Roseberry Round!

There are many areas around the North East where you can travel relatively few miles to find somewhere to have a nice, scenic walk.  One of these is the Cleveland/North Yorkshire Moors.  The area around Great Ayton, Stokesley and surrounding villages is one part of the NE where you can find a variety of surroundings in which to walk.

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There is a well-known place, Roseberry Topping is visited by school parties, families and just about everyone who wants the feeling of climbing a fairly big hill and taking in the views at the top.  To be fair, it is a bit like Catbells in the Lake District, as in gets a bit crowded and if you like a nice quiet walk out it probably isn’t my first choice, but we thought we’d have a look out but use the surrounding area to ‘beef’ up the walk a bit.

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I plotted a route which starts on a small lane called Dikes Lane, which you can get onto by going to Great Ayton and following the sign to Great Ayton Train Station then staying on that small road up into the hills and a carpark that conveniently has a picnic site.

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We arrived about 11am and there were a few cars already parked up.  This is a well-used car park as it is also an ideal starting point to visit Captain Cook’s monument.  It was just me, the missus and Alfie the Springer Spaniel walking today and apart from a very strong (annoying) breeze, the sun was making an appearance every now and again and no rain was forecast, which was good.

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I had planned this route so we could get our hill fitness back as we had been neglecting mountainous areas of late and the old leg muscles were getting a bit unworked, apart from the allotment that is.  I saw by the map, the route I’d marked out would have 3 short but steep climbs to work our hearts and legs, and one of these was at the very start.  The path is clear, it sets off north up the steep steps up onto Great Ayton Moor, hugging the wall/fence to the left.  This takes you up onto the top, the views in all directions are stunning, as long as you can block out Middlesbrough (just kidding, it’s a lovely place).  For about 2 km keep to the right hand side of the wall until you reach the junction in the wall which goes of in a number of directions.  We decided, even though we’ve summited it a few times, to go up Roseberry Topping.  It is quite obvious which path to take now, it drops down the hill into a dip with Roseberry straight in front of you.  At the bottom of the dip we turned left through a gate and stayed on the path until we saw the gate at the SE of the hill.  Through the gate and up a zig zagged path to the top and loads of people!

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The council have tried their hardest to sand blast the etched in graffiti which pretty much dominates the summit, to be fair they’ve done a good job as it doesn’t look half as bad as I used to.

Whilst on the top, we noticed a bit of a drama taking place.  We heard a lot of shouting coming from the start of the easterly decent down.  On further inspection, a bloke was shouting at a youth, about 15 years old, who was on his hands and knees gripping tightly to the rock surface.  Listening in, the young lad was scared the wind was going to blow him off the top, I mean it was a bit breezy but it wouldn’t have blown the dog off, near mind this lad.  Anyway, the lad clawed his way to shelter near some rocks and he eventually stood up.  It reminded me of one of our trips up Helvellyn and a young lass crawling the whole way across Striding Edge because she thought she might be blown off, it was about 25c and no wind (for once).  I didn’t know whether to piss myself laughing or feel sorry for the poor lass…I generally don’t feel sorry for people!

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Now, this is one of the things I try not to bang on about but it is one of my pet hates, OK, Roseberry Topping is very popular tourist spot.  It’s a hill or mountain which ever you want to call it or which ever way you define it.  For the purpose of this rant, I’m going to call it a big hill.  This hill is clearly pathed, nice stone steps in places but still places where you can fall and snap bones.  It stands 320 m above sea level, but even the 200m ascent from the car park in Newton Under Roseberry it still needs to be climbed.  Even looking at the map, the contour lines are canny close so you should expect a steep climb.  There are still people wandering up and down in shoes and trainers, unsuitable footwear!  A fall, even at this relatively small hill will need the emergency services to come to you, unless you have a day sack with a good first aid kit.  A good pair of walking boots will give you the extra support and stability you may need during a slip.

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While I’m at it, if you see me in the hills, you’ll know who I am, tall dark Yorkshire man with a North East twang.  I have what would appear to the average person a large day sack on my back.  I’ve been out with people who say, “You carry too much for a day out”, but I carry a good set of emergency equipment.  The reason I carry this is because unlike others, I realise that mountain rescue organisations are funded by charity, nothing else.  And I would be mortified if I had to call them if one of my party sustained an injury.  As a Leader I would expect to give first aid and evacuate a casualty, unless in extreme circumstances.  You see people up on hills with inadequate equipment who expect if anything goes wrong, mountain rescue have a right to retrieve them! It’s wrong, wrong, wrong!!

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Anyway, back to the route.  We decided to drop off the hill in a NE direction and take the clearly marked out path into Hutton Lowcross Woods.  This is a lovely forest area and the wildlife was teeming.  We followed the path to the open ground at the end where it joined a small minor road that goes SE into Hutton Village.  We took this route then joined a path just before the village on the right and started the climb up back onto the moorland through the woods.

As we emerged out of the wood-land we recognised the spot as part of the Cleveland Way, which we completed a few years ago.  Again, the views were incredible and with the path being wide enough to see it from the moon, I could concentrate on the view momentarily instead of reading the map.

RANT No 2 coming up!!

Roughly about 500m down this path there is what appears to be an old air defence bunker built from brick and the building itself is in good condition.  Being very interested in anything military I had a quick look inside.  It was littered with plastic and glass bottles!  Now this is what I can’t get my head around, people that would come across this building would generally be walkers or shooters, both kinds of people who look after the countryside and would not (I would hope) leave so much crap around, for god’s sake there was an old car seat in amongst the bottles!  Dirty, dirty gits!!

We carried on down the path until coming to an obvious junction with a track heading south down into Nab End Woods.  This is a steepish path downwards which is clearly been made for heavy plant machinery.  The countryside opens up on the right-hand side and a view into the farmland of Oak Tree Farm.  Halfway down this track my wife Kel, let’s out a god-awful scream as the dog picks something up in his mouth.  Both me and the dog jump out of our skin and he drops what he had put in his mouth.  The missus shouts, “it’s a giant caterpillar!”, prompting me and Alfie to look down at a Pine Cone lying between his front paws.  With my heart pounding out of my chest I painted the North York air with blue language before both Kel and me crying with laughter at her over dramatisation.

We plodded on down to the main road and turned right up towards the farm.  The last leg went up through the farm buildings and up to the car park.

Just over 7 miles of gorgeous moorland, woodland and farmland, all the boxes ticked!

I feel I need to take more advantage of this area, it’s 30 mins from my doorstep and there are some great routes waiting to be hiked!

 

Organised Walk Around Shincliffe!

On Saturday 29th December 2018, my sister in law, Alison, who runs the company ‘Journey to Discovery’ had organised a Christmas ‘Bobble hat’ walk in the Durham area.  She told me a few days before that quite a few people had shown interest and she double checked with me if I was still coming because she had almost 16 people told her they were coming, and she wanted my help.

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We all met up at Sunderland Bridge which is near Croxdale on the River Wear.  Most had fulfilled the brief and were sporting Christmas Bobble hats, except me, no way was I gonna wear one.  I’m from the old school that head wear is for practical purposes.  I wore my trusty Berghaus ‘Dut’, which once the winter sun got out was swapped for my peak cap.

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Ali gave everyone a briefing and forms that needed to be signed and before long we were on the footpath NE under the A 167 then through the woods to Croxdale Hall.  The route is fairly clear and it continued to Croxdale Woods.

At this point the group also consisted of 6 or 7 dogs so the group was pretty lively and at points were stretched out a good few metres, but that’s why Ali wanted me there, ‘Tail End Charlie’ to pick up any stragglers.

The route swang east around Butterby Woods up to High Butterby Farm where a group photo was taken and Ali’s stash of Christmas cake was consumed.  I had a little look at the path we were about to take down into Shincliffe Wood and it was muddy and there were quite a few twigs and branches poking down into unsuspecting eyes, especially for the taller of the group so warnings were given to watch feet and eyes.

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The route drops quite quickly as it joins the Wear at the bottom of the slippery path but even though there were a few slips and near misses but all backsides were clear of mud and no eyes had been popped out, bonus!  I must say, this stretch of the route I have walked a million times and I never get bored of it.  The Wear has a good selection of birds using it and this is where the path stays level so you can look about at the scenery instead of staring at the floor in case you end up on your arse.

Ali had explained in the joining instructions a refreshment break would be taken at the garden centre in Shincliffe which I think was a good place, well, that or The Rose Tree pub and I think it was ideally placed for some of the tired legs and feet at the rear of the group.

Sat in the centre’s café it was quite clear that people were in very good spirits and everyone was getting on fine, even the ones who had just met were talking like they’d known each other for years and a good deal of hilarity could be heard.

