Overview of Sawyer mini filter

A new water filter system which compares very favorably to other such systems in terms of cost, ease of use and weight. Filter weighs only 53g. Cleaning plunger 30g. Straw 3g. 0.5 litre pouch 23g. Total weight of system 109g  (All weights  are mine and not manufacturers weights). Sawyer mini comes with a 100,000 US gallon (378,540 litre) guarantee according to their website.

Please check the Sawyer website to see if your particular requirements for a water filter system is provided by this product, particularly if using outside of the UK. UPDATE – it was pointed out to me that to filter out viruses, which tend not to be a problem in developed countries, you need to use a filter size of 0.02 microns. A useful page is here

Sawyer Europe can be found here 

Here is my overview video

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Review of Montane Grand Tour 55

A comfortable backpack with many excellent features. Here is my video review.

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Lakeland Backpack – Part 2

Inversion seen from Great Gable

Inversion seen from Great Gable

Tuesday

Dawn comes early near to the solstice and when I am in a tent, I wake pretty early, so a little after 5.30 I was already to get up. I decided to avoid making tea early as Terry and Chris were still asleep as far as I could tell. My Primus Spider is a noisy stove. I laid back down and turned on the radio on my phone and listened to the news on Radio 4 and did a bit of reading until 7.

Chris and Terry were stirring by now, so I started up the stove and made my first brew of the day. The sun was bright and the breeze of yesterday had gone.

A late pack up on Bleaberry Fell ( Terry & Chris)

A late pack up on Bleaberry Fell ( Terry & Chris)

Terry was to do some filming of Chris this morning before we set off and our route would take us back along the ridge I came yesterday and then down to Blea Tarn, over Ullscaff and High Raise.  I have been on video shoots before, and there can be a lot of hanging about. The weather was so nice, it didn’t matter to me, when we set off, when we arrived at camp or how far we were going to walk today.  One of the most important aspects of backpacking is the wild camps and so hanging around watching Terry and Chris was no problem for me. After breakfast, I packed up as I had to get my gear out of shot, then Terry and Chris did their stuff and we left quite late in the morning, heading to High Seat, where more filming took place.  I was trying to stop people walking into shot while Terry filmed, but within a short space of time we counted 17 walkers arriving at our spot and I gave up.

We stop for a break prior to more filming ( High Seat)

We stop for a break prior to more filming ( High Seat)

Some people were good and kept quiet, others would say are you filming? – Yes and then stood behind Chris right in front of the camera. Others stood in the way – texting on the phone. What I always find is that if you have a large backpack on, as opposed to a day pack, people assume that you must know what you are doing, so I often find myself fielding questions, like where are we? what way is X? and with Terry filming, it seemed to magnify the questions. Eventually Terry got what him wanted and off we set into the boggy bit. Chris was sensible he had his sandals on, but Terry and I just slopped our way through it.  Fortunately I had bought  with me a pair of unlined Hi-Tec trail shoes, so I had wet feet but they dried quickly in the warm sun.

Eventually we arrived at Blea Tarn, Terry did some more filming, I think it is only right to be vague about what the filming was about, I don’t want to give anything away!

Blea Tarn

Blea Tarn

On the way to Blea Tarn

Filming at Blea Tarn

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We tackled Ullscarf, Terry was finding it a bit of a struggle at times, but his pack with all the camera gear weighed as much as Chris and mine put together. He is a pretty strong bloke, so he made it over the fells with a bit of puffing and panting.

It was a beautiful evening when we finally arrived at High Raise and we camped below the summit. Terry and Chris did some more filming and I went off to find some water. It was surprisingly dry around the camp but I eventually found a small spring and came back with enough water.

Filming near High Raise

Filming near High Raise

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The wind had dropped to flat calm and the evening was still and warm. I made my evening meal and stretched out and just admired the view. With warm weather, the view, the fantastic sunset and the peaceful surrounding – it just doesn’t get much better than this.  Chris spotted a lone female Red deer just below us, sort of strange to see one on its own like that, a stag maybe, but not a doe.

