Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 28 September 2012

Jerzees Colours Mens Hydraplus Jacket – First Impressions

Jerzees Colours Mens Hydraplus Jacket

I was recently contacted by an up and coming (according to their website) local business, Polo-shirts.co.uk, part of the Quayside Group which is based in nearby Trafford Park.

“Would you be interested in reviewing some of our items of kit?”

After looking at their website, which states ‘The Quayside Group was established in 1995 and has since grown to become a leading online supplier of wholesale and personalised clothing’, I was pleased to receive this jacket for review. 

Here are my initial observations:

The manufacturer’s product details and specification is provided at the foot of this posting. I do not take issue with them.

First impressions:

This garment is not one you will find in outdoor shops, and it isn’t suitable for backpacking as its weight of 740 gm is not exactly light (my ‘medium weight’ RAB jacket weighs 465 gm).  The jacket is manufactured by Russell Intelligent Clothing and is basically a breathable PU coated nylon outer with a polyester lining.  It doesn’t state the country of manufacture.  The current price is £50.00 plus VAT and delivery, less if you order more than 10 jackets.  That’s a fraction of the cost of the RAB jacket I used for the weight comparison.

On receipt I immediately donned the jacket to complete an errand on a wet day.  It felt like a solid, effective shell, and on a later evening walk at a brisk pace its breathability seemed fine, with no condensation appearing, though I feel it isn’t likely to be as breathable as higher spec Goretex or eVent jackets.

The beading on the new fabric was fine, as you would expect.

Jerzees Colours Mens Hydraplus Jacket - beading

Fit:

  • the medium size fits my 38” chest with room to spare
  • the jacket is comfortable without being snug
  • the length is good
  • the handwarming pockets are …. handwarming (note – I hadn’t fastened the velcro cuffs at this point)

    Jerzees Colours Mens Hydraplus Jacket - handwarmer pockets
Features:
  • the hood folds away neatly, but the peak isn’t stiffened and hasn’t got a volume reduction cord, so it slightly obscures my vision when used in anger, but for the price of this jacket the hood may be regarded as a bonus

    Jerzees Colours Mens Hydraplus Jacket - hood
  • the soft touch collar feels … soft – here’s another picture

    Jerzees Colours Mens Hydraplus Jacket - lining and collar
  • the arms are a good length, with effective velcro adjusters for the cuffs
  • the drawcords for the hood and the hem are effective 
  • the YKK zips on the front and on the pockets are of good quality and have cord pulls for use with gloves.  The small zip for the ‘discreet concealed decoration access at hem’ (presumably to give access for embroidering, etc) doesn’t work properly on my jacket, but I suspect most users probably wouldn’t even notice this zip
  • the storm flap, secured by velcro, should be effective in most weathers, but there could be ingress in severe weather as the zips aren’t waterproof
  • the main zip has a top ‘garage’ and a well designed internal rain flap
  • the handwarming pockets are reasonably spacious and the external chest pocket will take a large ‘phone or GPS, but not a map unless folded.  There are no internal pockets.  So pocket space is limited compared with specific (and more expensive) hiking jackets
Weight:
  • at 740 gm, this is not a lightweight garment, but it’s certainly fit for use as a waterproof jacket for casual use and day walks
Practical Use:
  • a smart (by my standards) jacket ideal for casual use and for day walks, especially during the cooler months
  • for energetic mountain days a more technical jacket may be preferable, but as a budget item this jacket may cope with most conditions

Alternatives:

  • numerous manufacturers make similar products, but I’m not aware of any that are as robust as this one appears to be, for such a cheap price
Conclusion:
  • if you are looking for a cheap but solid waterproof jacket, I doubt you’ll find better value than this
  • the jacket is ideal for going out in the rain all year round, and should be good for day walks from autumn to spring (it’ll be too hot for many summer days)
  • the jacket is already my first port of call as my outdoor jacket - I’ll be using it for day walks, trips to town, and general casual use – you could do a lot worse than replace your tatty old day to day jacket with this excellent, at first sight, product.

Finally, given the discounts available for bulk orders, and the printing and embroidery services offered by Quayside Group, this jacket or one of the company’s other products may be ideal for those requiring garments for a team, company, or other group that may want (or be required) to wear the same clothing.

Incidentally, I notice that Alan Rayner has recently reviewed Polo-shirts.co.uk’s softshell product here.  He likes it, and it appears at first sight to be at least as waterproof as the Hydraplus Jacket, though it lacks a hood and has a smaller chest pocket.

That’s it for now.  I’ll add to this review when I have been using the jacket for a longer term.

Manufacturer’s Specification:
Jerzees Colours Men's Hydraplus Jacket
Water resistance to 2000mm (PU coating) breathability of 2000 g/m² per 24 hours, water repellent finish and critically taped seams for full weather protection Active fit: articulated elbows and raglan sleeves Stowaway 3 piece hood and soft touch inner collar Reverse YKK front zip with cord pull, double storm flap with additional Velcro closure Zipped hand warmer pockets with internal pocket for phone/MP3 Fully lined, with discreet concealed decoration access at hem Fully launderable: 30ºC wash (gentle cycle) and low temperature tumble dry (do not use fabric softeners)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Wednesday 26 September 2012 – Styal at Night

The Ship, Styal

I didn’t really expect anyone else to come on this evening walk, so I wasn’t surprised when nobody turned up to join me for a beer in the quiet pub.

