Monday, 17 December 2012

Synmat Basic 7.5

I don't do many gear type reviews (even though I do like shiny new things) mainly cause I don't feel like I know anything or get out and use things enough.  One exception is the Exped Synmat Basic 7.5 which I have owned for nearly 2 years now.

In desert action!
I must of used it over 50 times now in varied conditions, hot summer, desert, gravel, tent, cold, etc.  I take care with what I put it on and try to use a tarp or groundsheet underneath it but due to use in festivals I might not have always been as careful as I should of been!  (drunken Andy is not as dainty or lightfooted...). 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Challenge Update 2

Well I'm still behind with my trip reports.  Missing 4 treks in Jordan.  In summary it was hot and sandy.  I will stick something more substantial at some point!  It was a great week though and formed most of the walking for the month.  The bad news was that I got ill on the way back and was under the weather for about 2 weeks.  I was also suffering from itspissingitdownitus....

I did 5 walks in the month which averaged as 6.58 miles per walk, a nice increase in malleage from the first month.  Still behind on most scores but I'm not too worried (yet!) as I have a few multi day walks planned that should drag things back up.

Month 1 = 7 walks for 31.8 miles, 1518m ascent and 15 nights camping.
Month 2 = 5 walks for 32.88 miles, 996m ascent and 4 nights camping.
Total = 12 walks for 64.68 miles, 2514m ascent and 19 nights camping.

By the averages I should be at around 18 walks, 126.8 miles, 3640m and 8 nights camping.  Yup I need to up my game!  This month will also be on the low side, arse definitely needs to find first gear.  Not too worried about the ascent and the camping (a walk up Snowdon would half the deficit for example) but the mileage is in danger of running away from me.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

#12 Harrold and Odell

#12 Harrold and Odell

Distance - 5.78 Miles
Ascent - 96 metres

My first challenge walk in the UK!  Thought I'd do an easy walk in north Beds.  Starting in Harrold country park with easy parking it should be and easy wander round the countryside.  It was not too cold, not raining and generally all was good for the day.

Odell Church
Surprisingly I found the walking tougher than it should be.  After Jordan I had been a little under the weather and as I write this I can confirm that i'm ill!  It was actually a nice (on the whole) and gentle walk through nice ancient woodland.

#7 Rim Trail, Grand Canyon

#7 Rim Trail, Grand Canyon

Distance - 4.8 Miles
Ascent - 50m

After an hours rest and a packet of jelly beans I decided I might as well have a wander along the Rim trail.  With a frequent free bus and shorts sections (mile or so) it meant I could walk as far as I felt with no pressure to reach the end or push past my sore calf.


Starting from Hermits rest the trail is a mix of dual use (cycletrack and path) and rough trails along the edge.  As expected it hugs the rim tightly and in places comes pretty close to the edge!  The views are great and the Colarado river seems so far away.

Monday, 12 November 2012

#6 1.5 Mile Rest House, Grand Canyon.

#6 1.5 Mile Rest House, Grand Canyon, USA.

Distance - 3.0 Miles
Ascent - 342m

What can you say about the Grand Canyon?  It is big, deep, vast, and mightily impressive.  It's hard to appreciate just how big it is.  It is also a dangerous place due to the temperature range and the fact it is easy to get very deep without realising.  Visiting in October reduced any issues with the temps, in fact it was very pleasant/warm most of the day.

View from the top
The Bright Angel trail drops from the rim can be taken and the way to the North Rim.  Some really strange people do this in one day, and some really really strange people go from Rim to Rim to Rim!  For most walkers a good day hike drops down the trail all the way to Plateau Point (approx. 13 miles round trip).  This is a tough walk due to the heat, lack of shade and height climbed.  I decided to walk to either the 1.5 mile rest house or the 3 mile rest house, depending on how I felt.  My calf was still sore after arches and this is not a good place to tear a calf muscle.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

#5 Delicate Arch, Arches

#5 Delicate Arch, Arches

Distance - 3.2 Miles
Ascent - 146m

Delicate Arch is probably the most famous arch in the park.  It's used on the Utah number plates and is a must do hike apparently.  I say apparently as this was the second hike in the day and the sun was feeling very hot on my head.  A half hour break to refuel and to restock my water and we was off up the hill.  The walk is pretty basic, walk up that hill and you are there!.

The view down.
There was a short sharp couple of switchbacks before the big climb.  For once there was no switch backs, just a straight run up the slickrock face.  The route is pretty much all south facing, so again no shade on offer.  Take a hat and water is my expert advice!

#4 Double O Arch and Dark Angel, Arches

#4 Double O Arch and Dark Angel, Arches

Distance - 5.2 Miles
Ascent - 110m

Overcoming a hurdle which has stopped you in the past is always a victory no matter how small the hurdle!  In this case the hurdle was a short but steep scramble up a rock 'fin' that halted me last year.  It wasn't much but I just couldn't see myself getting back down without slipping, even though the sandstone grips like sandpaper.  This year I came, I saw, I conquered (even with a little knee wobble and bum slide off a big step!).

Landscape Arch
The first mile of the walk is along well maintained trails to Landscape Arch, the longest in the world apparently.  There are a few side trails to other Arches and the whole area is great for exploring.  After Landscape arch the trail becomes more rough and ready (and natural) and climbs up and over fins of rock.

Challenge - 1 Month in

First things first, I'm behind already with the trip reports!  I will try and catch up before the weekend as I'm away for another week after that.

So how's it gone?  7 walks more than 3 miles completed.  I am behind on the averages though. 

1 month - 7 walks = 31.8 miles, 1518m ascent and 15 nights camping.

Target Average for month Actual
Walks 9 7
Distance 63.3 miles 31.8 miles
Ascent 1820m 1518m
Camps 4 nights 15 nights

Need to up the distances really or else I will get too far behind already, though If I need to do 101 walks to hit the 700 miles then so be it!  Well up on the camping though which with winter approaching might be a good thing!  Saying that, I've already had one night under the stars at -6 and survived.

#3 Navajo and Queens Garden Loop, Bryce Canyon

#3 Navajo and Queens Garden Loop, Bryce Canyon, USA

Distance - 3.1 Miles
Ascent - 170m

A short drive from Zion is the Bryce Canyon National Park.  After the rain on previous days we had to visit here straight after Zion.  So 2 hikes in the day.  The Canyon (which isn't actually a canyon) contains numerous rock formations known as Hoodoos.  Supposedly Hoodoos are men trapped in the rock, a bit of voodoo. 

Starting from Sunrise point the trail drops steeply along a number of switchbacks in between the high walls of Wall Street.  The rocks tower above you as the path drops and drops.  I enjoy the down sections but always have the nagging thought that at some point I will have to start going up again!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

#2 Scout Lookout, Zion

#2 Scout Lookout, Zion, USA.

Distance - 4 miles (6.44 Km)
Ascent - 400m

Most countries would be happy with just one spectacular national park, but oh no the USA has to be different!  Zion might not be as famous to travellers from the UK but it is another great place for day walks.  The walk up to Scouts Lookout forms part of the walk to Angels Landing, whilst walking 0.5miles to Angels Landing seems like an easy extension to the walk it does involve walking along a ledge with no fencing and a 500m drop... not for me!

The weather over the last couple of days had been poor, but despite low cloud it had stopped raining.  As with most National Parks there was a quick and easy shuttle bus around the canyon floor which dropped us off yards from the trailhead (Start of the path).  The first mile or so was along the valley with gentle climbs and easy walking.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

#1 Panorama Trail, Yosemite

#1 Panorama Trail, Yosemite, USA.

Distance - 8.5 Miles (13.7Km)
Ascent - 300m (About 1000m of descent!)

Well I decided to start the challenge in a good way and there are few day walks in the world with as spectacular views as the Panorama Trail in Yosemite.  Yes it is that good.  Starting at Glacier Point you have views over Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls and the Valley floor.  Yosemite enchanted John Muir, and it doesn't take much to see why.  It is an amazing place and that's with only seeing a small tiny part of this wilderness. 

From Glacier Point

The trail is well marked and in great condition.  It begins by dropping from Glacier Point down to Illilouete Falls over approx. 2.5 miles.  The views over Half Dome are spectacular.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Back in the UK

Back home after 24 days in the USA.  It's good to be back, even if it's a bit cold!  Los Angeles is having unseasonably hot weather so it was a shock to get back into Heathrow.  Saying that it has been cold in a few places in the USA.  We had temps down to -6C one night at the Grand Canyon.  Also a few days of rain and thunder, which made it different.

