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]

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Backpackers Club Lightweight Equipment and Tent Show

Never have I seen so many people wearing Paramo in one place. They called it the Backpackers Club Lightweight Equipment and Tent Show, but to an unknowing bystander it might have been a Paramo Fan Club extravaganza (of which Mick & I fully partook; me in my new Velez Adventure Light, Mick in his trusty Vasco – well it was forecast to rain…).

We left home bright and not-quite-early this morning to make the hour-long journey up to Ashford-in-the-Water with the thought that we would probably not know more than a small handful of the people there and that the kit on show would not take us more than a short while to peruse. Our expectation was that we would be back home again by early afternoon.

Our expectations of the show were completely surpassed.

What I hadn’t expected was the number of people who stopped us to say “Are you Mick and Gayle?”.  It really was very nice indeed not only to meet those people but also to hear the very nice words they said about the Blog – so thank you all for taking the time to talk to us, it really was very much appreciated (such unexpected kind words do make all of this clattering away on the keyboard worthwhile!).

As well as the heretofore-strangers who said hello, there were unexpected meetings with people we had previously met, and so much time was very pleasantly whiled away chatting.

Then there was the gear-fondling – and considering that there were only three retailers (plus Satmap) there, there was a significant amount of gear to appreciate. Outside, on one side of the entrance, there was with Bob & Rose being constantly surrounded by people admiring their wares, and on the other side of the entrance was Satmap (with whom we did stop for a chat late in the day after most people had left, but I’m afraid that despite the salesman’s best efforts the product just doesn’t appeal to me (nowt wrong with the product, just not my cup of tea)).

Inside were two main stalls, and either I was being very unobservant (completely possible) or they weren’t displaying who they were. Upon examination it was evident that one was Alpkit, and I’m pretty sure that the other was Ultralight Outdoor Gear.

Despite having no intention of going there to spend, there were some things that just begged to be bought and my bag did get progressively heavier as the day went on.

The haul wasn’t outrageous. We patronised each of the retailers, and took away the following:


From the bottom left:

From Bob & Rose: A silk shopping bag (this is to supplement my previous one and I can’t speak highly enough of them if you want always to have a bag on you to save having to resort to disposable carriers) and a Nalgene hipflask (for Mick to fill with Brandy for the TGOC).

From Ultralight Outdoor Gear: 2 MSR Ground Hog Stakes (to replace those of our Alpkit Tykes which we have bent); Mick also got very tempted by a Thermarest Neo Air, having finally seen one in the flesh, but with a remarkable show of will, managed to resist.

From Alpkit: A pack of three pairs of socks (they said they were size 3-5; looking at them they looked bigger than that and trying them on at home they do fit me, but would be too big for a smaller foot, so I suspect they were actually size 5-8 (me being a 5)); and three roll-top waterproof stow-bags. The stow-bags look remarkably similar to the many Sea-to-Summit waterproof bags that we proved quite conclusively on our travels last year are not waterproof, however, we’re hoping that not-quite-waterproof bags inside of not-quite-waterproof pack-liners will prove to be waterproof.

With a total expenditure of £35 it didn’t feel like we had been too outrageous.

Our day possibly would have ended with a round of the retailers and much chatting (oh, and with a trip to the tea-room in the village, which served us some excellent food and tea), except that Trentham Walker strongly recommended that we swing by the tent show – and we were mightily glad that we did. Okay, so we don’t need another tent, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate what’s on offer, and we spent a pleasant hour or so taking the walk up to the campsite and looking around the many and varied tents on offer (including a brief sojourn inside the TN Laser Photon when it started raining again). I can’t think of any other place where you could possibly see such a good range of tents on offer (Lightwave, Vaude, Go-Lite, Terra Nova and …ummm…someone else, I think).

More people were then met and chatted with as we returned to the Village Hall and just as the event was due to finish we finally made our way towards the car for the homeward journey.

If it hadn’t been for following our Sat Nav’s instructions on how to get home (we had ignored it largely on the way up, so thought we would see the route it suggested for the way back) going past the entrance to the campsite where the tent show was being held, we would have gone straight home. However, as we were passing we thought we’d pop back in because we’d barely had chance to say more than two words to Darren and there we things we needed to discuss with him (stoves, quilts, TGOC, that sort of thing).

With another hour or so having passed we did many times say goodbye to people and make vague mentions of leaving before we did finally drag ourselves away. We really should have stayed over!

It was a truly excellent day (far more interesting than The Outdoor Show, and only a tiny fraction of the size), which was well and truly made by all of the nice people to whom we talked during the day. I wouldn’t even think twice of going along again.


  1. Would agree that this was a good event. Spoke to Rose of BPL, Eddy Meechan, saw Cameron McN of TGO but not you I'm afraid (I'm sure I would have recognised you! Hair still short?) Went into the local store which was jam packed with products - if you went in forwards you'd have to come out backwards. Didn't try the tea room though.
    Saw Darren but not to speak to. He was also looking around the tents which were an excellent exhibition.
    Overheard someone saying it might be in the SW next year. If it it, attractive region though it may be, I don't think I'd manage to get there.

  2. The hair is indeed still short, and by the number of people who recognised us I guess the photos I've posted of us are a good likeness.

    Having said that I wouldn't hesitate in attending the event again it's unlikely to be next year, wherever the location should be. If all goes to plan we'll be away walking again, and I think it unlikely that the event will tie-in with our route & schedule!

  3. It was nice to see you both again and I was very impressed with Gayle's new Paramo Smock.Good job that they don't seem to do the Mens version in black at present time otherwise I might have been tempted to spend some more cash.Have a good TGO Challenge.

  4. Good to catch up with you too Jeff.

    I'd not noticed that the VAL is only available in Black in the girls' cut. Unusual for us girls to get the better pick of the colours (all those silly baby blue walking boots spring to mind)!

    Anyway, look forward to hearing about your Dales Way adventure in six weeks or so time.