Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A sad day

As I watched this JCB digging up this field with a very heavy heart, a lady at the bus stop asked me "have they started building the new shop?"

I told her that an application was in for hundreds of houses, a school, a shop and a health centre. But so far the health centre was the only thing that had permission, so I assumed that's what they had started to build.

"Ah. I'd heard they were building a shop", she said hopefully.

She wasn't an elderly lady. We were less than 100 yards from a corner shop and not terribly far from the town centre. But the fact that her view is about to be ruined, what used to be a small friendly town is to have hundreds more households-worth of people parachuted in (this is one of many developments being built onto the edge of the town), more green fields are being concreted over and more hedges dug up, all seemed to matter not a jot compared to the convenience of a shorter walk to get her fags.

I despair. And I don't want to live any longer in the rapidly-growing Ashby de la Zouch.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Ivanhoe Way blocked south of Ashby

I live in Ashby and it's been very difficult watching North West Leics council grant permission for one major development after another to be built on the green land around the town.

I could have a real rant, but local democracy [or rather, lack of] aside, there are implications for our paths. Today was the first time that I tried to use the Ivanhoe Way path leaving Ashby to the south-west since work started there. From the Moira Road you used to head across fields at around SK346166. Here's what that field looks like now:

There are new houses standing on the spot that you used to enter the field. It would be fab to discover that you have the right to walk through one or more of those houses in muddy boots but I expect Leicestershire County have done the necessary legal stuff with the path.

I don't know whether it'll eventually be possible to get through this development and join the Ivanhoe Way just beyond - as I write this on 1 Jan 2015, half of this site is still a building site and therefore fenced off with no signs giving information or a detour. So the IW is blocked.

There's nothing on LCC's Ivanhoe Way page, I've written to them asking about this and will post the reply here.

[edit 2 Jan] Leics council are visiting the site, I'm very pleased, having been expecting just a quick answer.

In the mean time, I suggest continuing out of town on the Moira road and picking up the footpath that heads off at Shellbrook and joins the Ivanhoe Way.

It's gutting to see so much green land being built on, especially when the local people are strongly opposed to it. It's also a shame that it further spoils this long distance walk. There are already too many housing estates to walk through on this route and there will be more; there's another one imminent on the other side of Ashby (the 'Money Hill' site).

Monday, February 03, 2014

A flood plain is...

From Wikipedia: "an area of land adjacent to a stream or river that stretches from the banks of its channel to the base of the enclosing valley walls and experiences flooding during periods of high discharge"

That means the flat land around a river. It's designed by Mother Nature to flood when it rains a lot.

People who live in houses built on such land should hold the moneygrabbing developers responsible when they inevitably get flooded and invite those people along to personally bail them out. With a small bucket.

Someone said to me when I stood on the bridge over the Trent (Cloud Trail - National Cycle Route 6) and pulled out my camera, "it's impossible to capture the extent of it!" That's right, the flooding is spectacular. I tried a couple of panoramas from the bridge, and another when I was on higher ground by Stanton by Bridge.

This is by the road just before I took off my boots and waded through flooded road
In the distance here is Swarkestone Causeway (showing the arches. Those driving across only see the tarmac top and miss the beautiful stonework). Usually the water here is grassy with animals occasionally grazing on it. It floods when there's too much water, when the water goes away the grass recovers and the animals come back. Hakuna Matata.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

"It only comes half way up my ducks..."

I generally avoid tarmac but in a wet February it's the way to avoid sloshing around in water and mud. You'd think.

Sign: Flood. Me: Really?

The alternatives were a very long diversion, or braving Swarkestone Causeway on foot (I'm not that brave). It's not the first time I've taken my boots off for a wade. I'd seen 4WD's and large vans ploughing through it so I assumed it wasn't as deep as it looked.

 What I hadn't really thought about was how far it would go on....
 ... and on....
It wasn't deep at all in places. In some places it came knee-high.

The other thing I hadn't considered was that the water would be *really* cold. Silly thing to do? Probably. But fun.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Malvern Hills

Distance: 10 miles
Walked: Saturday 16 September 2013
Total miles walked this year: 230
Route: Malvern Hills

August Bank Holiday Walk

Distance: 25 miles
Walked: Saturday 26 August 2013
Total miles walked this year: 220
Route: Starting from Shobnall, follow Millennium Way along the Trent and Mersey canal and through to Yoxall. Leave the MW and take footpaths to Braken Hurst Woods, pass the airfield and head north, skirt south of Tutbury and back to start point via Anslow

I've been doing this walk every year on August Bank Holiday since 2006 and I think I've been lucky with the weather every time.

Not really edible but used to give flavour to beer, these are hops growing wild.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review - Craghoppers 22L daysack

I've been looking for my ideal daysack for some time and I've now been using the Craghoppers Kiwi pro daysack for a few weeks and have worn it for 64 miles.

I chose it for its capacity - 22 litres is just the right size for the food, water, extra layers and other bits and pieces that you need for a day's walking. I was also looking for one with an airflow system. The smaller sack I've been using just has a plain back and the 'sweaty back' has been a real problem for me, especially in the Summer.

In short I love it. It's comfortable and practical and I'll be using it for every trip from 5-mile leg-stretches to single-day challenges such as the Ivanhoe Way.

The pockets are great and well thought-out. It has one big main compartment. I ruled out others that have more than one large compartment because I don't see the point. That divides your main space up and I think you'll fit your stuff more easily into a single compartment such as this one has. It has a useful small outer pocket which I've found very easy to access for small items. There's also a sunglasses pocket which is 'velvet'-lined. (I don't have shades - I have been using this for my phone). Plus the usual external mesh pockets.

It's very comfortable indeed. So far, 19 miles is the furthest I've walked in one go with it but the straps have been very comfortable on the shoulders. The product specification says that the waist strap isn't weight-bearing but when done up it helps the Kiwi to nestle on the back and it does take the weight off the shoulders.
The airflow system is comprised of some raised meshy padded areas. The air can then flow between them.  It's not as good as the 'mesh' type system on bigger more rigid rucksacks, but those are bigger and heavier. It's certainly better than similar and smaller sacks which don't have an air system.

Those padded shapes also help the bag to sit very comfortably on the back. When it's packed right and adjusted right it really does feel very good.

It has a pocket for a hydration bladder (eg Platypus or Camelbak) with a little hole under a flap for the tube. I've tried this and it's fine, but I prefer to use a Sigg bottle now. I found that a full Camelbak in the relevant pouch, with the rest of the space well-packed, made the back bulge out, reducing the general comfort and also reducing the effectiveness of those air channels because they were all pressing against my back.

I'm not fussed about waterproofness because I take great care not to walk when there are darker clouds forecast. But it has already dealt well with a light shower. It's pleasing to see the water beading and it seems reasonably waterproof.


  • Pockets and compartments are very well thought-out
  • shoulder straps are very comfortable
  • 'airflow' pads make the sack very comfortable on the back
  • bladder pocket and hole for tube
  • Although it's stated that the waist belt on this model isn't load-bearing, it does make the pack more comfortable and helps to support the weight.


  • I'd prefer a more rigid back for better airflow with a bladder in place, and so that a full load doesn't change how it sits on the back. But I think I'd only get that with a bigger, heavier sack.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ivanhoe Way (over two days)

Distance: 19 miles
Walked: Saturday 10 August 2013
Total miles walked this year: 195
Route: Anticlockwise from Stanton under Bardon to Ashby

Distance: 18 miles
Walked: Sunday 11 August 2013
Total miles walked this year: 214
Route: Anticlockwise from Ashby to Stanton under Bardon

As a training walk for doing the whole lot in one go, I walked the route over two days. I'm aiming for 12 hours this year and my speed here was certainly up to it - average more than 3mph each day.

It was a little bit sad to see signs of autumn, but then again, my first blackberries of the year were delicious:
 One of the first signs of leaves turning, the black spots that appear on sycamore. Supposedly a sign of good air quality.

 Paths were still passable despite some crops being head-height
 Conkers, anyone?
 Not very filling but it's great to find wild raspberries:

 Some curious fellas: