Monthly Archives: May 2020

Vierdaagse Nijmegen postcard posted from Njjmegen in 1950

Trail talk: Nijmegen Vierdaagse

Vierdaagse is Dutch for ‘Four day Event’, and recently while sorting out drawers at home, Three Points of the Compass came across various reminders of a very special four days in 1982 when completing the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen .

Medal awarded following completion of the Rheindahlen Allied Marches in 1982. Rheindahlen was the Joint HQ of the British Army on the Rhine. The 40km one day road walk was organised by the British Army and completed by regimental teams as well as being open to the public, particularly youth groups

Medal awarded following completion of the Rheindahlen Allied Marches in 1982.

While Three Points of the Compass is not and has never been a competitive race-walker, many hundreds of very special hours were spent as part of a squadron marching team while serving with the British Army in the 1980s.

It was prior to this that I realised both an aptitude and fondness for longer walks but it is likely that any walking discipline that I may hold was refined in those army years, particularly when part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), based in Germany.

Rheindahlen was the Joint HQ of the BAOR and it was there that an annual 40km one day road walk was organised by the British Army. This was completed by various regimental teams as well as being open to the public, particularly youth groups. Three Points of the Compass marched the Rheindahlen Allied Marches in 1982 as part of our teams training prior to Nijmegen Vierdaagse, this particular march was especially entered as most of the various town volkslauf mit wandern that we also marched were just half marathon distance for military teams.

Squadron Marching Team- 44 Fld Spt Sqn, 35 Engineer Regiment

Squadron Marching Team- 44 Field Support Squadron, 35 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers. Photographed at Gordon Barracks (Linsingen Kaserne), Hameln, Germany in 1982. Three Points of the Compass is rear right

When our squadron marching team joined various military organised or town sporting events across Germany and neighbouring countries this was no militaristic show of strength or any such nonsense, it was very much a coming together of communities and expression of solidarity. That said, any military teams marching had to conform to additional constraints. Teams were usually of a certain specified minimum number, we marched in uniform, frequently there was a defined distance class that we had to complete and a weight was specified that had to be carried in our chunky green cordura Berghaus packs. My pack can be seen in the image above, behind me and to the side of the doorway. Marching songs were sung with gusto as teams from other countries would try to out-sing each other. Military marching teams were always popular with spectators and children would frequently run to join us, marching in step alongside, until we reached town limits.

Military teams occasionally utilised an orderly. On the infrequent occasions when we used one, which was only on multi-day marches, he carried first aid supplies and rode a cycle with trailer and would go ahead to set up occasional refreshment halts. The distance an orderly had to cycle could frequently be far in excess of that marched by the team and orderlies were sometimes awarded an alternative completion medal.

We trained early mornings by marching, nothing complicated there. The best training for any walk remains, to this day, to walk. This was usually early morning or in our ‘free time’ at weekends. If attending an event we travelled by four-tonner and joined thousands of civilian residents. We marched a set course, frequently receiving participant medals afterward. More challenging was the 125km four day Marche du Souvenir et de l’Amitié. I wrote a little more on these here.

Nijmegen Vierdaagse:

the largest multiple day marching event in the world

Sadly I note that one particular annual event I completed, the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, or ‘Nijmegen Vierdaagse‘, has had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully that wonderful gathering of people can resume next year. When I walked the 66th Vierdaagse in 1982, there were 19341 finishers, another 1711 dropped out prior to the end, mostly due to the hot weather on the first day.

Royal Engineers, 44 Squadron Marching Team, 1982. Three Points of the Compass is third back to the right of the team

Royal Engineers, 44 Squadron Marching Team, on the 66th Nijmegen Vierdaagse. Three Points of the Compass is third back to the right of the team. 20 July 1982

Our marching team carried button badges to hand out to the children that line a volksluaf

Our marching team carried button badges to hand out to the children that joined us to walk a few metres of the Nijmegen Vierdaagse

On three of the four days participants walk around a different town in the vicinity of Nijmegen- through the Dutch provinces of Gelderland, Brabant, Limburg and finally through Nijmegen itself. Distances vary, those walking follow either 30km, 40km or 50km routes every day of the four days. Military participants wear uniform and each team member carries 10kg of kit. We marched 40km each day, so 160km total.

For us in the British military, Nijmegen has a special place in our history for the part it played in Operation Market Garden. This military operation in 1944, devised by Field Marshal Montgomery and strongly supported by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin Roosevelt, failed in September 1944, it was ‘A Bridge too Far‘. The bridge over the Waal River in Nijmegen is crossed during the four day event.

Proud of our regiment, those marching wore clear insignia on the shoulder. Amazingly, I found mine sitting at the back of a cupboard almost forty years after I wore it

Proud of our regiment, we wore extra identifying insignia on a brassard. I found mine sitting at the back of a drawer almost forty years after I wore it

With military origins in 1909, the Four Day Nijmegen Marches did include civilians and first became an international event in 1928, this coincided with the Olympic Games held in Amsterdam that year and teams from the UK, Germany and Norway attended. The first time the British military participated was when the RAF sent a team in 1950. It is now mostly civilians that participate in the event.

The number of people walking this event every July is huge though it appears few in the UK are actually aware of it despite a dedicated core of Brits returning year after year to participate. If it had gone ahead in 2020, there were 49,000 allotted places in total.

While military teams are a popular sight for spectators at Nijmegen Vierdaagse it is now the civilian that statistically dominates the four days of walking. There are tens of thousands of walkers following their respective route and distance. In recent years, some are dressed more as marathon runners than lightweight hikers. Civilians set off from one place while the military start from the organised ‘tent city’ where they overnight, joining the rest of the field further into the days hike.