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After a good break, it was time to make a move for the route back, not before Milo the Cocker-Poo helped out the staff at the garden centre by watering a few of the ornamental plants.  Back on the track we walked in on, we took a left turn east up to West Grange then went on to join Strawberry Lane which is a clear route through the farmland and a great view across the area.

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We were a good few miles into the walk at this point and we had regained the height lost in Shincliffe Wood on the route in when we took the steep path back up through the woods to West Grange.  The slower of the group, who had struggled on some of the hills were still laughing and joking, even though I know some had a couple of feet problems and tired legs.

Strawberry Lane took us south for a good distance, passed Pigeon Plantation to a 4 way junction in a small copse.  A turn right west, passed High Croxdale all the way back to Croxdale Hall to re-join the first part of the route back to the start.

This walk was really good craic, I made a few friends and actually spoke to people I didn’t know socially, which is not like me.

Ali showed great form on this walk, she has a great ability to make people feel at ease and can control with out being controlling, if that makes sense.

Another great route not too far from my doorstep!

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Afternoon up Binsey!

We recently had a week in a lovely lodge at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat in The Lake District, just along the A591 near Bewaldeth.  The location has many walks from the door and one of these is a small fell called Binsey.  Binsey is a detached fell in the northern lakes near Bassenthwaite.

We set off walking up a farm track from the main road (A591) which cut across some boggy sections of the track, throw in some sheep shite and it makes for some cracking smelling boot polish!

The track ends at a gate and then its up the moorland all the way to the summit, which you can’t see from the bottom the way we went up.  There’s a cairn and a trig point at the top, even though it is one of the smaller fells, the views are amazing.  If you have a walk about the top, Bassenthwaite is in full view and if you look the other way, Scotland and the Solway Firth, you can also see over to Overwater.

Sometimes the smaller fells offer better views than the larger mountains, and they’re easily accessible in an afternoon walk.

Lowland Leader Course!

As I storm into retirement, I have slightly more spare time on my hands, well, after I’ve finished all the housework and hack away at the never-ending list of jobs given to me by the other half and my mother in law.

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I decided to book myself onto a Lowland Leader Course which are conveniently ran by one of my old mates.  I had to join the Mountain Training Association first to get on the course and register onto the website and commence a Digital Log Book (DLOG).  My mate told me to get a few quality Lowland walks onto the log to put me in good stead for the course.  This wasn’t too difficult as I have numerous walks under my belt so it was just a case of filling in all the drop-down boxes on the DLOG and adding a brief description of the walk.

The course, if I’m successful, would allow me to take small groups out in Lowland areas for walks and also allows me to take out bronze award Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) candidates.

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I turned up on the first day of the two-day course early Saturday morning at a local (ish) cricket club.  The instructor was there to greet me and it was great to catch up with my old friend.  There were only 3 (including me) candidates for the course, but this is better for us and it means the instructor can focus more individually.

The first half of the first day was taken up by kit, weather, walking group dynamics and checking the candidate’s navigation knowledge.  This is a very full couple of days as you could imagine so bait was eaten at the table to get everything covered,  which to be fair is fine by me as I’m not one for standing around gossiping, which I find is the norm in one hour’s meal breaks on these sort of things.

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Then it was out into the area with a pretty good route to navigate.  The route was broken down into sections which we took turns in leading.  We used 1:25 for this section of the course and we had some pretty tricky routes to lead.  The afternoon went very quick and we returned back to the base in dusk, mentally knackered.  A couple of glasses of wine were needed back at home and an early night.

The next day we met at Hutton Rudby in North Yorkshire for day 2, the weather Gods were our friends today as rain had been forecast but we were met with broken cloud and sun.

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Today was a full day of navigation, risk assessing, first aid scenarios, timed pacing and step counting.  We were using a 1:50 map for this day and route, I don’t like 1:50’s!  The first half of the day was using the ‘5 D’s’.  Distance, Direction, Duration, Description and Dangers.  The instructor showed us individually the section of the route he wanted us to lead.  We then had to study and give a full brief of the 5 D’s we expected to encounter.  Stopping mid walk if we wanted to change anything we had predicted.  Mentally draining, plus we had to described features, wildlife and any other points of interest as if we were out with a group, to make it more interesting.

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The second half was ‘blind leading’.  This is where the instructor gives you a section of the walk in private, not telling the others in the group.  Making the rest of the candidates navigate (which they should be doing anywhere to be honest) and show the instructor at the end of the section where they believed they were.  Throw in first aid scenario’s again, ending the day in dusk and individual briefings in the pub.

