Lost and found

I had a minor panic yesterday. I couldn’t find some gear that I knew that I had put somewhere: MLD eVent gaiters, Petzel e+lite, Integral Designs silnylon pack cover and some ID short gaiters. I just couldn’t find them wherever I looked. I wanted to take the MLD gaiters and the ID pack cover in particular to Dartmoor. I resigned myself to slightly heavier alternatives. Joy of joys, I found them today in a stuff sack that had slipped behind one of the plastic crates of gear in my garage. Phew! I need to have yet another gear sort out as it’s got a bit messy recently.

Hooray for the Bish!

Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones, Chairman of the Panel on the Future Direction of Forestry:

“It’s clear that the public care passionately about our forests and woodlands, and one of the panel’s very first tasks will be to meet with the grassroots campaigners who recently showed how much they valued their local woodlands”.

Sounds encouraging.

If you want to write to him to make your feelings known, here’s his address:

The Rt Rev James Jones
Bishop of Liverpool
Bishop’s Lodge
Woolton Park
Liverpool L25 6DT

What’s in Glen Van Peski’s pack?

Ever wondered what the doyen of SUL backpacking carries in his pack? Well now you can find out. (The video below doesn’t appear on Google Reader, so click through to the original post)


I’d like to see you walking on Dartmoor with only that little lot, mate!! Seriously, it shows how little you need if you are walking in a hot, dry climate. Having said that, there’s no way I wouldn’t take a change of clothes and a decent sleeping mat (look out for butt ring!!). His medical kit puts mine to shame. I’ll have to take another look at mine. I’m surprised he has so much for blister care. Perhaps he should get a better pair of shoes or socks. Great video. Makes my pack look like super-ultra-heavyweight.

This is only one of the excellent videos on the Gossamer Gear site. I was looking for the Mariposa video to see the aluminium stay. My pack has the old carbon fibre arrow shafts. It would be interesting to have one as a contrast. If I meet up with Maz, perhaps I’ll borrow the one from his Gorilla :) .

As an observation, I really like the use of these videos to demonstrate and explain the products. Tarptent also do some excellent videos. I even learnt something new about my Scarp (how to hook up the roof vents in a different way). I hope that more manufacturers take the trouble to shoot some videos of their products (a nice business opportunity for you Terry!)

Playing about with rucksacks

You can tell I’ve got too much time on my hands! After some trial packing this afternoon, I thought I’d try the combination of my Pipedream 600 with my GG Mariposa. It fits! Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised as the Mariposa absolutely swallows gear. The pack body is a bit wider than the Ohm and it makes all the difference. It also has more flexibility with its mesh pockets. So I’m now thinking of returning to the Mariposa as my pack of choice. It feels so comfortable. Decisions, decisions!

Watching the weather

On Monday, the week after next, I’ll be off for my first backpacking trip to Dartmoor. Excitement is rising, and I’m starting to look at the weather forecast. Although I don’t mind what the weather will be, it will dictate my gear choices. In particular, my sleeping bag choice.

Having suffered some cold nights in the Lake District recently, I’m tempted to take a warmer sleeping bag (my Pipedream 600). However, if the forecast is for unsettled weather, the nights are likely to be milder, so I could get away with a lighter sleeping bag and supplement it a warm jacket.

What sleeping bag I take will dictate what rucksack I take. If it’s the PD 600, then I’ll have to take my Ultrahike 60. I tried a bit of experimental packing this morning and the extra bulk of the PD 600 is too much for the ULA Ohm. It means a bit of a squeeze for the rest of the gear and I don’t like compressing gear too aggressively. If I take my Cumulus Quantum 350, I think I should be able to fit everything into the Ohm.

I’ll just keep an eye on the weather over the next week and make a late decision.


That is the question.

Useless wind farms

I spotted this in yesterday’s FT (not the picture!):

Renewable Energy Generation, the green energy developer and operator, blamed “abnormally low wind speeds across the UK” for widening pre-tax losses.

REG, which runs 10 onshore windpower projects in locations including Cornwall, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Cambridgeshire, said lack of wind knocked £1m from its interim profits.

Andrew Whalley, chief executive, said: “December was the worst month in 10 years for wind in the UK, and January was pretty awful as well . . . but it goes in cycles.

“We’re not seeing a long-term reduction in wind speed, it’s just that the past 12 months have been a really bad period for wind.”

Aim-quoted REG has a goal of investing £100m in the sector by the end of 2012, which Mr Whalley said the group was on target to achieve. “We’ve got lots of projects, lots of cash, and we’re ready to invest it in UK wind.”

That just about sums up how useless wind energy is. In the coldest December since the 1960s, wind energy couldn’t deliver the energy we needed to heat our homes. Brilliant! When does it deliver energy? When it’s windy of course, which usually means Atlantic depressions and mild weather. The last sentence also fills me with horror.

I also found some interesting stuff on Denmark the other day. Denmark generates about 20% of its energy from wind. Have a read of this and weep. One of the startling observations is that because wind fluctuates wildly, it causes instability in the electricity grid. Obvious when you think about it. Will Alex Salmond/Jim Mather/Ed Milliband/Chris Huhne look objectively at wind power? Don’t bet on it.

Dartmoor planning part 2

The die is cast. My train tickets have been booked. In two weeks, I’ll be off! A single from London to Ivybridge and another single from Exeter to London cost £88 altogether. With bus fare and tube fares, I guess total travel will cost around £100, which is not hugely different to the cost of petrol for a round trip.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me with pieces of information, which has helped the planning process. At the moment (this is subject to amendment) the route looks like this:

Day 1: arr. @ Ivybridge at 15.18. Two Moors Way from Ivybridge diverting over Butterdon Hill, Piles Hill,  camp somewhere between Three Barrows and Leftlake (SX 647 634). Distance: 5.5 miles. If I’m feeling energetic I may carry on until Huntingdon Cross.

Day 2: Leftlake, Quickbeam Hill, Brown Heath, Huntingdon Cross, Huntingdon Warren, Ryder’s Hill, Down Ridge, Hexworthy, Dartmeet, Babeny, Riddon Ridge. Distance: 11.5 miles.

Day 3: Riddon Ridge, Bellever Tor, Postbridge, Hartland Tor, Grey Wethers, Teignhead Farm, Whitehorse Hill, Hanginstone Hill, Steeperton Tor, possibly Hound Tor. Distance: 12-13 miles.

Day 4: Steeperton Tor, Okement Hill, Dinger Tor, High Willhays, Yes Tor, Rowtor, Okehampton. Distance 9-10 miles.

The end of day 3 and day 4 are a bit flexible and I may camp at Dinger Tor or somewhere on the way. Much depends on the weather and conditions under foot. If it’s fine weather and reasonable under foot, I would expect to made good progress.


Dartmoor planning

OK, let’s get back on track. James’s Dartmoor jaunt has inspired me to have a look at Dartmoor for my next trip. The last time I was on Dartmoor was on a geography field trip when I was at university, a looong time ago. I’ve been a bit lazy going to the Lakes a lot over the past year. The Lakes takes next to no planning. Dartmoor on the other hand is taking a bit of time to research.

Firstly, I have to consider whether to drive or go by train. Driving brings flexibility, but where to park the car safely is a bit of a concern. I’m looking to take a train this time, I think. It means I can do a linear walk from Ivybridge in the south to Okehampton in the north. A midday train from London can get me to Ivybridge (with one change) by 15.18, which seems quite fast.

The return journey is not quite so straightforward as I’ll have to get a bus from Okehampton to Exeter. The National Rail app on my iPhone indicates a frequent service but I’ve got find a definitive timetable somewhere on the web.

I’m looking at walking up the eastern side of Dartmoor keeping mainly to access land. I now have three sets of maps to consult, OS 1:50,000, OS 1:25,000 and Harvey’s BMC 1:40,000. Each shows a slightly different set of paths, however, on the high moor, I imagine I’ll just be able to walk in a straight(ish) line. I’m going to avoid obvious boggy hollows where I can.

While wild camping is allowed on a lot of Dartmoor, it’s not permitted everywhere. There are some basic maps and an interactive tool on the NP website (I’ll do a separate post on resources that I’ve found/used). Basically, most of the south and the north moor is OK, but the central bit from Princetown to Dartmeet is sparse, so it’s worth checking. I’ll put my exact route on another post when I’ve firmed it up.

I was concerned about the Army firing ranges on the north moor, but the information on live firing is readily available and there shouldn’t be any on the Okehampton range at the beginning of April, when I’m planning to go. I’m only going to skirt the eastern edge anyway.

I bought the Cicerone guide “Walking on Dartmoor” by John Earle, but, quite frankly I’ve found it a bit disappointing. The background stuff is reasonably informative, but the walks are mainly day walks. There’s no master map of where all the walks are and the descriptions of the long distance walks are cursory or just a list of places.

In terms of gear, I’m hoping to take my Duomid. Sean at OookWorks is making a bespoke inner for me and hopes to have it ready soon. It will be slightly larger than the floor area of the Scarp 1 (same width, but slightly longer) and weigh about 500g. With pegs and pole extender, the Duomid will be about 1.1kg. It should be palatial!

I’ll see what the weather forecast is before I leave but I’m inclined to take my Pipedream 600 after being cold in the Lakes. I must be getting old as I seem to be sleeping cold now. I’ll probably take my ULA Ohm pack, assuming that I can fit everything in, but that will depend on how much space my sleeping bag takes up.

The “extras” that I will take compared with a Lakes trip are gaiters and my lightweight waders for stream crossings. The waders weigh less than 300g, but they a very useful for stream crossings so it seems sensible to take them as whatever route I take will require some river crossings.

I’ll post some updates as I firm things up.



My blog stats indicate that this blog has attracted over 300,000 page views in the nearly three and half that it has been in existence. Is that good or bad? I’ve no idea, but thank you for reading it. At the current rate of viewing it should reach 500,000 page views just before its fifth anniversary. All I need to do now is think of some more twaddle!