The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Alpkit Gourdon 25L daysack Modifications.

The Alpkit Gourdon range of daysacks are or were* a quite unique bit of kit. They are simply roll top dry bags with straps and a few other features.     *(Exped are doing a similar bag too now)
I bought the 25L model for both myself and Sheila and we use them regularly on day walks.
Photo 1
They are light in weight, waterproof and comfy.

Main sack
 Made from Taslon Nylon with the seams fully taped, mine has a PU coating so it is probably a pre Taslan model made from 300 denier nylon.
The bags have a roll top closure that needs to be folded 3X to ensure no water gets in and secured with a Duraflex buckle.
The buckle is then secured to 2 rubber tags for added security. I have modified these as i found them too difficult to undo or fasten when wearing gloves or with cold fingers. (See photo 2 below.)
Down the centre of the sack is a clear plastic strip put in so that you can identify where things are within the sack.
I first thought that this was a good feature but to be honest i can’t say i have used it and i wouldn’t mind if this was deleted.
 Exped have a similar strip on their sack but it isn’t see through, it’s slightly misted and it’s also located between the shoulder straps so that other folk cannot see what you have in the sack as you walk. This is better in my opinion if you want this feature.
The main shoulder straps are adjustable and are made of edged mesh, lightweight and quick drying. Attached and between them is a useful adjustable chest strap.
A narrow waist strap finishes the restraints with another Duraflex buckle.
The sack has a removable back support which i thought was quite heavy in comparison to the sack itself so i discarded the mat provided and used a piece of closed cell foam instead. As the original mat was quite small for a dual role sit mat, i made my foam 2x size and folded it to fit.
If you want to use a bladder and tube hydration system then this will fit into the mat compartment in place of the mat. (or it might take both, i havn’t tried it as i don’t use bladder systems)

1. Lid securing tags. I replaced the originals with the green tubing shown in Photo.2 These were made from a biro outer tube and are now very easy to undo with cold hands or with gloves on.
Photo. 2
2. I wanted an internal pocket so that i knew where my car keys, phone, wallet, small change etc would be and so i added a Pour and Store heavy duty sealed clear bag to the back panel. I secured it in place with 2 strips of self adhesive black velcro. (Photo’s 3 and 4)
 Photo 3.
Photo 4.
3. The next mod was for me the most important.
 The one good thing about the sack is it’s capacity to keep water out. However a draw back from this is that it also keeps water in, if it gets in.
This can arrive with the inclusion of your waterproofs. After it has stopped raining and you want to shed your outer layer you need somewhere to put the gear so that the jacket and over trousers will drain.
I decided to add shock cord or bungy cord as some name it so that i didn’t have to put them in the sack when wet. See (Photo 5)
Photo 5
The cord supports are bathroom/kitchen suction hooks purchased from Wilkinsons at a cost of £0.74p for 4. Secured to the sack with Araldite Rapid glue. The hook which is removable from the base was obviously removed so that the 3mm shock cord would pass through the holes.
The cord was from Cotswold Outdoors at £0.60 per metre and i used approx 1.5m here.

For anyone who wants to do a similar job using the same type of retainer as i have used. Ensure that the surface of the sucker is scoured with a rough sand paper otherwise the sucker will pull off.  (As i found out to my cost in time.)   Also, both the sack and the sucker needs to have glue applied to them.

That’s my mods so far. I hope others find this helpful.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hollingworth Heights walk

Sunday the 27th of March was a bad day for getting up early due to the changing of the clocks to summertime. Stupid ideas some countries have.
Anyway we eventually got going, breakfasted and sped off to meet fellow hikers from the East Lancs Long Distance Walking Assoc. with some members of West Yorkshire branch at the White House Pub on the Halifax/Littleborough road, the A58.
GR SD968 178.

Bitterly cold with quite a breeze we sat in the car until all were ready to go. It was a surprise to see a pair of shorts being sported by a hardy soul. Eventually the congregation came together, 17 souls and 2 dogs for the group pic.

Off we went south towards Blackstone edge and upon meeting the old Pack horse route or Roman Road as it is sometimes called, we turned east to pass the Aiggin stone. This stone is said to have been a marker for travellers along the route and could possibly be derived from the  French Aiguille meaning a needle or eagle.
We found the groups pace to be very quick and at times we asked ourselves if we was going to be able to keep this up. A chap at the front Peter i believe his name is, whom we never caught up for a chat, must have had Duracell batteries in his boots and thought this was a yomp across the Falklands. There was little let up as he maintained a good gap between himself and the group.

