The Vault Regulars

Friday, January 31, 2014

I really enjoy the rain.

An email dropped in the inbox from fellow blogger Martin B with his evening walks schedule for the rest of 2014. He’s so well organised isn’t he.
I hadn’t been out for a walk for 11 days since my knee stiffened up. I don’t usually have knee problems so it was a bit of a strange ‘un as i had done nothing to cause it.
I eventually went to the docs to have him give an opinion. He said the tendon holding the top of the kneecap is swollen and preventing the kneecap from sliding which in turn is causing the knee to stiffen. He drew me a nice picture.
He said take these anti inflammatories and these other tablets to settle your stomach. Why? whats wrong with my stomach i asked. He said that the anti inflammatories  may cause stomach bleeding and so these others will settle it. Mmm i thought.
Anyway’s, i took them, having read all the side effects, OMG, and after 5 days at the first sign of passing a bit of blood i decided to stop taking them. Sore knee or passing blood? Sore knee wins hands down.
But, as it happens my knee has settled down miraculously and although the doc said it could take 3 weeks or even more to improve, i seem to be absolutely fine.

So getting back to Martins email. This list of walks gave me itchy feet. I needed to get out raining or not.

I grabbed my summer weight overtrousers and my Carn boots along with a shell top and a new pair of gloves. Dressed accordingly i set off. I wasn’t going to go far and limited my first outing to a local 2 hours or so just in case i had a relapse.

After 20 minutes i thought, These boots feel a bit weird today. I did have a new pair of Bridgedale socks on but they shouldn’t feel as weird as they did. I checked the lacing and then it dawned on me. I had no footbeds in. What a *****. Anyway i carried on regardless.

The rain was quite heavy and it was blowing a bit too. I actually don’t mind walking in the rain, in fact i find it quite pleasant. The sounds and smells are somewhat different when its raining and also the paths are free of dog walkers. (Not that there is anything wrong with dog walkers).

Underfoot it was glutenous for large sections and on one steep section i landed on my backside. My summer weight overtrousers not being able to cope with a drenching allowed plenty of water through and resulted in me being wet to the skin. Most unpleasant feeling.
Note to self. Don’t use Inov-8 - 190 overtrousers in the winter months.

I came across this fungi. I have never seen these before but they look fantastic. No idea what they are called.

Just as i entered the Rhododendrons, picture above, i noticed quite deep puddles covered with trimmings. I carefully picked my way through watching the floor, when from the left hand side shot out a pair of screeching Jay’s. I almost ended up on the floor again. They were that close i felt the draft from their wings. They startled me. If you have ever heard Jay’s screech then multiply it by 10. It all happened literally within 3 feet from my head.

I managed to get through this soggy section without slipping and without catching my jacket on the barbed wire fence.

 Just before reaching the trig point the rain came down very hard. The surrounding tops of the Pennines, usually clear were only shadows in a grey mist.
 Winter hill is out there.
 And in the grey murk lies Manchester City centre. I tried to take a timed photo but it was just too windy. It kept blowing the camera over and at one point had a chase down hill to recover my camera bag.
 All in all i thoroughly enjoyed my short walk. No problems with the knee, fingers crossed. I was pleased with my new gloves which worked well even though they got socked when i fell over. I will do a separate post on them.
By the time i got back home it was still raining heavily and my trousers looked like i had never worn overtrousers. But it didn’t matter today.
Thanks Martin for sending the email, it spurred me to get out.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Goodbye to an old friend.

I travelled up to Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley on Thursday evening with 2 intentions.
1. To pay my respects at the funeral service to a real mountain man and old friend Ralph Blain.
2. To test out a MLD Duomid in what was forecast to be an awful weather weekend.

Ralphs funeral service was at 11.30am Friday morning at the small church in Seathwaite.
Ralph, was, as I say, a real mountain man. An Alpinist. Numerous first ascents of routes in the Dolomite mountains of Italy and on Gimmer crag in Langdale, "IF" for example in 1962. A mountain guide. A trainer of outdoor survival to the armed forces of both Australia and New Zealand. A member of Keswick mountain rescue. A teacher of Outdoor pursuits in Ullswater. My mentor during my MLTC modules. A fell race Marshall. An organiser. A husband,dad and grandad. And so much more.

Ralph's appetite for anything outdoors was insatiable and he had great patience especially when teaching children from under privileged backgrounds and with learning difficulties. I was lucky enough to be Ralph's 2nd on numerous occasions and he loved to see the change he brought out of those kids that started out big headed, bullies or introvert. He made good teams in the end and he got lots of respect from them.

