The Vault Regulars

Friday, July 30, 2010

Scotland, The Brave.


How i love holidays in Scotland.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Picasa error

Google  
Error

Request-URI Too Large

The requested URL /gadgets/ifr... is too large to process.

Brian,
This is the error message that i keep on getting in my Picasa box, although the problem is strangely intermittent. You would think that if a URL was too big it would be too big all the time.
Looking at the start of the URL which says /gadget the problem may lie elsewhere but like i say it's in my Picasa box.
I have checked my gallery headings and all would seem to be ok. So i don't know what URL it finds a problem with.

I find it annoying.
Brian, i am not changing over from Picasa due to the error message. I am changing simply because i bought a year subscription with SmugMug.
The error message just pushed me a little faster to change.
 I have no issues with Picasa and would use the service again.
Thanks for your quick response.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Error message - Picasa

If any reader is getting an error message on my Picasa gallery. I don't know why it's happening.
 I am now using SmugMug for my images so the images on Picasa will be gradually changing over, bit by bit.
And then Picasa will be removed and all will be well hopefully.
Sorry for the problem....Alan

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gram Weenie stove test

The postman was early today and with him came a package from Australia.
It was the Gram Weenie stove.

I have now spent a couple of hours this morning testing it out and here are my findings.
On opening the package you will find:-
1. The stove
2. Windshield
3. A 5 Fl oz fuel bottle (approx.)
4. Priming pan
5. Instruction pamphlet.

The 3 containers i have used for testing are as follows.
From R-L.
 Hi Gear 105mm diameter, 0.75L pan. (Aluminium)
Optimus 95mm diameter 0.5L pan. (Aluminium)
 Lifeventure Titanium cup 80mm diameter 0.43L.
First of all what does it all weigh. (measured by me)
The stove - 19 gr.
Windshield and pan 55gr.
Fuel bottle (empty) 25gr.
Total. 99gr.

My first set up was with the Lifeventure mug because this was the lightest container and i was hoping to use this in the field.
I put 1 fl oz of meths in the stove, as per instructions and a couple of drops of meths on the priming pan.
Then ignited the fuel and waited until the flames blossomed from the small jet holes. This took about 45 seconds.
Then i put the pan on which contained 430ml of cold water and then wrapped the windshield around.
The 430ml was determined from the fact that most dehydrated food packets require in the region of 400ml to rehydrate.
The wind was swirling and ambient temperature was 11 degrees.
After about a minute the flames went out so i set it up again and the flame went out again.

I decided to try out the test in the kitchen where it would be out of the wind. Not a good start as you cannot do this on the fell side, but at least the results will be made in stable conditions.
Anyway, this is what i found, using the same amount of water in all the pans and 1fl oz of fuel in the stove.

The Hi Gear pan - 6.00 mins to boil and then the flame burned for another minute.

The Optimus pan - 6.40 mins to boil and then the flame burned for another 30 seconds.

The Lifeventure cup - 9.00 mins and just as it boiled it went out.

From the results i ascertain that the stove works better if the pan is wide and shallow rather than narrow and tall.

Having got these results it was now time to take it outside again and use the Hi Gear 105mm dia. pan as the best test.
Set up was as previously stated.
The water boiled in 7.00 minutes and the stove burned for another 20 seconds after.

My conclusion is that for the UK hills this stove is too small. 
In very blustery conditions, which is the norm here, there is a good chance that the stove will not boil your water in time, before it goes out.
 Also there is the chance that it could self extinguish depending on the wind speed and if it's blustery or your pan is too narrow.
It also takes too long to boil.
The windshield is very light and i will have to find a way of keeping it on the ground when its windy.
I don't think i would depend on it at the moment, unfortunately.

The next time we go backpacking, in about 3 weeks time, we will take this stove as well as our gas stove and see if i am correct with my findings.

Back to the drawing board. Maybe a new cone type windshield next. Mmm
Oh. And i must say that this testing has been done for my own personal use and there is no commercial involvement whatsoever.



Sunday, July 25, 2010

A strange bird


Below are 2 photo's of a strange bird that has just landed in the garden. We have never had a bird like this in the garden before.
Apologies for the lack of clarity but we didn't have time to get the good camera and they were taken through the window.
Have any of you twitchers got any idea what it is?
For scale purposes the baskets below the bird are around 2ft tall.



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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Recycle and save money.

