The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What a difference one day makes.

 We have the Duddon Valley fell race next week to assist with and so to be invited up there this weekend ensured we knew what the current status was.
We arrived Thursday night, missing the probable Friday rush getting away for the Bank Holiday weekend and we planned to leave on Sunday again avoiding traffic problems.
We were staying with friends Alan and Tina in Seathwaite.
 Once settled in we departed to renew old acquaintances at The Newfield Inn and to sample a beer or two.

 Music night with a Blues Band has been arranged for post race entertainment next saturday in the beer garden at the Newfield, no entrance fee, so all do come along. It’s a good night. Start around 5.30pm and ends at some point after midnight or slightly beyond depending on the weather.

 We set out on a walk hopefully to view some red deer that can be found if you are lucky. I have seen them on a couple of occasions but Sheila hadn't.
Ready to set out, it was extremely windy but we didn't realise just how windy until we got a little higher. And packing the daysack resulted in a realisation that i had left the camera sat on the computer desk. So all the photo’s are taken with Sheila's Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.

 The "paths" we were on are not official paths but we knew we wouldn't get into trouble.
The rain was sweeping in, we had good vantage to watch the scenery disappearing. Then 5 minutes later it eased and became sunny. What didn't alter was the wind. It was fierce, almost blowing us over. Definitely not a day for Striding Edge.

 Unfortunately with such a strong wind blowing in the direction of our travel, any deer would have known we were there way before we spotted them. We were cautious and quiet and hid ourselves in the trees and behind boulders but we were unlucky. We didn't spot any deer. We did spot a Buzzard and a Wheatear being blown around badly as well as a Meadow Pipit.
The weather meant that we got chilly quite quickly and although a flask of coffee was helpful we just wanted to get out of this battering as soon as possible.

Making our way down, the rain once again reminded us that summer is struggling to make its presence felt. The view down the valley disappearing to nothing. Once on the valley floor the wind was easier and we sheltered to finish the coffee.
We crossed over the stepping stones over the River Duddon and made our way back.

Today I had another walk planned in my head that once again did not go over marked paths. Some of it I hadn't done before. When we were discussing the route over breakfast with our hosts, it turns out that Alan, who is a regular walker, also hadn't walked on this area.
So he decided to come with us.
The day was an absolute beauty. Wall to wall sunshine, warm without a breath of wind. It remained like this the whole day.
What a difference a day makes!

 As we gained height the views got better and better. On one side Scafell right round to Broad Stand looking stunning. On the other Grey Friar round to Caw.
 The ground was dry, very dry. We found 2 Meadow Pipit nests with 7 eggs in total.

We crossed Tarn Beck by the bridge below the waterfalls and slowly followed the beck up to level ground below the dam.
We were warm and found a good spot to stop and have lunch. The view stunning.

 With care we crossed a couple of walls and tried to find the route of the old pony track that pre-dates the current water board track up to the tarn.

We found it. When you realise it, the route is obvious if very faint and although the new track has been built over the old one in parts, you can follow it for some way.

Further on we stood in the remains of a Ancient Long House. Age TBA at this time. We stood and looked around to try and understand why the people built it where they did. They picked a good spot. Protected and sheltered.

Once we crossed Long House Gill and met the Walna Scar Rd, we encountered many people. Not unexpected on a Bank Holiday.

But for us our walk was over. We had not bumped into a soul all day until the Walna.

One of the most pleasurable days in the Duddon.

We had just a couple of hours to enjoy a G and T, have a bite to eat, before heading off to Ulpha village hall for an evening of good music and real ale with Roger Davies.

Thanks to Alan and Tina for everything. See you next week for the fell race.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Two great pieces of customer service.

 Mammut Creon Lite 45 rucksack.
A few weeks ago whilst backpacking in the Lammermuir hills my Mammut Creon lite 45 rucksack developed a problem.

 There is a spring steel rod fitted quite securely to the frame to stop the rucksack from closing the gap between the sack and mesh.
This allows air flow to pass between the sack and the wearer. The rucksack works very well indeed.
However after 2 days walking the spring decided to migrate out at the bottom of the sack.
 Obviously this is not comfortable and can wear through what ever gear you happen to be wearing. I kept on re-fitting it but it wouldn’t stay in place for long. It was quite a time consuming affair and also not easy as a fair bit of strength is required to replace it.

