Four Chaps and a Trailstar (The Langdale Daunder 2012)

Well, here it is, at long last, I actually went out in the Trailstar.
Plus a lot of other TGO gear, so how did it all go.

Read on Sir, read on ........................................

I had packed all my gear the night before, so by the time that Phil arrived at 9.45 on Thu, I was ready to go.

Now, we just needed to collect Alan and Dave at Nuneaton, and then get to the Langdale campsite, via a brief shop in Ambleside.

The stop in Ambleside did involve beer.

Since I have seen the posting of the incredibly unflattering picture of me on Alan's blog, I have decided that the beer was not a good idea.
In fact, a better diet and more exercise are a definite must do.

It is not fitness, I can still run a goodly distance and also bike and walk, 
BUT, and here is the point.

I definitely need to lose some weight.

To my mind, about 10kg at least, and maybe a bit more.
A couple of stone (old money), would certainly do no harm at all.

It is a long way to Langdale from Cambridge, but by about 5.30, we were at the site and setting up tents.

I had decided to take the Trailstar, with the Oooknest.
I had only put this up once in the Garden to do the seam sealing, so this was it's first outing, and my first proper go at getting it all set up ok.

I was using 6 x 9" Alpkit Y pegs and 4 x 6" titanium ones.
More on the Alpkit ones later.

The fact that I had cleaned and oiled the Pacer Poles last week, did not help.

DO NOT USE WD40 on your Pacel poles.

Liberal is what you want, or none as the case might be.
I had overdone it BIG TIME with the spray, and they would not lock at all.
This is not good when you need them to hold the bloody thing up, so after a lot of cleaning, I did finally manage to get them locked.
We will come back to the pole theme, because they are about to get a major overhaul here again to get them sorted.
If not, I will be taking my old Leki Poles on the challenge.

First attempt at putting it up

No groundsheet of any sort this time, just an old space blanket.
It works fine as a barrier between damp grass and kit.
You can see the huge amount of available room, even with the Oookstar.
OK, yellow does attract the odd bug, but the colour is good for me, and since we had a few midges around, the nest was brilliant.
After a bit of a pole faf, I got the tent up just fine.

Is it a TENT, a TARP or a SHELTER?

With the Oookstar it is to my mind a shelter, and a bloody enormous one as well.
I though Wendy was big but this is huge, and weighs in rather less.

I did not get a Cuben Oookstar, the SilNylon one with the mesh front is just fine, and the difference in weight is not an issue to me.
I mean, looking at a couple of photo's I am carrying at least an extra 20lb on my middle.

Well with the thing up and covered in more than a few copulating insects, we headed off to the ODG for some food.

Yep, I am going to be going for smaller portions on that lot for the next few months as well.

And I will be laying off the beer as well as the poor diet.
As you can see, Al is off the no beer diet.
By the end of the evening, quite a long way off.

It was a bit chilly this side of the pub.
We finished by standing around the nice fire on the other side.
BUT.. eventually it was time for sleep.

Tomorrow was to be a 9.30 start (and that is a definite maybe).

It rained in the night, but by the next morning, all was pretty clear, and so it was time to go.

OK, we missed the 9.30 and started off at about 10.00.

Blue skies ahead at the camp site, but for how long
The weather was looking good, but the forecast was pretty horrid

A gentle stroll round via the ODG, or it would have been had I not left my map and compass on top of Phil's car. So I had to run back and get these and that added another 7½ min.
See, I have started the fitness thing already.

I am not going to do a massive description of the route, because that is already done on Al and Phil's blogs

Heading along Mickledon Beck
The start is nice and gentle, although as we got to the footbridge, the heavens opened for about 10 minutes. So at the point where the climb up to Langdale Coombe begins we had to have the most clothing on, making it hot work.
By the time we got to the top, the rain had gone away.

Looking back toward the Stake Gill

Dave waiting at the top for Alan and Phil
The next bit, was a mixture of easy underfoot, with a few rather boggy bits.

It's all a bit much for Al.
He's a grandad you know!

Looking towards Pike of Stickle from Martcrag Moor

Small Tarn near the lunch stop.

Phil attempts to cook his maps

Pike of Stickle from the Tarn.
This was to be our next stop after a rather boggy bit to get back to the path.

