The weather this past bank holiday has been amazing in the Lake District. In fact the whole of the North West has been enjoying a prolonged period of settled sunny weather. 😀 Especially nice that, in an unusual turn around of the normal way of things, the South East has been getting rained on. 😉
We kicked off with a trip to Castle Crag in Borrowdale. I’ve never been to this crag before which is a major oversight seeing as it is really easy to access, has a load of middle-grade routes, and is in a lovely sunny location. The only thing to watch out for is that if there is any wind about, especially from the west, it will take the brunt of it. However, we had perfect weather…
Many of the routes at Castle Crag are best done as a single pitch rather than the two described in the 2000 Borrowdale guidebook. The greater experience of a single pitch combined with the less travelled nature of the routes means that many have been upgraded in the forthcoming Borrowdale guide. The two routes pictured above are cases in point.
The North Face Mens Ultra Fastpack II GTX Waterproof Breathable Shoes
Recently I was kindly given a pair of The North Face’s Ultra Fastpack II shoes to review. These shoes make a nice change in many ways to my normal sturdy approach shoes – they are really light in weight and comfy. Sure, maybe they don’t offer the same near boot like support as I’m used to, but they have many other great features.
I ordered the shoes online from Outdoor Look. The ordering process was super simple and the delivery was fast and efficient just as you’d expect.
Many people I know shy away from ordering things like shoes online for fear of not getting the sizing right. So on that point it’s worth me saying that The North Face sizing seems spot on – I am a UK size 10, so that’s what I ordered, and the fit was perfect. No need for fear there then.
Here’s what The North Face have to say about the shoes:
Built for fast pursuits, the waterproof Ultra Fastpack II is loaded with new technologies. Upper: Embedded cables inside the mesh quarter panel provide sleek, lightweight midfoot support. Welded upper for sleek support and weight savings. Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX membrane. Rubberized toe cap and screens for toe and metatarsal-head protection. Sole Unit: Updated Ultra Protect CRADLE technology provides proper heel support. Dual-density, injection-molded CRADLE GUIDE midsole for cushioning and support. Vibram XS Trek outsole for durable multi-terrain traction. Collar lining has FlashDry.
After a fair few days out and about in these shoes I’m really starting to favour them. The heal construction in particular is very good. Missing out all the techie language, “Protect CRADLE” etc., the simple result is that within a nice light weight package the heel stays brilliantly supported and this gives a very surefooted feeling. While the flexible forefoot is very comfortable for extended periods of use, such as a full day hiking in the mountains.
The last observation is that Virbram sole unit is incredibly grippy. As we’ve had such a long period of dry weather as noted above I haven’t been able to try out in the wet for grip. But I see no reason why they won’t be great then too. Plus with the Gore-Tex waterproofing I think they will continue to win me over. My single negative then in that, as a climber, I would have liked to see a flat un-treaded area under the big-toe to enhance their performance when scrambling and placing them on rock edges etc.
Coniston Water Open Water Swimming
In preparation for Laetitia’s forthcoming Great North Swim in Windermere we had a wee splash about in Coniston Water. I didn’t spend long in the water though. I like to use Zac as an excuse – he was barking from the shore the whole time we were out in the lake – but in reality the honest truth is that I just ain’t much of a swimmer. Whereas Laetitia is like some kind of fish! Ah well, it was nice sitting in the sun while Laetitia crossed the lake, rounded Peel Island, and came back.
An finally, something I’m much more comfortable with, climbing bold slabs… Bloodhound at Gouther Crag is in my opinion one of the best in the Lakes.