Tag Archives: hygiene

The Norfolk Coast Path

The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path- Part Two

 

The Norfolk Coast Path

Sandy isolation as I walk towards The Firs at Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve

Sandy isolation as I walk towards The Firs at Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve

Paths were invariably well maintained, it was often possible to find myself having strayed offf the official path on to one of the many other alternatives, but they all went in the same direction

Paths were invariably well maintained, I often found that I had strayed off the official path on to one of the many other alternatives, but they all went in the same direction

Starting on 1st April 2017, I walked the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path. On day four, I finished off the Peddars Way and began the Norfolk Coast Path, the flavour of the walk changed immediately and dramatically. On my walk northward from the Suffolk/Norfolk border, I had encountered very few people on the trail, as soon as I hit the coast, this changed. Not that anyone was doing, or appeared to be doing, the national trail. It was just that I was now in the midst of holidaymakers, fishermen (and fisherwomen, or is it just fisherpeople?) and the residents and workers in the small and larger towns that were lined up, like pearls on a necklace, along the coast.

There a number of map and guide options for the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, I took the relevant 1:50 000 O.S. maps as I already had them. I also purchased the Cicerone guide and the official trail guide. Both are excellent but I only took the Bruce Robinson guide with me

There a number of map and guide options for the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path. Knowing I would be going ‘off trail’ on occasion, I took the relevant 1:50 000 O.S. maps (sans covers) as I already had them. I also purchased the Cicerone guide and the official trail guide. Both are excellent but I only took the Bruce Robinson guide with me

My next few days comprised 20 miles from my last campsite on the Peddars Way, the lovely Bircham Windmill, to Deepdale, then 14,5 miles to Highsand Creek,  followed by 16 miles to my only stay at a hostel on the walk, the YHA hostel at Sherringham, leaving me a simple six miles to finish my trail at Cromer pier and then to the railway station. In all, I did 98.5 miles. This was certainly taken over the ton by my little wanderings and evening sorties from my tent. But, with map miles, it sits at 98.5 miles.

Because I knew that the nature watching was going to be so good on this trail, especially the Norfolk Coast Path, I wanted to include some optics in my kit list. Eschewing my heavy binoculars, I took a 109g 8x20 monocular. I was pleased I did as it was often used

Because I knew that the nature watching was going to be so good on this trail, especially the Norfolk Coast Path, I wanted to include some optics in my kit list. Eschewing my heavy binoculars, I took a 109g 8×20 monocular. I was pleased I did as it was often used

Someone had been playing silly buggers at Brancaster and had sawn off the finger posts. My own fault, I sauntered straight on and needlessly walked a mile and a half out to the point and back

Someone had been playing silly buggers at Brancaster and had sawn off the finger posts. My own fault, I never noticed and sauntered straight on, needlessly walking a mile and a half out to the point and back

I used to visit this part of the coast, almost as a pilgrimage, in the 1980s/90s when I was a keen birdwatcher. It is amongst the very finest of places to view birds- residents, migrants, raptors across the reedbeds, fantastic. But for me, it was the visits each late autumn/early  winter to see the thousands of geese, wintering away from the harsher conditions of Siberia that will live with me forever. Even hoofing along with a pack on my back and stopping infrequently, the Norfolk Coast Path was still a nature-watching marvel.

The early fine weather had encouraged many car borne visitors but few could be bothered to walk more than a mile or two from any carpark, as a result I had much of the coastal walking to myself  for hours on end.

Brent Geese, Shelduck and waders were constant companions

Brent Geese, Shelduck and waders were frequent companions. Seals were also often spotted

Smoke House in Cley

Smokehouse in Cley

Lobster and Crab pots are set all the way along this part of the coast

Lobster and Crab pots are set all the way along this part of the coast

Much of this part of the coast continues to change from the industry of old- fishing and smoking of fish, to the new, the tourist. However the flint built buildings are, mostly, well maintained, the natives friendly and opportunity to buy provisions vastly improved on anything I had experienced over the previous few days.

Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas enjoyed at Wells-next-the-Sea

Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas enjoyed at Wells-next-the-Sea

 

 

While I carried food for most meals over the Peddars Way part of this walk, I had known beforehand that opportunities to eat locally were going to be much improved on the second half of my walk.

Whereas I carried eight meals for the inland section, I only had two for the coastal section. All other were purchased locally. Though perhaps surprisingly, I only ate fish and chips the one time, When I reached busy Wells-next-the-Sea.

 

 

Superb breakfast at the Deepdale Cafe

Breakfast at the Deepdale Cafe included award winning Arthur Howell sausages and Fruit Pig Black Pudding

My two campsites on the coast were both perfectly adequate. Deepdale was a small field and I camped next to car campers, but I had no problem with that. There are plenty of opportunities to re-provision here but I only partook of a fine breakfast in the Deepdale Cafe.

 

£10 got me a huge field to myself and hot showers in the modern toilet block

£10 got me a field to myself at High Sand campsite and hot showers in the modern toilet block

A pint, good quality burger and writing up the days notes in the Red Lion, Stiffkey

A pint, good quality burger and writing up the day’s notes in the Red Lion, Stiffkey

Camping the following night at the High Sand camp site at Stiffkey saw my tent sitting alone in a huge field. The trail passed only a hundred metres away and I was content to treat myself to good food and ale at the Red Lion Inn in the local village.

 

 

This part of the coast was once the 'gateway to England' but silting up of creeks and changes in economics has reduced its importance. Blakeney is fairly typical of many towns along the coast, struggling to retain an identity. Small fishing boats take visitors out on seal watching trips when they are now out checking their lobster and crab pots

This part of the coast was once the ‘gateway to England’ but silting up of creeks and changes in economics has reduced its importance. Blakeney is fairly typical of many towns along the coast, struggling to retain an identity. Small fishing boats take visitors out on seal watching trips when their owners are not out checking their lobster and crab pots

The distinctive windmill at Cley next the Sea can be seen for miles across the marshes. The path goes right past it and I regretted, slightly, not pausing to sketch it

The distinctive windmill at Cley next the Sea can be seen for miles across the marshes. The path goes right past it and I regretted, slightly, not pausing to sketch it. The reeds here did offer up Bearded Tit though

There were a couple of miles of board walks in all

There were a couple of miles of board walks in all

 

Coastal walking was almost always on good paths, though I should think that many would be pretty claggy after rain. Reedbeds, sea defence walls above marshland, scrubby sand dunes, pine woodlands, saltmarsh, sand and shingle shoreline- my walking was through a number of special and specialised habitats, it was never boring for it changed so much.

Every few miles another coastal town would be encountered, I passed through these quite quickly as there was little to hold me.

 

Remains of an Allan Williams gun turret. 199 of these were made during World War II

Remains of an Allan Williams gun turret. 199 of these were made during World War II

This part of the coast was thought to be at risk of attack and invasion during World War II. Surviving coastal defence installations survive to this day

This part of the coast was thought to be at risk of attack and invasion during World War II. Coastal defence installations survive to this day

 

The coastline stretch from Cley next the Sea to Weybourne Hope is four miles of lonely splendour. The few dog walkers at the beginning were soon left behind. Sand gave way to shingle and I found myself racing the incoming tide, only having to move up on to the punishing stone for the final quarter of a mile

The coastline stretch from Cley next the Sea to Weybourne Hope is four miles of lonely splendour. The few dog walkers at the beginning were soon left behind. Sand gave way to shingle and I found myself racing the incoming tide, only having to move up on to the punishing stone for the final quarter of a mile

For such a busy stretch of coast, I often found myself alone. Few people will walk more  than two miles from their car and it is usually just the odd birdwatcher or sea angler that would be seen any further afield, again, there seemed to be few people walking purposely, and those I saw with small backpacks were either day walkers or slackpackers.

 

Beyond Weybourne Hope the path begins to climb as cliffs take over. This penultimate day saw me completing my biggest climb of the whole trail- the highest point was still only 346 feet (105 metres) above sea level. Norfolk really is a pretty flat county

Beyond Weybourne Hope the path slowly begins to climb as cliffs take over. This penultimate day saw me completing my biggest climb of the whole trail- though the highest point was still only 346 feet (105 metres) above sea level. Norfolk really is a pretty flat county

Beach huts below Sheringham Cliffs

Beach huts below Sheringham Cliffs

My final night was in Sheringham YHA. No private rooms were available so I shared a dorm with two other guys, we battled each other in the snoring stakes that night but I am pretty sure I won.

I like to put my trade toward the YHA where I can as I think they are still doing a grand job, mostly, in a difficult modern circumstance.  However I reckon I made a mistake eating an evening meal there. There was no ‘proper’ option on the menu at all, everything was snacks, so I settled for an ‘OK’ pizza. Breakfast was little better, the only egg option was scrambled, and I hesitate to guess how long it was since they had been scrambled! I queried at the counter, the server looked at me with bafflement- “I’m French” was her reply. OK, so no eggs forthcoming then.

My £12 overnight stay at Sheringham Youth Hostel was an adequate stop for my last night on the trail

My £12 overnight stay at Sheringham Youth Hostel was an adequate stop for my last night on the trail

Signposting and marking of trail was excellent on the Norfolk Coast Path

Signposting and marking of trail was excellent on the Norfolk Coast Path. You might think how difficult can it be to simply keep the sea on your left, but the trail often diverts inland where access rights have not been obtained, or where erosion has caused the path to disappear into the sea

The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path ends at Cromer Pier. Much of this popular resort town is Edwardian in age and flavour

The National Trail ends at Cromer Pier. Much of this popular resort town is Edwardian in age and flavour. The Norflok Coast Path is now part of the ambitious plans for an English Coast Path, still in the making

Reminders of a seafaring community can be found everywhere

Reminders of a seafaring community can be found everywhere

I was so pleased to have completed both halves of the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path. While the walk through the interior of the county had been interesting, with a few points of interest, the coastal element was much more to my liking. Busy seaside towns nestled up against lonely saltmarsh and dune systems stretched for miles across a wide landscape.

The call of the nesting Curlew and Lapwing that I had gone to sleep to in the agricultural heartland was also encountered on the coast, to be joined with the burbling of hundreds of Brent geese and the frantic shriek of the ‘Sentinel of the Marshes’, the Redshank.

Dunlin, Sandpipers, Oystercatcher and Turnstone shuffled along the edge of the surf, only flying ahead when I got too close. It really was lovely coastal walking and I resented it when lack of Rights of Way took me on pointless and annoying diversions inland. I doubt that I shall return to this part of the country for quite some time but hope that the fragile eco-systems can withstand what appears to be growing numbers of visitors.

WORDS IN THE SAND, HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

 

Fixating on the small stuff- an Every Day Carry

OK, time to fess up. This post has got very little to do with hiking. I never, ever, carry the stuff I am chatting about here on any hike. It is bulky, heavy and other than one or two of the contents, mostly of little practical use on any backpacking trip.

What it is, is an example of what I am prone to do. Which is plan. Learn from my mistakes and inaction and be better prepared for repeated events in the future. I have been like this since I was a nipper.

Every day I go to work I have a pack slung over my shoulder. For the great majority of my time I work in London, but I always have a torch, screwdriver set, multi tool, water bottle and any number of other items in various pockets of my battered urban commuting 35lt pack from The North Face. Also, being in England, I have a waterproof  packed, every single day of the year…

The Vanquest EDC SLim Maximizer pouch that Three Points of the Compass carries on every work day and trips away from the house by car

The Vanquest EDC Slim Maximizer pouch that Three Points of the Compass carries on every work day and trips away from the house by car

Recently I have been pulling much of my oddments together into one of the fantastic Vanquest EDC Slim Maximizer Organisers. I have also added a few recent purchases and am now content that my Every Day Carry (EDC) has the tools and other equipment that have not only proved themselves of use to me over the years, but now also give me a little more practicality and usefulness. I can put many of the contents to use most weeks, and on occasion most weekdays. It can get slung in the car for trips away and visits to my Mum where there may be the odd task that requires completing, as her battered old red biscuit tin under the sink with its even older selection of poor tools isn’t quite cutting it these days.

I have packed a lot into my EDC. Not only can I carry out a number of repairs, alteration, fixing or general ‘handyman’ tasks that require attention, but I also carry a modicum of First Aid items and small selection of hygiene products that will see me through the very occasional unexpected overnight stay.

Vanquest EDC Maximizer with contents installed

Vanquest EDC Maximizer with contents installed

Hygiene and First Aid

I have included a minimum of hygiene equipment for the occasional and unexpected overnight stop. Two of the great little compressed towels are incorporated. These can be used with the mini dropper bottle of Dr. Bronners Castille soap. This is a very concentrated and versatile soap that I can also use for shaving, brushing teeth or washing out clothes. A small compact Avid razor is included. These are of a very thin profile and I wish they were still made as I have few left. The mirror is one of the mini Star Flash acrylic mirrors (in a baggie to prevent scratches) and the toothbrush is a two-part affair from Muji. I also carry a small dropper bottle of hand sanitizer. For convenience, I have this more easily available and packed outside of the wash kit.

My First Aid kit is basic, a few band aids, dressings, tape, a couple of alcohol wipes, nitrile gloves and a little medication: Ibuprofen and Piriton. There are a few extra meds in my ‘midget’ EDC kit that I also carry. This is so very heavily based on that devised by The Urban Prepper that I need not show it here. Though I do also include 5m of 1mm spectra cord, different meds, a razor blade, emergency cufflinks (yes, really) and a couple of other items in my ‘Altoids’ tin in addition to his list.

Electronics

Electronics in my Vanquest EDC are limited but useful. I have included a high quality Micro/USB charge cable, folding Mu USB plug. The 200mm long Innergie charge and sync cable is very adaptable. This will fit USB to Micro/Mini/30 pin Apple, I also have a Lightning adaptor on the end. Spare batteries carried are two CR2016 and two CR2032. All of this is in an especially tough and waterproof baggie. Two torches and a flood light are carried- the Thrunite T14 Penlight takes two AAA batteries (fitted), has a Cree XP-G2 LED  and delivers four forms of light:

  • Firefly (0.3 lumens for up to 137 hours)
  • Low (24 lumens for up to 12 hours)
  • High (252 lumens for up to 51 minutes)
  • Strobe (252 lumens for up to 90 minutes)

As back up to this, the Photon Freedom Micro belies its diminutive dimensions. While it can deliver any strength of light from dim through to its maximum 5 lumens, the almost indestructible body holds two CR2016 or one CR2032 batteries. and will run for up to eighteen hours. Also in the kit are two AAA batteries stored in AAA to AA cell converters.

