Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Route

I originally planned to pretty much copy the route in Andrew McCloys book as, this being my first solo trip, I though it would be sensible. I found Mark Moxon's website (which is excellent - an absolute MUST for someone needing help planning this trip), and bought the recommended maps plus some extra's as I wanted to have the option of the south west coastal path.

I spent the most part of a wet weekend highlighting the route, and started by changing the first part to include Andrew McCloys "alternative route" which follows the north coast westwards as far as Melvich, and follows a smaller road to Lothbeg - between Helmsdale and Brora.

The reason for this is to try to avoid some of the dreaded A99, and along the way include some spectacular scenery and camping opportunites.

I then planned to follow their route the rest of the way except for spending a couple of nights in Exmoor (because I love it - I have a passion for Exmoor ponies and own 2!) and then follow the coastal path to Lands End.

Having got most of this mapped out, I'm now changing my mind to include the Offa's Dyke Path! Also, Andy Robinson shows a fab looking route across northern Scotland in his book, which looks tempting. I'll wait and see if I get a GPS unit sorted out first maybe!!

As you can tell, the route is far from sorted! I'm going to go through my maps and on sections where I follow a road I'll print maps from Memory map to save weight. But where a bit more navigation is required I'll either take the OS Explorer maps or photocopy sections of them.

I'm finially learning to save weight!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Ickle Bockle - what a fantastic company!

At the weekend I emailed a company called Ickle Bockle to find out how their bottles would stand up to deet. I've always used either trial size bottles of products when backpacking - or I've decanted into small travel size bottles bought from Boots. I got fed up with these bottles constantly leaking though and decided to get some decent ones.

I expected to have to wait a few days before getting a reply including chemical formula's for plastic bottles and being left to find out myself how the deet would affect them. But it wasn't the case at all. I had an immediate reply telling me they had contacted the deet manufacturer and would let me know as soon as they had a reply.

Today I had an email telling me the bottles (bockles!) are fine for using with deet. I know - your probably thinking "so what", but that's not all....after telling Ickle Bockles why I wanted the bottles and how pleased I was with their customer service, I received the following email;


No problem!

Had a quick look at your blog - Patch is adorable.

We're big dog lovers here at Ickle Bockles and would be more than happy to
donate the ickle bockles you require for this particular trip.

Rather than order via the website, just drop me an email when you're ready
to order. List the bockle sizes and closure choices (for example 100ml
flip top etc) up to the value of £15 and I will get those out to you.

Good luck with the walk - Dog's Trust is such a good cause.

Kind regards

Cath Atkins
Ickle Bockles
t 0771 3888 179

What fabulous people! All the affluent companies I've contacted who weren't interested, and then this company offer to donate bottles without me even asking. I'm so impressed!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Aqua Pure Traveller - what a good bit of kit!

I've just discovered the Aqua Pure Traveller! This is going to save me loads of weight trying to carry enough water for both Patch and myself - plus water for cooking.

"The Aqua Pure Traveller is a unique water purification system in a convenient hand held water bottle. This easy to use system combines iodine disinfectant with filtration in a single process. This product has been proven to kill viruses and bacteria as well as removing cycts and spores, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia."

"The Aqua Pure Traveller's filter cap will purify on average 350litres of water during it's lifetime and is the only portable water purifier officially endorsed by the Hospital for Tropical Diseases London."

Basically you just fill it up, give it a shake and then 15 minutes later you have drinking water. Now maybe this is nothing new to most of you - and I'm probably a little slow, but I think it's fantastic!

I still need to check the map to make sure there is some sort of water source available for refills, but I think this is going to save me a LOT of weight. I'm going to be doing a lot of wild camping so I think this is going to be great.

Patch doesn't share my enthusiasm....she's flat out asleep. Again. She had slightly sore feet after walking 8 miles of forestry track at the weekend, so I'm going to get her some Ruffwear boots for the walk. By the time we go her feet should be much tougher, but I think the boot's could be handy as a "just in case".

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Clothing Kit

I'm still undecided about which clothing to's a revised list I'm considering at the moment. This is based on the fantastic advise so many people have given me. I've taken everyone's comments on board - and then surfed the internet to find whats on sale versus what I already have!

Marmot Midweight Base (long sleeve) - 113g
Marmot Midweight Base bottoms - 142g
Montain Bionic T'shirt - 90g
Sprayway Trousers - 272g
Craghoppers Fleece - 222g
Ultra Down Vest (PHD) - 150g

The Marmot base layers are mainly for something dry to wear in camp if I get a soaking that day, plus to wear in my bag. They also give me something to wear while washing my clothes. I've been looking at silk long johns (long janes?!) but these bottoms look like I can get away with wearing them "on the trail" if necessary while drying my trousers! This lot gives me plenty of layers to play about with. Once I travel further south into warmer climates (and further into summer) I will no doubt send some home - probably the fleece anyway.

I'm still unsure about the rainwear. I do have a slightly lighter pair of overtrousers but I haven't tested them yet. I may stick with what I have as I know they will keep me dry in continuous heavy rain (the great British summer!), but I am keen to lose a little more weight if possible. I'm looking at the montane Venture Jacket (430g) which seems a little more substantial than the paclite's while still dropping some weight. It has reinforcement on the shoulder and hips too which look like a good idea for a summer of backpacking. I'm still looking at the alternatives that have been suggested though....