Sunset from High Raise

Sunset from High Raise

Herdwick sheep near our camp

Herdwick sheep near our camp

A bit later on Dan Richards, Mark Richards son (of the guide book fame) came to join us for the night. He had ridden up on his mountain bike from Stonethwaite.

It was hardly dark by 11 pm and eventually we went to bed around midnight.

Wednesday

The call of nature had me out of the tent by 5.30, I waved to Dan who was taking some photos of an inversion on Helvellyn in the distance. I crept back into my bag and slept for another hour.

The morning was beautiful and warm again, I took a stroll around and then made some breakfast.  It was so peaceful, one of the best wild camp spot for quite awhile.

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High Raise

High Raise

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Doors left overnight - it was warm

Doors left overnight – it was warm

Eventually Chris and Terry got up, I was nearly ready for my lunch by that time :) but I had enjoyed the morning, just staring at the surrounding fells.

After their breakfast more filming took place, while Dan and I chatted. It was warm in the morning sun and definitely shorts weather.

Once everyone was packed, we said goodbye to Dan as he headed down to Langstrath.  We proceeded to walk towards Stake Pass. Our plan then was Angle Tarn, Esk Hause, Sprinkling Tarn, Sty Head and onto Great Gable, where a little flat piece of ground Terry and I had camped on back in late November was our next overnight stop.

Walking down to Stake Pass

Walking down to Stakes Pass

By the time we arrived at Stake Pass via Terry’s short cut the sun was beating down. My wet trail shoes felt like they were boiling inside. Chris got out his Kestrel potable weather station and measured 26C air temperature and 42C in direct sunlight, no wonder we felt hot.

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Angle Tarn

Angle Tarn

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At Angle Tarn, some more shots were taken after waiting for a couple of walkers to move on and we then took the steep climb up to Esk Hause.

Terry coming up from Angle Tarn

Terry coming up from Angle Tarn

 

Esk Hause

Esk Hause

After pausing for a breather we moved onto Sprinkling Tarn and dropped down to Sty Head, where a lot of tents as usual were gathered around the tarn.  A ten minute walk saw us to our camp for the night.

Wild camp at Great Gable opposite the Scafells

Wild camp at Great Gable opposite the Scafells

Here we met Phil, one of Terry’s friends who had driven over from Hull and was going to spend the night with us.  The view to the Scafells from here is one of the best I know. Looking down to Wasdale Head,  I thought it might be ideal conditions for a temperature inversion, Phil said he had never seen one and literally within a few minutes we saw one form right in front of us. I have seen plenty that I have woken up to, but I have never actually seen one form in front of me.

The series of photos was taken over a two minute period and Phil was raving about what we could see. I don’t normally use the word, as it is overused, but it was awesome. We watched the inversion rise and fall several times that evening.

Start of inversion

Start of inversion

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At its maximum

After watching the Wasdale Head Inn disappear and re-appear several times, the wind direction did a complete about turn, strengthen and we decided to retire to our tents.

Thursday

By early morning, when I awoke, we were in dense cloud and the great view that I went to sleep to, had completley disappeared. Time to crawl back into my bag.

Cloud down on our wild camp

Cloud down on our wild camp

An hour later the cloud was lifting as I made early morning tea,

That's better !

That’s better !

Phil left straight after breakfast, to get back home and a little later we were joined by Richard Fox from Fix the Fells. Terry was doing a piece with him, using the backdrop of the Scafells. Richard is on the left of the photo.

...from Fix the Fells ( L)

Richard from Fix the Fells ( L)

Final filming with Wasdale in background

Final filming with Wasdale in background

One final bit of filming with Chris, before we said our good-byes to Terry. Chris and I made our way down to Seathwaite and then Seatoller to catch the bus back to Keswick.

One great thing about Chris is, you can ask him about anything to do with backpacking and his encyclopedic memory engages, you can learn a lot walking with him, even if you have been walking the hills and mountains for 40 years or more !

Nearing Seathwaite, I took my final photo of the trip, before we joined the lane down to Seatoller.

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As I said before, great weather, company, hills and wild camps – it doesn’t get much better!

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A Lakeland backpack – Part 1

It was a trip I couldn’t wait to start, five days in the Lakes, with 4 nights wild camping and meeting up with Terry Abraham and Chris Townsend for 3 nights. We were to meet up on Bleaberry Fell as last year . The weather was set fair and good company and fine walking was assured.

I stayed overnight on Saturday at Burns Farm, Thelkeld, so that I could leave my car safely until Thursday. The site charges £3 per day for parking your car which I thought was reasonable.

After a fairly disturbed night listening to a world-class snorer some 20 feet away from me, I awoke to find a dry, cloudy and pretty humid day, without a breathe of wind.

Sunday

Packing up after a hearty breakfast, I left the car safely opposite the owner’s house and made my way down the tiny country lanes towards the start of the Coach Road, a track which winds gradually around Clough Head. My route today was to climb to the top of Clough Head, up onto the ridge and walk over the Dodds, to Helvellyn and then camp up on Nethermost Pike for a spectacular sunset – more about that later.

Clough Head

Clough Head

 

Start of the Coach Road

Start of the Coach Road

ld4

Old Shepherd’s hut

With 5 day’s worth of food, my pack was heavier than normally for a trip in the hills and with no breeze, it was a muggy start to the walk. As I didn’t need to get to Nethermost Pike at any particularly time,  I could take my time and saviour the landscape. Leaving the Coach road I headed up to Clough Head, along a stream with small waterfalls dotted along its length. With no breeze, humid conditions, midges, a heavier than normal pack, I can’t say that it was a pleasant climb.

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Once I was on the ridge, a breeze picked up, I cooled down a bit and the midges disappeared. Lunch was taken at Calfhow Pike before turning south to walk over the Dodds.  By now the cloud was coming down, obscuring the view from time to time.

Looking over to Bleaberry Fell. My next day's camp

Looking over to Bleaberry Fell. My next day’s camp

Walking towards Watson’s Dodd

By the time I had scaled Watson’s Dodd, the cloud was becoming thicker, fortunately the ridge was easy to follow even in dense cloud.  I took some photos of the summit cairns as I walked over them one by one, but they all looked the same.  I was now wondering whether I would see anything at my camp on Nethermost Pike.

I forget which Dodd this was!

I forget which Dodd this was!

Summit cairn on Raise

Summit cairn on Raise

By the time I got to the shelter on Helvellyn, I couldn’t see more than 10 metres in front of me.  There were four lads, who had walked up Striding Edge to get here, but no-one else other than us on a Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock. How many times does that happen?

A lonely Helvelyn summit

A lonely Helvellyn summit

I needed water for the evening as there was is little to be had since Clough Head .  Terry had suggested in an email prior to the trip, that there was a spring about 500 metres from the summit. Fortunately I had put the grid reference into my Garmin and I walked off into the gloom, glad that I did  as I would have never found  it otherwise. Then a strange happened just as I reached the spring, the clouds parted and the sun come out strongly as if lighting up the way to the water source. I sat down in the sun and drank deeply the cool fresh water before filling up my Platypus and Water Sawyer pouches.

Brownrigg Well ( spring)

Brownrigg Well ( spring)

As I left this little oasis, the clouds came back down blanketed my way again.  I retraced my steps back to the summit and walked along the edge to Nethermost Pike, squinting to see any view that might be had- there was none!   I camped on an outcrop, looking at Striding Edge, not that I could see anything.

Pitching my Stratospire quickly, I settled down for the evening, not much to keep the doors open as the cloud now had blocked everything out.  As I got into my sleeping bag, I heard the pitter patter of light rain on the flysheet.

Monday

An early night, led me to wake early the next day, to a fantastic view, the view I was looking for the night before, but it was well worth the wait as the following photos show.

Wild camp on Nethermost Pike

Wild camp on Nethermost Pike

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Sunrise. Looking down Grisedale & Ullswater in far distance

Sunrise. Looking down Grisedale & Ullswater in far distance

Striding Edge & Helvellyn

Striding Edge & Helvellyn

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Looking down at Hard Tarn

Looking down at Hard Tarn

The weather forecast on Radio 4 promised a much better day with long sunny spells and I set off down the well-worn path leading from Helvellyn to Thirlmere. On the way down I stopped several times to speak to early walkers on their way up, and a chap from Fix the Fells who was carrying out work on the Bad Step on Striding Edge to stop path erosion.  There were some fine views along the length of Thirlmere reservoir.

Walking down from Helvellyn

Walking down from Helvellyn

Thirlmere Reservior

Thirlmere reservoir

Reaching the bottom of the path, I turned left to walk a short distance through woodland to arrive at the road at Wythburn.

Crossing the main road here I  walked along a narrow lane in lovely warm sunshine to a footpath climbing Birk Crag.  The path levels out at Harrop Tarn and by a ford there I had a long lunch sunning myself and taking in the views.

Lunch stop at Harrop Tarn

Lunch stop at Harrop Tarn

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The next stage was through the forest, following by a hot climb out of the valley and back onto the fells. It was really warm and the sweat poured off me, it was humid and no breeze was to be found.

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Eventually after stopping a number of times to drink, I made it out of the forest following the path towards Blea Tarn. Reaching the top of the ridge I turned right towards High Tove.

Towards High Tove

Towards High Tove

This area is more like the Pennines than the Lake District and it’s bogs remind me of the Peak District, particularly as I went up to my knees in the thick gloopy mess not long after starting along the ridge.  A text from Terry confirmed that he would be there around 3 pm. I estimated that I would have another couple of hours and Chris would arrive around 7-ish

As I trudged along,  following the fence line over these fells, I was reminded what Wainwright in his guide to the Central Fells says about one particular fell on this ridge. “Peak baggers and record chasers may have cause to visit the summit, but other walkers may justifiably consider its ascent a waste of precious time and energy when so many more rewarding climbs are available, for the flat desolate top is little better than a quagmire, a tangle of swamp and heather and mosses, as is much of the surrounding territory”. If the sun wasn’t shining so brightly, I may have agreed with him, but his criticism seemed harsh on a day like today.

Over the fells I walked, Armboth Fell, Middle Crag, High Tove, High Seat, (at least I was ticking off the Wainwrights) until I starting climbing the last fell of the day – Bleaberry Fell.

Bleaberry Fell

Bleaberry Fell

Nearing my destination, I saw Terry wandering around on the top, I waved a few times and eventually he saw me and we walked over to his chosen wild camp spot.  Terry decided quite rightly that we should camp on the lee-ward side of the hill as there was a strong North Easterly wind blowing and he had found a little sheltered spot.

He had set up his tarp already and we walked back down from where I came to collect water from a small nearby tarn.

I pitched my tent, brewed up, and caught up with what Terry had been doing in the last few weeks.

Putting some more water on for my evening meal I could relax after a hard day’s backpack.  Later on we walked over to the summit cairn to see if we could spy Chris coming up from Keswick.  Soon we saw a solitary backpacker climbing towards us. Chris, like me earlier on, was sweating profusely – the humid weather and steep climb out of Keswick via Cat Gill ensured that.

Wild camp on Bleaberry Fell

Wild camp on Bleaberry Fell

It was good to see Terry and Chris again and many stories were swapped,  and like the year before, we were treated to another excellent sunset, before retiring to our beds. I slept with the doors open, it was a warm evening and the forecast for next few days promised more of the same.

Sunset from Bleaberry Fell with Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance.

Sunset from Bleaberry Fell with Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance.

 

 

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A different landscape

This is different from my posts about mountains and wild places. This is  a post about gentle rolling hills and places in and around the Lincolnshire Wolds, where I live. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and far from the impression that many have of a flat, boring landscape. True certain parts of the county mainly in the south east can resemble a large cabbage field, but in the north of the county, rolling hills give way to wide open skies, pretty villages and a small rural population. Enough words and let the photos do the talking.

Looking across the Viking Way near Walesby

Looking across the Viking Way near Walesby

Our regular dog walk near our house.

Our regular dog walk near our house.

Looking across to the Bain Valley

Looking across to the Bain Valley

Sunrise from our bedroom window

Wild flowers bloom next to our beck at home

Wild flowers bloom next to our beck at home

Dawn breaks at -19C – the coldest it has ever been at home

Mid winter near Nettleton top

Mid winter near Nettleton top

Drought spring 2012 Walesby Woods

Drought spring 2012 Walesby Woods

 

Walesby Woods

Walesby Woods

Viking Way

Viking Way

 

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The Evolution of Outdoor Gear

I came across a gem of a website back in 2010 and posted about it then. A lengthy discussion was had last week about gear from the 70’s and 80’s.   I am re-posting this  as the link has changed and if you are like me, who was in his teens in the 70’s and can remember times before Goretex and other technical products, I think you will delight as I did looking through the old brochures of outdoor gear companies.   How the memories came flooding back as I look through the website – Compass the Evolution of Outdoor Gear

Just a few of the memories for me:

The Blacks Catalogue showing The Good Companion Major tent that as Scouts we would take on many hiking trips along the South Downs Way and our canoe camp trips on the River Wye, Severn and across Lake Bala.

The Buffalo Systems Pertex Windshirt that I had and loved, only to have it nicked in Marrakech

Karrimor Jaguar, which I lugged up and down Ben Nevis and the Cairngorms, with my wife Mary twenty years ago -I still have it, although it has gone a bit mouldy!

Have a look at the site and comment/tweet some memories to share with us.

The top images courtesy of Tim Cotgrave 

 

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Initial look at the Tarptent Stratospire 1

On Great Gable

On Great Gable

My initial search for a roomy lightweight backpacking tent lead to several possibilities. After some deliberation, I decided to look at “pyramid style”shelters such as the Duomid, and SL3. I did have second thoughts despite a number of positive reviews and recommendations from fellow backpacking bloggers after reading a blog post by Philip of Sectionhiker found here. I was still attracted to the SL3 which you can get from Golite in Switzerland but I would need to spend quite a bit more for a half inner from someone like Oookworks for summer use.

So the the trail led to Tarptent and the Stratospire 1. I have read two good reports on the 2 person version by Andy Howell and these can be found here and here. I also posted comments on Roger Brown’s blog who has recently purchased the one person version, however I was also keen on the Scarp 1 as well, but a telephone discussion with Henry Shires, lead me to finally conclude that the Stratospire 1 was the one for me.

Purchasing the SS1  from backpackinglight in Denmark, meant that whilst it was a little bit more expensive (around £40) than getting it from the USA, it arrived  within 5 days and I did not have issue of import duty etc.

So far I have spent 6 nights in Stratospire, one at home and five nights in the Lakes on my recent trip.

A break down of the weight of the SS1 with my modifications is as follows:

Inner + Fly with stuff sack – 1150 g

Inner only – 391 g

Fly only – 791 g

Spare pole- 70 g

Easton nail pegs ( stakes) – 59 g

Extra pegs taken – 60 g

With everything – 1343 g

Below I have put together 2 simple videos (Terry Abraham has nothing to worry about ! ) that summarise my initial thoughts on the tent. 

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