Monday, 14 November 2011

Cranborne Chase Dorset Winter Static

As the coordinator of the Dorset group of the Backpackers Club I am hoping to put on at least three Dorset events a year. A Winter Static,A Spring Weekend Backpack and an Autumn Weekend Backpack all within the County of Dorset.
I am also looking at the possibility of reviving the "Dorset Round" a summer week long backpack which was first arranged by Trevor Woodford. I would like to find a network of small campsites and friendly farmers which we could use. After a peaceful day walking in the Dorset countryside we don't want to be camping amongst hordes of screaming kids! If you have any sites in mind please do get in touch with me.

These are the details of Dorset Winter Static 2012 

January 13-15 2012 Cranborne Chase Dorset Winter Static
Maps: LR 184 or EX 118
Pitch: ST996173 
Church Farm,Sixpenny Handley,Nr Salisbury,Wiltshire SP5 5ND 
Tel: 01725 552563
Pitch fee £7 per person per night 
Saturday: Walk via Penbury Knoll and Woodyates 16km (10 miles) led by John Yale

Gareth from the Dorset based online outdoor retailer Webtogs will be joining us and he will be bringing along some new kit to show us including an inflatable tent by Nemo.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Dartmoor Backpack

This weekend I had a chance to join a group from The Backpackers Club led by Dave Britton for a backpack on Dartmoor. Brian and Jill who live near to me in Bournemouth kindly offered to give me a lift up on Friday and I had a great time in their company.
We met up with the others at Huccaby Farm in Hexworthy where we camped on the Friday night in the lower field by the river.

The early arrivals.

On the Saturday morning eight of us set out taking an easterly route over the moors towards Warren House Inn where we spent the night on the moors to the north of the Inn.

Gandalf re-joins us after talking with the Ents

On Sunday morning we took a more direct route back to Hexworthy.

Jill and Brian with the Warren House Inn behind.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


My Trailstar in the Lake District a couple of years ago.

I sold this shelter last year,  but after watching Tony Hobbs recent YouTube video with Chris Townsend. 
I am now thinking of buying another :-)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Three go wild on the South Downs

Over weekend I met up with @NigeP and @s_tranter_photo this time for a weekend of wild camping on the South Downs


Above our woodland campsite on Saturday morning and below looking north over a misty valley.

After spending Saturday wandering the South Downs we made for Chanctonbury Ring planning to camp there but ended up camping by the nearby trig point.

Simon setting up his tarp.

Nigel's Tarptent and my Trailstar

Another view of my Trailstar

Below sunrise over Chanctonbury Ring 

Another couple of pictures of my Trailstar with misty valleys behind.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Jetboil Flash

The Jetboil Flash  is attractive due to the way it packs away into a compact package.It is quick and easy to put together to make a brew while on the go.Which from a safety point of view is a good thing as Hypothermia is not a hikers friend.
I have found  that using stoves that take too long to set up and put away deters me from stopping for a hot drink.

It may not be the lightest or fastest stove out there but it more than makes up for that with the ease of use. The pot clips onto the gas burner unit and there are clip on feet supplied which attach under the gas canister they make it a very stable stove in all but the windiest conditions. But even then you can hold it in your hands while heating up the water. Strong winds can still effect the flame but it is easily sheltered using a backpack or even your hands when out in the open.

I bought the Jetboil Flash from Webtogs they also sell a range of other stoves which can be found on their website.

When its time for tea use this modern day Billycan for a hot drink in a flash!

video from RVOps

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Not Quite As Planned - Summer Walkabout

My Walkabout didn't go quite as I had planned. After arriving in Grasmere at around 7.30pm Monday evening I made my way up to Easedale Tarn to wild camp I only saw one person on the path up and I spent the night alone with only a few sheep for company. It was wet night and I soon found that my seam sealing skills were lacking as there were droplets of water appearing at the top of the Trailstar  some of which came down my walking pole but others dripping off the flysheet and onto me. Fortunately I had also taken a bivy bag along and so managed to keep my down sleeping bag dry.

I made my way to Coniston via Elterwater and Little Langdale then along the Wana Scar Road towards the Duddon Valley where I spent the night next to the disused Walna Scar Quarries ( as pictured above)
During the day I was finding it increasingly difficult the weather in contrast to the previous night it was hot,dry and sunny. I just put it down to my lack of fitness and thought that things would get easier over the next few days.

