Tuesday, 3 November 2009

How light is too light?

How lightweight are you prepared to go?There is a new British blog out there called minimalgear here's what he has to say about himself.

"I've accumulated a fair bit of gear over the years, I've not walked as far as I would have like, but I've got a fair bit under my belt. From the beginning I've been a walker and a wild camper and my gear reflects this. More recently I've been slightly obsessed with reducing the weight of my gear. I'm not big, I'm not strong and I've had way too much time sat at a computer. Clearly the British weather has influenced my choices, but I've picked up a reasonable amount of American gear, that doesn't really seem to get talked about in Britain much. I've also been heavily influenced by other blogs and websites and maybe now it's time to 'give a little bit back'. I'll concentrate on reviewing the kit I've got, my own path towards the light and trips I've taken."
He's not wearing Paramo so how he can be comfortable I don't know ;-) but I will look forward to following his progress over the coming months.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The new season is almost upon us

As the leaves start to turn golden in colour my thoughts are turning towards backpacking again.
Autumn is almost here and as I live on the South Coast of England the local footpaths can get busy during the summer,even more so this year with people looking to take their holidays at home.
I live in north Bournemouth close to the River Stour (hence the name stourvale walker) just inside the county of Dorset,which is said to have more footpaths than any other county in England.And to the west just over the River Avon lies the New Forest one of the newest National Parks and home to the largest lowland heathland in Europe.
A very pleasant place to live you might say and you would be right.
But we always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence don't we.I am always looking towards more mountainous areas and forgeting what lies on my doorstep.
I have a week available towards the end of October and a plan forming in my head,a backpacking trip starting from home and over my River Stour but which way then? well you will have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

New hat

After reading Eddy Mechan's article "The Burning Question" in the July issue of TGO magazine I felt the time had come to buy my first Tilley hat.
But which one? so many choices, which size brim? which colour? what material? After careful comparison I decided on the Stone coloured LT5B which is made from nylon and only weighs 95g
Info from Tilley
"The lightweight LT5B hat is made with 93% nylon, 7% spandex with a durable weather and stain repellant finish. It is tightly woven for high abrasion resistance, better shape retention, high breathability and superior comfort. A moisture wicking sweatband made with TRANSPOR® DRY LAYER offers superior moisture control technology.The wind cord is made of nylon and is reflective. It has Matt black grommets and eyelets, double plated to ensure it will not chip-off.The LT5B Breathable Nylon Hat is styled with the same medium, semi-sloping brim size as the Tilley LTM5 and T5 Cotton duck models."

I brought my hat from Whalley Warm and Dry for £43.35 which is 15% off the list price and they also offer free next day delivery.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Purple Traveller

Purple Traveller demonstrates his 50 year old Poncho which he used to wear on his bicycle when he was a lad many moons ago! I will be happy if my Paramo 3rd Element Jacket lasts half as long.

Friday, 24 April 2009


I have arrived at Puncknowle tent up time for Pub I think!

Dorset Spring Static Meet

I have decided not to make the long journey to The Backpackers Club AGM this year instead I will be joining several Club members at Home Farm in Puncknowle which is a small village to the west of Dorchester.We have stayed at Home Farm on a number of occasions and have never found it to be busy and often we are the only campers there.So I am looking forward to a peaceful nights sleep and tomorrow a good days walking.I may even visit the Crown Inn pictured above!

Monday, 20 April 2009

LEJOG 2009 season underway

The Lands End to John O'Groats 2009 season is well underway with Litehiker (Geoff Gafford)above
and Brendon Bolger the first two walkers that I have become aware of that have started the long walk north this year.Later this year in starting in June Sophie Easterbrook and her dog Patch will will JOGLE (walk south from John O'Groats to Lands End).
Geoff is walking in aid of The Multiple Sclerosis Research And Relief Fund and Brendon The Greenwich & Bexley Cottage Hospice both very worthy causes if you can spare a donation.
One day I hope to follow in their footsteps but until then I am looking forward to following their progress up the country via their blogs over the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Sprained ankle stops play!!