These will also fit the Lil Larry Nebo floodlight. This is handy piece of kit that will provide task lighting. It has a magnetic base so can be used for changing tyres or during power outage. While in its full length it takes three AAA batteries (fitted), it can also have a section of its length removed so that just two AAA batteries can be utilised. In full configuration it provides:

  • High (250 lumens for up to 3 hours
  • Low (95 lumens for up to 10 hours)
  • Red Hazard flasher (for up to 10 hours)

    The contents of my EDC kit. It is pretty much stuffed to the gills

    The contents of my EDC kit. It is pretty much stuffed to the gills

Leatherman Raptor shears

The Leatherman Raptors are tough enough to cut a penny into quarters

The Leatherman Raptors are tough enough to cut a penny into quarters and the strap cutter is quickly and easily bought into use when required

These are an amazing piece of kit and really well made. Invariably they get used most as simply a better set of scissors than those on the Leatherman Charge carried in my EDC. However the 320HC stainless steel blades on these shears will cut through just about anything I may encounter- clothes, leather, webbing, straps etc. The tiny serrations on one blade really grip well and prevent items sliding out of the blades. There is a carbide glass breaker for auto glass windows in the base and a seat belt cutter that is easily deployed yet remains locked away until required. Obviously this can be more often used simply as a box cutter. There is handy little ring cutter placed discretely and un-noticed under the handle too. I seldom require the 5cm ruler and have never used the oxygen tank wrench incorporated. One of the best features of these 163g shears though, apart from their high quality, is their ability to swiftly fold away, or open, easily, with simple little lock buttons. They do come with a holster for First Responders, but I don’t include that in my kit. Instead I have it fixed to a mini carabiner hanging from the Maximiser pouch key fob and keep it in place, nested against my Leatherman bit extender, with one of the rare earth magnets in my kit.

Bit, driver and drill system

This kit has a complete and highly adaptable system. It mostly involves the excellent Leatherman Charge. Mine is one of the older models. Most frequently tasks will utilise the bit holder in the Leatherman Charge, possibly with the Leatherman Bit Driver Extender, extended still further if necessary with 1/4″ hex extender. Or the 1/4″ extender can be used just with the Victorinox Bitwrench. I can also use one of my three drill bits in any combination here. While it takes a little time, I have drilled clean through 2 inches of wood with the 6mm drill bit attached to the Leatherman Charge.

The Gator adapter will fit a wide range shapes of head- nuts, screws, bolts, rings, hooks etc.

The Gator adaptor will fit a wide range shapes of head- nuts, screws, bolts, rings, hooks etc.

The majority of the bits included in my EDC are the ingenious flat, double ended, Leatheman Bits plus a couple of extras. In total there are 44 bits in my EDC, plus four tiny Phillips and flat head mini bits. Two sockets are also included. A dedicated 10mm head/ 1/4″ hex drive, while the Gator socket adaptor grip will fit heads from 7mm-19mm.

With the contents of my EDC I can loosen and tighten most common and uncommon screw heads, bolts and nuts from 1mm to 19mm. While Torx head bits are included, what I am looking for, to eventually include, are some 4mm micro bits for Security Torx heads. As an aid to this capability, a small adjustable spanner or the (smallest available) Knipex water pump pliers can be pulled from the kit. The pliers have recently replaced the small set of mole grips I used to carry.

1/4" hex drive drill bits can be used in a number of configurations

1/4″ hex drive drill bits can be used in a number of configurations

Solkoa Grip-S handles

Solkoa Grip-S handles with 24" flexible wire saw fitted

Solkoa Grip-S handles with 130mm wood saw blade fitted

Separated Solkoa Grip-S handles with 24" flexible wire saw fitted

Separated Solkoa Grip-S handles with 28″ flexible wire saw fitted

Though expensive, the hard anodised 6061 aluminium Solkoa Grip-S handles (there are two, joined together) are very useful. Not only can any standard flexible wire saw be fixed in using the set screws in each handle, and I include a 28″ wire saw in this EDC kit, but the handles can also take any round or hexagonal drive tool, up to 1/4″  diameter. A two ended flat/Phillips head bit is stored in the handle and the two handles are quickly separated by loosening one of the set screws with the flat screwdriver on the Gerber Shard pry bar. Any universal saw blade can be fitted into the Grip-S handles. I could have included a couple of the small jigsaw blades, which fit, but instead included two larger 130mm blades. One for wood (and nails) the other for metal.

Other items

I won’t go into detail on every item as reading from the list below they really are self-explanatory. There is an emergency twenty pound note secreted in the rear of the notebook. Tape measure gets used frequently. The titanium short-handled spoon is a ‘must have’, nappy pins can be used for hanging washing to dry and a thousand other uses, as can the paper clips and bobby pins. The lengths of wire can be bent into hooks for retrieving items or combined with the rare earth magnets to similar purpose. I would add a sachet of Sugru but it goes off too quickly if stored out of the fridge.