 I had a good look at it when i got back home and re-fitted it again as best i could. Re-loading the sack it came out again.
 Being from an engineering background my first thoughts were to find a solution myself and i had a couple of ideas to try.
 But i also wondered if something had dropped off the sack, something that held the rod in place.

 I decided to take some photographs and send them to Mammut UK. Basically to see what they thought. After a couple of days they asked me to send back the sack.
Cutting short the numerous email sending between us, Mammut UK have replaced the sack.
The only difference is the colour. Where mine was Grey the new one is Grey and Red or Salsa and Iron in Mammut speak.

  It doesn’t seem that any clamp had fell off and so i cannot say at this moment that it won’t happen again but it’s still great customer service. Thanks to Mammut UK

Next. Carn Kaiteur boots.
 We now have 3 pairs of Carn Kaiteur boots.
Simply because of the success i have had with mine. Sheila decided to buy a pair at the incredible low price of £27.
 It seems that Carn are moving in the same direction as GoLite. Instead of going B2B (Business to business) they are changing to Internet B2C direct. (Business to customer). Stocks are dwindling very fast pending a new Autumn influx.
 After only 2 “walks” in them the rubber heel split.

 It all pointed to a manufacturing fault and i sent this photograph to Carn UK to ask if they would replace them under warranty.
The reply i received from them was brilliant and extremely sorry for the problem.
Carn had checked my name, found my original order with the size, found my address and by the time i had replied to their email a brand new pair of boots were on there way.
They arrived 11.00am next morning. Thanks to Carn UK.

2 great pieces of Customer Service.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A TGO cheese and wine party.

 Reading Alan Slomans blog a while ago, he put out an invitation to join his TGO team of Phil Lambert and Andrew Walker for a cheese and wine evening during the event.
This stayed in my mind when we planned a short break up to Blair Atholl.
I mentioned to Sheila that a few challengers were meeting up for a cheese and wine party but I had forgot to mention that to get to the venue meant a 17km walk in. So when she saw the backpacking tent going into the boot as well as our base camp tent there was a perplexed look on her face.
There was an even stranger look when 2 backpacking rucksacks also went in.
I had to come clean, but it was OK, she thought it would be great.

 The venue was just a 6 figure OS grid reference. This turned out to be at the bottom of Glen Tromie on the Minigaig track.

So the day arrived for our little adventure. We set off hoping to get breakfast on route, in Kingussie. What a disappointment, nothing opens until around 10.00 am. It was only 8.30am.
 We walked up and down asking folk if there was any place to get a coffee. The question brought on a few laughs and a resounding "no".
I had an idea that maybe one of the hotels would do us a breakfast and so went in to the Star hotel and rang the bell, and again and again, but nobody came to reception.
A 3rd person came in, also with the same idea, but to no avail, nobody came to answer the call, we all walked away disappointed.
We knew the grill in Newtonmoor would be open so we headed there. Just as we drove passed the hostel, Betty's tearoom had an open sign on the door.
Entering the shop we were greeted with "are you the last two,because your late". We had no idea what she meant and so we just agreed. It turned out that she opened especially for challengers this morning, early, and 2 people had not turned up. Anyway we got a lovely breakfast and we explained that we were not with the party who prearranged breakfast. Thanks to Betty's.

So, onto a parking spot where we could leave the car overnight. I had one in mind, passed the Barracks at Ruthven and close to Glen Tromie. I thought it best to tell the local constabulary what I was doing but the Police Station was deserted. Probably all having breakfast in the Star Hotel. Ha.
We parked up and I called at the farmhouse opposite just to let someone know the car had not been dumped or stolen. Nobody home.
Then our luck changed when a lady pulled up on a quad bike. We asked if it would be OK to leave the car, she said it would, and invited us in for a cup of tea. We had to get going and so we declined a lovely offer from a complete stranger. How kind.

