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Trovat Advanced High GTX Boot Review

My old trusty Brasher Hill Master boots had walked their last mile. Even on fairly dry days, my feet would end up soggy after walking through the shallowest of puddles.
Brasher became part of Berghaus  and continued to produce the Hillmaster. These boots get some very good reviews but, I fancied a change and started reading up.

My ‘go to’ walking shoes are my Mammut Convey GTX approach shoes. Comfortable and reliable on most walks, but, I like a more robust shoe for more challenging weather and conditions.

Many years ago, my first pair of approach shoes were by the Swiss brand Raichle. These were fantastic shoes and we covered many, many  miles together. Now, like Brasher, the brand has been re-badged and has now come under the Mammut umbrella.

Mammut walking boots

I was drawn to the Mammut Trovat Advanced High GTX Boot
At £185 this was above what I was looking to spend, however, I had a £50 voucher for Snow and Rock which made the price rather less daunting.
These brown nubuck leather boots with rubber heel and toe protection have a slightly more ‘old school’ look than many modern boots but, unlike the ‘old school’ boots, these are instantly comfortable.
The nappa leather and memory foam help make these boots very easy to wear.
They certainly look built to last.
There’s a little bit of Raichle still retained too, their logo is displayed on the inside of the tongue.

Raichle Mammut walking boots

These are a big boot, my size 8s  just fitted in my boot bag although at 1,240g they  weigh only a few grams more than the old Hillmaster boots.

As I started loading the car for my first walk in the new boots,  I realised I was wearing Mammut pants and a Mammut jumper. Along with the Mammut boots, I would risk looking like a bad catalogue picture.  Luckily, as it  it was raining so I grabbed my Arcteryx Waterproof to break things up a bit!   Perhaps I was over cautious but I threw my approach shoes in the car, just in case.

The weather forecast fluctuated between dry, drizzle and large down pours – pack for everything!
Driving down the A55 with lights and windscreen wipers on suggested this wasn’t going to be the dryest of walks! At least it would be a good test of the Gortex and the Vibram MT Traction II sole.

Grip Mammut walking boots

My original plan was to park up in Moel Famau and head up a few hills but, as the road to the car park was closed, I turned back towards the car park in Loggerheads for Plan B.
After parking the car I change from my Addidas trainers in to the boots. Yes, they are heavy but so comfortable. Not sure I’d want to be wearing them on a hot summer day though.
I tighten the laces, assuming that I’m going to have to change the tightness a number of times until I got it right but, I struck lucky first time.

The first test was a very wet wooden bridge. So far, so grippy!  My route continued through muddy woodland and over wet stones, none of which caused any problems. These are boots you can feel confident wearing.

I always pack a spare pair of socks. I’ve needed them on walks even on dry days wearing the Brasher boots, one puddle and that was it! In my Mammut boots, however, I was bone dry despite the persistent rain and walking through some long wet grass.

If you look after your kit, your kit will look after you. These boots are very easy to look after. A quick wipe down with warm water and a soft brush and they were as good as new.

In conclusion, the Trovat Advanced boots are on the high end of price points but you do get what you pay for. I’m really impressed with these boots and they certainly seem to cope well with any terrain thrown at them.

Half Man Half Biscuit – Castleton

As a Tranmere supporter, brought up on the Holmlands Estate, Birkenhead (about two minutes walk from Prestbury Ave) , who went to the same primary and secondary schools as Nigel Blackwell, it was impossible not to become a fan of Half Man Half Biscuit.
I’d followed them around the country, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Hull…… but when I spotted a gig in a cave I just had to get a ticket.

I bought the ticket in February for Devil’s Arse cave in Castleton. A month later I’d booked a spot at a campsite a few miles down the road.
The concert was in mid August.
Splendid.
Pitch up at midday, walk to nearby Ladybower reservoir, cook dinner then a nice evening stroll to the venue….
…..well, that was the plan!

There had been a rain warning in place for a few days.
I left my house at 10am for what should be about a 90 minute journey. I hit the first tailback on the M56, then another. Even on the clear bits of motorway it was not advisable to go too fast. The rain was heavy and the surface extremely damp.
It took around three hours to reach Swallowholme Campsite in Bamford. I was shown to my allocated spot on a patch of grass reserved for only for tents. I put on my waterproofs and set up ‘home’
I haven’t been too impressed with my Scarpa approach shoes, I’ve little confidence in the grip and, despite getting re-waterproofed recently, my feet were already soaked by the time I’d pitched my tent.
I sat in the doorway and made myself a coffee. I felt I’d earned it!

With my right foot squelching every time I took I step, I did not fancying too much of a walk so I took a look around Bamford. There wasn’t much to see to be honest. I went on to Hathersage.
I’m not a fan of shopping but there are a couple of good outdoor shops in the village and it got me out of the continuing monsoon.

Back at the tent, I sat in the porch area and heated up my meatballs and pasta and downed a very nice can of Thornbridge beer I’d purchased at Hathersage Spar.
At around 6pm, I headed back out in to the torrential rain for the 80 minute walk to Devil’s Arse cave. I did ask myself why I didn’t take the car.

Devils arse cave, Castleton Derbyshire

Devil’s Arse has to be one of the most impressive concert venues I’ve been to as well as being the best named!
I’d arrived in good time so I bought a drink at a stall near the entrance.
As I drunk my coffee, I said ‘hello’ to bassist Neil who was sporting a nice Appleton cricket shirt (there’s a story behind that!).

The audience area was split in to three tiers.
I took my place on a raised area to the right of the stage, leaning on the safety barrier between my level and the lower level on the left.
The support was JD Meatyard.
Not really my thing but a number of the audience seemed to enjoy his set.

At around 8pm, Half Man Half Biscuit came on stage and started their show with “She’s in Broadstairs”
I seem to remember the other songs were as follows:

  • Restless Legs
  • Renfield’s Afoot. A woman standing near me had danced her way through the previous two songs and continued through this one. A strange dance reminiscent of the of “Tales of the Unexpected” opening credits.
  • Lilac Harry Quinn
  • Harsh times in Umberstone Covert
  • Look Dad No Tunes (the theremin part really warmed the crowd up)
  • Ode To Joyce
  • What Made Colombia Famous
  • Paintball’s Coming Home With the extra verses which get added at every gig – “They say It Is What It Is and Gin O’Clock” “You OK, hun?” “They’ve got an ice cream maker and a George Foreman grill” 
  • Left Lyrics in the Practice Room
  • God Gave Us Life (“God gave us tailbacks on the M56, and God gave us tailbacks on the M60”. Nigel must have taken the same route I did)
  • Terminus (I think my favourite song at the moment)
  • Joy Division Oven Gloves
  • Running Order Squabble Fest
  • Dukla Prague Away Kit
  • Worried Man Blues
  • We Built This Village with the variation of “cavers out moshing”
  • David Wainwright’s Feet (a song originally on a kids album which is ridiculously catchy)
  • Born To Lose (a cover and totally lost on me)
  • The Unfortunate Gwatkin
  • Trumpton Riots
  • National Sh**e Day
  • Light at the End of the Tunnel
  • Time Flies By

    Then the encores
  • Fred Titmus
  • Everything’s AOR Quite possibly my favourite live song
  • Sounds of the Suburbs (another cover)
  • Every Time a Bell Rings. The crowd had been shouting for this all night.

A fantastic gig. The band sounded great.
Nigel played guitar on a few songs but for most of the time he looked like a slightly less frantic Bruce Dickinson, up on the monitors and climbing the safety rails.
As usual, he spent time chatting with the crowd but his attempt at jokes are probably not worth repeating! We did, however, learn that the river running through the cave was the Noe.

The show finished at around 10pm. The rain was still falling but was now less heavy. This was the first time I’d ever taken a head torch to a concert but was very glad of it as I walked the dark roads back to the campsite.

Back at the tent, everything was wet. I was glad to get tucked in to my sleeping bag, warm and dry. Unfortunately, the wind had got up, gusting around 35mph. I had positioned my tent in to the wind and had no doubt it was capable of withstanding wind a lot stronger. It was my pegging out I worried out about!

I woke at 6am after a reasonable sleep, all pegs still in place!
I set the Jetboil up on a picnic table, made a coffee and porridge.
I finished just as the rain started again. Being wet and a little muddy, the tent really didn’t want to go back in to it’s stuff sack. As I was in the car, I flung it and the rest of my muddy kit in the boot then headed to Castleton.
Just outside the village, I parked on the side of the road. Two of the pay and display machines were covered over, the third wouldn’t take my money. Bonus – free parking!
My feet squelshed as I put my Scarpas back on. I headed towards the concert venue and followed the signs to Pervil Castle.

Wild camping near Devils Arse Cave Half Man Half Biscuit concert

I spotted a tent near the entrance to the cave. I suspect someone may have been doing some wild camping after the concert!
I followed the Cave Dale path up. I say path, there was now a river flowing down the rocky route.
I continued along the Limestone Way before taking a right and following the path back to the car.
This was only around three and a half miles in length and I had planned two loops, the second taking me up Mam Tor. As I finished the first loop, the clouds got darker. It was time to bale out and perhaps plan another camping trip in the future when it wasn’t so damn wet!

Views down valley Castleton Derbyshire

As I pulled off in the car, the rain became torrential yet again but, despite the weather, a fantastic weekend and one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time…..now to see when the next gig is…..

Take a look at the Half Man Half Biscuit Lyric Project for a lot more info, reviews and photos for this concert (and others!)

Manchester Runway Trail

Today’s walk was something a little different, rather than majestic mountain ranges and vast vistas, the views would be of aircraft….lots of aircraft.

At 9.30am, I parked up in the Styal country park/Quarry bank mill car park. According to the website the car parking charges are £5*, however, when I arrived the booth was unmanned and I parked for free.

After a quick scout round in case there was a Pay and Display machine hidden away, I left  the car park the same way I drove in then, taking  a road to my left, headed North, with the Quarry Bank Apprentice House to the left.
IMG_1861I spent a little bit of time looking around this part of Styal which was built  in the late 1700s by  Samuel Greg for those working at his mill.

After passing the two churches,  I headed in to Styal Woods and on to  the North Cheshire Way.
I later discovered the North Cheshire Way is a Long Distance Path (71 miles) starting near my home in Wirral, past the airport and on to Disley Station in the Peak District. Might be one to complete in the future!

This part of the route is a pleasant woodland walk following and occasionally crossing the River Bollin. There is a fairly steep climb up the steps to cross the river at Giant’s Castle Bridge.
Emerging from the trees, passing a field of cows, I could here the distinctive noise of a couple of jet engines powering up. Up until now, it was difficult to visualise a large, international airport was just the other side of the trees.

I must admit my aviation nerdyness got the better of me and I did leave the path, waking up a grassy embankment to take a look over  Runway 2 05R/23L.  Unfortunately all aircraft movement was on the far runway, Runway 1, 05L/23R but I still got some great views of the departing aircraft (unfortunately, arriving aircraft were just a bit too far away).
Virgin 747 take off

Returning to the North Cheshire Way, I continued until I reached a roundabout.
To the right is a dual carriage way passing underneath the runway, however, the route continues almost straight across this fairly busy road.

Manchester Airport
The raised grass section just off the road looks over towards the airport and is a good spot for photos.
Continuing along part of the walk allows you to  get right up close to the runway, albeit from the other side of a high metal fence.
The path passes around one of the airport’s fire station and follows along the entire length of the runway.

I left the North Cheshire Way at the end of the runway, taking a right to towards the landing lights. Manchester airport landing lights

The path swings round to the opposite side of the runway. There are no views of the runway on this part of the walk but you do have departing aircraft fying just a few feet over head at the location marked ‘1’ on my  route map

The path  joins a quiet road which continues in the direction of the runway before crossing the River Bollin. I took a  right,  following the river through the tunnel , beneath the runway.
This brought me out near the fire station and I retraced my steps back towards the roundabout on the main road, however, rather than return following the river  I stayed closer to the perimeter fence, climbing an embankment to look right across the airport.

 

The runway path stopped at Altrincham Road which I followed in to Styal, a picturesque village with thatched cottages and cosy pubs.
After taking a right on to Styal Road, I took the footpath at the end of Holts Lane back to Quarry Bank Mill.

The GPX file for this 9.5 mile/15km walk is available to download

 

* Prices August 2016

Flat out in an Abarth 124 Spider

Ok, so the idea of this blog is to post about all things outdoorsy, however, one needs to get to the hills in the first place!

My car ownership has been rather limited. I learnt to drive in the family Fiat Strada then, after passing my driving test, I bought myself a Fiat Uno i.e. Start  A cracking first car . I also occasionally borrowed parent’s Fiat Punto Mk 1
….see a  theme here?!

After a year, I traded my Uno in for a Mk 2 Punto.  I then continued through the Fiat Punto range owning pretty much every iteration, each time getting a slightly more powerful engine before purchasing the  Punto Evo 1.4 MultiAir Turbo.
A highly enjoyable car to drive but then along came Abarth who opened (and promptly closed) a dealership close to my home.

I’d never seen an Abarth up close.  I’d read about them and had seen photos of these sexier, souped up versions of Fiat cars. They were the next ‘step up’ from Fiat and they’d introduced a version of the Punto just at the time I was about to trade in…it was a no-brainer!

Abarth Punto and 500s
My Abarth Punto on the right of the picture at Silverstone

In the Abarth, the drive around winding country lanes became as enjoyable as the walk I was driving to.  I can unleash my inner ‘girl racer’ from traffic lights yet it is  refined on long motorway journeys.
Without doubt, this is the best car I’ve ever owned but sadly Abarth pulled the model. Fiat and Abarth both concentrating on the popular 500 family

….then they threw a curve ball….

Original Abarth 124
Original Abarth 124

The original Fiat 124 Spider  was released in the late 60’s with the Abarth version introduced in 1972.
Several years on, the Spider is making a return, with both Fiat and Abarth updating this iconic car.

The Fiat version is a very nice looking car with plenty of bells and whistles.
Abarth, however,  take a good car and make it better with (slightly) more power, Brembo brakes and superior handling  thanks to the  mechanical limited-slip differential and Bilstein shocks.
It also look gorgeous!

New Abarth 124 Spider
The Abarth comes in two body styles; solid colour and, my favourite, the heritage pack which adds a contrasting matte black bonnet and boot. It has a real ‘Marmite’ response. People love it or hate it.  Personally, I think it looks great with a definite nod back to the original styling.

The inside of the Spider is far nicer than my Punto, things have progressed a lot in the last 4 years. Thee dashboard is swathed in alcantara and  a decent amount of equipment provided as standard including climate control, touch screen sat nav/entertainment and heated seats. Parking and rain sensors are available in an optional viability pack at an additional £1250.
It’s  reassuringly nice to see an analogue rev counter and speedometer behind the steering wheel and,  just in front of the gear stick, is the shiny ‘Sport Mode’ button. Much better looking than the plastic switch on the Punto.  This firms up the ride a little more and makes the throttle more responsive. I doubt you’d ever want to take it out of Sport mode!

Underneath the bonnet is the 1.4 Multiair engine with a Garrett turbo, very similar to what is in my current Abarth Punto.  It throws out 170hp but it’s the torque you notice, there is tonnes of the stuff.
The lump upfront gets  you from 0 to 62 mph in 6.8-seconds. Abarth claim around 44mpg but my experience in the Punto would suggest closer to 33 – 35 mpg.

Abarth 124 spider twinair engine

Boot space is minimal. My one worry with this car is it’s practicality, however, once the engine started I soon forgot about that, the sound is amazing! I would have happily have placed an order for the car simply on the noise made from the Record Monza exhaust!

But, the real test was out on the track. I put on my Abarth branded crash helmet and made my way out to the cars.  The 124s were at the front, behind them were the new 595s and behind those the completely bonkers 695 Biposto….more about that in a bit!

124 Abarth Spider
I was asked to choose between manual or automatic. Despite being my first time in a left hand drive car I decided to try out the 6 speed manual and got in to one of the red and black cars.
I was mentally going through these ‘wrong way round’ controls as my instructor introduced me to the Silverstone track, arguably the most iconic track in England ….wow!!
We made our way back to the pits then it was my turn. I had 20 minutes to take this awesome vehicle around the international circuit.
“It’s your test drive”, I was told “go as fast or slow as you like”
Needless to say, I planted my right foot!

The 124 responded beautifully. I only need to use third and fourth gears which were easy to engage using the short throw shifter.
It responded quickly to both braking and acceleration and was very happy around corners with just a little bit of understreer on the more extreme corners. The 124 is responsive to small steering inputs and extremely confidence inspiring. It will be interesting to see how the stiff suspension handles  bumpy, holey British roads  but at Silverstone it works brilliantly.

Although based on Mazda this is a true  Italian.  The powertrain, Record Monza exhaust,  the design and all the tweaks which makes the car so fun to drive is handled by Officine Abarth. Each car is tested and certified by an Abarth technician and moreover, it just feels like a nippy little Italian sports car should feel.

My laps were over far too quickly but my track experience wasn’t.
After a short break, I was back out for another 20 minutes of so in the 595. If I have to be honest, I admire what Abarth have done with what is a very popular Fiat model but, personally, I’m not a huge fan of the styling although it seems I’m alone in that!
Abarth have managed to squeeze 180 hp out of this little engine and it was a blast around the track. Like the 124, this car also has mechanical limited-slip differential and Brembo brakes.
Almost £10,000 cheaper than the 124, this is a great alternative and is still good fun to dive but there is no doubt which of the two I’d prefer.

The last car I tried was the 695 Biposto albeit as a passenger.
A stripped down car which is at the other end of the pricing scale at almost £33,ooo. Gone are the rear seats,door inserts, air conditioning and radio  instead you get something which feels like a proper little track car, full of the classic Abarth insanity!
I occasionally glanced over at the G-meter on the dashboard, it is remarkable what this pocket rocket is capable of although it’s definitely not something you’d purchase for your trip to the shops.

As I left, I was handed a gift, a black envelope containing four beautiful drawings of the 124. These will look very nice on my wall.

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Al in all, an unforgettable day an a car I am very tempted to purchase.
I hate to say too many good things about any Abarth cars as I love the exclusivity of the Abarth, waving to other owners  and arranging meet ups….so no, don’t buy this car! (-:

A good, if slightly long, video review of the Fiat, Abarth and original 124 is available on the Autogefühl YouTube channel

 

 

La Palma Pt 1 (Ze Planes, Ze Planes)

I had originally planned to do the Dales way in the middle of March 2016, however, after a bit of number crunching, discovered I could do a full week somewhere far warmer for around the same price and so I packed my bags and headed to Los Cancajos, La Palma.

Thursday 10th March 2016
It was a very early start for the 09:15 Thomsons 737-800 flight from Manchester to La Palma.
View from hotelAfter landing at the the small airport, it only took about 5 mins to reach the H10  Taburiente Playa hotel.
I was allocated room 110 on the first floor. A  good sized room with a balcony over looking the pool…. and the departing aircraft!

The weather was cloudy but fairly  warm so after unpacking I ventured out for a stroll to one end of town then back towards the beach.  Los Cancanjos is a very small town so can be covered in a very short time.  There are a handful of restaurants, bars and a Spar which (unusually for La Palma) opens late on a Saturday and is also open Sundays.  Sadly the town’s shopping centre has seen better days with only a few units open.

Back at the hotel for food.  The buffet dinner was nice. Salad,  paella, chorizo,  wrinkled potatoes, mojo sauce  and a banana for desert. Bananas soon became a frequent addition to most meals!
I had to take the key card to dinner to pay for any drinks.  A member of staff, sat by the door, takes a copy of the room details on to a slip then the total amount is paid at end of holiday at reception. This works well and saves having to carry money to dinner. The same process is used when getting drinks from the bar.

After a 04:30 start, an early night was in order. The quietness and  black out curtains in the room ensured a good night’s sleep.

Friday 11th March
Huge choice at breakfast. My meal included banana smoothie, cheese balls, bacon, scrambled egg, bacon and beans  (no black pudding!). Cava was also available for anyone fancying a glass of bubbly with breakfast. The freshly made omelettes were also quite tempting.
Today, I took walk to the capital city,  Santa Cruz.
Taking a right from outside the hotel, I stayed on the road, avoiding a climb up several steps from the beach.  The road becomes one way and runs alongside the beach. At the roundabout I took a right on Calle El Fuenrte, moving away from the shore and passing the military buildings.
The road continues past a number of car show rooms, Cupalma, a large banana distribution building and some sort of gas works. After passing these, the road  becomes a more pleasant tree lined avenue with the beach to your right.

At the edge of town is the port and bus stops which can take you further out around the island.  I headed up the main, mostly pedestrianised shopping street, O’Daly, containing a mix of shops; clothing, souvenir, supermarkets etc.
Around half way up is the Plaza Espana and the Church, Iglesia de El Salvador . It is also worth taking a small detour to the market on Avenue el Puente . Here, you’ll find stacks of sugar cane, local bananas and papayas. I purchased 40g of saffron for the extremely reasonable price of €4.

Ship and EnanoReturning to O’Daly, I walked to the Plaza De La Alameda.
At the road junction is the wooden replica sailing ship the Barco de la Virgen,  home to a naval museum.
Just in front of the boat is the Enano statue. This character is found on a lot of the souvenirs from the island and is even celebrated during the ‘Dance of the Dwarves‘ event.

Taking a right at the road junction, I headed to the seafront and followed the road down towards the small castle, the  Castillo de Santa Catalina, which was built in the 17th century to fend off pirate raids. There isn’t really much to see around the castle but it was free to enter.

Crab in rockpoo I meandered my way back to Los Cancajos following the same route I took to get here. I took a  break on the craggy, volcanic beaches for a spot of ‘rock pooling’. Plenty of crabs to be seen!

In total the round trip was around 9 miles. The route I took can be downloaded as a GPX file.

 

Saturday 12th March

Start of mont brena path
Start of walk 18.1

After fueling up at breakfast and armed with my La Palma Walking Map,  I left the hotel.  Heading north along the road towards Santa Cruz, turning off to climb the steps heading up to El Cantillo restaurant.  Two lines are pained on the wall, one yellow, one white, marking the path 18.1 to San Jose.

The path heads South West, over the LP2 road by the bus stop continuing towards houses. Near the car parking for the houses, the path leaves the road and rises steeply to the LP 204 road. Given that La Palma is apparently the World’s steepest island, most walks have a fair amount of climbing!

Follow the road to the entrance of Parador Nacional hotel,  past the hotel’s gardens and through the  car park.  Round the back of the hotel, the route joins Calle San Jose, the road south  to San Jose.
Most towns in La Palma have a Spar shop and San Jose is no exception. I popped in to load up on more drink then continued south to the end of town.

Take the right hand turning on LP 206 out of San Jose (with the white houses to the right) , leaving the road on the right hand side to continue on path 18.1. Away from the village, the  views now consist of trees and tropical plants.
walk to Montana de Brena Cross another road, the LP202, towards Montana de Brena  You can continue on the route south or take a detour to the viewpoint (it’s the same route up to the peak and back)
It is worth making the effort as the  the 565 metre peak offers some great views over the eastern side of the island.
Also on top of Montana de Brena is the Millennium Cross which joined the cross erected to commemorate the arrival of the 20th century, in 1901.

After wandering back down and continuing south, past a bbq area with play area and toilets.  18.1 continues along a quiet road before turning  off towards the pleasant but hilly town of Mazo. Luckily it was all down hill from here.  It was along this road I stopped to pick some ‘wild’ oranges by abandoned building. Lovely!!

Centre of Mazo villageIt is worth taking a short wander around the town to see the old buildings such as the town hall before heading to the church. Here the route becomes path 17 heading North East towards Playa del Hoyo passing banana plants….lots of banana plants!
Playa del Hoyo this isn’t much of a beach, just a car park with a restaurant. I stayed on the road, walking up to the airport where I popped in for a coffee and to use their free wi-fi to keep up with the Tranmere Rovers game!

737 Aircraft La Palma airportLeaving the airport, I followed the road back towards Los Cancajos heading under La Palma’s runway. The route has a pedestrianised walkway to the side of the road for most of the way apart from a stretch past the tunnel but the road is fairly quiet.

About half way along I stopped at the airport viewing area, Mirador del Aeropuerto.  The elevated point  gives a great view across the entire runway.
Leaving the viewing area,  take the right hand fork for the road back down to Los Cancajos and the hotel.

Download this route from my ViewRanger site.

Part 2 – Muchas Volcán

Zip World

I received a gift voucher for the Velocity zip (does any one do the smaller Titan zip?!) at Zip World, Bethesda as a Christmas present and booked it for my birthday as part of a long weekend which included a trip up Snowdon.
Despite being June, it was drizzly, not particularly warm and a bit windy. I was a bit worried that the booking would have to be rescheduled, lucky, however, it went ahead.

After pulling up in the large car park, the first stop was the cabin selling coffee and bacon batches!
Registration/signing in takes place in the main building. You can also leave any keys here so they don’t get lost on the way down or cause discomfort under the safety harness.
Speaking of the safety harness….safety is emphasised through out the experience and this begins when getting kitted out. You’re allocated a time slot, at which point  you are weighed and given your jump suit, harness, helmet and goggles.
I had brought my own Go-Pro esque camera as ZipWorld provide helmets with attachments for various camera types. Just ask when getting the kit. The helmets are number, enter this in to one of the computers there and you will be emailed a personalised video of your ride.
Once in our outfit, everything is checked and cross checked by two members of staff then you head off to the first of the zip wires, the ‘Little Zipper’. Even this small zip wire was longer and faster than any I had done previously, reaching speeds of around 45mph. This acts as a confidence builder and is a good introduction to  being hooked up to the wire and the braking technique (putting your arms out at a specified point) The Little Zipper itself is great, exhilierating fun.
On reaching the bottom it was on to what resembled an old army truck for the fairly long and very bumpy drive through the quarry. Some cracking views on the way, even through the cloudy gloom. The driver provides commentary on the history of the area and points out interesting features on the way up…..it slowly starts to sink in how high the Velocity is going to be!
At the top, riders go down in pairs and a television screen allows you to watch the previous pair coming in to land.
Needless to say, when your turn comes, all your equipment is checked, cross checked and the staff make sure you know exactly when to commence braking (when you see a particular feature on the landscape)

The ride itself is awesome! Even on a damp, cloudy day the views were fantastic as they zip (excuse the pun) at around 120mph. It’s only when you feel like you’ve stopped when actually you’re doing about 50mph do you really appreciate the speed!

Definitely back on the to-do list again!!

Welcome to Black Pudding Gaiters

Welcome to Black Pudding Gaiters, an awful name that came about much pondering over what the heck to blog about (perhaps people who struggle so much shouldn’t be allowed a blog – ho hum)

Black Pudding Gaiters will feature GPX files and descriptions of walks, the occasional bike ride and details of my ongoing mission to produce the perfect black pudding!

Future plans include a ‘gear guide’ – watch this space….or our Twitter, @blackpudgaiters

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