Our Squadron team on the final day parade of the 1982 International Four Days Marches Nijmegen. Three Points of the Compass marches behind the flag bearer

Our Squadron team on the final day parade of the 1982 International Four Days Marches Nijmegen. We had changed from our usual marching uniform on the outskirts of Nijmegen and as a result are not showing the grime of the days march. Three Points of the Compass marches behind the flag bearer. I am clutching gladioli, a Roman symbol of victory, given out by the spectators. The entry into the city on the final day is called Via Gladiola

Vierdaagse Cross from 1982 International Four Days Marches Nijmegen

Vierdaagse Cross awarded to Three Points of the Compass in 1982 following a first completion of the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen

Each participant who successfully completes all four days of the march receives a medal awarded by the organisers. Correctly entitled the Marching Proficiency Cross, or Kruis Voor Betoonde Marsvaardigheid, it is more commonly known as the Vierdaagse Cross. Since 2015 this has been awarded by the Royal Dutch Walking League (KWBN or Koninklijke Wandel Bond Nederland). Prior to 2015 they were known as the Royal Dutch League for Physical Education (KNBLO or Koninklijke Nederlandsche Bond Voor Lichamelijke Opvoeding) and it is their initials that appear on my 1982 five-armed cross. Before 1959, when the League received the Royal (Koninklijke) prefix, they were the NBVLO. Some people return to walk the event each year. Two participants have even received medals indicating seventy years walked.

Three Points of the Compass has yet to return. Despite it being nigh on forty years since I last walked the event, then as a soldier, who knows? Perhaps the next couple of years will see my walking the event again, this time as a civilian.

Selection of Tick Tweezers

Gear talk: A few grams here, a few grams there- tick removers

You don’t have to venture far from the home to put yourself at risk from ticks. In fact, they can be encountered in gardens and town parks as well as the wider countryside. As the weather warms, the prevalence of ticks increases. If there is one item you want to include in either your backpacking kit or even a solitary day walk in the country as a ‘hopefully never to be used’ piece of kit, it is a tick remover. They cost little, weigh just a handful of grams, but may very well preserve your health.

Tick

Ticks can be small or large. It is important to check yourself periodically on a walk and especially at the end of the day. Three Points of the Compass never felt this tick either attach itself or begin feeding

It is not just ticks themselves you should be wary of, but the disease that they may carry. After mosquitoes, ticks are the second most common vector in transmitting disease to humans. Of these, one disease in particular should be of prime concern. Lyme Disease is getting more common, it is pretty easily transmitted and it is horrible. Though it should be noted that not all ticks are infected with Lyme disease. In some areas, none may carry it, in others, the percentage of ticks with Lyme can be high. At present there is less prevalence in the UK and more so in mainland Europe. However hikers in both the UK and US are encountering Lyme on an increasing basis each year. Other diseases are also carried by UK ticks, such as tick-borne encephalitis and anaplasmosis, and these can also be transmitted to humans. Lyme disease consists of a group of closely related spirochaetal bacteria, so called because they were originally thought to be spiral shaped. The wide range of bacteria are collectively known as Borrelia Burdorferi sensu lato and different types of related bacteria can be found across the world.

Classic 'bulls eye' rash following an infected tick bite, however such rashes do not always occur. Image copyright Lyme Disease Action

Classic ‘bulls eye’ rash following an infected tick bite, however such rashes do not always occur. Image copyright Lyme Disease Action

Lyme disease transmitted from tick bites moves through the skin into the bloodstream and onward to the lymphatic system. Damage from Lyme can be severe- joints and nervous system can be affected. While a bad tick bite can be indicated on the skin by the classic ‘bulls-eye’ rash, this is not always the case. Flu like symptoms, muscle ache and pain can follow, but not always. If you have been walking in the countryside and suspect that you may have been bitten by a tick prior to such symptoms, be sure to mention to a health professional who may arrange for a blood test.

Ticks are most prevalent March to October but they can be found active all year round. A mild day in winter will tempt the little beasties out. Ticks can be very small and it is easy to get a little paranoid about seeds and flecks of dirt found on the skin and clothes but a regular check should still be carried out. Ticks will show up best on light coloured clothing and brushing off clothes frequently may aid in removing ticks before they bite. Application of DEET or Picaridine will also work against them. There are many species of tick, some twenty of these can be found in the UK but different parts of the World have other species that may present a greater danger. For example, it is the Deer Tick that is one of the greatest risk to hikers in the US however that particular species has not yet been found in the UK. Borrelia bacteria is found in many mammals and birds, including sheep, mice, voles, foxes, badgers and squirrels. If an animal carries the bacteria and is bitten by a tick, then the bacteria can pass to the tick, and from that tick to a human. Unfortunately such animals are common in the very areas that are most popular for walking- the Lake District, Scottish Highlands, The Yorkshire moors, Exmoor, Thetford Forest, New Forest and the downlands of South-East England.

Ticks- engorged and prior to feeding. Image copyright Lyme Disease Action

Ticks- engorged and prior to feeding. Image copyright Lyme Disease Action

Not only is it important to check for ticks on the body and clothes but also to do so throughout the day. Ticks are small and their saliva contains an anaesthetic so it is common to not even notice a bite. Because saliva is transmitted from tick to person throughout the feeding process, the longer a tick is embedded in the skin, the greater chance that bacteria is transmitted from tick to person. I will not cover disease, tick morphology, symptoms or other related factors further here. Instead, I shall simply have a look at some of the choices of removal tool that may help in extracting a tick after it has embedded itself in the skin, concentrating on those that may be most suitable for the backpacker.

Firstly, some suggestions for successful tick removal in the past from others have included covering the ticks body with petroleum jelly (vaseline), meths, or burning it off with a lighter or cigarette. It is now known that if a tick is stressed during removal, it may likely eject its stomach contents back into the host, which may then actually cause the injection of harmful bacteria. Squeezing a ticks abdomen will have the same effect. This is why effective removal of a tick involves placing a tool close to the skin, around the mouth-parts (hypostome) of the animal.

General use fine-tip tweezers

Metal tweezers have the advantage of being both robust and all are capable of being sterilised by dropping in to boiling water. With some plastic tweezers there may be a degree of uncertainty as to how boiling water will affect them. If purchasing a pair of large general purpose tweezers for tick removal then they must have fine tips. Those with wide or slanted tips simply will not grip the mouth parts of a tick with the care that is required to ensure the creature does not stress and eject stomach contents.

Two full size, stainless steel fine tip tweezers. Large: 12.7g, small: 10.1g

Two full size, stainless steel fine tip tweezers. The larger pair above have fine serrations at the tips. Top: 12.7g, bottom: 10.1g

A pair of large and good quality fine tip tweezers will handle many ticks but may struggle with the smallest of nymphs. While a pair of these would be advisable to pack into a group first aid kit, they are probably overkill for a lightweight hiking set up. But that is your call. Certainly it is advisable to keep a pair of these in a home first aid kit. Both of those shown above sit in my home kit.

Tips of Leatherman keychain tweezers compared. The Micra is on the right

Tips of tweezers found in Leatherman keychain sized multi-tools. None of these have the precision fine tip required for efficient tick removal

There is no need to pack along a large pair of tweezers on trail. There are many smaller options that are almost as good. Being lighter and less bulky, they are also easier to pack. When packed, care needs to be taken to ensure the thin tips do not end up poking a hole in expensive fabrics such as tent, waterproofs of sleeping bag. A small plastic sleeve cap will prevent most such mishaps. The snazzy looking pair of small tweezers below has been carried by Three Points of the Compass for many years when hiking. They are small, light and efficient, the only reason I don’t carry them now is that I have found something lighter and more efficient. More on that later.

Small titanium, fine tip tweezers: 10.3g (plus 0.1g for plastic tip guard)

Small, titanium, fine tip tweezers: 10.3g (plus 0.1g for plastic tip guard)

As said, there are many small and light tweezers on the market. However if you are choosing a pair of tweezers simply for general use, where they can also be used for tick removal, then care has to be taken as many small tweezers are of extremely poor quality. Many will flex with ease and simply will not grip where required. Often the tips will not align and many also lack any form of serration at the tips.

One brand of small tweezer has been on the market for decades and continues to find favour both with the U.S military and backpackers across the globe. These are Uncle Bill Sliver Grippers. They have their faults but are both very small and very light. Three Points of the Compass had an in depth look at the various forms of Sliver Grippers in an earlier post. In that post I also covered the easy steps to take to improve them. If you have a pair and haven’t read this, you might find it useful to do so.

Uncle Bill's Sliver Grippers and tip guard: 4.9g

Uncle Bill’s Sliver Grippers and tip guard: 4.9g

Three Points of the Compass doesn’t particularly rate this type of small tweezer highly for tick removal; they will work fine with larger ticks and are also OK with thorns and splinters, but I find the tips are not fine enough to properly anchor onto the mouth-parts of a small tick.

Specialised Tick tweezers

While finer point tweezers like those shown above will safely remove most ticks with relative ease and prevent stressing the animal. A pair of dedicated tick tweezers will enable a tick to be grasped with greater ease and precision, correctly placing the fine curved points so that a safer extraction can be achieved. Specialised tweezers are better at preventing stress to a feeding tick, stress causing it to eject stomach contents prior to removal, so something to be avoided if possible.

Large specialised tweezers are more suited to safe removal of ticks. Image copyright Lyme Disease Action

Large specialised tweezers are more suited to safe removal of ticks. Image copyright Lyme Disease Action

Large and specialised tick removal tweezers are available from a small number of manufacturers. Again, they are made from stainless steel and invariably of high quality. They are probably the best type of tweezer but will also be regarded as overkill for most country walking. However if crossing an area that is either very high in ticks, or where there is an extraordinarily high prevalence of Lyme disease in resident ticks, then it might be advisable to either carry a pair of these, or ensure that a pair of large dedicated tick tweezers is held in a group kit.

Large stainless steel dedicated tick tweezers: 14.g, plus case: 18.9g

Large stainless steel dedicated tick tweezers: 14.g, plus case: 18.9g

There is a smaller version of these available that weigh less than half of that of the larger option. While these may also be available from other manufacturers, the ones shown here were made by Lifesystems.

Small, dedicated tick tweezers on keychain

Small, dedicated tick tweezers on keychain

Small tick tweezers slipped out of their protective sleeve

Small tick tweezers slipped out of their protective sleeve

The Lifesystems small and dedicated tick removal tool is designed to fit a keychain. The tweezers themselves slot into a plastic case cover that both protects the fine tips and, to a degree, keeps them clean. The springiness in the tweezers prevents them sliding out of the protective case when being carried.

These weigh 6.3g with their protective plastic case and keyring however the whole lot can easily be dismantled if wished, but that does leave the tips exposed and unprotected. Three Points of the Compass does not take these on hikes but simply keeps them permanently hanging from his keychain.

Dismantled Lifesystems keychain tick tweers- tweers: 3.0g, case: 1.4g, keyring: 1.9g

Dismantled Lifesystems keychain tick tweezers- tweezers: 3.0g, case: 1.4g, keyring: 1.9g

Tick removal cards

As well as tweezers, some outdoor suppliers also provide tick remover cards. These can be made of durable plastic or shorter lived card versions. If you are going to use one of these, only use a more durable plastic card and preferably from a reputable manufacturer who has made it to the required precise tolerances. Most cards come with two sizes of ‘prong’, one for large and one for small ticks. The transparent and translucent cards are better to see a tick that is to be removed. My Lifesystems tick card also has a simple low powered magnifier to enable a tick to be studied prior to removal, it is obviously of no use when the card is actually being used to remove tick. Do not get a black or dark coloured card as this makes the tick harder to see while extracting it.

Tick card: 5.3g

Tick card: 5.3g

Most of these cards work well with small and large ticks however I find them awkward to use when the tick is in a crevice, or embedded in an awkward part of the body to access. There is never a friend around when you need one!

Which brings me to another point. An almost equally important tool in your tick removal armoury is a small mirror. In addition to checking periodically during the day, Three Points of the Compass also has an evening tent-based ‘tick check’. Which is more akin to tent aerobics and contortions, but ticks will crawl into areas which are not necessarily the easiest to view. This is where the mirror comes in. And remember, ticks can also secret themselves about hiking clothes, so a decent shake off of those should be attempted alongside some form of inspection of the folds of clothing which may discover lurking creatures, all prepared to latch on the following day. Another reason why lighter coloured clothing can help in seeing the small animals.

