The Vault Regulars

Saturday, April 30, 2011

CÀRN Cobra’s. His and Hers.

Cobra Trail Shoe, Sheila’s on the left, Mine on the right.
The first time i saw these CÀRN trail shoes was when i was reading a post about them on Lightweight outdoors blog here.
I kept them in mind and when the opportunity came to have a look at them first hand i thought they were impressive.
CÀRN are a relatively new company (2009). But have been designing shoes for other manufacturers prior to going it alone.
Some of their footwear has been influenced by Ben Fogle, but not these as far as i am aware.

Straight out of the box they feel sturdy and relatively lightweight.
My size UK8 weigh 397gr. and Sheila’s size UK5.5 weigh 350gr.

The first thing you notice about them is that they have no tongue. I liked that idea.
The large toe bumper was also something i was looking for as my current Inov-8 toe guard was quite small.
There is a huge comfort difference to my Inov-8’s. The cobra’s felt like slippers in comparison. There is more padding on them.  I wondered if this would result in them holding water and taking longer to dry, this will have to be tested out.

Having worn them for a week i can say that my first impressions are very good. They are especially good on rough stoney ground, the foot bed urethane cushioning is excellent and very noticeable. It was a pity i hadn’t bought them prior to my recent Moffat to Peebles walk which included much gravel walking.
I was equally impressed with the grip of the sole. They stick well on rock unlike my Inov-8’s.
I was not impressed with the Inov-8’s sole originally but as the sole wore down the grip improved. They became more slick.

The shoes are not lined with a waterproof membrane which suited me as i wear a Gore-Tex sock when it’s wet.
The upper fabric material is Trek-Dry, a Bamboo derived fibre. It’s said to have superior moisture management allowing body heat to be quickly wicked away whilst allowing cool air through.
The Insoles are shock absorbing and Anti-bacterial and are Poliyou® made by Kun Huang.

I was also impressed with the shop i bought mine from which was Footsteps Direct in Kendal. They were very helpful. This was my first visit to this shop but it won’t be my last.
Unfortunately they hadn’t got any 1/2 sizes in stock and so we ordered Sheila’s from Fitness footwear.

What was surprising was the price difference. I paid £55 in store for mine and Sheila paid £75 on the internet for her’s. So the internet is not always cheaper.
The other thing is, there are not too many outlets that stock them so you may have to travel to handle a pair.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Salford Trail Pt4

Wednesday 20th April 2011
I checked the web site to see if all was ok and there were no changes. Irlam 11.oo am, 8 miles linear to Cadishead. So it was a surprise to find that the walk was now circular and 11 or 12 miles and we had a new leader. (Had there been a coup i wondered).

So the brigade assembled away from the rubbish aligning the station approach, for the ubiquitous staring into the lens for the mass cheese speech. (photo borrowed from LDWA EL site).

Off we went, singing merrily and was involved soon with a large Mexican wave performed in synchronisation with a bunch of school young adults. They were too old to be called kids.

It wasn’t long, as we plodded into rural england, that we were halted by Allan, who rightly spotted that we had gone too far down this lane and we should have turned off earlier. Never mind it all adds to the mileage.
 There were quite a number of wood cladded properties in this area which was a surprise and some very nicely manicured gardens.
 Here Allan was trying out his camouflage rig but it wasn’t going to work. His map was too big.
 Onto the miles and miles of peat, which had been drained and raked ready for collecting and bagging.
 Lots of chatting along the peat resulted in another “track too far” . Somebody spotted the creator of the route and his buddy walking down a different course to the mass. Not to worry JJ decided to lead a mass trespass through a farm yard which would eventually intersect the original route.
We waited and waited but the creator was not to be seen. Oh dear we were worried. We thought we would miss lunch, but no, we sat on a wall and had a short break.
The missing 2 arrived 15 minutes later after the field with the path through had been subsequently ploughed over.
 We joined the Timberland way and the route followed the River, or i should say “Glaze Brook”.
 We thought we had found another stray but it was just a headless scarecrow.
 We passed High Woolton Hall in a sad state. looking neglected and in need of a use.
 And Great Woolden Hall farm

 Once through Cadishead we found the A57, it wasn’t lost, we just found it there along with a spiky sculpture to the Steel works and Margarine works that used to employ the majority of folks in this area.
Now gone.
 The nice walk alongside the Manchester Ship Canal towards Irlam passes the old railway line across the canal between Glazebrook and Partington and on to Altrincham and beyond..
For those catching the train back, they would have to wait until Irlam station. This one was going nowhere.

