Archive for the 'Annual Wildie' Category

Not Going Out?

Posted by on September 25th 2012 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Weather, Wildcamping
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We had such grand designs for the coming weekend...

With the improving bad back more-or-less under control due to the effects of Ibuprofen combined with Paracetamol, and the arse tolerable due to the aforementioned drugs and a wonder-cream prescribed by my G.P., we thought we'd risk a weekend away wildcamping in the Northern Lake District to bag four of the six Wainwrights that are still on my to-do list. We've not had a wildie this year, and we have a tent that still needs properly testing for review, so it was a reasonable opportunity, probably the best we would get.

We still weren't daunted when I came home from my Dad's birthday bash with a stonking cold which, as you'd expect for a bloke like me, has been upgraded to the status of Man Flu. Past experiences indicate that I could just about cope with a morning basal body temperature of 37.9C (oral).

But now we find that we'll have to contend with the aftermath of this:

 

 

It's not looking good. We won't make a final decision until the eleventh hour but I suspect that we'll be giving it a miss.

 

FWIW, the pic is a screen-shot of the excellent Rainy Days Android App running in the BlueStacks App Player on Windows XP. BlueStacks is a handy bit of kit for those of us who don't have large-screen Android devices. It's free during beta and there's a Mac version. What's not to like?

More Far Eastern Fells Wildcamping

Posted by on October 15th 2011 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

After the Friday drag up the M6 and the traditional fill-up at the Ings Little Chef we nabbed a roadside car-parking space at Church Bridge, Troutbeck. Having changed into our scruffs we hoisted our packs and set off past the church and along field-paths past High Green and Town Head, using Ing Lane to access the fells via Hagg Gill.

 

Church Bridge church.

 

On the field-path heading towards High Green.

 

Ing Lane with the lowering Sun lighting up the tops of the Ill Bell Ridge.

 

As before.

 

The view from Ing Bridge.

 

The white sheep of the family.

 

Looking back down the Troutbeck Valley from Hall Hill.

 

We had intended to nip up to the top of Troutbeck Tongue and to walk off the ridge northwards to find a suitable pitch near the sheepfold. Unfortunately we were losing the light and Chris wanted to get settled for the night, so we continued up along Hagg Gill and found a nice place to set up camp. While setting up we noticed that we weren't alone - there was a small tent set up a bit further up the Gill, so I went off to ask if the owner minded if we set up where we had chosen. The owner was Linda, she said that she didn't mind where we pitched and we had a fine chat about fellwalking and other stuff. After a while I returned to finish setting up camp while Chris went off for a chinwag with Linda.

After dark we stood outside watching the sky before turning in for some sleep - although there were a few small clouds about, there were prolonged clear spells during which the stars were amazingly bright. We could see fantastic detail in the Milky Way, much better than we can see at home in the light-polluted Midlands.

The night was quiet and uneventful but the first light of dawn was heralded by the echoing roars of rutting deer - we couldn't see them but we were fairly certain that the commotion was coming from high on the slopes of Ill Bell, directly East of us.

After breakfast we headed off packless to bag Troutbeck Tongue before sun-up.

 

Looking towards Threshthwaite Mouth from the low ridge along Troutbeck Tongue.
Mouseover the pic if you want to see where our highly-conspicuous bright orange landscape-defiling tent was pitched.

 

Some way along the ridge Nature called so we ducked away from the track for some privacy. Attending to one of the most basic human needs, Muggins here made a stupid mistake that was to cause intense pain for quite a while, and ongoing stinging and regret for the rest of the day - I decided that, in the interests of good hygiene, it would be a good idea to use the water-free hand-cleaning gel on my arse. Trouble was, it wasn't the alcohol-free sort that I usually carry, it was the heavy-duty solvent-laced stuff that I use at work. Of course, by the time I found out, it was too late - by then I was jumping around the fellside like a madman, trousers and kegs around ankles, shouting expletives that echoed around the hills and imploring the powers above to make the burning stop! I don't know if Linda heard the commotion, but if she did I've no idea what she would have thought was going on.

Eventually I could walk again (albeit like John Wayne) and we reached the top after a few more minutes:

 

Chris on Troutbeck Tongue, mist in the valleys.

 

At the the top of Troutbeck Tongue, Chris was still giggling at the hand-gel incident.

 

We strolled back down to the tent to start packing up. Linda was up and about, she struck her camp and was away up Scot Rake well before we set out.

 

Lone tree on the slopes back down to the tent.