A great couple of days with top lads and a good few laughs.

Next, assessment day in April!

Daysack Upgrade!

What are we calling it, Daysack, Daypack or Rucksack?!

I think mainly ex military call them Daysacks as we used to use ‘Daysacks’ for range days or carrying a small amount of kit for day exercises etc.  The serious stuff went in our Bergans when we were out for days at a time.

But for my days out in the hills I have been using my trusty North Face 30 litre Daysack.  I’ve had this for at least 8 years now and it was starting to get a bit tired.  When I say tired, I mean bloody exhausted!  It has the old fashioned stretchy mesh compartments on each side, which I used to store my Sig bottles.  But over the years the mesh has become a bit ‘saggy’ and for the last couple of years my bottles have started to fall out when crossing stiles and when taking the Daysack off for whatever reason.  Which usually resulted in me decorating whatever landscape I was in with a deep colour of blue with my language.

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Also I was finding the amount of kit I have been carrying has been increasing, especially in the winter, and my old 30 litre was starting to burst at the seams.  I prefer to have a bit of spare space rather than buckle straps at their maximum.  Plus, and I’m gonna get some stick for this, my pet hate out and about, is kit strapped to the outside of a Daysack.  You see them out there, hikers who set of with way too much clothing on and decide to strip off halfway up a fell, but instead of storing it away, they strap it to the outside resulting in bits of kit flapping about in the wind.  I understand hikers who are out for days on end having kit strapped to the outside, like roll mats etc.  I’ve even seen hikers with what appears to be a nearly empty Daysack, still with kit strapped to the outside!

Anyway, rant over, I’ve gone for the Osprey Kestrel 48!  My walking pal has been using an Osprey for some time and I have seen them in action.  He’s a DofE assessor and runs a troop of Explorers and gets the most out of his kit.  I’ve been saving specifically for a new Daysack and decided to take a trip to Go Outdoors in Stockton to have a look.  I saw the one I liked the look of, green of course.  I asked one of the blokes about the one I’d spotted and what’d ya know.  He fitted it for me, measured my back and altered all the straps, showed me how to pack it, the works,  I was waiting for a rub down and a Shiatsu, but apparently the service doesn’t include this!  Bless the bloke, didn’t have the heart to tell him I’ve been packing Daysacks for over 30 years, I let him have his moment.

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This choice is no reflection on North Face kit, my old Daysack hasn’t gone to the great kit heaven in the sky, nope it’s been given a part time job as my course attendance bag.  Carrying much lighter kit like books, folders and pens!

Route recce around Embleton, Co. Durham.

Thought I’d turn over a new leaf and bring my blog back to life, it’s been some time since I posted a walk and had not been motivated enough to write about anything, but after writing a few Trip Advisor reviews I thought I’d show my blog some attention.
My sister in law owns Journey To Discovery, a guided walks venture, and she asked me if I’d recce a route with her in the area, so I said I would have a look out with her on my day off.
We met at the car park on the A689 on the north side near the bridge where the walkway from Hurworth Burn Reservoir crosses. It had been raining the whole journey to the spot but seemed to ease off as I pulled into the ‘free’ car park and met up with Ali.
We had a quick chat as I donned my day sack and I greeted my old mate Bruce, the enormous German Shepherd. As we chatted the rain started again so we made tracks and headed north east along a track towards Low Swainston and walked through the farm , heading north up to Embleton.
There’s a few buildings in Embleton but it is apparently a medieval village, like Swainston we’d just passed. After turning right and checking out the derelict church, the track drops down into a dip that someone has built a great, hidden house in fantastic grounds. The path goes straight up through a gate and across a large field called Embleton Moor. The path goes up to ’11 oclock’ and drops down into a beck and over a wooden foot bridge.
By this time it had been raining horizontal and the waterproofs had been put to the test. We laughed about the first time we went out walking about 8 years ago, the weather was exactly the same and it cost me a mobile phone due to getting so soaked.
The path circumnavigates

a large field and then heads north towards Embleton Old Hall. The path then goes around the house and grounds initially but cuts through the rear of the garden onto the track out of the grounds, west on another track towards the Castle Eden Walkway. We decided we’d stay on the small track running parallel ish with the walkway to Green Lane Cottages. Here we joined the walkway south down to the a car park and 4.9 miles later, back at the car.
A good short range route sorted for future use by Ali’s clients, hopefully the weather will be better next time.

