27.11.12


Received my Rough Rider today ............. first impressions its not as neat (in quality) feel but it seems ok.

Main blade was razor sharp - 440 steel (Chinese? maybe not so good but we'll see what rough riders quality controls like) - the little blade is a ok thing, not so sharp with a bevel on just one side and the thumb stud - cap lifter and bottle opener are ok and the awl is a wicked looking spike.

So overall very good first impressions - will EDC it for a while and we shall see what we see .......... but to be honest at £13 its already looking like value for money!


ps - interesting review?? http://blindkat.hegewisch.net/RRR/rrr_case-rr.html

23.11.12

Tagged ....... 3 items post

Usually I don't play the tagged game - but as I was tagged by a good buddy on this occasion I'll make a post ........... thanks Perkelle.

OK so the idea is to post a review of three items you always like to carry in the bush - not as I see it the three items you think you would need to survive a TEOTWAWKI scenario so for me that was easy as I will just list the three items I always carry in my pockets no matter what im doing or where I'm going whether hiking or bushcrafting.


The first is my CASE SCOUT pocket knife - on a lanyard tied to my belt, its a no locking folder so uk legal - its solidly made, feels good in the hand so lends itself to being used and has a excellent lanyard ring unlike many pocket knives.


Second item is my buff or a bandana - this is a jack of all trades, I have used it for everything from washing and drying myself to a filter for making herbal teas. It keeps the sun off the bald head and adds a good level of insulation if worn as a head over - very very versatile item I always carry at least one.


My last item is a blue flame lighter - not a fire steel (shock horror gasp but HOW WILL I SURVIVE IF MY LIGHTER GETS WET??) - Well it hasn't all these years and I do have a fire steel in my possibles but a no nonsense lighter with a good hot blue flame will light even poor tinder and for general usage such as stoves and such is excellent - the flame can lock on and is also useful for soldering or as a thermal lance and will cut through and seal things like paracord very quickly.

Well there you go - the three items I will always have on me outdoors - not big knives and axes not some crap walter mitty survival kit - simply real items for the real world .............

11.11.12

Wonderful Wales

Weekend in the Brecon beacons .............. if your a ex squaddy the prospect might fill you with dread and inspire sweat soaked nightmares of the FAN Dance but I have to say this weekend was one of the best I've had in a long time!

The weather was kind (although bloody freezing on top of the mountain) and it only rained on Friday as we drove there. The going was wet under foot - what wet in Wales?? Never!!!

But the views were fantastic and we even got to was a battle between 2 buzzards and a red kite and that alone would have made the trip worth while to be honest.


The CASTLE Inn Bunkhouse - excellent venison burgers and noisy hoorah henry's but a great place to stay - busy even this time of year but serving good food - good ale and a sharp owner with a great sense of humour!


Mist in the valley over Abergavenny - proof of the temperature ranges


Paul with the map - once a leader always a leader


Caer Dinas - Castle of ancient Briton, possibly also a Norman mote and bailey now wooded over and forgotten except in myth and legend.


Snooker table green fields in the valley below



Bearclaw buff - windshirt and very sweaty me ............. I hate the up-dilly-up-ups almost as much as the down-dilly-'own-downs lol but the view was stunning!




What better way to describe the beauty of a place or its tranquillity that to say that a glider soaring overhead was noisy with the sound of the wind whispering over its fuselage ................



The sunny side of the hill - berries still red, offering a splash of colour against the autumnal browns of the fields and moors around them - and on this day 11 - 11 the red also makes us remember the poppy and its symbolism.

As I said at the start of this piece, if your a squaddy, well an ex-infantrymen anyway, Brecon holds a place in your heart and on Remembrance Sunday what better place to celebrate the fact that life is still good and to take a moment to remember those brave souls who gave some much so that others might live? Friends and kindred spirits whose courage and smiles will always live on in the hearts of those who loved them.

Another great weekend dear reader and proof, if it were needed, that the best way to enjoy "the nature", to live and breath and enjoy simply being alive is to get out there and do it!

And one for the welsh readers (my late grandfather was a swansea lad!)

4.11.12

Hail stones, fog and a mountain rescue ..... what an adventure!

 
For the last few days myself and my old buddy Paul were lucky enough to spend some time hiking in the Peak district and we had quite a little adventure.

Wednesday morning Paul swung by to pick me up and we drove without incident (via costa coffee) to Fieldhead campsite, Edale.

The rain was just threatening to start as we arrived so we quickly set up camp and then (after all that hard work!) headed off to the Ramblers Inn for a pint and a bite to eat. We popped back to the campsite to book in once the office was opened and the weather hadn't improved!

I took a couple of items with me to test out - one was a army surplus jacket - Dutch army, goretex lined and DPM - being ex army I don't usually like wearing DPM gear as I don't want to look like some Walter Mitty wanna be SAS man, but now the troops are issued MTP I'm happy to wear DPM. Anyway I can safely say the Dutch army jacket was excellent and I will definitely be using this in future as my bushcraft outer layer. It wasn't my hiking jacket on this occasion for that I had my Paramo but it would have served the purpose equally well I'm sure.

Another item I took to test out was a 1 season combo - yes November on the hills in Minus temperatures with one season bags - I can here all the experts and know-it-alls tutting away - well the theory was sound, after all what is a sleeping bag? Its just a means of trapping warmed air around the body. So my thinking was that I might save space and add versatility by taking 2 one season bags and sleeping with one inside the other. More on this later, Paul btw being a sensible chap had a arctic bag.


