Sunday, 27 May 2007

Stills from the Dales Way

Final set of pictures from the Dales Way

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Random thoughts

Being back a few days has given me a change to look through the equipment I took and assess how well it worked and how useful it was.


As usual the sixmoondesigns Comet pack carried the loads really well; the weight in the pack varied between the starting 11 kg and about 12.5 kg when carrying extra food and water.

I found that there was plenty of room; even with a wet flysheet for the first few days. The three outer pockets carried everthing I needed to hand during the day.

I did have one problem with the pack and that was the left shoulder strap came away from the joining point on the hipbelt. At first I thought the strap had snapped but in actual fact all that had happened was that the stitching had unravelled and the strap had popped out.

I was able to jury-rig it for the rest of the walk, and my wife had manged to re-stitch the strap back in.


The sleeping bag is a Field&Trek own make which I bought last year in the sales. It a 2-season down bag and kept me more than warm enough in fact a few nights I slept with it thrown over me like a quilt.

My sleeping Mat is the Insul Mat Max-Thermo; which I`ve been using for about 3 years.

I can't imagine sleeping on anything else now, as this is probably the most comfortable mat I've ever used. Yes; it is a bit heavy at 700g and can be a extra chore blowing it up at the end of the day but it's still worth it.


Terra Nova Solar 1

The biggest think I like about the Solar is the way the fly can be opened and give plenty of options for getting in and out.

Is tent weighs around 2kg which is a bit heavy compared to today's new lighter weight tents. I do think about changing the tent to a lighter one but as yet I haven't see one that is a flexible as the Solar.


As usual the MSR PocketRocket performed great for cooking and brews on route. I took two pots and a plastic mug; the pots were non-stick, I also took a 250 gas canister which was just about enough for the amount of cooking I did.


I took a few gadgets on this trip; some worked better than others. The Freeloader worked O.K but in all honesty I only used it once to charge the mini-vidcam and probably would of gotten away with a couple of extra batteries and saved a few grams.

Th new mp3 player worked well but didn't have as much power as I thought it would and was flat when I could of really used it and that was on the trip home; I should of taken the sync lead and charged it through the freeloader.

The mini-vidcam was a good item to take; I took 2x1 GB sd cards but only used one, I may of used the extra one if the weather had been better in the early part of the trip. I enjoyed videoing along the way and being able to report on things as they were happening.

It a shame that it only takes 640x480 video and the still pictures are not as good as a normal digital camera so that ment I was carrying two digital cameras.


I took 3 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of socks, a pair of Ron Hill trackers trek, a ploymide shirt, t-shirt, montane windshirt, a Peter Storm micro-fleece, Peter Storm waterproof trousers, a Craghoppers Pakka waterproof jacket and a tilley hat.

I could of done with an extra pair of socks as it was difficult to get the ones I had dry in the first few days because of the rain.

The waterproofs worked far better than I thought they would especially with the amount of rain we had in the early days.

The Montane was a good choice for when to wasn't raining and especailly when out in the open with the winds blowing.

All in all; the equipment I took performed as expected and I only had one piece that I never used and that was the Tikka headtorch.

Best piece of equipment was the Tilley Hat; when it was rain the hat kept my head dry and the brim stopped the rain dripping on me and when the sun came out it helped to stop the sun burning my face and neck.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Dales Way Day One

Evening before the start on the Dales Way


I'm Back

Got home late yesterday evening after a disaster getting through London. Victoria Station was closed just after I arrived there; so I had to make my way home by bus.

Had a great week; weather was a bit mixed with rain for the first couple of days and then rain and sunshine for a couple of days then sunshine for the final days into Windermere.

I picked up a couple of blisters on the soles on my feet but nothing to bad; although I am hobbling around today.

A couple of pictures from the walk.

Me at Bolton Abbey

Lowgill Viaduct

I'll put the rest up over the next few days.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Ready for the off

All the packing is done; final weight is 11kg (25lb) which includes 5 breakfasts and 5 main meals, coffee, t-bags and the cameras.

I`ll see you all in 10 days :-)

Happy hiking.

One Day to Go!

I`m sitting typing this; when really I should be packing for tommorrow.

Actually most of the packing is done, it's just the tinkering that needs finishing off.