Item Description Notes
Pouch Vanquest EDC Slim Maximizer  
Combination padlock   TSA compliant
Adjustable spanner Small- 100mm. Jaws open to 13mm Unknown make
Pliers Knipex Cobra water pump pliers. Grips up to 27mm wide

 

Model 87 01 125. The ‘125’ in the model number refers to their length
Leatherman Raptor- Folding medical shears 420HC stainless steel scissors, strap cutter, ruler (1.9″/50mm), oxygen tank wrench, ring cutter, carbide tip glass breaker  
Leatherman Charge Ti  multitool Titanium scales. needlenose pliers, regular pliers, hard wire cutters, wire cutters, crimper, wire stripper, S30V knife blade, 420HC serrated knife with cutting hook, saw, scissors, 8″/19cm ruler, can opener, bottle opener, wood/metal file, diamond coated file, large bit driver (double ended 1/8″ / 3/32″ flat screwdriver bit fitted), small bit driver (small, double ended flat/Phillips screwdriver bit fitted), medium flat screwdriver. Pocket clip fitted  

 

Leatherman bit driver extension Fits into bit driver of Leatherman Charge, other end accepts Leatherman bits and 1/4″ hex bits 10mm socket is stowed attached to end of driver
1/4″ extension piece 75mm, magnetic  
Victorinox Bitwrench 1/4″ hex drive VICBW
23 double ended Leatherman bits – Hex 3/32″ ; 5/64″
– Hex 1/16″ ; .050″
– Square bit #2 ; #3
– Square bit #1 ; pozi #3

– Pozi#1; pozi#2
– Torx #10 ; #15
– Torx #20 ; #25
– Torx #27 ; #30
– Phillips #0 ; #3
– Phillips #1 ; #2

– Phillips #1-2; screwdriver 3/16″
– Screwdrivers 3/32″ ; 1/8″
– Screwdrivers 5/32″ ; 3/16″
– Screwdrivers 7/32″ ; 1/4″
– Hex 1.5mm ; 2mm
– Hex 2.5mm ; 3mm
– Hex 4mm ; 5mm
– Hex 6mm ; 1/4″
– Hex 7/32″ ; 3/16″
– Hex 5/32 ; 9/64″
– Hex 1/8″ ; 7/64″
2 x – Phillips; flat tip eyeglasses screwdriver

In two Leatherman bit holders with one mini bit and one double ended bit in the Leatherman Charge.

46 bit options, though a couple are duplicated.

Wolfteeth universal gator socket adapter,with 1/4″ drive adapter Fits 7mm – 19mm sockets. Also fits various nuts, screws, hooks, bolt heads, broken taps and knobs  
Socket- 10mm head/ 1/4″ hex drive   A common size
Gerber Shard pry bar In addition to pry, has Phillips head, two flat screwdrivers, wire stripper and bottle opener  
Solkoa Grip-S handles 2 x hard anodised handles with set screws joined together over double ended Phillips/flat head screwdriver Will hold any round or hexagonal, up to 1/4″ head, tool or any standard flexible wire saw
28″ flexible wire saw (in baggie) For use with Grip-S handles  
Stanley 152mm wood saw blade For use with Grip-S handles Model STA21192
Stanley 152mm metal saw blade For use with Grip-S handles Model STA22132
Retractable steel razor With snap off stainless steel blades  
Excel aluminium handle Handle has adjustable jaws. Inside handle are six various mini file needles and an additional sewing awl Model 70001
Hex drive drill bits- 6mm, 4mm,2mm For use with either Grip-S handles, Leatherman Charge or 1/4″ drive turn key  
1/4″ plastic turn key    
Double ended steel craft tool Arrow point and spatula end  
2m steel tape measure Muji Code: 8215607
1m x 16swg tin plated copper wire    
1m x plastic wrapped 12swg steel wire Use with magnets for retrieving lost screws, keys etc.  
4 x small rare earth magnets   Three stored attached to the bit holder and one attached to the bit extender keep tools in place in the pouch
Small tin with slide top Contents:

2 x stainless steel M6 hex bolt, nut, washer

3 x zinc plated wood screw

2 x small countersunk brass woodscrew

2 x rawlplug

2 x nails

1 x small, 1 x large stainless steel screw eye

1 x stainless steel split ring

 
2 x nappy pin    
1 x paper clip

1 x medium paper clip (insulated)

1 x small paper clip

   
2 x bobby pins    
1 x binder clip    
Anker Powerline USB/Micro 3′ braided cable. Very tough double-braided Aramid exterior and toughened Aramid fiber core
Mu folding USB plug Single USB outlet. 1amp There are two USB oulet Mu plugs available, this is sufficient for my needs
Photon Freedom Micro Button torch  
Thrunite T14 Penlight Cree XP-G2 LED

Firefly: 0.3 lumens, 137hours
Low: 24 lumens, 12hours
High: 252 lumens, 51minutes
Strobe: 252 lumens, 90 minutes

With 2 x Alkaline AAA (Duracell Plus Power).