Sue is working feverishly at present, so reserved her evening out for a meal with Tim at Chilli Banana tomorrow (ie today).  The lane through Styal was deserted and having set off on my walk I saw nobody on the normally busy paths.  It was quite eerie at times in the dark woodland with the bulging River Bollin swirling at my feet and the smell of Himalayan Balsam wafting across my nostrils.

My planned 7 km route was abandoned as I knew it would pass through a very muddy farmyard, so instead a circuit via Twinnies Bridge seemed a short (4 km) but sound route choice.  And so it was; despite all the recent rain the paths weren’t too muddy, and given the nearly full moon a torch was only needed in the more heavily wooded sections.

A short but very pleasurable excursion on familiar paths.

Here’s the route according to my Garmin gadget:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sunday 23 September 2012 – East Lancashire LDWA’s 40th Anniversary Walk – The Two Crosses

The Pilgrims' Cross, Holcombe Moor

I originally joined the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) in the 1980s when there were around 2000 members.  I rejoined last year, when membership had risen to over 7000.  Regular readers will know that I’ve subsequently enjoyed outings with the South Manchester and East Lancashire LDWA groups – principally with the more active latter group, in particular its ‘Plodder’ faction.

This weekend the Association celebrated its fortieth anniversary with walks all over the country, so I was pleased to join the East Lancs Group for a stroll around the Two Crosses circuit.  The group organises an annual Challenge Walk over this route, involving lots of people and numerous checkpoints.  I took part in the shorter 18 mile version earlier this year (see here).

A rather disappointing turnout of nine walkers and a dog called Buzz set off from Tottington Library shortly after 8.30am. Dave was soon leading the way in archetypal LDWA fashion, head down at a fast pace in his ancient glued up trainers.  The rest of us followed in hot pursuit past a mosaic cow on what may be the last day of the year on which Ken and Chris would be wearing shorts.

Bogs were soon encountered and were a feature of the day, with Dave zooming through them and the rest of us following in his wake, soon learning to choose our own drier routes rather than join him in the Wet Foot Society.

Shortly before we arrived at Affetside, Barbara leapt out in front of us, offering a rather poor excuse for her lateness, but at least boosting the turnout into double figures.  The LDWA’s age profile has increased steadily over its forty years’ existence, so perhaps the membership felt 25 miles was a bit far, or perhaps they had done the Two Crosses walk too many times already!  Having said that, today’s ‘elder statesman’ was the one who was consistently making the pace…

Can you spot the cross at Affetside, the first of the 'Two Crosses', on the right of the picture below?  Here's our select group - Jake, Chris, Sue, Buzz, Gillian, Dave, Cathy, Ken, Peter, and Barbara.

East Lancs LDWA group at Affetside

Soon afterwards we were zooming through Jumbles Country Park, beside Jumbles Reservoir on an overcast late summer's day, with the dark green foliage waiting patiently for the first autumn frosts and winds.  Luckily the impending monsoon – the most intense September storm in the UK for over thirty years – didn’t arrive until just after we finished the walk.  As I write, 72 hours later, the rain has just stopped in Manchester!

After a while we encountered the bogs and marshes of Longworth Moor.  Dave strode through them, pausing occasionally to wait for the rest of us as we picked our way through the dry bits.

An empty house, in the middle of nowhere near Old Man's Hill, had apparently recently been emptied of all contents of value before being abandoned by its owners and no doubt left to optimistic lenders to fight over its future.

Lunch was taken on a convenient couple of benches on the Witton Weavers Way path between Darwen Moor and Turton Moor.

Between the benches, a rather poorly hidden geocache in a plastic box held some modern artifacts, and a stone plaque mysteriously engraved "JPS LEFT MA??? 1894 ____ 1923" could perhaps be a relic from the area's recent industrial past, but I couldn’t find any reference to it in this wordy treatise.

Barbara made a short speech whilst we celebrated the 40th Anniversary with tea, brownies and jelly babies.

Barbara gives a speech at Turton Moor

Cathy then tried to end her days in a ditch, but Jake and Ken managed to drag her out (see slideshow for picture).  Ken had already taken a dramatic tumble when he fell off the path, and several others had also succumbed to the force of gravity in a variety of mishaps.  I’ve already noted the aging profile of LDWA members; that was clearly in evidence today, albeit we only had one walking stick between us.

In true LDWA (Irregulars excepted) style, we strode past the Strawbury Duck and its ghostly residents (nobody else looked back).

The Strawbury Duck and its ghostly residents

We continued to trail in Dave's wake on the ascent to Edgworth Moor, with Winter Hill clearly in view beyond one of the many reservoirs around here.

Bull Hill, a HuMP, could have been the high point of this walk, but the LDWA isn't a 'bagging' group, so we skirted around the hill, which was possibly just as well as a convention of trail bikes was being held on the summit.

Eventually we reached the second cross, The Pilgrims' Cross on Holcombe Moor (see the top of this posting).  Even Dave stopped to admire it, but I don’t think anyone else spotted the ghostly apparition on its top.

Peel Tower soon came fully into view, before our final descent of the day.

Dave looks towards Peel Tower

We headed quickly towards a rival group, but not even Dave could catch them, though he did briefly overhaul the lady in jeans who was just ahead of us at this point.  It must have been scary for her!

"Time for another break" announced Jake, just as the jeans lady had been caught. That meant more brownies and jelly babies in the shelter of the tower.  There was a moderately keen wind up on Holcombe Moor today. 

Dave was soon dashing off again. He had very soggy feet by now.

Towards the end of our 25 mile 'stroll'.

The golden turrets below Peel Tower, in Ramsbottom, house a Muslim education centre from where delegates are apparently often seen around the tower, but not today.

It’s not far back to Tottington from here, and after a peculiar diversion through an overgrown field we rejoined the ‘proper’ route near where the last checkpoint is situated on the Challenge walk.  Thankfully there was no maniacal barber masquerading as a Master Plumber to deflect our attempt to finish the walk before the rain, which we could see for the last hour or so, reached us.  So the final section was achieved at a good amble, past a pig called Pepper, bringing to an end at 5.30pm this excellent day out in fine company. 

I just wish I’d taken a photo of of Dave washing his feet in a bowl of hot water (from a flask brought specifically for that purpose) after finishing the walk.

There’s a 37 image slideshow here, for anyone interested.

Here's an approximation of the 25 mile (40 km) route with about 1000 metres ascent - taking 9 hours including an hour's breaks.

The Two Crosses route - 25 miles, 1000 metres ascent, in 9 hours

Monday, 24 September 2012

Friday 21 September 2012 – Ingleborough with Mick and Gayle

Mick and Gayle descending from Ingleborough

An email received from Mick and Gayle on Wednesday evening triggered this most enjoyable day trip to Ingleborough.

My day started with a visit to Bernie Bond, to deliver the photos taken when we met him and the lovely Janet on 21 July.  Janet was at work, but Bernie kindly handed me a copy of ‘British Mining No 76 – Ingleton Coalfield’, a glossy monograph of the Northern Mine Research Society that traces the history of the coalfield from 1600 to its final abandonment in 1940.  Bernie’s interest in the coalfield stems from his love of caving and from the discovery that on moving to Ingleton in 1983 he was living in a house formerly occupied by a colliery manager.  Bernie made a huge contribution to the research that has resulted in the monograph, which I shall enjoy reading.  Thanks Bernie.

Apart from a short stroll from Thornton Barn, where M&G had parked their van, to Ingleton, this was a repeat of the walk Sue and I enjoyed on 3 January 2009 – an anticlockwise circuit ascending Ingleborough via Crina Bottom and returning via Chapel-le-Dale, Scales Moor and Beezley Falls, for which we again managed to avoid paying, having arrived after the kiosk had shut.  [The ‘Waterfall Walk’ is over private land and a charge of £5 is now made for the privilege of enjoying this excellent short walk.]

Today we saw just two people on Ingleborough before the final haul to the summit, from where a large group of very old people was descending, and various others were milling around on the top, some looking muddy enough to be on a ‘Three Peaks’ walk.  Rather inconveniently, the final shower before a period of a few days’ good weather arrived as we approached the summit.  Never mind, it wasn’t too inclement to take this self-timed photo.

No wonder your hands got cold, Gayle!

Martin, Gayle and Mick on Ingleborough Summit

The furthest peak visible from the summit of Ingleborough is Manod Mawr in Snowdonia, 103 miles (166 km) away.  We couldn’t spot that today, but many other landmarks were visible through the stiff breeze.

Once away from the summit we just saw a few folk approaching the summit, a workman at the chapel, a photographer on Scales Moor, and a family engaged in trying to fall into the river at Beezley Falls, so we had the paths more or less to ourselves.  Which was just as well at one juncture when my trowel came in handy.

Up on Scales Moor, Mick was wondering how long the limestone pavement exposed after the last ice age 12,000 years ago would take to be completely ‘grassed over’.

Mick on the Scales Moor limestone pavement, with Whernside behind

Not in our lifetime, I suspect.

Especially not this glacial erratic, seen here with Ingleborough behind.

Boulder on Scales Moor

Those interested in such erratics and their formation may be interested in this Wikipedia link, and those interested in this region of North Yorkshire may enjoy reading a short document from the National Park Authority on the Yorkshire Moors and Fells.

We passed an isolated tree and, given the rather poor lighting, a hopeful photographer.

Tree and photographer on Scales Moor

There has been a fair amount of rain here in recent days, so unsurprisingly the River Doe was in spate.

On the Ingleton Waterfall Walk near Beezley Falls

There are more ‘waterfall’ images in this slideshow, should anyone be interested.

Here’s our route – about 22.5 km, with 800 to 900 metres ascent (depending on whether you believe Garmin or Anquet) taking about 7 hours.

Our Ingleborough route - 22.5 km, 900 metres ascent, 7 hours approx

Here’s the Garmin version of data: