Saturday 27 April 2024

Altra Lone Peak failure

 Until this month I've ben happy with the wear rate of Altra Lone Peak shoes as trail running shoes. Last weekend I walked 80 miles with a light pack (5.5kg including water) across a wide range of surfaces, although none especially 'sharp', and the shoes are finished. I've worn through the upper on both sides at the ball of the foot.

A hole in  Altra running shoes

There only 500 miles in total on the shoes which isn't as good as I've achieved in the past. Do a quick search online and you'll find many complaining about excessive wear and tear.

Tuesday 23 April 2024

Yorkshire Wolds Way

For a while I'd been wanting to do a few days of consecutive walking, or perhaps even light running. It's one thing doing a 50km day but that doesn't get you do very far. Whilst on holiday last year I saw the start of the Southern Upland Way, and walked a few km of it. It looks like a good challenge, quite different from walks around home, but a long way to travel to, and with little accommodation along the way. Might need wild camping...

So, the next idea was the Traws Eryri cycle route.  After a struggle I managed to find accommodation but perhaps with days that were too long and too many. I needed a shorter, easier to access option. That led me to the Yorkshire Wolds Way. It's easy to reach by train from home and with a reputed minimum time of 11 hours and others reporting non-stop times of 20 to 28 hours I reckoned I could readily complete its 127km (or thereabouts) in 3 walking days.

Beforehand I started to have doubts. I'd done a number of practice days with a pack but this would be heavier. Would I start the next day with an injury, or at least stiffness?

Day 0

There as many local trains that stop at Hessle but if you're travelling into the area you'll need to go into Hull and change, or maybe change along the way at Brough. The trail start is close to the station but I'd chosen to overnight at the Hull West Premier Inn that is a little to the west of Hessle. On the evening I went there was a classic car rally at the nearby Country Park car park so there was plenty to see as I walked the 2km or so to the hotel.

Day 1 (41km predicted, 44km measured by GPS)

I'd booked for a 7am breakfast and was walking by half-past. I re-traced my route to the station and onto the coastal road. There are two starting points for the trail, the older at Hessle Haven and a more recent one a kilometre or so west with a marker stone. Of course, I had to go to the furthest point to honestly feel I'd done the route.
As outlined in the guidebook the trail runs alongside the Humber estuary before turning north. At North Ferriby there's a choice of routes dependent on the tide, I went inland. There are various online reports that the low tide route is either closed or muddy at any time. After crossing the M62 the trail becomes more rural, passing between fields and woods. Gradually the panorama expands to reveal agriculture and dozens of wind turbines. Late April was too early for there to be many wild flowers so the general appearance was 'green'.
The route was easy to follow with only short, gentle inclines so I made good progress. I'd already planned to detour via South Cave and took a footpath that led directly into the town. I stocked up on food at the convenience store and stopped for a coffee in one of the many cafes. On the way back onto the route I stopped on a bench to eat my newly purchased lunch and then set off, for just a hundred yards or so, in the wrong direction.
My pace was better than expected and by mid afternoon I'd reached the fork for the trail to turn along the Hudson Way, on a disused railway embankment, into Market Weighton. I popped into a pub for a beer as it was too early to check into The Londesborough Arms, my stop for the night. The accommodation was basic but clean with hot water, so all that was needed. 
I traced each road in the town and located all of the restaurants before deciding that I'd eat Indian. The shops were limited and I wasn't able to buy anything I fancied to supplement my stocks from South Cave. I later found out that there's an out of town supermarket that I'd not reached. Maybe I'd have been better supplied there?

Day 2 (52km predicted, 54km measured by GPS)

The live rock band two floors below my room were not going to be the next big thing and disturbed my rather early night. The hotel provides a very minimal breakfast basket so I'd left by 7am. The publican had recommended cafes in town for a cooked breakfast but they didn't open until 9am and I was concerned about the length of today's walk and so wanted an early start.
At the outskirts of Market Weighton the trail turns onto farmland near the Londesborough Estate. This was water-logged clay and I'd quickly got my fresh socks wet. My understanding is that the area is made of layers of clay and chalk. The former tending to hold water or force water in a chalk layer to flow onto the surface. Certainly today I found a marked contrast between saturated fields and dry chalky paths.
I enjoyed the first half of the day to Fridaythorpe with much of it fulfilling my expectations of passing in and out of the shallow valleys. Fridaythorpe though was a disappointment. I'd expected a well stocked shop at the petrol station, but again, little to my taste, and I didn't know that the Seaways Cafe  was just a little further out of town. So back to the dwindling stocks from South Cave and the rations I'd brought with me.
After lunch the trail was still good, passing through Thixen Dale and onto its namesake village. I stopped at the village hall cafe which is only open on Sundays. After Wharram Percy much of the trail was level with farmland. I found this tiresome, perhaps I was getting tired? I was aware of a few hotspots on my feet although the sunny weather had dried my shoes and socks out by this stage. Tonight's stop was the only room close to Wintringham, just 1km off the route where I had a great welcome. I didn't fancy a trip to a local pub so settled on my food stock in anticipation of a plentiful breakfast. 
I went to sleep with a background of BBC Sounds podcasts.

Day 3 (36km predicted, 37km measured by GPS)

Knowing my pace over the preceding 2 days I was confident that I'd reach Filey in time for my train home. The weather forecast was accurate and I set off in cool, light drizzle, but with no wind it couldn't be described as wet. Just beyond the village there was a steep climb out of woods, it really is steep and I wouldn't like to do it downhill. I nearly took out my walking poles but had reached the top before I'd committed to them. I used them for a few kilometres on the first day close to Market Weighton when I felt a bit tired, but otherwise they stayed in my pack.
Once on the hillside the trail contoured until close to Sherburn where there was a gentle descent on road into the valley. I'd been advised to visit the cafe at Potter  Brompton but I wasn't in the mood for cake or sausage rolls. It was certainly easy to access from the route. After Ganton the path climbed up to Saxton Wold with its razor-wire encircled radar station. There's a second steep ascent which I found to be slippery but mercifully short. Before reaching urban Muston I enjoyed two more dales where changes in direction kept me interested in the route. 
I saw the coast with 6km to go, I initially thought 'the end is in sight' before realising that Filey was more to the right and that it was Cayton that was visible. As is so often the case, the last kilometres felt hard, through a few fields and then across Filey. I was hours ahead of my pessimistic schedule so headed back towards the station for an earlier train. I'd spotted a chip shop close to the station which provided a very welcome late lunch. I also found time to pop into the Saucy Seagull on the station for a coffee.


I planned this as hiking trip, rather than sight seeing, and at below 4mph I saw plenty. For me the 'typical' 5 to 6 days would have been needlessly spread out and I can't imagine many walkers wanting to make detours to see off route attractions., no matter how short the planned days. The trail was generally not busy, some walkers, occasional dog walkers and even rarer folk doing the whole route. I spotted various obvious wildlife such as rabbits, hares, roe deer alongside a spectrum of birds, hedgerow to raptor that I can't identify. 

After all, the Yorkshire Wolds Way turned out to be easier, and greener, than expected. I managed a walking pace of 6kph throughout carrying a 5.5kg load including 1 litre of water. The weather was reasonably kind, neither hot nor wet which helped. Each day I felt I could have gone further and the idea of a future non-stop route with less weight seems feasible. I'll probably prefer to go somewhere new though with a bit more confidence that I can manage consecutive 40km days and cope with minimal supplies. When I walked the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast 35 to 40 years ago I carried far more stuff including spare shoes (!!) and at least a kilo of camera in a 65 litre rucsac. Now my knees are perhaps less sturdy a minimal approach in 22 litres seems far more sensible.

Good kit

  • The Harvey map is well worth its cost. The route is clearly mapped with enough margin to allow detours into villages. I kept it in a light map case so I don't know how water resistant it is. You could manage without a map as the marking on the ground is to a high standard, but I'd be nervous of setting off map-less. Importantly, on the Harvey map the route is marked as to its physical condition of path, track, road rather than the OS approach of its right of way status (ie footpath, bridleway, road). I found the guidebook an interesting read at home when planning but didn't see any need to carry information about Hull and Bridlington when I had no intention to do town tours. 
  • I wanted to ensure I had calories with me, especially something that could be put on bread or crackers. Online I came across peanut butter sachets.  I got Athletic Silky Smooth in a resealable packet although there are many options including army-style rations.
  • Being unsure of the quality of signage I loaded daily sections of the route GPX onto my obsolete and well-used Garmin 935 watch. It doesn't do maps, and anyway with aging eyes I couldn't see a mini-map usefully. A line of travel and direction arrow serve me well. I like seeing the distance tick down too. 
  • I limited the tech gear I was carrying but still there's a phone and GPS watch. I used an Anker Nano USB-C charger on this trip and loved its compact folding design with no sharp edges.

Bad kit

  • I know that trekking poles are supposed to be good for the knees, reduce the risk of tumbles etc, etc but I can't get on with them. I've walked too far in my life without them and haven't practiced enough with them. They're in my hands when I want to hold a map or stile, around my ankles if the terrain is tough, sticking in the mud when it's wet and banging my elbows when stowed. This was 300g I wished I'd saved on this fairly easy trail. I'll carry them on a longer trip, probably.
  • I've used waterproof socks for at least 25 years, starting with Army surplus-style booties. They are probably the best value I've used but must be well placed to ensure they aren't folded. Sealskinz make a range of socks with a stretch liner which usually work well for a while, until a stone or a toe nail perforates them. Even then the water flow is limited and feels OK, socks like this get used for short local wet runs. This trip I took a new pair of socks with 'Hydrostop'.  These were the worst socks I've worn in a long time. They didn't seem to be water resistant in the slightest and quickly became a squelchy heap on my feet. To add insult to injury the Hydrostop cuff cut into one calf sufficiently that it's not healed 2 weeks later.