So many highlights.  Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Vegas (!) and just general travelling round.  I will do some trip reports in a while, need to do washing first!

As far as my challenge goes, I did 7 walks over 3 miles in length which is a good start.  Also 13 nights under the stars and 3 in the tent.  Lying there in a cosy warm sleeping bag watching the stars is just a perfect feeling.  Many nights there were so many stars you couldn't make out the obvious formations as there are just so many, many more twinkling away.

Only injury is a calf strain picked up in Arches, was a cramp or strain that is still twinging a little.  Hopefully if I'm careful I can get some walks in this week.  Need to boost the mileage average!

Monday, 1 October 2012

A Personal Challenge

Blatantly taken from others on the Internet I have decided to do a personal challenge.  It's a way of motivating myself and to also get in a little better shape.  So I enjoy hiking/walking/trekking, call it what you want, so the obvious thing is a walking challenge.

Therefore I have decreed that, in the next 48 weeks (till 1st September 2013) I will do 100 walks to meet a target of a total of 700 miles and 20,000m of ascent.  I will also spend 40 nights under canvas (OK more likely Silnylon...).

Basic rules -

- Minimum walk is 3 miles, anything less is just a stroll.
- No walks to the shops, sight seeing, etc are counted.
- Walks to be predominately in the countryside/off road. i.e footpaths, bridleways, country lanes.
- I choose whatever walks I want, no restrictions on doing the same route over and over (would get boring mind!).
- I can do as many separate walks in a day as I want (though they have to be separate, not before and after McD's...)
- Long distance trails counts as multiple walks (4 day LDT = 4 walks).
- To count I must do a trip report/blog.
- Mileages and ascent taken from GPS/Getamap/bikehike or the best I can calculate if abroad.

Why by September 1st?  Well I have something planned for then that this would feed into nicely.
Why now?  I'm going away to USA in a week so I will get a good headstart (cheating? or Good planning?).

It averages out at 2 walks a week at 7 miles with 200m of ascent.  I think it's a tough target with the bulk taking place in winter and especially as some walks round here can give ascents of 5m!

Sunday, 9 September 2012



Distance - 6.59 Miles (10.9Km)
Time Taken - 2Hrs 26mins
Ascent - 91m

Second walk in 4 days?  It's almost like I'm in training!  Ok so I am making a concerted effort to get out and about (and to write about it).  I was a bit late getting out, so I had about 2.5 hours of daylight left, which was leaving things a little tight.  In the event I took longer than I wanted due to a couple of areas on the path being overgrown.  Shorts and nettles do not mix well.

Typical Bedfordshire landscape
For the first mile I felt a bit achy, which is a poor effort really.  The path is easy to follow along field boundaries and pretty flat.  Even the 'hills' are not much more than long slopes.  The wet and warm weather has led to an eruption in nettles and thistles.  These often cover the whole field edge forcing the walker along the edge of crops (harvested recently so not an issue today).  Walking along the 'stubble' gives a satisfying crunch, though I'm not sure how good it is for rolling ankles.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Night Time

Working nights sometimes has advantages, you have no bosses annoying you, no general queries, can wear shorts, write blogs and delve into night time photography.  Oh you can work too, which I obviously do, lots.

I recently got a Panasonic Lumix G3, and it's my first 'real' camera, by which I mean I can do more than set it on intelligent auto.  I now have to think of shutter speeds, ISO's and F stops.  It has intelligent auto as well so all isn't lost!

The Moon
I'm lucky in that I work in a fairly dark location, it's not the best but it's probably the best area for miles.  On a good night the milky way is visable and the nature of the workplace gives some interesting pictures.  It also has the advantage of multiple air-con units to sit next to, whilst noisy the warm air is a bonus in winter!
The International Space Station
 Hopefully the tricks I am learning will get me some good pics in the USA, startrails over the Grand Canyon?  Could be a good plan.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Old Familiar

Great Barford - Roxton Locks - Great Barford

Distance - 5.28 Miles (8.5Km)
Time Taken - 1Hrs 40mins
Ascent - 5m (really!)

