Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Running the Tour of Mt Blanc

Running the Tour of Mount Blanc

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be able to buy a bike and get out with some good mates from Bolton CTC and Lancashire Road Club nearly every week.

                                        I even get a mention for an Omnium trophy I won a long time ago.
We had a few other stars who helped inspire and had a few laughs with Jeremy Hunt went on to become a pro rider. Craig Battresby went onto elite cycling as an amateur. Clive Burke and Bobhat (Ian Roberts ) were stalwarts and other names pictured left at York Rally wher Clive bought a brand new Tri suit. 




Clive, Bobhat and I decide that we should climb Mt Blanc one year we decided on early June. To cut a multitude of epics short (please ask about all the stories) we had to turn around and come back down. Sadly on this snowy descent Bobhat slipped and fell and was killed. 
The last picture of him is with me top left of this collage. 

I decided to honour my friends memory and after being inspired into further lightweight adventures by the Crane brothers, cousins of Nick Crane running the length of the Himalaya in 100 days. Click Here
I had five days off work and ran from home to the train station in Bolton to get to Manchester Airport. I took one KIMM  bag 7kg in total no tent, stove etc just a cup, spoon, sleeping bag and minimal kit. 

I set off from Chamonix in mid-June to run the famous Tour De Mount Blanc. This was in the days before UTMB points dictated the run that we choose to do. I just wanted to be in the mountains and reasonably close, to lay a few to ghosts to rest, to a friend of mine. I recently read Heather Dawe Book, cunningly called Adventures In Mindwhere she tells of a similar tail. 
I travelled as far as I could each day as a solo experience. For pictures I ran forward balanced my (film) camera set the self timer and ran back PDQ to then head back to the camera. So did more than the official route and time I should of done. 

Note the plastic bread bags on my feet to keep out the snows of the passes. My feet went green for weeks after as the dye came out of my Walshes Fell running shoes
Kit was a cotton T shirt, Oakley Factory Pilots frames as worn by Greg Lemond, Ron Hill Tracksters over Freedom Shorts. Spare T shirt, Cotton neck scarf, sleeping bag, Karrimat, Spoon and Mug, one extra pair of undies/ socks.
I managed to run round the route in 40hrs. I lost my money in Italy after buying a small bag of biscuits, I just ran away from it as I left it on a bench. On my return to France I managed to change £5 to buy tywo bottles of wine so had something to do at least. I found a park to sleep under the ping pong tables but was rescued by a runner from Somerset who let me sleep in his car. 

I had a great adventure and it stemmed a lot more. Do not be constrained by perceptions, remember friends and loved one's and enjoy every step of your journey.


I feel its time to get back to Mt Blanc soon along with a few more Adventures that I have in Mind.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

OS and Silva Navigation App

OS and Silva two of the worlds renowned names in Navigation have teamed up with an App and Map approach to Mountain Safety. I was shown the app at Keswick Mountain Festival and when it came out on Android I downloaded it to test it out. Its very simple and works well. I was out on a Navigation training course yesterday in a very wet Langdale vally with James and Kathryn from Dorset. We were looking at traditional map and compass techniques and I showed them this app to help compliment their new skills.


We had a great day out in the warm rain in the Langdale Valley and James and Kathryn helped me to realise what I take for granted in my work as an International Mountain Leader whilst working in our fantastic scenery in the Lakes. They took lots of photos and were awed by the landscape and will hopefully come back to the lakes. We finished off with a liquid debrief at the National Trust run Stickle Barn Tavern in the sunshine. 





Google Play link https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.ordnancesurvey.oslocate.android

Itunes link https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/os-locate/id810024913

It is worth noting that the App is there to back up Map and Compass skills not to replace it.  Map and compass skills need to be practised 

If you wanting to get out and practice Navigation get in touch. 1:1 and groups are easily accommodated You cant not learn something from it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Responsible Outdoors Folk

I have spent some of my weekend on an event wombling. Please dispose of your litter responsibly. Its part of the rules of being in an event to follow the country code. Why not take a cup on a run with you and save the road runner mentality of using plastic cups at every checkpoint. Gel bars and Banana skins seem to be the biggest culprit. Folk think its ok to chuck these. Bananas should be eaten before or after an event not during. http://www.kgbanswers.co.uk/how-long-does-it-take-the-human-body-to-digest-a-banana/4911536


They also take a long time to biodegrade. 2years in an upland area http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/sep/24/bananas-litter-hikers-mountains-scotland



Be the sort of outdoors person you would like to see. Cheers 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Everlasting Pint

The Everlasting Pint. 

