Saturday, 11 July 2015

Flirting with science

I now rank with Mr Fleming and his accidental discovery of penicillin.

Thursday walks with Pete have been erratic with absences on other sorties, but we were back this Thursday.

Pete is punctilious and attaches importance to reliability in friends. When I arrange to collect him at 10:15 it means 10:15 precisely. I am similarly inclined, so when concentration on a difficult game of Freecell found me overrunning I panicked and rushed off to keep lateness to a minimum.

At Arkholme, an attractive village upstream from Lancaster on the River Lune, I found I had forgotten my now famous Mountain Warehouse trail shoes. I was still wearing my Crocs. 

Tarmac was followed by the footpath following the river Lune, over stiles and through long grass, and sections of rugged cow-trodden pasture. and then more Tarmac. Even though I had previously removed the heel strap  from the Crocs for packing and lightness when backpacking they remained comfortable and fit for purpose over more than five miles.

Since my shin wound last September, which took six months to heal, I have had problems on that ankle resulting in consultant's diagnosis of venous eczema which is uncomfortable, and not a pretty sight. I have to daub the affected part with emollient and wear knee length compression stockings permanently. Boots cover part of the ankle so for some time I have been wearing trail shoes. but my Fleming moment came on Thursday when I realised the Crocs' performance across off-road terrain, combined with their low sides may provide a practical aid to my problem.

I hope to do another twenty day backpack before the end of summer, and subject to awaited medical advice on the ankle I intend to wear the Crocs on Tarmac and dry paths and tracks, but also taking the trail shoes to use in the wet or in case the experiment fails. I think there is some tunnel-vision about walking footwear. I agree boots are advisable for Munro type mountain territory, although I understand Chris Townsend generally only uses trail shoes, but for benign country backpacking I don't think stomping stout footwear is necessarily essential. Comfort is the most important factor.


Now that's what I call a proper stile. If only they were all like that

River Lune. Ingleborough in background

At the top of the hill


Tufted vetch I think , enthusiastic botanists feel free to dispute if you want

9 comments:

bowlandclimber said...


I've used 'crocs' for short walks but be careful thorns go straight through the soles.
Also when they get a bit worn [quite quickly] they are lethal on wet surfaces.
From one old croc to another.

Sir Hugh said...

BC - Thanks for that. I have some full cushion Sorbothane insoles which I have put into some new Crocs I bought yesterday. They have an adjustable Velcro heel strap which holds the whole shoe much more firmly. The insoles give another quarter inch or so of protection and I have just walked round Arnside Knott over mixed terrain and all seems to work well.

AlanR said...

That sounds like a plan. I recall someone doing the TGO Challenge in a pair of crocs.

afootinthehills said...

I would worry about the effect on my knees of wearing crocs for any distance, though that's partly because I wear hard orthotics. I happily wear trail shoes (Keen Targhee II) on Munro type terrain Conrad though I don't think there is any right or wrong in footwear, just what suits the individual.

That said, in the last two weeks I've seen people wearing high mountain boots, including plastic ones, here in the Lakes.

bowlandclimber said...

"They have an adjustable Velcro heel strap" - they must be the deluxe crocs. Mine were from Aldi!

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R. - Yeah! That's where I would draw the line. I guess, like me, the person had just forgotten to bring the intended footwear and had no option.

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afoot - people watching in Ambleside or Keswick amuses me seeing folk wandering around with serious footwear and gaiters and multi=layer clothing when they've probably been no further than Tarn Howes.

I'm glad to hear you are enjoying the Lakes - I don't often visit these days.

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BC - I bought them from a private shop in Kendal opposite the library - they are the genuine article. I tried them out yesterday round the Knott. I have inserted my full cushion Sorbothane footbeds which make them fit better and provides another quarter inch to the sole thickness which may be some protection against thorns and the like that you mentioned.

coastalwalker said...

Crocs?!!! Who would have thought they would make comfortable walking footwear. Serendipity.

gimmer said...

having read today's latest medical research 'revelation' , make sure you leave enough room for your ultrasound wound and capillary healing device
by the way, Fleming's 'discovery' and his serendipitous observation (impossible with today's A/C and sealed windows - and London's polluted air, which would have killed off the spores before their powers were revealed) was only useful because he was working with Florey (Oxford) on just such organisms and was looking for just such an event!
So, please name your co-worker(s) so he/they too can be cited to the Swedes.
My MW shoes are now exhibiting the same muscle and joint inducing pains as their predecessor Keens did: they do not appear to last as long as soft leather bootees of the original Austrian kletterschuhe type (with modern quality padding), it seems, and when they start to fail, they cause this skeletal damage that takes time to heal.
You need a sort of compromise between the two - real moccasins perhaps - they have a long and illustrious pedigree - indeed, what are crocs but plastic moccs ?

Sir Hugh said...

coastalwalker - Why not give them a try (but take your normal footwear as well just in case(?

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Gimmer - no co-workers, just brilliant me, but I don't think this discovery will qualify for a Nobel prize.

For me cushioning seems to be an important factor which I had never previously considered until I was bastinadoed with the Scarpas.