Luxe Sil Hex Peak – First pitch in the garden

I have a new tent, the luxe Sil Hex Peak, I roughly pitched it in the garden this afternoon. It is very spacious and, compared to my Trailstar, it is taller and has more usable head space. I’ll give the inner that came with it a try but I have in mind that I will use it like my Trailstar, without an inner, or with the little bug net that I have. I’m looking forward to getting out in it!

Luxe Sil Hex Peak

Luxe Sil Hex Peak

Pitching my Trailstar in a different configuration

I have not slept under my Trailstar with it pitched differently to my/the ‘normal’ way that I have seen it pitched most of the time – that is with one corner into the wind and the door made out of one side to form an ‘A’ shape. I have see pictures of the Trailstar pitched a bit like a tarp with a very wide opening so thought I would give it a go in the local park before trying it out in the wild some time.

The following photos show the configuration. Basically, you put a whole side into the wind and the door (loosely speaking that is) is made at the opposite corner rather that in the middle of a side. It’s really easy to do and you end up with what can be described as a very large tarp.

Laying inside it looks great, even more headroom and an even better view. Also, it will be great to sleep across the Trailstar (as indicated in the photos by my Oookstar inner net) with my gear at the back, the other side of the pole. I can then just lay there gazing at the stars. I think this configuration will be great for when the weather is not too blowy but I still think it will shed a lot of wind. I can’t wait to try it out.


Quick one night wild camp, Snowdonia foothills

It had been a very long time since I had been out for a wild camp so with a trip planned to the north coast of North Wales to visit family I decided to take the opportunity to get out on the hills for a night under my Trailstar.

The Snowdonia National Park extends almost to the North Wales coast and I call the hills there, just before they drop to the sea (literally), the Snowdonia foothills. It’s a quick hop up the hill from Penmaenmawr to the foothills to the south so it’s not about the walk, it’s just great to get onto the hills. The views are great there too because you can see all along the coast and across to Anglesey, where the sun sets at this time of year, plus you have the mountains to the south and there are no roads until you get over the Carnedds to Llyn Ogwen.

My eldest daughter joined me on this trip and used my Akto. It was nice to have some company to share the experience and views. It was also great to see two of my shelters pitched together at the same location! The Trailstar is so large inside, as you know, that we were both able to sit comfortably inside to keep out of the cool wind and enjoy the views.

Here are a few photos. There is also a video showing 2 minutes of uninterrupted Trailstar view which is what you get as soon as you open your eyes :)


Instagram can sell your photos – without paying or telling you!

Instagram has changed it’s Terms of Use to allow them to sell you photos without paying you and without telling you! The new Terms of Use come into effect on the 16th Jan 2012 and the important sections are 2 and 3 under ‘Rights’:

2. Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.

2. You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.

There are two course of action you can take. You either accept the new Terms and carry on, or you download all your images and delete your account!

To download all your photos you can use Instaport (thanks to for this info) It’s simple, and you end up with a zip file of your images which you can then upload to somewhere else, like flickr. When you have all you photos safe and sound go ahead and delete your Instagram account, you will find the link at the bottom of your Instagram profile page. You won’t be able to use the same username ever again (if that bothers you), but there are a load of other similar services available which a quick Google will reveal.

I have downloaded my photos and deleted my Instagram account.

TGO Challenge Sickness

I don’t feel very well, I’m coming down with a bit ‘TGO Challenge Sickness’. It’s a whole load worse that man flu so you can imagine, if you are a man of course, how bad it feels! It has been brought on by my decision not to enter for a place on the 2013 TGO Challenge coupled with the fact that a load of my twitter buddies are getting all excited about the Challenge next year. It doesn’t help my sickness either that I’ve been lurking around the TGO Challenge Message Board and reading excited exchanges about where to start, what route to take, best places to camp, is this or that bridge still up, etc.

TGOC 2012, Day 1 camp, head of Strath Duileach, nr Iron Lodge

Seriously though, it’s really great to see and feel the buzz of the beginning of 6 months of preparation for the 2013 TGO Challenge. I was a newbie this year, 2012, and this time last year I got my place and and my excitement and planning process was underway.

I wish everyone who has made the cut all the very best in your planning, whether it is your first or twenty first crossing. I’m going to enjoy following your progress and, ultimately, I may follow you across beautiful Scotland if you are tweeting or uploading tracking data to the internet. If you are on the dreaded ‘list’ then I hope you do eventually get a place, but if your don’t, well there is always 2014!

Talking of 2014, that might be my next TGO Challenge. I have things planned for May and June 2013 (heavily into my photography) which is why I did not apply but 2014 looks likely. It’s a long way off though so who knows.

TGOC 2012, Day 8 camp, Faindouran Lodge, Cairngorms.

By getting out into the hills for few winter overnighters and by planning a short backpacking trip for next spring then my TGO Challenge sickness will surely improve and I will gradually return to full health. Maybe writing up my 2012 TGO Challenge trip report will help too! ;)