Thursday, 21 September 2017

Grand Autumn Gear Sale

Everything Must Go!

I have too much gear. Yes you gear tarts, it is possible!

Thus, I am rationalising what I own and selling stuff that does not get the use it deserves.  Some of this stuff is seriously good and thus I explain honestly why it is going. From this you will deduct that I can be an idiot when buying gear.

Prices include postage and packing. 

All weights and dimensions shown are either that given by the manufacturer or according to my scales and tape measure (ie should be taken as approximate only).

If interested, or for more information, please get in touch via the Contact Form on the blog or via a Direct Message on Twitter (@FellBound).

SUMMARY OF ITEMS (details below)

  • MLD Cuben Duomid (2017)
  • Oookworks nest for Duomid (2017)
  • Oooktub Bathtub Groundsheet (unused, 2017)
  • MLD Superlite Bivibag
  • PHD Minimus Down Jacket
  • Alloy Pacer Poles
  • Karrimor Hot 45 Rucksack


Cuben Fibre Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid and Oooknest (both 2017 models)

Duomid and Nest. The dog shown is not included in the sale.

MLD Duomid

The highly acclaimed Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid. Purchased March 2017 and only used for 5 nights.  Immaculate condition. The 2017 model is about 3 inches longer and 4 inches wider than the previous versions.
Shelter made in green 0.75 cuben fibre.

Weight: 500 gr including guys and stuff sack.

Reason for sale?  Despite its popularity and rave reviews I just don’t get on with it!  After hating and selling my Trailstar I must conclude that I am more of a traditional tent person. Now I know that isn’t a very good sales pitch but there you go. Most users rave about this shelter, and anyone reading this post will be aware how highly most speak of it.


Silnylon floor.  Part mesh, part ripstop nylon door. Ripstop walls.  Built with the quality Oooknest is known for.

There is a minor, and completely cosmetic, blemish to the floor caused by a bit of Fellbound stupidity which I will explain to anyone interested in purchasing.

Weight: 520 grams including stuffsack

Prices: Duomid £325. Oooknest £125

Discount of £25 if purchased together.

(Current MLD price for the Duomid including shipping is $485 plus import duty of 20% + Parcel Force ransom fee of c £12)


Unused! A standard, grey silnylon, rectangular, single Oooktub bathtub groundsheet from Oookworks. Bought March 2017 for my Duomid.  Then I bought the Oooknest so didn’t use it.

Dimensions: 220cm x 70cm x 10cm

Weight in stuff sack: 225gr

Price: £35

There is a completely cosmetic blemish to the floor caused by a bit of Fellbound stupidity which I will explain to anyone interested in purchasing.

Mountain Laurel Designs Superlite Bivi

An unflattering photograph of the excellent Superlite Bivi. What do you expect? David Bailey?

Another legendary, highly acclaimed  piece of kit.  Ideal for use under a tarp or in a single skin shelter. Silnylon floor and half moon net in hood. Excellent condition, used one night only.

Size: Large. Dimensions approximately 210cm long x 90cm tapering to 50cm wide.
Weight: 225 grams including stuff sack.

Reason for Sale?  I bought this about 4 years ago to use with my Trailstar. Only used it once then got a nest instead.  I’m too old for the bivying lark these days so it’s just sitting in the gear box.

Price: £105

(Current MLD price for the Bivi is $230 plus import duty of 20% + Parcel Force ransom fee of c £12)

PHD Minimus Down Jacket with Detachable Hood

Hood not pictured

Detachable hood. The jacket is little used and in excellent, clean condition.

Size XL. Red. PHD Dri-Shell outer (ie water repellent, although I never tested this!). 900 fill power European goose down. PHD rates it as good to minus 5 degrees centigrade.

Two outer elasticated pockets and one inner zipped pocket.

My version of the jacket was the TGO "best buy" when tested by John Manning, and the latest version has been given a similar accolade by Judy Armstrong. 

Reason for Sale: Quite simply I've replaced with the same jacket in an XXL. That size wasn't available when I bought mine. I'm 6ft 3 inches and my XL is just a bit too small. I reckon the XL is ideal for anyone up to a maximum of about 6 foot 1 inch tall.

Price: £175 The current version of this jacket from PHD costs £365 with hood and P and P.

Pacer Poles (alloy)

Much used, much loved.  The looks reflect this with the scratch marks etc of 3 TGO Challenges and many other trips, but the poles themselves are serviceable. In my opinion, and that of such gurus as Chris Townsend, the handle design on Pacers make them far more effective than the traditional pole set up. I'm selling because I have replaced with the carbon fibre version.

Price: £30

Karrimor Hot 45 Rucksack 

Buy yourself some history!  This is a basic, medium volume, one compartment, heavy duty sack with a good sized lid pocket.  I used to use it to carry my climbing gear to the crag back in the 1990s, when Karrimor Packs were still regarded as the dog's dangly bits.  It's not been out of a garage or the loft for the last 15 years. Whilst old it is still very serviceable. Some deterioration to the lamination on the internal closure collar. Back slightly dirty.