I was clearing away rubbish to the recycling bins when i realised the foil bag was still in an empty wine box.
So when i separated the box and discarded it, i found not a foil bag but a polythene type bag similar to dedicated water carriers.
It had me thinking i could use it for backpacking and save a little cash.

The tap came out from the bag quite easily and my first thoughts were, how do i get rid of the smell of the white wine.
I filled a basin with boiling water and soaked the bag and tap until the water was cold. Most of the smell had gone but not enough.
I then soaked them again in sterilising solution for 4 hours and it was good enough.

I filled up the bag with around 2.5 litres of water, replaced the tap and threw it around a bit to see if it would burst. It stayed intact.

I braided a lanyard, making a loop in the centre and glued it around the outside of the seam on 2 sides so that i would be able to hang it when in use and also strengthened the corner with duct tape where the strain would be taken.
On completion the carrier weighs 40 grams.


                                      
When rolled up the carrier takes up very little space. This is a 3 litre bag and it takes up about the same space as my 1 litre Platypus.
I suggest that when the tap is pushed back into the bag, only go about 3/4 of the way in. It's still secure and watertight, but it makes it easy to remove to fill it up.


The above photo shows the bag filled with 2 litres of water. I didn't want to put 3 litres in at this time because the lanyard had only been glued for about 1 hour.
I think if i did need to put 3 litres in, i would probably leave it on the ground anyway.

All in all i think it's a good bit of recycling. If anybody wants to me to make them one please send a new box of wine to me at........... only kidding.

And if it bursts at anytime just think of the pleasure you can have in emptying another box. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Samaritan Negotiator

Yesterday turned out to be a strange day. Sat in ST. Ann's square i saw a bag get snatched from a vendor stall selling the Manchester Evening News. At first i just thought it was the vendor, but a minute or two later the yellow jacketed vendors turned up and realised that they had been robbed.
I went over and told them what i had seen and said the robber cannot be too far away so lets go and look.
After a couple of minutes the vendors decided that he would have been long gone and called off the search.
Fortunately only a few minutes later and while i was walking down Deansgate i spotted him and went back to the vendors to tell them.
Well cutting a long story short, we ran after this guy and we got him and all the belongings back.


Then after i had calmed my nerves, i went into The North Face store on Deansgate because i had been considering buying a lightweight belay jacket. The one i had in mind was the Patagonia Nano Puff pullover (stupid name), but i couldn't find one in Manchester.
I saw TNF had one called the Zephyrus and it looked ideal. Then i saw the price £139.99! Too much i thought and left the store.
Only a couple of hundred yards further up the road i called into another outdoor shop and saw the same jacket a bit cheaper. I said to the sales guy that i liked the jacket but i didn't want to pay that much. So, after a bit of negotiating i actually bought the jacket for £78. Fantastic deal.
Weight 260gr. Filling Primaloft.
It just shows you how bad the outdoor industry is doing at the moment and always haggle with them.
But the stupid thing in my view is that TNF store wanted £139.99 and i had bought it at almost 1/2 the price in a store 2 minutes away. And the store i got it from was obviously still making a good profit.
 I walked out of the TNF store, because they are charging top dollar. How many potential customers do exactly the same. Their was also more staff than customers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gram Weenie Stove

Recently i have been using the Optimus Crux stove with the foldaway burner. I bought it with the solo pan set and it all fits together nicely. Great for 3 season use.
I have posted previously that the regulator is poor but if you are just boiling water then turn it up and it works fine.
   In the past i have made numerous stoves, too many to mention and i have been generally successful in my endeavours.
Last week while browsing i came across the Gram Weenie pro stove, there are other stoves of similar design, ie the White Box Stove but at 19 gr in weight and even smaller than the WBS, it got me thinking about buying it.
    I checked out the availability and found that it was available in the US from End2End trail supply or Australia via Mark at Light weight hikers blog.
As we have family in Australia i decided to ask them to buy it for me. I have found buying from US can be a long job whereas Australia just isn't.

The stove has now been ordered and i wait eagerly for it's arrival and testing it out.