After crossing the Duddon Valley and passing Grassguards and over Ulpha Fell I dropped into Eskdale and past Boot and up to Burnmoor Tarn then descended into Wasdale and up and over the Black Sail Pass to camp in Ennerdale.
Another fine day but I still struggled especially with the hills.I had thought that I could camp near Burnmoor Tarn but the Lodge was occupied by a couple of loud drunken guys whose voices echoed over the lake. So I pushed on thinking that I would camp at Wasdale Head but again I found too many tents for my liking. Plan C to camp on Black Sail Pass was rejected when I found a group of youngsters from Outward Bound camping there.
So I found myself camping in Ennerdale which when the wind dropped and the rain started I found was a bad idea as the midges came out to feed on me! and my Trailstar leaked on me.
I didn't get a very good nights sleep as I only had a head net between me and the little beasties.They managed to get at me where the net was against my face. During the night I kept waking with the netting in my mouth.

It was still raining when I woke and packed away trying to aviod the midges.
I joined the Coast to Coast path up Loft Beck to Honister Pass it was as I was struggling up the hill in the rain that I realised that the joy had gone out of the trip and my thoughts started on how I could abandon it and get home.So after joining the Cumbia Way at Grange I managed to get a mobile phone signal I re booked my coach tickets to return home from Keswick the next morning.

After spending the night at the C&C campsite in Keswick I caught the coach home passing through many areas that I would see rioting on television over the next few days.

Over the weekend on my return home I developed what I took to be flu and then a cough which became worse with a tight feeling to my chest which was very wheezy. But being a man I waited a couple of weeks before being forced by my wife to visit the doctor who prescribed me with an anti biotic (Doxycyline) and an inhaler. The Doxycline comes with a warning to keep out of sunlight so all in all the summer didn't turn out quite as I had hoped. Where I thought I would return home leaner and fitter instead I am overweight and unfit.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Summer Walkabout kit part 3 (clothing)

Inov-8 Flyroc 310

I have previously owned a couple of pairs of Inov-8 Terroc 330's and I was looking to replace them with another pair but as I was searching on Google I came across these in a sale at Pete Bland Sports reduced to £35 so with that price and the memories of a friend who was a happy owner of a pair of Inov-8 Flyroc 310's I thought I would give them a go. And I am glad that I did the tread patten is ideal for steep grassy areas giving me much  more confidence when going downhill. They are an unlined shoe so are ideal for hot weather but have been worn all year round with thicker socks. I am currently wearing them with Bridgedale Coolmax Liner socks which means that they dry quickly if it rains or after I have been through boggy ground

Bridgedale Coolmax Liner Socks

As it was a hot day when I started my Pennine Journey walk at Easter I thought that I would wear my Bridgedale Coolmax Liner socks by themselves inside my Inov-8 Flyroc 310 shoes until they started to feel uncomfortable and as that didn't happen I just swapped between two pairs for the rest of the journey and kept the Icebreaker Hiker socks for the evenings in the tent.

Icebreaker Beast merino briefs

I will be taking a couple of pairs of Icebreaker Beast brief style merino 150 wool underpants.I prefer this style as I find that the boxer shorts style ride up over the course of the day and bunch up.
Nature Shop despatch their goods very quickly,the other year when this style was first introduced I had a pair posted from New Zealand and they arrived within two days of ordering.

Icebreaker Superfine T-Shirt

I normally wear a long sleeved merino zip neck but I thought that it was time to give the T-Shirt style a go so I will be wearing this for the first time on a multi day trip.I bought it second hand from the classified section of a outdoors forum so if it falls apart I won't be too unhappy.

Montane Featherlite Velo Gilet

Even though its "Designed for the cyclist who rides fast and light and demands high breathability in a pack size smaller and lighter than the average inner tube." its a brilliant addition to a backpackers kit and is ideal for core torso protection in an ultra lightweight format.

Montane Limited Edition Dynamic Stretch Pants

From the Montane website
"The Limited Edition Dynamic Stretch Pants are similar to the regular product, they have the Limited Edition signature red zip and £35 of the retail price is donated to Mountain Rescue England & Wales. The main difference is the newly released Polartec PowerShield fabric; it is not only extremely breathable and stretchy, it has Polartec's HardFace finish so that it is abrasion and water-resistant.Amongst other features Dynamic Stretch Pants have a thigh cargo pocket and articulated knees."

