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The Lang Weekend

By Phil 2015.04.09 in Lake District

Last weekend I decided to head to the Lakes without a plan and just play it by ear and let the weather dictate. I packed all the essentials such as my Fjällräven Abisko Lightweight 2 tent, maps (and compass this time), guide books, 3 bottles of red wine, stove and some freeze dried food meals.

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The weather on the Friday wasn’t great, with light showers most of the day but was forecast to improve over the weekend, so I decided to chance it and headed over to the Langdale Nation Trust campsite. I managed to arrive at the campsite fairly early and just before the long Easter Weekend rush of people and found myself a good spot to pitch my tent.

Not Playing By the Book

When I woke the next morning the whole valley was covered in clouds with the sun trying to break through. I could see it was going to be a good clear day once I got up the fells.

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Although I had maps with me, I decided to do a route from the new Lakes Walks guide book my friend Rhiannon had bought for me. The route was Bowfell and Crinkle Crags which I could start right from the campsite. After I viewed the route, I thought it would be a better idea to end the walk closer to the nearest pub, the Old Dungeon Ghyll, so I decided to reverse the route detailed in the book. How hard could it be!

As I headed up the fells away from the campsite, the clouds soon cleared and the sun appeared with crystal clear blue skies. Spring had certainly arrived.

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My first summit of the day was the Pike of Blisco (705m). I was surprised that I was the only person doing the route I had chosen on such a stunning day, as I didn’t see another person until I reached Pike of Blisco, which seemed a perfect spot to have my lunch.

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After lunch I headed off towards Crinkle Crags (859m), where I started to see a few more people coming from the opposite direction. As I got closer to Crinkle Crags there were a few patches of snow about, though not enough to require any winter boots of crampons.

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After a short break on Crinkle Crags I headed to my next and highest summit of the day, Bowfell (902m). Again as I got closer to Bowfell there were more patches of snow and a few more people coming and going.
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When I reached the summit of Bowfell I found three guys there drinking a bottle of beer celebrating their 214th and final Wainwright summit, as they took it in turn to hold up their 214 Wainwright banner and posed for photos. You could also still see the summit of Scafell Pike and the hordes of people who had decided to ascend the highest summit in England.

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I started to descend back to Langdale and thought I had better check my map & GPS to make sure I was heading in the right direction, as due to the snow around Bowfell I couldn’t really see any distinctive path. Sure enough I had gone off my supposed route back down. So I headed back up towards Bowfell and headed towards Hanging Knotts as described in my guide book. However I had gone a little too far and ended up towards Esk Pike and at the other side of Angle Tarn. Despite my little setback in getting slightly lost, it didn’t really bother me as the sun was still shinning and made for some stunning photos around Angle Tarn. Once at the tarn it was easy to pick up the path along Rossett Gill all the way back to Langdale and the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub.

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I finally arrived at the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub dying for a nice cold pint. Arriving at the pub felt like reaching another summit. The guide book said the walk was 14km in distance and would take 6 hours and 20 minutes. Well thanks to my little detour it took me just over 8 hours and was 20km in distance. Still it was worth it and the drink soon made me forget about the extra time and distance. Despite the detour, it was a cracking walk and would certainly do it again, though next time I may play it by the book and do it in the direction described.

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The photo above of my 4 summits of the day. Can you guess which was my favourite!

Haway the Lads/When Philly Met Jilly

After my epic hike the day before, I decided on having a rest day and a bit of shopping before heading back to Langdale for Sunday lunch and a few beers at the New Dungeon Ghyll while listening to the Sunderland v Newcastle match, which Sunderland won 1-0, which was their 5th win in a row over Newcastle.

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Following Sunderland’s great result over our local rivals I decided to stay out for a few more celebratory beers and headed along the road to the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub which is a little closer to the campsite and easier to stumble back to my tent.