   As the days get shorter and colder i find gas stoves are just too unpredictable even with the gas mixture for cold temperatures. I much prefer the use of Methylated spirit stoves when the frost is down.
When it arrives i will test it out and post the results.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cumbria Weekend

Welcome to my blog to Phil and Mark.
We have just arrived home from the Lake District. This was our tri-weekly trip up to Sheila's mums.
Thankfully we wasn't camping. It barely stopped raining the whole time.
Locals were telling us that thursday night was really bad. There was plenty of evidence of the storms as the roads were littered with tree debris. Also we had no signal on the phone or the internet.
Today was also bad for the weather. Heavy rain,and mist down very low. Not much wind though thankfully.
Driving back over Birker fell this afternoon we passed some young un's walking along the road. I presume that they were D of E going from the numbers and the style of equipment. Visibility was quite bad on the fells.
They were like drowned rats. Poor things.

We called in to the Scree's pub in Nether Wasdale on Friday night. This is one of my favourite pubs in the county. It's now under new management and i can say that we had a fine meal and there was a definite improvement in the atmosphere.. It was good to see some old faces back in as well.

Saturday night we had our usual night in the Gosforth Hall. It's always a good meal in here and Rod keeps 4 casks beers in good order. It was quite a surprise to see that this weekend he had put on a cask conditioned, hand pumped lager. Yes lager. I tried a couple of pints and i must admit that it was very good. Unfortunately their was quite a large group of people in for a meal so it wasn't long before it had run out. But he will be getting some more in.

We called in to the outdoor shop in Broughton in Furness and i spotted some self inflating mats, they had the name Trang on them so i made a mental note to check them out on the internet when i got home.
I have now had a look and cannot find them, that's strange. I will have to go back in and have another look at them.
Anybody else heard of them?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Midges

There is a new midge spray out called Incognito. It works by masking the odour that we give off, that the midge is supposedly attracted to.
It says that the fragrance is so strong that the midge just "Fly bye"and don't land on the skin.

Well if it works it will be great. Has anybody tried it?  I would be interested to hear if you have.

If you want to read more then just click on the link.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Windshirts

Over the last few weeks we have had numerous discussions on windshirts. Whats good, whats not. What we like etc etc.
Some of the prices are quite expensive but we pay for them because we like them. They are light, pack small, are showerproof and do what we want, be windproof.

Well let me throw this one in the pot. It does the same as the rest but costs a fraction of the price. IE £25. Its Pertex Quantum so thats good. It hasn't got a full zip but to me thats not a problem. Weight 80gr.


If you are in the market for a windshirt and are scouring the web for a good deal then have a look at it. You can find it here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Crinkles and Pike o'Blisco.

On the way back from Scotland we took a sidestep right and went to Langdale NT campsite. Normally this place would be way off our radar as we just can't be doing with the crowds and tent encroachment. But as it was midweek and not school hols we thought it would be ok.
                                  Bowfell from the Crinkles.

Checking in has changed somewhat and for me i think it is a joke. They are spending money on the wrong things and making customers pay for the unnecessary.
 I don't want to open a slanging match here so i had better keep my opinions to myself hadn't i.

On pitching the tent we pitched next to Robin, AKA blogpackinglight . We had never met before but something kept telling me that i knew him from somewhere.
After a quick question ie, "do you have a blog site" we introduced each other.

A very pleasant 20-30 mins followed of gear chat. Robin was off to Eskdale and we were off to do the Crinkles and Pike o'Blisco. After farewells we were all away.

We bumped into each other again towards the top of the Band but from there our routes took different directions.

Sheila had never done the Crinkles before so she wasn't sure how bad the "Bad Step" was going to be. In the end it was easy for her although she has a little scratch on the knee that she doesn't want to heal up. It's proof you see.

                     Walkers check out the "Bad Step" on the 2nd or 4th Crinkle depending on which direction you do the walk in..

It's all down hill from the Crinkles to Red Tarn and the masses were on there way up from Three Shires.
The ascent up Pike o'Blisco from Red Tarn is very pleasant and it doesn't take long to get to the top.
It's a great top for views all round.
Pike o'Blisco


Sheila and I stood at the cairn on Pike o'Blisco. 
I may be wrong but i am sure this cairn used to be a lot higher than this. 

We chose the east route off the top. For me this is the best way off but now the NT path team have been here and done what they excel at! The path joins the road just before Wall End farm.

It had been a grand day. The weather was just right although it was probably too hot for backpacking. We retreated to the Old DG for a beer. Well you have to don't you.

The days photographs can be found here.