Ruthven Barracks
The barracks were erected on a hill top which is supposed to be a remnant of the ice age. Built in 1719 after the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, it wasn’t finished until 1721. Much longer build than planned. (Nothing has changed much with builders , has it? Or is it the planners fault)
This wasn’t the first castle recorded here. The 1st being in 1229 and destroyed in 1451. It was rebuilt again in 1459.
It was badly damaged by Viscount Dundee during the first Jacobite uprising in 1689. Viscount Dundee is buried at Blair Atholl old Kirk.

120 troops were barracked in 2 separate blocks and had to do all their own cooking. In 1745, 200 Jacobites tried to take the garrison from 12 Redcoats but they didn’t succeed until 1746 when they took the Garrison with Artillary.

 Across the road from the barracks and through a gate we picked up a good path, first across open fields and then through mixed woodland with lots of wild Primula's in full bloom.
It started raining, light at first and then heavier. We resisted putting on waterproofs as long as possible but that moment came soon enough. It only lasted a further 5 minutes before we stopped to take them off again. Typical.
Through the woods and alongside the rushing river, retriever dogs at the gate house at Glentromie started barking, and heralded our imminent arrival way before we spotted the house and where the adjacent bridge leads onto the Estate Road. Luckily the dogs were penned and so posed us no problems.
The Glen here is quite narrow but a little further on passing another big house, Lynaberack, it opens up to a much wider aspect and today, glorious views of the river and surrounding tops. Lynaberack is a modern style building that replaced the old house which sadly burnt down. It is now rented out for shooting and fishing parties.
River Tromie
 The old drove road has now given way to modern tarmac, making it easy for estate workers to drive to and from Gaick Lodge and other habitations. But for the walker it is hard on the feet.
We passed Bhran cottage before crossing the last bridge before the Gaick lodge route splits.
Checking the map, our route stays on the North side of the Allt Bhran. The path shown on the map is difficult to locate on the ground because of all the sheep and deer trods which cover the steep river banking.
It was thick heather intermingled with green bog. We caught a bad smell on the wind and came across a dead hind after a couple of minutes. We moved up wind quickly.
It’s hard to imagine that the old drovers would bring cows along this high bank of the river when the other side is flatter. Maybe someone has some knowledge they could share on reading this.
After the dam we dropped down almost to the river bed which was running low. We made a point that we would come back along the river rather than struggle with the terrain higher up.
Some pleasant walking over tall grassland brought us to our destination. A quick check with the GPS ensured we were in the correct place.
It had taken 4.5 hours to walk in, with about 20 minutes for lunch.
The boys had chosen well, it was a lovely spot to wild camp. Surrounded by hills with some snow cover and right next to a pristine burn.

We sat for a short while drinking in the atmosphere. Although not wilderness as such, it had that air of  tranquility that you only feel in remote places, that feeling that you are the only ones there.
As it happened this was so short lived. A couple of people appeared and stopped for a chat. They had seen us some way in front and had been following us. They thought we were doing the Minigaig.
They told us that they were doing the Minigaig in one go! OK, I know its not impossible, but these people were not youngsters and its 41km. When they reached us at 3.00pm ish, they still had 28km to do. Rather them than me but I hope they made it OK.

 We got the tent up and made a coffee and it was only a short time after that we had more visitors. It turned out to be Izzy and Les, both challengers and almost legends, being their 10th crossing. Well done guys. In their spare time they run a B and B, Cruachan, in Appin, on the shores of Loch Linnhe.
Their names were familiar and it clicked when they mentioned the B and B. Fellow blogger and challenger Martin Banfield had mentioned them in previous conversations and blog posts.

After introductions, Les and Izzy got the tent up and time flew past. Unfortunately the hosts were still missing and we wondered if they would make the rendezvous.  7.00pm was mentioned as a time that we should start procedings, with or without the hosts. Sorry chaps.

7.00pm came and we joined forces. The wine was opened and the nibbles past round. Nearing  7.15pm we heard a voice and saw a huge blue rucksack on legs, which could only mean one thing, welcome Andrew Walker. Followed closely by Messrs Sloman and Lambert. No wonder they were late, having walked from Laggan.
The lads got their shelters up and considering the distance they had walked, were in good spirits. Alan looked a bit drained but considering his health issue, had done fantastic.
And surprise surprise all the shelters were different.A MLD trailsar, Akto, TN Solar 2, a MLD solomid and our Scarp 2.

Suddenly another couple arrived. Known as the comestables by those in the know or Val and Dave to the unacquainted. What they had in their 2 rucksacks had to be seen to be believed. Red,white and rose wine, 6 baguettes, Eccles cakes, numerous blocks of cheese, bread sticks, table cloth, serviettes, tarpaulin, grapes, walnuts, ballons, paper plates. It just kept coming out like Mary Poppins carpet bag.
Val and Dave had drove to the head of the Glen then cycled for an hour and then walked an hour or so to find us. And, they were heading back tonight after the party. Just fantastic and very much appreciated.
Cheese,Wine mmm

 The sun was starting to set, highlighting the eastern slopes in a mauve colour, and the clouds turning pink. Everyone tried to catch that perfect sunset shot. This was taken by Sheila with a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.

 After the sun dipped below the ridge and almost simultaneously a herd of deer moved down and stood a couple of hundred yards from us. They looked at us in a kind of disbelieving way, as though they were disgusted that some humans had pinched their overnight spot. Some moved away but the odd one or two stayed a couple of minutes, staring, before heading off to find another place to bed down.
It had become very cold now the sun had gone and being out in the open became quite testing. AlanS went to bed and the others tried their best to clear the table before the inevitable time came to finish the evening.
L-R. Dave, Alan, Izzy, Phil, Andrew, Les and Val. Sheila took the photo in fading light so not too bad for a phone camera. (AlanS had already retired to Sally Solomid)
Val and Dave cleared up the rubbish and handed out what food was left, to be eaten on route tomorrow. Thanks ever so much for a great night. They headed off in the direction of the sunset, they had quite a journey to do in the semi darkness before reaching habitation again.

Morning arrived all too soon for our challengers and us, although we were in no hurry we were up and breakfasted and packing up in unison.
We waited until they were all ready for the ascent of Leathad an Taobhain, their first point of the day then after a final photo we turned and headed in the opposite direction. The day was once again clear and only light cloud over some of the higher tops.
Challengers leaving and Sheila looking freezing.
 Our decision yesterday to walk the river proved to be a far better route than the high path and once the dam was reached we used the rough road to Gaick house and the bridge over the Allt Bhran.
 Views north from here are superb and give walkers a fantastic vista of the Glen. We looked back to see where the others were but we didn't spot them.
The view North
4 hours later we were back at the car after a very nice lunch stop in unbroken sun for 1/2 hr.

Thanks ALPHA for the invite. We enjoyed it immensely.

Oh and to Colin Bennett who left the macadamia nuts and the note on the path, it was found by us and passed on. Thanks

A slideshow of the walk etc can be found here

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Blair Atholl Castle

 7.00am, loo time. We was having a lie in today and then going round the castle. But the body got me up as usual. So i dashed to the toilet block across dew laden grass. On the way back i stopped and looked north and west, giving challengers my thoughts. It was dark and foreboding, i shivered at the thought of those higher up, opening there own tent doors and seeing what would look like a dull day.
 I went back to bed for an hour.

Our own weather was looking good, sunny but with a chilly north wind. We set of to the castle, post breakfast.

 It was a shame that at this time the castle was being painted. 

Hercules gardens are recently restored and when summer arrives the colours will be beautiful. The gardens and deer park are all very nice and you can spend hours just wandering around the grounds.

 Inside the castle itself, is stunning. So much history. The arms on display are second to none and the memorabilia going back to the Jacobite rebellion took lots of our time. Photographs are not allowed. Pity. But you can take pictures in the ballroom. Above.

 Outside i took this photo of Sheila stood beside some of the amazing trees in the park.

This is just a quick post as the internet is not good today and i am more than surprised i have managed to get some photo's on at all.

The castle has taken most of our day today but well worth a visit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Banvie, Bruar and Beer. A good combination.

 We chose a lie in today but it didn't happen. A warm tent, sun shining and making it feel like a sauna soon had us awake and once awake you have to go to the loo, don't you.
So we were up at 7.30 and eager for breakfast. For some reason Sheila said she was starving. I don't know how after everything she ate last night.