As usual I`m having a hard time deciding that to take in the way of clothes, the weather is miserable at the moment in London and doesn't look much better around Leeds and up to Windermere.

At present I`ve a t-shirt, Montane windshirt, microfleece, a light gilet, and a waterproof jacket; I`m pretty sure that is will be more than enough as it looks to be more wet than cold for the next 10 days or so.

The pack weight at present is 8kg (17lb) but I expect that to rise by 2-3 kg with food and cameras still to go in.

One area that has given me a problem is maps; I printed out the route on to 5 A4 sheets of paper, at 1:50000 but they all seem tiny. I could of printed them at a larger scale but it would mean more paper to carry and possibly lose, so instead I`m going with the Harveys Dales Way map.

Oh well; back to the packing.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Problems with video playback

It seems as there are some problems playing the second video clip in firefox and Opera.

It seems as a new plug-in is needed, to run in firefox. This can be downloaded at:

I`ve tried it on my computer and it looks to be working O.K.

I`m still looking at ways to get a better video up than YouTube, just need to make sure it works in all browsers.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Playing with Video

As regular readers will know; I`ve been playing around with video on some of my walks and want to take my movie camera on the Dales Way with me.

All the video's are put together in Windows Movie Maker (WMM) which comes with all versions of Windows, for the moving photographs I use PhotoStory 3 which can be downloaded from Microsoft.

In WMM the movie video's can be saving in a multitude of ways i.e. DV-Avi for high quality video to 'video for dial up (38kbps)'; I normally save my movies at 768kbps. Once the video clips are made into a movie, they are uploaded to Youtube. When the files are uploaded; Youtube converts them to flash files (.flv) and compresses them down to about 300kbps, this is why the pictures can look badly pixelated sometimes.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been looking at ways to try and get a better video up but this can only be achieved by having the original 768kbps file playing.

One site that seems to allow this is with them you get 500MB Space, 5GB Bandwidth monthly, max file upload 50MB.

Using this service does mean a little bit of work on the users part as you have to work out the html code to make a player, play on your blog, unlike Youtube where you can just grab the code and embed it in the blog.

Obviously little review items like the freeloader one, can be saved at a lower kbps I saved that at 512kbps mainly because the picture didn't need to look that clear and a bit of pixelation doesn't matter that much.

Below are two video clips of the same video, saved at 768kbps on WMM. The file size is 7.5 MB

The first is the Youtube one, the second is hosted on upfordown.


When both clips are played together you can see the difference in the picture quality especially in areas like the font on the opening; the second one is much sharper and clearer, also the water and sky looks smooth and not blurred.

Clearly the video's are never going to be the same as a DV-mini camera or HD but with any luck I will be able to post a much better quality video in future.

Freeloader Pre/review

A look at my newest gadget

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Another day, another piece of equipment

May is here; so it's only 14 day until my trip on the Dales Way.

Over the weekend I got all my equipment out to check it was all O.K and most of it was although my Ortlieb mapcase seem to have gone a funny colour (more opaque than transparent).

Apart from topping up gas canisters; I haven't really bought much new gear in the past year, mainly because I`m pretty happy with the stuff I`m using.

Most of the new equipment has been more in the gadget sector; new camera, mp3 player.

Today is no exception; today I`ve bought a solar charger.

My still digital camera takes 2 AA batteries and one or two sets are normally enough for a trip, but I wanted to be able to take my Aiptek movie camera which takes a lithium-ion battery. This can only be charged either through the mains or a USB to a PC.

AktoMan tried a solar charger out on his WHW walk and this looked interesting but seems as though it could only be ordered from the USA.

After looking around the 'net; I found and choose one called a 'freeloader'

It comes with 11 different adaptors to charge anything from a Nintendo DS to a Blackberry; although it hasn't an adaptor for my cheap Motorola phone.

It weighs about 150g which is probably a bit on the heavy size but the battery can be charged before going on a trip and it with hold the charge for upto 3 months.

The manual states that the charger with charge in 2-3 hrs via a PC and 5-6 hrs via the solar panels.

The first charge needed to be done through the PC but after that, charges can be done with the solar panels.

So far; I've had a little play with it and it has charged my Aiptek, DS and Nokia phone.

It will probably be 3-4 weeks for me to put it through its paces and I'll report back then.