Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Out of the blue, I was approached to review the fourth edition of Chris Townsend's Backpacker's Handbook. More on this once I've ploughed through it. It's certainly very comprehensive.

Towards the end of January, I'll be reviewing Wild Country's new Zephyros 1 solo backpacking tent. I'm really looking forward to seeing what it's like. Basically a Terra Nova Laser but rather more robust (and heavier, of course) but for £150 it seems remarkably good value.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

TGO Challenge

The applications went in a while ago. This would be my third Challenge. I'm in a team of four this time, me, Frank, Gill & Bert. Frank, Gill and I were a team of three in 2010; I've never met Bert but Frank says he's "all right" so that's good enough for me. The bad news is that we weren't selected and are on the reserve list. The GOOD NEWS is that we're numbers 5, 6, 7 and 8 on the reserve list so we're as good as in. A route plan is now beginning to take shape. Watch this space. I really must get round to uploading all the photos from this year's Challenge.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Backpackers Cambridgeshire weekend 17 September

I met with the others this morning at Fenstanton. Not too many hills around here! We followed the River Great Ouse to Swavesey (which used to be an inland port) and then to Over where we stopped for a pint. Heading back to the river, we went on to Earith and back down the other side of the river on the Ouse Valley Way to a hotel at the marina near Needingworth where we are camped in the grounds.
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Cambridgeshire - Thursday 15 September

Arrived here early for a Backpackers Club weekend so have some time to kill. A circular walk is called for with about three hours to spare. From Comberton, I joined the Harcamlow Way although the only waymark signs were for the Wimpole Way which uses the same route for some of the distance. The Wimpole Way is only 14 miles long, from Wimpole Hall into Cambridge (I think). Through a few villages, all very pleasant and undemanding.

On the map nearby was a Travelling Telescope. I've come across it before and looked it up but for the moment I've forgotten what it is.
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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

TGO Challenge - Day 13 Wednesday 25 May

Raring to go on the last day but it was going to be short. Over the A90, it was a minor road walk all the way to the coast but quite pleasant with very little traffic. Other Challengers were going the same way but peeled off, going to different finishing places.

I made a really last minute change. We were to finish in Tangleha'. This would normally involve going straight there by road. Instead, we went through the coastal village of St. Cyrus (the finishing point for some) and along the cliff path to Tangleha'. There, we were met by Ian's wife, Lilian, who transported us to the Park Hotel in Montrose where we checked in at Challenge Control and were given certificates and T-shirts.

I had decided on Tangleha' as our finishing point as I was intrigued to see a place which ended with an apostrophe and to find out why. Just before we reached it on the cliff path, we saw what was left of a former castle. Very little was left of it, it having been taken by the sea. I ruminated that this might explain the name but that would make it Tangleca' (some having dropped off). In fact, we were told that the full name is or was Tanglehaven.

So, that's it for another year. We were a team of two which, from day 2, became three, with Ian joining us. He was able to identify birds for us sometimes and was always a ready source of dry Yorkshire wit.
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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

TGO Challenge - Day 12 Tuesday 24 May

What a change in the weather from yesterday. We left the hostel under a blue sky and set off along the road, calling in at The Retreat (a folk museum, visitor centre and café) for tea (others had breakfast). I was interested in their free wifi but it didn't seem to work.

We continued along the road to cross the bridge over the River North Esk just before Fernybank and followed a clear track south of the river, past the beautifully named Rocks of Solitude. Ian and I had to wait here as Sean had disappeared into yet another wood with his trowel and seemed to be taking rather a long time about it. We speculated that, given his age, he might have nodded off with his trousers round his ankles, having forgotten why he was there. We were about to go to look for him when he appeared with a smile on his face.

We walked on to the village of Edzell and joined other Challengers at the excellent Tuck In café for lunch. Afterwards, we walked a few miles down the long straight road to the campsite at North Water Bridge. Not a drop of rain today. Last day tomorrow.
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TGO Challenge - Day 11 Monday 23 May

It was raining when we woke and that was the theme for the day except it got much worse.

We made our way down to Spittal of Glenmuick and called in at the visitor centre for a drink at the machine there. We then battled our way through the wind and rain up beside the torrent of a burn (name unknown), aiming for the bothy at Shielin of Mark. It was so wet underfoot but we splashed our way up and across to the burn leading to the bothy where we had elevenses. The burn outside was more of a fast flowing torrent but it had to be crossed. It was tricky but only knee high. We were well on our way away from there when there was a shout from the other side. It was Mervyn, a fellow BPC member, so we went back to where we had crossed the torrent to make sure he got over safely.

We then floundered 1.5km through heather and bog and a couple of smaller burns over Muckle Cairn. There was then a steep descent to the track leading down to Stables of Lee but we first had to negotiate a fast flowing torrent across the track. This was above knee level so we got a production line going. Numerous photos were taken but there were no mishaps. All this time and for the rest of the day the hurricane wind rarely let up. At one point I found myself taking some steps but not actually moving. Many times we were completely blown off course. For once the forecasters got it right.

There was a long trek down to and alongside Loch Lee. We were glad to reach Tarfside where the lady volunteers at St. Drostan's Hostel did an amazing job of providing hot meals and drinks, despite there being a power cut! The rest of the day and evening were spent at the hostel. There are lots of Challengers here. Beds have been provided for the night, even floor space. An amazing time and quite memorable.
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TGO Challenge - Day 10 Sunday 22 May

The talk amongst Challengers this morning was of Monday's weather - winds of up to 130mph on the tops. Our route today would have been through Glen Callater, Jock's Road to Acharn and tomorrow would be from Acharn down to Clova and then up to Loch Brandy over to Tarfside, heights of 800-900m. It was thought inadvisable so we switched to our planned foul weather alternative route.

So, today our route took us to Invercauld Bridge, through Ballochbuie Forest, being part of the Balmoral Estate, and out on a track south of Ripe Hill. We lunched outside Gelder Shiel bothy just as some rain swept across in front of us. Frank, Lawrence and Lesley caught up with us here but the three of us, me, Sean and Ian left first to go up a generally indistinct path through heather alongside Gelder Burn for 1.5km to meet the track at Little Conachcraig. It was quite hard going.

The track ascended with fine views of Lochnagar. The wind began to pick up and stayed with us as we descended towards Spittal of Glenmuick. We had been intending to pitch at Shielin of Mark about 5km further on but reckoned that the wind would make it a very rough night. Therefore, we stopped early and are camped in woodland next to a burn at Allt-na-giubhsaich. There are probably around ten tents scattered about amongst the trees and we seem to be below wind level. Quite idyllic.
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Sunday, 22 May 2011

TGO Challenge - Day 9 Saturday 21 May

Well, that was another wet and windy night. We called into Mar Lodge for tea and biscuits, meeting a fair number of Challengers there. Many had stayed overnight in the Lodge itself and eaten there. It was then just a 6km road walk (but a lovely one) into Braemar. We missed the path to go there through woodland as we were too busy talking.

We went straight to the campsite to pitch and then went back into the village. A café was doing a special lunch menu at a special price for Challengers which we went for. We then had a drink at the Fife Arms. A visit to Braemar Mountain Sports for a couple of essentials.

Challengers everywhere, of course. Braemar acts as a funnel for many routes so we met a number of others. Alan Sloman was here, so were Gayle and Mick, fresh from their Lowestoft to Ardnamurchan walk.

An early start tomorrow. Horrendous weather is forecast for Monday so we are likely to switch to our foul weather alternative route.
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Saturday, 21 May 2011

TGO Challenge - Day 8 Friday 20 May

It rained all night and as we were getting up it turned to sleet and snow for a while. However, it had stopped by the time we packed up and very soon the sun came out. There were stunning views of the snow-dusted hills.

