ECCO BIOM TERRAIN II (A First Outing Review)

I had been told that these where good for wider feet, and my old divers boots were NOT going to happen, so I really needed some NEW boots for the Monadhliath Trip.
Thanks to Emma at ECCO who got me a pair in time to go, I took off in the
Brand NEW ECCO BIOM Terrain II’s to head to Newtonmore and then a small walk round to Aviemore.

Not a huge trip, but certainly enough to give them a good work over.

The BIOM Terrain II’s are made from Yak Leather with a Gortex Liner
a reinforced toecap and hard wearing Kevlar Rand.
They are designed after research on bio mechanical foot movement, and the intention is for both functionality and comfort.


Ecco Technical Info

  • Rugged, lace-up Boots, featuring ECCO’s Biom technology, for natural motion walking and hiking
  • Uppers of Yak leather are at least three times stronger than standard cow hide
  • Gore-tex® lining is breathable and guaranteed to keep your feet dry, even during extended wear
  • Biom technology and low-to-the-ground construction delivers a natual motion experience and full-length foot support
  • Full length foot support created using an anatomically-designed last shape, based on 2,500 different foot scans, for optimum fit
  • Direct-injected, Polyurethane (PU) midsole is lightweight and flexible
  • Rubber sole provides great traction, grip and is hard-wearing


Straight from the box they were comfortable, and I was going to wear them on a 3 day hike without any bedding in.

The inner does feel a bit soft, but in fairness to testing, I decided to go with it and see how it got on, rather than swapping for my usual Green Or Blue Superfeet inner




I wore them on them train on the way up, and then with pack (30lb) on the short walk from Kingussie to Newtonmore.
They were comfortable and do not feel heavy despite being a size 46 EU to fit my big feet.

Which brings me to sizes.

I am a UK 11 which is an EU 45.5

ECCO do not do a real UK 11 and this means that they are ½ an EU size over (shame)

They fitted OK though, but I had to wear a pair of liner socks and then my fluffy Brigdale socks, whereas I normally just wear the one pair of socks.
Still the liner socks help with keeping the foot drier, and stop sock rubbing so all is good there.
Still be nice to get a REAL UK 11 though.
Especially as I have 1 foot ½ a size bigger, so My Right Boot is really an EU size too big.

The next day we headed into the hills.
The weather was errrr. Scottish, so we had Wind, Rain, bog and snow underfoot, as well as heather bashing, Land Rover Track rubble etc etc etc.

I did have to fiddle a bit with the laces to get them right, but after that they worked well, in all conditions and in all terrain, both Up and down hill.
For me they were comfortable.
They feel light on the feet for boots (OK, MID’s), and although I still prefer shoes, if I have to wear boots, then these will do for me.

A few shots of them follow


Heading out at the start





On Top Of Fhreiceadain




Along the Dulnain


Back Home

As well as comfort, they remained waterproof throughout.
The tops do look like they are wetting through when they get into water, but none of this gets into the inner.

There was a bit of moisture on the inside at the end of the day, but this was just sweat heat from socks, and only really affected the tip of the inner, that felt very very slightly damp. Going to happen in all Gortex lined boots.

At this stage, I cannot really do a long term test but there is no sign of wear anywhere.
Need another 6 months to see what happens there

SO, in conclusion (at this point)

  • GOOD PURCHASE, glad I got them (especially if you have broad feet)
  • Comfort – very comfortable straight from the box
    Good on all Terrains, didn’t feel rocks on LRT’s and good all round grip
  • Lacing System – I thought this worked well, better than hoops.
    I had no issue with the laces slipping either.
  • Inners – Worked fine but I need a bit more heel cup support due to ½ size EU too big (I will go to my Superfeet Green from now on)
    Also, the superfeet do not hold any moisture from sweat at all.
  • Waterproof  –  Appear to be
  • Size – Good for me, BUT would have really liked a 45.5 proper UK 11
  • Style and Design – I like them (some will not like the Green, but I think it is good)
  • Price – You can get cheaper boots, but in some respects you get what you pay for.

You can read the TGO review of them HERE

Now I am rather looking forward to testing the ECCO BIOM ULTRA Gortex GTX shoes.



Luxe (sil hexPeak) in the Field

2nd to 4th April 2014

So I finally got to take the Luxe sil hexPeak out into the fields for a test.
Now, this could have been just to a local location, but it wasn’t.
It went to the Monadhliath Mountains between Newtonmore and Aviemore.
It was thus going to encounter wind and rain.

