Tuesday 26 May 2009

Mobile blogging

This is a test of some new mobile blogging software.

This is because I find my current system of blogging on the move is a bit crappy in the layout stakes!

If I can insert a centred picture below I'm laughing.

Saturday 23 May 2009

Why I Do It

Slept well last night. Very still but damp. The more I use Big Aggie the more I love her little canvass toosh...The signs of being in hills alone are showing...
Got up at 6 to see what was happening but it wasn't an awful lot so snoozed in my bag for a bit. Bloody love doing that!
I went for a wonder to collect some water from a nearby stream coming off Greathead Crag and a couple of brews later and i'm thinking about my next move.
The weather forecast looks a bit dank and real life would agree but its been a lot worse. Think I.ll head up to High Raise and see what the dealio is then. Right, more camp chores...

Friday 22 May 2009

All Settled at Easedale Tarn.

Got caught in an enormous amount of traffic so even though i left work at 3.10pm i didn't arrive at the church in Grasmere until gone 8pm! Bugger! I quickly put the bag on and pretty much ran up the path via sourmilk gill to Easedale Tarn. It was obvious to me that i wouldn't make it to Stickle Tarn for a decent time and I decided to look for a pitch around Easedale. There was a mist hanging in the basin of the surrounding fells but i took to higher ground to find a spot.
I favoured the south edge just up off the path but as i scanned the hills i spotted a tent at the perfect pitch! I finally decided i'd make my way around to the east and found a great spot raised up just on the waters edge. I wbs soon into pitch mode and soon had the tent up, bag unpacked and the sleeping bag out and lofting. After a quick call home I fired up the stove for a brew followed by beef and potato dust. Yum!
I've cleaned up and sorted a few camp chores and i'm just about to get into bed. There's a lot of moisture in the air tonight and i'll expect rain and a bit of wind lates too.
A podcast and a wee nip of courage and i'll be out like a light!

Thursday 21 May 2009

Bed and Breakfast……

Since the bag is packed way ahead of time, its given me more time to ponder what I’ve packed. Perhaps this is a bad thing but only time will tell.

In the last post I eluded to the faulty filler plug on my Mini Atomic stove and this allowed some doubt to creep in to my mind! I’ve now decided that I will take the Coleman F1 lite instead. There’s not much difference in weight in the overall cooking gear but the convenience factor is where it’s at right now. I’ll send off for another Mini Atomic in due course though to replace this one.

I had decided on my usual porridge start to the day but changing the cook set up means I’d have to clean the titanium mug afterwards and that’s a chore on a short trip. Instead I’ll be taking some oat based cereal bars.

The last substitute is a wee nip of single malt courage, replacing the little flask of port I had hurriedly packed for last Friday when the cupboard was a bit bare!  Bed and breakfast sorted!

bed&breakfast My kind of B&B

Monday 18 May 2009

Packed For The Langdales – 3rd Time Lucky

Golite-LiteSpeed My Packed Lite-Speed

This will be the third attempt at wild camping in the Langdales coming in from Grasmere. I attempted this the first time back in March with the idea of a nice solo trip for two long days - with a shopping trip for new gear thrown in for good measure! Some will know that I was denied entry by the Gods who send wind in forces I wasn’t comfortable pitching my the Big Agnes in. Those buggers had read my cocky post about them trying to take my ticket from me and they called in a few favours to have me running for home!

I decided that the next trip out I would venture over that way again and so at the last minute I decided that I would dash up on Friday after work. I watched the forecasts and although the weather wasn’t looking great, if the wind dropped a bit I was going to try my luck again. As the week plodded on I realised that the short trip I had in mind wouldn’t be that great with the weather as it was forecast. So on Friday afternoon at work, having already packed my bag and ‘bagsied’ the car, I called it a day on my Langdale dreams once again. Glad I did though as the weather was a bag of poop by all accounts!

So, we were due to be car camping  and kayaking in the Brecons this weekend for the bank holiday but (for reasons I won’t go into) this is now cancelled. In my wisdom I deem this unfortunate affair to be a sign from the Gods. A sign that my turn in the Langdales has been granted. I’ll have a close eye on the weather this week and all being well I’ll make a dash for it on Friday after work. The bag is still packed from last Friday (bar the down-filled lovelies and water) so it’s a case of hitting the motorway and walking to a pitch somewhere around Harrison Stickle – as a loose plan.