Summer finally coincided with a few hours of spare time and it was off to the River Ouse. I only had 2 hours to get a walk in and and get home to get ready for work (lovely 12 hour night shift).  The walk to Roxton has become a bit of a go-to walk, I don't need a map, it's flat and the parking is easy and free.  I really need a dog to gain the full advantage but it serves for now as a way of getting a few miles in.

Roxton Locks

Monday, 20 August 2012

Been a while...

Been a while...

Well I've not been doing much apart from working and getting fat (ter), so today was the start of 7 weeks of walking before my holiday in the USA.  I was thinking of doing the Bright Angel trail in the Grand Canyon, but looking at the ascent involved I'm having second thoughts.  It's not a stupid amount of ascent and shouldn't be too hot in October but I'm chunky and hills are evil.

So last week I had a few wanders on the moors above Whitworth, Lancashire and had a nice walks around Brown Wardle and Cowm Reservoir.  I didn't feel to bad apart from a midge attack that has left me itching bites for a week.

Today was mainly spent sleeping (finished work at 7am) so I fancied a shortish walk in the sun.  The 5 miles along the River Great Ouse was the choice as it is easy, involves no navigation issues and is quite nice.

Pity it didn't turn out that way.  After about mile the path was blocked by log/felled tree on a bridge (quite random) and then head high thistles and waist high nettles.  I was in shorts so the path soon became impassable and was abandoned to walk in the field (the corn had been cut so nothing was trampled).

The next section goes between a house and the river, with the path following a narrow flat area between a fence and the drop off to the river.  This was completely blocked by nettles.  So I turned back and the 5 mile walk came in at just under 2.  It really peed me off, if I was in trousers I might of gone for it.  As it was I skulked away back to whence I came. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Peddars Way Washup

Reflecting back on my recent trip I thought I'd give a quick overview of the gear used.  Nothing to technical as a) I don't feel I have the experience to give damning or eulogising critiques, b) most stuff was fairly new so only had 4 days of use and c)I don't think I can write that many sentences about a sock.

A few things stood out from the trek, the biggest one is that going lightweight helped me immensely.  My pack was approx. 10kgs inc water and snacks.  The only thing it was missing was food and a stove.  I'm not sure how I would of coped with what would of been classed as normal only a few year s ago (18kgs+).  I remember on DofE that we had a weight limit of a 3rd of your body weight, now that is actually a big old load to carry. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Peddars Way Day 4

Peddars Way Day 4 - Great Bircham to Hunstanton

Distance -  19.55 Km - 12.15 miles
Time Taken - 6.5hrs (inc. breaks)
Assent - 135m

We intended to get up at about 8 and leave at 9, so when  I woke early, the birds were tweeting and it was light outside a quick check of the watch showed it was half 3 in the morning!  The dawn chorus is lovely except when you are trying to sleep in a tent, bloody wildlife! I woke again later, feeling fairly refreshed and full of life.  Feet drained and cleaned we made it on the way before 9.30, our earliest yet!

Again we started off down a country road, 1.5 miles of tarmac.  Whilst it kept the pace up, I'm not sure how good it is for your feet (especially at my weight!).  The trail followed farm tracks and footpaths for the most part until Ringstead.  Again it was sunny and warm, so the white legs were out getting a good airing.  Like most of the trail, it was an arable field lovers heaven, with a few woods and hedgerow thrown in for good measure.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Peddars Way Day 3

Peddars Way Day 3 - Castle Acre to Great Bircham
Distance -  20.3 Km - 12.6 miles
Time Taken - 6.5hrs (inc. breaks)
Assent - 155m

A good nights sleep and coming second last in the pub quiz (we was fiddled out of a couple of points, but thats another story!) seemed to revive tired feet and mind.  Both blisters drained and a good breakfast and it was on the trail, or I should say road.  The weather had changed and it was sunny with clear blue skies, so it was on with the sunscreen, I had however forgot my hat.

