Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

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.