Dave near the bottom.
It was bloody windy here

Me on top of Pike of Stickle.
See, I am losing weight already, and I did not have to
use Phil's holding the arms up trick.
So, we dropped our packs, and with just Poles in hand (which I did not need), we went for the top.
Being a bit impatient, I decided for the direct route rather than just use the path.
Back in my climbing day this would have been a simple scramble, but excess baggage and fear of death, made it less so.
Still, it was a lot more fun than going up the path.

Al points the way to Dave.
We are lucky with the weather, because looking out to High Steet it looked pretty bloody awful.
I came down the path!

Having collected gear, we headed off round to Harrison's Stickle and then Sergeant Man,
via a path that in some places was decidedly moist.
The views from the top of Sergeant Man down to Stickle tarn were jolly fine indeed.

View down to the Tarn

THREE of the four Amigo's at the top before descending down to the camp.
After Al's far from flattering images of me (I am glad I was not in the picture).
Although that image was enlightening, because it has given me a massive kick up the arse to shed some weight and get
back to the shape I ought to be
After this we descended down to Codale Tarn via the direct route.
Much much nicer that then the path.
Having said that Dave went for several interesting slides on the rather wet and slippery descent.
I also managed a rather fine 4m glissade followed by another shorter one after which I landed on my arse in wetness. Luckily, it was the bottom of the rucksack that took the biggest force and that saved me from breaking my backside.

I did however overstretch my hamstring a bit.
Luckily, it was just a minor twinge and all is fine.
That would have been an utter bugger for the Challenge.

A beautiful little spot for a Camp, I proceeded to put up Treeza the Trailstar.
Al gave her that name on his blog, so I will stick with it.

She's a feisty little number, but I have to say very taut, and that is how they should be.

Treeza! I am getting the hang of this Trailstar thing!
My only error, was starting the attach the Oooknest ties to the wrong side.
Not a big issue, but it means a bit of a Faff to move it round.
Indeed, that aspect is my only reservation regarding Scotland and the Challenge.

NOT because I am concerned about the robustness of the Traistar, nor how warm it will be if it is cold.

BUT... To attach the Oooknest, and tension it to the outside pegs which it shares with the main Tarp, you do have to squirm about a bit on the ground to reach through and get the elastic ties.

It is not the damp that concerns me, it is TICKS.

That being said, I am pretty convinced now that it is TREEZA and not Wendy that will be accompanying me this year.
Only been out in it twice, but as a shelter I love it.

Mind you, if I don't get my Poles sorted out, she may not be going!
Codale Tarn

Treeza again

Camp view from the Tarn
During the night, there was a very brief sleet shower, but that was all gone by the morning.
It was a bit chilly, but only if outside of the sleeping bag.
The only other noise was Phil's sleeping mat.
Well, something in Phil's tent anyway, and best to leave it at that.

We decided to set off by 9, and amazingly, we actually set off at


Yep, on time, even with Phil's strap faff.

It was a stiff old climb up to the top again.
Dave had rushed ahead, but the rest of us stopped quite a lot to admire the view and also for general banter.

Nothing like a bit of banter eh...

Memoriesa bit vague.
Looking down to Stickle Tarn I think

We headed on round, and eventually down to the Tarn.
Here, it started to rain for only the second time.
So on with all the rain gear, which pretty much guaranteed that it would stop.

Which it did about 10 minutes later.

So, off with the rain gear, and down to Langdale.

As we looked down, there was an enormous convoy (snake) of people all starting the Ascent up.
No wonder there is so much erosion on some of the paths in the Lakes.

And this was only a few of them
We finally did the last bit back to the ODG via the Cumbrian Way path.

By the time we got back, both my Poles and Phil's had jammed.

Dave and I had a cup of Coffee, and Al and Phil had beer and Shandy.
We did discuss sandwiches, but then decided after a good rest that we would head back to
Ambleside to the chippy, and to see if I could get any better pegs.

Did I mention pegs?

Yes, ALPKIT 9" aluminium Y stakes.

I thought that they would be the DOGS bollocks, but they turned out to be testicles.
The ground was really not hard, and in all honesty, a 9" peg should not bend.

BUT these do

I have some Alpkit titanium 6" that are excellent. As is their Titanium Cup
Also some 6" Aluminium pegs from Clamcleats that equally excellent.
So, I was a bit disappointed with these overall.

So, that is it.

I am now going with a larger MSR blizzard stake at the back.
A couple of 9" Y pegs, 
and the remainder 7" Clamcleats Titanium mixed with the Alpkit Titanium

More on final gear list in a blog next week.

IF, I can make my mind up that is.

So it was all over, and we headed back courtesy of Phil, who did all the driving.
What a lovely chap.

We dropped Dave off back in Nuneaton ,and then Al at Huntingdon Station.
Finally Phil dropped me off at home.

It had been a short trip, but excellent weather, and a good laugh, in the best of company.

Cheers fella's!

SO, just the Challenge next then ...................

This is Stephen Wilson et alia, also of Porcupine Tree



Well, nearly all of it.

PANTS, it is NOT a simple topic, when you are looking at long distance multi day hikes.

Way way back in 2006, I walked with my then next door neighbour on the TGO.

Nick did NOT have suitable pants.
He had cotton pants.
Normal every day cotton pants.
Cotton pants that get damp near your bits.
Cotton that rubs and chaffs and generally makes things raw and rather less than pleasant.

Now, thankfully, due to an element of decency
and quite honesty having NO desire to photograph it,
I have NO images of Nick's tender and painful bits.

But trust me, you do not want this to happen to you.


I still have vivid memories and I may well be scared for life.

So back to pants.

I have tried a whole variety of pants over the years, in all shapes and sizes.
I will clarify that shortly.
What I mean is of course all styles.
My size has remained fairly stable (I'll stop there because it will descend into smut), 
if not by me, by someone else.

So this is really to get opinions and other comments in general on pants and general comfort of the nether regions.
As a bloke, I cannot really comment on women's undergarments.
At least I am not going to do it here.

So over the years I have used a variety of pants for walking.

One of my earliest proper walking pants was the HH ones.
BUT... They have no legs and I prefer legs

I used these for a couple of years (between washes).
Got them from Blacks I think.
For me, they are a perfect length.
About midway between knee and top bits.
Tactel, cool and I still use them for running.(underneath tracksters)

These are Merino Icebreaker 200 3/4.
I used them on the Challenge once,
but they were just too hot.
I now take them as thermals for sleeping in.
They are perfect for the job.
Can be worn under trousers if it is bloody cold.
And weigh a bit less than full length ones.

These are Katmandu Smartwool.
Not quite long enough in the leg for me, but
good for warmer days.
They did the whole of last years challenge.
WELL, that is until Braemar where I had a major elastic malfunction.
Not very supportive that

I like Paramo stuff, and currently have 2 paramo shirts,(one of which will be accompanying me this year), and also a Paramo 3rd Element Jacket.
Anyway, after the elastic issue in Braemar I got these.
They are OK, but for me the worst of the lot here.
And yes, they are inside out in the photo
And No, that is not why I found them uncomfortable

My Current favourites are these Smartwool ones.
At last a pair that are the correct leg length for me.
And Merino wool.
So this year I will be taking these and the 3/4 bottoms for the tent.
Which probably means the elastic will fail somewhere.
I hope not.

So that is it for pants for now.
I am sure others will have their favourites.

These are mine, what are yours?

And to add a couple of other recent photo's of places into the mill, just because I like them, and it's my blog.

Swaffham Prior Church

Close Encounter Clouds near Reach

More Fen Cloud Formations

OK. last clouds picture.
You cannot beat a nice Cumulonimbus

Quy nearing dusk

One of my favourite river stretches at Lode.
The colours of a Spring evening

And today's bit of music is one of my all time favourite songs from the man
David Cosby and Graham Nash, Page 43

Make the most of your life is the message


WANT & NEED, the Gear Dilemma

I wasn't going to write anything until next week, but I had been out for a run with the dog, done all my little chores 
(let's be honest, there was no way I was going to tackle any of the big chores), 
and while I was sorting out music players for next week, and a few other bits, 
like compasses, and reading about STUFF, I got a bit bored, and well here we are.

So, the point is, I really have too much stuff,
but today I was/am severely tempted by the door for the Trailstar.

Just to keep that extra bit of wind out, and also because it only weighs in at 35g.

But here is the BIG question.

Do I NEED this or do I just WANT this.

I know the answer. 
And you know the answer.

and since I have made NO decision yet about my Challenge Tent, then......

But, and here is the question, What's a man to do?

Well, it is the Daunder next week and I have decided to bite the bullet,
and go with a Trailstar rather than Wendy.

Wendy may still get the Challenge job, but I have to find out.
I do not need to take her for testing, I know she is fine.
She survived last year, and other places as well.

OK, admittedly she did not do so well on the Ingelborough trip, but I know she will be fine.
She has a sturdy supports to the tune of 3 new guy ropes for her tail end so all is good.

So, next week, there will be some happy snaps of happy chaps in T'North.

In the mean time, the Fens seem to be attracting April Showers.

I know I know, I ought to be working to earn money for all the bloody gear I don't really need.


I have been working all hours since January, and I am having a couple of days off.
And a couple next week I know.
And the whole of May (almost).

That's the thing about being self employed.
You can take time off whenever you like.
But you don't get paid.
Nor when you are on holiday,
nor when you are ill, or have to do something because someone else is ill.

It's fine, I have got used to it now.

So, Fen weather

I took this a couple of weeks ago whilst out running with Harriet.
The rest were taken today.
I like clouds

And a couple more just added

Some wag wrote this on the new signs.
It was done in chalk

Now, that's a bog!

On the music front, I have recently been listening to some stuff from Porcupine Tree.
Who had slipped under my radar until recently


WHERE AM I TODAY & Fenland Hill Fitness

SAT 7th May 2012


Do you know where it is yet?

Well I can tell you.

PADNEY, which is between Wicken Fen and Ely.

Yes I know, what on earth is that? There are other signs with even more languages like this.
I have NO idea what it says but I think it might be something to do with driving slowly because there are children.


This does pose it's own problems, what with the complete lack of contours.
But since I have lived here for the last God knows how many years, and done quite a lot of hills in my time, I guess I must be doing something right.

My only means really is running and cycling, and a bit of time in the gym.
I say the gym, but I mean the garage because that is where all the weights are.
Only problem with that is that Olly (no 1 son), always has far more weight on any of the bars than I can actually lift now, and if I change them he gets annoyed.

So apart from weights, I try to run at least 30 to 35 miles a week.
Cycling I split into 2 type, although on a longer bike ride, I will mix it up.

On the bike I always try and get a fair bit of off road into a bike ride, because this make it harder work. On foot, it is always off road.

If I cannot get a lot of off road when cycling, then I use two regimes.

Ride type one, is to only use the large ring at the front, which on my bike is a 44 tooth.
And then restrict the rear gears to the bottom three, which are a 14, 13 and 11 tooth.
This means that regardless of the terrain, I am always pushing a big gear which helps al lot with quads, and hill fitness.

Ride type two, is a cadence ride, where the idea is just to keep going at a constant cadence (revolutions per minute) regardless of the terrain.
For me this is usually trying to maintain about 90 revolutions, which is good as a cardio and endurance session.

The bike also save the pounding on the knees, which have been beaten up over the years, especially with Squash and Tennis.

So that is it.
If I lived in the Lakes, it would of course be very different.
Ullswater to Ambleside and back via the Kirkstone Pass and the Struggle either gets you fit as a fiddle, or kills you outright.
If I tried it now, I suspect the latter.

So today, I just did a 32mile ride in restricted big cog mode, to take in a few places of interest (to me at least ).

Looks impressive doesn't it, until you notice that the highest point is 16m above sea level.
The other thing is that Quo appears to be unable to comprehend below sea level.
And again at one point I was about -3m

I also wanted to give the NX10 another go.

I am mostly loving this camera, BUT the jury is still out regarding the challenge.

Not because I like the photos from my Optio WG-1 better, but because the Optio comes in at 165g all in, which is a 500g saving at the least, and is fully waterproof, and will GPS tag the photos, and I have 2 spare batteries for it.

I would love to take the NX10, and I will certainly take it on the Daunder in the Lakes later this month, but in order to keep pack weight to under 26lb which is my goal this year, I think it may have to be the Optio.

So, anyway, here are a few points of interest to me from today's little jaunt.

Wicken Fen (again)

A proper working Windmill at Wicken.
And not an access road or 100 tons of concrete in sight

New planting near Upware

Stretham Old Pumping Station.
This was one of the original early pumping stations for this bit of the Fens

Stretham Old Engine info click left or above for more info

After a bit of a circuit, I eventually ended up returning via Denny Abbey

Denny Abbey

View along the river at Waterbeach

Old Barge at Waterbeach.
How long before it sinks

Rape Seed fields and east Anglian skies near Horningsea
And if you missed the Hadrian's Wall post it is HERE.

And a bit of Music

And since I started on a foreign theme.
This is Conceiving You by  Riverside
One of the best bands to come out of Poland.
You should check them out!