One manufacturer has gone a step further and produced a tool that combines both angled tweezers and slotted tick remover. The TickEase is a really effective solution and is endorsed by the US based Tick Encounter Resource Center. One end of the tweezers has angled fine tips and is suited to quite small ticks, however the tips are not as fine as those shown previously. The other end of the tool has a slot that will handle larger ticks but are too large to tackle the more problematic smaller ticks. This is advertised as especially suited for those with pets such as dogs that can easily pick up ticks in the countryside. While I have carried a TickEase on hikes and had to put it to use on occasion, it is now transferred to the first aid kit carried by Mrs Three Points of the Compass. In my kit it has been supplanted by what I regard as a more effective, lighter and considerably smaller option.

Stainless steel dedicated tick remocal tweezers. The 15.7g TickEase has fine pointed angled tweezer at one end and tick removal prongs at the other

Stainless steel dedicated tick removal tweezers. The 15.7g TickEase has fine pointed angled tweezer at one end and tick removal prongs at the other

O’Tom Tick Twister

We now come to what is probably the best tool available for effectively removing ticks. The plastic bodied O’Tom Tick Twister come in two sizes that are very well suited for backpacking trips, day walks or simply when walking the dog. There is also a three pack, three size ‘family’ option for purchase but the two shown here will handle almost any tick encountered other than the extremely small. These tools are cheap, small and very light at just over two grams for the pair. I find one of their prime benefits however, is that they can be used to remove ticks from awkward parts of the body, craning around the torso, or twisting awkwardly to remove a tick that can only be seen in a mirror. So they are especially suited to the solo hiker.

A brighter coloured pair of this tool has two advantages- the dark body of a tick can more easily be seen against the tool, and as the little tools really are quite small, a brightly coloured Tick Twister shows up better if dropped in the undergrowth. For these reasons it is probably best to steer clear of the black coloured Twisters.

O'Tom Tick Twister. Pair (small and large): 2.2g

O’Tom Tick Twister. Pair (small and large): 2.2g

Three Points of the Compass did not feel this and it was only when checking for the presence of ticks that it was found embedded.

Three Points of the Compass did not feel this embedded tick. It was only when carrying out a body check in the tent at the end of the day that it was found and safely removed with the O’Tom Tick Twister

The O’ Tom Tick Twister was designed in France and is manufactured there, but is easily purchased worldwide. However it appears that it is being widely cloned and ripped off. Beware some of those fakes that are advertised as they do not always work as effectively as the real thing.

All of the previously mentioned tick removal tools- tweezers and cards, require a straight and careful pull or lever of the tick to remove it from the skin. The O’Tom Tick Twister is different however. There is a knack to using it. It is not difficult but does require a degree more care, particularly the first few times removing ticks. Once the correct size tool is selected, to suit the size of tick to be removed, and after it has been carefully slipped under the tick’s body, around its mouth-parts, the tool is then twisted, or spun, in the finger tips. It is this that safely removes the tick from the skin. The shape of the handle of the O’Tom Tick Twister allows this to be correctly done, however some look-a-like clones have a shaped handle that prevents this being done and the tick has to be pulled or levered out instead, this is a less effective removal technique. Don’t skimp the pennies, buy the real deal if choosing this tool.

So what does Three Points of the Compass carry when backpacking? I actually carry two of the options shown above. I include a pair of the lightweight and effective O’Tom Tick Twisters in my backpacking first aid kit (see image below). In fact, at only 2.2g I don’t even bother to remove these from the kit in winter months, they live there year round. I have safely removed dozens of ticks with these, both from myself and poorly equipped hikers met on trail. I doubt I will ever change these tick removers for anything else. To my knowledge, I do not have Lyme Disease or have ever had it. The risk of disease from tick bites is always a possibility, but in the UK at least, it is very small risk.

In addition, I have a pair of Uncle Bill’s Sliver Grippers in my first aid kit. However these are not carried for tick removal but solely as a pair of tweezers for first aid purposes- thorn and splinter removal, lifting flaps of skin, picking grit from a wound…

Three Points of the Compass carries a fairly comprehensive First Aid Kit on longer hikes and this includes both a pair of the Uncle Bill Sliver Gripper tweezers and a pair of O'Tom Tick Twisters. Ardnamurchan, Western Scotland, 2018

Three Points of the Compass carries a fairly comprehensive First Aid Kit on longer hikes and this includes both a pair of the Uncle Bill Sliver Gripper tweezers and a pair of O’Tom Tick Twisters. Photographed on trail at Ardnamurchan, Western Scotland, 2018

The extremely thin 58mm Victorinox Pocket Pal

Knife chat: Victorinox Pocket Pal- is this the best thin 58mm ever?

There is, quite literally, not a lot to this knife. Measuring just 4.18mm thick, it is one of the most minimalist knives that a hiker could take on trail that still provides any degree of functionality beyond a simple blade.

The simple and extremely thin Victorinox Pocket Pal

The simple and extremely thin Victorinox Pocket Pal

The 58mm long Pocket Pal is an older Victorinox model that first appeared in the 1960s. Though now discontinued, it can still be found on the second hand market. The knife is minimal in design having a single layer with one tool on each side unfolding in opposite directions. The Aluminum Oxide, or Alox, scales are smooth which means that this knife is even thinner than other alox scaled 58mm knives from Victorinox. My example has no keyring though some Pocket Pals did feature one. Nor is the Victorinox shield present on the scales, that were supplied smooth as they were intended to carry advertising. My example carries the initials of a Swiss communications trade union.

