I should probably start out by explaining that when I say ‘Brit brand trio’, I’m referring to Rab, Mountain Equipment and Montane. These three brands are the standard-bearers for the UK outdoor industry, and between them they account for over half of the products ranged on Webtogs.co.uk at any given time. It was these brands, along with another of our suppliers; US brand Marmot, that Webtogs MD Keith and I set out to visit last Sunday on a 5-day buying road-trip. I can report that it was epic thanks to the exciting new products on show… and the added bonus of getting to take the bike out on some awesome trails in the Lakes (Altura Trail, Whinlatter & The North Face Trail, Grizedale) and Peak District!
As I posted before Christmas, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of Montane test garments to try out over the festive break – the Montane Further Faster Neo Jacket (shell) and Alpha Gide Jacket (insulator). Sadly they have now been dispatched back to Montane HQ (wish I could have kept them), and I am left to report my thoughts and findings.
As always seems to be the case over Christmas, I was not able to be quite as active as I’d have liked… multiple food-based family gatherings and grandmother-courier duties getting in the way of my plans to test out the Montane pieces through the trinity of walking, cycling and climbing. I was, able to wear them day-to-dayday-to-day though, on a couple of short walks, and on one longer one on Dartmoor last Friday. I plumped for one of my old favorites, the ‘Widecombe Round’. It’s a varied, scenic route around the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, and even more so in the right conditions. Luckily conditions were just perfect for beautiful pictures on this occasion, so I’ve interspersed my Montane review with them to liven up any dry technical details!
As some of you may have gathered from my last post on Lowe Alpine’s new range of Dryflo base layers, I was rather impressed by what they had to offer in terms of performance and value for money; so much so, in fact, that I decided to buy some for myself. With winter now in full-flow, this should be the ideal time to put them through their paces, I thought. (more…)
To quote Game of Thrones, winter is coming (I couldn’t help myself, sorry). The proof was all around earlier today on what was undeniably a very cold and frost morning.
I did my usual run to work on the road bike, from Castle Cary Train Station, towards Bruton on Wyke Lane and then down to the Webtogs office in Wincanton via Shepton Montague. It’s a lovely route with few busy sections after the initial stretch on the A371, and I usually thoroughly enjoy it. I enjoyed it for the most part today too, except the part from about half way into the ride when my toes first went tingly, and then increasingly numb. They’re only just starting to return to normality as I write! I must invest in some overshoes…
Regardless of my heading-towards-frostbitten toes, the visuals were enjoyable at least. I managed to take a couple photos on the ride, and one on the train from Taunton beforehand. That’s the end of the cycle-related waffle, enjoy the pictures! (more…)
I managed to complete a full mountain bike ride yesterday with bike intact and a full complement of body parts, which is something to celebrate. Despite threatening skies, near total darkness and lashings of mud, this week’s Bike Club was a big success. Fun was had by all (3 of us) on a varied 15 and a bit-mile route around the forested hills and valleys of the Stourhead Estate, taking in Stourhead house itself, a close-encounter with a deer, enjoyable downhills and tiring climbs. Feeling thoroughly buoyed by the experience, I intend to keep carrying the Webtogs Bike Night torch on through the cold, dark winter months! (more…)
Our MD and long-running cycle touring enthusiast Keith spent his time off last summer cycling the a 800-mile cycle route along the Atlantic Coast. He encountered many revelations about kit, France and cycle touring in general along the way. Here he shares these revelations with us here on the Tog Blog…
I spent most of the winter thinking about what I was going to do for my summer cycle tour. I knew that I wanted to do a tour in France and that I wanted to feel like I had been on holiday, so after hours of research I settled on the Velodyssey.
The Velodyessy is a 1,200 kilometre bike ride from Brittany to the boarder of Spain. For ease of logistics I started from the airport at Biarritz and Cycled North. (more…)
Just a quick post this morning. Continuing my ‘exploration’ of the South Somerset area – and Somerset in general, having only moved here from the distant land of Wales just three and a half weeks ago, I decided to go for a quick ride on the road bike up to renowned local landmark, King Alfred’s Tower last night. Obviously it was Thursday, and therefore Webtogs Bike Night – but as some of you will be aware, after my little mishap on our ride last Thursday, I was unable to join in with the mountain biking fun (I intend to fix my stricken mountain bike this weekend in time for next week). Anyway, to fill the time and get in some excercise after work I went for a road ride. I’d been told by Mike that the Alfred’s Tower/Kingsettle Hill climb was one of the toughest in the area, so I thought I’d give it a crack!
This weeks #walkwednesday route is a proper work out along the South West Coastal path. Coming in at 8 miles, you have some fairly serious hills and all the wild beauty that the Jurassic coast has to offer. So far I think you’ll agree it’s been a funny old summer, I’ve not had the chance to get out and about to do as much walking as I would ideally like to, but a couple of weeks ago, my friend Chris and myself finally managed to head out for a stroll. Chris was worried about his fitness, so we decided to test it and get a solid days walking on along the SW Coastal path. Not only was it a good test of fitness, but Chris had not even heard of Durdle Door, so I was quietly looking forward to seeing his reaction when we came to it.
