Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tuesday 20 December 2011 – An Evening Stroll up Shutlingsloe

Sue, Dave and Toby on Shutlingsloe's summit

OK, I’m a bit behind.  But I’ve tried to be sociable over Christmas, so with house guests for five days this blog posting has taken a back seat.  And son Mike’s continuing efforts to decorate his house have drawn a little help from me, probably just wanting to appear to be useful.  I have also to apologise to him for dragging him out on his first run, let alone Parkrun, on Christmas Eve.  “They were laughing at me running in jeans” he commented about the marshals, “and I got fed up of being overtaken by Father Christmas’s.”

“I’m going to adjust my pace next Saturday” he added, having realised that doing the first of the five kilometres in 4 mins 30 seconds probably wasn’t the most sensible pace to start your first ever run.

Anyway, I’ve already mentioned last year’s version of this walk up Shutlingsloe (here), and the year before (here), and the year before that even got a proper report! as did the year before that – here – in the early days of this blog. 

This year Colin, fairly fresh to blogging, quickly wrote about this year’s potter up Shutlingsloe (here), which only took place as a result of a petition from big Andrew (aka Notchy).  So, with kind permission from Colin, and just a smidge of editing, here’s what he thought of it.

“There’s always first time for everything. Last night it was one of Martin and Sue’s evening walks. Martin has said in the past that sometimes it will only be about 3 people. Well last night it was 17.
I think Martin ran out of fingers to count us in the dark and with everyone bobbing about in the car park. Head touches beamed in to your eyes. I am sure he had to do a few recounts.
(Ed: yes, Colin, arriving late didn’t help our cause, and I was dazzled by both the sudden popularity of this annual event following the protest after it was deleted from our programme, and by all the Petzls shining in my face.)

Anyway we all set off on easy paths up onto Shutlingsloe above Macclesfield. At 506m (1660ft) it’s a steep sided hill and sometimes described as the Matterhorn of Cheshire. It is the third highest peak.

The weather was damp with low cloud. On reaching the top Martin bound up onto the Twig (sic) point for his photo in the cloud before leaping back down to his rucksack.

Martin on Shutlingsloe trig point

From where he produced Fudge and Fudge Brownies, and hot mint tea.  And a box of Rocky Roads appeared from Diana’s bag.  We wouldn’t go hungry or thirsty!  After much appropriate jollity, JJ then gathered everyone around, for us to blast out the We Wish You a Merry Christmas song.

Brownie Any One?

Sue offers brownies

Fudge anyone?

Martin offers fudge

After quite some time on the top, it wasn’t just the children who were getting cold, so it was time to head back down to the car park where those with children went home and the rest of us gathered in the Leather’s Smithy down the road. Where I must say the light Christmas ale was very nice.

Very Nice.

Excellent 2hour, 5km walk.” 

Thank you Colin, for these words and pictures.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas!

The Bridgewater Canal, Cheshire, on 20 December 2010

Wishing all our readers a very Happy Christmas.

Just in case anyone has a desire to follow a summary of what we’ve been up to this year, we’ve written a short piece, mainly for family, here.

Have a Good One….

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tuesday 13 December 2011 – The Lancashire Trail (Part 3) – Coppull Moor to Horwich

Norman suddenly realises that he is next to Hic-Bibi Brook 
"There will be mud" promised Reg, as we set off east from Coppull along an asphalt track.

Seven old codgers had successfully rendezvoused more or less where we left off on 9 November, despite nearly abandoning Don in the gents at Wigan Bus Station!

R Norman, who at the tender age of 59 is still too young to be a fully paid up ‘Plodder’ took up his usual position as ‘Font of all Knowledge’.  “Shouldn’t that be Fount of all Knowledge” – quipped some wag.  Sharp as ever, Norman’s response was clear:

“Font and fount can both be used in that phrase” he explained…
”font had, and has, another life related ecumenical matters, as in ‘baptismal font’, and was taken over from the Latin use of fons, fountain, whereas fount came to English through the Old French font, derived from the same Latin word. I can’t explain the vowel change!”

Well, we were shocked.  None of us had previously experienced Norman failing to explain something!

Anyway, I digress, we need to move on to explain the header picture – over to you, Norman…

"This is 'Hic-Bibi Brook'" he spluttered "one of very few rivers that runs inland from its source." "What?" chorused the audience.