Castle Acre
The first 3 miles were completed at a good pace within an hour.  Despite being a mix of road, on verge and behind hedge next to road, it felt better than the previous day.  The sun and clear skies made the endless arable fields seem nicer and more interesting.  Birds seemed to be louder, colours brighter and generally better!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Peddars Way Day 2

Peddars Way Day 2 - Great Cressingham to Castle Acre
Distance - 18.5 Km - 11.50 miles
Time Taken - 6.5hrs (inc. breaks)
Assent - 138m

I woke with a slightly sore head (it was strong cider!) and a sore foot.  So all was looking good for the day.  The weather was again overcast but not cold.   My legs and back felt good, suprisingly considering I had never walked 16.5 miles before.  Nick had a very sore shoulder but had identitied the problem (Rucksack's load lifters were uneven, once adjusted he didn't have any issues).  Todays route involved a 1.5mile walk along lanes until we got back on the peddars way, this section passed fairly quickly and once warmed up we kept a decent pace.

Once we were back on the trail things didn't change much, a further 2 miles along country roads, whilst quiet, they were hard and quite boring.  The guide book uses the description - 'The walking is easy, if tedious' and it wasn't wrong.  A mile through fields led into North Pickenham before it was back onto roads for half a mile.  We finally broke away from the hard roads along Procession Lane which was a nice mile and a half until the A47.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Peddars Way Day 1

Peddars Way Day 1 - Knettishall to Great Cressingham

Distance - 26.62 Km - 16.55 miles
Time Taken - 7hrs (inc. breaks)
Assent - 187m

The day had arrived, a few months ago it seemed like a good idea to do the Peddars Way from Knettishall to Huntingdon in 4 days, so here we were on the start line.  It also had seemed like a good idea to camp on along the way so full packs were required.  Nick had previously done the Peddars way in 3 days but had ruined his feet in the process.  I had promised to do some training but had done little.  It had been forecast to be the coldest May in 100 years.  The Omens were good!

The beginnings of the walk (and much of the day infact) are on good well marked tracks alternating between woods and open fields.  With the weather overcast, it was actually a good day for walking, not to hot and no rain.  After approx. 4 miles we had a break next to the A11, not the quietest spot (!) but it had toilets and benches.  Feet at this stage were good, the 10Kg pack (inc water and snacks) wasn't that noticeable, and I was glad I decided to go lightweight! 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Peddars Way Preparation

Peddars Way Preparation

It's fair to say I'm not as prepared as I should be.  By that I mean I have not done anywhere enough walking recently.  Knocking out an 8-10 miler tomorrow would not cause me much worry but 53 miles in four days is something different.  Tender spots become blisters and aches become pains.  Saying that, I'm looking forward to it!

The planning (done by Nick on this trip) breaks the trek into 4 days, 17.05, 11.5, 12.6 and 12.29 miles.  The first day is the obvious killer.  Whilst there is little ascent, it will be the furthest I've ever walked in one go.  And to top it off we are camping so we are carrying our full packs.

Luckily I've been quite strict with what I'm packing and as such my base load (pack with no food or water) should be around 9kg's.  Depending on the weather I might get that below 9, but cold nights this week have lead to some changes.  Exped Synmat in the place of the Exped Airmat UL and the addition of a down vest and Icebreaker leggings.  These changes alone add over 1Kg.

My quest to save Kg's might seem perverse to some, as I'm weighing everything I'm taking, when I am 10's of kilos overweight!  Well the simple answer is that I'm 'used' to my weight and addition weight in the pack is as noticeable to me as someone who weighs 10 stone wet through.

Now how heavy is that Pot Noodle?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Chicksands and Rowney Warren

Chicksands and Rowney Warren

Distance - 11.7 Km - 7.3 miles
Time Taken - 2hrs 20mins + 10 min Break
Assent - 149m

Well after a month of not much I decided to head out into the scary big outdoors.  Normally a month off in a funk would only affect me, but next week I'm supposed to be doing the Peddars Way to Hunstanton over 4 days and i fear my lack of activity will annoy my trekmates!  The first day is a nice 17 miles, so I thought a bit of training might be needed.

With heavy rain and hail in the area I decided to head down to Chicksands and have a wander around 2 woods linked by the Greensand Ridge Way and the John Bunyan Way.  The paths are reasonable well waymarked, but are clear, wide and obvious.

Along the John Bunyan Trail

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Salcey Forest Circular

Salcey Forest Circular

Distance - 10.2 Km - 6.35miles
Time Taken - 2hrs 10mins
Assent - 74m

Salcey Forest is a former hunting forest in the South of Northamptonshire near Newport Pagnell and was today's destination.  I had been on a short course at work till 2 but had a free afternoon for a wander.  There wasn't enough time for anything too long so the 6 miles of the 'Woodpecker' walk in Salcey forest seemed to fit the bill.  Also after such a dry March we had recently had some rain so I figured the ground would be better underfoot in a forest.

