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Black Pudding Gaiters

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approach

New boots, new app, new route.

Apart from a handful of walks and a couple of camping trips, I’ve hardly left the Wirral peninsula since early 2020, but, to quote Half Man Half Biscuit, “Everything I want is here, and everything I need is here”. I’ve become content with walks on the Oblong of Dreams.

Although still remaining on the peninsula for this walk, I was venturing across the border in to Cheshire. It is less than 15 minutes drive from my house to the starting point from where I’d planned a 12 ish mile route from the Hadlow Road car park further in to Cheshire, towards Burton.

It was a walk of firsts;
* I was finally getting to try out the Scarpa Crux approach shoes I got at Christmas. Lack of annual leave and several storms meant little opportunity to get them out of their box.
* Now that ViewRanger had finally been turned off, it was time to see what Outdoor Active could do.
* I was covering a number of new footpaths for me on this route.

I’d already planned the route on my laptop using the Outdoor Active website. It was easy to do and the ‘snap to’ function worked reasonably well for most of the walk, however, when I picked a path it didn’t recognise, I was sent on a long detour.
An easy fix is to click on the magnet button on the bottom tool bar (see image on left)
After setting this to be ‘route’ and not just a ‘plan’, it appeared on the phone app and I was ready to go (a plan being an initial ‘rough sketch’ of the walk) .

Sparpa Crux ladies shoes

After getting the car in the last parking spot, I changed in to the Scarpas.
I’d owned the Scarpa Epic shoes previously. They had lasted well but were not as grippy as other footwear I’ve owned.
The Crux were so comfy as soon as I put them on. They share a similar design to the Epic. The Epic shoes are very blue with bright yellow bits. whereas the Crux are a more subtle dark grey with sky blue trim and laces.
Sorry, ‘shark and blue radiance.’
The ‘Vibram Megagrip’ sole design was slightly different too and, I soon discovered, worked well in the slippery muddy conditions.

I fired up the walking route on my phone and clicked ‘Start’. The tracking started automatically. So far so good, although I still had the OS Map app running in the background, a paper map in my sack and tracking running on my watch, just in case.

I started down the easy to follow Wirral Way, past Leahurst Veterinary School then took a left on to Cuckoo Lane. The route briefly took me to the side of a housing estate before passing a playground on the path down to the Dee Marshes.

Once at the marshes, the path became slightly busier. It was a Friday morning in February so I expect it could get very busy on a summer weekend. I was soon turning off though, taking Station Road up to Burton, a lovely village filled with thatched cottages, an old church and woodland area. It gets a mention in the Doomsday book and apparently, back in the day was a rest stop on the journey between Birkenhead and London.

Burton village, Wirral


The Outdoor Active app was also behaving itself. On previous tests it would often display a black screen with no information on it. No such problems today. The tracking was accurate and the OS mapping clear. Maybe it was finally winning me over! *

Lake Burton RSPB

Looking at the map, I’d noticed “Burton Point”, the site of an Iron Age fort. While I was here, it made sense to go and check it out. There were paths just off the road out of Burton.
Entering the woods near Puddington Lane, I passed a ‘Welcome to the RSPB Reserve’ sign and continued on through to the car park.
From there I headed towards a building. Three people were sat outside.
“Hello” calls one, “Are you just here for a wander round?”
I was, and was charged £6 to do so.
I was rather taken aback, I was literally passing through and hadn’t noticed any other signs mentioning an entry fee, although it is mentioned on their website.

Everyone else here had binoculars, large camera lenses, tripoded monoculars or a combination of all three. They’d stop dead in the middle of the path and turn their gaze to a dot in the sky.
Three men were discussing a particular ‘spot’,
“I saw it first!”,
“Yes, but I identified it”.
I felt like an away fan in the home end.

The views over to Wales were lovely although there’s little to see of the fort now. I noticed another footpath out of the reserve but that was padlocked. I may have climbed over if it wasn’t for the older couple sat next to it. So, I turned and went back the way I came.

To be fair, if you go to look for wildlife it is worth the entrance but I wouldn’t recommend it for the walk to the fort. **
I retraced my steps to the village but took Mudhouse Lane to the A540. After crossing, it was footpaths right the way through to the Wirral Way and back to the car.

This route is available to download from Outdoor Active as a GPX file



*The love of Outdoor Active was short lived. The following week I took another walk. The route vanished three times and the tracking only recorded 5 of the 12 miles

** Sadly, shortly after I started to write this post the area was ravaged by fire causing concerns for the wildlife. The reserve probably needs all the support it can get – go visit!

Haglofs Vertigo II Q GT

For years I was very old fashioned in my footwear choice, when you went walking you wore big, brown, leather boots. That was it.
To be fair, there is still a place for the traditional leather boot. I still prefer them on extremely wet or snowy walks and on hills with a lot of scree, however, there is a place for approach shoes. In fact, they would probably be the best choice for most walkers.

I was disapointed with my first pair approach shoes from Merrell, too light, too flimsy.
My second pair by the Swiss brand Raichle were fantastic. Admittedly, it took a little bit of time to break them in but they soon became firm favourites.
Together, we covered many miles. They remained  comfortable and waterproof right until the bitter end.
Raichle footwear has now been re branded as Mummut, it’s parent company and, apparently, apart from the badge, little else has changed. I was tempted to stick with them for my replacements but then I discovered Haglofs.

I didn’t know much about this Swedish brand at the time and, to be honest, despite being the largest supplier of outdoor equipment in Scandinavia, they still aren’t a major player in the UK but their Vertigo shoes were getting great reviews. It’s not difficult to see why!

Haglofs Vertigo IIFor starters, gone are the days of brown boots and shoes.
Haglofs (along with other manufacturers) introduced a whole palette of colours.
I went for the rather girly purple colour. Trust me, I need all the help I can get to obtain even a slightly feminine look on the hills!
Both the men’s and women’s models come in less garish colour schemes.

 

I’ve had my boots for a good few years and they’ve traveled many, many miles around the British isles and Europe.
Up rocky slopes in Austria and snowy hills in Wales, scrambling across rocky coastal areas of Croatia. They’ve performed just as well on mountain bike rides as they do on long hikes.
Your feet always feel well supported  and never too hot.

Haglofs Approach ShoeThese shoes are a lot lighter than the conventional boot.
An EVA midsole reduces the overall weight of the shoe but still keeps it robust.
Abrasion resistant rubber is used on the toe and heel to provide extra protection and Gore-Tex is used to keep your tootsies dry.
The Haglofs are extremely comfortable and, unlike my previous approach shoes needed no breaking in at all.

In 2013 Trail magazine gave the following review:
“The quality of the all-round performance, coupled with the long-term durability of the design, makes the Haglöfs Vertigo II GT ideal for general use in a wide range of activities. It won the ‘Best in Test’ Award.”

Many retailers stock the Vertigo II and you can find some good deals, for example, take a look on Amazon  who still sell them at decent prices

 

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