Pocket Pal has a small blade, as to be expected in such a tiny tool

Pocket Pal has a small blade, as to be expected in such a tiny tool. The blade carries the Victorinox tang stamp

The non-locking spear point stainless steel blade is 40mm long with a 33mm cutting edge. Blade thickness is 1.15mm across the spine. There is no getting away from the fact that the blade is very small but is usually all that is required if backpacking. If it is simply a letter opener that you want hanging from your key chain, then they don’t get more suited than this. The nail file is equally simple, it has a 5mm x 30mm textured file surface that works on smoothing rough nails just fine. This knife comes with a cleaner tip to the file, there is no screwdriver, or SD, tip variant.

Thickness of single layer Pocket Pal compared with 2019 two-layer Classic Alox

Thickness of single layer Pocket Pal compared with 2019 two-layer Classic Alox

There are two similarly appointed knives that have been produced by Victorinox, these are the Princess and the Escort. Three Points of the Compass looked at both of these knives here. Both of those knives have cellidor scales which meant that both tweezers and toothpick could be included. For those that don’t often use or want those tools, and Three Points of the Compass is amongst them, their exclusion is perfectly acceptable. This thin knife will slip into a wallet or more usefully, a First Aid Kit, with ease. If you are looking for the simplest and especially thinnest of practical little knives, then the 58mm Pocket Pal may fit the bill.

Victorinox Pocket Pal with the similarly equipped Victorinox Princess

Victorinox Pocket Pal (below) with the similarly equipped Victorinox Princess (above)

Pocket Pal specifications:

  • Weight: 11.2g
  • Length: 58mm, width: 17.20mm, thickness: 4.18mm (4.60mm across the rivets)
  • Blade
  • Nail file with cleaner tip

Note that Victorinox also produces another knife subsequently called the Pocket Pal, however that is 84mm long and features two blades.

Smooth Alox scales on Pocket Pal compared with the more common textured alox scales, as shown here on a 2019 Alox Classic

Smooth alox scales on Pocket Pal compared with the more common textured alox scales shown here on a 2019 ‘Champagne’ Alox Classic

Three Points of the Compass has looked at quite a few knives and multi-tools that may, or may not, be suitable for backpacking, day treks or Every Day Carry. Links to these can be found here.

Morris's Patent Wealemefna measurer is a simple tool in use

Map measurer of the month- Morris’s Patent Wealemefna

The Wealemefna is tiny in the hand. The case of this watch-chain instrument measures just 26mm across its width

The Wealemefna is tiny in the hand. The case of this watch-chain instrument measures just 26mm across its width

Newspaper advertisement for Morris's 'Wealemefna', a 'new design of map measurer'

Newspaper advertisement for Morris’s ‘Wealemefna’, a ‘bijou’ map measurer. The Graphic, 1880

Gold plated Wealemefna

Gold plated Wealemefna

Morris’s Patent Wealemefna is a simple map measurer dating from the 1870s. It was invented by Edward Russell Morris, of the Morris Patents Engineering Works, High Street, Birmingham. Quite tiny in size, it was designed to hang from the end of a gentlemen’s watch chain.

It was possible to purchase this instrument with a variety of case finishes- gilt, silver-plated, nickel, silver or gold. Cases were simple and lacked any additional decoration though subsequent resellers would occasionally add their own case inscription.

The Wealemefna comes supplied in a velvet lined, leather covered wooden snap case

The Wealemefna came supplied in a velvet lined, leather covered wooden snap case

The measurer will measure lines on maps or anything else, by holding it in the hand, face toward you, then wheeling forward. Despite it’s ‘bijou’ dimensions, it will measure long lines. The first incarnation of the Wealemefna measured lines up to ten feet in length with a second generation in the 1880s extending this, with an appropriately altered paper face to the dial, to 25 feet. This is the example shown here.

Each complete rotation of the larger blued hand measures 12 inches and moves the smaller hand forward one digit of the inner circle on the paper dial. One inch of measurement is registered on the outer marked circle, showing eighth of an inch graduations. For an instrument some one hundred and forty years old, it still works faultlessly.

Mr Edward Russell Morris, of Birmingham, is much happier in his inventions than devising names for them

Illustrated London News, 1876

It has an odd name. The English Mechanic and World of Science: Vol. 33, London, 1881, informs us that Morris created a wholly original name in an attempt to outwit his imitators, also declining to disclose the actual origin of the word.

Morris's Wealemefna- Shows eighth of an inch graduations and will measure lines up to 25 feet

Morris’s Wealemefna- Shows eighth of an inch graduations and will measure lines up to 25 feet in length

“Mr. Morris has invited our inspection of several forms of his ingenious little mysteriously-named measurer, and though it is late in the day to call attention to it—and probably unnecessary—we may just say that it is a most handy and accurate companion. Its inventor has recently brought out a miniature form of the instrument, which registers up to 10ft., and maу be carried in the waistcoat pocket, or worn as a watchguard-pendant”

“English Mechanic and World of Science” Vol. 33, London, 1881,

in response to comments made in the same journal in 1879

Morris was a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers from 1880 and designed and manufactured map measurers in a range of sizes, this is the smallest. The Wealemefna weighs just 15g. Exactly the same as a similar dimensioned Rota-Meter measurer produced by Barker and Son just a few years later which Three Points of the Compass will be covering later in the year.

Morris's Wealemefna and Barker & Son's similer Rota-Meter

Morris’s Wealemefna and Barker & Son’s similar Rota-Meter

Detail from 2002 Golden Jubilee, London Travel Guide

Trail talk: FREE London walking maps- Royal occasion

The British love a royal occasion, well at least most do. The focus of many of these have been based in London- Coronations, weddings, births and birthdays and just the occasional jubilee. On these occasions anything from tens of thousands to millions of people can descend on the capital. Swamping public transport, many of the visitors are unfamiliar with the streets and free maps showing processional routes have been produced on just a few occasions to aid the public in walking between destinations and also relieve the transport network. A handful of paper maps produced over many decades and given away free are shown here. Click on any image to view an enlarged copy.

Free paper maps for anyone visiting London to attend royal events were not available until the 20th century, and even then, few have appeared as many, often well produced, commercial souvenir items of a ‘special day’ have been available for an ever expectant public to purchase. This changed in 1936, together with the shock of an uncrowned King…

Coronation processional routes

King Edward VII's processional routes through London was published in various newspapers. The Sphere, 28 June, 1902

King Edward VII’s processional routes through London were published in various newspapers. The Sphere, 28 June, 1902

The crowds gather to view the coronation procession in 1911. Rotary Photographic Series postcard

The crowds gather to view the coronation procession in 1911. Rotary Photographic Series postcard

The production of free paper maps of London is an expensive affair and would normally only be justified where there was commercial advantage in providing them. Edward VII was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 26 June 1902, the first coronation in Britain since his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1838. The public flocked to the nation’s capital for the occasion.

While there were no free maps of the processional route distributed to the public, a map was published in many newspapers, however most papers did not actually show this until after the event, so were not of much use to people visiting London who were unfamiliar with the street layout. Similar maps were published in newspapers for the various processional routes during George V’s coronation in 1911.

Producers of pictorial postcards also sold souvenir cards showing scenes from the procession and of the coronation route itself. While some attendees may have purchased a card showing a map, to be able to say ‘we stood THERE‘, it is likely that a great many more real photograph cards showing the procession itself were subsequently purchased as a memento of the day.

Map provided to military personnel at the 1911 Coronation Royal Procession

Map provided to military personnel at the 1911 Coronation Royal Procession

While free paper maps of London for the public were not available for the respective processional routes for the coronations of either Edward VII or George V, both members of the police force, and officers and senior NCOs amongst the thousands of military guard that marched and rode the route, or lined the streets, were provided with maps showing their detail or route from barracks.

‘Long may he reign’

1936 was a hard year for the British. The monarchy had suffered turmoil and loss. George V died in January 1936 and his successor, Edward VIII, abdicated on 11 December the same year.

Free map released by the OXO companay showing how visitors to London could view the coronation procession of EviiiR. Sadly, an event that did not occur, 1936

Free map produced by the OXO company showing how visitors to London could view the coronation procession of EviiiR. An event that ultimately did not occur, 1936

Prior to Edward’s abdication plans were already being made for his coronation. The logistics were planned and processional coronation route through London decided, the route had been widely circulated. Enough so that some firms had begun to produce commemorative material anticipating national fervour.

The map shown here was produced by Oxo Ltd. in 1936. Oxo produced a concentrated beef extract, available to the public since 1910 in solid cube shape for a penny and the company recognised the benefits of strong promotion. Prior to the coronation, Oxo had sponsored the 1908 London Olympic Games, alongside Odol mouthwash and Indian Foot Powder, this despite Coca Cola claims to being the first commercial sponsor of the Olympic Games.

While this map is a remarkable survivor from the short-lived era of an uncrowned King, the plans for his coronation at least proved useful for the actual coronation that followed so soon after his abdication.

Published by Oxo Ltd. This complementary map ilustrated the coronation route of EviiiR. Visitors to London could use it to walk to view the procession. However Edward abdicated prior to his coronation, measures 251mm x 189mm. 1936

Published by Oxo Ltd. This small complimentary map illustrated the proposed coronation route of EviiiR. Though simple in design, visitors to London could have used it to walk to view the procession. However Edward abdicated prior to his coronation. Map measures 251mm x 189mm. 1936

The coronation of George VI the following year ignited the populace. The coronation took place in Westminster Abbey, London on 12 May 1937. The procession left Buckingham Palace and headed up The Mall, through Admiralty Arch, down Whitehall to the Abbey. Following the ceremony the return procession to Buckingham Palace was over six miles (10 km) in length. There had never been anything like it and hundreds of thousands of people were expected to attend including 40,000 schoolchildren. Over 32,000 soldiers took part in the procession and 20,000 police lined the streets to control the crowds. A large area in central London was closed to almost all traffic and most attendees were expected to walk to their vantage point.

Cover of free 1937 Coronation map

Cover of free 1937 Coronation map

While the public could use the London Underground and buses and trams outside the Coronation Area, many visitors were unfamiliar with London streets and a paper map was available in advance, free of charge, to aid people in getting to their view point. The map was produced by Geographia Ltd. Cartographers, a London based firm established c1910 who became well known for their folding pocket maps.

Part of the free 1937 Coronation map

Relevant map part of the freely issued 1937 Coronation processional route.

The map extends beyond the coronation route itself and would have been of immense help to people unfamiliar not only with London’s streets but the bus, tram and coach routes to be taken outside of the area closed to most traffic. The rear of the map contains a great deal of information- day and night public transport, also two further maps- each showing train services.

Complimentary map booklet produced by Barclays Bank Ltd. Printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd. 1937

Complimentary map booklet produced by Barclays Bank Ltd. Printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd. 1937

Other than the ‘official’ map produced for the royal occasion, some other business also saw this as an opportunity to produce their own maps showing the coronation route. When issued free, these included information about the businesses themselves and were mostly intended to create more business or customers, as well as assist existing customers.

The small free booklet produced by the Barclays Group of Associated Companies includes four maps- a small one of the coronation route, plus three others- one showing principal places of interest in inner London, a second includes locations of branches of Barclays Bank Ltd, Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) and the British Linen Bank in Inner London. A final diagrammatic map illustrated the London Underground Railway system. One of the central London maps in this booklet can be seen in part one of this series on free London maps.

Map of the 1937 Coronation route included in free booklet produced by the Barclays Bank Ltd. & Associated Companies

Simple map of the 1937 Coronation route included in free booklet produced by the Barclays Bank Ltd. & Associated Companies

A map of London, detailing the processional route of EiiR was available free of charge to the public. 1953

A map of London, detailing the processional route of EiiR on her coronation 2 June 1953 was available free of charge to the public

King George VI died 6 February 1952 and was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth. Her Coronation took place 2 June 1953 and, as before, huge numbers of well-wishers were expected to line the processional route. Again, a free map detailing both route and travel arrangements was available in advance of the event.