 The days are becoming quite cyclic if thats the term, where the weather can be forecast almost to the minute. The sun shines for about 15 minutes then a breeze arrives and 5 minutes later dark clouds and a spot of rain or a light shower. Then it repeats itself. Generally speaking not a bad day.

 Our route today was to head for Old Blair, through the castle grounds and then pick up the footpath along the west bank of the Banvie Burn. Reaching Old Blair we came across a Dutch Couple who were a bit lost and were looking for Glen Tilt. We pointed them in the right direction and then Sheila posed at Minigaig road.
The path up beside the Banvie is very picturesque through mixed woodland. Good views behind of Carn Laith and Morvick appear as height is gained.
Looking north across grouse moorland cairns can be seen on the escarpment.
I found a small deer antler in the grass which was a surprise as it was so close to the path.
We made a couple of detours on route. One to the Banavie Pillar where the last man was hung in this area and also to Whim lookout where there is a great view down the glen.
I will post some more photo's when we get back home.

 Yesterday we went down Glen Tilt which is supposed to be one of the most lovely glens. Well in our opinion the Banvie is far better. I am so pleased we decided on this route.

As the watershed is reach there are expansive views across to the Cairngorms and there is still small coverings of snow around. We saw a small herd of deer along the skyline of Meall Dubh.

 The path splits at the end of the forestry. We turned south and headed down towards the Falls of Bruer. It was here that we had one of only two showers of rain today. Neither long. We met two walkers heading up and these were the only two walkers seen today.

 The falls of Bruar are spectacular and well worth a visit if you are ever in this area.
There are numerous vantage points to take loads of photo's of the falls and the bridges and i wish i could load just a few more for you to see the beauty.
We spent about 3/4 hr here in admiration and then headed down to the House of Bruar. Where we looked, held onto our wallets and headed off smartish.

As we reached the main road a sign said Blair Atholl 3 miles. So i said to Sheila "it will be about 1 hr before we can have some chips". About a mile down the road and another sign said Blair Atholl 4 miles! These Scottish miles take the biscuit.

So here we are now back at base, chips eaten and delicious too, a couple of beers bought for later. Looking forward to tomorrow and a lazy day around the castle and village. Well we can't go home without using our free pass now can we.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Glen Tilt - a wee ride.

 This area around Blair Atholl is certainly a mountain bikers dream. Yesterday there were also 7000+ competitors here for the Marie Curie bike race. 7000, can you envisage that number. Fantastic turnout.
 So today now that things have quietened down and the weekenders have gone back to work. Shame but we've all been there. We decided to hire mountain bikes and go for a ride down Glen Tilt.

 Now its 25 years at least since i rode a bike and the difference between the new and old bikes is staggering. The gears and brakes actually work, too well at times i can tell you.

 We hired the bikes from the guy who runs the chippy and the pizza place  at "Food in the Park"and it was well worth the day rental.
 It was quite nice when we set off, but it was obviously going to change as black clouds roll in. Then we had a down pour and then it cleared for 15 minutes before the next batch of rain. That has been how the day progressed.

 The estate road or land rover track is not an open road and so the only traffic we met was from the estate. Oh, and the postman. The track goes right through to Braemar but its not all land rover track and so care needs to be taken on the short paths.

 We cycled in total 20 miles,  to just where the forestry peters out, had lunch, took in the scenery and cycled back. Going the wind and the rain was at our back and progress was rapid but on the reverse it was hard work with quite a strong wind and the hail and rain stinging our faces.

 The jacket proved it's worth. And i was very pleased about that. And there will be a seperate post on the jackets.

 Glen Tilt is a wonderful glen with stunning scenery and i can understand why it's on the route of so many TGO challengers. Especially with having a good fish and chip shop open 11.00am until 8.00pm in Blair.
The campsite at Blair Athol Castle is large but gets booked up at weekends. You need to book weeks in advance if you wish to overnight here. During the week it would be easier.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gone North for rain

This post has been written twice now. The internet keeps chucking out. Why is the internet so bad in rural UK!
There will be no photo's unfortunately because they take too long to load.