We followed alongside and above the River Feshie until late morning when it turned south and we continued east. There was a difficult section where there had been a landslide and we had to negotiate some scree. Sean didn't like it one bit. The river crossings were fun. The best way across was to go as quickly as possible to avoid teetering on rocks mid stream.

The path was clear all the way although there were some boggy stretches.

We had planned to wild camp at White Bridge, 22km away but agreed before setting out to head for Mar Lodge, a further 8km, so here we are. It's very open and windy so not the best situation although very level. It shouldn't be more than 6km into Braemar in the morning.
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TGO Challenge - Day 7 Thursday 19 May

We woke to passing showers but they stopped shortly after we set off just after 8.30 and we only had one or two showers later in the day. It was good walking weather.

After crossing the A9, we took the track to Phones Lodge to follow once again General Wade's Military Road in the direction of Kingussie. The General was a busy man during the Jacobite Rebellion. We crossed and then went back under the A9 and passed by Ruthven Barracks, also built by General Wade.

Our route then followed the B970 to Drumguish and then into forest, across upper Coire Fhearnasdail and then into more forest to Glen Feshie where there was a single track tarmac road above the river. We crossed the river at 850965, the other bridge at 846938 having come down some months ago.

There was then an easy path through heather and woodland to our pitch outside Ruighaiteachain bothy. We've walked about 27km today.
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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

TGO Challenge - Day 6 Wednesday 18 May

Yesterday evening by the river was quite calm but the rain and wind really got up in the early hours of this morning. So much so that, at 4.30am, I was out repitching the tarp into it's wild weather mode.

Today was easy walking. Just 20.5km and all road walking but enjoyable nonetheless. Our route all day followed the River Spey, sometimes close, sometimes not. There was barely any traffic. We stopped at Laggan Stores and then in for a lunchtime pint at the Monadhliath Hotel. All of our walking was in the Spey valley so we had really good views. We arrived around 4pm at the Invernahavon Caravan Club site so another chance of a hot shower. We haven't seen any other Challengers since this morning and there aren't any on the site so far. Maybe they're being more adventurous.
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TGO Challenge - Day 5 Tuesday 17 May

No sign of rain this morning. We stowed away our first resupply parcels and bought more food and other essentials from McVeans supermarket in Fort Augustus. It was only when I found they didn't sell gas that I discovered the Londis attached to the garage. It sells gas and meths and is much better stocked.

We left Fort Augustus by the lane past the burial ground opposite the golf course and followed signs for the Corrieyairack Pass. It was a long but gradual ascent of about 11km, all along a rough track but with good views all the way. It rained a bit and got quite blustery as we neared the summit.

Then it was a long descent of about another 11km down the other side to our wild camp by the River Spey at Garva Bridge. There are about fifteen Challengers camped here. It's now raining and seems set for the night.
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Monday, 16 May 2011

TGO Challenge - Day 4 Monday 16 May

Today was a day of patchy light rain until about 4.30 when it cleared up. There's not a lot to be said about the walk into Invergarry. It was about 9.5km along a forest road although most of the forest had been felled. The last 2km or so into what there is of the village was on a riverside path which was very pleasant.

In the village we came across Bob and Rose of Backpackinglight going in the opposite direction. We called in for a pint at the Invergarry Hotel. At this point, I mentioned a tearoom by the Caledonian Canal at Bridge of Oich which I'd visited on my LEJOG in 2009. Therefore, we changed our route to make that easier, going along the path just above and parallel to the road and, thankfully, the Bridge Tea Garden was still there and open.