That theory was correct for about 5/6's of the walk...

The forest.
A forest walk gives a different feel to a walk in open countryside or the hills, there are no views or open long skies.  They do however feel more 'wild' than wandering round the arable fields of the home counties.  Near a nice cafe and car park the forest was anything but quiet, with wild kids and families enjoying the freedom of the holidays and the open forest.  However after about a mile I saw few people, the nice lady carving her and her kids name into a tree were the last people I saw for about an hour.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Grafham Water Circular

Grafham Water Circular

Distance - 13.7 Km - 8.5miles
Time Taken - 3hrs
Assent - 86m

With the good weather due to end abruptly this afternoon I decided to head to the closest thing to the seaside in the area!  Bedford is one of those places that are pretty much as far from the sea that you can find.  So it was off to Grafham Water before it pee'd it down.  Grafham is a big man made reservoir sat in open countryside, so good for a nice circular walk around the edge.

It's a big lake...
The walk it self was very easy to navigate along an obvious path with a helpful landmark to work from.  Most of the path follows a cycle route so the track is wide and is mostly in good condition.  It does mean that in summer it will be very busy (Hire bikes are available, along with parking for over 1000 cars...).  The land is owned by Anglia water and this means (along with the cycle route) there are more H&S and warning signs than should be allowed in the countryside!  Every slope had a warning to cyclists to dismount...

Monday, 26 March 2012

Yelden to Melchbourne

Yelden to Melchbourne

Distance - 11.12km
Time Taken - 2hrs 25mins
Assent - 83m

The excuses for not walking could last no longer (I was recovering from the SWCP...honest) and with another stunning day forecast I thought I should get back out there.  I remembered to use some sunblock this time but could of done with a hat!  Today's walk was into the unknown of North Bedfordshire.  I just never got round to coming up here, there isn't much in the way of anything to drag me up here. 

The small villages are nice and quiet and in many ways represent traditional rural England, bit old, bit new, bit thatched.  Yelden (Also spent Yeilden and Yeldon depending on which road sign you see, no really it has no official spelling...add a bit eccentric to the list!) is a quiet village with just 1 pub and the remains of a Motte and Baillie castle.  See only in England could the remains of a castle be so nondescript!

The Motte, ramparts and moat.
The path is well signposted and easy to follow.  For the most part the route was across general farmland and was a pleasant gentle walk.  A few hills and a bit of woodland to make things interesting.  And it was the woods where the things got interesting later.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Newquay to Perranporth

Newquay to Perranporth

Distance - 20.2Km
Time Taken - 5hrs ish
Assent - 360m ish

Day 3 and a very early start to the day.  The bridge at Penpol to cross the tidal Gannel can only be used 3-4 hours after (or before) low tide.  The low tide for this morning was just before 4am so we wanted to get to the bridge between 7 and 8am.  A guesstimate of the distances put the bridge at approx. 3 miles into the day, so we set off just after 6am (6.20 give or take).  The night before we had a early night in preparation....OK we went to the pub and watched England lose against Holland at football.

The Penpol crossing
The early start meant the streets through Newquay were pretty deserted, with only ourselves and a street cleaner daring to venture out.  Things were a little misty this morning and for the first time this trip I needed to wear a fleece.  The first mile is through the town centre, before a section along the sea front around to the Headland Hotel and Fistral beach.  A few hardy souls were in the waves, I can't imagine how cold it must be!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Treyarnon to Newquay

Treyarnon to Newquay

Distance - 19.5Km
Time Taken - Hard to say with tanning breaks
Assent - 450m ish

Day 2 of the South West Coast Path (SWCP) adventure.  Another glorious day, it was hard to imagine that we are still in February.  February is still supposed to be winter?  After day one the only injuries were a slightly burnt face and to the wallet (Hostels with bar and cafe are not cheap...).

View from the hostel.
This section of the walk was much quieter and more 'wild' than the day before.  We only saw a few other walkers (and a couple of runners...) mostly near to the villages on route.  The route is again very easy to follow and should not pose any navigation issues, I carried a map but it was only really used to see how far we had gone (and how far it was to the hotel!). 

