Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday 18 March 2011

Sunday 6 March 2011 – The Angel of the North, and a Visit to Durham

The Angel of the North

Wolfie’s visit (we took him to Durham for a weekend Aikido event) enabled us to visit the Far North, where we caught up with a few folk and enjoyed Julie’s excellent hospitality.

On the way home we couldn’t resist stopping to admire The Angel, who from most angles seems to be leaning backwards.

Sue and the Angel's foot

She has a ‘club foot’.  (The Angel, that is, not Sue!)

We strolled around Durham and admired the Cathedral.

Durham Cathedral

Cloisters at Durham Cathedral

This is the land of the Pie Men, where some say the glaciers have been slow to recede this year.

But these spring flowers looked cheerful enough.

Spring in the land of the Pie Men

There are a few more (rather ordinary) photos from this trip here.

I’ll try to catch up with entries soon, but in the meantime:

1.  Hello Dot, I hope you’ll soon be able to get to your computer to read these entries after your ‘Half a Hip Replacement’.  We were impressed that you managed to escape from hospital after only a week.  Please take care not to break the other femur!

2.  Next Wednesday’s evening walk has been re-scheduled to 31 March – here are the details:
”Parkgate and Neston - meet at 7.30 pm at The Boathouse in Parkgate for a 8 km stroll featuring a disused railway line, Neston quay and Parkgate promenade. Go to Jnc 4 on the M53 > 2nd exit (from the south) > A5137 > go under the railway > join A551 then immediately turn left at a roundabout > after a short distance turn right down the B5135 to reach Parkgate.”
All are welcome.

3.  We enjoyed an excellent day out last Saturday at the TGO Challenge ‘Snake Reunion’.  I’ll report  with photos next week.

4.  Mick and Gayle gave an entertaining and informative ‘Dover to Cape Wrath’ slide show to the Stockport Walking Group last night.  It was good to see them both, and we wish them well for their next trip, which starts on Saturday.  (Mainly) Gayle’s daily reports aren’t to be missed.

I’ll also report on this coming weekend – to be spent in Eskdale – preparation for which is partly responsible for the backlog in postings, as we are catering for nearly 40 people for the weekend and we don’t want them to go hungry!

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Pyrenean Perambulations

Sunset from a wild camp at the Col d'Ispeguy on 30 July 2004

Andy Howell has been busy over at ‘Must Be This Way’ with inspirational postings about the Pyrenees, such as this FAQ posting.

Well done, Andy, the information you provide will be of great help to those planning on visiting this wonderful range of mountains.

I shall be trying (again) to encourage Gayle and Mick to hatch a Pyrenean traverse project when I see them tomorrow.

For my own part, I can add a little to Andy’s wealth of information by mentioning that Sue and I completed a HRP (Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne) crossing from west to east in 2004, in celebration of my release after many years from the shackles of full time work.

We set up a web page prior to the trip and sent a text message each day to our ‘webmaster’ (my daughter) who updated a spreadsheet with our progress to date.  A sort of rudimentary ‘blog’, though I wasn’t familiar with that term in 2004.  Was anybody?

After the trip we added a bit more information and copied a couple of days of our detailed diary to another web page, and showed the slides to a few people.

Later, I transcribed the postcards that we sent home every day (snail mail blogging?!) and have provided that document to a few people who have made contact during their preparations for a Pyrenean traverse.

Andy’s current efforts have triggered me into putting the postcard transcript onto a separate web page.  I hope to add some photos and perhaps reproduce a few more detailed diary entries, but for the present our main Pyrenean web page, with links to route details and a kit list (now a bit dated), is here, and the postcard transcript is here.

The photo at the head of this posting is the view from our wild camp at Col d’Ispeguy as the sun went down on 30 July 2004, on the fifth day of our crossing.

I hope someone may find all this of some interest (if only the link to Andy’s site).  The Pyrenees is a wonderful area to visit.

My other Pyrenean postings can be found here.

HI-TEC V-Lite Thunder HPi ‘Adventure Sports’ Shoes – A Review

HI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boots HI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boots

The above images were taken on 8 March 2010.  These trail shoes were kindly provided by HI-TEC, following the premature failure of some HI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boots that had kindly been provided by HI-TEC for review.  That review is here, and my ‘New Shoes’ posting about the trail shoes is here.

The trail shoes have been worn a lot over the past year, but sadly didn’t quite make it to their first birthday.

They are currently still in production, with HI-TEC’s website proudly proclaiming the following:


  • ion-mask hydrophobic technology
  • Breathable mesh and Synthetic Upper
  • TPU welding for midfoot support
  • Toe and heel abrasion for added protection
  • V-Lite strobel construction
  • V-Lite design and build technology
  • Comfort-Tec contoured sockliner
  • V-Lite compression-moulded EVA midsole for cushioning
  • External ESS Shank for added support
  • V-Lite MDT carbon rubber outsole

The RRP is about £80, but they are currently available for £50 or less.

Here’s what my shoes looked like on 25 February 2011, after about 600km (375 miles) of use, a third of which comprised three weeks in the Alps.

HI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi bootsHI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boots

As you can see, the sole of one shoe had parted company with the upper and was flapping in a terminal manner.  Luckily the final straw occurred on a walk to the shops, so gaffer tape repairs weren’t needed.

It’s not all bad news though.  Here are my detailed observations.

Fit and Finish:
  • the EU size 43 were perfect for my average sort of feet.  As with the earlier V-lite boots, no breaking in was necessary and the shoes were a delight to wear for their entire life
  • the construction – they were made in China – was good, with none of the problems I encountered with their Innov8 Roclite predecessors.  BUT after nearly 12 months and only 600 km of use (plus about the same distance mountain biking), one of the soles parted with its upper.  Had this not happened I’d still be using the shoes, albeit with rather worn soles
  • visually, I like the finish – these were respectably tidy casual shoes.  I shall miss them
  • HI-TEC’s stated features are listed above
  • the shoes may be vaguely waterproof, but not noticeably more so than my fairly ordinary Nike trainers.  I’m not convinced by the ‘ion-mask hydrophobic technology’
  • forgetting all the technical jargon, the shoes were extremely comfortable for anything from walking to the shops to mid grade Via Ferrata in the Dolomites
  • at 800gm, they are not the lightest in their class, but they certainly don’t feel heavy, so for me they are about right
Practical Use:
  • I’ve worn these shoes in preference to most other footwear over the past year.  They sat in the porch and were my first choice for anything from an evening out in casual wear, to a serious mountain day walk in dry conditions
  • the soles were satisfactorily grippy in the dry, even on steep ground
  • whilst I didn’t wear the shoes much in wet weather, I did notice seepage when walking on boggy ground, so those wanting to retain dry feet in wet conditions should consider using Sealskinz socks or similar
  • with limited ankle support, many users may be reluctant to use the shoes on certain steep ground such as some of the scree slope crossings in the Dolomites, where the additional ankle support provided by lightweight boots may enhance both comfort and safety
  • there are lots of alternatives to these mid-range trail shoes.  I was lucky in that the shoes posted to me fitted perfectly, but I would always commend users to try on shoes before buying them – different products suit different feet
  • these shoes provided me with comfortable day to day use for nearly a year.  They were good all round performers, from pub to mountain top.  In wet weather I would choose to wear waterproof socks with the shoes, or (preferably) waterproof boots instead, but with relatively grippy soles they were perfect for three hot dry weeks in the Alps last summer.  They were also excellent for a 400 kilometre TransAlp mountain bike ride, and for mountain biking generally
  • my only real criticism of these shoes is their durability.  I would normally expect to get more wear out of such a product.  Maybe I was unlucky, but the soles of my shoes normally wear out rather than fall off!  The laces, however, are excellent – they will live on as spares

So, it’s out with the old… I wonder what will be next? (‘G’ knows that secret!)

Monday 14 March 2011

Friday 4 March 2011 – The Roaches and Lud’s Church

Lud's Church

With a chance to reciprocate Wolfgang’s hospitality to me last year in Austria, we enjoyed his company for this classic circuit over the Roaches to Lud’s Church, returning by the Dane Valley and The Hanging Stone.

Shortly after starting the walk, the climbing hut that is a memorial to Don Whillans is passed.  It’s surrounded by large boulders on which children can often be seen clambering before they tackle one of the many climbs up the rocky cliffs of the Roaches.

Bouldering rocks by the Don Whillans Memorial Hut

Our walk passed uneventfully over the Roaches on a cool, cloudy day, after which the shelter of the dark woodland of Back Forest was in stark contrast to the open moor.

The deep cleft of Lud’s Church (above) wasn’t as muddy as expected.  It’s a wonderful place; we were the only visitors.

A pleasant stroll beside the River Dane led to Danebridge.  On the way we spotted this huge (by Peak District standards) rock fall that had caused the river to back up a bit.  I wonder whether any attempt will be made to clear the debris. 

Landslip in the Dane valleySome 'very special' rare breed sheep 

A rare breeds farm along the route sports a variety of unusual sheep.

JJ and I lagged behind the other four, in the hope that they would accidentally turn off to the Ship Inn, which we’d decided to leave out of today’s itinerary, having already scoffed several rucksack loads of provisions.

JJ at Danebridge

The Snowdrops around here don’t see much sun, and are very late in flowering.

Late Snowdrops

Our ruse didn’t work – the others ignored the pub and skipped merrily on through pleasant woodland and up a long field towards the conspicuous prominence of The Hanging Stone.

Ascending to The Hanging Stone

There’s a plaque on the front of the stone in memory of a local landowner, Lt Col Henry Courtney Brocklehurst, who served in both World Wars and was killed in Burma in 1942, at the age of 54.

On The Hanging Stone

On the other side of the stone there’s an older (1874) memorial to Burke, a dog.

We stood near the top for a group photo in view of Shutlingsloe, but Viv and Sue decided to block out the summit…

Martin, Viv, Sue, JJ, Rick and Wolfie

The walk concluded with a stroll along a delightful ‘permissive path’ that led back to Roach End and a short stretch of tarmac back to the cars.

Our route - 17km, 690 metres ascent, 5 hours

We’d done 17 km, with 690 metres ascent, in a leisurely 5 hours, in excellent company.  There’s a slide show (30 images) here.  Thanks to Wolfie for a couple of the photos.

We’ve been here before – for other reports (which will include future ones) on Roaches walks, click here, and for Lud’s Church – mostly the same walks as those in the Roaches – click here.

Footnote – 14 March 2011
The Lud’s Church image seems to have gone down well, so here’s a reminder from 10 October 2007 of what it’s like when the sun shines…

This is one of the few photos I could ever have sold – it was used for the invitation to a naming ceremony for two children.

Lud's Church on 10 October 2007