I have owned these trousers since last winter and they have surprised me with how versatile they are being water resistant and very quick drying too. So much so that on my last long walk at Easter the Pennine Journey I left my waterproof trousers at home. I find that they have similar qualities as Pertex Equilibrium.

Montane Limited Edition Prism Jacket

I will be taking the Montane Prism jacket with me as I can wear it under my waterproof Jacket or put it on to keep me warm during rest stops without having to worry about it getting damp.

From the Montane website
The Limited Edition Prism Jacket is exactly the same as the regular product with 3 exceptions, it is a special colour combination, it has the Limited Edition logo and £45 of the retail price is donated to Mountain Rescue England & Wales.

It has 2 chest pockets into one of which it can be packed, a simple adjustable hood and was voted best value insulated jacket by Trail Magazine earlier this year. Have a look at the page in the products section for the full specification.

The water-resistant and breathable Pertex Microlight fabric contains 40g Primaloft Eco (using 50% recycled material) insulation which makes the Prism warm with the minimum of weight and highly packable.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Summer Walkabout kit part 1 (new items)

OMM Classic 32

This pack will being used for the first time.I bought this to replace the Golite Peak 36ltr pack which I was starting to find annoying.I like the large front mesh pocket on the OMM classic 32 which is ideal storing a damp shelter. It also has a removable foam mat which is useful for my legs when using the short Thermarest or under the Thermarest if the ground is too rocky.It also has two decent sized side pockets for water bottles and hip belt pockets.

Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar

"It's a Tarp! It's a Shelter! Amazing Simplicity! 
Fast Setup!!! 

Five equal size panels blend shelter protection with tarp pitching ease and multiple options.
The 7' long baseline on each of the five equal sides create a very large pentagon floor plan living space for one or two (three in a squeeze) plus gear."

The Trailstar is becoming a very popular shelter with UK backpackers  as it is a Tarp that appears to be designed for British weather conditions which can be very changeable with wind direction switching several times during the course of a night. I have heard reports of the Trailstar easily handling winds in excess of 60 mph so I have confidence that combined with my Alpkit Hunka bivy bag I will have many comfortable nights.

Montane Dynamo Lite Jacket

Not really new as I bought this jacket from The Climbers Shop in Ambleside last year but this August will be its first outing.

The text below is from The Climbers Shop website

This light version of versatile Montane Dynamo Jacket retains the excllent wind proof qualities of it's forerunner but at a fraction of the weight, ideal for performance use. Made as a limited edition item, this durable wind proof jacket uses Pertex® Equilibrium to keep the weather at bay whilst still remaining very breathable when active.
It's unique denier gradient structure allows both air to circulate near the skin, and mechanically moves moisture away from the skin to aid evaporation and cooling. Together with the tight weave's inherent wind resistance and an excellent water repellent finish, this jacket will keep the wearer dry, cool and comfortable in all light to moderate wind and rain.
The Montane Dynamo Lite is an excellent comprimise between a light wind proof like the Feather Lite Smock and a more bulky softshell jacket.
  • Single hand adjustable, elasticated draw-cord collar.
  • Active cut with drop tail keeps drafts at bay.
  • Baffled two-way reversed front zip closes tightly to eliminate wind.
  • Self fabric cuffs with hook and loop closure with rubberised tabs.
  • Chest security pocket and two mesh lined venting pockets allow stprage that wouldn't be available in normal wind proofs.
  • UV resistance 30+ SPF keep the suns rays at bay.
  • Single hand adjustable, elasticated draw-cord 

Montane Minimus Waterproof Jacket

Several years ago I discovered Paramo and I now own a few of their Jackets including the black Paramo Quito Jacket which I normally take with me when I go backpacking. But recently I purchased a Montane Minimus Jacket from Webtogs as a 'just in case' jacket for day walks it weighs in at 227g with a integral, roll-away mountain hood and reinforced wired peak. 
So as its summer I thought that this trip would be a good chance for me to test it out.

below is a video from webtogs

Summer Walkabout kit part 2 (sleeping)

Alpkit Hunka Bivy Bag

I have had the Hunka bivy bag for a couple of years and have used it inside a tent during the winter and also on its own all year round.On my last trip at Easter I had a tent with me but this time using this and the Trailstar I will have more options as there are times where its easier to tuck away with just a bivy bag.

Mountain Equipment Xero 250

I have had the Xero 250 for a few years now and I love the weight and pack size. The colour brightens up the tent too. Winner of the 2007 European Outdoor Industry Award. It features EXL- A patented technology that provides optimum warmth using an elasticated lining to gently hug your body and improve thermal efficiency.
Weight 600g

Thermarest Prolite 3 short

I like the pack size of the Thermarest Neoair but not the price so as I don't find the Thermarest Prolite 3 too uncomfortable I will continue to use it.
Weight 370g

Exped Air Pillow

The super comfortable, lightweight Exped Air Pillow boasts skin-friendly, super-soft tricot polyester on either side.
Weight: 85g

Jetboil Flash arrives

I have just received a Jetboil Flash from webtogs I placed my order on Friday and it was delivered on Monday or would have been if I was at home. I have been away camping with my family at Roundhill campsite in the New Forest. Roundhill is a spacious site in the heart of the New Forest within easy cycling distance of Brockenhurst for fresh provisions. Wild ponies and cattle roam at will through the heathland site and deer can be seen in the nearby forest enclosures first thing in the morning before the dog walkers are up and about. But my sons were to be found in the unused rally field playing football with their cousins for most of the weekend.Sometimes I despair at their lack of interest in the world around them.

I am trying to keep my pack size as small as possible for my time away this summer and the Jetboil Flash seems attractive due to the way it packs away into a compact package.It is quick and easy to put together to make a brew while on the go.Which from a safety point of view is a good thing as Hypothermia is not a hikers friend.
I have found  that using stoves that take too long to set up and put away deters me from stopping for a hot drink.
I will post a review of this stove when I return home in September.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Summer Walkabout

I jokingly said to my family one teatime that I would like to go walking for the month of August and to my surprise my three young sons and my wife all cheered and whooped with excitement. So I have bought a 'Open Jaw' coach ticket from National Express to Grasmere leaving on 1st August and returning from Bakewell on 30th August. My eldest son is unhappy that I am not going to be away for the whole month. But as he will be 11 on the 1st September I want to make sure that I am home for his birthday and also for the birthday of my youngest son who will be 6 on 2nd September.
My plan is to spend some time in the Lake district starting by walking the route that Trail Magazine devised for their 20th anniversary issue which they call the Lakeland Haute Route which takes in 14 mountain passes and 13 lakes. Then after visiting a few other areas (yet to be planned) in the Lakes I will leave via the Dales Way to Dent then over Whernside and Ingleborough  to join the Pennine Way at Horton-in Ribblesdale where I will head south on the Pennine Way, Limestone Way and Monsal Trail finishing at Monsal Head in Derbyshire to meet up with terrybnd and some other bloggers and people from Twitter for the Bank Holiday weekend.
I plan to travel light and camp wild where possible and it will be the first outing for my newly acquired Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar shelter.

More posts to follow about the kit that I am taking on this trip.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Phlogging - Change the way you blog.

There is a new free service out there which could add a new dimension to the way you blog its called Phlogging (phone blogging) from iPadio.
All you need is a basic mobile phone,no need for fancy iPhones and the like.You dial a standard rate number enter a pin code and speak. And when you've finished speaking press the # key and your Phlog is posted.
You can link Twitter,Blogger,Facebook and many other social websites to your account.You could even use a call box if there is no mobile signal!
You just phone in and enter your registered number and pin code when asked.
If you are a bit of a wiz kid iPadio have Apps for Android and iPhone where you can link more content to your Phlog  like photos,a title,tags and geo-location you can even automatically generate text using SpinVox.
Is the world ready to hear my voice?
I hope so as I plan to start using this service very soon.

Monday, 28 February 2011

My Pennine Journey Easter 2011

Mrs F has agreed to let me go walkabout this Easter.So without delay I have booked return train tickets to Settle in north Yorkshire to follow in Wainwright's footsteps.

Info from Pennine Journey website 

"The Pennine Journey is a challenging circular walk, 247 miles long, passing through the wonderful variety of terrain and scenery that the north of England offers and touching on all the major rivers in the region. Starting in the market town of Settle in north Yorkshire, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the route heads north on the eastern side of the Pennines through the delightful Yorkshire Dales and moorland stretches of Co. Durham before arriving at Hadrian’s Wall. This World Heritage site, in the Northumberland National Park, is followed for 21 miles until the route heads south on the western side of the Pennines. After traversing the Pennines just below the highest point of Cross Fell, it enters and travels down the Eden valley before skirting the Howgills Fells then arrives back in Settle."
Map of 2008 Journey