The day started out with a little drizzle and after we had parked at Lulworth Cove it was heads down to get up over the first hill, strolling on in silence. The rain seemed to keep some of the tourists at bay and it wasn’t long before Durdle Dor was in front of us, and Chris had a huge grin on his face. It’s a classic sight, and I will never tire of seeing just what our planet is capable of creating.
Leaving the crowds behind, we carried on along the path, and began drinking in the cliffs and sea ahead of us. It has a fair amount of up and down, so we stopped on Bats Head for a spot of lunch and a breather. There were few people on the path and we felt privileged to have such a beautiful environment to ourselves.
The weather forecast had been for a cloudy rainy day, and although we could see the clouds inland, the day gradually brightened to reveal a child’s picture of what the coast should look like with cloudless skies, a rich blue sea and white sailing ships dotting the waves. It was pretty much the only day this summer that’s been like it! There wasn’t much talking, but the grins came readily and easily to our faces. Reaching White Nothe Cottages, we spied the smugglers path down to the sea and set off down a seriously steep path to the beach. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if you do trek down there you will be rewarded by abundance of wildlife, and at the bottom a stunning beach that we had to ourselves.
Taking a rare opportunity for this summer with the heat, we stripped off for a dip and then basked in the sun to dry off before the long hard slog back up the path to the top. The stroll back to the car was across the fields affording us a larger vista of the coast, and a flatter journey for our tired legs.
Most of my walking encompasses hills and mountains and I need to make more of an effort to visit our coast. The feeling of space, along with the challenge of the inclines along the SWC Path made it a day to remember. The route is shown on the Social Hiking map below, it’s also available to download on Viewranger or you can right-click and download the GPX file here.
This weeks Walk Wednesday route is a straightforward walk that can also be cycled. Near the village of Beaulieu in the New Forest, you start off at the Hawkhill enclosure which you get to by taking the B3054 from Beaulieu or the B3055 from Brockenhurst.
At the Hawkhill Car Park you follow the dirt track south before zig zagging your way to Round Hill , then following tracks North through the Forest to New Copse & Stubby Cope Inclosures before circling Denny Lodge and heading back.
All in all it’s nearly 12 miles with a little up and down and is perfect as a cycle with the family, a blast after work when short of time, or a long half days walking.
We’ve got just the route for you for this Walk Wednesday, with a spot of sand, sea and hills on the glorious Isle of Purbeck. Starting at Corfe Castle, you’ll head out for a stupendous 2 day hike. The routes first day (14 Miles) takes in the Purbeck Hills, Swanage and follows the South West Coastal Path for some time, before heading up to camp at Tom’s field camp site. For the second day you’ll again follow the South West Coastal path before heading inland at Kimmeridge bay to follow the downs back in to Corfe (15 miles). We’ve also got alternative routes for the second day with a shortened 5 miles or 12 miles if you need to get back early, or fancy a more relaxing return to Corfe Castle.
There is plenty of Parking near Corfe Castle. Our recommendation is to turn left at the bottom of the castle mound heading uphill by East Hill to the walkers car park at SY 963 821. It states no overnight stays, but that’s for motorhomes. Head out of the car park to take a stroll over the Purbeck Hills towards the coast. Follow the Purbeck way along the ridge path on Ailwood Down and Nine Barrow Down. Keep going along Ballard Down and head back along the SWC Path in to Swanage where there’s plenty of scope for luncheon stops should you fancy.
After Swanage, follow the SW Coast path out through Durlston Country park, past the castle, caves and lighthouse until you get to Dancing Ledge. Stop a while to watch the one of the best sport climbing spots in the country, there should be quite a few people on the rocks. Leave the sea behind and head uphill to take the path to Tom’s field and relax in the general loveliness of one of the best campsites in the UK. Consistently voted one of the top campsites in the Uk by Cool Camping & The Guardian it is a stunningly beautiful campsite with great views over Swanage Bay from the top field.
Day Two you have a couple of options, the route we would suggest is the one in pink on the map below. Head out from Tom’s field down to the coast, following the SW coastal path along to Kimmeridge Bay before heading up to join the Purbeck hills and back along to Corfe Castle. If that’s a bit too much for you after day one you can do a shorter route at 12 miles that heads along the SWC path to Rope Lake Head before heading up to Corfe Castle. Finally, a good half day option is to simply head cross country straight back to Corfe which comes in at 5 miles – perfect for those who have a longer journey home or want to be back in plenty of time.
All the routes are available to download on Viewranger, but we’ve also included links to the GPX files below as well (right click on them and select “save link as”) if you want to take them for your favourite device. As always, walking can be hazardous so we would recommend you walk within your abilities and check the route thoroughly before heading out.