Sunday 12th April 2009
I crossed the M48 road bridge early this morning and then followed the Severn Way Path south passing under the M4 and on to Avonmouth where I crossed the River Avon on the M5 road bridge continuing south to join the Monarch's Way Path.
It was just past Long Ashton that I realised that I had done serious damage to my right ankle.It had started the day a bit stiff but became more and more painful as the day went on until the pain became so bad that it became clear that I would not be able to continue with the rest of the journey home on foot to Bournemouth.When I had made the phone call to Mrs F to come to rescue me I managed to make it to the Winford Arms Public House on the A38 where I had to wait in their fine Beer Garden for my lift home to Bournemouth.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Offa's Dyke 2009 Day 8

Saturday 11th April 2009
The photo is of Monnow Bridge on the way into Monmouth.
I am now camped for the night in Sedbury and plan to cross the Severn Bridge early tomorrow morning.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Offa's Dyke 2009 Day 7

Friday 10th April 2009
White Castle
Yesterday evening I had a look at the Met Office web site using my mobile phone and found the mountain forecast for the Brecon Beacons which confirmed what I had thought.The forecast was for low cloud down to 500 metres with gale force winds and heavy showers in the eastern Beacons area.So my decision was made I was up early packing my tent away on a windy hillside and heading over Gospel Pass (good name for Good Friday) hoping to miss most of the traffic.Sadly this was not to be the case as ther now seems to be a number of places along the 16 mile long road through the Vale of Ewyas were they now take caravans and it seemed as if all of them were off to get groceries this morning.They would push me off the road into the hedges going out and then have another go coming back! The local people their beaten up farm vehicles were much more were much more considerate slowing down and giving me room even though they wouldn't notice another dent in their vehicles.
When looking at the map I noticed that Pandy didn't have a shop marked so I decided to change my route and go via Llanvihangel Crucorney instead and rejointhe Offa's Dyke Path just before Llangattock Lingoed. I am now camping at Great Tre-rhew Farm near to White Castle where I had read that they only charge £1 a night to camp and yes I was only asked for £1 so I am having an early night as I plan to reach Chepstow tomorrow and then cross the Severn Bridge on Sunday morning.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Offa's Dyke 2009 Day 6

I passed through Kington this morning then over Hergest Ridge where i took the photo of the Monkey trees against a typical welsh sky for today. I arrived in Hay-on-Wye mid afternoon i can now see why it is the book shop capital of the world i have never seen so many book shops before.
Not being in the right mind to look at books today i thought i would make a start at crossing Hatterrall Ridge i thought i could always camp if i didn't make it before dark. But after climbing up to Gospel Pass it became clear that i wasn't going over Hatterrall Ridge tonight the tops were in thick cloud and the wind was so strong that it was difficult to walk. I am now camped in a hollow near Gospel Pass and if the weather is still wet and windy tomorrow i will take a low level route over Gospel Pass and through the Vale of Ewyas and then rejoin the Offa's Dyke path near Pandy.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Offa's Dyke 2009 Day 5

Wednesday 8th April 2009
Tonight I am camping wild on Rushock hill just north of Kington and todays photo was taken on Herrock Hill looking north east.After a wet and very windy night it was suprisingly bright and sunny today but still very windy.
I passed Knighton in time for a late lunch and Knighton is also the half way stage for the Offa's Dyke Path.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Offa's Dyke 2009 Day 4

Tuesday 7th April 2009
Brompton Crossroads
Did I say that it rained yesterday so I had a wet tent to pack away this morning but it turned out to be a bright day with only occasional showers.
Today was mainly canal and riverside walking and tonight I am camping wild again on Offa's Dyke near to Kerry Ridgeway.The wind is getting stronger all the time it looks like its going to be a very windy night!

Offa's Dyke 2009 Day 3

Monday 6th April 2009
Montgomery Canal near to Four Crosses
As I said in my last post Sunday night was spent on one of the only flat spots of grass in amongst the scree on the side of Eglwyseg Mountain.There was an almost full moon and clear sky and the sheep decided that it was feeding time there was baa-ing and slipping on the scree as the stupid animals moved around looking for grass the noise didn't stop until the moon set.
Today I managed to get lost in the town of Trevor I then spent too long at the Aqueduct but still took no photos and later in the day after leaving Llanymynech Rocks not realising that they had changed the paths exit from the quarry I turned left onto the road and it wasn't until I reached the Co-op that I realised that Pant wasn't a Welsh word for slow!


Sunday, 5 April 2009

Offa's Dyke 2009 Day 2

Sunday 5th April 2009
The light started to go as I reached the crags before Trevor,that is the Moon rising in the photo above.I managed to find one of those rare flat grassy spots in amongst the scree just large enough for me to pitch my tent.
It's now dark as I'm writing this and somebody on a Mountain Bike has just gone past at top speed with just a head torch to light the way ahead I hope he gets home safely as there is a 100 metre drop in places!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Offa's Dyke 2009 Day 1

Saturday 4th April 2009
I arrived in Prestatyn at 1735 and took this picture at the begining of the Offa's Dyke Path.
I have walked on to Rhuallt where I have stopped in a field for the night as I have lost the light.

