Tuesday 25 March 2014

TGO Challenge 2014 Kit List

UPDATE, July 2014: Many weeks after I did this post it is still getting hits so I simply wanted to say that I cut down on the list below quite a bit, taking about 1.5 kg off the total pack weight. that is shown here.

Well it's the time of year when TGO Challenge Kit Lists appear on many blogs. We like a good list, we do.  I've already seen and poured over  Andy Walker'sGordon has given us his.  And Robin posted his initial thoughts early on.  So here's mine. Yes all you lightweighters, it is heavier than yours.  It will change slightly, and there are a number of items on what follows that will not make it on the trip to Scotland.  I have annotated some of these. But no doubt a few other tiny things may creep in.  I will make a final decison in the few days before I set off, especially on clothing, as this would be influenced by the weather prospects.

Having been inspired by Alan Sloman's star filled, doe eyed new love for Trinnie, I did get my neglected Trail Star and Oook nest out yesterday and put it up in the garden, but I just have to lie in it for 2 or 3 minutes to decide that, for me, the lack of comfort compared to the Scarp 1 is just not worth the few hundred grams weight saved.  As I  have banged on endlessly before, it is all too tight for anyone like me who is seriously over 6 foot tall.  I want to love her but I just can't.

I  may also be saving a few hundered grams on my rucksack.  That will be decided later today when privatised postie arrives.  The ULA Catalyst is the most comfortable sack I have ever used for a large load but I would prefer a lid pocket and something that doesn't fill with water at the mere sight of a cloud in the sky.  However, its potential replacement, that I am informed by text that Courier Kenny has on his van now, will have to be exceptional when I try it out, and the hip belt will need to sit squarely where it is intended to or it will be down to the GPO tomorrow with a return label on its sturdy packaging.  There is no way I will cut corners on a comforable rucksack, not least because I am developing a touch of athritis in one of my shoulders, and long days and heavy rucksacks are not what the doctor has ordered for that.  The new arrival will have taped seams so that, plus the judicous use of lightweight waterproof stuffsacks, will also mean I can ditch the large packliner I use with the Catalyst.

Any views or comments are welcome.  Probably along the lines of "you must be bonkers", but I can take it.




ULA Catalyst

Shelter / Sleeping

Scarp 1 Includes 1 sp peg + sp blizzard 1578
Sleeping Bag Rab Neutrino 400 In waterproof stuff sack 760
Silk liner To take? 120
Exped Pillow This is real luxury 81
Neo Air X Lite large Large is far more comfortable than standard size 485
Duomat sit mat
Tent J Cloth To wipe off the crud when packing 12
Polycro for porch Two sheets @16gr.. Only one needed 32


Stove, feet, windshield Optimus 185
Pan Evernew 0.9l 115
Pot cosy
Mug (Titanium)
Fuel 1*230gr cartridge 380
Long spoon (Titanium)
J cloth
Water container Platypus 2 litre 39

Platypus 1 litre 42 !
Swiss army knife "Classic"
Can opener To take? 10
Purification tablets
Plastic food bags
Tiny sponge scourer
Sawyer Includes medium pouch 110

Health and Hygiene

First Aid Kit First Aid Kit Dry Bag 377

Elasticated knee bandage

Elasticated calf bandage

Tick remover

Safety Pins





Plasters and compeed

Wound Dressings


Micropore tape



Shoulder tablets


Hayfever tablets

Gehwol Foot Cream

Lanacane Anti-Chafing Gel

Midge repellant To take? 91
Midge head net
Lifesystems towel Or take smaller and halve weight 166
Trowel Blizzard stake 30
P Bottle It's an age thing 62
Toilet roll
Hand sanitiser

Wash Kit Soap bag 27

Toothbrush and paste 44

Comb 7

Dr Bronner's 68

Contact lense + case 16

Contact lense fluid 65

Ear plugs 2
Stugereon * 2 For journey to Scotland 0
Deoderant To take? 52

Reading glasses in case


Silva compass
Maps + Ortilieb map case
Ortilieb A4 Case For spare printouts in rucksack 68
Smartphone / GPS Galaxy 3 with Viewranger 156
Spare batteries for phone 2@39gr 78
Phone case Aquapack 60
Phone charger


Repair kit


Duck Tape (on Pacer Poles)

Batteries *3 (watch and headtorch)

Thermarest puncture kit

Shock cord

Theadtorch Petzl E-lite 30
Notebook and pen

Dry Bags Various 195
Camera Lumix DMS F35 + case + sp battery 270
Rail tickets

Spare Clothes (Carried)

Pants Rabs Meco boxers 72

Rab Meco long johns (for sleeping / cold days) 148
Spare socks 2 pairs X socks Exped 123
Spare shirt Paramo Katmai (for civilisation) 250
PhD Minimus Down Jacket + Hood
Fleece beenie
Berghaus Jacket Paclite 530
Berghaus Overtrousers Paclite 250
ME Gloves Sufficient? 53
Waterproof Overmits
Hi Tec Zuuc Shoes??? To take? 380
Seal sknz socks + liners To take? 138
Tracksters? To take? 208
Berghaus synthetic base To take? 250

Total base weight (inc. fuel)

Food and Drink

Dehydrated food (3 days) Three main meals + 3 deserts 900

Total other food (3 days)

Tea bags

Drink choc (1 sachet per day)

Condensed milk (Tube -luxury item!)

Oats So Simple

Cereal bars

Trail mix


Hip Flask Assume 200ml contents 288


Total weight food / water

Clothes etc (Worn)

Pants HH 88
Trousers Montane 357
Merino Shirt Rohan 286
Paramo Fleece Micro fleece 325
Boots / trail shoes Inov8 Terroc 330s 804
Socks X Socks Exped 62
Gaiters Integral Designs E-vent 68
Windshirt Montane Litespeed 204
Pacer poles  Alloy 650
Watch Suunto Core 64

Weight non pack worn items

Total pack base weight (inc fuel) 

Total food and water

Total pack weight

Total worn / non-pack

Total weight

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Big Lump

Skiddaw - A big lump of a hill

So me and Hyperdog (should that be Hyperdog and I?) parked in Keswick yesterday and set off up Skiddaw.  It was another lovely sunny day here in Cumbria and I'd been going for about 15 minutes when I realised that my trusty Box Brownie camera was still on my car seat.  I couldn't be faffed to go back.  The last time this same thing happened to me was when I parked up my very first car, a Mark 1 Cortina, in Oxford, just off the Woodstock Road in the summer of 1978.  When I came to get my car a few hours later it had been stolen.  I got it back, without any petrol, a few days later from Abingdon Police Station. Not that the police had knicked* it you understand. Well I assume they hadn't.  Anyway. The car was fine but the camera was gone. It was only a cheap Kodak Instamatic but the film on it was invaluable - I had just left university and had taken photos of all my friends in our last few days there.  I wrote the car off 4 months later. Well it was stupid place to park a lorry.

Looking back to the NW Fells - Grisedale Pike, Crag Hill, Causey Pike, Cat Bells et al

Derwent Water from Skiddaw Little Man

The top of Skiddaw

Well Hyperdog and I had a splendiferous walk but I could only take photos on my Samsung Quiteclever Phone, but for what they are worth some are reproduced here.  The boy and I covered 19.0km and climbed 1103 metres. I carried a pack stuffed with tinned food and surplus water weighing 12.7kg to give me a decent workout and we walked and talked and rested for just under 6 hours in all. We took the plodding tourist route up from Keswick.  I hesitate before describing any path in the Lake District as "dull", but if I were to do so it would be this path. Fortunately the views south and west are superb.  We diverted off the main path to go up Skiddaw Little Man, then from the top of Skiddaw we headed back down the tourist path for a short while then cut off on to Sail How and Skiddaw House. From there we headed south along the Cumbria Way on the lovely path that skirts round Lonscale Fell, and thence back to Keswick.  Hyperdog eats less sheep dung these days but is now partial to large clumps of sheep wool and, boy, did he find masses on Sail How.  I hope to goodness it comes out naturally or he will have stomach problems before long.

The hill in the distance is Snaefell on the Isle of Man, that being the Irish Sea in between

Sail How (with Hyperdog searching for sheep wool in the distance). The April Pre-Walk daunder should see me back here

* Do you know where the expression "knicked" comes from?  The tale I was told, many moons ago, was that it relates to lead mining in the southern Peak District in Derbyshire. There you could stake a claim - literally putting a stake into your chosen plot - and then mine for lead.  I think it was lead.  But that is neither here nor there. It was some ore or other. In return, your obligation was to work the mine continuously and pay a proportion of your profits in tax. The King's officers would come round to check you were indeed continuously working the mine. If they turned up and you weren't there they would carve a knick into the stake. Once three knicks were in the stake you had to surrender your mine.  May or may not be true but it's a good story, n'est pas?

Lovely Whit Beck on the Cumbria Way

Monday 10 March 2014

Stream of Consciousness

Looking across Side Farm to Helvellyn

After the wettest winter on record I reckon we deserved today’s fabulous weather and I took full advantage with another training walk for the TGO Challenge which is exactly 2 months away. 

My Skod driven thought processes were active again as I packed my day sack ready for my walk.  I plundered the grocery cupboard and stuck loads of canned food in the bottom of my pack. Not to eat of course, just to add weight to give myself a better workout.  Nothing too odd about that.  But here’s the weird bit.  I spent some time deliberating over which cans to take.  I rejected baked beans in favour of kidney beans; tomato soup was put in and then taken out and replaced with chopped tomatoes. What was that all about then?  But in the end I was satisfied, and with 3 litres of water added and the bits of kit and food I would actually need for my walk, my pack weighed in at 11.7 kg which is a good old weight to start to get the shoulders ready for the backpacking gear I will be carrying across Scotland in May.

Perfect weather.  I parked in Patterdale and set off along the track to Side Farm and, ultimately, Howtown. Ullswater was still and calm when I began my walk, and the Helvellyn range, and later Gowbarrow were reflected perfectly in the lake. This is a curious path. One moment it runs at little more than a metre or so above the lake; then it will be 50 or 100 metres higher up, yet the ups and downs are barely noticeable as you walk. Perhaps it is the distracting beauty of the scenery that makes it pass so easily. This beauty was certainly the reason for the little incident that saw the humiliation of hyperdog.

Thed Helvellyn range and Sheffield Crag reflected in Ullswater

I had drunk several large mugs of tea before setting out today and it was not long before the consequences of this were apparent on my middle aged bladder. With no one about I was able to do the necessary, and I went about this business whilst staring distractedly across the lake from my hillside.  And then I looked down. Hyperdog was looking up at me with a puzzled face whilst a stream of almost neat Typhoo bounced off his back. He didn’t seem to have the gumption to move.  As we set off again little did I know that this dog can carry a grudge a long distance.

Hyperdog got his revenge as I sat on this bench looking down to Howtown

We reached Howtown. The Howtown Hotel, where I had planned to have a pit stop, was closed until the end of March so we set off  back to Patterdale with a diversion up lovely little Hallin Fell now in mind. On the way, just above Howtown, we found an old wrought iron seat on the fellside overlooking the lake on which I sat to eat my sandwich.  As I did this my back suddenly felt warm and wet. I turned to see Hyperdog behind the bench, leg cocked. I could have sworn he had a grin on his face. One all.

Hallin Fell

Hallin Fell is short and sweet. The cairn at the top is magnificent; the views more so. Then it was down to Sandwick and back on to the same path as the morning and an hour or so in the afternoon sunshine to Patterdale.

From Hallin Fell

Hyperdog on Hallin fell above Ullswater

21.1km, 798 metres climbed. 5 hours 50 minutes in total. A good workout.

Thursday 6 March 2014

The Great Outdoors Challenge 2014: Training

Great Calva in the Northern Lakes on a recent training walk
The blogosphere and the TGO Challenge Message Board are both remarkably silent on how people train for the TGO Challenge, although Robin www.blogpackinglight.wordpress.com has put his head above the parapet and outlined his regime.

Hyperdog training at the Back o' Skiddaw

Bleak Skiddaw House on a recent wet training walk

From what I have gleaned, though, fitness preparations for the Challenge fall in to several categories, real or claimed by various Challengers:
  • Some walk so regularly in the hills that they retain their fitness and do not need to worry about it.
  • Some profess that their training amounts to no more than frequent trips to the pub followed by a stroll around the local park on the first Sunday in May.
  • Others seem to go on two or three longer trips come March and April.
  • And (the majority?) fit in what day walks they can around all their other commitments, often with a rucksack loaded with a few bricks or several tins of baked beans to add a bit of weight.

And I guess there are a number of variations and combinations on the above.

I fall into the latter category, although I will also soon be participating for the first time in the infamous April “daunder”, organised this year by veteran challenger and all round good egg Alan Sloman alansloman.blogspot.com which will be in the North Lakes.  I have a suspicion that this will be arranged in such a way that it will involve practicing all aspects of the Challenge ie it will involve bog, rain, scenery, hip flasks, cheese and the pub.

To digress slightly, readers of this blog with good memories may recall that I suffer from a condition my wife refers to as “Skod”.  For those of you without medical or psychiatric training I should explain that Skod is an acronym for  “Some Kind of Disorder”.  Symptoms are many, but  include rotating plates and crockery in the kitchen so it all gets used the same amount, and thus wears out evenly, along with ensuring mug handles point west and jug handles east when they are put away in the cupboard, and making lists. I have lists of everything.  So I have records of all the training walks I did for the 2013 Challenge which, I should say, were not very extensive.  Thus, I can tell you that between the end of November 2012 and the end of April 2013 I did 18 training walks, 9 of which were in April, averaging 15.67 km each in distance, and with an average height gained of 408.44 m.  Pack weights carried varied from 6kg to 13.7kg.  Look, I know this is tedious stuff, but please make allowances. I do have Skod you know.

For one reason or another I have done far less walking over the last 8 or 9 months than I would have liked. Thus, my fitness levels are lower than they have been for a long time, and before Christmas I decided that I should start to train for the 2014 TGO Challenge this May and that I needed to do more than last year.  However, the best made plans are paved with good intentions, as they say.  Or some such. There is nothing like a mixed metaphor.  Anyway, my training so far has been half hearted and I need to move it up a gear if the first few days of the Challenge are not to be a pain in the proverbials.  Proverbials, in my case, being my calf and thigh muscles which have been fecked, as Father Ted might say, since two major back operations played havoc with my sciatic nerve, and a more recent DVT did for the blood circulation in my thigh.

The old Greenside mine, now outdoor centres, above Glenridding

So recent weeks have seen me out and about. Not a lot, but I will be trying to do more.  I walk hyperdog two or three times a day but I don’t count that as training.  For me a walk becomes training once I put a pack on.

Catstycam on my walk up Red Tarn Beck: Hyperdog's first encounter with snow. He wasn't certain at first, then ate it like it might never fall again

I have had three 15km strolls along the lanes near the house, and covered shorter distances, but with more height and roughness involved, on a couple of 3 hour hikes on the Long Mynd in Shropshire, a very wet 3 hours Back o’ Skiddaw, another 3 hours by Red Tarn Beck on Helvellyn, and yesterday I was on the Berwyns in mid-Wales, when it was far colder and claggier than expected.  Hyperdog has been my companion on these walks, as the photographs testify. I haven’t yet had the heart to explain to him that his training is in vain and he will not be on the train to Scotland come May.

So apart from the weight on my back, neither distances or height climbed have yet been close to replicating those involved in a day on the Challenge.

Heading up Moel Sych in the Berwyns.

Llyn Lluncaws in the Berwyns

Neither of us were impressed with the boggy ground coming off Moel Sych

Heading down to Tan y Pistyll

Tan y Pistyll in the Berwyns

But the met men say that air pressure is rising and I hope to be up in the Lakes next week…..