On another note (and perhaps this was another sign from the Gods) but my Mini Atomic Stove from Minibulldesign went a bit kaput when I happened to test a modified windscreen in the garden this weekend. The filling screw had somehow stuck fast since last using it so I couldn’t fill the stove with meths. This would have been a disaster on the hill! I finally managed to loosen it with some blowtorch action and its working again but I’ll have to be careful not to over tighten it in future. I’m trusting it for the next trip but I hope it won’t leave me eating chocolate bars and dinking cold water all weekend! I bloody love that little stove.

Sunday 17 May 2009

A Little Bit Lighter Maybe?

With my first week long trip coming up I’ve started thinking about making some further weight savings to my kit. The additional clothing and food I’ll be carrying over the 5-6 days will naturally result in heavier loads so it is out of necessity rather than preference that I’m doing this…honest!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been looking at the areas where I can make the most difference, with a close eye on the cost of course! There are always areas where most of us could replace bits of gear with something a bit lighter but I’m only really interested if the item is an improvement in functionality, fit or comfort - as well as the weight. So, having spent a bit of time considering the gear the first area is my pack.

I have been very impressed by my current pack, the Golite LiteSpeed, its very comfortable with heavy loads and is fairly versatile and forgiving with how you pack it. However, my pack in size medium weighs 1150g so there is definitely room improvement here me thinks! I’ve looked at a number of really light contenders with around the same volume (49L for the Litespeed) such as the ULA conduit, the Golite Jam 2 (frameless) and Mountain Laurel Designs but it was the Mariposa Plus from Gossamer Gear that has really caught my eye.

It’s a framed pack and the 2009 version is made from tougher rip stop nylon and seems to solve the previous comfort issues with the a new curved stay system. There’s no Cuban Fibre here and yet in medium it weighs in at 632g, and with the foam sit-pad and shoulder pad inserts it seems to make a comfortable pack. The combined volume is larger than the LiteSpeed at 59l which gives me a bit more flexibility when packing for multiday trips. It still has the all important hip-belt pockets and there is scope for a bit of customisation too. I’m not entirely sold on it yet as I need to do a bit of hands-on investigation. Luckily Winwood Outdoors in Keswick stock these packs and apparently the 2009 update will be in the store over the next few weeks - so this could be the solution to a lighter pack.

Sunday 3 May 2009

Gear Review - Embers Merino Zip Duotone Base layer

With the rumblings of a week long trip in the air I began to think about the quantity of clothing required for such a trip. Apart from socks, I only really have one item of everything and this is not going to cut it for longer outings

I currently have a Berghaus Tech T which has been a real performer since I bought it. It weighs 200g, never smells and the zip is handy for venting. I sometimes find it a little cool in winter but too warm in summer and it doesn’t feel that nice when wet where you can really notice how quickly it feels cold.

Merino wool seemed to have the answer with all of the benefits of synthetics, whilst being warmer when wet and having much better temperature control in either extreme.

I looked at the usual suspects like Icebreaker, Montane and Chocolate Fish but I settled on Embers Merino. A small company based in Derbyshire they offer a very friendly and efficient service. They were very helpful when it came to sizing and it turns out the advice was spot on. I came across them primarily as I was looking for some biking ‘get-up’ but noticed their array of base layers.

I wanted a fitted, long sleeve top with a zip so went with the Red/Black Duotone Zip. I was advised that a medium would provide the correct combo of fit and comfort to ensure good contact with the skin (for wicking) and this weighs in at 220g.


I’ll shoot myself when I read this back but this top is sumptuous! It feels so nice against the skin and despite fears there is no itchiness whatsoever. It fits so perfectly that I can forget I’m wearing it and the sleeves have enough give to be rolled up your arm – unlike the Berghaus! There is a fairly long zip for venting and all of the seems are flat to reduce any chaffing whilst wearing a pack. The style is such that you could wear this in civilisation without fear of being branded an outdoors geek.

I wore this for the first time on the (failed) solo wild camp from Grasmere and combined with the Rab VR Trail Smock it just worked. I had a heavier pack than normal so at times was working hard and I never noticed feeling sweaty or cold.

I wore it again on the Three Peaks trip a few weeks back where it was well tested in terms of weather and the activity. We were on the move for over 12 hours with a mix of wet and windy weather and again coupled with the VR Trail Smock I never had to don waterproofs or remove clothing. For once I felt equipped for any weather – with no compromises. There were no odours after the long day and it was so good I continued to wear it to the pub (after a shower) and in bed!

If you’re thinking about synthetic or merino for your base layer, I can highly recommend the latter and it is definitely worth the extra few pounds. For the choice and fit I would also have no hesitation in recommending Embers Merino too.