The Vault Regulars

Sunday, January 31, 2010

So Sad

So sad, yesterday i drove up to Seathwaite in the Duddon valley for the funeral of a local legend which took place at Seathwaite church. It was very moving. But my thoughts on this event are private and not for printing here.
What i want to say though is, how magnificent the mountains looked on my way there. As you approach J36 on the M6 the mountains were so clear and looked so near. The white tops set against a cold crystal clear blue sky was just a joy.

When you drive through Lowick and look right, the magnificent view of the Coniston fells comes into view. Its always a good panorama but today was just so clear every feature of the mountain and the ridge was just jaw dropping. I had to stop and have a few minutes starring across. The Langdales were also clear and looked to have so much more snow on them than the Coniston fells. The snow on Coniston was thin and this was what made all the features stand out. In contrast the Langdales just looked like a christmas cake.

Pushing on i came down the long descent to Grizebeck and  the view across the Duddon estuary to Black Combe and White Combe was equally beautiful.
Driving up the Duddon Valley to me is always a pleasure and it feels just like i am getting closer to home. I have never lived in the Duddon but it is one of my favourite places in the world. I have been going there for 30 years and have many friends there. I just love the people and the way of life. Its my escape.

As you approach the village of Seathwaite the fells beyond jumped out at me. Grey Frier and the ridge across to Brim Fell, Dow Crag and down to White Pike just stunning today. The sun shone strongly and although it had that soft covering of snow on the ground it was a splendid day. The church was bathed in  the warm rays of a full sun.

It could have been easy to forget the real reason why i was there today. I was there to say goodbye to an old friend and to show support to the family who are great friends of ours.
It was a lovely day and he won't be forgotten.
RIP. TH. 1924 -2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lightweight Stoves?

I was sorting out the loft and came across some old copies of TGO mag. Flicking through June 1981 i saw this add for LIGHTWEIGHT EQUIPMENT, how times have changed. LOL

Monday, January 25, 2010


I recently bought this new jacket, because it looked a quality product and it fitted well. I needed a lighter weight jacket for 3 season use as my dependable Paramo adventure is a little too heavy and bulky to be a permanent fixture in all seasons.
Cloudveil are somewhat unknown in the UK although they have been going from around the late 90's. They are an American company based in the well named place, Jackson Hole. They design and manufacture Hiking, Skiing, Climbing, Fishing gear as well as other outdoor activity gear.

The Koven Jacket i bought is a medium size and it weighs in at 460gr. and it folds away small.

The main features are:-
Drop down storm sealing hood (not wired)
Hidden storm sealing collar cinch
Bonded draft flap with lined chin guard
Adjustable storm sealing hem
Laminated cuff tabs
Dual slider pit zips
Chest pocket & oversized hand warmer pockets
Internal stretch mesh pockets
Fully seam sealed
Bonded and sewn YKK® water-resistant zippers.

The material (copied from the website), Cloudburst™ Stretch is a high denier, high-tech fabric offering extreme breathability and maximum comfort. Exceptionally high resistance to water pressure means protection against even the heaviest precipitation conditions. Two-way mechanical stretch enhances freedom of movement and maintains a soft and supple feel. Features a 100 wash super durable DWR. 100% nylon, 20,000 mmH2O /20,000 g/m2/24 hour, 45 x 45 denier, 115 g/m2.

I gave it a testing yesterday and it proved itself to be a capable weather proofer.  For my body frame, the fit is as good as i require with slightly long sleeves which i like. When its raining i would rather pull the sleeves down over my hands and secure the tabs than wear gloves.

The hood closures work very well but it took me a few tries before i mastered the closure properly. You have to zip the jacket up 3/4's the way, pull the hood over your head, then find the hood draw cords which are located in the fleece collar. Pull both cords down and they lock the hood at the desired tension. Then fully zip up the jacket. 
When i wore the hood without a cap the hood didn't move when the head turned but when a cap/hat is worn the hood turns with the head. 
Although the test day was not very windy the hood kept out the elements. I did find having a cap on compensated for not having a wired hood. 
The hood edges have been reinforced by having more material, this does give the edge some support.

There are good pit zips and they are two way operating. I found them very useful on hill climbs. I kept them open for most of the  day and they didn't let water in. The other good point about the sleeves is that when you reach up as in the photo the jacket body remains in situ, it doesn't rise up.

The hand warmer pockets are a good size but the chest pocket i think, is a little on the small size. You cannot get an os map in it thats for sure, and like loads of similar jackets the actual pocket gets covered by your rucksack strap anyway. WHY DO DESIGNERS KEEP DOING THIS. DO THEY NOT HIKE?
On the inside there is a small mesh pocket for your phone or GPS.

I kept my waterproofs on all day. That's the jacket and a pair of Rab event overtrousers. When i removed them at the car, i had no sign of any water ingress. There was obviously some dampness caused through exertion but not wetness. So far so good. I now just need to assess the jacket in a prolonged downpour to be sure, but the initial signs are that it's a good buy. 

The only cons i can think off at this time is that it doesn't drop down at the tail to cover your rear end although it isn't a short jacket in any case.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Walking on snow and ice

Has anybody tried these snow and ice grips over this cold spell. They look intersting and at £15 a pair from Ellis Brigham they must be worth considering, not just for hiking but for more serious stuff like getting to the pub and back. They are very quick and easy to fit over both shoes or boots. They are from a company called Yaktrax.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Hi BG.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, hope you find a few things of interest and would welcome any comments.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Weekend in Gosforth Cumbria

Friday night and Saturday morning it hammered it down. I lay in bed listening to the rain bashing the windows and the wind howling. By the time we had got up the rain had eased a little but it was still blowy and quite nippy.
The tops were nowhere to be seen again as they were shrouded in low cloud.
We had a drive into Whitehaven and it was very quiet. Its usually a bustling little place but not today. We drove on to St Bees and a brew in Hartley's tea shop. The sea was enormous, the waves huge and the walkway was getting a good drenching. People were running along trying to dodge the spray over the top while others were taking photographs. We watched from the warmth of the cafe. We are not daft.

Sunday, still low cloud but a much calmer day. Quite warm. We decided to go for a walk/stroll through Bleng forest and back which was really good. It made a change to be out walking. There was still some ice about but the majority had thawed.
There was plenty of people about taking dogs for a walk etc and the odd hiker. Good for him. I don't mean "odd" strange i mean "odd" just the one or two.
It was a shame that we had to drive back today as walking the lower fells would have been a delight with the weather being reasonable, but thats life and there will be other times.

We had some new waterproofs to test out this weekend but we didn't get a proper chance. It will have to wait till next time.

As we sped home we were disappointed that Winter hill and Rivington Pike were bathed in sunshine and clear blue sky's having spent the weekend seeing nothing but mist. Typical, we should have stayed at home!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cumbria Weekend

We have driven up to the Lakes today. The weather is lousy. Low cloud and its raining believe it or not. Well there's a surprise. We went to the Greyhound at Grizebeck for lunch and to our horror it was shut. It doesn't open until 6.00pm!!! Great.

We got to Gosforth and the weather was a little better. Just drizzle but still low cloud. Temperature a sweltering 7 degrees. Shorts and tee shirt weather.

Going to the Gosforth Hall for a beer tonight. We might as well get wet inside as well as out. Cheers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Instep Crampons

As we all know the weather has been somewhat restrictive so i put the old brainbox to work on a solution to the ice dancing that we in particular have been doing.
Crampons are easy enough to come by but they are not what you want when out for a walk on the moors or similar terrains.
They are far too big, clumsy and can be quite expensive.
What i needed was a small pair of spikes that would fit in the instep of my boot and aid walking without sliding. I also wanted something light and would easily fit into a daypack.
So the task was to design and make a pair, that wouldn't cost the earth, could be made in a day and use bog standard DIY store materials. The only thing is a garage or workshop is required and obviously some decent tools.
On the tools front i used a hacksaw, flat file, small round file, 1.5mm drill bit, a 6mm drill bit, a power drill,a vice, a blowlamp, pliers and a hammer. I also already had a aerosol of silver car wheel spray so i used that as well.
The material used is 55mm x 3mm thick plate purchased from a local store.
The length was cut to 130mm which includes the spike length, but this was to suit my boots, other boots would be different.
The spike length is 20mm.
The strapping retainers are just std washers made from aluminium.

