The Vault Regulars

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's all in the preparation, so i'm told.

 It was kind of Mike Knipe to invite me on his TGO challenge training walk this year. And now it's not far off at all.
 I'm not doing the chally myself but the others doing the walk are. They are all bloggers and so I will let them write their own thoughts.
 Our training walk is from Lauder to Dunbar in Scotland's border country. Not an area i have walked in before so i am looking forward to it immensely. Just a shame that Sheila has to work, again.

 With less than a week to go, I have been trying to find all my bits and bobs that have basically been redundant and scattered around in different places over the last few months. Then deciding what to take,  considering the incredible weather we have had recently i need to pack for very cold and very wet.

 Then deciding what I need to buy. You would think that after all these years I would have it all off pat. But no, the memory plays tricks. Now where is that list.

 Should I take gas or meths or both. Choices, choices. Which stove? Which sleeping bag, which mat? You know what it’s like.

 So today I packed, emptied, changed a few things and repacked. Seems really heavy I thought and I still need to put some food in. Geej.

 I better do a training, training walk and see if my back, knees, ankles, hips etc can still carry it.

 I set off.  Luckily we live where there are plenty of up's and so I didn't need to travel anywhere to find out what I already knew. It's hard work this “up" business with a 90% full pack.

  Our walk in Scotland includes one day of 28km. Oh joy. I hope it’s sunny.
Today I did about 13km. So to do double that amount is going to be tough considering the lack of backpacking fitness.

 But that is what the training walk is all about. Making sure the muscles get used to the weight, the mileage can be done, the gear choices are correct and it all works well.
 I’m sure the others will be thinking similar to me.
 But bring it on, I'm really looking forward to my first nights of the year under the stars. It will feel as though spring has arrived, even though it’s now summer. There is still plenty of snow around and forecast. The temperatures forecast for the weekend and beyond are not encouraging with -11C wind chill on one of the nights.

 According to my New Years resolutions we should have had 3 weekend backpacks done by now.
But at least this, hopefully is now the start proper, of a good years walking.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Carn Kaiteur eVent Boots - user review

 Disclaimer: These boots were purchased by me and i have no associations with Carn.

 I purchased these boots back at the beginning of January 2013. The reason i bought them was because i had been suffering for a few months with a sore Achilles tendon. I wondered if a pair of boots with a padded heel area would relieve the soreness.
  I already own a pair of Carn trail shoes and although i wear them quite a bit on a day to day basis, i don't particularly use them for longer hikes. I prefer my Inov-8's or my Meindl Softline's.
 The quality of the Carn trail shoes are very good, so when i saw these boots i had no hesitation in buying them online.

 Price £34.98  Click on the price to go to the link.

 When i received these boots i couldn't believe the quality. Considering the price of them, they exceeded my expectations by a long, long way. My review is based on having done  ≻ 225 km in them and maximum day walking of 23km.

 What do they consist of:-

 The outer, is Cocona fabric. This is the first time i had come across Cocona fabric in a pair of boots. What you notice is how well water beads off it. The best i have seen from a fabric type boot. The way it cleans after use was also a bit of a shock. Even now, after the mileage they have done, they still look as good as new. I now feel the fabric needs a spray of waterproofer as the beading has subsided some. However, there is absolutely no sign of any water penetration.

 The gusset tongue is well designed and comfy. Sewn into the outer with additional reinforcement are 8 good metal closed lacing hooks and 4 strong open collar hooks. The heel has a pulling loop and the laces provided are round nylon braided.

 The outer fabric dries exceptionally fast, which i like. For me, when backpacking, there’s nothing worse than that first few minutes in a morning when you put your feet into wet boots.

 The Cocona also breathes well ensuring that the foot stays cool and dry. It’s treated to keep odour at bay too.

 The sole :- these use the Approach and Trecking C1 sole unit, the outer rubber sole, is named uTRX or ultimate traction.  It looks like the old Vibram style or commando style sole configuration with deep lugs that are a good distance apart, that do a decent job of shedding debris.