The Lightload towel part II

Following on from my earlier posting on the Lightload towel.
We used this throughout our recent trip to Scotland and now that we have given it a thorough testing i can say with conviction that we liked it better than any of the micro fibre towels we have used.
It will now join our backpacking kit and replace the microfibre towel.

Size for size it rolls up smaller and weighs less than the fibre towel.
It's not as strong as the fibre towels and you have to take this into consideration.
It feels much more like a proper towel than a fleece towel does when using it.
When wet or after washing it. Don't wring it out but compress it to remove the excess water. If you wring it out then there is the danger of tearing it.
Even after compressing the excess water out it will still dry you.
I didn't notice that it held any bad odour with use, like some of the fibre towels do.
It dries very quickly.
It washes well at low temp on short cycle or by hand wash.

If on a campsite, keep it off the shower floor and walls as it will soak everything up quickly.
It's cheap enough to replace at any time.
Sizes are available to suit what ever you require.

We cut our purchased towel in half and after 2 weeks the cut edge hadn't deteriorated.
No bad points really. A good buy.

Even if you don't like it you can always use it to wash to car or the windows.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our view's on the Rob Roy Way. (Our way) What worked and what didn't.

I say "our way" because we strayed away from the designated route on a number of occasions. But in the main we followed the general direction as laid out in the guide book.
The RRW is a long distance route that starts in Dryman and ends in Pitlochry. A distance of 80 miles.
We decided to make a few changes, as follows.
1. We started from KinlochArd where we were able to leave the car for a long period of time without any worries.
2. We wanted to go up Ben Venue, Ben Ledi and Ben Lawers on route so this would mean going north of Loch Tay instead of on the southern track.
3. We knew that there was a track on the south side of the River Tay between Aberfeldy and Grandtully so we took this instead of the dangerous road walk on the north side of the river.

As it happened we didn't get to go up Ben Ledi as the pull to watch the England v Germany game got the better of us. (No comments please, we know)

We did a food parcel drop at the Golden larches cafe opposite the Brae's caravan site at Balqhuidder station. It was very kind of them to allow us to do this and therefore kept the rucksack light.

We also did a rucksack drop off at a B& B we were going to stay at in Callander. This enabled us to just use a small Gym bag for the first part of the walk.
So thank you ever so much Mike and Lesley at the Westerton. And also for putting on the match and providing beers and nibbles.

The guide book by Jacquetta Megarry and Rennie McOwen is well put together and very informative. The book was written in 2002 and quite a few views have changed as the forestry has grown considerably in some areas.
Do buy the guide, it's worth it and it's waterproof. But don't forget to invest in the latest os maps for the areas, paths have a habit of changing over the years.
We think that the route follows forestry paths far to much and it does spoil it to some degree. However don't be put off by this.

You can do this route without the need to camp or backpack if thats what you want to do, there are plenty of places to stay along the way and plenty of places to eat.
The only place you could have a problem is between Killin and Kenmore. You need to ensure that you have accommodation on this section.
Check this section carefully to avoid being stuck if you are going down the B & B route.

There is good local transport from all the villages into larger places such as Pitlochry, Callander, Stirling etc.

Also there is a new service operating which is called Demand Responsive Transport. You can call the company on 08445675670 or go to www.aberfoylecoaches.com to book a pick up. You should give the company 24 hours notice of your requirement but they say they will try and fit you in anyway.
The service provides taxi like service at local bus fares.
We used it from Callander to Aberfoyle and it's great.

The dreaded midge!!!
Did we get bit! Bet your life we did. KinlochArd, Aberfoyle, Callander, Strathayre had some midge but not a problem. Then we got eaten alive in Balqhuidder. It was the worst i have ever seen them and that goes for Norway and Iceland too. They were in everything, your meal, the tent, your eyes and ears, just everywhere. Nothing put them off. Skin so Soft! they were not worried one bit. They loved the stuff. Nothing stopped them.
We were so pleased to leave Balqhuidder brae's site.
Stay at the Kingshouse, thats what i say.
We didn't encounter the problem once past Loch Earn head although we were told that Crianlarich had them bad as well.

What did we take that worked and what didn't.
The lightload towels worked a treat. They are better than the microfibre ones and we will use them again.

The travel tap water filter we got from BPL failed after 2 days on the trail. The filter body sheared off where the threads enter the bottle lid. Very disappointed to say the least as it's not cheap. I had been having some trouble with it leaking so i can only assume that there was a crack somewhere within the threads and on this occasion it broke off.

The Optimus crux stove proved a winner.

My new camera the Samsung NX10, i was very pleased with the weight of it and i never had that feeling that it was too heavy or clumsy.

The Rab Aeon Tees were fantastic especially with the hot and sometimes humid weather we had.

What is it?

On route along the River Tay we came to these huge plants. Has anyone any idea what they are?

The Rob Roy Way (our way) photo's.

I have now finished downloading the photographs from the Rob Roy Way. Well our meanderings which basically followed the Way with a few detours.
They are here, so we hope you like them.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Loch Tummel

Having now got the car we decided to have a drive down Loch Tummel and onto Rannoch. Having done the touristy bit with a photo of the Queens View we headed off west. We were looking for somewhere to stay and as we passed the Loch Tummel Inn we asked for and got a room for the night.
I remembered seeing this on Martin's Banfields fine blog. (Postcard from Timperly).
It is a great place to stay and we do recommend it, the food is fantastic as is the good conversation with Tom and Amanda, the proprietors.

Martin, they only had good words to say of you!

Aberfeldy to Pitlochry

We were up bright and early and set off for a bacon butty and a cup of coffee in the little cafe just 100yds from the camp site. Between 7am till 9am this only costs £1.50.!!
Then up the road we went. Passed the Dewer's distillary, no we didn't call in, but we stopped to take some photo's.

The RR way shows the track following the B road on the north side of the river, however there is a good path on the south side of the river which goes all the way to Grandtully and is off road. A much better option.
Just as we got onto the disused railway track, a deer shot out from the undergrowth. It was no more than 6ft away and scarred us both to death. It was so quick.
When the track meets the road at a small turning circle, there is a track which goes to the left, down hill, take this route rather than staying on the rail track as it leads down to the river and is far more scenic.

At Grandtully we stopped for coffee.

Once over the bridge the way takes a right turn following the B road again. If you need any supplies there is a small store just a hundred yards further on in Strathtay which has everything.

The track then leads to the Tulliepowrie burn and heads off uphill into the forestry. Take a last look back at the lovely Tay valley.
I'm not a lover of forestry so i was glad when we started the descent towards Pitlochry, and just as you come out of the trees there is a splendid view across the River Tummel.
Across the suspension bridge and we were in Pitlochry proper and the end of the RR way. It was still early and the place was packed with trippers.
We headed for the campsite only to find out that it was full. So we decided that we would get the train to Stirling and then head off via Callender to Aberfoyle on the bus.

Aberfeldy back to Kenmore?

Yes that's correct. We decided to have a stop over here in Aberfeldy. We got the local bus back to Kenmore and had a good look round. We went to the Crannog centre which was very interesting and then we went up to the folly at Acharn, just by the waterfalls.
Then back to Aberfeldy for a beer in the Black Watch pub. We can recommend this hostelry.

Boreland track to Aberfeldy

We kept on losing signal which is always a pain. So i am now going to put the posts on that we should have been on days ago. I will keep them in order.

Having contoured round Meall Greigh we were pretty tired out. The heat of the day had taken it's toll. We decided to set the tent up just before the forestry path which leads to Boreland.
Luckily the ground was firm. I expect that after heavy rain this area could be quite boggy.

We did have a little rain but not too much and we slept well. Just as we packed up the rain started getting a bit heavier as we set off into the forestry.
Within the hour we passed the Culdees bunkhouse. So we called in for a look see. It was a little surprising to say the least. It's not a walkers/climbers bunkhouse, it's more for the eco warrior style of person. It's owned by a Dutch lady who wants to pursue the self sufficiency cause. It sleeps around 20 people and it was clean.

Out through the small village we picked up the forest trail again which led us to Kenmore. What a delightful spot. A very pretty place and one we wanted to spend so more time here but we had to push on.

On the other side of the village we picked up the Rob Roy way again. Mainly good track through farm land all the way to Aberfeldey. Care needs to be taken as it's quite easy to take a wrong turn being in farm land.
Just prior to dropping down to Aberfeldy you come to a Gorge with a bridge crossing the gorge. Take the path across the bridge. The view of the waterfall is spectacular. This is known as the Birks of Aberfeldy.

In 40 minutes we were in Aberfeldy village and heading for the campsite. What a fantastic site. So much better than we expected.

Monday, July 5, 2010



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