudoorgear. They kept me informed of stock arrivals and checked the leg lengths for me prior to ordering and delivered them speedily and free.

My current pair of Rab Bergans have been letting water through for quite sometime and although i have Nikwax reproofed them often, they are still wetting through and enough is enough, its time for a change.

My initial choice was to go for the Berghaus Paclite due to the high regard that numerous TGO Challengers i spoke to, have for them. The trouble was i struggled to find a pair that fit me well.

There were no reviews of the Helium trousers on the tintaweb that i could find and that surprised me a bit. I own a number of pieces of gear made by OR and have been pleased with what i have and so i decided to take a chance with them.

1st Impression.

They say that first impressions can be entirely wrong and i hoped this was going to be the case here.
When i took them from the plastic bag i thought “They look and feel cheap” but at £90 they are not cheap. In fact the bag felt as strong as the trousers.

In direct comparison to my Bergans the difference is quite huge. When you look at and feel the Bergans they shout out quality, durability and good design. Whereas the Helium’s shouted shiney, flimsy, little design and a tad odorous.

2nd Impression.

Everything deserves a second chance. So i looked at them a little more closely. Material is 2.5 layer Pertex Shield +. That’s 30D Ripstop, 100% Nylon. 13,000mm Hydrostatic head, 20,000 MVTR Breathability.

Weight is 160 grams specified for a Large size, regular leg length. Very light. (Actual 158grams).

Unusual for over trousers they have a zipped rear wallet pocket. This zip is not a waterproof one but in reality a waterproof zip is not required as the pocket will be underneath your shell jacket. The pocket also doubles as a pack away which is quite handy and the packed size is around 0.4L

The waist band is half elasticated and has a shock cord adjuster at the front. The elastication is excellent and strong. It has a finish that has been siliconised. This is supposed to stop the trousers from working down. Time will tell.

The waist band also has loops which can be used to fit braces. Strange! If the siliconised waistband is supposed to stop downwards movement why do you need to provide braces loops? I guess I will just use the loops for hanging them up to dry.

The legs are quite a loose fit. Probably for a couple of reasons.

1. To overcome the fact that there is very little built in knee articulation.
2. To ensure that you can get the trousers on without taking your boots off considering that the leg zips are only calf length.(Full length waterproof zips are very expensive parts).

The leg zips are YKK water resistant and the seams are all taped. 

Strangely, there is a seam directly behind the knee. At first i thought this could be for production reasons where the top half of the trousers would be used with a varying bottom half to give the different leg lengths and keeping parts lean in numbers. But i discounted this as the front of the trouser is one piece and therefore compromises my argument. 
So why the seam at the back? My suggestion is that this is a the weak point. Constantly bending as you walk and therefore a horizontal seam would give added strength to the area. Of course i could be completely wrong. Maybe OR could put me right.

Around the bottom of the leg the hem is also 1/2 elasticated and siliconised and intended to stop the trousers working up. There are 2 internal grosgrain loops on the hem and at this time their purpose is a mystery.

With the trousers being 30 denier material I will have to take greater care of them to ensure they stay waterproof. For example no more sitting on them at brew stops, use a plastic bag over my boots when i put them on and when I take them off pull the outside material over the boots to ensure I don't scratch the inner surface.

Considering that the design is a simple one and the zips are as short as is practical, i think they are a bit pricey at £90. RRP £99.99p (This is UOG price and you can get them cheaper at other internet suppliers).

But as there are less places to leak and if they keep me dry then its money well spent.


1. The weight.
2. The siliconised waistband.
3. The rear pocket.


The shiny material finish. (I prefer the understated mat finish.)
The rather short ankle zips. (Although i will report back on this)
The very loose cut. (Easy to snag on the undergrowth)
No instep wear protection.

I will do a field report after a couple of months use.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Leaking boots?

I received a pair of Merrell Chameleon 5 mid fabric boots FOC almost a year ago to the day. I have been exceptionally pleased with them and i have used them continuously throughout the year.

During the year i have suffered Tendonitis and sore ankles and eventually went and got some advice about using Superfeet insoles. I bought the green option and have used them ever since.

My foot problems gradually reduced but it wasn’t long after that my Merrell boots started leaking. I just put it down to wear and tear and carried on wearing them regardless of having wet feet. I used them on this years TGO Challenge and didn’t have a single foot problem. They suit my feet and i can put up with wet feet.

However, i had a bit of a niggle in my mind that the hard edges of the superfeet insoles may have contributed to the membrane wear and caused the leakage. I couldn’t prove this of course without taking the boots apart.

Last week it all became clear. On a 10k local walk i felt my right boot was a bit loose and checking when i got home i found that the inner fabric of the boot had worn away, clean through, exactly along the edge of where the heel side of the superfeet insole touched. There is no doubt about it that although the superfeet have helped me physically they have drastically shortened the life of the waterproof membrane and now the boots themselves.

I did take a photo but with the problem being deep in the boot and the fabric is black the photo doesn’t do it justice.

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