 It works well on all ground except on wet slab rock, moss covered or ice covered. Under these conditions it performs no better than any other rubber tread sole. For ascents or descents it performs well and there is some flex in the forefoot but not overly so.
 The heel does a good shock absorbing job and also lateral support is excellent. At the front is an solid toe bar and a decent rubber rand protection.

(I’m not sure what the C1 equates to in the sole description but i am not stating here that they are C1 crampon compatible. I think the toe flex is to great for a C1 crampon and could result in either the crampon slipping or the attaching bar breaking. (Hopefully i can find out a bit more info).)

Amendment after confirmation from Carn.

The C1 reference given in our listing is indeed a sole unit model number. 

Depending on the planned usage(for short periods of time), a C1 crampon(the
semi flexible type) will fit our C1 sole unit as used on the Kaieteur boots.
Besides the rubber outsole and nylon shank this boot has also been fitted
with a Bi-Fit board which keeps 3/4 of the boot rigid but does allow some
flex in the forefoot. 

Of course C2 and C3 crampons will not work on our outsole, these being for
mountaineering/climbing boots.

 Arch support is not that great but can be improved with a 3rd party insole of the type which suits you best, and of course we all have different feet. What doesn’t suit me could well be perfect for others.
 The insole supplied is actually a decent one in its own right being Poliyou. You don’t usually see Poliyou on boots of this price.

 The rear foot midsole is PU whilst the forefoot is compression moulded EVA.

 The waterproof membrane:- This is eVent, and does a good job. I’m sure there is no need for me to expand on eVent to readers. The inner cushioning is good, breathes well and dries fairly quickly.

 Here are some more photo’s.

  From new, they were comfy and i havn’t had any blisters. They took approx. 20 miles before i felt that they were moulded to my foot. They are like slippers now.
 I have no complaints at all and i can recommend them. For the price they must be hard to beat.

The Kaiteur’s are available in both men and women’s styles.

Update October 2013.
Sheila's boots which were replaced in May 2013 have now let water through the membrane. Not just a little bit making the socks damp. But completely soaked through both boots. Mysteriously she has only done about 150 miles in total in them. On the other hand mine are still ok and must have covered 300 miles.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

After the disappointment.

 Last night was quite boring, what after the disappointment of not getting up to Cumbria and then suffering about 9 minutes of the England footy before i switched it off.

 This morning we had a covering of snow with quite a strong cold wind. We donned our gear and set off straight from the house. It wasn’t long before we were into spin drift.
 It was a chance to try out a couple of new jackets we had very kindly been sent for review.

 Both jackets were in my size (M), but it was too good an opportunity to leave one at home, so Sheila wore the other, although she is size (S).  Half way through the walk we swopped jackets to see how windproof/breathable we found them and what our first impressions were.
I will do a separate post on the jackets when i get the go ahead from the manufacturer and done quite a bit more serious bad weather walking, but i’m quite excited about them i must say.

  We passed one of our local farms en route and we always check out his barn for newly born calves. Unfortunately today we noticed a dead one with the mother stood over it. The birth sack still attached to the mum. I knew the farmer would have known about but i called in just to make sure. Sure enough, he knew. He checked it at midnight and all was well but at 2.00am the calf was gone.

 The lanes were unfit for vehicles and it was incredible the difference in snow conditions in such a short distance from our doorstep.

  The fierce wind whipped up the snow and drove it at us with such force. Occasionally close to blowing us over and then 5 minutes later, all calm.
 When we entered the park we were the first footprints. It was eerily quiet which surprised us. Usually kids and big kids are out sledging here with the voices carrying loudly on the wind.
 There’s a coffee shop in the park which is about mid way through the walk and it was here where we were going to swop jackets as well as have a cheese and onion toasty and a mug of coffee.

  It was funny watching the birds struggle against the wind. All our feathered friends were at ground level and getting blown over like rag dolls.
 The drifts were getting quite deep although general ground cover was no more than a 30cm. In some places we had to struggle through 1.5m of snow on the trail. Snow shoes would have been very useful.

 As it was we sank down, waist deep and still not finding solid ground. It was easier to roll through it rather than take steps.

 It was all good fun and we did about 8km.  It brought it home to us just how bad the conditions would have been if we had set off to Cumbria yesterday. It was a good decision to stay put.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just typical

 Would you believe this weather.

Our plan this weekend was to get up to the Duddon Valley in Cumbria, see friends, do some walking, etc etc.
Then we get an email to say Please don’t come up. Phones not working, internet in/out. Roads closed.
Trees down, road signs blown down, lots of crashes on roads that are open, tons of snow.

 So, disappointment or what.
All the gear is in the boot of the car. All fueled up and nowhere to go.
Fortunately i have had a couple of jackets delivered for testing, so getting out locally in our more moderate snow will happen tomorrow and Sunday. (More to come on the jackets subject over the next couple of weeks.)
Ho Hum.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Karrimor lightweight Gilet

 Looking in Sports Direct yesterday i came across this Karrimor Gilet. It was very light, down filled and cheap. £18.
 I had seen it prior to me going into town for a look round. I had actually thought about getting one just to supplement my TNF Zephyrus pully, for when the temp dropped down but not cold enough to use my PHD Minimus. I also didn’t have much of a budget to spend. Getting one, would give me a choice of cross over gear depending on conditions.
 So it was really disappointing to find that the zips are absolute rubbish. I know it’s only £18 but the RRP is £59.99. 
 I was hoping that this came from the Japanese stable of Karrimor, but obviously not. 

Out of 6 gilet’s on the rack none of the zips worked well. Some worked poorly, some of the hand warmer pocket zips didn’t work at all. Shame because the outer material was nicely down proof which was a bit of a surprise.
So not even worth £18 in my book. I will keep looking. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dunsop Bridge, a short walk.

 Sheila and I decided that we had just enough time today to do a quick walk around this beautiful part of Lancashire. Dunsop Bridge lies at the southern edge of the Trough of Bowland. Supposedly the centre of Great Britain.

 We were running short on fuel as it took us a bit longer than we expected to arrive in the village. I thought i would have enough fuel but it wasn’t the case. So i paid the most expensive rate for fuel that i have ever paid £1.55 per litre at the station in the village.

 Parking is plentiful, although it's pay and display. Still the rate for parking is very reasonable at £1.80 for 8 hours, or £1.00 for four hours. Toilets are open and clean. There is also some places where “Free” parking can be had.

 There was a bitter wind, cutting right through us. Certainly a day for layering and although i had a Merino base layer on i still felt the chill. The temperature was around zero degrees C but with the wind chill it certainly felt like minus 6.

 Our plan was to follow the Dunsop River and contour Middle fell Knoll (Thanks Conrad) and return by the path on the opposite bank.
 United Utilities are doing plenty of work on the river and even today, a Sunday, they were working in numerous places. The Forestry people have also been busy, with the clearing of the west  side of Beatrix Fell which looked quite untidy. Why do they never clear up after felling?

 We passed plenty of people out today, all well wrapped up. It is obviously a path well used by locals for exercising the dogs. As we got further up the valley the numbers diminished. Obviously the cold was putting them off, and understandable.

 The fell tops were clear and inviting. But not for us today. Plenty of snow had fallen on the fells overnight and it looked great against a blue sky. We found a track into open country that isn't marked on the OS 1:25,000 map, so that was mentally noted for the future. For anyone who might be interested, the access point is just north of the wall enclosing Calder Moor Forestry and rises to the ridge of Whin fell.

 So, here are some photo's of the area. We will be back for further walking here and maybe a backpack too, soon.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Culcheth Plodders walk

 This walk is Martins last of the 4 un reconnoitred walks that he kindly put together for the Plodders section of the East Lancs long distance walking club.

 The walk started and finished in Culcheth near Warrington from the car park of the Culcheth Linear Park.
The trail was once a branch of the railway line, pre Beeching, which connected Glazebrook with Wigan via Lowton. The park was formed in 1974 after the line was closed in 1964. It was originally opened in 1878 to carry freight.
Now it’s used for recreation and the bird life along the route is plentiful.

Not that this owl moved much.

 There were 8 of us today and also 2 dogs. The weather forecast was for showers. We had been quite lucky with Martins walks and i only remember donning waterproofs on one short section of the Dolphinholme walk we did a few weeks ago. 
 It was spitting whilst we chatted, waiting for the off at 10.30 but it abated thankfully.

 Heading off north along the old trackbed, the bird song was a delight. Then i spotted a Jay and what i thought was a Nuthatch, but i could have been mistaken. It might have been a Tree Creeper. (Please don’t ask how i could mistake the two).

Leaving the flat train line at a sign for Kenyon Lane, we crossed a heavily ploughed field. The soil here was just as hard as concrete and must have taken plenty of horse power to till it.

 Crossing more fields and hedgerows and the main railway line from Manchester to Liverpool we came to the obstacle of the East Lancs Road. Basically, for those not aware of this road, it is in fact just an A road but vehicles are many and speeds equal those of motorway proportions. Crossing these 2 lanes on foot is taking your life in your hands. We found the adjacent footpath, waited and then en masse dashed across. I didn’t get a photograph!

 A short walk through the outskirts of a Lowton housing estate and across some football fields brought us back onto the disused railway line and to a short tea break where Martin had route options to discuss. We had to decide which way we wanted to walk around Pennington Flash, a haven for water fowl. It was decided that the anti-clockwise direction would bring us better views and so that was that.
 A few views of The Flash

M and F Tufted Ducks.
 The path is well used around The Flash and soon we were at the car park with its visitor centre and ablutions. From here we quickly joined the Leeds to Liverpool canal and continued along it for some time. Lunch was taken mid way, adjacent to King St bridge where we met a chap on a bike with a ladder in his rucksack. This caused a bit of excitement as we guessed what he was doing. Mobile window cleaner?  No, it turned out he was repairing the signage on the cycle way that can be seen in the photo below.
Lunch stop imminent
 A short distance from here the Leeds Liverpool canal changes to the Bridgewater canal which we followed as far as Marsland Green. Numerous old mills were passed and photographed depicting this areas heritage with the cotton spinning industry.

  At Great Fold Bridge we turned South heading once more to cross the East Lancs road. 
Men were hard at work in the fields, tilling and mowing. It was good to see an MF135 going strong. Equipped with a folding 2 post rops and mower.

MF135. Perkins 3 cyl. 2.5L diesel with Flat Top Fenders.
John Deere 2140. 82hp 4 cyl turbo diesel. With reversible rotating plough.

 Passing through a farm at Crompton House we encountered 3 dogs of the big, scary,  noisy variety. Thankfully they were tethered to truck wheels and so we had plenty of room to pass. The commotion brought out the owner who tried to pacify them but without much success. 
 The east Lancs was even busier than earlier as we dashed for life across it. 

 Our path led us to Netherbarrow Farm and Windy Bank Farm before crossing again the railway. 
We passed a pub called the Chat Moss. 

Famous over the years for the thousands of hikers,plodders who have stopped in the field adjacent for a “Chat” hence the name. It’s been known for chatters to spend that long in one spot that “Moss” has started to form.

 The true reason for the pubs name will be apparent upon reading Martins blog post on this walk. Where, so i am assured there is quite a bit of history going back to the formation of the first commercial railway line. Over to you Martin.

Allmost back to our start/end point we crossed a field with strange vegetables. We guessed overgrown cabbages but we could be wrong.
 Back at the car park and still no rain. We had been very lucky. There was quite a chill in the air and it was with very cold hands that i tried to undo my shoe laces to change into driving shoes.
 A most pleasant day in good company.

Distance walked 21.1km with a massive 61m of ascent. Almost noise bleed territory.

Thanks Martin for the route and the Plodders for a pleasant day out.
Click here for the link to the photo slideshow.

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