Since I got it, as you know, I have had a couple of issues.
Mainly with the inner tie points.
I have made these changes and also repairs myself, because rather than just send it straight back, I wanted to test it.
Also, since I have already seam sealed it with my own sealer, and also changed all of the main tent guys to 3mm, and sewn on the top loop properly, I did not want to have to go through all that with a NEW replacement.
So, I have NOT hassled Bob (yet), and taken it out to properly check.

It is actually going off to the lake District again next week, for a further test.
At the time of writing, it is ok.

So, first the repairs.

Note that although slightly annoying, these were minor repairs to slightly iffy stitching (predominantly on the inner tie points), and not fundamental flaws

The tie points on the inner were coming loose and the stitching pulling away on 3 of the ties.
Plus the outer loop on the top of the main tent.

These have been repaired by hand sewing, and seam sealing.
OK, the neatness of the sewing is not good, but the seams and tie points are now held on, and withstood test 1.


One of the original inner ties


Another repair and seal


Biggest repair was on the back tie. Here I have also added 3mm shock cord to stop so much strain being put on the tie point


Original stitching is NOT straight, and in some cases, also NOT even. This is on both inner and in places the outer,


Tie point had come away at edge on bottom, so I have re-sewn it on, and sealed it with silicon

As well as repairs, I have also added shock cord onto all the guy line of the inner.
This means that when they are tensioned up and especially in wind, the give is in the elasticated shock chord rather than against the tie join.
Rather than replace all the cord as I did on the main tent, I have just added an elastic loop at the end on a running knot.
This is fixed to the peg, and then the tensioner is adjusted as normal, but now the tension pulls to a triangle and this makes for a better shape and a more upright tub.


When putting the tent up, it is important that you first secure the main 4 side points and the mid points, that forms the inner rectangle.
I have attached the black ties that come with the tent, and these help to get the width about right, before you put in the poles.

Then add the pole via the door.
I keep the door partly zipped.
Get the poles the correct height, and then peg the front and the back.
You will probably have to fiddle with peg positions to get it correct.

I initially use a single pole at 140 (so set to 145) Remember 5 cm is in the ground!!!!
(and NOTE, most poles only go to 135 which in my opinion is NOT high enough).

BUT before I tension down the outer properly, I use a second pole of the same height.
In a high wind, I think it is essential to double pole this tent.
In fact, I think it is necessary to double pole it ALWAYS.
You can either use longer than normal poles.

I use Black Diamond Syncline
Or get a specialist Pole from Bob.
Or get a Pole Extender from Bob either 14 or 16 (Not available for Flick Lock Poles at the moment)
However they will be coming soon.

Once the Outer is up correctly, you can easily put in the inner.

Best method (I have found) is to do the following sequence.

  1. Attach the front most inner guys
  2. Use a small peg on the front outers where the hoops are, and also in the middle.
    This is personal choice bot works for me.
  3. Now attach the back mid point and then the back outers
  4. If you can tension them up form inside
  5. Attach the inner to the top hook
    Can be fiddly with 2 poles so I added a bit extra coloured cord to the hook to be able to pull it down.
  6. Fine tune the tension on the inner, and check the tension on the outer

And with that done, I have found the tent a super little Pyramid shelter
Strong and stable in wind.
Next to NO condensation.
Good amount of room for me, and a BIG porch area.
I take a small groundsheet for that.


Pitched along Dulnain in Monadhliath. A small amount of ripples in sides before final tensioning, but she was strong in wind and rain later that night. Didn’t budge at all.


Main guy line ropes changed to 3mm. I have colored them as well. Back Blue, Back sides RED, Mid points light blue, Front 3 Yellow. Makes it much easier to work out which are which in higher winds


Pitched alongside 2 Trailstars. She looks good.

Inside the tent, there is ample room in the porch, and for me at just over 5′ 10″ there is good room in both porch area and also inside the inner, to get all my gear in easily, and also cook.


Double poles (no inner). Sorry about the thumb in the photo


Inside with inner down


Looking up with inner attached


Inner from inside porch (me lying in porch)


Looking inside inner through door


Plenty of space in porch area. Could easily sleep a second person there in a bivi bag

It rained quite a lot that night, and even though the inner is half mesh all round, I was warm in just an old sleeping bag that only goes down to just above zero.