Jointly published by the London Transport Executive and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the free issue of the map anticipated the influx of visitors unfamiliar with the streets and was a much appreciated aid to route finding. As with the 1937 Coronation, Geographia were the chosen cartographers. A smaller area of London is depicted than before but similar information on public transport arrangements, outside the coronation area, is included on the reverse. A map of the London Transport Railways (the Tube) was included.

The return coronation route was five miles in length. 29,000 service personnel marched in the procession and a further 15,800 lined the route. There were some three million London spectators which justifies the free issue of such a map. Thousands of copies were retained as a memento of the day.

Map produced by Geogrphia Ltd. Cartographers detailing the 1953 coronation area and route

Map produced by Geographia Ltd. Cartographers detailing the 1953 coronation area and route, available free of charge

Many of the streets within and close to the coronation’s processional route were either closed or had severely restricted access for the day. Some of the London street maps produced by the Automobile Association (AA) were illustrated in the first part of this short series. These were produced not only for their own staff attending breakdown but also supplied free of charge to members when requested. An additional special map was produced that included the coronation route marked out in red. The AA was especially suited to producing these maps as they had been tasked with managing road signage, parking and traffic control for the royal event. Motorists were instructed how to apply for coloured windscreen labels that permitted them to park within the coronation area. An index to streets, theatres and cinemas is included on the reverse. Drawn by the AA, the small map is to their usual clear, simple and high standard. Anyone leaving their car outside of the restricted area would have been able to navigate the streets with relative ease using one of these maps.

Small (258mm x 187mm) map compiled and drawn by the Automobile Association showing the 1953 Coronation Route

Small (258mm x 187mm) map compiled and drawn by the Automobile Association showing the 1953 Coronation Route

Not all complimentary maps were given to the general public. Some were produced by companies and only given free to suppliers and existing or prospective customers. Usually these would also include a little information on the company itself, possibly identify their premises on the map itself or, at the very least, include contact information.

Souvenir map given free by British Insulated Callender's Cables Ltd in association with the 1953 coronation

Booklet of souvenir maps of London given free by British Insulated Callender’s Cables Ltd in association with the 1953 coronation

The complimentary map produced by British Insulated Callender’s Cables Limited is pretty much typical of this type of map. It is quite large, includes a potted history of the business, contact info, and two maps. One side of the sheet shows a road map of London and it’s suburbs produced by, and licenced from, mapmaker Edward Stanford Ltd. While the other side has a large scale, and more useful while walking, pictorial map of London with enlarged section of central London. This second map was prepared by and licenced from cartographer George Philip & Son Ltd.

While these free maps were promoted as a ‘Coronation Souvenir’ on the exterior cover, the large scale map of central London actually fails to include any information at all as to the coronation route. None the less, it is an excellent and detailed map of London, not surprising considering its cartographic credentials.

British Insulated Callender's Cables Limited 1953 Coronation London Map

One side of British Insulated Callender’s Cables Limited complimentary map showing London. Map prepared by Edward Stanford, 1953

Royal Wedding

Leaflet produced by London Transport and London Tourist Board detailing both the public transport arrangements for the day and how to walk to view the royal wedding route, 1981

Free leaflet with map produced by London Transport and London Tourist Board for the Royal Wedding in 1981

It appears that it was not until the late 20th century that any free paper maps were produced in connection with any Royal Wedding in London. Princess Elizabeth had married on 20 November 1947. Britain was only just beginning to recover from the hardship of a long hard war and the occasion was termed the ‘austerity wedding’. Three Points of the Compass has been unable to identify any free maps that were issued detailing the processional wedding route but in common with coronation routes through London, it was published in various newspapers, a trend that has been followed for subsequent royal weddings. Though most recent weddings have simply had the processional route overlaid on a satellite view.

Princess Elizabeth travelled through the public lined streets to her wedding by horse-drawn landau. This tradition remainded unbroken in the years between the 1963 marriage of Princess Alexandra and Kate Middleton, when Kate married Prince William in 2011. Like Alexandra, Kate chose to be driven past the estimated two million onlookers by limousine to the Abbey. However the usual pomp ensued after the ceremony. A procession of horse-drawn coaches transported Princess Catherine and the Royal Family on their return to Buckingham Palace via Parliament Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards and The Mall.

It appears that it was not until the marriage of Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son Charles that any free paper map of London was distributed for a royal wedding though it is a poor addition to the collective. A printed map was produced by London Transport and The London Tourist Board ‘in association with His Grace the Duke of Westminster‘ for the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and was available free of charge. Despite it’s simplicity and relative lack of attractiveness, it is likely that thousands were kept as souvenirs of the day.

On 29 July 1981 around two million people lined the route of Lady Diana’s procession from Clarence House (number 7 on the map) to St. Paul’s Cathedral (number 21 on map). It was termed the Fairy tale wedding, however they divorced in 1996. The map of the Royal Procession is very simple in design. It included a map of the London Underground and provided enough information for pedestrians to walk the route between St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace where the newly married couple kissed on the balcony, establishing a new tradition.

Very simple in design, there was enough information on the 1981 map to enable the curious to walk the route from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul's Cathedral

There is just about enough information on the simple free map to enable the curious to walk the route of the 1981 royal wedding procession

Royal Jubilee

King George III celebrated his jubilee privately and other than a few fireworks there was little for the public. However there were were a number of grand parades during Queen Victoria’s reign such as for her Coronation and Golden and Diamond Jubilee’s. Though it was probably the relaxation in drinking hours for the Queen’s Jubilee that appealed to the public most.

Beyond any planned celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Jubilees there was an undercurrent of resentment amongst many of the working class. Trades Unions actually boycotted some festivities and despite the many thousands of people that did attend various celebratory events, this may partially explain the lack of any free maps to London being then made available to the poorly paid.

