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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Needle Sports, Black Diamond poles, and the Winster valley

Circumstances prevailed allowing me to explore the Winster valley on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week with Pete.

I use Black Diamond Explorer flicklock poles and the hardened tips are now non existent.

Needle Sports at Keswick are retailers for Black Diamond - they have an excellent website and tend to  stock bits and pieces as well as providing their own opinions on much of the gear. I have often bought from them over the years. I rate NS as an excellent outdoor shop with experienced outdoor enthusiast staff with good product knowledge and reliable advice. 

Wednesday saw us off to Keswick where I learned the only solution was to replace the whole bottom section of the pole at £25 each, so I  decided to carry on until disintegration forces pole replacement. The new and improved equivalent Black Diamonds are approximately £70 per pair. I would not have any other poles - they are sturdier than their competitors having been designed to double up as a ski pole, and the flicklock system has never collapsed on me. In my opinion the Leki type twistlock system is a design disaster. If the pole sticks in soft ground behind you the natural action is to twist as you pull to retrieve, thereby untwisting the locking mechanism. I fell onto a Leki pole in the snow descending Creag Meagaidh several years ago, and the one thing I can tell you is, that even allowing for the annoyance, they do make a very satisfying cracking sound when they break.

After our trip through The Lakes and back Winster valley walking was reduced to only a couple of miles, but we continued again on Thursday and Friday reaching Winster village before returning to the car.
For anybody with ambitions to live the quiet country life on the edges of The Lake District the Winster valley would be well worth considering.
A good bit of Lake District slate walling

Whitbarrow ridge - a special location I have enthused about before

The unpleasantly named Cowmire Hall - home of Damson Gin.
Unusual three storey house for this region

Bowland Bridge...

...and our River Winster looking upstream from the bridge

Unusual gate hinge through a hole in the stone

Fortunately there was a footbridge to the left.
 There is an interesting Geocache here which can involve getting the feet wet

We followed the instructions and it didn't work...

...then we found there were two levers and we had used the wrong one.
I don't cease to wonder at the ever increasing complexity of gate catches. This must have cost a lot to produce and it wasn't by any means easy to use.

Winster House with additions for holiday renting

Birket Houses - very secluded.
 I could not find much about it on the Internet, except that it is a listed building. I think it is split into several residences.

"No public right of way"
I don't think they need to worry about anybody trespassing into this gloomy brambly jungle

Grand Designs?


afootinthehills said...

I agree Conrad, Needle Sports is excellent. Good luck with GK on the 6th.

gimmer said...

Winster valley - secluded properties amazingly expensive - due to the attributes you list having been 'discovered' more or less concurrently with the M6 construction, as well as long before. Few farmhouses still in their original use and much of the land in a few 'offcomers' pockets. Big shame but repeated all over the area.

Roderick Robinson said...

A good aside. Accumulated wisdom, etc. I am astonished that these things double up as ski-poles. For one thing they are far more expensive, though I may be out of touch on prices these days. Also there is this conversion feature. My experience is that ski-poles need to be as simple as possible; utterly devoid of inessentials. Also light and robust. They come in for an enormous amount of hammer which usually renders them mildly sinusoidal.

A key feature is the wrist strap. In my experience nothing improves on a loop fashioned from a substantial length of soft leather. The need is for a loop which is easy to slip on over bulky gloves, yet tight enough in situ to ensure the pole stays with the skier during one of those experiments with gravity that are characteristic of the sport.

I can speak with some authority on the importance of wrist straps. I caught a ski-tip against a tree-root and described part of a circle, radius roughly 10 ft (ie, my height plus half the length of the ski) which left my shoulder joint disconnected and my scapula cracked. Employing medical inventiveness I didn't know I had I hooked the wrist of the damaged arm into the wrist strap, managed (somehow) to hold the other end of the pole in the arm-pit of my operative arm and ski-ed down - at my leisure, you might say - to hand myself over to the brutalities of a Swiss doctor and his team of assistants who had probably learned their skills from a book compiled by Sweeney Todd.

Sir Hugh said...

Afoot - Hi Gibson. We need to support people like this as more and more of them convert to on-line only.

gimmer - The environs of Birket Houses seemed to include a large prime area of the Winster valley, teeming with pheasant, a large lake abundantly populated with waterfowl, well managed paths and woodland, all promoting the appearance of of a professionally managed business, coupled with a perhaps imaginary sense of privacy and secrecy. We speculated that the owners would be irked by having several public footpaths running through their domain.

RR - Wow! A compliment!

The poles do have adjustable wrist straps, albeit not of leather. When properly adjusted you can slip them onto the wrist, then take a turn and grip the pole with the hand now pulling tightly down on the strap, giving a comfortable and secure feel enabling you to power walk pushing yourself forwards with the sticks à la langlauf.

Unfortunately your accident didn't give you the satisfaction of that crisp, hollowish snapping sound that I experienced, unless something similar emanated from your scapula.

Alan R said...

I don't use poles so no comment from me. However i do like walking in the Winster Valley. It is always so lush and has lots of history attached to the lanes and buildings.

Sir Hugh said...

Hi Alan - I used to think poles were a bit sissy until a few years ago when I noticed Alan Hinckes was using them - that's good enough for me. I use them all the time now and I know they are beneficial for the knee problem. I enjoy the periphery of the Lake District National Park more than the overcrowded central areas.

Alan R said...

Hi Conrad.
I don't think they are sissy. If you find them beneficial then use them. I do think though they became a bit of A MUST HAVE rather than DO I NEED THEM REALLY. I see people struggle with them, tripping up almost, and just carrying them like they are saying YES i have a pair but not sure why.. I've seen folks scrambling and trying to get hand holds with the poles in their hands.It makes me laugh. I've never joined the club.