The tent was rock solid, and once pitched correctly, the inner did not touch the outer.
Indeed not only that, but there was NO condensation at all inside the outer, and I do get that on my MLD Trailstar, and on my Warmlite 2R


The spec on Bob’s site is approx 1100g

I would say, that with Change of Guy lines, robust seam sealing, and bigger better pegs, plus a bit of extra guy line (just in case) it comes in at closer to 1550 g in my spec.
I also added some sil nylon groundsheet for the front, and a couple of spare pegs just in case, and mine came in at approx 1700g 

So, in conclusion ……

This for the money, (£159.00) from Bob, appears to be a pretty good little shelter, which would easily do as a single skin with a groundsheet and bivi bag.

However, Luxe need to look into the manufacturing standards on the inner, and improve them for peace of mind.

Definitely double pole it, and if you have shorter poles, then get an extender from Bob, or a purpose built Pole.
I prefer the poles method because I don’t want to carry another pole equivalent just to put a tent up

I would also like to see 3 mm cord all round, and maybe the inner done with 2 mm shock cord rather than static cord.

Finally, better pegs. The purple 4.5″ (approx) pegs that come with it are just too short.
You need 6″ decent pegs minimum.
I used

MSR Blizzard stake at the back

CLAM CLEATS Tornado pegs on the rest.
I also used some of Bobs small titanium skewers to peg the inner at the front.

Now, with all those things fixed and done this would be a great little budget shelter.

It is NOT a Trailstar (with an Oookstar inner)
It is NOT a Golite Shangri-La 3

But if you want a good value tent, it is definitely worth a look.
But check out the sewing.

Will I be taking it on the TGOC this year?


Not because of the tent, but because I own a Trailstar and a Warmlite,
and I want to use this some more on shorter trips.

But, if I did NOT have a tent, and wanted to have a go with a Pyramid Tent, and my budget would NOT run to MLD or GoLite Gear costs, I most definitely would.

In fact, as I said, it is off to the Lake District next weekend.



Did I mention coming back through customs on the way home from France?
We had as you know if you read the last post, taken Harriet’s boyfriend Reece with us.
If you take someone under 16 abroad, and they are not related, then you have to have a letter signed by their parents, giving you permission, which is fair enough.
So we did, and on the way OUT OF THE COUNTRY, we were not asked for it.
On the way back in, we were. So it was rather unfortunate that Lucy had packed the letter in the bottom of a bag, in the bottom of the boot, assuming it would not be needed on the way back.
It was!
So that was fun (NOT).
A bit of advice
Best not to have a laugh with customs people while you wife is looking for the letter by saying
“We weren’t expecting to bring him back, but we couldn’t find a buyer”
Just sayin………………………………
And now, all the good things (for me)
Olly got his results this week, on his return from another holiday in Portugal (him not us), and all is good with the world.
Well, all is good in Olly’s World,
because he has his place at Moulton College in Northampton.
This is an excellent thing, because he can now do his Advanced Diploma in Sport, which is an A level equivalent, as part of the Rugby Academy, which is of course his passion.
So all in all, EXCELLENT.
Olly is No 25, playing Open Side
And also he had his first run out for Shelford Nomads (2nd XV ) this afternoon.
He had a good match, and Shelford won which is a bonus.
Ok, not the best game and a bit ragged in places, 
but first outing of the new season, and a win is a win.
So successful rugby, although tough taking photos in the never ending rain.
This next bit is for Catherine, who has for some reason taken exception to the fact
that in my 2011 Day 4 Cannich to Ault Na Goire write up, where we passed through Bearnock for something like 15 minutes, inc coffee stop, that instead of writing about the people and history and social aspects of the area, I mentioned it briefly, and fleetingly.
Apparently, this made my blog entry, pretentious and pointless, and I need to get a life.
Well, you cannot please everyone can you.
Pretentious Me (probably), 
“but nowt wrong we mi life tha nas”, Catherine
So, this posting has therefore nothing to do with the life and times of the people of Bottisham, Cherry Hinton, or Shelford, all places I cycled through today fleetingly on my way to the rugby to watch Olly.
And as such it is of course flippant, pretentious rubbish, and not worth reading or writing.
Catherine of course does not have a blog as far as I know.
If she does, I am sure it is Shakespearean, or Dickensian in its social and literary content.
And back to the plot.
It rained a bit today in Cambridgeshire.
Rather a lot really.
Thunder, lightening, sleet and hail.
It rained on the way there, a lot, I know I was on my bike.
It rained during the match.
In fact at one point they had to come off for 15 min, because there was no visibility.
AND I can definitely testify that it rained on the way back.
Lots and lots and lots of it.
So much that I had to stop twice and spend 40+ minutes in bus shelters.
Yes, I could have cycled, but it was so heavy, that I was more concerned about the visibility to motorists.
Eventually I did make it back, but was quite surprised having cycled through the A14 underpass, to find that by the time I got half way through, the puddle was actually over 2′ deep.
In fact, it was nearly to the top of the wheel at one point, and damned hard to cycle through.
Suffice it to say, that when I eventually got back home I was rather damp.
And so, to the cloud pictures at last, taken from our house, looking out across the fields.
Wonderful moody stuff.
I like clouds, you might have spotted that,
and so here are some especially pretentious ones 🙂