One cell reversed to prevent accidental discharge

Lil Larry Nebo- floodlight Magnetic base, C.O.B. LED chip technology

High: 250 lumen, 3 hours

Low: 95 lumen, 10 hours

Red hazard flasher:  10 hours

3 X Alkaline AAA (NEBO). One cell reversed. Light can be reduced in length with just 2 AAA batteries but I keep mine full length
2 x Li-ion Duracell AAA batteries Stored in Sodial AAA to AA battery cell converters  
2 x CR2016 batteries    
2 X CR2016 batteries    
Sharpie pen, stainless steel Black, refillable, 0.4mm fine point Model 1849740
Zebra F701 ball pen, stainless steel Black medium Model 44970
Faber Castell Perfect Pencil With eraser and integrated extender/sharpener  
Backpocket Journal Tomoe River Edition From Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork
£20   Stored in back of notebook (above)
5m x 550 paracord In quick deploy hank  
2 x velcro cable ties    
6″ Nite Ize Gear Tie    
2 x 400mm cable tie

1 x 150mm cable tie

  These are threaded into the lining of the pouch interior
2 x mini-biner    
1m gaffer tape   Flat wound onto silicone release paper
Sewing kit 2m black Gütermann Sew-All  thread

1 x large black button, 2 x small white buttons

Threader

2 x No. 7 embroidery/crewel needles

1 x No. 18 chenille needle

1 x Microtex 60/8 machine needle (for use with Excel handle)

Stored in SD card case
Spoon Small, Sea to Summit, hard anodised alloy  
Mini Bic lighter With 1m electricians tape wound on to it Has quick release mini  zip tie on it to prevent accidental discharge of gas
Hand sanitiser Alcohol free  In mini dropper bottle
Hygiene kit Mirror (mini StarFlash), Razors (Avid, fold flat), 20ml Dr Bronner’s liquid soap in mini dropper bottle, folding toothbrush, 2 x compressed travel towels All in 130mm x 120mm Aloksac
Uncle Bills Sliver Gripper Tweezers With holder  
Fox 40 Micro whistle    
Shelby mini tin opener    
First Aid kit 2 x alcohol wipes, 2 x plasters (silver), 1 strip ‘cut to size’ plaster (10cm), 1 x dressing (small), 1 x Melolin dressing (5cm x 5cm), 4 x 45cm strips Leukotape, 30cm x 1cm zinc oxide tape, 30cm x 2.5cm Transpore tape, 4 x Ibuprofen, 7 x Piriton.

1 pair Nitrile gloves

All in baggies

 

 

Smile!

 

Dental care

Dental care is important, we all know that. Happily sucking away on energy boosting sweets and trail mix, it is doubly important. It is almost a cliché that backpackers in search of reduced grams will cut the handle off  their toothbrush. I must confess that I too, was once that soldier, no longer though.

Tooth brushes

I have experimented with a myriad of brushes. From brushes that slip on the fingertip (rubbish), through various folding and two piece brushes, to children’s brushes (adequate). Some of those I have used are shown below.

Selection of toothbrushes

Weights:

Pink, on left (Superdrug) 23g
Blue and pink folding, bottom 15g each
Opaque white folding, bottom (Muji) 9g
White- two piece, centre 9g
Head of electric toothbrush, centre 4g
Clear- children’s brush, top 7g
Blue children’s brush, top 6g
Red, Full size,on right (Muji) 14g

I have now gone full circle and use the one of the lightest full size brushes that I have found. It does mean a handful of extra grams but I much prefer the larger option. In fact it is so comfortable that I use one of these at home too.

The full size Muji toothbrush. This small head toothbrush weighs 14g and is 180mm long

The full size Muji toothbrush. This small head toothbrush weighs 14g and is 180mm long

Purchased at Muji, a brand founded in Japan in 1980, each acrylic brush measures 180mm and has a small head with medium bristles. They come in a variety of colours and retail at £2.50 each. It is a bonus that the brand also embraces careful supply lines, simplicity, quality combined with good value and minimal packaging.

 

Toothpaste

It is possible to buy small travel toothbrushes in which the handle can be ‘charged’ or filled up with toothpaste. These are right up there on my ‘gimmick’ list. While perfectly adequate for a week or so with care, what do you do when you want to refill? Buy a tube, refill the handle and throw the remainder away, or hang on to part emptied tube, thereby negating any advantage. Doesn’t work for me.

It is just as easy to buy a tube of toothpaste, either full size or mini travel size. Again, with care, a 20ml tube will easily last a week, eking it out will double that.

Travel sized toothpastes. Colgate with 19ml contents weighs 26g, Aquafresh tube contains 20ml of contents and weighs 28g

Travel sized toothpastes. Colgate with 19ml contents weighs 26g, Aquafresh tube contains 20ml of contents and weighs 28g

The small Colgate and Aquafresh tubes pictured here will both last a fortnight with twice daily use. But there is a lot of weight of superfluous plastic in relation to the contents.

75ml mini bottle of Theramed 'Cool Mint' toothpaste

75ml mini bottle of Theramed ‘Cool Mint’ toothpaste

The small, squat bottles containing 75ml of Theramed toothpaste are also a handy size to take with you, the greater quantity over the small travel toothpaste tubes is offset slightly by the less viscous (runnier) product, but, nonetheless, it remains a handy size product. It should be remembered that these are all pastes, therefore I am carting around a liquid. Time to look for drier, so therefore lighter, alternatives.