So here we are in Blair Atholl having gone North in search of rain. Yes rain.

Some readers will know that i have 2 new shell jackets for review and i needed a week of "weather" to finish off what has been a few months in the making.

Today we have been up Carn Liath, we had intended to do the next Munro too but my knee which i damaged in the Lammermuirs a few weeks ago had given way just before we left home and its still sore. So in order to get the most out of the week i need to rest it rather than over do it.

Its been a mixed day for sure. Sun, snow, rain and cloud. I'm now sat in the tent typing this and the heavens have just opened. I love being in a tent when it rains.

So Carn Liath, easy access from Blair Atholl and a good path all the way to the top and beyond.
Its our first Munro of the year. Its steep and unremitting but not difficult, just a slog.

What stunning views as well from the tops of the 3 Munro's in this group. with small pockets of snow still in the corries. Sorry about the pics but i will down load some when i get back home.

More tomorrow i hope.
I have managed to load 1 photo of us at the top of Carn Liath.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rivington to Brinscall circuit with the East Lancs LDWA

 This walk was called “Not a full shilling” by the LDWA.

Due to an email from JJ, and the fact that Sheila wasn't working, we decided to attend a walk with the LDWA. (Long Distance Walking Association).
 Now our previous experiences of walking with this group have resulted in us both walking too fast and we end up being put off attending further outings.
It's not the fault of the LDWA group who do some amazing walking feats, like 100 miles in 48 hours. If that's the way they want to walk then that’s good for them but we like to look at the views, take photographs and not just get from A to B in the fastest time as possible.

 So why did we go you may well ask? Well this was supposed to be a short walk of 14 miles and an introductory walk for any new people. So the pace should have been a little restrained and not overly long in distance.
We all met up on the approach lane to Rivington barn and with it being a Bank Holiday Monday there was a good turnout. 30 walkers.

 Norman was leading the walk and this area is his back yard.

After a gathering and an opening speech we set off on a steady ascent up to the tower at 373m. We were all guessing as to what the next vantage point would be, the masts or Twin Lads may be.
So it was a surprise when we turned and headed straight back down hill, giving up all that height and wonderful scenery, and on a beautiful clear day.

We descended to the castle on the shores of Lower Rivington Reservoir. We had our first short break here.
 It was a good chance to have a chat with John Hancock, a TGO challenger, lightweight gear enthusiast and fellow blogger.
John was sporting his full TGO Challenge kit and his Z Packs Cuben fibre rucksack was of great interest. He was also wearing a Rab wind jacket which somehow he maintained wearing throughout the days heat.
Good to meet you John.

 We were in amongst the day trippers and the dog walkers and were soon away north, following the east sides of the reservoirs. We took the path between the Upper Rivington reservoir and the Yarrow.
The reservoirs were low as were the feeder streams and ladders. It just shows how little rain has fallen over the last months considering what a cold and snowy winter we had.

 The walking pace was picking up as we passed the lovely Anglezarke Reservoir and it wasn't long before Sheila mentioned it. The line of people was getting more and more spread out. The trouble with this is that it becomes very easy to loose the group. When you have no idea where you are going it doesn't actually matter that you know exactly where you are. A back marker should always be there but today for some reason the appointee was not always in place. In some situations where the route took a sharp turn it was more luck than anything else that we managed to stay on course. I just add here, that we were not alone in this plight.

 We came to a lovely little spot called White Coppice. A small hamlet with a well kept cricket pitch a small refreshment area and a loo. This was lunch stop and a finer place to stop could not have been found. Although the time allowed for lunch would have been adequate in most circumstances, today with it being bank holiday and with lots of people around, if you actually queued to use the loo it more or less meant you missed lunch. No consideration of this fact was taken on board.

 Another speech from Norman about taking some direction or other was completely missed by us as we were still packing our lunch away. It may have been a vote, i’m not sure, but we headed east and upwards along Dean Black Brook and then north through Wheelton Wood, a mixed woodland to Brinscall.

 The pace had again increased and although we were not at the back this time, the group 50 yds in front changed direction and headed off along a green lane with numerous exit points. We thought we would be middle markers, therefore keeping an eye on the front group whilst waiting for the rear guard to catch up. Unfortunately the tail enders of the front group disappeared before the real tail enders appeared.
 Onwards we sped to try and locate the whereabouts of the main party but with so many off shoots possible, we couldn’t find them. We didn’t know where we were suppose to be going and although we had a map and a GPS, it wasn’t a lot of use use knowing where we were although better than not knowing at all.

 There were 8 of us in this splinter group, and taking a look at the map decided to stay on the green lane and head down towards an old disused railway line. At this point we thought somebody would realise that 8 members were adrift and wait for them, but there was nobody about. We asked a walker coming in the opposite direction if she had passed a large group of walkers, but no she hadn’t.
 A dig in the rucksack of one chap for his phone, and a call to somebody, resulted in us locating the group sat at the far end of the lake at Brinscall, enjoying the sunshine.
 As we arrived, we never got the chance of a coffee, just a brief exchange of pleasantries before we were off again back in the direction our small group had just walked.
At this point it seemed that a decision had been taken to start the return leg but i think this was not the original schedule.

 We followed the old railway line south before diverting to Tootals farm and some pleasant country lanes brought us to a ford just west of White Coppice. A very brief pause ensued whilst we admired the picturesque cottages and watched a few cool down their boots in the ford.
Another quick burst of pace took us past a reservoir and across Higher House Lane before the rise of Healey Nab was reached.

At the top Norm pronounced that this would be the last brew stop and so it was that we picked out a nice grassy bit, plonked ourselves down and started to get the flask out. Before i even got the first cup poured the group were up and away again. So a quick gulp of coffee, flask packed away and a few curses as to what the hell was the point of that.

 A Mountain Rescue Helicopter and Landrover were searching for what we believe was an injured mountain biker. This briefly gave us a chance to catch up.
Descending down to Anglezarke again, the group must have smelt the finishing line because they were off like a pack of hounds. Nowhere to be seen.

Thankfully i knew this path and the way back to the car park at Rivington. When we got back to the car we had done 27.9km and 734metres of ascent. Max walking speed 7.8kph with an average speed of 5.3kph. 
JJ, John and Viv reached their car and we reflected on the days pace and a few other things i won’t mention here. I don’t know how many first timers were on the walk we hardly had chance to talk to the majority,  but i did get a few photographs of peoples backs.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

TGO Challenge 2013

 This post is to all challengers rather than individual comments on writers own blog pages.

I’m sure most sacks will now have been packed and those final bits scribbled on a sheet of paper to buy on route. Transport tickets located and safely put in a dry bag.

Now did you print off the right maps? It does help if they are not last years! Ha

 WE HOPE EVERYBODY, has a successful and rewarding crossing and the weather stays cool and dry. We hope for light winds and good visability. And of course a sun tan at the end.

 We look forward to reading about your experience in due course and of course how your gear, both new and old performed.
And lets not forget the camaraderie without which life would be a dull place.

 Bon Voyage.  
Alan and Sheila.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Therm-a-rest de-lamination

  I had a conversation this morning regarding sleeping mats and as it happened one of the jobs on my to-do list was sort and and clear some of the contents of my wardrobe that were hanging in there but rarely used. It’s where i store my/our numerous sleeping mats.
There are 7 mats in total and 2 of them are original Therm-a-rest. Made in Ireland serial number 0013729 and 30.
 I decided that i would inflate them and see how comfy/un-comfy they were against my Exped UL7,  as it has to be about 5 years since i used them.

 To my surprise the mat, as well as walls, must have ears, because i have also been discussing pillows for backpacking with a few fellow bloggers recently.
The ‘729 mat decided it would make it’s own pillow for me. It just creaked and bloomed as if summer had arrived into a lovely mat and pillow.

 Unfortunately i don’t think the de-lamination is complete and by morning i expect to have a 6” thick sofa bed!

 I wonder why mat designers don’t incorporate a separate tube section for use as a pillow or have a piece of material, like an open envelope that clothes could be stuffed into. You would think it obvious really. Instead we all find pillows a very hit and miss piece of kit.

 There is one solution here if you have a thin inflatable mat, but it doesn’t work on the thicker mats. I tried it.

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