Another look up Roseberry Topping!

I have a few friends from work who like the outdoors, we go on small dog walks and generally get together about once every two months (if we’re lucky) and take Alfie out for a leg stretch.  We have a ‘What’s App’ chat group where we basically chat about anything and take the piss every chance we get too.

During one of these chats my friend Shiv stated she had never been up Roseberry Topping, which is situated in the hills in North Yorkshire, or Cleveland if you want.  So, we decided to meet up and have a walk up the tiny hill.

 

 

Seeing as we all work shifts finding a date would be hard but managed to find a day we were all off, and would you believe it, the weather was even nice to us.

I’ve blogged about Roseberry before but it’s always nice to revisit and share different experiences.  We all meet at ours and drive down the A19 and head for the hills.  In the lovely little village of Great Ayton a quick left turn up Dikes Lane and before we knew it we were at the car park putting our boots on.  We started walking up the path which heads north up onto the heather and the awesome views that stretch across for miles and miles.

 

 

 

 

We walked next the dry-stone wall which is an easy way of knowing you’re going in the right direction as it keeps with you the whole way.  Once we all got our breath back it was time to start taking the micky out of each other.  As anyone who knows

and does the work we do, getting the piss ripped out of you is a sign of affection.  With a mixture of food chat and light hearted insults, the junction in the wall where we turned left was up on us before we knew it.  From here you can see the path up Roseberry, which to be fair looks quite steep from this distance, but at least the drop down to the start of the path gave us a chance to build up the enough steam to march to the top which we did quite quick.

The night before, Kel had knocked up some Millionaire Shortbread and Lemon Drizzle Cake for the top after our sarnies, well to be honest, she had only made the Shortbread but she was guilt tripped into making the Lemon Drizzle by Lou so she knocked one up just for her.  The top was busy and we settled down to stuff our faces and take in the view.

The top is covered in graffiti, or rather ‘etchings’ with ‘art’ stretching back to 1881 which, I can quite imagine the Victorians spending the day on the top taking in the view of the mines and the smog.  After half an hour of munching and being robbed of any remaining lemon Cake by Lou we made our way down the way we came.

The journey back was filled with the workings of a ‘She Wee’ and the appearance of a football on the route which wasn’t there on the way in.  Lou couldn’t get her head round the shape and the ‘fittings’ of the female urination equipment.  Kel didn’t make the conversation any better by saying the last time she used it, “It squirted out the back!”  And the football, well that’s still a mystery, although if it was a youngster who brought it with him and left it there to collect after he’d summited Roseberry, Alfie didn’t help by hiding it in the heather. 

Towards the end of the route the talk turned to a conversation that is well ploughed during any of these walks: my accent!  I’ve lived in the north-east for nearly 20 years now and have known people for the best apart of that, but my accent is still a source of amusement.  I don’t mind to be fair and find it funny!

Back at the cars the talk turned to the pub and where to go, we found a nice little place in the village where of all places we started talking to a chap from Easington who had been in Yorkshire for 30 years.

Great day and lovely weather to boot, back to Casa De La Hyde for Toad in’t Hole!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good dog walk near Shildon

We’ve been saving the walks for Country Walking magazine for ages now and today seemed a good day to have a flick through the little pile of cut out pages and find a nice little local walk.  We settled for a nice 7 1/2 miler around the Shildon area!IMG_6945

Great parking at the Railway Museum and free to boot.  Into the museum area and right down the lines towards the Welcome Centre further down the track.  Passed the playground and into a quiet part of Shildon through a small housing estate and a bit of industrial estate then out into the countryside.

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The route follows the old railway lines passed some old engine rooms and old railway sleepers which look like they’ve been well preserved.  From the route, great views of Bishop Auckland can be seen and the surrounding farm land.  And the KFC sign, which Kel pointed out, at least twice.

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As the route ascends up into Brusselton Woods where the path needs some concentration and easily to lose the ‘scent’, trick is try and follow previous boot marks and not to get fooled by heavily used deer tracks.  Plus, the shoulder high Ferns don’t help, luckily Alfie, our trusty Springer is a great pathfinder so we have an advantage.  Once we were out of the woods the route hit the road a bit but it’s not so busy and very pleasant.

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The route back towards Shildon was through scenic farm land and was well trodden, even through the farmers fields that were 99% cattle/sheep free, yay! Back into Shildon and back to the museum and a few pics for some of my spotter friends, not me, honestly!

