Thursday, 29 March 2012

NeoAir Short, keep, sell, buy a longer version, or go back to my Prolight?

After a lot of consideration I’ve decided to part company with my NeoAir short.

It’s a great mat, super light with a small pack size, and very comfortable once you learn not to over inflate it, but the drawback for me is the short length. Three years ago I slipped a disc, so I need to keep my legs and spine level when I’m sleeping. With a short mat it’s difficult to achieve this, particularly when you’re travelling light, because quite often there is not enough spare kit to make up the difference in height between the mat and the ground sheet.

So the Neo Air short has to go, for now I’ll revert to using my Prolite, whilst I review the alternatives.
I’ve only slept on it four times so; if anyone is interested in buying an as new NeoAir Short, at a competitive price please contact me by email.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

24 hours in Mid Wales.

So far this year has been a bit of a nightmare on the home front, the house is now twenty years old, and a few areas need upgrading or replacing. Since mid-January we’ve been constantly surrounded by a variety tradesmen, so it was with some relief that I managed to snatch a short trip to Mid Wales, to ease some of the stress, and take the opportunity to try out a few new items of gear. 


I’d had my eye on Arenig Fawr for a while, although I’ve driven past dozens of times over the years on my way to Snowdonia, I’ve never actually set foot on this well-known peak. 


I didn’t finally get away until mid-afternoon, so it was already 5pm when I parked the car. The track to Llyn Arenig Fawr goes quite steeply off the road, which left me gasping for breath and cursing my lack of exercise over the winter, but fortunately the gradient eased after a couple of hundred metres and it was a pleasant walk as far as the MBA bothy.  

Once clear of the road I’d intended to pitch camp at the first secluded place I found, but the only decent piece of grass I’d seen, was the turning place at the end of the track. As I didn’t fancy being run over by a tractor or quad bike early the next morning, I decide to carry on a bit further. Climbing over the ladder stile alongside the bothy, I crossed the outfall from the lake and followed the well-worn track uphill towards Arenig Fawr. The ground here was uneven and covered with heather, but with the light fading fast I finally had to settle for a tussocky piece of ground with a view of the lake and the bothy.

By the time I had the tent up it was dark, but I soon had my gear sorted out and settled down to eat my tea. I'd anticipated dropping off to sleep whilst watching the stars Chris Townsend style, but a thin layer of cloud covered the sky, so I zipped up the door and listened to the radio instead.

I woke next morning to the sound of Canada geese and seagulls. It was still quite hazy so not much of a view as I lay warm and comfortable, whilst waiting for the brew water to boil. I’d had an excellent night’s sleep, that is, once I’d levelled out the worst of the humps and hollows under the groundsheet with my spare gear. It was quite early so with plenty of time, I ate a leisurely breakfast and had a poke around the nearby bothy before striking camp and setting off for Arenig Fawr.

The path is well defined for most of the way, it gains a good chunk of height quite quickly before turning right over a fence, to make a gently rising traverse across the hillside. I really enjoyed the traverse, because my legs were pretty tired and my rucksack felt a lot heavier than it was, due to my lack of fitness. One final pull over the stony slopes below the summit saw me arrive knackered but smiling at the trig point.   

The summit, is a grand spot with super views, but it’s always going to be a rather sombre place, with its memorial plaque and Remembrance Day tributes to the American fliers who lost their lives here during World War 2. Shaking off the gloom engendered by the lunacy of war, I made my way back down the hill to the car, and that chaos called home!.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Arenig Fawr wild camp

A photograph of my wild camp on Arenig Fawr, I'll try and post a full write up in the next few days.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Time for a facelift!

The Mer De Glace.

The sun is shining and there's a touch of spring in the air, so I've decided to freshen my blog. Nothing drastic just a change of colours and a wider format to accommodate larger photographs.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Twelve months and counting.

I can’t believe a year has passed since I started blogging!
Initially it was a just a bit of fun to help me understand the mechanics of blogging, but I soon became addicted, how many visitors, how many page views, from how many countries, my first follower and then my first comment.

I’d like to say a big thank you to all my readers, particularly those who've given me help and encouragement, become followers, or taken the time comment, and last but not least, I’d like to say a special thanks to Alan Sloman whose support in the early days gave the motivation to continue.

My first year of blogging has produced 54 posts, 7164 visits, 19 followers and 53 comments not earth shattering, but considering my fairly quiet year on the hills quite encouraging, will My Wild Camping see its second birthday? I hope so!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Garbh Choire Refuge

The Garbh Choire Refuge which is suffering from over 50 years of use and Cairngorm weather is in need of repair; Neil Reid and Kenny Freeman are putting forward the case for restoring this historic shelter. There are some that would like to see it removed, not a view I suspect shared by those who have sat out a Cairngorm storm in this remote location. To find out more click here.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Patterdale Perambulation

A couple of weeks ago I attended the AAC Patterdale meet held at the George Starkey Hut. My brother and I were both feeling pretty feeble with a variety of tweaked muscles and chesty cough’s between us. The weather forecast for Saturday was awful, so we were pining all our hopes on a fine Sunday, and a possibly a Friday afternoon stroll.
We parked behind the hut at 2pm on Friday, after a trouble free drive up the motorway. The cloud was down to about 700 metres, but at thankfully it wasn’t raining, so we togged up spent a pleasant couple of hours wondering along the eastern shores of Ullswater.
Saturday morning turned out pretty cold and grim, the wind had been blowing like mad overnight, it had been raining, and the peaks looked dire. As no one seemed in a rush to head for the tops, we decided to take a trip to the Ambleside gear shops, with a view to doing a walk after lunch if the weather improved. Gone are the days of heading into the cold wet and windy hills, to spend hours navigating in the mist with no view!
We returned from the fleshpots of Ambleside over the Kirkstone Pass, and parked in the Hartsop car park alongside Low Wood. The weather still looking threatening so we decided to take the track to Hayeswater, if the conditions improved we’d climb The Knott, otherwise we’d cut our losses and return the same way.

When we arrived at Hayeswater it was cold and windy and it looked as though it might rain or snow, so we took shelter in the humps by the lakeside and ate lunch. When we’d finished our food the weather was still pretty miserable, so we left The Knott for another day and headed back to the car.

As we descended the wind was becoming stronger and we could see a band of hail or snow heading our way from the Helvellyn direction, when the hail storm arrived it was quite ferocious but is soon blew over and we’d dried off by the time we reached the car park.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. We decided to take the St Sunday path as far as the saddle, and either return via Birks or if the icy wind dropped, we’d continue over St Sunday Crag and return via Deepdale Hause, Grisedale Tarn, and the Grisedale valley.
The path to St Sunday Crag climbed steadily and as it cleared the tree line we were treated to excellent views of Ullswater, and Helvellyn.

It was a glorious day, but the wind became much colder as we reached the snow line at about 600 metres, it was decision time, and reluctantly we turned left and headed for Birks.
Tony’s pulled calf muscle had been tight all morning, and it seemed wise to take the short day option, rather than risk doing more damage. We followed a feint path to the summit of Birks, and then descended over the top of Black Crag before re-joining our upward path.

At times the ground was frozen so hard that we considered putting on our Kahtoola Microspikes, but in the end it wasn’t necessary. Once back on level ground, we had a short but pleasant walk back to the hut.
We’d planned to have a brew before setting off home, but unfortunately someone had gone off with the key. It’s not the first time this has happened, so we always pack the car before going on the hill. With nothing more to detain us we headed for home, maybe not a classic weekend but very enjoyable all the same!