While there I finally met up my friend Jilly and a few of her friends and who now lives in a Tipi tent as well as running a Tipi rental business in Langdale called Base Camp Tipi. You can also read Jilly’s blog about her amazing cycling adventure where she spent two years cycling around the world, taking in five continents, though 30 countries while surviving on just £5 a day.

Jilly had just got back from doing Bowfell for the 11th time as part of her personal mission to do Bowfell 100 times via as many different routes as possible. When I asked her why do Bowfell 100 times, she told me: “Why not!” Which is a good enough answer after seeing the views from Bowfell for myself the previous day.

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Celebrating Sunderland’s victory over rivals Newcastle

Sharp Edge Take IV

Once again I woke to the valley covered in clouds, but my plan was to head away from Langdale and attempt Blencathra (868m) via Sharp Edge for the 4th time, hoping the weather was better than my previous three failed attempts.

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Luckily when I arrived at the foot of Blencathra the weather was perfect. The sun was shining, hardly a cloud to be seen, clear blue skies and no wind. It was certainly the day to give it another go.

I decided to unpack all my unnecessary gear from my rucksack, like tripod, walking poles and other gadgets, so they wouldn’t get in the way or add unnecessary weight on the scramble across Sharp Edge.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of the view of Blencathra as you head towards it. It’s a stunning sight as I quickly made my way up towards Scales Tarn. I usually stop at the tarn for lunch, but had made such good time and just wanted to get on with tackling Sharp Edge.

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The weather really was perfect for doing Sharp Edge as I scrambled my way across it behind three others, stopping occasionally to let some people past who were coming in the opposite direction. It was tricky in a couple of places where you are exposed and would certainly not want to get caught by any wind or doing it in wet slippery conditions and risk falling on either side.

I finally made it to the top and was great looking down on Sharp Edge as well as seeing Scales Tarn from the opposite side. I then carried on to the summit of Blencathra for lunch and to chill in the sun for a while before heading back down via Scales Fell.

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It was great to finally do Blencathra via Sharp Edge. I would do it again, but only in similar near perfect conditions and I will certainly never tire of doing Blencathra.

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I had a great weekend going solo with no real plans and was great to get my first camp of the year under my belt, as well as being good practice for this year’s adventures, with one confirmed and a few other in the pipeline… Bring on the next one!

Fjällräven Keb Gaiter Trousers Product Review

By Phil 2015.03.30 in Product Review

I bought my Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers last April from my friends at The Sporting Lodge and have used them for many activities since then and in various conditions, so thought I would write a review.

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So far I have put my Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers to test during the Fjällräven Classic, Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Snowshoeing and Ski Touring in Norway and many weekends in the Lakes and Scotland in both summer and winter conditions.

The Keb Gaiter trousers are trekking trousers made from a breathable stretch fabric with G-1000 Eco and G-1000 Heavy Duty (HD) used in the places which need the most protection like the backside, around the ankles and the front of the legs and knees. They also have side leg ventilation and large thigh pockets making them an excellent choice for all year round trousers in any weather conditions.

The heavy duty gaiter part of the trouser can be unzipped to slide down the leg and tighten via the drawchod around the calf to help protect boots and ankles and at the same time allowing ventilation to your legs or just to keep them in place around your ankles for easy access should you need to attach them back to the rest of the trousers should the temperature change suddenly. In the warmer climates the gaiter part of the trousers can be zipped off completely to make them into a pair of shorts. Both these features were most useful when trekking during the Fjällräven Classic and Morocco last year where the temperature can change dramatically.

The side ventilation zips from hip to knee allow excellent ventilation when wearing as shorts or full length trousers.

I also own a pair of Fjällräven Vidda Pro Winter trousers which I usually wear for winter hikes, but this winter I decided to try my Keb Gaiters to see how they compared. With part of the trousers being made from the breathable stretch material, I wasn’t sure if they would be suitable for winter conditions, but I was very surprised how they performed during my recent trip to Norway. They certainly kept me as warm as my Vidda Pro Winter trousers and the heavy duty G-1000 material used around the ankles in the gaiter part of the trousers was most useful when snowshoeing through deep snow.