 

Striking camp next to Hagg Gill.
A bit further up is Linda at her pitch.

 

Nearing the top of the harder-work-than-expected Scot Rake we paused for a snack-break where there was a fine view of Froswick.

 

Froswick from the Scot Rake path.

 

Although we would be going that way later, we were going to Thornthwaite Crag first. As the weather improved the crowds grew - at one point I counted 56 people around the summit. We settled behind a wall a short distance from the crowds and had our main meals.

 

Buff-adjustment, Thornthwaite Crag

 

The Sun lighting up the beacon atop Thornthwaite Crag.

 

A busy place.

 

Easy slopes heading towards High Street (L) and Mardale Ill Bell (R).

 

Suitably fed and watered, we set off along the Ill Bell Ridge in increasingly-good weather.

 

The Kentmere Valley, Froswick and Ill Bell.

 

Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.

 

Muggins atop Froswick, with Thornthwaite Crag in the background.

 

Ill Bell from Froswick.

 

A closer look at the path up Ill Bell.

 

Ill Bell's North Cairn.

 

Ill Bell's Main and South Cairns.

 

Having a breather at the Main Cairn.

 

The Main Cairn.

 

From Ill Bell we could see one of the options for our next tent pitch - the tarn on Rainsborrow Crag, the western spur of Yoke.

 

Rainsborrow Crag and Yoke.
Mouseover the pic if you want to see the location of the tarn.

 

At Yoke's summit-cairn we paused for a while to consider our options. We could carry on down the ridge to the Garburn Road, reach the car by twilight, find a mild-camping site and walk more fells in the morning, or we could pitch early at Rainsborrow Tarn, have a leisurely evening and, if the night was clear, maybe see the Aurora Borealis that was tentatively forecast to be on show in the small hours. We took the lazy option and headed for the Tarn.

 

Chris heading towards Rainsborrow Tarn.

 

The tarn is a jewel in the hills - surrounded on three sides by long steep drops, it sits in a rut almost at the end of Rainsborrow Crag. The views from there are immense and there's a real feel of wilderness about the place. Needless to say, we saw nobody else there - it was our own little bit of Lakeland. After pitching I went walkabouts with the camera:

 

Looking southwards.

 

Wave!

 

Looking north towards Harter Fell.

 

Looking east towards Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts.

 

From Ill Bell to Shipman Knotts, with a view of Kentmere Reservoir.

 

After a leisurely evening meal we sat up waiting for the sky to put on a display but late on it clouded over and started drizzling. Even so, it was warm and calm, and we slept well.

On Sunday I woke just before dawn and ventured outside. The drizzle had stopped and the valleys were full of clouds being driven up and over the ridges and cols by the light breeze. It was utterly silent for an hour or so while I sat there watching in wonder and taking pics that don't do the scenes any justice whatsoever. It's times like that when I pity the folk at home in their beds:

 

Ill Bell, Mardale Ill Bell and the Nan Bield Pass wreathed in cloud.

 

Cloud being driven up and over the eastern arm of the Kentmere Round.

 

Breakfasted, we shook the dew from the tent and packed it away with the rest of our kit. After trudging back up the damp grassy slope to reach Yoke's cairn again we were overheating in the still, warm air so we stopped for a breather:

 

The summit of Yoke, with Ill Bell in the background.

 

A few pics later we headed down the newly-repaired path that leads to the Garburn Road. From there it was an easy downhill stroll all the way back to the car, followed by retail therapy at Windermere's Lakeland shop, another Little Chef at Ings and a manic drive back down the M6 and A5.

 

Looking back towards Yoke from the gate at Garburn Nook.

 

Summary:

Distance: 13.9 miles
Total ascent/descent: 3879 ft
Wainwright tops reached: Troutbeck Tongue (1191 ft), Thornthwaite Crag (2569 ft), Froswick (2359 ft), Ill Bell (2476 ft), Yoke (2309 ft) twice. Those in bold were first-ascents for me.
Number of Wainwrights still to do: 12

Yes, I know that this was a walk that many folk would easily do in a day, but I'm happy that we took our time about it. I'll never forget the overnight at Rainsborrow Tarn, it's a place that few one-dayers bother to visit and I'd have regretted omitting it during a walk against the clock. Indeed, it was Wainwright himself that said "Time is intended to be spent, not saved".