Eucryl toothpowder

Eucryl toothpowder

There are quite few tooth powders available, especially on-line. It is even possible to simply use a dash of bicarbonate of soda (baking powder). Fairly easily available on the High Street, the 50g tubs of Eucryl toothpowder can be used to pretty good effect, though they are not to everyone’s liking. The mildly abrasive powder has a minty taste and does a good job of cleaning stains and plaque. Some might worry that it is too abrasive to use over an extended period though. The plastic tub it comes in is useless to take out, being both heavy and insecure. I have found that laboriously spooning through a paper funnel into a mini dropper bottle, constantly tapping throughout, means that an enormous amount can be taken. Fitting a narrow nozzle to the dropper bottle means that a sufficient amount can be gently puffed onto a wet toothbrush with ease. This works well but don’t get the nozzle wet or it all gums up as a result.

One product that I came across a year or so ago seems to me to be the solution. I have long heard of people who will squeeze out long strips of toothpaste, dry them out over a period of days and snip them in to short, one use lengths and then bag them up (with a touch of bicarb to prevent them sticking together). All seemed a bit laborious to me and life is too short to be dealing with such nonsense myself.

However Lush have done the work for me. This ethical company have been making fresh, hand made cosmetics for years. While not my first port of call on the High Street, I have been known to pop in on occasion, most usually to buy one or two of their shampoo and shower bars, again, a dry product that eschews the need to take such a thing in heavy, bulky liquid form.

From the Lush product line, I came across Toothy Tabs. These are small solid tabs made from baking soda, kaolin clay and essential oils. Prices vary from £2 to £3 a box.

Toothy Tabs. Each small box contains 40 tabs on average.

Toothy Tabs. Each small box contains 40 tabs on average.

The small cardboard box they come in is useless. It gets damp easily and the tabs become congealed, coalesced and fit for nothing. At home, they need to be decanted into a plastic tub or similar, in the field, a small baggie suffices. There is a variety of flavours featuring ingredients such as fennel, wasabi, black pepper, coffee and ginger, though not all in the same variety…

Forty Toothy Tabs in baggies- 18g

Forty Toothy Tabs in baggie- total weight: 18g

The full box weighs around 25g. 40 x tabs in a small baggie weighs 18g. Brushing twice a day means this is suffice for twenty days. Use is simple; you put a single tab between the front teeth, nibble it to break it down, wet the toothbrush and brush in the normal fashion.

Some of the flavours are a little ‘out there’ and not particularly to my liking. The Ultra Blast and Dirty flavours are fine. Looks like I’ve found a solution.

 

 

 

Dental Floss

Dental floss

Dental floss

It is perhaps worth noting that for those who like to floss, two metres of waxed dental floss in a tiny baggie weighs less than a gram. Dental floss also doubles up as a perfectly adequate sewing thread if needed for repairs. If you can find them, look for the mono-filament teflon variety over the polyamide floss for strength.

 

Tiger, tiger burning bright

 

Tiger, tiger burning bright

in the forests of the night

   What immortal hand or eye

            Dare frame thy fearful symmetry

                                       The Tiger, William Blake

 

Tiger Balm

Tiger Balm, red ointment

19g jar of Tiger Balm Red ointment

We all get the occasional aches and pains. I used to run miles across country, rock climb, abseil, play footie and rugby very occasionally, even a (very) brief bash at boxing (though the training was far tougher). All that was years and years ago. Bruises and muscle strain were part and parcel of the activity and usually shaken off with the disdain and quick healing of a youthful body aided by copious amounts of alcohol, no more…

It seems all I have to do these days is get out of bed too quick, or stretch the wrong way after a long train journey and it hurts. I make as many groans and sighs sitting down as I do standing up. OK, all a tad over-egged, but you get the picture.

Certainly a long days trek with a pack can have the muscles and joints crying out for rest and relief. Plenty of rehydration, a good meal (plenty of protein), stretching and gentle massage, a good nights kip, all go some way to alleviating the pain.

Recently I have been using a balm to give some relief from minor muscular aches and pain. It currently comes in two formulations, both of which are non-prescription. Tiger Balm Red for muscular aches and pain and Tiger Balm White for the relief of tension headaches. I have used the Red which is a reddish-brown, oily ointment. Apparently ‘inspired by centuries of Chinese wisdom’ it is made from 11% camphor, 10% levomenthol, 7% cajuput oil, 5% clove oil, also cinnamon oil, dementholised mint oil, yellow soft paraffin and hard paraffin. One glance at those ingredients and you see why it smells like it does. It is not an unpleasant smell, but the cinnamon and cloves are very noticeable. It may go some way to disguise that long term ‘hiker funk’ as well. It gives a warming effect that aids in massage, it is also advertised as giving relief from bites (especially from mosquitoes apparently) and stings though I have never used it for such. There are the usual health and warning caveats, such as not to be ingested, not for use on broken skin, not for use on children under two years of age etc.

There are hikers that massage Tiger Balm into their feet at the end of the day but I prefer Gehwol Refreshing Cream for that, but, redundancy and all that…

5g of Tiger Balm in 5g sample pot, total weight: 10g. A worthy addition to a first aid kit or ditty bag.

5g of Tiger Balm in 5g sample pot, total weight: 10g. A good addition to a first aid kit or ditty bag.

A little goes a long way. Boots pharmacy sell the little glass jar containing 19g of the balm for £4.39 (£3.95 in May ’15). It only requires a small finger tip smear to rub on whatever part of the body is aching most, so I decant a small quantity into one of the small sample pots I have blagged, gratis, from the Body Shop.

It is worth noting that a small smear of this on a piece of cotton wool, or similar, is also brilliant as a fire starter; taking a spark from a fire-steel with ease and extending the burn time of cotton wool extensively.

Carry a nail brush? that’s Quackers

OK, puns aside. Carrying a nail brush on a backpacking excursion may be thought of as a touch fastidious. However, when attempting to clean up a pair of mud covered trousers or other clothing, or even crud encrusted fingers, a decent brush does prove its worth when attempting to preserve both hygiene and a more presentable appearance.

Nail brush with handle removed

A handy tool. Nail brush with handle removed

For some years now I have included a small plastic nail brush in my ‘ditty bag’. It originally had a handle but I sawed that off to reduce weight and bulk just a touch. It now weighs 32g and works a treat.

But 32g! I was convinced that I could do better than that.

Wandering around Tiger, an expanding chain of shops in the UK that started life as a Danish pound shop, I came across something amongst the middle-class nic-nacs on offer that may do the trick.

Two plastic nail brushes for one pound. A deal not to be ducked

Two plastic nail brushes for one pound. A deal not to be ducked

The little plastic ducks with a small brush set into the base retailed at two for £1, so easily worth a punt. Each brush is made in China (no surprise there) and weighs 19g so an immediate improvement on my previous offering. But I was convinced that I could reduce this weight still further.

Brush part of the duck. 40mm x 23mm x 21mm with bristles 15mm long

Brush part of the duck. 40mm x 23mm x 21mm with 15mm long bristles

I was pretty sure that the brush would be glued into the ducks body but with a little judicious levering with a small tip screw driver I was pleased when the brush part simply popped out. Not glued after all but held in place by indents in the body part. The brush part only weighs 7g. I am pretty sure it will not stand up to much abuse but it should do the trick for a while, and, I have a spare…

IMG_6844_8537_edited-1Together with a small dropper bottle of Dr. Bronners liquid soap concentrate, this should keep clothes cleaner, together with a cleaner me.

IMG_6843_8536_edited-1

 

 

 

 

 

Nail care

Zwilling J. A. Henckels Pour Homme ultra slim nail clippers

Zwilling J. A. Henckels ultra slim nail clippers

Zwilling J. A. Henckels Pour Homme ultra slim nail clippers

Good nail care is an important facet of long distance walking. Overgrown toe nails quickly become noticeable on extended downhill stretches as the foot is pressed forward in the shoe or boot. Over long nails also wear through the socks and inner footwear lining. The dedicated can take a small nail file to the toes and fingers on a daily basis but this is likely to be an oft forgotten regime. The time will arise when the scissors must be bought into use, followed by a file to ensure ragged or unevenly clipped nails don’t snag or press into the skin, to cause later problems. However most little knives carried don’t have scissors and those that do are armed with quite minute affairs that struggle to do battle with the thickest of nails being attacked. Still fewer knives or multitools are provisioned with a set of nail clippers. None of the knives and multitools shown on my ‘knives’ page are so provided. A set of dedicated and separate nail clippers are the ideal tool to ensure good trimming takes place and there are quite a few pairs that can be purchased on the High Street that will do a good job. From what I have seen, none of them are quite as efficient and of as small dimensions as the Zwilling J. A. Henckels Pour Homme ultra slim nail clippers.

Nail clippers and leather pouch

Nail clippers and leather pouch

They come in a small black leather pouch that could easily be left at home if wished. Quite beautiful and of understated design, operation is simple. Slide the lever out a little, lift the lever up and push slightly forward. This provides the lever to cut the nail. The cutting edges are slightly curved and incredibly sharp and efficient. Cut nails are retained within the clipper until released by opening. This is another bonus as I am probably not alone in loathing nails that go pinging across the room or tent. There is a thin sprung piece of metal in the base that opens them up again. On the back of the top lever is a fine nail file that works extremely well. The dimensions of the nail clippers are minute: 60mm x 13mm x 4mm, weight is 16g, the leather pouch another 4g. Clippers are made of stainless steel with a matt finish. Apparently these clippers have won the international iF Design Award but I am not familiar with just how important this is, I am not really that interested either. Suffice to say, these are truly great little clippers very suited to use on longer trails. The only downside is the cost, which will make your eyes water…

Nail file beneath top lever

Nail file beneath top lever