The large thigh pockets are large enough for storing a map and other accessories you want easy access to, as well as two small hip pockets.

The leg endings also include boot hooks for connection to your boot laces to help keep the gaiter part of the trousers in place and protecting your ankles and boots from snow or wet conditions.

I find the Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers an excellent all year round pair of trousers and would seriously recommend to anyone looking for such trousers. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people in the UK wearing these as they are perfect the British climate and the changing weather conditions we can often experience when in the outdoors.

I like my UN Blue pair so much that I’m planning on buying a black pair very shortly.

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Aclima LightWool T Shirt Review

By Phil 2015.03.29 in Product Review

I recently received an Aclima LightWool Merino wool baselayer T-Shirt from Nordic Outdoor in Keswick and this is my review of the product.

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Previously I had used Icebreaker Merino products, which had served me well in the past, but since being introduced to Aclima products last year while on Fjallraven Polar, I have now switched to using Aclima for all my baselayer products. I use the WoolNet and WarmWool products for winter as and the LightWool for warmer spring/summer conditions as well as the DesignWool products for more casual use.

Merino wool baselayer products certainly are the best for all outdoor activities due the various unique properties and so much better than any synthetic baselayer I had used before I discovered the benefits of Merino wool. Some of the key properties are:

  • Highly absorbent and can hold about 30% of its weight in moisture before it feels damp on your skin
  • Quick drying properties
  • Breathable in both hot and cold climates, yet still keeps you warm in the colder weather
  • Merino wool is a natural antimicrobial, which means it deters bacteria and the subsequent odour generated from your body – No stink!
  • Comfortable on your skin. People think wool irritates your skin. Merino wool is significantly finer than traditional sheep’s wool and feels more like silk against your body
  • Insulating and ventilating

There are many more properties of Merino wool which makes this an excellent choice for baselayer’s and socks, so if you have yet to experience Merino wool baselayer’s then give it a go now. You will never go back.

The Aclima LightWool T-Shirt is more fitted than the Icebreaker I used to use, but not in a body hugging/fitting way, as I prefer to still have a little room in my baselayer. It just feels more fitted and more comfortable than the Icebreaker equivalent I used to use. The Aclima baselayer’s also seem to keep their shape a lot better after washing then Icebreaker. Some of my Icebreaker’s became a lot more baggy after a period of time of use and washing. I have used Aclima products for nearly a year now and this has yet to happen and any of the products I own.

So if you are looking for baselayer product then I would thoroughly recommend checking out the full Aclima range at Nordic Outdoor as they have an excellent range of their products. I’m amazed that the brand isn’t as well known in the UK as it is in other parts of Europe.

I also have the LightWool long sleeve version and already have my eye on the LightWool Hoodie long sleeve, as I think the addition of the hood is an excellent idea and most useful in summer, yet windy conditions.

You can use the Aclima product guide below to find the most suitable product for your activity:
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Great British Stove Off

By Phil 2015.03.28 in General

No adventures this weekend, so Ian popped round today and we decided to have a “Great British Stove Off” with our outdoor cooking stoves, seeing as we both had nothing better to do.

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The contenders were my Primus OmniLite TI dual fuel stove vs Ian’s Alpkit Koro gas stove. We also threw in Ian’s home-made beer can stove to see how it faired.

For the test we opted to boil 0.5l of water for using identical full Primus 230g gas cartridges purchased today from LD Mountain Centre, with methylated spirits used for the beer can. The location for the test was my back garden in fairly windy conditions.
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Primus OmniLite TI:
Weight: 224g
Fuel options: Gas, Gasoline/Petrol, Diesel, Kerosene/Paraffin, and even Aviation fuel
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Alpkit Koro:
Weight: 125g
Fuel options: Gas
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Beer Can:
Weight: 11g
Fuel options: Methylated Spirits
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You can view the Great British Stove Off here: :)

In just over 3 minutes both the Primus OmniLite and Alpkit Koro stove started to boil, with the OmniLite just shading it in terms of boiling slightly more than the Koro. The home-made beer can stove finally brought the water to boil after 7 minutes.