Ralph's son Ben did a wonderful eulogy during the service and Ralph's wife Jane read a passage from the bible about Love.

One point which Ben made and it made me laugh because it was so true although I hadn't thought about it before was just how clumsy and sometimes awkward Ralph could be around the house but once he'd put on his walking boots he became a perfect hill athlete. His gait was enormous, his movement on sheer rock worth watching alone. His determination and expertise was 2nd to non.

The church was packed and standing room full too.

I was so privileged to have known him and able to take some of his knowledge and love of all things outdoors.

R.I.P Ralph Blain. Died 16th January 2014. Aged 81.

2. The Tent didn't get a testing due to an unforseen injury. I came home earlier than originally planned. My thanks to Tina and Alan for inviting me to stay over.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A squelch around Cliviger

Yesterday (Saturday) we did a low level 10k walk with Dorothy. The usual one with cheese and onion toasties and coffee half way round. I don’t think i’ve mentioned that before come to think about it.
The weather forecast was better for Sunday than Saturday and that’s why we left our higher level route until today.

It was still dark when Sheila opened the curtains and i just pulled the sheets over my head and played dead for a minute or two. It will come light at some point, she said. I just muttered something like, well i will stay here until it does.

Any ways, i got up and checked the puddles in the bomb craters outside our house and it was raining. Not heavy but raining all the same. I thought the forecasters would get it wrong as usual.

Gradually dawn arrived (i don’t know where she'd been but i think she must have had a lie in too), we made progress getting the gear together and breakfast over. Off we went.

We parked up at SD889246. It was grey, misty, nippy but calm. We were the only car around and it was quiet. Strangely quiet. Maybe we are the only one’s up i told Sheila.

Here’s our route for today. We started and finished where it says 397 spot height near the base line. Map Scale 1:50,000

I noticed 2 more turbines had been erected on Todmorden Moor. That was a bit of a shock to the eyes. I now read that 5 of these are to be installed by Coronation Power even though the area is a protected area as the sign below points out.

Just as we started to descend the LRT in the direction of Portsmouth we passed a sow of the wild boar variety. We met her other half a couple of months ago along this very track. Obviously used to people, she walked with us for about 100yds and then stood and watched as we marched on.

A few hundred yards on a herd of large horned Highland cows were on the path. Sheila was a bit nervous of them but they were no problem.

Just before we reached the A646 and below the Chatham Hill plantation we spooked 2 deer. I don’t know who was the most spooked, us or them. They stood and stared us out for about 10 seconds but as soon as i moved to get the camera they were off. Most inconsiderate.

The mist had all but gone now and we had a good view down the Calder Valley and across to Stoodley Pike. The heritage rail line passing through Portsmouth, Cornholme and Vale was clear.
I think Stoodley pike is visible from every bit of high ground in Lancashire and Yorkshire. We always  seem to see it on our walks.

 Chief Map reader and Whitaker Naze in the background
Heading for the reservoir below Dean Farm
This was our first visit to this area so much looking at the map took place. One prolonged spell was just beyond the reservoir as we headed up towards Black Scout. The 2 tracks which go NW towards a footbridge were not easy to locate so basically we just followed the line of the electricity pylons. We didn’t come across a (FB) footbridge but the track following the wall beyond the footbridge was visible on the ground and we followed it steeply to meet up with the wide Black Scout path.

Following the pylon lines.
How green is our valley. 
The path up Riddle Scout had us puffing and panting. Not many steep bits have been done for a while and it showed. Two walkers on the Black Scout path passed above us and these turned out to be the only walkers we saw the whole day. 
 View from the top and the waterfall at Rattan Clough
Black Scout path
We followed the wall for a while until we went under the power lines beyond the Lowe. Here we lost the path for a short distance. The two people we saw earlier were now only a few yards ahead and they said they would follow us as we seemed to know where we were going. We told them we didn’t know as it was our first time here. Picking up the farm track before Green Clough Wood we parted company. We headed SW to meet up again with the Main rd.
 Which way?
 The only 2 walkers we saw all day 
Path heading through Berrils Green Wood.
At the road, we passed a very nice looking Inn with numerous picnic tables. Very enticing as the smell of food wafted around us. We carried on, making a note to come back here and try it one summer afternoon.
The Ram Inn at Holme Chapel
Our route turned south just passed the pub and led underneath the railway line into Buckley wood. I mentioned in passing to Sheila that this was quite a steep pull up to get onto the escarpment. I wasn’t wrong but the views made all the effort worth while. It turned out to be one of those up’s where you never seem to get to the top.

