A Rapid Circuit but with Time to Observe

A Rapid Circuit but with Time to Observe

Consulting the weather forecast the previous evening I decided to complete the Logan Trail and East Leake 10 miles walk as I did the same time last year without the need of carrying a rucksack. This lightweight approach worked but I needed lunch beforehand to avoid carrying food and drink. So consuming two fish finger cobs and a glass of pure orange juice I was suitably nourished and hydrated to embark on this trek. As I stepped over the threshold and entered the great outdoors the sky was a blank canvas awaiting the artist’s brush. Today the palette would consist of various shades of grey with hints of blue-grey awaiting application. With a sky like this and the weather forecast predicting rain after midday it provided the incentive that the walk could be done at pace. On yesterday’s walk I arrived at the gate on Ash Lane in 39 minutes but on this hike I was at this location six minutes earlier so an excellent indication that this could be a rapid circuit. Crossing Gotham Lane and heading towards the Willow tree by Fairham Brook the sky clouded over and the precipitation arrived on time as a mizzle. Fortunately, this only lasted for a few minutes and the sky had finally received the application of shades of grey. Just in time as now I was approaching The Ash tree and wanted to add more photographs to my collection of this lone tree in the middle of a field. The grey sky added atmosphere to these images and contrasted to the ones I took four weeks ago with vivid blue skies.

The Tree

The Ash Tree

Moving on with still a rapid pace I passed under the railway bridge and through  what the locals call the sheep field and crossed the foot bridge which goes over a drainage ditch. Earlier this year after the snow lots of plastic bottles and waste congregated at this point. I noticed that water was flowing freely and it looked liked the ditch had seen the use of an excavator recently. However, the debris from the ditch had been deposited onto the field along with plastic bottles and other waste material. Not sure if these will ever be removed and possibly turned into the soil with various agricultural processes.

Rubbish

Debris scattered across a field

Luckily the next part of the journey was going along the picturesque Logan Trail. I paused briefly at the first seat along this trial as I don’t think I have sat there this year and for me it has a wonderful aspect looking across a stream and the landscape beyond. At the end of the trail it meets Gotham Road and the completion of this particular section.

Logan Trail West

The Logan Trail – western section tunnel of trees

Crossing the road The Logan Trail continues through a tunnel of trees that borders a field before it moves onto the verge by the road. Normally the path here is narrow as the vegetation takes up space but today there was a clear wide path as this had been cut away. To counter this loss of habitat a positive on this section was the range of bird contact calls. At its end I crossed the road to start the ascent to the Cuckoo Bush. Here I removed the Marmot Hoody to avoid overheating and continued the steep climb. The end of this leg is the top by a path junction and I was surprised that I had made it to this point in under two hours as it usually takes this long to get to the start of The Logan Trail. As the wind was picking up at this point I put the Marmot Hoody back on. Making progress through West Leake Woods I am sure I heard calls from ravens and rustling sounds from deer although I never saw either. As I peered into the woods I was hoping that a deer would suddenly appear in a clearing but it never happened. Pushing onward I did stop briefly to view the power station and then carried on to West Leake Church. Here I sent a Whatsapp to Jane to give her an indication of what time I should arrive back home. This leg follows the Midshires Way through the village to ascend Fox Hill.

Fungi and trainer

Close by The Corner Tree was this fungi

On arriving at the footpath junction at the top of the hill I descend to the corner tree. I always stop at The Corner Tree as there is usually a large Bracket fungus attached to its trunk which is worth taking a photograph of but on this occasion the fungus had been kicked off. However, I did take an image of a section laying on the ground and used the tip of my trainer to show scale. Carrying on I noted the time at the Stone Bridge and knew I could finish in my fastest time for this walk. Now it was head down under the railway bridge into Meadow Park and on arriving home confirmed this was my quickest circuit of this much loved route.

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Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Here are some of my personal views when deciding on what to carry on an endurance walk like the 75 mile National Forest Way. This is a trip which I am currently organising and planning to do the walk in three days. On each day I will be walking an average of 25 miles. In this type of activity it is necessary to keep weight down to a minimum to aid enjoyment. Selecting equipment needs thought as when conditions dictate it maybe that you are carrying and not wearing items of clothing. Here you need to be aware that the clothing you use is not only light in weight but is compact and can be easily compressed to reduce volume when packed. Please note that the following observations are based on an endurance walk undertaken in late spring in a low level environment close to human habitation over terrain that consists of public rights of way, paths and tracks.

Equipment for endurance walks

Rucksack

The rucksack is the container for your ‘life support system’ during the trek and this is the starting point to keep weight down. There is no need to have a pack that has all the extras like ice-ax fittings, attachment points for crampons and automatic cup holders! All these add unnecessary weight. For endurance walking in low level terrain I use a pack that has an uncomplicated design, is comfortable to carry, light weight and is around 26 litres capacity. The latter feature is to limit the volume and weight I carry. My current pick of the bunch for endurance walks, and indeed short rambles, is the Black Diamond RPM.  Access to the main body is via a zipped lid and inside is a bladder pouch holder and a front compartment. The lid has a zipped outside pocket and a zipped inside one which includes a clip to hold your keys etc… On the exterior are two mesh pockets each capable of holding a 600ml drinks bottle plus a lunch bar. The volume of the pack can be adjusted by an external draw cord on it’s front face which ensures everything loaded is held tight and close to your back.

Inside the Pack

Waterproof Jacket & Trousers

My most recent addition in outdoor clothing is a Marmot Artemis NanoPro lightweight water proof jacket. I bought this to replace my aging (and leaking) Marmot Preclip jacket. I wanted a lightweight waterproof jacket that had a chest pocket to hold my glasses when it rained hard! And this jacket has said pocket. I have now used it on several occasions including a full day of rain when on the 2014 Seagrave Wolds 16 mile Challenge Walk. It performed perfectly and I remained dry throughout the event. In contrast the oldest item of clothing I am still using is a pair of Rohan overtrousers. I bought these maybe 20 years ago and Rohan’s Waterlight H2P fabric still does the business. Although they are lined they are lightweight and fold up compactly.

Spare Warm Jacket

Again I am going back in time because my Marmot Driclime Jacket from over a decade ago is still the most effective and efficient garment to carry (and wear when needed) providing warmth and an element of wind resistance in a lightweight and compact package. I selected the jacket version with the full length zip to aid getting the garment on and off easily as the need and conditions required. The outer is wind resistant nylon and the inner is a lightweight polyester fleece.

Hat & Gloves

In weather that is forecast to be changeable, which is most of the time in England, I take a warm hat and gloves. These don’t need to be full on mountaineering styles but lightweight and effective ones. My warm hat dates from the last century and is made by Patagonia from their stretch Syncilla fabric whilst my fleece gloves are a similar vintage displaying the Icefall label. A baseball cap is useful just it case the sun decides to come out.

First Aid Kit

The usual stuff: assorted plasters, antiseptic wipes, pain killers and Compeed blister plasters are contained in a fold out pouch. Included in this pouch is a SwissCard due to having a pair of tweezers and a neat pair of scissors along with a tooth pick and nail file! As it is late spring and the sun may be out then it is essential to take sun cream. On recommendation from my daughter, who is a snowboarder, I am taking Piz Buin Mountain Suncream with a 50+ SPF! This provides protection not only from the sun but also cold, wind and high altitudes!

Torch

A trusted Maglite 2 AA cell torch is included in my pack. I will make sure it has a spare bulb in it’s tail and it contains fresh batteries. These essentials, the first aid kit and torch, are kept together in a Lowe Alpine U-shaped mesh bag and then placed in a waterproof bag.

Sit mat

A small piece of closed-cell foam is carried to ensure that when I need to sit down to eat or enjoy the view I can in relative comfort.

Nutrition 

I will carry two 600ml plastic bottles of diluted orange drink for liquid whilst food will consist of a variety of snack bars and dried fruit. This will be supplemented along the way as the route passes through many villages that have shops and some have a pub!

Spares

On a low level walk like this carry spares is not really necessary. Also it is light until late and the essence is to keep moving at a reasonable pace hence not taking the kitchen sink! However, space will be found for a length of paracord which has a multitude of uses including make-do laces.

Keeping it all Dry

Plastic bags will ensure everything is kept dry.

Navigation Aids

Route Plans

I have downloaded the route guides from: http://www.nationalforestway.co.uk/downloads/and have laminated them to protect them from the elements.

Maps

The relevant Ordnance Survey maps will be carried and used: 233, 245 & 246.

Compass

A Silva Type 4 will be taken along as a ‘just in case’.

GPS Receiver

I have one but still debating whether it is worth carrying in this kind of environment. OK it doesn’t weigh much but every kg counts in this game.

I hope you have found this helpful and I welcome comments.