This has been a much sought after slice of indulgence for many a long time. 
Man has tried to conquer this like the alchemists of old. 

Here is my version of an everlasting pint of Timothy Taylors Landlord
This is a classic brew that I have tried to enjoy to the max. Many times!!


video
Thanks 


I hope you enjoy it many times over. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

GL3D May 2014





This is an event that has taken on a classic status and the format gives the mountain lover a chance to get to grips with the Lakes over a stunning three days of movement through some powerful terrain. 
Here is a history of the event. Click Here from Joe Faulkner of NAV4 Adventure

Charlie Sproson from Mountain Run has planned the courses
It has a new format this year with 4 classes going on at the same time. E, A, B and C. 

Last year there was a Long and Short course and I came 5th overall and 2nd solo male in the short course. 
Pictures from the 2103 event can be found Click Here
There is also a short video that gives a great feel for the atmosphere of the event from 2013

As I had to work on the Monday I offered to work as part of the safety team for two days this year. I think its sometimes easier running! There is a lot to get on with in the background and Shane has a great team of people to help the swan move on the water. 

This year had a mass start from Pooley Bridge starting on the Ullswater Steamer taking the runners to Howtown for the real start to all the courses. This took them over the High Street range down to Kentmere Valley for the first camp. Then day 2 saw the runners going through to Grasmere over a few hills and valleys. 

Pictures from this year can be found Here






I saw a great number of folk that I have seen at various events over the years and tried to get a warts and all style of pictures of the two days I was involved with this great event. Well done to all who took part both the runners and the tireless marshal team that make the event a Great Lakeland 3 Days.

  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Morocco Trip to Snow and Sands


I have just come back from a trip to Morocco working for BPE Ltd wth Kings School Macclesfield 
we were on a Snow and Sand expedition over two weeks we made an ascent of Mount Toubkal, North Africa's highest mountain at 4165 mtrs. and then went to the Saharan sand dunes near to the Algerian border. Here we spent a night star gazing while camping in a bedouin campsite after a camel ride into the dessert. We woke early to climb a sand dune to watch the sunrise. 

Here is a condensed version of the trip in photos. 

If you want to fill up your glass with mint tea and browse for a while here are the photos for you. Click Here 

Thanks to Mohamed and Jamal from Toubkal Traveling for all their support and help during the trip








Thursday, March 27, 2014

Treat Animals and Porters with equal respect

Have a read of this please, especially if you are going to Morocco and any other places that use mules for transport of your kit whilst on your expedition. It certainly helps to sustain an economy and enhance the travellers experience. http://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/blog/8180 

If you look after the whole of your expedition crew they will look after you. 


We have used Donkey power for years since Mary famously went to Bethlehem on one. For our outdoor activities. R.L Stevenson author of Treasure Island used a Donkey on his outdoor adventure in France during 1879.
 Stevenson was in his late 20s and still dependent on his parents for support. Travels was both meant to he needed to be with the woman he loved, and provide the adventure he craved, having been sickly much of his life.
Travels recounts Stevenson's 12-day, 120-mile solo hiking journey through the sparsely populated and impoverished areas of the Cévennes mountains in south-central France in 1878. The character of Modestine, a stubborn, manipulative donkey he could never quite get the better of, is memorable. It is one of the earliest accounts which presented hiking and camping outdoors as a recreational activity. It also tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags, large and heavy enough to require a donkey to carry.

 
Another relevant piece of reading have a look at this

Please note none of these pictures are of troubled mules. Pack light. Travel further. If you cant carry it others should not be expected to.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Expedition Season Is coming

The expedition season is coming along. 
Here is a great alternative view that ring some emotive bells. Have a look at this and see what you think 


This is just a nice picture for this time of year.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Alpine Climbing is great fun

Here is an insight int what Alpine Climbing was really like in the 1930's Some of the belays and axe techniques may be a bit iffy but everyone was happy. All St Bernards should have a big barrel of grog to aid climbers, dont you think?

If thats not to your taste try three on a rope. You know what they say about three being a crowd?

Enjoy them


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Mile Cheviot 2 Fell Shoes


I have been trying out a pair of More Mile Cheviot 2 Fell Shoes recently. I bought them as an alternative to the usual Norman Walsh Fell Shoes I have worn for years. Being a Bolton lad I used to pop into see Norman and have a chat with him about the fell scene sometimes I would buy a pair of shoes as well. I have been spoilt coming from Bolton home of a few famous shoe brands and runners including Walsh, Reebok, Brasher who worked with Reebok; Martin Jones, Paul Dugdale Horwich RMI, Mike Freary Bolton UH, Ron Hill produced the Rivington Pike shoe named after the oldest fell race in the calender.