I had cycled through that lot.
Well, at ground level.

I did fiddle with the colour balance on this one

This is my favourite (but I love B&W)

Probably second favourite.
Very Close Encounters

All pictures taken with a
Samsung NX10
& 50 – 200 OIS Lens
+ Massa Polarising Filter

This posts music is
#98 by Matt Corcoran
I couldn’t find a U Tube clip so you may not get a controller for it.


Mais oui!

Nous avons quitté Portsmouth à St Malo sur la nuit en ferry.

Il a fallu un certain temps pour obtenir à bord, mais finalement nous avons réussi à obtenir dans notre cabine.

Le soleil commençait à descendre, et nous sommes allés sur le pont pour regarder le soleil se coucher

C’était magnifique

Coucher de soleil depuis le ferry

Quitter Portsmouth et l’une des tours Martello

Le jour suivant, nous avons débarqué à St Malo.
Mais, sur la route nous sommes allés rendre visite à des amis qui habitent à St Jacut.

Roger est l’anglais, et Claire, elle est français, mais a travaillé en Angleterre depuis de nombreuses années, et parle couramment les deux langues.

Oh enough of this French stuff, I struggle with writing it almost as much as speaking it,
so I apologise for the endoubted multiple errors in the above.
But heh, I tried.

So, yes, we did go to France.
We are English.

We tried to speak French as much as possible.
Well, Harriet and I tried to speak it.
Lucy can speak it, having spent some time in France in an earlier life, before I came along and ruined it for her.

Which brings me to a completely unrelated and off at a Tangent topic.
Recently I received an odd Anonymous Comment on my 2011 TGO Challenge Day 4
I have NO IDEA what it was all about, although a bit after that there was some strange activity on my blog. Not saying the two were related, just sayin………
I did reply to this, but I have now stopped anonymous comments, on the grounds that if you haven’t the balls to put your name, then you probably have nothing to say.
Just my opinion.
Well I did also answer the comments in probably a less than friendly manner, but heh….
Anyway as another response to it I would say

“Pretentious!  Qui Moi?”

And back to today’s topic …………………………….

Roger and Claire’s super garden

Infact, we spent much of the day there, after breakfast, we went to the beach and then back to lunch.

The beach

I mean, it was a holiday after all.

Eventually however, we had to drive the extra 60km down to Quechera (I may have spelt that wrong), which is near Gomene, which is a bit to the West of Rennes, and a bit North West of Ploermel.

The closest town is Merdrignac.

We are in the whiteis building to the left of the road bottom left of picture.
You cannot see us, but we are waving.

The rather fine farmhouse and outbuildings
The entrance to our gite
Inside our gite.
Well, a bit of it anyway

It looks flat round here, and ok, it is not the Alps, but I can testify that it is a darned sight more hilly than it looks, as I found out when I went out for a run and to see what was about.
Get a 1:25000 of the area and look.
Definitely hills.

This was a really fabulous place and Julie who it belongs to was excellent, and friendly.
Ok, it is a bit out of the way, and you really do need a car to go and do anything, unless you have some good bikes.

Here is a link the the website La Campagnard

Well worth a visit if you like a bit of peace and quiet.

Part of the garden at the gite
The pond at the gite.
It was this and Roger and Claires that inspired us.
Ok our pond is much much smaller, but then again, so is our house and garden

Anyway, if you like peace and quiet, and countryside  
(well, apart from the few Wind TurbinesDon’t  start me off,
the French seem to like buggering up some of their views too
but other than that it is perfect.