 View of Thieveley Scout and the Parish of Cliviger from Dean Scout. The sun actually made an appearance.
 Which way is up Sheila?
Bouldsworth Hill in the far distance and Beacon rock in the foreground.
Sheila approaches the trig point. Burnley in the distance.

 After a couple of false summits we made it to the trig point of Thieveley Pike. 449M

It was now way past lunch time but it had been our choice not to do the steep bit on a full stomach so at the first bit of dry slab we had our first stop.
It was quite warm up top which was a bit of a surprise and the views excellent. Our route south was part of the Burnley way and very muddy in parts as had been most of the walk to be honest.
 The view South east along the Burnley Way
 Sun rays over Doals Village
As we dropped lower down the temperature dropped with it. We ended up having to put our shell jackets back on. By the time we reached the car it was indeed chilly and our breath was visible. There must have been a temperature inversion as it wasn’t this cold on the tops.
The last mile through Heald Top Farm. Farm has to be a loose description. Absolute dump is nearer the truth. 
So, the route was 11.6 km long and Naismith says it should take a little over 3 hours. Well it took us over 4 1/2 hours. We only had a 15 minute stop but this was unknown territory and therefore many stops to look at the map and to take photo’s accounts for the disprepancy. It’s a grand walk.

Route profile.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Titanium Myth? Outdoor Gear.

 Outdoor gear in Titanium, a must have, because it’s lighter. I've read it, bought it and worn the tee shirt. My wallets empty.

But just a minute, is it true or have we been duped by the outdoors know alls. Did i need to spend all that cash on pots,pans,cups and cutlery. Well the answer is simple - NO. So all you folk starting out buying gear or doing the D of E this year, don’t be fooled into parting with your cash.

Here are a few examples to be going on with.


 The expensive Tibetan Titanium Spork. 17 grams. £13.50
 The not so expensive spoon from Expedition foods. 14 grams and now £1.50
My very very cheap homemade bamboo spoon. 10 grams. £0.65p
Bamboo wins comfortably on both weight and cost.

Next up cups.

Titanium Lifeventure mug. Cost £20 from Cotswold shop. 60 grams

 The well known and well used and seen everywhere in the outdoors, plastic mug. Cost £1.75 and weighs 58 grams

The Asaklitt mug from Clas Ohlson. 36 grams and cost £1.39
The Asaklitt mug wins hands down and in my opinion plastic is far better to drink from than Titanium which can burn your lips if not careful.

Pans next.
I have a couple of Titanium pans which i use depending if i am solo or with Sheila. For this comparison i have used a pan of similar capacity. i.e. 600ml.

 The Evernew 600ml pan. Less lid weighs 68 grams and costs a whopping £37.00
My stainless steel pan 600ml cost £0 and weighs 66 grams but i do have a separate lifting handle that weighs 10 grams.
This seamless Stainless Steel “pan" is a throw away item and that’s why i have costed it as £0. It came to Sheila as part of a set of Vaseline lip care (Shown below). The lid which i haven’t shown above also makes a good sized frying pan. The whole lot including the 3 lip salve cost £3.35.
So the titanium pan just scrapes in on weight but certainly not on price. The weight benefit is not worth the cost imo.

Where titanium does win and i have no problems with it at all is on windshields and gas stoves. A titanium windshield will last you a lifetime and will work perfectly after years of rolling up and abuse. Aluminium although cheap and easy to replace just doesn’t have the longevity and so titanium should be considered.

Gas stoves however just cannot compete with titanium on weight and although alloy/steel stoves are cheaper, the difference in price is not so far out that titanium is beyond our reach.
A good backpacking stove can be found now at Alpkit in titanium for £25 and weighs 45 grams. How progress has been made. You can see it here.

So, is fantastic titanium backpacking gear a bit of a myth. Well the answer has to be yes and no. Just check out those alternatives before spending all that cash.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Outerwear zip info. FYI

By far the two most used zips in the latest outdoors shell jackets are from RiRi and YKK. If like me you have had some problems with water ingress through the zip then this info should show you why it happens. Or, even if you have experienced no problems, its still good to know the difference between them.
I came across the information months ago when i was testing the Brenig Aran smock and i added a link to the Crux site where the explanation is easy to understand.
However, i thought i should share it as a post.

Crux make high quality outdoor equipment btw and the site is worth a visit in its own right.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Problems with Firefox


I’m now relatively sure the problem lies with Google+ taking over the world. Why its only manifesting itself with Firefox i don’t know.  When i comment using Firefox, i place the text in the oblong box and under the box it says “Comment as” and you have a pull down menu with numerous options. When i click google account it normally puts a name in the frame. However with Firefox it just deletes the comment. So i think i have found the problem but how to resolve it i’m not sure. I’m loath to spend time on it when i might also muck up settings associated with other browsers which work fine.  Ho Hum.

Due to something outside of my control. (I think)
For some reason when readers are placing comments on my blog and are using Mozilla Firefox Browser, the comment is not being published.

I haven’t changed any settings and it’s not always been the case, so why i have this malfunction at this time is beyond my technical knowledge. Maybe someone has some idea and would like to pass it on for me to try.

I just thought readers should know as it can be frustrating typing comments that disappear when you press the publish button.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunrise 5th Jan 2014

Today’s sunrise was well worth getting up for.

Friday, January 3, 2014

To Lubeck

Up and out early-ish considering that we were on holiday. Breakfast in the railway station after buying the tickets.
Oh My word! What a fantastic system is operated by the Germans to buy your ticket. We have all heard about the efficiency they have for organisation but i was so impressed.
Piccadilly Manchester, chaos, queues and frustration.
Hamburg, smooth, quiet, efficient and pleasant. Even for non German speakers.

You walk into the ticket Lounge. Open plan, clean, seats, information boards. 18 desks and most were manned. You take a ticket from a machine at the door. Your number goes up on the information board.
Now you can sit down and read a book or check your emails for a few minutes until its your turn. The information board tells you which desk to go to. Simple and stress free.
A very nice person, who speaks English better than German she says, deals with the request for a small group ticket to Lubeck. All done with a smile and a joke about coming with us. Very cheap tickets too.

The train is at the platform and we have 10 minutes to spare. We find a seat and realise we can actually see out of the windows, there are no cans or dirty newspapers littering the floor and the seats.
The train is spotless. The info strip tells us we have 8,7,6 etc minutes left to departure. Spot on time the train pulls smoothly and quietly away. Its quite busy too considering the time of day.

There are only 2 stops on our journey and exactly on time we arrive at Lubeck station. An old station with lots of charactor.

The Hanseatic city of Lubeck is located on the River Trave and because of its Gothic architecture is listed as a Unesco heritage site.
We were here to walk around the old city which is enclosed by the R. Trave. Its basically an island, and to have a look around the markets.

Walking away from the station we found a free street map which confirmed we were heading in the right direction. The first building you see of the old town is the Holstentor Gate. A stunning building with 2 leaning turrets, built in 1478. It’s now a museum.
Holstentor Gate 
Holstenor Gate - other side.
Salt storehouses.
Heading along a busy shopping street we were befriended by a local lady who had heard our English conversation and asked us if we were staying in Lubeck. Her English was excellent, we found out that she was an English language teacher in a local school. She kindly told us all the nice places to visit and the whereabouts of interesting things for tourists. We chatted for about 10 minutes and then departed as we approached the market place.
The market place with the Rathaus (town Hall) behind.
The Town Hall is an incredible building. Construction started in 1226 and finished in 1308. The turreted view above was added in 1435. We were unlucky not to get a tour around the interior but we had to wait an hour.
One of the things the german Lady had told us to do was to go to the top of the Gothic St Petri church which we did. Luckily there was a lift to aid the ascent. It was extremely windy and biting cold at the top. We didn’t hang around too long. The views are wonderful and i’m glad we got up there. In summer i can imagine it being quite wonderful.
Below are a few shots taken from the top.

St Mary’s Cathedral
Town Hall Square
Outside St Mary’s Cathedral we found this amusing tale.

Lubeck really is a lovely town with its quaint narrow streets, wonderful architecture from many periods throughout the ages and it’s river banks. It’s also famous as the home of Marzipan but unfortunately we didnt get to try any. Having strolled round for quite sometime the bitter cold started to get through our layering system.
Anna above (she’s the one on the left btw) suffers with her knees and we had done quite a bit of walking over the last few days. We decided to head back to Hamburg before it got dark.
Lubeck’s quaint streets.

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