We picked up the Rishworth drain and followed this around Rishworth Moor before heading down to the dam head of Baitings Reservoir.
 Rishworth Drain
 Grey Stone Height. A non OS trig point, not shown on OS 25,000 maps. Maybe this was one of many used during the construction of the Dam.
 Baitings Reservoir Dam Head
Crossing the Dam the A58 was reached and looking across the road to New Inn Cottage you will see a Sundial. The date on it is 1764 and the latitude is shown as 55, 45.
I didn’t take a photograph because i thought it disrespectful to the owners to do so without permission.
The path along the north bank of the reservoir was followed until just prior to the junction with the road we stopped for a coffee etc.
The weather was now quite warm and the breeze had fizzled out. It was now quite a warm pleasant day.
Layering was being reduced.
Whilst at rest Bob told us that there was quite a steep incline coming up next in the name of Manshead End at 404 metres.
On the way up Manshead End
As inclines go we found this one was ok and soon reached the Official trig point. This is a nice spot with good views all round. Off to the North West we could see one of the points of interest, Stoodley Pike which we would get to soon.
 View NW from Manshead End
Trig point on Mashead End
Our route headed North over Great Manshead Hill until we joined the Calderdale way. At this point we could see the track around Cove Hill and onto Withens Clough Reservoir. For now we took the path down to New Road and crossed the B6138 where the path had a “Private Road” sign on it.
This path takes you into beautiful Trimming Dale and just prior to the New Footbridge we stopped for Lunch in the pleasant sunshine. Temperature now at 14 degrees C.
 Trimming Dale
 New Footbridge in Trimming Dale
 Very Nice houses in Upper Cragg Vale from the path along Turley Holes Edge.(Below)

Cragg Vale.
Our next point of interest was Withens Clough Reservoir which we came to after a delightful walk along Turley Holes Edge.
Our route was to go over the head of the Dam as we did at Baitings but due to construction work this path is closed and also the reservoir has been significantly drained. We had to walk round the reservoir to reach the path that takes us up to Stoodley Pike and the Viewpoint.
 Withens Clough Reservoir, South Side.
 Withens Clough Reservoir from the South West end.
The reservoir itself was built between  1891 and 1894 and was made to supply clean water to Morley. After 95 years the waters are now diverted via the Manshead tunnel directly into Baitings Reservoir.
 Leaving the reservoir path we headed west along a fairly steep track up Higher Moor and where it levels out we got our breath back whilst waiting to get over the high ladder stile.
 Getting closer now, Stoodley Pike.
At last, the Monument is reached.
Stoodley Pike is 400m (1300ft high) where you find the Monument which is 121ft high. Designed by James Green and built in 1856 at the end of the Crimean War.
The monument that is there now replaced an earlier one, completed in 1815 commemorating the defeat of Napoleon after the battle of Waterloo, but this collapsed in 1854 after it had been struck by lightening and then years of weathering finished it off.
There is also evidence of mans earlier building on this site way before the first structure related here.

After a 10 minute brew stop we set off marching again south as if being chased by Napoleon himself. Our route was dry and followed the Pennine Way long distance path, fairly flat landscape meant progress was indeed quick.
We passed 3 more reservoirs in a blur, Warlands, White Holme and Blackstone Edge on the way back to the start point.
 Warlands Reservoir with Peter leading Point. Sergeant Major Bob must have been at the back at this moment, rallying up the troops for the final push. Sheila and I were definite candidates for back markers.
 Weathered rocks near Light Hazels Edge.
 Dark Skies over Littleborough.
The White House, our Start and Finish Point.

Thanks to the LDWA/ East Lancs section for providing a good walk and good company. Thanks to Bob for leading the foray and for getting us to the end still with a sense of humour. We have now put our shoes in the Ice bucket to cool off. Ha.
Route length approx 27.9km or in old money 17.3 miles. 

More photo’s can be found here

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Touch of Nostalgia

I had been reading a post recently and saw that a chap was still using his Karrimor Totem Senior rucksack to this day. What a superb piece of kit it was with a very strong, lightweight aluminium frame.
The pack itself was only coated nylon but again it was strong and durable.
Great pockets and ease of access. 
Lots of extra’s that we used to carry could be strapped to the frame when the sack had been filled.
Like 1/2 gallon of paraffin. Or a box stove. 
I used mine for a long time and was sad to see it go, but it went to a good home.

No measuring weights in those day. Ha 

It had me digging out my old photo’s to see if i still had one showing myself with the KTS bag.
Well here it is and that’s me on the left BTW.
Red was obviously the colour of the 6o’s and 70’s.
Anyone guess the mountain in the background?
No prizes unfortunately.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Salford Trail Pt3.