"Hic Bibi - it's a spring as well; Oliver Cromwell refreshed himself here when advancing south after the battle of Preston in 1648. A stone inscribed "Hic Bibi" ("Here I Drank") marks the site” he expounded.

”Look, there’s the plaque placed there by old Oliver in 1648.”

Hic Bibi ('Here I drank' - Oliver Cromwell)

“The spring was turned into Seven Stars Brook to feed Wigan Corporation water supply” muttered Reg, “and that plaque has weathered well, hasn’t it Norman?”.

[There are more details in Reg’s report, here]

That quietened our ‘font’, and we pottered casually across some Lancashire fields, heading east, in search of mud.

Suddenly Norman spotted something and dashed off.  (See picture below) “It’s a squirrel” we expected him to inform us.  But no, his waggly arm was suffering from limpitude.  He really meant to point out the bridge, just above his right hand, through which a mineral line used to carry coal tubs, as well as produce from the Hic-Bibi brick works, to the main railway.

Man with 'sticky-out arms'

The gathered crowd listened in amazement as Norman told us about the long history of Coppull

“There was even a pub called The Railway Hotel” droned Norman “where the landlord’s son was a qualified dentist and teeth were extracted on the premises, a glass of port being included in the charge.”

All this talk, especially the references to pubs, had engendered a great thirst, resulting in one of our number, on spotting the Crown, rushing ahead and insisting on sustenance, before being dragged out by his leader.

 Reg drags Norman out of the pub (it's 11am)

We came upon some reservoirs, Worthington Lakes, constructed in the 1890’s to provide water for the print works and other local industries, on this typically December day - dull, with brighter interludes.  One such interlude was chosen for elevenses in the sun.  Norman got the bench as all that talking had made him feel a little geriatric. That didn't stop him from guzzling fudge brownies!

 Elevenses by reservoirs

Luckily, we found a bridge to cross the raging River Douglas.

 Crossing the River Douglas near Arley Hall

We paused outside the fine old Manor House that accommodates Wigan Golf Club. The 12th century moat used to be home to black swans, but now only white mute swans harvest the weed.  Tales were told by Reg and Norman of how ferocious guardians of the Golf Club usually shoo away walkers curious about the history of the building, Arley Hall, but today nobody spotted the small group of pensioners pausing in admiration before the front door of the golfing sanctuary.

It was ladies day.

 Mute Swan in the moat of Wigan Golf Club's manor house HQ

We soon crossed the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, with a familiar view to East Lancs LDWA members, on our way to Little Scotland.

Reg's walks traditionally include moments of indecision, especially when the back of R Norman's hand isn't in sight.

 "Are we lost again, Reg?"

The uncertainty resolved, we pressed on in our relentless search for mud, passing through Blackrod village, which has a long history and is home to some lovely stone cottages.

A huge stallion blocked our way, and this chap who appeared to have been enjoying rolling in something.  Could that be mud?

 Path erosion machine

Yes, of course.  Reg sighed with relief as his promise came true and the muddy water gurgled through the fabric of his trail shoes.

 Lancashire mud

After crossing the M61, we came to a quite substantial brook, the infant River Douglas, that emanates from the reservoir at Rivington.

The weather had reverted to ‘Dull December’ as we paused to ponder the view towards Rivington Pike and the masts atop Winter Hill.

 Rivington Pike and Winter Hill

Our morning’s exercise concluded along a stretch of path that was recently obliterated by a new housing development.  This didn’t go down well in some quarters.  Action was taken.  Norman was involved.  The right of way has been reinstated...

...at the expense of someone's garden.

 Reinstated right of way through a garden
The walk finished at SD 631 120, on the outskirts of Horwich, where the resident wallabies were reluctant to venture out of their warm house to pose for seven strangers.  So five of us adjourned to Reg’s house whilst Jim and Bernard shot off to deal with pressing commitments. 

The meal provided by Reg’s wife, Saro, was exceptional – a fine way to conclude the season’s ‘Plods’ – thank you very much.

Here's today's route, just 10km with about 150 metres ascent in 3 hours, followed by that excellent lunch at Reg's house. Brilliant!

Our 'Part 3@ route - 10km, 150m ascent, 3 hours

We will reconvene for stage 4 on Wednesday 18 January – Reg will be sending out more precise details in the New Year.

Reg’s more accurate report on this walk, with some more historical titbits, is on this web page, and my 32 photos are here.

The excursion took place over a week ago, and apart from Saro’s meal my recollection of it is a bit hazy.  I hope I haven’t slandered anyone!

Back to Lancashire Trail Index

Friday, 16 December 2011

Sunday 11 December 2011 – A Christmas Walk around Hartington

A view along the Tissington Trail, with Johnson's Knoll

It’s traditional for me to organise a ‘Christmas Walk’ at this time of the year, involving a long lunch stop at a suitable hostelry.

This year I left it very late to organise, but that didn’t seem to matter as the turnout of thirty people was our best ever, and the route and hostelry turned out to be well chosen.

Friends turned up from far and wide – from Wokingham to Preston and Liverpool (some of whom we hadn’t seen since last year’s Christmas Walk), so the choice of the large lay-by on the A515 just south of Rivendale Caravan Park turned out to be a good rendezvous point.

Despite much chatting and exchanging of Christmas cards, car keys being lost and found, boots and gaiters being donned, etc, etc, at 10am we set off on a cloudy morning, bang on time, thereby blowing my expected timings by a good fifteen minutes.

After a short spell on the windswept, and pretty cool (in a cold sort of way) and exposed trackbed of the Buxton to Ashbourne railway line, now known as the Tissington Trail, we deserted the firm surface in favour of softer going through some well hydrated fields.

Walkers descend towards Dovedale

Those pictured above are strolling unknowingly towards a sharp descent to the River Dove.  It’s slithery and boggy at this time of year, so it was a relief to be able to survey  my charges from a precarious branch and discover that I was probably the only one of us who had attempted to go bog-diving.

Beside the River Dove near Milldale

A shower commenced.  Waterproofs were scrambled from the depths of rucksacks amid gasps of surprise that it should be so inclement on one of my walks, which are renowned for their sunny ambience.

A sudden gust distracted us.

Group near Iron Tors

This heron had flapped in for its lunch.

Grey Heron

The others were engrossed with watching the heron, but I spotted a tree creeper and looked up to spy …. sunshine?

Wolfscote Dale

It didn’t last for long.  I think most others missed it!

We paused for tea, coffee, shortbread and brownies – plenty for everyone, luckily, but no photos as that black cloud got us.

We continued on along Wolfscote Dale.  It was quite muddy.  Most places in the Peak District are muddy just now.

In Wolfscote Dale

By and by we reached our lunch stop.  Half an hour early.  The Charles Cotton Hotel*.

The Charles Cotton Hotel

I thought we’d have to wait for our lunch, which had been pre ordered from their excellent Christmas menu.  But the operation was as slick as I’ve seen on such an occasion.  They were happy to serve us as soon as we were ready to eat.

Really excellent service – here are just a few of us pausing between courses.  The steamed up windows behind us mask a downpour.

A Christmas lunch - it has all been eaten

After a few stern words with The Boss, and a carefully cast spell, I popped out to test that it had brought the desired effect.  Success!

The church at Hartington

But by the time everyone had ‘booted up’, the spell was diminished, if not broken.  At least the rain didn’t return until the moment we set off for home in the cars.

Meanwhile, these onlookers may have had wet feet….

Onlookers

…as the road had flooded at Dale End.

A flood

A right turn beyond the church in Biggin led us past a camp site and into fields, where much to our surprise the season’s lambing had started.  This one had clearly only just been born.

An early lamb

The final ascent of the day took us up the railway embankment built by the London & North Western Railway Company, and onto the track that was opened for trains in 1899.  Expresses from Manchester to London used to fly down this line, and until after the Second World War there was a daily delivery of Peak District milk to London.

The Tissington Trail near Biggin

The line was closed in the 1960s, following which the trackbed was removed and the route was converted into a trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The experimental scheme was one of the first of its type, and since opening to the public in June 1971 it has been a great success.

As soon as we stepped off the bright track surface we realised it was almost dark – but torches weren’t required for the last few metres back into our lay-by, and at around 4pm we all said our farewells and pottered off to our respective homes, leaving Don with a recalcitrant car seat that probably crippled him on the drive back to Preston.  We hope you got home ok, Don, albeit perhaps with a modicum of spinal damage.

Readers may have noticed a little ‘poetic license’ in this report.  If not, you certainly will if you view the slideshow – it has a few more images taken on this route, which is shown below – 16km with about 280 metres ascent.