Friday, 3 April 2009

The Journey North

This is where I will be spending most of Saturday but at least I will be guaranteed a seat.National Express tell me that I have 45 minute lunch break in Birmingham while waiting for my connecting bus to arrive.I am due to arrive in Prestatyn at 1735 then I will have 2.5 hrs of daylight in which to walk before it gets dark I just hope that my legs don't get too stiff!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Travel Tap

I am taking the Drinksafe Travel Tap with me on my walk from Prestatyn in North Wales to my home in Bournemouth.

"650ml. capacity

14 cms x8 cms 180 gms

Delivery rate 400mls/minute

The most proven tested micro purification filter bottle in the world: UK USA South Africa Australia and a few more

MoD spec UK tested filter proven for immediate removal bacteria unlike others

Patented Absolute filter and exclusive stage media inbuilt into filter is not available to any other manufacturer which is what sets these systems apart

Purifies and pre filters water immediately up to 1600 litres

Supplied with cooling protective insulator carrier

Drink direct from on the move! Clean tasting purified ABSOLUTE filterered water - instantly

Removes/ reduces even pre treated purifiction chemicals taste for life of filter - 1600 litres tested

Removes taste and disease causatives including viral disease causatives immediately. In-built pre filter. Dust cap.

New micro purification filter cartridge system"

So finding water as I go shouldn't be a problem,and a weight saving of 2kg as I normally carry 2ltr of water at a time.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Offa's Dyke

Starting on Saturday the 4th April I will attempt to walk from Prestatyn in North Wales to my home in Bournemouth.I will use the Offa's Dyke Path to Chepstow then over the Severn Bridge to join the Severn Way around Bristol then on to the Monarch's Way south through Wells and Castle Cary to join the Stour Valley Way to my home in Bournemouth a distance in the region of 260 miles.I will try to update this blog as I go using my mobile phone,if I can get a signal!

The plan is to travel as light as possible and camp wild were I can.I had thought of taking a bivy bag,but after some overnight trials in the garden using a down bag in the rain I am not convinced that the bag will stay dry if I had several wet nights,so I will be taking my Hilleberg Akto.
Also those of you who know me will know that I think Paramo is the best thing since sliced bread.So it will come as no suprise that I will be relying again on my Paramo 3rd Element Jacket that served me so well last year on my walk along the Southern Upland Way.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Primus EtaPackLite

Have a look at this video from LFTO

The long awaited Primus EtaPackLite stove is out now. This light and niftily packed £75 piezo ignition LP gas stove stove set uses a 1.2litre non-stick titanium pan with a heat exchanger (metal ripples like you find at the back of a radiator) at the base, which increases the efficiency of the stove from 40% to 80%. This means you’ll save weight, the environment and your wallet by not having to buy and carry as much fuel. The pan easily holds the stove and a 100g gas cartridge, and the transparent polypropylene lid also triples up as a colander and plate.

So many stoves so many choices I'll just have to hope that "Mr Stove" Darren over on Whitespider1066 will buy and review this stove!

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Meyrick Park

Can you believe that this photo was taken only 5 minutes from Bournemouth town centre in Meyrick Park.It was another lovely Spring day so I took the chance to walk into town,about 4 miles each way,with my son Joshua so we had a chance for a good chat. Joshua is now 8 years old where does the time go?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Clamcleat Aluminium Y tent pegs

I have just purchased twelve Clamcleat Aluminium Y tent pegs they arrived the next working day after ordering and cost just £3.49 per pack of six, so with postage at £1.73 I now have twelve very strong pegs for £8.71 That's fantastic value!
Info from Cleats website:-
A really strong aluminium tent peg. The Y section gives great rigidity and strength, while keeping the weight down to just 16gm. The bright blue anodising and red lanyard gives high visibility in grass. Ideal for hard ground. We did a lot of testing before choosing this design, to make sure we have the best combination of weight, strength, stiffness, visibility and good value. This are one of the strongest tent pegs you can buy.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Me and my Akto

Less than wild camping in Sixpenny Handley in North Dorset with the Dorset group of the Backpackers Club November 2008