Four Chaps and a Trailstar (The Langdale Daunder 2012)

Well, here it is, at long last, I actually went out in the Trailstar.
Plus a lot of other TGO gear, so how did it all go.

Read on Sir, read on ........................................

I had packed all my gear the night before, so by the time that Phil arrived at 9.45 on Thu, I was ready to go.

Now, we just needed to collect Alan and Dave at Nuneaton, and then get to the Langdale campsite, via a brief shop in Ambleside.

The stop in Ambleside did involve beer.

Since I have seen the posting of the incredibly unflattering picture of me on Alan's blog, I have decided that the beer was not a good idea.
In fact, a better diet and more exercise are a definite must do.

It is not fitness, I can still run a goodly distance and also bike and walk, 
BUT, and here is the point.

I definitely need to lose some weight.

To my mind, about 10kg at least, and maybe a bit more.
A couple of stone (old money), would certainly do no harm at all.

It is a long way to Langdale from Cambridge, but by about 5.30, we were at the site and setting up tents.

I had decided to take the Trailstar, with the Oooknest.
I had only put this up once in the Garden to do the seam sealing, so this was it's first outing, and my first proper go at getting it all set up ok.

I was using 6 x 9" Alpkit Y pegs and 4 x 6" titanium ones.
More on the Alpkit ones later.

The fact that I had cleaned and oiled the Pacer Poles last week, did not help.

DO NOT USE WD40 on your Pacel poles.

Liberal is what you want, or none as the case might be.
I had overdone it BIG TIME with the spray, and they would not lock at all.
This is not good when you need them to hold the bloody thing up, so after a lot of cleaning, I did finally manage to get them locked.
We will come back to the pole theme, because they are about to get a major overhaul here again to get them sorted.
If not, I will be taking my old Leki Poles on the challenge.

First attempt at putting it up

No groundsheet of any sort this time, just an old space blanket.
It works fine as a barrier between damp grass and kit.
You can see the huge amount of available room, even with the Oookstar.
OK, yellow does attract the odd bug, but the colour is good for me, and since we had a few midges around, the nest was brilliant.
After a bit of a pole faf, I got the tent up just fine.

Is it a TENT, a TARP or a SHELTER?

With the Oookstar it is to my mind a shelter, and a bloody enormous one as well.
I though Wendy was big but this is huge, and weighs in rather less.

I did not get a Cuben Oookstar, the SilNylon one with the mesh front is just fine, and the difference in weight is not an issue to me.
I mean, looking at a couple of photo's I am carrying at least an extra 20lb on my middle.

Well with the thing up and covered in more than a few copulating insects, we headed off to the ODG for some food.

Yep, I am going to be going for smaller portions on that lot for the next few months as well.

And I will be laying off the beer as well as the poor diet.
As you can see, Al is off the no beer diet.
By the end of the evening, quite a long way off.

It was a bit chilly this side of the pub.
We finished by standing around the nice fire on the other side.
BUT.. eventually it was time for sleep.

Tomorrow was to be a 9.30 start (and that is a definite maybe).

It rained in the night, but by the next morning, all was pretty clear, and so it was time to go.

OK, we missed the 9.30 and started off at about 10.00.

Blue skies ahead at the camp site, but for how long
The weather was looking good, but the forecast was pretty horrid

A gentle stroll round via the ODG, or it would have been had I not left my map and compass on top of Phil's car. So I had to run back and get these and that added another 7½ min.
See, I have started the fitness thing already.

I am not going to do a massive description of the route, because that is already done on Al and Phil's blogs

Heading along Mickledon Beck
The start is nice and gentle, although as we got to the footbridge, the heavens opened for about 10 minutes. So at the point where the climb up to Langdale Coombe begins we had to have the most clothing on, making it hot work.
By the time we got to the top, the rain had gone away.

Looking back toward the Stake Gill

Dave waiting at the top for Alan and Phil
The next bit, was a mixture of easy underfoot, with a few rather boggy bits.

It's all a bit much for Al.
He's a grandad you know!

Looking towards Pike of Stickle from Martcrag Moor

Small Tarn near the lunch stop.

Phil attempts to cook his maps

Pike of Stickle from the Tarn.
This was to be our next stop after a rather boggy bit to get back to the path.

Dave near the bottom.
It was bloody windy here

Me on top of Pike of Stickle.
See, I am losing weight already, and I did not have to
use Phil's holding the arms up trick.
So, we dropped our packs, and with just Poles in hand (which I did not need), we went for the top.
Being a bit impatient, I decided for the direct route rather than just use the path.
Back in my climbing day this would have been a simple scramble, but excess baggage and fear of death, made it less so.
Still, it was a lot more fun than going up the path.

Al points the way to Dave.
We are lucky with the weather, because looking out to High Steet it looked pretty bloody awful.
I came down the path!

Having collected gear, we headed off round to Harrison's Stickle and then Sergeant Man,
via a path that in some places was decidedly moist.
The views from the top of Sergeant Man down to Stickle tarn were jolly fine indeed.

View down to the Tarn

THREE of the four Amigo's at the top before descending down to the camp.
After Al's far from flattering images of me (I am glad I was not in the picture).
Although that image was enlightening, because it has given me a massive kick up the arse to shed some weight and get
back to the shape I ought to be
After this we descended down to Codale Tarn via the direct route.
Much much nicer that then the path.
Having said that Dave went for several interesting slides on the rather wet and slippery descent.
I also managed a rather fine 4m glissade followed by another shorter one after which I landed on my arse in wetness. Luckily, it was the bottom of the rucksack that took the biggest force and that saved me from breaking my backside.

I did however overstretch my hamstring a bit.
Luckily, it was just a minor twinge and all is fine.
That would have been an utter bugger for the Challenge.

A beautiful little spot for a Camp, I proceeded to put up Treeza the Trailstar.
Al gave her that name on his blog, so I will stick with it.

She's a feisty little number, but I have to say very taut, and that is how they should be.

Treeza! I am getting the hang of this Trailstar thing!
My only error, was starting the attach the Oooknest ties to the wrong side.
Not a big issue, but it means a bit of a Faff to move it round.
Indeed, that aspect is my only reservation regarding Scotland and the Challenge.

NOT because I am concerned about the robustness of the Traistar, nor how warm it will be if it is cold.

BUT... To attach the Oooknest, and tension it to the outside pegs which it shares with the main Tarp, you do have to squirm about a bit on the ground to reach through and get the elastic ties.

It is not the damp that concerns me, it is TICKS.

That being said, I am pretty convinced now that it is TREEZA and not Wendy that will be accompanying me this year.
Only been out in it twice, but as a shelter I love it.

Mind you, if I don't get my Poles sorted out, she may not be going!
Codale Tarn

Treeza again

Camp view from the Tarn
During the night, there was a very brief sleet shower, but that was all gone by the morning.
It was a bit chilly, but only if outside of the sleeping bag.
The only other noise was Phil's sleeping mat.
Well, something in Phil's tent anyway, and best to leave it at that.

We decided to set off by 9, and amazingly, we actually set off at


Yep, on time, even with Phil's strap faff.

It was a stiff old climb up to the top again.
Dave had rushed ahead, but the rest of us stopped quite a lot to admire the view and also for general banter.

Nothing like a bit of banter eh...

Memoriesa bit vague.
Looking down to Stickle Tarn I think

We headed on round, and eventually down to the Tarn.
Here, it started to rain for only the second time.
So on with all the rain gear, which pretty much guaranteed that it would stop.

Which it did about 10 minutes later.

So, off with the rain gear, and down to Langdale.

As we looked down, there was an enormous convoy (snake) of people all starting the Ascent up.
No wonder there is so much erosion on some of the paths in the Lakes.

And this was only a few of them
We finally did the last bit back to the ODG via the Cumbrian Way path.

By the time we got back, both my Poles and Phil's had jammed.

Dave and I had a cup of Coffee, and Al and Phil had beer and Shandy.
We did discuss sandwiches, but then decided after a good rest that we would head back to
Ambleside to the chippy, and to see if I could get any better pegs.

Did I mention pegs?

Yes, ALPKIT 9" aluminium Y stakes.

I thought that they would be the DOGS bollocks, but they turned out to be testicles.
The ground was really not hard, and in all honesty, a 9" peg should not bend.

BUT these do

I have some Alpkit titanium 6" that are excellent. As is their Titanium Cup
Also some 6" Aluminium pegs from Clamcleats that equally excellent.
So, I was a bit disappointed with these overall.

So, that is it.

I am now going with a larger MSR blizzard stake at the back.
A couple of 9" Y pegs, 
and the remainder 7" Clamcleats Titanium mixed with the Alpkit Titanium

More on final gear list in a blog next week.

IF, I can make my mind up that is.

So it was all over, and we headed back courtesy of Phil, who did all the driving.
What a lovely chap.

We dropped Dave off back in Nuneaton ,and then Al at Huntingdon Station.
Finally Phil dropped me off at home.

It had been a short trip, but excellent weather, and a good laugh, in the best of company.

Cheers fella's!

SO, just the Challenge next then ...................

This is Stephen Wilson et alia, also of Porcupine Tree


  1. Very nice read that. Trailstar all ready and you'll be fine on the Challenge. Alan will knock a shift or two in on the training front and be fine tuned for the hills.

    I am seeing a man about custom made titanium pegs this week. Made to what I want. Ypeg titanium maybe. Super pegs for the Trailstar.

    1. Keep me posted on the pegs Martin.
      Treeza was excellent, and the Oookstar is the mesh front, so you get that extra bit of a barrier, but still get the views.
      Good bloke that Sean :)

      Alan will be fine.
      It is the up hill bit he doesn't like.
      He gallops down though.
      It's those great long legs he has.

  2. I managed six floors of a multi-storey carpark today without stopping, two at a time and not out of puff!
    Smashing pictures, Sir. I like the sound of Martin's special titanium pegs...

    I think galloping down is actually easier than going down steadily - go with gravity.

    1. I can definitely say that the glissade method has potential for catastrophe.
      And it nearly did.

  3. Phil and Alan appear to be holding hands. Is there something we should know?

  4. They've always been close :)

  5. Excellent, that looked a fine wander. Some nice photos and that yellow Trailstar looks pretty mean. Shame about those Alpkit pegs - I have the aluminium V's and they have been fine even when having to cope with the peg-unfriendly surface of the Cairngorm plateau.

    1. To be honest Nick, only three bent.
      But when they are taking the major stress to tension the Tarp, you have to worry a bit.
      All sorted now, with 'Well 'Ard' pegs.

  6. Andy and Alan. I will meet with Jim and get some samples made. He reckons he can make what I want. If their good I will let you know. PS Alan you got mail and Andy your welcome. Can pick you up at Kings Lynn again.

  7. Fine looking lass, that Treeza.

    I am giving some thought to the Oookstar - but do have some questions, which I've put to Sean. I've wondered whether it would be possible to errect the Oookstar at an angle running to the side of the pole - more front to back than side to side (as is at the moment). This is the way I tend to lay out and to have it so that it could be pitched at an angle, as well, would give more flexibility - on slopes etc.,

    I'm off to Ashford tomorrow and will be playing with my MLD Bug bivy under the Trailstar.

    I'm taking no chances with stakes, this year. I got some 8.5" Clamcleat Spears to go with my MSR Groundhogs.

    If I bump into you at Tarfside or NWB I'll be giving young Treeza and Oookstar a few jealous glances.

    Was the Climbers Bar in the ODG still the same?

    1. Tnere are 2 possible positions for the nest as far as I know.
      At the back and at the side.
      Sean will sort you out.
      I reckon I am sorted on the peg front now.

      Yep, the ODG is the same as it ever was.
      Same barman I think.

  8. Good read Andrew. Your photo looking down on Angle tarn was taken in almost the exact location as an oil painting i have on my wall. Very nice.

    I wasn't aware that you could get a Y shaped Titanium peg? I'm interested, i don't think they can be extruded, maybe welded. If you need a minimum volume (Martin), i may be interested too.
    The trailstar looks better every time i see it.

    1. No, I lied.
      The Titanium ones are V pegs.
      It was typo :)

  9. Forget the diet idea, Andrew. I've seen your route - you'll be reduced to a mere waif by Montrose!

    Lenses. That's what I put these cruel pictures down to. Barrel distortion they call it.

    And in any case, you cut a fine slim figure in that summit photo. :-)

    1. It was that bloody tight top I had on as well.
      The angle and the relaxed torso.
      I need to tighten up the Abs.
      But I could do with shedding a few kilos.
      I reckon about 3 to 4 will go on the challenge.
      I am starting now anyway.
      My diet was crap.
      I need to eat healthy food.
      I shouldn't look like that, even with a fish-eye lens.
      And there is no way I am going to admit to the ageing process.

    2. I've heard it said that a chap reached middle age when his waist measurement exceeds that of his inside leg.
      I have been squeezing myself into my 34/34's for a few years now, fighting the signs of ageing!

    3. It's not so much the waist size as the composition.
      Oh, and the amount of Squeeze required.
      Anyway, that photo did me a favour really.
      I am on the case now and the problem will be resolved.

  10. Andrew, Andrew. I fear you may have a body image problem developing. Do not be seduced by the siren song of emaciated tofu munching teetotallers. Real men of mature years carry a certain physical 'presence' that outweighs (in all senses) the slight pretensions of the callow youth. Think Hemingway, Oliver Reed, Orson Welles. Anorexia is not a good look on a fella - unless you aspire to be the next Kate Moss.

    Buy larger trousers, stand next to someone wider in girth than yourself and all will be well.

    Trust me, I'm a doctor ... no ... er ... salesman.

    1. That's why I stood right next to Phil for all these years, all said and done...
      Until Miss Whiplash stuck our portly pal on the lettuce leaf diet.
      Now even Kate Moss couldn't hide behind him anymore...

    2. Think Hemingway, Oliver Reed, Orson Welles

      Needs to be got under control certain age or not.

      Otherwise I will be thinking Patrick Moore

  11. I have had concerns about poles jamming. My Lekis have jammed twice and to be fair I had them fixed by Leki, but when you have a shelter which depend on them - I have a Golite S L 1 it's worrying, not to mention the main purpose of poles!

    It seems those that have the locking stuff on the outside may be better.

    Weighloss - good idea and I need a scales that does not lie! Now with a dodgy knee I will have to be more watchful as long walks are on hold.

    1. Indeed Bob.
      Only two days before this jaunt I realised that my GossamerGear LT4's were jammed and my Leki Titaniums also knackered. Both sets relied on internal locking mechanisms. I have since switched to externally locking Lekis - so much better!

    2. I have hopefully fixed mine.
      Degrease, a good clean, and then left them apart for a few days.
      Seem ok now.
      Of course, if they have issues on route, I might be leasing one of Al's poles to hold the tent up.
      If I do it will cost me a gallon of beer., minimum.

      Next set will have the locking clips.
      Shame Pacer don't do them.

    3. I'll bring a tiny can of WD40 along to guarantee a gallon of beer then...

    4. Well as we know from the TGO report, the degreasing did NOT work.
      They are now in the garagae, left to dry out for a month or three.
      Might try them again, might not.