For a more accurate report, see Alan R’s excellent version of events, ‘The Invasion of Hartington’ or Gayle’s unstintingly precise recollection of ‘Martin & Sue’s Christmas Walk’.  The slideshow is here.

Our route - 16km, 280 metres ascent, taking 6 hours (including 2 hours stopped

There’s a bit more information on my ‘planning’ page, here.

* Here’s what Alan R discovered about Charles Cotton – I hope you don’t mind me using this, Alan:

“Charles Cotton ( April 28, 1630 – February 16, 1687), lived at Beresford Hall, now demolished, wrote, with his great friend Izaak Walton, a remarkable book about 17th century rural England called ‘The Compleat Angler’. No other English language book, other than the Bible and Book of Common Prayer, has been reprinted more times. He shared his time between an extravagant life style in London society with the quieter pleasures of his home and the Peak District. That is when his creditors were not chasing him - then it is said he hid in a cave in Beresford Dale. The fishing lodge he built still remains on private land in Beresford Dale, but can be seen from a distance when approaching the dale.”

A picture in the ladies powder room illustrates the perils of ‘Fly’ fishing – Both Alan and Gayle feature that in their blog postings.

Finally, in answer to Gayle’s ‘Same again next year?’ question, the answer is yes, on Sunday 16 December 2012 (unless there is overwhelming demand for 9 December).  The Charles Cotton Hotel performed so well that I think we should, subject to cost, return there, but perhaps start from Longnor (though this year’s route can’t really be bettered).  If anyone has strong views, let me know.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Rucksacks from Berghaus

Berghaus Freeflow 20 rucksacks

A couple of rucksacks have arrived from Berghaus.

Pictured above, they are Freeflow 20 day sacks, featuring Berghaus’s Freeflow IV backsystem, breathable shoulder straps and a front pocket that doubles as a 2 litre hydration reservoir pouch.  The swing tags also broadcast an ‘integrated raincover that is stowed away in the top lid’.  This must be a secret pocket that I can’t find, and as the rucksacks don’t have a lid as such I would recommend the use of a waterproof liner such as a 22 litre one from Bob and Rose.

These look to be excellent little day sacks, made from Ardura 420D fabric and weighing in at just under 900 grammes.  I see lots of them in use on the trails.  The size is a bit small for all the junk I tend to carry around, so I’ve found a couple of grateful recipients who will report back on their performance in due course.  Thanks Jenny and Sue.

The Freeflow 20 retails at around £55 from Berghaus, but costs rather less from numerous retailers.  The current specification is here.

The full range of Berghaus daysacks is here, and their larger packs are here, available from many sources.

Berghaus Freeflow 20 rucksacks

Sue’s Review (September 2012):

The hip (waist) belt was too high, and the fit of the shoulder straps was too tight for Sue’s broad shoulders.  The capacity was limited, so this wasn’t really for Sue, who can fit almost as many contents more comfortably into her bum bag.

Jenny’s Review (June 2012):

The shoulder straps and waist straps are substantial and provide quite a bit of support, all easily adjustable to suit.
The 'freeflow ventilation back system' (their words!) is impressive and certainly keeps the rucksack off your back.
I also liked the fact that you can fix (two) walking poles to the outside of the rucksack, I didn't end up using my poles but it was good to be able to take them with me for one or two of the walks, just in case.
However, all the 'technology' described above did seem a little over the top for such a small rucksack - you really can't fit much into it, so one wonders about the need for substantial (and a little bulky) shoulder and waist straps and the freeflow system. I also found the lack of smaller zip pockets to be a disadvantage - e.g. somewhere to zip in your camera rather than delving into the main bag. There are side pockets for water bottles, which is good, but it would have been nice to have the opportunity to zip them up or velcro them, for extra security - I wouldn't use them for anything other than bottles or tissues or the like. There is a section at the front for storage, but I found that once you had put your summer waterproofs, camera, etc into the main part of the bag, this section could hold very little.
So, overall I found the rucksack comfortable to carry, with some useful features such as the walking pole straps (or whatever you call them), but I thought the freeflow system could have been reduced a bit in order to allow a little more storage capacity/variety.

Other Reviews:

I’ve noticed another blogger’s more detailed review here
Helen’s review is
here.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Friday 9 December 2011 – White Nancy

Andrew and Sue in a snowstorm by White Nancy

“I’ve never been up to White Nancy” remarked Andrew as we strolled along the Saddle of Kerridge last night.  This was as good an opportunity as any for his first visit, though the views weren’t as good as we’d expected.

We had met as arranged in the Vale Inn, which has transformed itself in recent times to a most acceptable establishment with fine ale that has travelled all of a few feet from the in-house brewery.

Our journey from Manchester had been under a full moon, as the day’s showery weather had moved to the north, or so we thought.  We were expecting a chilly but fine outing – after strolling a couple of kilometres down the Macclesfield Canal, we were to ascend Kerridge Hill for a potter along the Saddle to White Nancy, before descending steep steps to what used to be the Redway Tavern (now a private house) and back to the Vale through the streets of Bollington.

As we supped our fine ale we noticed a change in the colour of the clothing of new customers to the pub.  Everyone was dressed in white!  On closer inspection, everything outside had turned white, and they were just bringing it in with them.

Unperturbed, even though one of our party had failed to bring  weatherproof clothing, we embarked on our stroll.  We didn’t see the full moon as we spent the entire duration of this 8 km, 2 hour walk, in a blizzard.  It was surprisingly enjoyable.  Our first taste of winter.

Eventually we turned up at White Nancy, next to which Sue and Andrew are pictured above.  I could refer you to Wikipedia, but I’ll save you the ‘click’ and tell you about White Nancy here.

The structure was built in 1817 by John Gaskell junior of North End Farm to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Waterloo.  It originally had an entrance to a single room which was furnished with stone benches and a central round stone table, but the entrance is now blocked. It has been described as a summer house or a folly.

In the mid-1940s, the Royal Signal Corps Trials Unit based at Catterick would apparently drive a truck-mounted dish-shaped transmitter/receiver up to White Nancy, where they tested cathode-ray tube transmission and reception (data-based, not images), to a mobile receiving station on another truck. The receiver would be driven further and further south over time, until eventually the lads at White Nancy were sending a signal to the south coast of the country. Locals told the signalers that the landmark was named after the lead horse that had transported all the materials for the building of the folly.

White Nancy is circular in plan with its shape described as that of a sugar loaf, and is surmounted with a ball finial. It is built in sandstone rubble which has been rendered and painted.  It is about 18 feet (5 m) high. Stone paving has been laid around its base which is inscribed with the points of the compass.

According to the Wikipedia entry, White Nancy was unpainted until at least 1925, since when it has been painted in a number of different colours over the years, most commonly in white. In 2005 vandals painted it partly in pink. In March 2009 it was repainted in white with the ball finial in black.  As you can see from the picture, it now sports a large poppy – that was certainly not there when we visited the spot on 10 November 2010.

Just in case you are interested, here’s our approximate route – we (I) cocked up at the end, by taking two sides of a triangle:

A Bollington circuit - 8 km, 250 metres ascent, 2 hours
Never mind, we were pretty wet by then anyway…

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wolfscote Dale

Berries in Wolfscote Dale
Hopefully the sun will shine like this on Sunday…

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Gear Review: Golite Quest Rucksack

Golite Quest rucksack after the equivalent of 4 months' continuous use

I bought this backpacking rucksack in October 2007, having enjoyed the comfort of a Karrimor Jaguar sack for many years.  The Quest, weighing in at 1400gm, provided a 600gm saving over the Jaguar.  That saving comes from the use of lighter, more fragile, materials.  Hence the Quest lasted until May 2011 – three and a half years – whereas the Jaguar shows no signs of wearing out other than a bit of loose stitching on the pockets.

I reported on my purchase of the Quest here.  Here’s what it looked like new:

A new Golite Quest rucksack

It’s still available from Bob and Rose at backpackinglight.co.ukhere, for a very good price.

The rucksack served me well for the equivalent of about four months’ continuous use with full camping gear, ranging from 14 to 20 kilos.  My main gripe, compared with the Jaguar, is that it doesn’t have a separate lower compartment, but I did more or less overcome that problem on this year’s TGO Challenge by packing my tent in the front pocket instead of at the bottom of the rucksack.  The latter system involved packing the tent before everything else – not the best approach when it’s raining.

A problem arose on one trip, whereby (over) tightening of the chest strap left me with a ‘frozen shoulder’ that took 18 months to recover.  I have not used a chest strap since that incident.

Otherwise, once properly adjusted to my back, the rucksack was excellent, until on this year’s TGO Challenge walk across Scotland both sides of the hip belt decided to attempt to part company with the body of the rucksack.

Golite Quest - hip belt wear (1) Golite Quest - hip belt wear (1)

I really do need to be confident of having a secure hip belt in position when backpacking, so this irreparable damage, which I nursed carefully to the end of the Challenge, signaled the death knell of the Quest.

On close inspection, the rest of the sack was looking pretty battered, with several punctures in the thin material, as well as one or two little tears, similar in nature to those you may find in an old pair of overtrousers that have been used for sitting on sharp rocks, or glissading. 

Golite Quest - weak fabric

Whilst the lid pocket maintained its integrity, the fabric below the zip for that pocket completely split away from the zipper.

Golite Quest - worn lid by zipper

Design
The Quest’s large main compartment sits below a removable, floating lid with a large and easily accessible zipped pocket.  Two hip belt pockets take care of small items, plus a large pocket on the front that’s big enough to take a tent. Golite rates this pack at 25 and 72 litres, where the lower volume refers to its compressed size after you’ve pulled tight the quick-release straps, and clipped the slightly fiddly clips on the bottom. (I never found a need to faff with this.)  Other features include a couple of mesh wand pockets, a hydration system pocket and axe/pole attachments. The Quest goes for a minimalist, non-adjustable back system design in either medium or large, so it’s important to buy the right size. It’s made from high-density polyethylene with mouldable aluminium stays and so offers some customisation. The hip belt’s supporting fins might be short on larger waists.

On the hill
At 72 litres the Golite Quest is pretty large, though it doesn’t necessarily feel so, thanks to decent compression straps, and it’s also competitively light.  The simple back system proved comfortable with heavy loads as the aluminium rods transferred the weight efficiently to the well-padded hip belt.  I did appreciate the mesh pockets on the hip belt as they offered space for a wallet and phone. In terms of packing, the large main compartment, the decent lid pocket and the large pocket on the front of the sack offered sufficient options for multi-day trips, subject to my personal gripe about not being able to pack my wet tent at the bottom of the sack without removing everything else. I didn’t really use the upper clipable side compression straps, which, in conjunction with the wand pockets, could be good for tent poles and a sleeping mat for people who (unlike me) don’t like to keep those items inside the sack.  I used these wand pockets more or less exclusively for water bottles.

Here is some more technical stuff, and my conclusions:

Materials:

  • Tier 1 Recycled 210 Denier Nylon Velocity™; Tier 1 Recycled 210 Denier Nylon Double Ripstop; High-Void Polyester Mesh

Sizes: (see here for advice on how to measure your back length)

  • Medium Size; Suit back length 17.5 - 19.5 Inches - Weight 1450g - Maximum Load 20kg - Maximum Volume 72lt - Compact Volume 25lt
  • Large Size; Suit back length 19.5 - 21.5 Inches - Weight 1500g - Maximum Load 20kg - Maximum Volume 76lt - Compact Volume 26lt

Quoted Features (current model):

  • Size-specific anatomically molded hip-belt with quick-access zippered stretch pockets
  • High-void meshes on back panel and shoulder harness move moisture quickly and promote rapid drying
  • S-contoured back panel with HDPE frame sheet and 2 aluminum stays mimic shape of the spine and are customizable for a dialed-in fit
  • Proprietary ComPACKtor™ system converts capacity incredibly efficiently
  • Sculpted lid with body-side zipper access detaches to shed 94 grams
  • Two side stretch pockets hold 1L bottles + trekking poles
  • Side compression straps with quick release buckles convert to front attachment system for sleeping pads, snowboards, snowshoes, etc.
  • Top compression strap and load lifters control and transfer weight effectively
  • Twin ice axe loops and handle straps
  • Internal stretch woven hydration sleeve with righty and lefty hydration tube ports
  • Adjustable sternum strap with whistle

Practical Use:

  • I’ve used this rucksack for backpacking, and it gave excellent service for three years before the hip belt failed
  • For anything less than a full blown backpacking trip with tent and gear, a smaller rucksack would probably suit most people
  • I was disappointed with the rucksack’s poor durability

Price:

  • RRP is currently £140, but discounts of at least 10% should be available

Alternatives:

  • There are numerous alternatives, so much dependent upon personal requirements and preferences that I will leave readers to take their own counsel.  However, I can from personal experience recommend a slightly smaller rucksack, the Lowe Alpine Nanon, available from Webtogs.  I’ve been using this recently and will be reviewing it in the next few days.

Conclusion:

  • The Golite Quest offers large size but low weight; rather clumsy compression to a 25 litre form; good pockets; side compression/attachment straps; hip belt pockets
  • It’s big - possibly bigger than needed for summer backpacking use, so given that modern equipment is becoming lighter and more compact a smaller rucksack may be adequate for most needs
  • There’s a non-adjustable back system, so you need to take care when purchasing to try one on or be sure of its suitability for you
  • For me, the lack of a lower compartment, or means of entry to stash a wet tent at the bottom of my load, was an annoyance that I learnt to live with …but it was still an annoyance
  • This is a good pack for those who want a bit of extra room but don’t want a heavy sack

BUT – this rucksack disappointingly lacked durability, in the strength of the fabric but more importantly in the manufacture of the hip belt, both sides of which started to part company with the body of the rucksack after the equivalent of about four months’ continuous use.

So, it’s out with the old…

Sunday 4 December 2011 – Center Parcs

Grey squirrel at Center Parcs

Thanks go to Robert and Lyn for again providing us with a day pass to Center Parcs at Sherwood Forest.

Luckily for me, the dreaded badminton (I can’t hit the ‘ball’) took place on Saturday, so I wasn’t humiliated as seriously as usual.  Short tennis, table tennis and pool are all just about within my ability to occasionally hit the relevant balls.

American Pool

Louise and Chris disappeared for a couple of hours for a spot of watercolour painting, the result of which were never revealed - “it’ll take a week for mine to dry” they announced in unison, whilst the rest of us battled with some partially cooked potatoes before adjourning to the rapids.

Sue took an early sauna back at the luxury chalet, together with Louise and Chris, leaving Jim, Peg, Roger and Stuart stranded with Robert and Lyn and me in a waterlogged tennis court on a cool, rainy evening.  Stuart was particularly adept at hitting balls across the billowy net into puddles, where the resulting skid and splash defeated all his opponents.

Floodlit tennis

Meanwhile, a grey squirrel spent most of the day by the back door of the chalet, licking the honey off some stale cereal that had been dumped outside by one of our inmates.

The tennis (great fun, actually) eventually ended with the onset of a firework display the has become a traditional feature of the weekend.

Dinner was delayed due to a rather long sauna session, and was followed by a traditional slideshow – on this occasion images of Turkey – to be captioned in due course – this version is designed to be shown with Sue’s commentary.

Thanks, Robert and Lyn, for having us along again, and especially for arranging the badminton to take place before our arrival.

Just for those attending – here are a few more very poor snapshots.

Previous visits have been reported on here.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Wednesday 30 November 2011 – The Kingfisher Trail

The Kingfisher Trail - logo

On a lovely sunny autumn morning, seven plodders and Maude embarked on a ten mile amble from Clifton Country Park, near Kearsley, to Jumbles Country Park, beyond Bromley Cross.

I’d arrived with half an hour to spare, as had Don.  But Don’s day changed with a call from his wife, who had dropped him off.  “Broken down” “on the hard shoulder near Middleton….” 

Luckily, David had arrived and the small group of Plodders were happy to wait in the sunshine for me to return from reuniting Don with his wife, only about ten minutes late.  Sadly Don missed out on a good day out, but was able to conclude a much needed rescue, and the repair to a loose alternator connection soon restored the Micra to good health.

From Clifton Country Park a pleasant path leads to this Tower in Ringley...

The tower at Ringley

Nathan Walworth was instrumental in the building of the first chapel at Ringley which was completed in 1625.  This tower effectively commemorates that chapel, by way of a partial restoration in 1854, when a new church was built, which itself was renovated in 1907.  There’s some fascinating information about the long history of Ringley here.

Nearby, across an ancient bridge over the River Irwell, La Roma seemed an interesting looking place, but Reg (our leader) took one look and ran off in the opposite direction.  “I thought I saw a ghost!” he later admitted.

La Roma

The Manchester, Bury & Bolton Canal, built between 1791 and 1808, has now largely been abandoned, but the water remains in this scenic section at Prestolee.

Manchester, Bury & Bolton Canal

David, a founder 'Plodder' who is only rarely able to join us these days due to family commitments, posed in the sunshine beside a complex junction of waterways involving the Croal, the Irwell, and the canal.

David - a Pioneer Plodder

Soon we had left the Irwell and were heading on beside the River Croal.  Our northerly route passed beside waterways to the east of the major conurbation of Bolton.  We weren’t alert enough to spot any kingfishers, but dippers swooped up and down the Croal, and a heron fished beside Bagshaw Brook'.

There are several Country Parks along this trail.  We seemed to pass almost seamlessly from Clifton Country Park to Moses Gate Country Park, with Darcy Lever Gravel Pits, then ‘Seven Acres’ and Leverhulme Park – the site of a popular parkrun – before finally reaching Ousel Nest Meadows at the edge of Jumbles Country Park.

We passed some sculptures - it's a shame I didn't capture this one in 3-D.

Sculpture in Moses Gate Country Park

The giant frog of Darcy Lever pointed its jaw towards a hostelry (of a name I cannot recall!) where five of us enjoyed a brief respite from the blinding sunshine.  The beer/coffee was excellent.  It wasn’t a dog friendly establishment however, so Vi and Hilary had to stay outside with Maude, soaking in the rays.

The giant frog of Darcy Lever

Wobbling off again, we passed under a high viaduct that didn’t seem to be linked to anything.  It wasn’t.  It was virtually all that remains of one of the many disused railway lines in the area.

We continued along a muddy path through Seven Acres Country Park, beside the River Croal.  All of a sudden, the sun had gone.  Everything assumed the monochrome of a late November afternoon.  I tested the ‘vivid’ setting on my new Canon G12 camera, with acceptable results on this occasion.

Bridge over the River Croal

The riverside path led steeply up to enter Leverhulme Park.

Reg claimed a momentary loss of memory concerning the route.  I think he was just enjoying a rest!

Reg tries to combat the onset of dementure

Heading on through Leverhulme Park, the venue for a popular parkrun, we finally found some benches on which to enjoy lunch.  The only trouble was that they were 150 metres apart.  Nevertheless, I commuted to ‘the posh bench’ after a while in order to lighten my load.  Fudge brownies always seem to go down well with this lot.

The trail now pottered along beside Bradshaw Brook – in truth a pretty hearty river, criss-crossed by water pipes and inhabited by herons.  No sign of any kingfishers.

The 16 km (10 mile) route stayed resolutely off-road, despite the fact that we were walking through an industrial heartland of the north west.

We admired the Jacobean Porch that is the sole remnant of Bradshaw Hall, home of the Bradshaw family from C12 to C18.  Later occupants, the Lomaxes and the Hardcastles, developed bleachworks here, but the old stone seems now to have been converted into housing.

The Jacobean Porch of Bagshaw Hall

The last lap to Jumbles Reservoir took us along paths typical of the day, disused (by traffic) riverside routes of railways and tracks to the east of Bolton.

The path to Jumbles Reservoir

The party separated below the dam that was built as recently as 1971 to contain the waters of Bradshaw Brook in Jumbles Reservoir, as buses and trains from different places were needed to get us to our respective homes.

Before leaving the site of the dam, leader Reg, as always clued up on historical information and industrial archaeology, related the story of local opposition to this project in the 1960’s.  He hastened away after telling us about the ‘Jumbles Ghost’ – the apparition of a local protestor that sometimes appears on the stepping stones.

I set my new camera to the ‘ghost’ setting, shut my eyes, pressed the shutter, and ran after Reg, afraid to look at the resulting snapshot until I got home and downloaded it.

Jumbles Reservoir dam

Scary!

The remnants of our now disparate group took tail through some blackbird meadows and headed home via Bromley Cross and Bolton, where the number 8 bus ‘plodded’ through traffic to return me to Clifton Country Park some time after dark.

There’s a slideshow (38 images) here.

Reg’s excellent report (with more historical titbits), together with photos from Hilary, are here.

Here’s the route – 16km, 200 metres ascent, in a very leisurely 4.5 hours.

Our route - 16km, 200+ metres ascent, 4.5 hours

My Garmin Gadget recorded the route shown below (I still haven’t worked out how to overlay it onto an Ordnance Survey map).