Price: £25 

As stated above, if interested in any of this stuff, or for more information, please get in touch via the Contact Form on the blog or via a Direct Message on Twitter (@FellBound).

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Fellbound's Tour in the Lakes Michaelmastide 2017

Many years ago I received as a gift a coffee table book, 'Wainwright's Tour in the Lake District, Whitsuntide 1931'.

The book describes a week long circular tour of the Lake District, devised by Mr Alfred Misogynist-Miseryguts himself. He planned to do the walk with some of his pals from Blackburn, staying at farmhouses and bed and breakfasts en route. Not that Wainwright would have used the expression 'en route'. Not keen on foreigners was Alf. Never went abroad, if you discount Yorkshire that is, and never ate foreign food.  As it happened, his plan was too ambitious for them and they never completed the walk. The book may no longer be in print, but I see that it is available second hand on Amazon from just a couple of quid. It's worth a look, not least to see his marvelously written handwritten plans of the route.

As a Lake District obsessive I have, for many years, thought it would be a good thing to do something similar. Thus, I have recently sketched out a 10 day circular backpack of the Lakes, which I fancy doing later this year. I describe it below, and welcome any comments and suggestions for improvement from readers who know the Lake District well.

In passing, it is worth commenting that despite the oft mentioned compactness of the Lake District, my 10 day itinerary hardly scratches the map, and leaves many wonderful parts completely untouched, including the entire Northern Fells, much of the central area and so on. However, having climbed all 214 of the Wainwrights at least once, almost all twice, and some 20 times or more, I am happy to limit my ambitions for the walk. It does not need to be a peak bagging exercise.

Fellbound's Tour of the Lake District, Michaelmastide 2017
Some larger scale maps of the route feature at the bottom of this post, together with a table showing distances and so on. The plan is to tackle the walk this Autumn if I can create the space in my diary. This is rather tight for reasons too boring to mention. I hope to camp out every night, mainly wild camps, but staying on a few commercial campsites when necessary. If the full 10 days is not available then I have an option of doing a semi-circular trek from Windermere to Keswick taking either 3 or 7 days, depending on whether I take the clockwise or anti-clockwise version of the full route.

When I finished my initial sketch of the route my first concern became the lack of resupply points on the western section -  potentially requiring seven days of food to be carried, something which I am not really prepared to do. A possible solution is to send a food parcel to the camp site at Boot if the manager there is prepared to allow this. I have not mapped out foul weather alternative days, but a quick look at the map suggests that these are easily available for each day that my main plan takes me up high.

Ascent (m)
Est Time

Windermere to Baystones / Wansfell Pike
4h 35m
Baystones (poss add Sour Howes and Sallows

Baystones to Greenburn Beck
5h 40m

Greenburn Beck to Boot
9h 25m
Great Carrs, Swirl How, Old Man, Dow Crag etc

Boot to Wasdale Head
6h 40m
Irton Fell, Whin Rigg, Illgill Head

Wasdale Head to nr Starling Dodd
7h 55m
High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike

Starling Dodd to Grasmoor
7h 40m
Great Borne, Whiteless Pike, Wandope, Grasmoor

Grasmoor to Keswick
4h 55m
Eel Crag, Sail, Outerside, Barrow

Keswick to nr Watson’s Dodd
7h 05m
Clough Head, Great Dodd, Watson’s Dodd

Watson’s Dodd to Brother’s Water
7h 15m
Stybarrow Dodd, Raise, Whiteside, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Dollywagon Pike, Fairfield, Hart Crag

Brother’s Water to Windermere
7h 40m
Thornthwaite Beacon

I now have to sort out some dates to put this plan into fruition. I also need to arrange some decent weather and make plans for the dog, as I will not be taking him with me. Frankly, I do not want the extra weight that would entail, or the extra responsibility of looking after him, nor do I want to have to leave him outside the shops in Keswick or Ambleside when I am buying food.

And one final thought. A ten day backpack? Sounds like a good excuse to buy any new gear that I might possibly need. Happy smiley face, cheeky winky face.

Days 1 to 3
Day 4 and part day 5
Day 5 continued to part day 9
Day 9 continued and part day 10 (which finishes in Windermere)

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Challenging Reflections on the 2017 TGO Challenge

Early Morning Reflections in the River Findhorn 

And then it was over.

The Beach at Redcastle

Paddling in the North Sea at Redcastle
Alan Sloman at Redcastle
We arrived at the wonderful beach at Redcastle in beautiful sunshine, I pouted for the last time as Al pointed his camera, then mine, to capture the moments, and after that we walked to the Lunan Bay Café to eat cake and ice cream and phone a taxi to get us to Montrose.

It was lovely to get to The Park Hotel. It was heaving with Thursday finishers and too many old friends to mention. Robin Evans, Johnboy Sanderson, John Woolston, Andy “Mad ‘n’ Bad” Walker, Crocodile Dundee from Croydon with his new hat, Hugh and Barbara Emsley oozing their loveliness, Mick and Gayle, Humphrey Weightman and many, many others. Happy, smiley fit people. People who, as Al says, are made of “the right stuff”. The people who make the Challenge what it is, and why so many come back year after year. People were already discussing where they would start from in 2018.

As for me, I know I shall not be back (what I should write really is “I do not think I will be back”).

My 2017 Challenge was a very different experience to those I did in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The weather, in the main, was better for a start. And I climbed more hills on the way across, including five Munros, and generally walked longer days, with longer stops and pitched camp later.

Oh! Another difference! I bought an excellent cap, in which, at a hundred metres or so, I could be taken for Field Marshal Rommel. Yes that cap. Hideously overpriced at £20 in Braemar Mountain Sports when it is on sale for £19.99 in at least one online retailer.  Al loved it so much he got one as well, but in a different colour. Mine is a steely grey, which will nicely set off my eyes when I wear it in the early evening sunshine.  I later found that Johnboy also has one that is identical and, to quote him, “it’s essential backpacker apparel to engender fearlessness and occasional foolhardy actions. People will look at you in a way which says there goes a man who embodies the very essence of an outdoors expert”.  How right he is. I shall wear it on all future backpacks.

Field Marshal Rommel of the Africa Corps in a bunker on Driesh
The main difference, though, was the fact that I had a walking companion for the entire crossing. This did not, of course, make the Challenge any less demanding physically.  I was still exhausted at the end of most days. But it made an enormous difference. For me, without a shadow of a doubt, it is far easier to successfully complete the Challenge if walking with someone rather than going solo.  It’s all in the mind you see. The extra sense of reassurance, especially for a born worrier, of having someone with whom to share (or indeed take on) most of the decision making does make the event that much less daunting. The companionship goes without saying, although say it I just did.

It seems to me that there are three wonderful things about the TGO Challenge. Firstly, the sense of achievement it provides. I know that my crossings are something that I will always be proud of. That's always and for ever. Right to the end when I shuffle off this mortal coil. Secondly, the Challenge has a spirit of its own, especially of commaraderie. The people you meet, the friendships you form are what make it so special. This has to be so as we could all go off and do long backpacks anytime and anyplace rather than stumping up our £50 entry fee to the publishers of the TGO magazine. And thirdly, there is a wonderful, liberating simplicity in the rhythm and routine of a long walk. You get up, you walk, you cook dinner, you go to bed. Only if you have experienced this day after day can you understand, and the Challenge, at two weeks, starts to provide a little understanding of the motivations of those who through hike the much, much longer trails of the USA and Europe.

But I will not be there next May or in subsequent Mays. I think not. You see I did not relish the Challenge of the walk. I'm not made of the right stuff. On too many mornings I woke thinking more of the difficulty of walking up to 30 km in a mountain environment, knowing for much of that time I would be shattered. Too often I did not appreciate the magnificence of my surroundings, but rather wondered how much further I had to go to our chosen camp spot or B and B. I don’t think there was a single day when I was not thankful when it was over. For me, as I approach 60 years of age, walking for up to ten or more hours with a large backpack starts to make each day a chore rather than a joy, in a way in which a four or five hour walk does not. I am not made of stern enough stuff.

Then there is what is happening to Scotland. The wild landscape is being trashed with the connivance of rich landowners and the government. Wind turbines and massive electricity pylons blight extensive parts of the Challenge area. And the massive and numerous new hill tracks. I need to be clear that I don’t think on the Challenge I have ever not thought 'thank goodness' on getting on to one of these and being able to walk on it after being on rough or boggy ground. But they are despoiling the landscape in the most appalling way. Any mountain lover must weep, at least metaphorically, when they they see what has happened to large parts of the Highlands. Again, you have to see and experience these to understand the point. Those that run elevated over the the summit plateaus are perhaps the worst of all. I do not understand how the nation of Scotland, so proud of its Highland heritage, can have allowed this to happen.

And finally, when I am away I miss my family and I miss my dog and it puts additional burdens on them, even though they are able to eat salad every day and can skip meat and starch and puddings and stuff (not the dog obviously, as he shares my attitude to salad, which is distinctly hostile).

The TGO Challenge: In the words of Scotland's finest, The Proclaimers, it's Over and Done With

Despite the paragraph above I hope I will do more longish backpacks before I hang up my boots and bin the sleeping mat, and not just of the overnight variety. But it will not be on the Challenge. I am almost sure about that.

And my final words on my 2017 are simply this. Thanks, Al. It was a privilege to walk with you. Only eight more to go and you'll have done thirty. And you mind what you write about me when you get your own blog written.

Alan Sloman: A True Gentleman of the Road