Regarding gear taken for test-and-review... I took two items supplied by Adam Smith representing Go Outdoors. While the Lifeventure Downlight 900 sleeping bag didn't have to contend with low temperatures, the mild nights meant that it had to put up with a fair degree of condensation and sweat. I'm happy to report that it fared well, at no point did it feel clammy or damp. As for the windproof, I still maintain that the mere act of carrying that Montane Lite-Speed H2O jacket is enough to deter inclement weather! I'm sorry, Adam, yet again I took it and never got the opportunity to wear it!

Northern Fells Wildcamping – Part 5 – The post-match analysis

Posted by on May 23rd 2010 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Wildcamping

 

Items we forgot to take = 2 (Chris's Ajungilak inflatable pillow and Petzl Zoom headtorch.)

Items we forgot to bring back = 0

Items we gained = 1 (a bit of slate from the slopes of Bannerdale Crags.)

 

 

Items we lost = 0

Ticks = 0

Walkers met on the fells = 3

Injuries = 1 minor, 0 major

Losses of dignity = 1

Distance = 21 miles according to Memory-Map, probably nearer to 25 miles actual

Ascent/descent = 4526 feet according to Memory-Map

Wainwrights = 6

Pubs visited = 1 (twice)

New kit tried and tested = 1 pair (AKU Croda GTXs, rating = brilliant!)

Revelations = 1 (Sainsbury's Basics Instant Custard. A pack weighs 74g, contains 68g of powder, needs 425ml of boiling water, provides 312 kcal, serves 2 and tastes excellent. Current price: 9p a pack. Bargain.)

 

Northern Fells Wildcamping – Part 4 – Finishing Off

Posted by on May 22nd 2010 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Wildcamping

The next morning we were clagged in again so we had a prolonged breakfast waiting for the wind-driven rain to abate. Eventually we packed up and checked out the vacated pitch to ensure that we'd left no trace of our temporary residence. Other than the dry patch uncovered as we struck the tent there wasn't any sign that we'd overnighted there, and we were confident that the ensuing rain would soon deal with that:

 

Without a trace

 

We headed back to and over the col and took the path beside the Glenderamackin to the footbridge below White Horse Bent:

 

Descending beside the Glenderamackin

 

While we were on our way down the wind picked up and lashed rain at us, so I packed away the camera to keep it safe. Declining the option to continue down the path along river, we crossed the bridge and went up the easy slope and along the deceptively-long ridge to the summit of Souther Fell. After a few minutes of map-checking just below the summit, we went off-piste down the eastern flank to intercept one of the diagonal tracks back to Low Beckside. We'd met no other walkers that day until we reached Mungrisdale.

At valley-level the wind and rain had ceased and the temperatures were rising fast, so we took the opportunity to rehydrate at The Mill Inn at Mungrisdale. Well, it would have been ignorant to have passed by without going in. That, and the fact that it would have been cruel on the wild horses needed to drag me kicking and screaming up the road:

 

The Rehydration Station


From there it was but a short mile back to the car at Bowscale Moss. Thankfully the local equine population weren't there to give us a send-off:

 

The final stretch back to Bowscale Moss

 

Just one more post to follow, then we're done.

Northern Fells Wildcamping – Part 3 – Rises and Falls

Posted by on May 21st 2010 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, LMAO!, Wildcamping

So there we were, on Carrock Fell, trying to figure out which way to go next. As I saw it, we had three options:

  • Stay up high - take in Knott and Great Calva, drop down to Skiddaw House, cross the Caldew dryshod at the bridge, head East up Mungrisdale Common;
  • Take a middling route - ascend Knott, drop down Snab, ford the Caldew, head South up Mungrisdale Common;
  • Take a direct route - descend the flank of Carrock Fell to the bottom of Grainsgill Beck, follow the Skiddaw House service-road to the base of Snab and then proceed as per the middling option.

Predictably we couldn't agree, so we delayed the decision and took a short-cut back to the bothy-shed, where we made a brew and reassessed the situation.

Chris didn't fancy slogging up Knott and Great Calva, and I'd been up them before, so we resigned ourselves to backtracking down the beck and fording the Caldew at some convenient point. At least I had the opportunity to grab some pics on the way down, and we met a couple of walkers heading up the Cumbria Way. These were the first folk that we'd met, and by strange coincidence the bloke worked for the same company as Chris, albeit in the Netherlands not the UK. A bit later on we met another bloke sweating his way up the beck, we didn't chat for long as he seemed intent on gaining the ridge. Anyway, back to the beck pics...

 

Falls in Grainsgill Beck

 

A beautiful watersmeet

 

Passing the old mines, we decided to read the sign that we'd disregarded on the way up:

 

Don't disturb the rocks!

 

On reaching the Caldew we walked along the service-road looking for a place to ford the river. I was dismayed to find this stash of empties at the side of the road - FFS, if some twats have gone to the trouble of driving all the way up there for a session on the vodka, it wouldn't have been much extra effort to have taken their empties back down in the same car, would it? These lazy inconsiderate arseholes should be banned from the fells, IMHO. If we'd been heading down, we'd have carried the rubbish out, but we had to leave it.

 

Evidence of arseholes


Shortly after that we found a suitable fording-place. I rock-hopped to the middle and balanced on a slippery flat rock, looking for the next dry step, but there was none. With a quick two-step in the calf-deep water I was soon on the far bank, with damp boots and socks but no other ill-effects. I warned Chris about the slippery rock and advised an alternative, but she stepped on it anyway and it got the better of her. In slow-motion she leaned too far, her pack dragged her over even more and she ended up lying in the water. She was fairly-well drenched. I didn't dare to laugh. OK, OK, so I did laugh. Lots. And loud. Being a decent, caring sort of chap, I raced off downstream to retrieve the dropped water-filter bottle and left Chris to find her own way to dry land. She was wet but uninjured, so we sat in the warm breeze and had lunch while she dried herself and her kit. Oh, and we laughed a bit more, just for good measure:

 

Chris drying off

 

We were at the bottom end of Long Gill, and looking at the map we figured that the best thing to do was to go straight up to Bowscale Fell. Redressed and fit to go, we had one last look up the Caldew towards Skiddaw House. A bit further up the river we could see something that looked like a bridge, and Chris gave me some stick based on that impression. Luckily for my reputation, subsequent investigations indicate that there isn't really a bridge at that point, so the soaking wasn't in vain:

 

Looking up the Caldew

 

The walk up to Bowscale Fell was a real hard slog with no paths through the tussock-grass and mossy ground on the unremitting slope. Over an hour later we reached the top:

 

Chris approaching the viewpoint cairn near the top of Bowscale Fell

 

Bannerdale Crags and Blencathra from Bowscale Fell

 

A rare picture of me

 

From there the next objective was a rather more easy proposition, with gentle paths skirting the drop-off and leading up to Bannerdale Crags:

 

Bannerdale Crags

 

The view from the edge of the crags was worth the effort:

 

The viewpoint cairn on Bannerdale Crags

 

Blencathra beyond the summit of Bannerdale Crags

 

From there it was a simple and straight descent to the col at the source of the Glenderamackin...


Heading for the col

 

and onwards to a nice dry pitch on the north-west side of the col, looking down Blackhazel Beck. 

 

Pitched above Blackhazel Beck

 

After another good meal and a lot of rehydration, Chris settled down early while I went out for an easy evening stroll to the cairn atop Mungrisdale Common:

 

Approaching the Mungrisdale Common cairn, with Skiddaw in the background

 

The back of Blencathra from Mungrisdale Common

 

Losing the light

 

After spending a while there appreciating the utter quietness of the place, I headed back to the tent, pondering the fact that we'd only seen three other walkers during the day. I was hoping for a sunset worthy of our efforts, but this was the best that could be mustered:


The sun setting over Great Calva

 

To be continued.

Northern Fells Wildcamping – Part 2 – On The Caldbeck Fells

Posted by on May 20th 2010 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Wildcamping

After a good night's sleep in very windy conditions we woke fairly early to find that the weather was still cold, breezy and drizzly. The views down to the valley were good but intermittent:

 

Morning clag

 

Great Lingy Hill bothy-hut from the first pitch

 

We had a hearty breakfast and packed away sharpish. After pausing for a photo-opportunity near the bothy-hut...

 

The bothy-hut

 

we branched off the Cumbria Way and took the easy approach to High Pike:

 

Chris starts up towards High Pike


Chris huddled in the shelter, staying out of the icy wind...

 

High Pike shelter and summit

 

while I wandered off to take some pics of the fell and its surroundings:

 

Carrock Fell from High Pike

 

High Pike trig-point, cairn and memorial bench

 

The Bench, in memory of Mick Lewis
The inscription reads:
HE IS A PORTION OF THAT LOVLINESS THAT ONCE HE MADE MORE LOVELY

 

The next objective was Carrock Fell. We descended to the Cumbria Way and skirted the top of the Drygill ravines...

 

Drygill ravines

 

where we got our first glimpse of Bowscale Tarn overlooked by its guard of impressive crags:

 

Bowscale Fell and Tarn from High Pike

 

After a slog along the wide ridge, taking in Miton Hill and Round Knott, we arrived at Carrock Fell's summit. It's an impressive place with extensive views in most directions, well-worth a visit:

 

Carrock Fell summit cairn

 

Skiddaw and its subordinates from Carrock Fell

 

We dropped back down to Round Knott and had a discussion about our next course of action. We wanted to walk the fells on the other side of the Caldew, but there were a few ways of getting there. There was much procrastination...


The descent from Carrock Fell


To be continued.

Northern Fells Wildcamping – Part 1 – The walk-in

Posted by on May 19th 2010 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Wildcamping

After the long drag up the M6 we nipped into The Mill Inn at Mungrisdale for a swift beer before parking the car at the road-side overlooking Bowscale Moss (my thanks go to Karl Holden for suggesting this parking-place). After escaping from the marauding locals that insisted on trying to bite chunks out of our kit, we hoisted our packs and set off along the pleasant country road, passing through Bowscale and on towards Mosedale.

 

Chris fends off the pack-munching livestock

 

On the approach to Mosedale we got our first decent view of one of our objectives - Carrock Fell:

 

Carrock Fell above Mosedale

 

After looking at the fell and considering the weather forecast, we decided to change the plan of attack - instead of tackling Carrock Fell head-on and overnighting somewhere between there and High Pike, we opted for the longer walk-in along the valley of the Caldew and up Grainsgill Beck towards Great Lingy Hill. We knew that this would add considerably to our mileage and would mean that there would be much ground to be travelled twice, but we wanted to be near to running water all the way, and we knew that the ridge from Carrock Fell onwards would be dry. As it turned out the walk-in was a pleasant affair with much to see:

 

The view up the Caldew valley...

 

where the gorse was in full bloom...

 

and the trees lean away from the prevailing wind.

 

We saw plenty of butterflies (Green-veined White (Pieris napi), female, first brood?)...

 

and a Red Squirrel that ran the full length of the wall from Swineside to Roundhouse.
Mouseover the pic for an edited version.

 

Remember what you were told about checking for dead sheep when drinking from streams?

 

We did 🙂

 

There are many interesting rocks in the bed of the river, here's one that appealed to my geological side:

 

Fold 1

 

Fold 2

 

A while later we reached the bend in the road where it heads off westwards to Skiddaw House, and we ascended alongside Grainsgill Beck until we reached the ridge. After much searching we found a patch of dry level ground and pitched there for the night, within sight of the bothy-shed (formerly a shooting-box) on Great Lingy Hill, within 10 yards of the Cumbria Way and 10 yards west of the beck (so as not to be breaking the law which prohibits camping on the Caldbeck Fells). Shortly after getting set up the weather took a turn for the worse as the wind got up and the rain set in, but we were warm and snug in our "room with a view". During one odd clear spell we thought that we could make out two people at the bothy-hut, but we couldn't be sure. Anyway, here's a couple of pics taken a few minutes before the clag came down:

 

 

 

 

To be continued.

Your starter for ten

Posted by on May 16th 2010 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Wildcamping

Just got back from our annual wildie in the Lake District. There'll be a report to follow as usual.

Here's a pic from the start of our weekend. Would anyone care to hazard a guess as to where we were heading?

 

 

As usual there are no prizes for correct answers, so don't get too excited.

More snippets

In no particular order...

 

  • The AKU Crodas are wearing-in nicely, they should be ready for a decent walk at the first opportunity. The soles are quite grippy now that the as-moulded shiny slip-on-yer-arse finish has worn off, and the uppers are now a fair fit to my feet.
  •  

  • The Trezeta Peaks are now past their best, the toe-rand having worn through down past the membrane. These superbly-comfortable boots never did make it on a proper hike, but they've served well as wear-dailys for all sorts of duties.
  •  

  • The Scarpa SLs, of course, are always on stand-by. Like dependable old friends, they're always there when you need them.
  •  

  • I've broken a long habit of not wearing any socks other than Thor-Los... I've been trying some cheapo Crane Trail walking socks from Aldi. Tactel-lined and with a light sprinkling of Lycra, they seem to be doing rather well considering the £2.99 price-tag. I doubt that they'll cover the same mileage as my standard KXLs, but that's to be expected when they cost about a tenner less. The STs have been stashed in the kitbox awaiting the next outing of the winter boots.
  •  

  • I'm still managing to resist the temptation of a pair of MSR Lightning Ascents in readiness for next winter. What's the betting that when the snow's back, I'm still snowshoeless?
  •  

  • Likewise, the acquisition of a Scarp 2 has been resisted, not least because I'm still waiting on the availability of a UK-version fly as per the Scarp 1 changes detailed by Martin. Now that Alpkit are on the subs' bench in the tentage game, I'll have to wait and see what their two-person and geo offerings are like.
  •  

  • Talking of outdoorsy stuff, we'll be off for our Annual Wildie together sometime in the next month, with the intention of bagging a few more Wainwrights. Expect details in due course.
  •  

  • Furthermore, two family-rooms have been booked at Buttermere YHA for an autumnal weekend. This worked out quite well, as we're paying with Tesco Clubcard Rewards Tokens, our stash having been boosted by 1218 due to the purchase of a new washing-machine from said emporium.
  •  

  • There's been much ado in the garden - the snowdrops and daffs have retired, giving way to bluebells and to the blossoms of the pear, the cherry and the plum. Remarkably, I've even got off my butt and done my bit - the lawns have been cut twice and even the hedge has been shorn. The old willow-tree is sending out new growth from where we had it hacked, so there's still hope for it.
  •  

  • House-wise I'm back to the hell that is known as plastering. Ella's room needed a revamp, but it seems that the only thing holding up the walls was the wallpaper. Oh well, at least it keeps me off the streets...
  •  

  • Blog-wise there are a few new things, not least the addition of a few user-options for comments. Feel free to test them.

 

All that and no mention of elections, volcanic ash or oil-slicks. Hardly news, is it?

Coniston Fells Wildcamping – Part 3 – Therapy

Tags:

Like I said, "In circumstances like these, there’s only one thing to do… " - we went shopping, of course.

Ambleside was the first victim of my grimacing face and odd gait. I'd been searching for some replacement footwear for some time, as my two-year-old beloved Raichle Fusion Mid XCRs had no sole left on them. After checking out most of the larger shops in search of a bargain we had given up all hope of finding something suitable, but for some reason I was drawn into The Mountain Factor, where I found the following event-lined 3-season beauties:

 

Trezeta Peak, size 8, very comfy


The assistant was surprised at the speed of the sale - I tried them on, walked a few paces and shouted "Sold!" . Apparently all other boot-triers like to spend a lot of time on such activities, but I knew almost instantly that these boots were fine for me. RRP £90, mine for £60. Excellent! I've worn them daily since then, and they've been brilliant.

Having read a lot of favourable reports about the Osprey Exos series of packs, I went into The Climbers Shop to try on the 46 version. There's no doubt that it's a thing of beauty and a nice bit of lightweight craftsmanship, but it wouldn't last five minutes if I used it. You see, most folk use their packs to carry their gear and that's the end of it, but my packs are gear-carriers, pillows, seats, backrests, windshelters, bumpers (especially when sliding down Lord's Rake) and, on occasion, toboggans. Give me a decent grade of cordura or kevlar anyday and I'll be happy, but I'd be too bothered about destroying the work of art that the Exos undoubtedly is. I didn't much care for the hip-belt fitting, though - it's fixed to the pack almost amidships, rather than at the widest part, and I can't see how that's better for stability. Maybe I'm missing something here, but it certainly didn't feel good to me. Anyway, I put the thing back on the rack and walked away. Nice, but not for me.

We made our escape from Ambleside, but only made it as far as Windermere as Chris wanted to get some microfibre bathtowels direct from the Lakeland shop, as they had become unavailable online. There were none on the racks, so we asked the assistants where they were. We were informed that they were out of stock and discontinued, the last few having been sold from the bargain area a while ago. Disgruntled, we stood outside as we planned our next move.

As we talked, my gaze was drawn to the window-display, where there were four of the "out of stock" towels. I nipped back in, grabbed them from the display and took them to the assistants, who were bemused. You see, it works like this: items in window-displays don't show on the stock count, and they're not for sale, as they are there solely to advertise product within the store. The trouble is, they were advertising an unavailable product, and so their purpose was redundant, but the staff aren't allowed to change the window-display in any way until Management issues a decree. Mad, eh? Anyway, after getting the top-brass to see sense, we got all four towels at a rock-bottom price (something like £3 each instead of the £12 standard price) and a great explanation from the staff. They're nice folks in there. Oh, and before I forget, they have free internet access upstairs between the cafe and the loos, so if you're in Windermere and you're desperate for a quick pee, sarnie and surf, you know where to go.

Shopping completed, we made for the M6 and headed home. All in all, it had been an interesting weekend!

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