Early morning crowds outside Buckingham Palace. Thousands of well-wishes arrived in the London the night before George V's procession through London. The King ordered that Hyde Park be kept unlocked to enable them to camp the night there

Early morning crowds outside Buckingham Palace in 1935. Thousands of well-wishes arrived in London the night before George V’s Silver Jubilee procession through London. Having heard of their arrival, the King ordered that Hyde Park be kept open to enable them to camp the night there

The smallest map illustrated in this series looking at free maps of London streets. The privileged few with tickets to the numbered stands lining King George V's 1935 Jubilee procession had a directional map printed on the reverse

The privileged few with tickets to the numbered stands lining King George V’s Silver Jubilee procession on 6th May 1935 had a directional map printed on the reverse. Ticket measures 10.5cm x 11.5cm and is the smallest example in this series looking at free maps of London streets.

Three Points of the Compass is not aware of any street maps being distributed free of charge for any of the various jubilees celebrated by either Queen Victoria (Golden- 1887, Diamond- 1897) or King George V (Silver- 1935). While George V’s Silver Jubilee was revolutionary, no such 25th anniversary ever having been celebrated publicly before, no free maps were made available for that. This was probably due to the period of austerity in which the country was mired. The closest to a free street map that Three Points of the Compass has encountered are the simple diagrams given to members of the social elite to aid them in locating their numbered viewing stands. It would be quite some years before a free map was given away for any royal jubilee, in fact, it was not until 1977 when Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Silver Jubilee.

Map of London licences and produced by retailer Marks & Spencer specifically aimed at overseas visitors travelling to London during the 1977 coronation year

Map of London licenced and produced by retailer Marks & Spencer specifically aimed at overseas visitors travelling to London during the 1977 coronation year

No doubt expecting a swathe of visitors new to London, some businesses produced guides or maps of London which included the necessary information for the visitor to London to visit one of their outlets.

The map I have shown here was produced by High Street retailer Marks & Spencer, though with a change of branding and accompanying information, it could have been supplied by just about any retailer. The map itself was produced by and licenced from the London Transport Board but it is a fairly poor effort and only includes names for major streets, minor streets going either un-named or excluded altogether.

Beyond the title on the front, there is nothing on this map that directly relates to the Queen’s Jubilee itself and instead just seeks to take advantage of a general fervour surrounding the royal occasion.

This could be regarded rather cynically, but nonetheless, it is a free map that would have been of some use and appreciated by those unfamiliar with navigating the complex of streets in the nation’s capital.

'Welcome to Jubilee London' map given away free by retailer Marks & Spencer. This also includes information on the retailer itself in English, French, German and Spanish. 1953

‘Welcome to Jubilee London’ map given away free by retailer Marks & Spencer. This also includes information on the retailer itself in English, French, German and Spanish. 1977

1990 reprint of the 1977 London Silver Jubilee Walkway trail leaflet

1993 reprint of the 1977 London Silver Jubilee Walkway trail leaflet

In addition to free maps for the jubilee, a new signposted trail was produced that is still followed by tourists, historians, hikers and the merely curious to this day. A special way-marked trail was created through London for the occasion and maps prepared. Three Points of the Compass will cover this trail in greater depth when he walks it in 2021.

Various corporate sponsors enabled the Silver Jubilee Walkway leaflet to be produced and distributed free of charge in 1977. The walkway has been so popular that a reprint of the map was produced in 1993.

Detail: the western end of the London Silver Jubilee Walkway

Detail from 1993 reprint: the western end of the London Silver Jubilee Walkway

Over 400 aluminium discs were set into the pavement, these are augmented by smaller discs to indicate change in direction, particularly useful for those following the full 12 mile or so route. Various information boards, similarly sponsored, were erected along the trail’s length.

The trail’s name changed to the Jubilee Walkway on the occasion of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 and the length increased to 15 miles. A further loop taking in Camden was added in 2003. As well as the free map leaflets shown here, a couple of printed route descriptions have been produced over the years but these are all commercial offerings with a cover price to match.

Detail from 1990 reprint. The eastern end of the London Silver Jubilee Walkway

Detail from 1993 reprint. The eastern end of the London Silver Jubilee Walkway

2002 Golden Jubilee, London Travel Guide

2002 Golden Jubilee, London Travel Guide and map

Twenty five years later, as well as changes to the Jubilee Walkway, other celebrations were held in London on the occasion of the Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee. Rather than a day long celebration, a series of events in London were planned over four days: 1- 4 June 2002. A free leaflet detailing event times and locations, which included a London street map, was prepared, jointly paid for by a number of London and national agencies.

The free map included in the London Travel Guide leaflet was fairly basic, showing unnamed streets, but included further written detail on the reverse along with a map of the London Underground network.

Not only did the provision of the map aid those travelling around London by public transport to the various events taking place across the capital, but it also provided just about sufficient information for anyone choosing to walk from location to location over that four-day weekend in the summer of 2002.

The Jubilee events were diverse- an exhibition in Hyde Park in July and August, an exhibition of Contemporary Sculpture in Battersea and London’s South Bank featured an exhibition of litter bins, bus shelters, bollards and poster hoardings, chosen for their ‘fine design‘.

Free paper map available on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee. 2002

Free paper map available on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee. 2002

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of 'Royal London'. Printed June 1965

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of ‘Royal London’. Printed June 1965

Today, tour companies and the like continue to entice paying tourists by utilising the royal connection though few, if any, produce free maps of the streets of London. Maps tend to be made available more cheaply as an online resource. Such exploitation of ‘Royal London’ is nothing new, there have been good free map resources produced in the past.

The map below was part of a series made available free of charge by London Transport in the 1960s. The primary aims of these leaflets was to both tempt paying customers onto buses during quieter times of the day, and potentially purchase a more lavish walking and exploring guide commissioned by London Transport.

Any pedestrian following this particular trail is given no opportunity to wander off the route and street detail is minimal, many thoroughfares are excluded entirely. While this works for clarity in such a small diagram, how many people were left completely stymied having taken a wrong turn…

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of ‘Royal London’. Printed June 1965

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of ‘Royal London’. Printed June 1965

The final part of this short series, looking at free maps produced over the decades to aid with walking in London, will review the material produced for various sporting events taking place in the capital, in particular the plethora of maps given away in association with a certain event in 2012.