So next morning we hiked out of Edale, walking up through the village heading almost due NORTH. The rain at this point held off.


The above was our route but fate and fog were set to foil us. Alas we still had yet to ascent to a height where this was going to be a problem - for now we scrambled and climbed up Grindsbrook gorge until we reached the mist shrouded top where a icy wind quickly chilled our sweat soaked bodies.
 encouraging a short rest stop.


Now things started to take a down turn, the winds brought the temperatures plummeting into the minus' and first tendrils of a thick fog began to creep across the peat bogs and ravines of the Edale plateau creating a eerie Alien landscape.

 
You can see by the ice forming on my hat that the wind chill alone was cold enough to freeze the moisture vapours rising off my sweating head.

For awhile we hiked along the planned route until eventually losing it in the fog. Now the fun started. Meeting a pair of hikers who were also disorientated in the fog we quickly realised we'd gone astray and here things got interested.

Firstly we took a GPS reading and got our correct grid reference, this proved our suspicions and pin pointed us as being about 500m south. Using this info we simply talked 500m north. But simply isn't a term we can use on the plateau around Kinder Scout in a thick pea souper. After walking for the prescribed distance we took another GPS reading and this gave us a grid which suggested we were on the track - yaaa - well not quite, looking around with our limited visibility and the rough brooding dark terrain we could see nothing??

Now we did the typical lost hiker thing ............. we decided to walk a little further, the tracks got to be here somewhere after all! RIGHT?

30 minutes later, another GPS reading and now a drift to the left - "OK," I said to Paul, "lets stop messing around!" we knew our location we knew where the track we wanted was on the map so using a Silva compass I took a bearing and we, after measuring the distance, set off - again nothing?? Now, just to tease us, the fog broke briefly and we could see the rocky out croppings of Crowden Tower - which we took a bearing onto and converting to a back bearing we triple checked out position - but alas the fog closed in again and we couldn't see a sausage. The trail stayed well and truly hidden from us!

So what to do??

Wisdom finally won out and after a quick war council we decided to head back to Crowden Tower and from there follow a well trodden path down hill so we could get below the fog. Interestingly enough on this route we found two other groups and a solo hiker all likewise geographically confused thanks to the clinging grey vapours and the insidious blindness that ensues ...........



Eventually we dropped down the rain swept hills until we reached the base of Jacobs ladder - wet and weary we took shelter from the driving hail stones in a old ruined sheep fold and brewed up.

So true to the teachings, a warming brew (a nice cup of tea) and a little rest soon had our spirits revived and our feet getting cold. Cold enough that we decided it was time to head back up the hill. It also helped that the fog had now lifted and brief glimpses of sun light now punctured the rolling black clouds over head to encourage us back up.

Climbing up Jacobs ladder, we hiked up the Pennine way until we were back in the windswept hills and now with the light fading quickly we decided to look for a camp.

 
With driving winds and soggy peat bogs all around finding a reasonably decent place to camp for the night wasn't easy - time was running out and darkness was nipping at our heels as we stumbled across another collapsed sheep fold. This site offered us reasonable flat, raised land with partial walls which could act "notionally" as wind breaks - so here we pitched for the night. 


Darkness engulfed us - we retreated to the relative shelter of our tents to eat and enjoy a warming brew when suddenly blue flashing lights appeared in the valley below. Three land rovers and a helicopter arrived so it was obvious a search and rescue operation was in full swing.


Eventually, some hours later (about three) the last land rover left the hills and us to the wind.

So remember my sleeping bags - 2 x one season bags? ......... well I can happily report that I slept as happily and as comfortably as a toad in a hole - the theory played out and I was right the combo worked. The only down side was the zip issue in as much as its a pain to keep opening two zips which seem to always be on opposite sides from each other every time you want to get out your bag - but I think this was a minor problem compared to the weight saving and versatility. Will I continue to carry two bags?? Not sure, I think I like the simple standard one bag no matter how bulky or heavy.


Morning dawned cold but clear and the rest of our trip proceeded without incident until the last morning when I had the water spillage reported in the blog entry before this.


 
Good news was also later gleened as we heard that the search and rescue operation was to find a male hiker who had become disorientated and lost on the hills due to the inclement weather - said gentleman was found and removed to safety - so well done the SAR's guys. I can confirm that these brave souls certainly earned their stripes on that night as it wasn't a time when the faint hearted would venture forth!

Well, dear reader, I've waffled enough - suffice to say it was an excellent and at times exciting trip - somewhere new for me and thanks to our fickle English weather a excellent reminder of how no matter how confident you are in your skills sometimes the sensible thing to do is bow to natures power and err of the side of caution - after all the hill will be there tomorrow!

3.11.12

and the moral of the story is

Never take a short cut and cook in your tent just cos its -4 outside ..............don't be a wimp or a twit


Yes folks - top tip, this morning at 0400 with temperatures down to below -4c I made a school boy error - I woke up needed a brew and lit my alc stove filled my mess tin and popped it on top while trying to lay there and keep warm .........................

Then disaster struck the mess tin toppled spilling luke warm water into my tents sleeping area .............

Now this might not be the end of the world but wet sleeping gear at minus temperatures when dawn is a long way away isn't a great start to your day so learn from my stupidity.

1. don't cook in your tent vestibule unless you can ventilate it and can do so where your stove and the contents of your pots aren't going to endanger you or your kit.
2. ensure your stove and the pots are stable ....................

Above all do the wise thing and fill a flask up before you bed down then you can have a hot brew anytime you wake up with no danger