It was unusually warm as we packed our day sacks for the 3rd part of the Salford Trail being led by the East Lancashire Long Distance Walking Assoc.
Pt. 2 finished at Worsley Old Hall and as you will gather that’s where Pt.3 started from.
It was to be a 19k walk ending at Irlam Railway Station.

It was to be quite a nostalgic walk for me as this was the area that i had grown up in as a lad and obviously knew it very well.
It was a good turn out at 20 folks who set off full of chatter and at a good pace.

Through the very smart golf course we were almost struck by a ball which had been sliced by it’s master and whom was greeted with the shout “You should have gone to specsavers mate”. Very witty.
The ball was kindly retrieved and returned to him.

Through the links we crossed the very busy Leigh Road and headed down the lane to the Garden Centre and Middlewood Scout Camp. I had had many a happy time here, sometimes legal sometimes not. Well kids like to sneak about in the outdoors don’t they.
The track leads to the Bridgewater Canal which we followed into Worsley Village and stopped for a quick brew on the Green before heading off to have a look at the entrance to the Underground Canal System.
Worsley Green
Passed Wharfe Dam and onto the disused railway line between Little Hulton/ Leigh and Monton Green.
Martin and I.    Sent from HTC.
Back onto the canal we stopped at the Folly light house on the Bridgewater Canal.
 The Folly at Monton

The canal was quite clear here and we could see small Perch swimming along with all the other discarded dross that ends up in canals.
The water being so clear is not a good sign is it?

Where the Bridgewater canal meets the Manchester to Liverpool Railway line, the first commercial passenger line, we turned west and followed the track adjacent to the line for a mile until just prior to the M60 we turned south through a now wooded area where once i had played football and cricket and camped out as a lad.
I was surprised to see the amount of rubbish that people had dumped. Dreadful.

I will quickly get us through Brookehouse Estate and onto the footpath alongside Peel Green cemetery which leads us to Barton Airport and Barton Moss.
We stopped here for lunch as the small Piper aircraft were doing taking off and landing exercises.
Martin kindly handed out small stuffed peppers and they were very nice.

The Old farms i once worked at in my spring, summer and autumn holidays were now looking quite sad although those that had got through obvious hard times were doing well. The land is good land here and the views extensive. I loved working on the farms wizzeling, (local term i think, for removing the dead growth above the potato furrows), spud picking, cabbage and sprout picking.
Tunnel Farm in the background.
The area of Barton, Chat and Irlam Mosses are extremely flat areas and a great deal of peat bog is being drained and extracted. The sounds of Bird scaring from Botany Bay woods were still going on as i remember they were 40 years ago.

The land is very much the same here flat and featureless and eventually we turned off back into civilisation joining the A57 at Irlam Station and the end of this leg of the trail.

The day had been a delight, good walk, weather, company and a good laugh.
Thanks to the EL,LDWA for the organisation. Looking forward to Pt. 4 already.

A much more informative post on this walk was done by Martin, (Phreerunner) and can be found HERE

Monday, March 21, 2011

West Cumbria Coast

This weekend saw us travel up to Sheila’s mums on the Cumbrian West Coast on Friday instead of our usual Thursday.
Instead of driving up along the coast road, the A595, we usually take detours either over Birker Moor or Corney Fell roads where the views can be excellent.
For us, it usually depends on the time of our travel which road we chose because Corney Fell road is the “Rat Run” for Sellafield workers on there way home south.
These people show no respect for other drivers, considering it is a one lane fell road with small passing places. They drive excessively fast and will have you off the road quite easily. They don’t give way when you are going up hill as they should and they basically think it’s their road.
Today being Friday Lunchtime we chose Birker Fell.
The views across the fells to Scafell and Bowfell were worth the detour as the clouds cast wonderful shadows across them.
The Scafell Range
Harter Fell peeking out in the background and Green Crag in the foreground.
  Whoever was lucky enough to have chosen today to do the tops were indeed fortunate people. Sheila’s mum had said that visibility had been generally poor all week. So this was the first break in the cloud.
  When we arrived in Gosforth we were starving, stomachs were rumbling. Having never tried the lunchtime fish and chips at Gosforth Hall we decided to do just that.
It was great. Fresh fish delivered each day from Whitehaven, a light batter, with chips, peas, bread and butter, tea or coffee. All in £6.95. 

  Post lunch we needed a walk and as it was so clear decided to go to the coast. If the tide is out then the walking along the sands at Seascale is magnificent with enormous landscape views. Parking the car on the front, the tide was well out.
 The light was superb and a photographers heaven. I wish i had brought some filters but never mind, we hadn’t expected to be here.

We had a very nice few hours walk. Hope you like the pics.

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