Bob the cat at the gite.
He is a fine fellow and very friendly

So anyway, we liked it , and luckily for us, the weather was excellent the whole time.
Apart from just the one afternoon, when it hosed down.

So that is it really, we spent a great week, doing very little, apart from going to rivers and beaches and swimming, and hiring canoes, and generally sight seeing and dosing about, in a slightly energetic way, and I did a few runs, and we drank French wine and Pastis and Belgian beer.

Tough life eh.

Did I mention the swimming pool?

This is with the roof on at the end of the day,
but the roof folded back completely to make it an open air pool.
Only 12m long, but after a hot day out bloody wonderful

Anyway, the rest is just a few photos of some lovely places in Brittany.

Well places we went to anyway

A local bread over being restored.

Apparently, you can get a grant to get them restored.
The chaps working on this one, (I say working), had been at it for weeks.
They seemed to spend a lot of time not actually doing anything at all, and then they went home again. In the week we were there I think they did 5 layers of tiles.

Just another roadside cross.
There are many of these all over the place
and also many places which have croix in their name

The church at Ploermel

Wooden scuplture at Ploermel

A meniere / standing stone in Gomene
These are also littered liberally all over the place

The small lake in Gomene, looking towards the church.
Taken on an evening run

I just liked this old window in Josselin
Lanes in Josselin

Window Shutter
Looking along the river at Josselin from near the Chateau

Looking up to the Chateau

I just loved the colours of this cottage

Now this is an odd one.
This is the LAKE at Mendrignac
It is marked on the maps as a lake.
It is a lake of very little water content

Another standing stone near Meniac

Along the beach at St Jacut

The castle at St Jacut, looking across to the town

View of the bay from the castle at St Jacut

I just liked this bit of old wooden beam

Another bay view at St Jacut

And then we had to come home.

However, on the way we went back and spent the day and a night in St Jacut.

So after another fine day on the beach having borrowed Claire’s canoe, and also a rather nice walk round the old castle, it was time for dinner with Roger and Claire, and then we were off to St Jacut again, to walk across the bay to the island.
This is a walk in the dark with candles, and an annual event.

As luck would have it, this was the day, and so we joined somewhere around 400 people.

St Jacut has an enormous tidal range. I believe it is 14m at its maximum

Dancing before the sunset, whilst waiting for the tide to go completely out, and the walk started

Looking out to where we would walk across and round the island

Sun going down by the beach

Crocs at the ready.
Let’s hope Humphrey doesn’t spot these then

Almost time to go

Handheld timelapse at the island.

Looking back at the candle lit procession

Remember, this was done at night, across a sandbank, either side of which was water.
Probably would not be allowed in England due to the requirement of 15 pages of forms that would need to be filled in before it was rejected by our Nanny State, and a bunch of Jobsworths.

Vive La France!

And then we really did go home.

Alan Stivell – Renaissance of the Celtic HarpIt’s a bit long this, but beautiful and somehow rather appropriate.


I was meaning to post some stuff about Brittany and holidays and stuff,
but in the meantime, and having got back from holiday,
I have been a bit busy with the dreadful WORK.

And we decided we wanted a pond, and so we

(meaning mainly Lucy)

(OK, nearly ALL Lucy), 

(OK, ALL Lucy).

built one in the garden.

What with that and the rather fine weather of the last week,
we have had some new friends round in the garden.

One of them is rather partial to the pond.

And here they are ………. 

You can’t have too many bees.
Well, you could, but you know what I mean.
And this fellow turned up at the bottom of the garden earlier in the week.

Well it appears, he very much likes the new pond, and made his way all the way up to visit us.

A little cat food snack is ok.
They also like meal worms

Hedgepig with Harriet
That orange thing is NOT the new pond, that’s a bowl.
Indeed that is an 18 year old bowl from Danchuria in Spain,
which we bought having finished the GR10.
Oh the things you could do before children


We are thinking there might be another one around as well.

Poor chaps are now officially an endangered species, so we are hoping to build this little fellow up while he sticks around, so eventually he/she can go and make more.

I have NO IDEA how to sex hedgehogs ok.

Must be that time of year, because my Mother and Father in Law have one in their garden as well.


Oh yes, and as requested the POND pictures.

This is during constructio.

Almost finished.
A bit more slab and stone to be laid and it will be done.
Maybe later this week.
The plastic has been cut off now though
Andy McKee – Nocturne

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