Suitably refreshed, we decided against the five mile walk along the canal towpath to Fort Augustus and, instead, crossed the swing bridge to take a track the other side of the canal and river. After 2.5km, we located where a bridge should have been to cross the Invervigar Burn at GR 336056 but it appeared to have gone some time ago and was impassable. It was all very overgrown around it and no sign of a path the other side. After much hunting around for another bridge and alternative ways round, we decided to go back to Bridge of Oich and bash the five miles into Fort Augustus. So, a long day. We finished walking at 7.15 but we're on a good site and have had our first shower since leaving home.
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Sunday, 15 May 2011

TGO Challenge - Day 3 Sunday 15 May

We woke in the bothy to driving wind and rain. The first challenge of the day was to cross the River Kingie. It was perhaps 30 feet across. Ian went first. He's over six feet and the water came just above his knee level. Not wishing to get unduly wet, my trousers came off. There was a video camera running. They shouldn't allow this sort of thing on Youtube!

After that, it was a wet yomp up to meet a track which we followed for 3km to the forest of Glen Kingie. The path for the first 3km was wet underfoot in places and muddy but easy to follow. We then joined a better track east for 6.5km to a new bridge at GR129000, then taking an indistinct path NE back down towards the river - very wet underfoot and at first we thought it was going nowhere but after a few hundred yards a path appeared at the point where there were the remains of an old footbridge.

We emerged from woodland on to a wide area of marsh and bog with the River Garry beyond. The path here was non-existent but was on the map. We followed it for 3.5km to Garrygualach. It was all as wet as could be but the rain, which came and went, was light.

On then to Greenfield, consisting of about four houses. I'd intended that we'd camp here but there was nothing. About 2.5km further, in the forest, we (the three of us, as Ian is still with us) came across a wooden hut. Two other Challengers, Jane and Terry, were in occupation. We are camped behind. It's a bit rough but quite acceptable and very peaceful. I've been to a party at the hut! We were joined by Nicole (German but resident in Inverness). We feasted on olives and single malt.
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TGO Challenge - Day 2 Saturday 14 May

It rained all through last night but my trusty tarp kept me well dry. It eased off sufficiently to strike camp comfortably and there was a good breeze to ensure that the tarp was packed dry.

Our route for the first 1km was a level walk always within sight of the Finiskaig River. It then climbed quite steeply. My Goretex socks keep me dry up to six inches above ankle level. A river crossing here prompted me to take them off and wear shoes barefoot. We then climbed more, eventually reaching Lochan a' Mhaim. Around here we met with Ian from Gayle in North Yorkshire and he stayed with us for the rest of the day.

The rain set in and remained with is for much of the day. Our route took us on a good track through the forest of Glen Desserarry down to Strathan.

In Glendessarry
From here, we took a path signposted Tomdoun, which was some way past our stop tonight. It was mainly a vehicle track but very indistinct at times and very wet underfoot all the way. The rain came and went as we climbed up the Dearg Allt. After about 4km, we eventually arrived at Kinbreack Bothy but to get to it involved another socks off river crossing. We are overnighting, with about six others, in the bothy. At last count, there were two tents outside but it is raining heavily now and shows little sign of stopping.
Ian on his way to Kinbreack Bothy

Kinbreack Bothy
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TGO Challenge - Day 1 Friday 13 May

We woke to passing showers. We were down at the harbour by 9am to secure our tickets for the ferry crossing to Inverie. It was mainly Challengers on board but also a few cyclists with their bikes. The ferry is also used for transporting supplies to the few residents and, presumably, the pub.

It was a smooth crossing, lasting 45 minutes. We called in at the Old Forge for a pint, if only to be able to say that we've been in the most remote pub on the British mainland.

Sean waiting to go in to help the local economy
There was only one track east out of Inverie and we took it.

The view west just outside Inverie
After rising a bit, we followed a track along the foot of Sgurr Coire Choinnichean, taking a track off to the right a little way past a monument up to our right. We passed a bothy (marked as a ruin on the map) and followed an easy track along Gleann Meadail which eventually started to climb up to the col at the foot of Sgurr Sgeithe. The mountain views ahead of us were impressive, looking across to Ben Aden.

Crossing the bridge over Inverie River

Looking back to Inverie

It was then a long zigzag descent down to Carnoch, a large ruin, possibly an old farmstead. Then over the River Carnach on a very bouncy bridge which a notice told us we crossed at our own risk.

Once over the bridge, we had to make our way across a wet and boggy delta until we reached Sourlies Bothy at the edge of Loch Nevis. We are camped with others. All is quiet, apart from the now steady rain. Apart from the early showers, it hasn't rained today until now so it's been a good walking day. We've walked about 13km I think.

At Sourlies Bothy
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Friday, 13 May 2011

TGO Challenge - Thursday 12th May - Journey to Mallaig

Today started inauspiciously. Sean and I were to get up at 4.45 to leave for Northampton station at 5.30. For some reason, I set my alarm for 5.30! Oh well, I woke naturally at 4.45 and we were in good time for the train, thanks to Sean's wife, Jude.

We were in Glasgow by 10.30 and now, at 3pm, we are well up into West Highland Way country. Having suffered from a blocked ear this past week and even bought more Otex on Glasgow station, it seems to have improved due to the pressure change from the rising gradient of the line.
Now in Mallaig, ready for the 10.15 ferry crossing to Inverie in the morning. Most of the people we've seen around the village are fellow Challengers.

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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Cotswold weekend - Saturday

Distance walked - 24 miles.

I had a good night but the wildlife was so LOUD at times. Owls woke me twice during the night and as I struck camp at six o'clock this morning a barking fox must have been only a few yards away. No-one passed by last evening - a perfect pitch. I was away by half past six and went through a very quiet Blockley, a lovely village in the early morning sun.

Blockley from the Heart of England Way
From Blockley, my route took me through Broad Campden, Chipping Campden, joining the Cotswold Way up to Dover's Hill. Then on to Broadway Tower where I called in at the tearoom there and was pleased to see my friend Kim who I'd last seen for tea when on my LEJOG in 2009. From there, I walked on to Snowshill, a chocolate box village like many of the others this weekend.
The sun continued to shine as I passed through Taddington, Cutsdean, Ford, Temple Guiting, Kineton, Guiting Power, Naunton and then Bourton-on-the-Water where this weekend's trip ended.

View from Dover's Hill, Chipping Campden

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Cotswold weekend - Friday

Distance walked - 12 miles.

With the Challenge only four weeks away I thought I'd better make sure that the body and the kit still work.

I decided to do a repeat of a weekend I did in August 2009, a circuit of the northern Cotswolds. I set out at 2pm and headed west through Little Compton, Barton-on-the-Heath and Moreton-in-Marsh. I'm now under the tarp, as before, in Park Plantation, about a mile short of Blockley.

On the way, I had to do something I never like doing. Going into a field of very inquisitive young heifers, my exit lay through a gate downhill at the far corner. I don't like being downhill of them, because although the nearest ones might stop, the ones behind don't know they've stopped and the whole herd might come hurtling towards me. In the event, when I heard their thudding footfalls getting close, I'd turn round and glare at them which brought them to a halt. Eventually they turned away and went off in another direction.

Approaching Century Plantation

In Park Plantation  

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Waterproof socks

For some years, I've thought the concept of waterproof socks a good idea. Obviously, with boots with a waterproof membrane, they aren't necessary. However, I'm not now particularly keen on boots, apart from in winter when, for me, boots are really the only option. I have found that, however well the boots have been fitted for me, I still get blisters, usually on my heels.

I've come to love wearing trail shoes. Over the years, I got through about six pairs of Merrell Exotechs and then the updated Motovator. They were supremely comfortable with a good Vibram sole. They weren't waterproof but with SealSkinz socks they were very good and I walked 500 miles of the South West Coast Path with them. I knew my size and periodically I'd just order another pair online. However, the Motovator was discontinued a few years ago and nothing replaced it with a decent sole tread. My SealSkinz then failed. The inner membrane then seemed to come adrift between the inner and outer layers. I sent them back to SealSkinz and they replaced them with another pair but after a few outings, they let water in. Waterproof socks that weren't waterproof. Not good. Since then I've sent two more pairs back for the same reason. This week, I've received a third pair and we'll see how they perform. Full marks to SealSkinz (the company) for not quibbling but surely I can't be alone in finding the socks unsatisfactory.

Whilst on the internet this week, I found that Trekmates do a waterproof sock, the Amphibian, selling for £29.99. It's somewhat different from the SealSkinz product. The latter can be worn in place of a normal sock but the former is intended to be worn over a normal sock. Anyway, it seems that the Amphibian is being discontinued and Trekmates are getting rid of their remaining stock. All they have is size Small for shoe size 6-7. This should do me and, at a sale price of £9.99 plus p&p they seemed worth trying. I'll post my findings in due course. If they are good, I wonder why they are being discontinued.

On my Exmoor outing last week, I wore Inov-8 Roclites with ordinary socks. My feet got wet a few times but dried out. I don't have a problem with blisters caused by wet feet. I just don't like the initial sensation of my feet suddenly getting wet but, after a while, most of the water goes out and my feet warm up. I think, on balance, I'm prepared to put up with this rather than suffer blisters in boots. At the moment, I'm planning to wear shoes on the TGO Challenge in May. They were superb on the last section from Braemar to the end last year.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


An opportunity for a couple of days backpacking on Exmoor. Started with a lovely walk the seaward side of The Valley of Rocks, observed by the resident mountain goats. Along the harbourside of Lynmouth and then along Lyn Cleave and then Myrtleberry Cleave, following the Two Moors Way to Watersmeet. Continued alongside East Lyn River to Rockford, Brendon and Malmsmead. Had to make way here for three Exmoor ponies which hurtled past me to rejoin others that I'd passed by minutes earlier.

Then headed south past Cloud Farm and into Doone Country. I saw smoke and flames ahead and was quite concerned until I realised it was controlled burning of bracken and heather. The flames were impressive.

Oare Common looked good for a wild camp but it was too early. Later found a very nice pitch at 794445. No-one passed by to disturb me. Was away by 7.15 and followed a path on the west side of Badgworthy Water and crossed the bridge at 796437 to follow a track which took me by the ruin of Larkbarrow, after which there was a vehicle track south to a road. Here I rejoined the Two Moors Way, passing by Warren Farm. The path just past the farm to Prayway Head started well but involved a stream crossing followed by a long steep climb which was tussocky, wet and muddy. Not good. Having done that, it was easy going by Ravens Nest to the road at Prayway Head.

The track then went by Exe Head and then above a stream in a valley to Hoar Oak Tree. I wanted to head for Cheriton but somehow went in the wrong direction and found myself on the wrong side of Hoaroak Water. Still, it wasn't too bad and I found a bridleway to Stock Common, then Radsbury, East and West Ilkerton, collecting water from a stream for tonight's camp at Caffyn's Cross. It's raining a bit and I can hear a fox barking some distance away.
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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

TGO Challenge

Well, the route is in, modified as suggested by our vetter. Our train tickets for the journey to Mallaig have been bought. We have to wait a few days before being able to book the journey home. I have a printout of our route on A4 sheets pinned to a wall upstairs. Much easier than a screen to get an overall view of it. The main modification to our original route was making the stretch from Inverie to Fort Augustus four days instead of three. It was thought that we would possibly spend more time than was wise at The Old Forge at Inverie which is right next to where we shall disembark from the Mallaig ferry. I've never been to Knoydart so our first few days are going to be magnificent. Hope the weather is good.

Backpackers Oxfordshire weekend

We spent Friday night at Manor Farm, Barford St. Michael. About twenty of us so a good turn out. Saturday saw about eight of us heading for Whichford, others taking different routes. It rained much of the day and it was so wet and muddy underfoot.

©Grant Currin

We didn't actually have to go through this water. It was deeper than it looked and was very soft underneath. We managed to make our way around the side of it. Went through Milcombe and Lower Tadmarton.  Stopped for a pint at the Chandlers Arms at Epwell - an excellent pub, especially as we escaped  a really heavy downpour while we were there.

This seemed the only way to get rid of all the mud

We then followed the Macmillan Way to Whichford. The Norman Knight there was good. The church clock rang out the time every quarter of an hour but it didn't seem to bother anyone.

Sunday's weather started well but it later came on to rain.

©Grant Currin

We were joined for the day by Sue, who wanted to find out what life with the Backpackers is all about. It was a baptism of fire as far as the weather was concerned. There seemed to be even more mud and rain than the day before. She wisely brought overtrousers and gaiters.

A lack of fear of horses and bravado helped her get through the ankle deep mud without mishap. Will she be back or have we put her off?

Our route took us through Hook Norton by the brewery, to Wigginton and on to South Newington for a pint at the Duck on the Pond and then back to Barford.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


I posted last November about using a digital scanner, particularly to save to a hard drive magazine articles, mainly from TGO and Trail. I have since discovered something light years better. The Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500 is simply amazing. I bought it for use at work where it will easily repay its cost of about £340. I am sneaking in some stuff from home to scan. It works as quickly as a photocopier and will take about twenty five or so A4 sheets at a time. It will copy one-sided (simplex) or both sides (duplex) and then save as a pdf. It takes no more than a minute or two. It's so compact. I have rarely been so impressed with a gadget.

Here's a link to the Oxfordshire Trek which was in an old issue of Trailwalker (the original name of Trail magazine) https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B-WOz-XmGFRdNjcxN2RjMDgtYmU4OC00NmZhLTg4MDYtOWZlZGY3ZmQwYjg1&hl=en_GB&authkey=CICU_sgJ

Backpackers Winster weekend

The weather forecast wasn't good. Arriving at Winster I pitched the tarp with other tents behind the pub, the Miner's Standard A round of four pints of a real ale called "...... Revolution" was £8.80 which was amazingly cheap.

I had pitched the tarp quite low, expecting some windy weather during the night. However, when I awoke, the ridge of the tarp was touching my nose, caused by the weight of snow on it. Three inches or so had fallen in the early hours.

Punching it off from below improved matters and when I emerged I repitched to provide more height.

© Grant Currin

After breakfast, a group of us followed the Limestone Trail across to Youlgrave.

 © Grant Currin

The George Hotel in Youlgrave beckoned and we went in for coffee and I had an excellent egg and bacon roll. We then left the Limestone Way and headed north to drop down into Lathkill Dale, following the river and then by a quarry up to Monyash. On the way, in Lathkill Dale, I was accosted and asked the way to Over Haddon (where we had just come from). One of our group, Andris, being a few years younger than me, recognised our acquaintance as no less than Jarvis Cocker, who admitted that it was he.

After a quick one at The Bull in Monyash, we pressed on to our intended halt behind the Royal Oak at Sparklow. Next day, we headed back to Winster down the High Peak Trail, down Long Dale, Gratton Dale into Elton and then back on the Limestone Way into Winster.

Backpackers Grand Union Canal, Rickmansworth weekend

I can't believe that I haven't posted since the end of November.

A select group of four of us assembled at Denham at the end of January. It was an easy weekend, going through Denham village (where the actor, John Mills used to live) and ambling up the canal to Stockers Farm where we camped a few feet away from the water's edge. Arriving early, we paired off and Colin and I went for a brisk walk the other side of the M25 to Heronsgate. He had a competition going with his son, visiting as many pubs in the CAMRA guide as possible. Our first stop was at a pub with the interesting name The Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty. After an excellent pint, we went on, crossing Chorleywood Common and following the River Chess into Rickmansworth where The Sportsman was visited. From there we went into Wetherspoons in Rickmansworth for an evening meal and back to the farm in the dark. Sunday was a walk east of the canal via South Harefield back to Denham.