The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Killin to Boreland Farm

After excellent food and night in the Lochay hotel, we accepted a lift to the Ben Lawers visitors centre. This is now closed. We set off up Ben Lawers and at 12 noon we were at the top. The day was warm and the views were stunning. On the way down we saw hundreds of deer. We headed for the old dam to the east of Lochan nan U an. From the dam we contoured round to.the forestry below Meall Greigh until we picked up the track down to Boreland.

Balqhuidder to Killin

After a awful might at the Braes campsite, caused by the horrendous midges and noisy traffic we got up early completely wrecked and eaten alive. We packed up and set off via Rob Roy's grave at Balqhuidder village to Killin. This is an easy walk following the disused railway. Having looked at the map, the route along the south of Loch Tay seems boring, so we opted to go into the village and find a b & b. We found a b & b at the bridge of Lochay hotel.

So far

Left callander and walked along Loch Lubnaig. Plenty of wild campsites along the first half of the Loch. Stopped at Strathayre village shop for a pie and coffee. The forestry road from Strathayre is steep and brings you out at the bottom of the kingshouse at balqhuidder. Another mile and you reach the campsite at the Braes opposite the golden larches cafe which is very good. more later.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Loch Ard to Callander

An easy walk along the Loch to Aberfoyle. This is where we pick up the Rob Roy Way. The trail follows the line of the Menteith hills along a steadily rising trail. much of the route is through forestry but good views can be had as Loch Venachar is reached. To the east yesterday's summit Ben Venue is clear and to the north Ben Ledi. The last three miles is a road walk into callander where we are staying the night in a b & b. Some wild camp sites can be found along the shore of Loch Venachar as you walk along towards the dam. Today has been very humid again. My Golite flytrails are now in the bin after they fell apart on yesterday's walk. I am now in my Meindl boots so the feet are not happy.

Ben venue

This image was taken from the top of Ben Venue yesterday .  Weather was very hot and humid.  Today walking from Aberfoyle to Callander along the Rob Roy way.

Sent from my HTC

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A mad week

We are off to Scotland tomorrow, heading for Loch Ard, Aberfoyle. We are in general terms following the Rob Roy way to Pitlochry and then up to Blair Athol. In between we will be doing a few tops.
There is no defined plan apart from the start point. We want to enjoy the area so it will not be rushed.

I say it's been a mad week because as we all know getting the gear together for a two week trip is fraught with doubts about the packing list and food organisation.
Also my Imac has now gone back to be fixed. It turned out to be a failing LCD screen and the connecting cable.
Should be due back early next week, so need to organise that delivery.

Just started making up the food parcel for delivery to Balquhidder when i realised the muesli  supply was too low. I also needed some smug mugs for lunches. So off we went to Tesco, our nearest large supermarket.
We picked up our few items and went to the checkout where we was told Tesco are not supplying bags anymore. Well behind us was a couple with a huge shop being laid out on the conveyor. Chaos was looming large. Why no bags they asked. Management decision came the reply. So what are we supposed to do with all this then? I can get you some boxes the cashier said.
Well i won't go on because you can imagine the rest of it.

So Tesco have gone green. But they are being a little short sighted because they presume that everybody who shops there has a car (how green is that) so they can push to trolley to the boot and unload the cart.
How stupid can Tesco get.
I agree that plastic bags need to be reduced drastically but not everybody carries cotton bags around with them all the time. Some bags of either card, paper or whatever still need to be provided for the customer.

It's been quite a while since we have been in Tesco but we won't be going there again soon.
This is not an isolated branch, we were told this is going to happen nationally, so be warned, make sure that if you shop at Tesco to take plenty of bags with you.

So food parcel is now packed and addressed, rucksack nearly finished. I'm sure i have  forgot something. I had better go and check.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Latest Acquisition

Last week i went into Clas Ohlson store in Manchester. Just mooching round looking for new items of lightweight gear, i saw this small tent made by Asaklitt.
No i have never heard of them either. The tent was of similar design to The NF Tadpole. Thats what caught my eye.


There was no information about it and it wasn't in the shop catalogue. I picked up the tent and it was a reasonable weight. The price tag said £39.99
They had one erected so i had a good look around it.
First thing that grabbed my attention was the bathtub groundsheet it looked excellent. Not cheap and nasty but very similar to my Odyssee.
All the seams both on the groundsheet and the Fly were taped. The poles were Alloy.
The inner was of mixed material of nylon and mesh with a double skin door, nylon and a zipped mesh.
It looks a good tent, especially for the price.
So having now got back from the lakes i have erected it in the garden and weighed all the component bits.
It weighs in total 3 kilo's. Not backpacking light but ideal for touring, cycling or just throwing in the car for base camps etc. and it can be split into 2 even packs to share the load.

There are some pictures below to have a look at.
Now that i have had chance to appraise it properly i think it's excellent value for money.

              There is plenty of space inside. 2 people sharing don't even have to be good friends, it's that roomy.

Some dimensions that i measured are as follows:- Inner, Front to back -- 2.13 metres. Inner - width at widest point 1.5m, Inner - height 1.12m. Inner -narrowest point 0.71m.

Porch width at widest point-  1.28m, Porch front to back 0.7m, Width at door - 0.8m.
There is also a small hood at the top of the door so that the outer door can be opened when it's raining, for added ventilation.
You get a brochure with the tent which is in perfect, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish. Nothing is in English, but i managed to work out that the Flysheet has a 4000mm specification and the groundsheet has a 5000mm spec.
 When everything is packed away the overall size of the package is very good and i have put a photo below against a size 8 (42) training shoe for comparison purposes.
This tent cost me £39.99. Yes that's right £39.99!
Yes it's a too heavy for backpacking unless there are 2 of you sharing and just away for a weekend with little food, but it's fantastic value for money.
It has not been used in anger yet, obviously, but i don't have any doubts that it will be fine in the wind and rain.
More to follow later.

This was taken outside the Screes inn in Nether Wasdale on our walk yesterday.

Sent from my HTC

View from Sheila's mam's house

Sent from my HTC

Gosforth Weekend

This weekend saw us going to Sheila's mums in the small village of Gosforth West Cumbria.
There was obviously still great shock and sadness about the unfortunate souls who lost their lives here recently.
Dorothy usually walks down these lanes daily and it hits home just how lucky she was that she was indoors at the time and not in the wrong place.

However we got her out for a low level walk down to Santon Bridge and on to Nether Wasdale where we had lunch and then returned the same way.

We had lunch in the Screes Inn which is now under new management. The menu's have improved and we couldn't fault anything.
It was wonderful weather and everwhere lush and green. . It seems most places have been fortunate this weekend.
The views across to the Screes and down Wasdale valley were superb.


                On the way to Nether Wasdale via Santon Bridge.
Some more images can be found here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

LightLoad Towel.

I had noticed these towels on the US backpacking or through packing sites. On checking out the suppliers website they sounded perfect for what i was looking for.
The only problem was that they were only available from the US. Considering the small cost and the usual tribulations of ordering from the US i decided to hang fire.
I kept a look out but nobody Europe based seemed to have made any comments or done reviews.
Strange, i thought, as its a light weight piece of kit.

Then a few weeks ago i noticed that a few new suppliers, UK based had got them in. So, in for a penny in for a pound. Well £6.95 actually. I ordered a large beach towel. 90cm x 150cm, thats 36" x 60" in old money.

It arrived forthwith from Amazon and i couldn't wait to get the tiny parcel open.
As you can see, against the CD its tiny. How do you get a bath sized towel into such a little space?

Having taken off all the packaging you are left with a very compact stone like disc.
How the dickens do you open this i thought. Its too tight to peel apart. So, back to the wrapper.
It said hold under water or something like that, to release. So i did.
And open it came like a spell from Alladins lamp. Out came this bath sheet. Laugh, well never mind about that. There it was in all it's glory.
So, what do we have?
 Is it Egyptian cotton, nice and fluffy? No.
 Is it just a nice cotton towel? No.
Is it a big J cloth? Well it looks very similar, if it isn't.
It feels like a J cloth. It looks like an unbleached J cloth with a pattern on it. But! Does it work?
Lets Try before you Dry.

Sheila and i both showered and used the towel. Believe it or not it dried us both far better than our Lifeventure soft fibre towel. It soaks up the water far better than i thought would happen.
We were impressed.

When the towel was dried out it weighed 100gr. So we are going to split it in half which still gives us a fair sized piece of towel and it will be about 20gr. lighter than our current Lifeventure towel.

On the down side. With it looking and feeling much like a J cloth, it's a wee bit more delicate than a soft fibre towel and it will rip with rough handling.
All in all i would say its worth the £6.95. But it won't last too long.
We will be taking it on our next backpacking trip to Scotland in 10 days so the proof of the pudding will be in the eating as the saying goes.
More to follow later.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mad Mac

Just what i needed! The graphics card on my 15month old iMac has packed up and has to go back for a repair.
I'm not happy.
So i am back on the PC for a little while.
The LightLoad towel has arrived so i will do a review when i have tried it out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gear from Bygone times.

While is was reading the excellent post from Mac E's blog. (Hope he doesn't mind me putting in the link.)
 I thought about the old gear that i had, and i have lots. One of my favourite pieces of gear from bygone times was the Sprayway Yeti. (I think thats what it was called) but i could be mistaken.

It is a full winter jacket that i purchased roughly in the early to mid seventies.
 I cannot remember how much it cost then, but i expect that it wasn't cheap.

                              Here is a photographs i have just taken.
It's basically a 3/4 length jacket, made of Nylon with a Polyurethane coating. Then it has a fleece lining which is unattached at the base for air circulation.
It has 4 very large outer pockets and 2 hand warmer pockets. On the inside there is one pocket.
It has a waist drawcord and an Opti heavy duty nylon zip.
All the fastenings are heavy duty studs.
Nothing has ever failed on this jacket. Even the coating is still A1 and the fleece looks new.

On the inside it says this jacket is made by Chris Barnett. So well done to him and to Sprayway.

                      Photo of me wearing it when i was backpacking in Iceland.
            Sorry the quality of the Iceland picture is not that great. Old photo's don't keep well.

It weighs 1.4kg. I can't believe that i used to wear or carry this on long backpacking trips.
However at the time it was fit for purpose and i must have thought a lot of it because i still have it.
It never let me down and i cannot remember ever being cold or soaked through when wearing it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010



Sent from my HTC

Phone trial run with pics.

This is just a trial run getting photos running from Sheila's HTC phone. So take no notice. There should be 2 

photo's in total, taken at last weeks fell race.


Sent from my HTC

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fell Race

This weekend has been one to remember. The weather for one thing was near perfect for both the fell race and taking photo's with the new camera.

Sheila with Mike Breslin who completed another race. Mike is in his 70's. He'll hate me for saying that.

As one of the previous post states, we went up Grey Friar on Friday and it was a scorcher of a day. Seathwaite tarn was about 6ft lower than normal and there was very little ground water about. The views were good in all directions.

We hoped that Saturday was as predicted, a little cooler, especially for the runners. The day started off very warm and i had the thought that it was going to be another scorcher. However it started to cloud over somewhat and the temperature was down a little.

We headed of up to Swirl How from Three Shires and we got there in around the hour. We like to get there a little earlier than required so that we can take in the views and then have lunch.
We were being spoilt again as the scenery and the cloud formations were stunning.

Eventually the marshals at Three Shires came over the radio to say that the runners were coming through their check point.
We had a great view down Wet Side Edge and it wasn't long before the leaders came into our view. From that point on we had a very busy afternoon.

There was the occasional lull that enabled me to get some pictures. At one point the sky went dark and we thought we might get a drop of rain, but it soon passed us and the blue sky's returned.

There were plenty of walkers around, and showing an interest in what we were doing and the details of what the runners had to achieve.
The race is 20 miles and starts from Seathwaite, Duddon valley. They run up Harter Fell, Hardknot, Little Stand, Three Shires top, Swirl How, Dow Crag, White Pike and finally Caw before decending back down to Seathwaite.

The record for the race is 2  hours and 44 minutes, completed by Billy Bland.

Finally the last runners came past us and we were able to check the numbers tallied with Race Control prior to standing down.
A few more pictures and then we were off back to the Seathwaite for the presentations and the evening entertainment.

The music and dancing was great and went on until, (well i'm not sure what time we finished)!
The midge's were out in force but luckily they didn't cause me any problems.

It had been a super event, well managed and enjoyed by everybody.
I've put some images on Smug mug and you can view them here. If you wish.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

swirl how

Just arrived at the top of Swirl How it took us an hour. Weather is sunny but a great breeze. We are now in place for our Marshall duties.

Fantastic views over to scafell's, Bowfell and the Crinkles.

Friday, June 4, 2010

mad dogs and English men

Set off at 10.30 from Seathwaite, now 1 pm and just having lunch at the top of Grey Friar.

Walk up was very hot and glad for a bit of a breeze at the top.

New camera seems good and will post some photos on Monday.

Looking forward to Swirl How tomorrow, hope the weather holds.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Camera

My Sony Cybershot was getting a bit too familiar so i thought it was time for a change. Just like all technology, new and better gear arrives daily and so i decided it was time to upgrade.

I had been pondering about which camera to get, as you do, and have read loads of reviews and asked knowledgeable people what they thought.
I ended up with a short list of 3, four thirds cameras. This terminology was new to me as i was basically a point and shoot auto setting man.
They were the Panasonic Lumix GF1, The Ricoh GRD 3 and the new Olympus Pen.

So off i popped into Manchester, list in hand because i am hopeless at remembering names and i had a lovely afternoon walking around town in the sunshine.

I ended up in Jacobs camera shop and presented my list to a very helpful chap. After a little uming and arhing about my requirements i had a look at the GF1 and the Pen, they didn't have the grd3.

He also said that i should look at the Samsung NX10. Oh no i thought, not another choice, especially one that i new nothing about.

Well after much zooming, shooting, button turning, lens swapping, viewer gazing, battery life checking, weight comparing, JPG considering, Raw browsing etc etc, i plumbed for the Samsung NX10.

I am now trying to work out how to switch it on. I will let you know later if i was successful.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Duddon Valley Fell Race

I need to start sorting out the gear to take to the Duddon Fell race this weekend. It's a complete change of gear from the usual backpacking lightweight stuff to the more spacious base camp gear and other luxury items.
The race is on Saturday 5th. No we are not running, we are part of the Marshalling team.
Although depending on the weather it can be quite an ordeal staying on the high tops for hours and hours.
How many times during hikes to summits have you said "come on lets get off the top it's too cold and windy".
Many i would guess. Unfortunately we have to stay there.

We are on Swirl How at the end of the Old Man of Coniston ridge. If anybody is passing by, then please say hello. We will be there from around 12.00 lunchtime until 4.00pm.

It's a great day out and i always enjoy browsing Pete Blands outdoor gear stall on the race field.

Post race there will be live music playing from 5.00pm until late in the beer garden at the Newfield Inn.
There is a good campsite at Turner Hall Farm for anyone wanting to stay for the weekend.

Sheila has made a good curry for saturday nights tea, although for the masses, food is available all day at the pub.
Hope to see some of you.

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