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After the test we compared the gas cartridges to see how much fuel they had used and they had both used identical amount of fuel, using around 18g each.

Overall there was nothing really between the two stoves in terms of performance and fuel used. The Alpkit Koro is a lot lighter and cheaper but the Primus OmniLite TI has more options in terms of fuel which can be used and did shade it on speed of boiling the water. So I guess we are both happy with our chosen stoves and look forward to using them in anger on our adventures over the coming months.

Sharp Edge – Take III

By Phil 2015.03.16 in Lake District

Last weekend me and my mate Rory headed over to the Lakes to attempt Sharp Edge on route to the summit of Blencathra. This was to be my 3rd attempt at doing Blencathra via Sharp Edge, following my previous failed attempts last October and February due to weather conditions.

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The weather forecast was good, so we were feeling hopeful that we would be able to complete Sharp Edge this time, however as we got closer we could see there was still a lot of snow higher up, so decided we would make our decision on attempting it once we got to Scales Tarn.

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Once we arrived at Scales Tarn we saw three guys coming down from Sharp Edge, so we asked what the conditions were like nearer the top. They said they had turned back due to icy conditions on the final section. As these guys had done Sharp Edge many times before and the fact they had turned back, we decided against attempting it and instead headed to summit of Blencathra via another route and to extend our hike once we got to the summit.

Once we got to the top of Blencathra the views were stunning as always. Despite some cloud, there were patches where the sun was breaking through and lighting up the valleys below as we looked towards Thirlmere and Derwentwater.

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Despite not attempting Sharp Edge, it was still a great hike to the top of Blencathra and we were surprised how much snow there was still around. Some of it was fresh snow from the previous two days and quite deep in places.

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Blencathra has certainly become one of my favourite hikes in the Lakes and I’m sure one day I will do it via Sharp Edge! It’s not like it’s going anywhere anytime soon!

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We then finished the night with some well deserved beers and wine (maybe too much wine for some!) in Ambleside.

Opportunity Oppdal

By Phil 2015.03.13 in General

Just over two weeks ago I went to visit my friend Inger in Norway, along with my Fjallraven Polar friend Tuija from Finland. Inger should have been with us in Fjallraven Polar 2014, but had to withdraw a few weeks before due to a bad knee injury. Me and my fellow 18 Polarists were devastated with the news Inger had to pull out, as we had all got to know each other virtually leading up to the Polar. Even though we had never met each other, we all felt her pain and loss to our group.

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Thankfully Inger’s knee has now fully recovered and she has now been chosen to go on this year Polar! So we are so pleased she will finally get to experience what she should have done with us last April.

Despite not meeting Inger last year, we have all stayed in constant contact and Inger kindly offered an open invite to us to visit her and her family in her home town of Oppdal in Norway and spend some time in her family cabin in the mountains for some snowshoeing, ski touring, snowmobiling and chilling making waffles. After I booked my flights, Tuija decided she would join me so off we went!

And what a time we had! It’s hard to put into words the time we spent with Inger and family, so I’m not going to waffle on with a daily account of what we did and instead just let the photos do the talking. We took so many photo I have tried to pick the best from our days there along with a video montage at the end showing more photos.

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You can see more photos in the following video montage:

As you can see from the photos, it’s easy to see why Inger is always smiling from ear to ear when you see her in the mountains with her dogs. Me and Tuija never stopped smiling the whole time we were there with Inger, her family and dogs. We felt so lucky to have the opportunity to finally meet Inger in person and spend quality time with her in the environment she loves. I can’t wait to go back very soon!

Photos are a combination taken by Tuija, Inger and myself

Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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Please checkout my fellow Polar bloggers and read about their experience in their words:

Alex Kalita (USA)

Madeleine Hanssen (Norway)

Manon Kloosterman (Netherlands)

Peter Blom Jensen (Denmark)

Tuija Pellikka (Finland)

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