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Padstow to Treyarnon

Padstow to Treyarnon

Distance - 17.5Km
Time Taken - A few hours
Ascent - 325m ish.

Back to the South West Coast Path (SWCP) to complete the full 3 days that I didn't quite finish last year.  This year I was lighter and came off a full training regime, haha yeah right.  Not sure 3 long walks since Christmas count as a regime...

A walking person
A bus ride from Newquay took us to the tourist trap of Padstow for the first day of our adventures.  Joined by Nic we made a swift start and went straight into a Pasty shop (or bakery as they are known in these parts).  Today's award winning pasties were of the Lamb, Leek and Mint variety, and were pretty tasty.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

And Finally...

Great Barford - Tempsford - Blunham Loop.

Distance - 11.4Km
Time Taken - 2Hrs 10mins
Ascent - 22m

After 2 failed attempts (1 due to bad admin, 1 due to plumber!) I finally got this loop out of the way.  Overall the walk is very gentle (a whole 22m of ascent!) and a pleasent walk on the whole.  Lots of wildlife to see along the two rivers, I have seen Kingfishers there in previous years.

The walk is mainly along the Great Ouse and the River Ivel, the Ouse is a slow moving navigationable river (hence the locks and weirs), whilst the Ivel is much smaller but has some flow.  The Ouse on previous days was quite bland and grey, the sun helped bring out a bit of colour and it felt like a spring day.  The walk to Roxton locks is gentle, hardly taxing and like all this route easy to follow.  In a few places the Ouse appears to be a dirty river, with rubbish caught in the reed beds and on some tree branches but mostly it's just a gentle sweeping river.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Deja Vu

Ever get the feeling a walk will never happen?  After the last failed attempt to do a 7 mile loop round Great Barford, Tempsford and the Great Ouse, I attempted the walk yet again.  And yet again events conspired to work against me.  This time a call after 2 and a half miles from the landlords plumber forced the change!   Takes him weeks to come round... and now he calls!

Made it slightly further this time and actually managed to make it over the Great Ouse!  Another overcast day made the surroundings surprisingly dreary with most things appearing beige.

The path is pretty good until the lock, where there was short section of wet claggy clay muddyness on an angle.  Nothing that hardcore walkers can't overcome it just made your boots twice their original weight and size!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Abort Abort

After a few days off doing absolutely nothing I decided to do a short walk along the Great Ouse and the River Ivel, about 7 miles (give or take).  However due to being badly organised I didn't start the walk until 15.50, so I only had an hour before dusk.  In the end I wandered down from Great Barford to Roxton Lock along the Great Ouse.  It was a bit chilly, overcast and a bit miserable.  Snow was on the way and it seemed that everyone and everything had hunkered down for the night.

Saying all that it was a nice 2 and a half miles there and the same back, as opposed to the full 7 mile loop.  It was getting dark before I got back to the car and the snow started 15 mins after.  As walks go it was a bit pathetic in length, but still good to get out and about!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Waiting for Winter

I don't like driving in snow, I don't like walking into town in the snow but I do like the hills in snow.  After the last two years I was planning to get out in the cold and maybe do a spot of wild camping.  My Microspikes proved their worth last year making dangerous paths passable with ease.

The weather so far has been a let down, in some ways the last two years have been an exception rather than the rule.  For the lower levels in England it's been back to normal, but the higher hills have also lacked any snow.  Maybe I'll have to venture to the real north and hit the hills in Scotland, though I've heard they are a bit steep...

Judging by the clearance prices on sledges, snow shovels and de-icer I'm guessing the supermarkets have also over estimated the vagaries of the UK weather.  The only thing you can guarantee about the weather is that it will be wrong!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Hard at work

A bit of cold for the winter, finally!  Might be a bit chilly but at least it brings clear skies.  Night shifts can drag a little and whilst usually hard at work, it's nice to take 10 minutes on the roof stargazing.  Whilst we aren't in the darkest part of the work, it's not a bad location.  On a good night the milky way is clear and on a better night a bit of meteor action.

The best nights I've had (for stars!) have been in the USA, where it's much easier to get away from the ever present light pollution.  That being said the last proper meteor storm I saw was a mind blowing experience that left you lost for words longer that 1 syllable, wow being most common.