So these came as an alternative to a trusted brand to try out now in the Northern Lakes where I now live and work as a full time outdoor instructor and with Nav4 helping to organise and with training courses for Mountain Marathons, Hill and Adventure racingThis is the mark two version and comes in several eye catching colour designs. The lacing is a standard eyelet lacing system that has been tried and tested and cant really be faulted. It secures the foot well and can be adapted along its length to fit differing foot widths. 

The sole unit is deep lugged and is useful on the northern fells where the ground is not so rocky. These would be ideal for Howgills, Southern Uplands, Cross Country, Orienteering type areas of event. I found them very slippy on wet rock, but most sole units and compounds are. They cleaned reasonably well enhancing the grip over this sort of terrain. 
The midsole offers good cushioning but not to much for contouring, more testing is needed here to give a better picture for myself. 

The toe box is good for me in that its open and rounded and has plenty of space with a toe protector over the mesh upper. This drains very well going through boggy ground. 

The insole stays in place even when wet very handy and gives a confident feel to the shoe. 

 In this picture on the left you can see the tongue rolling that occurs to frequently, this could easily be rectified with a simple loop to centralise the tongue. Another thing that I found on buying my original pair was that they are lasted very small. I normally take a 41(7) but on trying them on I had to return them and get an 8. I am not sure if half sizes are available? The 8 means that the shoe rolls a little and is slighty floppy across the toe cut area on me.


During this day out I saw another bloke running up in the same pair as I was coming down the hill with my dog back toward Mungrisedale. I never got a chance to ask what he thought of them.
 In summary this is a good shoe that with a little more time from me on the fells may be more of a grower on me. I will get out more and evaluate further. The price is right  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cycling in Devon

I have just come back from Devon cycling and running in the sunshine with Sarah and Keela. We did a hilly route based from Tavistock to Princetown and back along part of the fantastically restored Devon C2C.


 Princeton high on Dartmoor is home to a brewery and prison. Jail Ale is great unsure if the inmates have had it tho. A fantastic Information Centre, Bunkhouse and campsite at the Plume of Feathers pub and local cafes.
In Tavistock town centre near the famous pannier market. Its a place certainly worth looking around. A world heritage site in the heart of Dartmoor ideal for a cream tea.



If you planning a trip to Devon in the summer you can manage the whole Sustrans C2C in a day its 102 miles on some great rideable tracks. Hope you enjoy all the attractions along the way.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Night Navigation In June

 I was asked by Ian from Striding Ahead to help him with his preparation for his ML assessment for some Night Navigation Practice; in June! Its not dark till 11.30ish so we opted for an overnight camp also.
 Gary Fletcher came along also and we met in the Lake District for our mini adventure.
 We set off into a fantastic warm evening toward our overnight campsite via few sneaky and not so sneaky features. Ian and Gary did really well as we had twisted the emphasis of the Navigation to help delivery. 
The Valley below us got smaller as ascended the night sky got redder a great sign for the day ahead also. This gave us chance to fit some mortar around the navigation brickwork. 
This mortar included flora, fauna, weather interpretation, coaching methods etc all vital for a broad knowledge base for mountain leaders.
We arrived at our campsite around 02.00 in the morning after a great night finding some difficult features. Ian set up his tent and went straight bed to wake up earlyto go for another walk and get some more pics

Gary and I opted for the bivvy bag approach on such a warm night. NB condensation in the morning after a warm night still can dampen your kit. Strange occurrences happen as the hot days over the last week had depleted the water supplies from the river. 

Another of the mortar issues was campcraft and clean water. I had been looking at Sawyer Water filters for a trip to the source of the Ganges later in the year. This would of been ideal for the dribble of water we found at the outlet. Then today a colleague Paul Lewis of Peak Mountaineering was talking about them. I will definatley look them up now after a serendipitous moment.  Could of done with a whole range of their products; sun cream and bug spray!

                                        Day two dawned bright and we off again at 08.00 on another mini adventure.Working our way back to the cars, the weather was kind to us. We even managed to save a young herdwick from certain death after being stuck in pool of muddy water. A very smelly affair trying to pull her out, she managed to wobble away on unsteady legs to find some grass. Good Karma?


 We had a great mini adventure in the lakes and covered a lot of topics. Please let me know if you have an adventure in mind. 

 

 
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