The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 7 April 2008

Random Thoughts

Last Walk
Saturday saw us take our final preparatory walk. It was 11.5 miles over Cannock Chase with full packs on and it served to check out a couple of things that I’ve been toying with.

The weather gave us a bit of everything. For the first three hours it was goodly warm sunshine interspersed by occasional snowy flurries, during which the temperature dropped (jacket on, jacket off, repeat). Then a big dark cloud came in, the wind picked up and the temperature turned arctic.

Talking of arctic:
One week today we will arrive at Land’s End. It will then be the middle of April which, to my mind, is a time of year when there may still be the occasional frosty night but in the main the weather will be warm.

So, to wake up to a blanket of snow yesterday morning gave us more to think about than the usual ‘oh isn’t it pretty’. This morning we awoke to a frost. My sleeping bag is not going to keep me warm in wintry weather (and I did research average temperatures in various regions of the country before I bought the new bag). My fingers are well and truly crossed for spring winning the weather battle at some point in the next seven days.

Montane Featherlite Smock
In the slightly inclement and rather cool weather on Saturday I decided that it would be a good test of the feasibility of taking the Featherlite Smock in place of the Paramo Fuera. The Fuera is lovely, very comfortable and of a reassuring weight. It has the weight of, and is as comfortable as, a sweater and therefore it kids me into thinking that it is as warm as a sweater.

The Featherlite wins on weight but doesn’t have that sweater-like comfort factor.

However, I was once again surprised. Even when the temperature plummeted, with the Featherlite under the waterproof (and over a long sleeved baselayer) I was warm enough. I wouldn’t have wanted to sit around in that combination, but then that’s why I have the down jacket. The Featherlite may yet beat the Fuera into the kit list (the other option is that it joins me in May, by which time I’m hoping that the weather may be approaching summery).

Our walk on Saturday saw me test out the OMM Villain. It had its first outing on the Malvern Hills, but as that was only a few miles I couldn’t really class it as a valid test on which to base a LEJOG-Pack decision.

The result of Saturday’s outing was that the Villain was declared to be more comfortable than the Aura. I even went so far as to opine that it was the pack that I would be taking with me next week, albeit with the disclaimer that I am female and therefore I do have the right to change my mind without warning or good reason.

I’ve mentioned before that the problem I have with my Salomon XA Pro shoes is that one of the lace anchor points puts pressure on my foot. It’s a pity as except for that one square centimetre on my left foot they’re very comfortable. I have in the past tried various things to relieve the pressure including taping a piece of cotton wool to my foot and a Compeed Plister (sic), both of which worked with reasonable success (but in the latter case an expensive way of making a pair of shoes comfortable).

Whilst browsing Superdrug on Friday, for the purposes of restocking the first aid kit, I came across self-adhesive chiropody felt.

I tried it out on Saturday and it was very promising. Even walking down steep, rough slopes I felt no pain from the usual pressure point.

As much as I’d like to have a pair of lightweight shoes that fit me properly without having to stick things onto my foot, I’ve been failing on that score for a long time now. This looks like a good compromise solution that will make the shoes comfortable.


  1. be very cautious of "self-adhesive chiropody felt"
    Having used similar in the past ifthe sticky stuff gets unstuck (sweaty feet/distance will do it admirably) the thing can slide about and end up causing chafing or at worst a blister.
    Sorry to dim the lights on your idea, but a little mor experimentation?
    Have you ever tried altrnative lacing methods?
    I have pressure on the upper foot so lace up to the top of the boot, and then lace back down one set of lugs so that the bow is lower down the boot - that one solved my particular pressure point years ago and I've used it ever since.

    Some links for ideas on this ....

    or even this (sigh - the net has too much sometimes!)

  2. and this is the one I was thinking of originally - very relevant to walking boots......

  3. The problem with the XA Pros in terms of lacing is that they've not got thread-it-yourself-tie-it-in-a-bow laces. They've got pre-made, very thin cord (joined in circle)which has a slidey cord grip. It rather limits the amount of adjustment you can make (you can apparently make a difference by pulling the cord-grip unevenly, but I've not found that it makes any great difference).

    My current decision (subject to change) is that I take the XA Pros, the chiropody felt and the Roclites when I start out. If I find the felt is good, then I send the Roclites home. If I find that I'm happy with the Roclites then I send the Salomon's home. If I'm not entirely happy with either then I keep them both and alternate. Three weeks in (when there's not so much lane walking involved) I switch to boots - fortunately I've not got the pressure point issues with the boots!