The retaining straps are standard pieces and can be purchased from outdoor shops or DIY stores.
I am pleased the way they turned out and initial trials have proved they are effective.
They weight 340gr the pair including the straps. They are going to be made a little lighter as i am going to drill some more holes to the flat body of the crampon.

You just watch, it will thaw now and i probably will have to wait a while to test them in anger.
Anyway here are some photographs of the end result.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Shoes!

Sheila has been out and bought a new pair of walking shoes. She picked Inov-8 roclite 282 '09s. We thought that seeing it's a decent day with plenty of snow on the ground that we could give them a bit of a testing. I also wanted to see how the Golite fly trails coped as well.
Neither shoe has a waterproof membrane, which is the way we prefer it. We walked through deep drifted snow and compacted snow and both shoes performed well. Surprisingly they didn't get too wet and when we took them off they didn't need excessive drying out.
Neither shoe had a problem with grip on the snow although on sheet ice they didn't grip too well as you would expect.

Trip retraced

The day before yesterday we decided to retrace our walk of the 2nd Jan. That day we could hardly see anything, so with the day dawning cold and clear the photo's will be of a better quality. The views were spectacular and we were surprised just how few people we saw. (More pics in gallery)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A bad day? No!

We are snowed in today. All public transport terminated. Sheila was told to get off the bus as it was going no further. That was at 6.15am . She had to walk back home. Looks like we will have to go for a walk. Yes!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Memoirs of a Serial Hiller

Memoirs of a serial Hiller is the title of a book written by a good friend of mine who's name is Alan Butterworth. I spent all my working life in the general company of Alan and he is the complete raconteur and wit. Without the pranks, sarcasm, poems, plays etc my working days would have been very ordinary. We have many hiking tales, far too many to recount here and now. But maybe i will at some time in the future.

His book, as can be read in the article on the photograph attached, is about his hiking adventures of a witty nature and is a must read if you are an outdoor enthusiast. My claim to fame in all this is that i made the front cover of the book.
( Photo far left). This photograph, although the quality here is poor due to it being scanned from a newspaper, is myself on top of a mountain in Iceland at midnight. We were there this night to watch the sun disappear below the horizon and then moments later reappear, dawning a new day. A fantastic event which i will never forget.

My thanks go to Alan for putting me up front in the book and for all the memories i have of hikes we have completed. May there be more to come.
The book, now in its 2nd edition can be purchased at

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter in the Pennine foothills

We woke today with it snowing heavily and due to the recent number of late nights we decided to go for a walk in the Pennine foothills between Oldham and Rochdale. The lanes up onto the moorlands were very icy underfoot and with the new snow on top led to some spectacular ice dancing.
The snow was good fun and at times we couldn't see much in front of us. As we got higher the conditions deteriorated as the mist came in and we could hardly tell the land from the sky. It doesn't make for good photography but i have put a folder in the picture gallery if you fancy being bored for 5 minutes.
We headed up to Tandle hill as the views from the top are usually stunning with panoramas across to Jodrell bank telescope, Holme Moss, Winter hill, Oldham, Rochdale and Manchester.
Today though this was hidden from view as the snow storm was obliterating everything.
From the top of Tandle Hill we headed off towards the Rochdale canal at Boarshaw which was basically our path back home.
It has been a fantastic day of good snow and reasonable temperatures. It was great to be out in the snow again and look forward to the next trip.

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