This was a stunning walk, the peak of the trail i would say.
I will look forward to doing it again relatively soon when Martin B is back from his sojourns.
Thanks to the creator and the EL LDWA for the company.

Distance 11.1 miles. Including a couple of minor detours of course.

Some more photographs can be found here.

Moffat to Peebles Day 3

I heard the wake up call as the lady started her car and drove away.
I stuck my head out from under the condensation and looked upon a beautiful red morning.
This is supposed to be bad news for shepherds, i hoped it was good news for us.
It was 6.15am or thereabouts and getting up had to be done.

Others were starting to stir and i could see the steam from Laura’s boiling water rising over her MSR Hubba tent.

Before packing up the tent i gave it a good wipe down to remove as much condensation as possible. It always amazes me how much water a J cloth will soak up.

Away we went at roughly 7.30 am following the SUW.
 Remains of Dryhope Tower.
Tower info board.
Another lovely day, calm and what cloud there was, high and scattered.
The rise was so far gentle and easy walking although a field full of inquisitive young bulls had Laura a little ponderous. Fortunately the path skirted round them.
Along the path to the bridge over Hawkshaw Cleuch we heard Curlew, Snipe and Oyster catchers and occasionally caught a glimpse.
Crossing the Douglas burn the advance party was heading up the SUW but Mike with the map put the reins on and we headed past the old Blackhouse Tower and farm buildings towards the forestry.

Blackhouse farm with old tower 
Once we hit the forestry path Mike announced that this was were it all goes wrong.
Forestry are notorious at moving footpaths and planting new trees across them or chopping down lumber without re-instating the paths.
It did happen. Mike said we take the 2nd path left. We did. Mike said this is wrong. It was!
We backtracked and took the first which was the original second if you get the drift of all this.
Onward and upward through boggy ground and high tussocks until we came out into the open at Whiteknowe head. Hooray.
The fence line was in front of us and the path crossed the fence 1/2 mile ahead. It was the longest, boggiest 1/2 mile i have done for a while and it took an age. Many times i thought i was going to disappear into the morass of peat.

We did a slight detour having achieved the fence line crossing point but quickly picked up the track contouring south of Stake Law. It was good to find running clear streams all along here.
Gaining the ridge, the decision was taken to head down into Glen Sax avoiding the ascent to Birkscairn Hill and into Peebles along the old drove road.
This was taken in light of the pending bus departure. As it turned out the descent was quite arduous and it may have been quicker to use the drove road.
 On the way down to Glen Sax
Lunch was had when we crossed over the Glensax burn and the path down through the estate was easy but hard on the feet with the small sharp stones.
 Smoke in the valley. Had Mike left the car running in Peebles?
The smoke turned out to be the burning of mass coppicing. Hope this isn’t bad news. Are things starting to turn we wondered.
 The bothy in Glensax, locked and not part of the MBA.
The start of civilisation, on the large Haystoun Estate said you are now in Peebles. A nice walk through the estate grounds brings you to the main road and the car park in centre of the town.
We were 1/2 hour early for the bus connection and time to get a coffee before our goodbye’s to Laura and Louise and our drive back to Moffat.

A couple of critters along the estate path. I didn’t get a photo of Laura with the cows!

This leg was 12.5 miles and 1635ft of up’s although the downs were definitely harder than the up’s in this case.
I had been a wonderful trip. Thanks for the laughs, the company and everything else. 

The photo’s of the 3 days can be found here.

The maps of the trip are on Mikes blog which is here

Moffet to Peebles Day 2

Up from Camp to Bodesbeck Law.
After a chilly night, we departed camp1. The contours were reached immediately, in fact Judith had probably done them already 2 or 3 times in search of a loo with a view. The incline warmed us up and the fleece layer came off quite quickly. This top was Bodesbeck law at 665 metres.
Black Hope
 Again, stunning views all round and especially up the glacial valley of Black Hope, Carrifran Gans and along the valley floor of Moffat Dale. This was going to be a superb day, we could see all the route ahead.

We made easy progress along the ridge following the fence line and each top opened up new vistas.
Whiteyaud Head on the way up to Nowtrig head at 608m
 Looking back towards Bodesbeck Law.
Mid Rig came next 616m and we caught the first glimpses of Loch Skene.
Loch Skene (centre)
The top of Bell Craig 623m is just off the fence line so while some had a bite to eat Mike and i walked the short distance upwards to the top of hill. No cairn or marker even. 
The highest top of our ridge Andrewhinney Hill 677m, then Mid Rig 657m, Trowgrain Middle 625m and Herman Law 614m offered great views and easy walking on this dry clear day. 

We actually met 3 people going the other way. That made the grand total of 4 people seen so far.

Following the fence line east from Herman Law the prospect opens up to reveal Loch of the Lowes and St Mary’s Loch, today with the blue sky they looked wonderful.
After Peniestone Knowe at 551m we left the fence line and descended via Pikestone Rig to rejoin the SUW for a very brief encounter before it turned towards Earls Hill and we descended to the Loch of the Lowes.
We chose a particularly bad route to get to shore line, my fault for being in front i suppose but the rush was on as we could smell the beer and chips at Tibbie Shiels Inn.
A table was empty in the sunshine and the rucksacks dropped to the floor.
Pints ordered and drank and food ..... No chips etc we had missed the time by about 15 minutes. But we could have sandwiches, which all but Mike did. Another beer and we were ready for the final leg along the loch to find a camp site somewhere near the weir at Dryhope.

 Along the loch we came upon 2 of these strange beasts.
Camp 2 at the weir.  Dryhope.
During making tea, or dinner depending on where you come from, a lady who had a car close by said that she would disturb us at about 6 am in the morning as she started up the car. We had to be up early to enable Laura and Louise to make the connecting bus from Peebles to Up North, so that was seen as a good alarm call.

Again we had a chilly night but not quite as cold as the previous one. There was no breeze at all so we had plenty of condensation in our wigwams..

Distance 13.4miles and 1775ft ascent.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Moffat to Peebles. Arrival and Day1

The area locating Moffat and Peebles is the Scottish Borders or Reiver country. 
I was going to join a small group of folk whom i had only got to know through blogging apart from Judith from Wirral whom i didn’t know.
The plan was to meet up in Peebles friday night, have a beer or two, camp at Rosetta camp site and then drive to Moffat on the saturday morning leaving a car in Peebles for the return journey.
Rosetta campsite
A swift walk into Peebles, a few beers in the Bridge Inn and a good meal in the Italian restaurant next door concluded Friday night.
The drive into Moffat, quickly over and through beautiful scenery. This is not an area i know at all and so there was much to discover. Mike as ever the tour guide and lots of info about seismology and the names of the passing tops and glens.

Parked in a busy Moffat market place, it was nice to see a place which invites you to park for free, we could feel tummy rumbling and low and behold a cafe called The Rumbling Tum.
Breakfasts demolished and gear donned we set off through Moffat to pick up the Southern Upland way.
At the first Southern Upland Way guide post we passed Knipe Towers. Locally known as Dumcrief Estate.
From here the SUW as i will now abbreviate the name, is a very pleasant meander through woodland, farmland and forestry plantations.
The miles on the forestry roads are tough on the feet with them being rough stones, man made for the transportation of logging trucks.
At one point we seemed to have a "where are we now" moment! But it turned out that our track had left the 1:25,000 map and we soon realised the route.
At this point we decided to stop for a lunch break as plenty of good water was flowing.
Louise and Laura nearly had there gear run over by a women RAC rally driver practicing coming home from the supermarket in her 4 x 4. This laughing lady had no intention of allowing more than 2 seconds to shift the gear before shooting past in a cloud of dust. 
The path was rising gradually and once through the very pretty glen up to Ettrick Head we had a 90 deg turn to follow the fence line up to Capel Fell at 678 metres. This was the first close contours of the day and it took it’s toll with being so warm.
This was our start of a lovely ridge line which we would remain on for today and most of tomorrow.
We got our breath back and looking North set off for the next few tops. Smidhope Hill 644 m, White Shank 622m and finally for the day Fauldside Hill 568m. 
From here we were looking for a place to camp so headed off for what looked like a water source at the head of Bodesbeck Burn.
On the way down to the Bealach i spot this little beauty asleep in the grass. Mike told us it was the rare 4 eyed red tipped moth but on closer inspection, ie the internet, it turned out to be a female Emperor moth.
The bealach reached, the water source was not evident, Mike went one way, i went the other. Mike found a small stream about 500m away and so camp 1 was pitched at the first likely spot.
The site was a bit bumpy but good enough and whilst Mike went to fill his water bottle i investigated a clump of forestry 100m away from the tent and found a nice running slate stream. Now marked on the map for future reference.

It didn’t take long after meals were eaten for Mike to start filling the glens with ZZZZZ’s and some singing in between.

The others chatted for a little while but it wasn’t long before we joined Mike in the evening chorus.
The sky was clear and the moon full and so bright. 

It got cold, although not freezing, it woke me a few times and the last time i looked it was 3 celsius. It could have dropped a degree cooler later but i felt the cold in my -3 bag.
What a fantastic day we had.
My counter said 11.4 miles and 2700of up’s. I like Mikes better.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peter Storm Helvellyn Fleece.

Millets, who are also part of the Blacks Leisure group plc, very kindly sent me a fleece to review.

First of all i would like to point out that i am not in any way, part of the Millets or Blacks organisation and i have sole control of my reviews.
This is a free and  independent review, there are no constraints put on my words by the company other than to say which company has provided the “Kit” to review.

As the title says it is the Peter Storm Helvellyn Fleece.

The Helvellyn is a cost effective fleece at under £20 and is ideal for anything from Duke of Edinburgh award hikes, general use or for longer backpacking trips.
I have used this fleece most days since the end of march and most recently on a 3 day Scottish borders walk of 38 miles.

The fleece material is 100% Polyester and it has some 2 way stretch. 

I ordered a large fleece and i was pleased to find that the fit was not designed for the most athletic of us. The length for me was perfect and although the sleeves were slightly long, i didn’t mind this as i could pull the cuffs over my hands when they got a bit chilly.
The cuffs themselves, like the hem do not have elastic, this suited me because it made rolling up the sleeves very easy. Elasticated cuffs can be a problem to roll up.

The weight of this Large size fleece is 331gr. or 11.6oz. 
For a fleece that i would put in the mid weight and warmth class it is light enough to take anywhere.

The collar depth is 7.0 cm and double material, it was a perfect fit for my 16” neck and is very comfortable. Although there is no zip guard on the collar i didn’t find it was a problem.
The 2 zips are not great, at first i thought the main zip might fail and so i worked it a good 20 times but the zip was fine although it is still very notchy and i don’t like them at all. Although the main zip is 250mm i would prefer a longer one to increase venting when required.

The chest pocket is a reasonable size, measuring 170mm x 130mm but the zip length is only 125mm and for me this limited what i could get in it. ie my glasses case would not fit but my mobile phone would. The pocket is not mesh and therefore cannot be used as a vent.

Although the shoulder seams are raglan in style and reasonably flat stitching the pressure on the seam against my shoulder blade, caused by my backpacking rucksack, resulted in some discomfort. 

The 2 tone colours both use the same material and are cosmetic not functional. The material has not pilled in any way even with the rucksack straps rubbing.

Washing instructions say 40 degrees, reshape whilst damp and hang to dry. 
I have washed it at 30 degrees along with my normal wash load. I didn’t reshape it but just hung it on the line. It dried very quickly and stayed in shape too, so that was a plus point.

I have enjoyed reviewing this fleece and found it a good warm companion for those chilly early mornings and evenings. For a fleece in this price bracket it is good value for money.
Zips need improving and venting could be better but for the money there is little to detract.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Moffat to Peebles or (Morefat to Peebellies)

Great trip,
Thanks ever so much Mike, Judith, Laura and Louise for making the walk such a fantastic trip. The weather helped of course, but the company was excellent..
More to follow..

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moffat to Peebles packing

This weekend will see a small group daunder from Moffat to Peebles in the Scottish Borders. The intention of this walk apart from the views hopefully, is for those who are doing the TGO challenge to gain some fitness prior to the off.
I am not one of those doing the TGO but i do need the fitness, so i thank Mike Knipe for the invite.

So today is packing day. I am trying to find all the gear that has been moved around the house, shed, loft etc over the winter months. I know it’s going to take longer than usual and it will include packing and repacking at least 6 times.

On this walk i will be appraising the Tarptent Moment tent from Henry Shires.
The Helvellyn fleece that has kindly been sent to me for a review by Millets.
And one of my home made beer bottle stoves.
And a pair of over mitts from Outdoor Designs.

Better get on with the packing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Thornham Round trip

This weekends forecast was for sunny weather. We had a plan to get the shopping done quickly and then spend the time sorting out the garden after the winter deaths and mowing the jungle of a lawn for the first time.
Many good plants didn’t survive the cold spell and  we needed to cheer the place up.
As with the majority of people we had also collected lots of rubbish over the months and that needed to go to the tip. 4 trips later and lots of sorting for re-cycling we had cleared the junk.

When we got to the point of being able to see daylight it was decided that we should do a bit of a walk whilst we had the sun and clear skies. Time was short so a tour of the Thornham/Chadderton area was easy for us.

Setting off, the route follows a good but rough lane across the A627M road and past the Tandle Hill Tavern, which although open we walked on.
Thornham Lane
The Tandle Hill Tavern
Crossing the watershed we turned left and into Tandle Country park. The views, all 360 degrees were superb. 
The needle monument was in view but we wouldn’t be getting any closer for now as we veered off south following the tree line until it joins Tandle Hill road. 
Here there were many cars whose owners were out exercising the dogs and the children on the play areas or buying snacks from the cafe.
The cafe is very good but only open weekends and bank holidays. 
The Cafe in Tandle Hill Country Park.
The parks authority which is Oldham are doing plenty of good work here and have opened up some new paths.
We followed the path along the parks southern boundary until it meets the farm track at Oozewood road where we turned north west and headed up to the needle monument.
View across to the War Memorial. (Centre right).
The path doesn’t go through this field of cows so no worries if you are a bit feared of them. 
Plenty of people were at the view point today so we didn’t linger for very long but it was so clear. Jodrell Bank telescope was seen on the horizon in the south. Holcombe Tower to the North and Winter Hill, Blackstone Edge, all clear as a bell.
The path up to the monument gets the lungs opened up and the heart beating a little faster. The path off the hill being just as steep.
Path down from the Monument
The path leads shortly back to the Oozewood road and on through Tonge Farm. Once through the farm which is mainly a stabling place for horses we took a left heading towards Chadderton. First we passed Cinder Hill farm where there are a number of calves and pig sty’s to look at.

At the bottom of the track you join Cinder Hill Lane where we turned right and crossed the A627M again, leading us to some beautiful houses at Chadderton Heights, Healds Green and Chadderton Fold.
Approaching Healds Green Village.
Crossing the River Irk we walked on the south bank through Chadderton Park which was a delight. The flowers in bloom and the birds singing was idyllic. There is some exercise equipment located in the park that Sheila just had to have a go on. I sat and watched, it was just too hot.
Sorry no pictures of the fitness attempts i am under orders.
The River Irk in Chadderton Park.
Following the river until it passes under the Rochdale canal we left the river here and continued along the canal bank northwards.
 The River Irk/Rochdale Canal Viaduct built in 1870. 
 The canal crossing the viaduct
The Rochdale canal was the first canal to cross the Pennines from Lancashire to Yorkshire. It was completed in 1804.
It runs from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester’s Castlefield basin, a distance of 32 miles and 91 locks.
The last loaded barge that travelled the whole length was in September 1937. The canal fell into a bad state following years of neglect. It was re-opened after 30 yrs of campaigning and £50 million pounds in 2002.

In 1927 a great storm caused the canal to burst it’s banks at the aqueduct, sending the water into the already swollen River Irk. The culvert was blocked with debris and a large lake formed as a result.

The fences you can see at the side of the aqueduct are from new houses built on the site of McDougalls chemical works. During the second world war it manufactured the secret AL63 powder that kept allied forces free from Typhus.
Fishing Match on the Boarshaw stretch.
The towpath goes under the Manchester/ Rochdale rail line and the bridge itself is a wonder with the whole arch being made of std brick before returning to the start at Slattocks.

Slattocks lock 54. The start and finish.
Below is a selection of the flora seen on route.
 Small Grape Hyacinth

Slender Speedwell

The route is 11.5km and can be found below.
Lots more pics can be viewed Here if you have the time or the inclination to browse.

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