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Nice little walk with no dramas.  Only advice i’d pass on is use your head in the woods otherwise you might get a bit ‘temporarily displaced’ and the midges are hungry.

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Great day out, great local walk, recommended!

Paramo Pajaro Waterproof, nice!

There’s few bits of kit that I feel are essential to spend just that little bit extra on, mainly the items that will be the difference between a good day in the hills or an absolute stinker.  One I feel is right at the top of the list when buying your fell wear, the waterproof coat!IMG_6049 IMG_6061 IMG_6062 IMG_6063 udr_greenfinches-early_1980s

I’ve had a North Face waterproof jacket up until last year which I got on with and thought I wouldn’t replace in a hurry.  But Mrs Hyde bought a Paramo water proof some time ago and I was mucho impressed.  Our walking buddie Dicko has had one for ages but he has that much kit I get confused with him and his clothing selection, his wardrobe must look like Go-Outdoors’ male section.  We used to come down from the fells on wet days and their attire always seemed to be bone dry, whilst I had the odd wet patch here and there.  So I bit the bullet and got myself the Paramo Pajaro!

One word; Awesome!  I have mentioned in previous blogs about kit, I sometimes gravitate back to old military bits and bobs, well, I just makes sense to me if somethings tried and tested.  This coat obviously wasn’t something issued to me in my army days, but if you have a good look at it, the design (pockets, zips, hood) it is a cross between the old Ulster Defence Regiment Greenfinch Waterproof and windproof smocks we got given throughout the 90’s.

As I said, I bought it last year and left it to now to blog about as I wanted to test it.  It’s now been through rain, hail, snow and wind and appears impenetrable.  As long as the temperature isn’t well into minus I’ve got by with just a base layer and the jacket on lot of the outings, mind you that’s not a true test, I forgot the layer of Yorkshire grit under my epidermis.

So, another kit ‘review’ which you may or may not take note of but if you have a bit of spare cash it’s worth a look at.  To be fair I use mine now for dog walking and general winter use, plus on the hills.

Another kit Blog, this time a thermal base layer.

I’m a creature of habit, if something works and works well, it takes something really special to change my decision when it comes to buying kit.  I’ve normally used something in the harshest environment to prove its worth, or know someone or some organisation that have used it and given it the ‘rubber stamp’.

In 1992 I went to Norway with 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines with kit I was issued, or IMG_6024what the army thought was good enough for that part of the world.  I was cold and wet for the first few weeks but watching the Marines operate in the clothing they had gave me a lesson in life.  The gear they were wearing was really good stuff, Helly Hanson and Berghaus to mention but a few.  It was clear to me,if I was to make things slightly more comfortable for myself I would have to invest in specialist clothing, and keep the issue stuff in my locker.

One bit of kit I saw the ‘Boot Necks’ (Marines) wearing was the Helly Hanson Lifa thermal tops.  This base layer was an absolute must.  I was issued a green cotton thermal number; ok it kept me warm but the sweat was collected like a sponge and in minus temperatures, this sweat got very cold and made life very uncomfortable.  I bought my first Lifa top on my first tour of Norway, I ordered it through a catalogue via the BFPO service and it was with me in weeks (no internet then).  I loved it; the feel was soft and not heavy like a cotton t-shirt.  I did my Arctic Warfare course and it was a life saver.  Days of sky marching with heavy Bergans (massive rucksacs) were a breeze as I was a fit lad back then so I could enjoy the view, instead of worrying about bad gear dragging me down.  The top wicked the sweat away like magic, days out in the field were great and without sounding like a minger, I got away with wearing it for a good 4 days without washing it before it got a bit funky.  The warmth it preserved was second to none, in minus temperatures on an active day, I could just have the top and a wind proof smock and was extremely comfortable.  As for storage, you can screw it up into the size of a tennis ball, it changed my life in the Arctic for the better.

This Christmas I asked for a replacement, yes for the one I bought in 1992, which by the way is still going strong.  I did buy another in the late 90’s, not to replace my first but to have a spare, however, that one did bite the dust in Bosnia in an ironing incident!

I still wear my first one and it is as good as new, it has been to Norway 5 times, 3 weeks in Canada and 2 tours of Bosnia.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve washed it in a make shift showers or sinks.  I’ve even had it in the desert for the cold nights and fresh mornings, it is really one of the most universal bits of kit I’ve had.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a kit expert or tester but if that isn’t a good ‘chuck up’ for a decent base layer, I don’t know what is!