Hilleberg Enan – A review

After 7 trips and a total of 12 nights of wild-camping in the hills I concluded that this twist to my love of hill walking was not just a passing phase and I could justify getting some lighter kit to enhance the experience still further. Swapping out my petrol stove for a lightweight gas stove last year was a good move but inexpensive. A lighter tent which would meet all my requirements was to be a more significant investment.

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These are my initial thoughts on the Hilleberg Enan, something which I see as a ‘Mark 2’ to the popular Akto. For those wanting to skip to the executive summary – after two ‘test nights’ it seems to be great tent for my needs:

  • Lightweight (albeit not ultralight) – 1200 g
  • Robust
  • Weatherproof
  • Flysheet first pitching
  • Good size inside, and it has just enough headroom
  • Really quick and easy to pitch on your own (kind of important for a solo tent!) even in strong winds.

What is the space like inside?

Perfect for my needs. I am 5’ 11” and find the length of the inner tent around 6” longer than my absolute needs. If I have my feet all the way to one end, then the height over the inner tent above my face when sleeping is not claustrophobic. If you are much above 6’ that might be different. I can sit up at the highest point of the tent with about 1” above my head in my normal posture. If I sit bolt upright my head brushes the inner. The Terra Nova Laser is 2 cm taller.

There is space for a set of clothes, book, torch etc in the vertex next to the middle of my sleeping mat. Plenty for 1-2 night stop. The porch is excellent with plenty of room for my 55 L pack, boots and waterproofs in the fixed fly half and enough space to cook within the openable section. One great addition would be if I could figure a way to attach the door corner to a walking pole to stretch it out like a tarp. This is a nice feature of some Nordisk tents. I suspect something could be fashioned from a short length of climbing cord.

How does it handle the wind?

The Enan coped well with winds up to 40 mph in an exposed position. I have added two extra guys to the windward end for which there are fittings for this purpose. This helped make the fly tighter and provided reassurance for this life long tunnel tent sceptic. The tent flapped a bit, but the flysheet material does not ‘crinkle’ like a crisp packet. The benefits of silicone over PU I guess. I think this was probably the strongest winds to which I’d be keen to expose the tent. On reflection I do need to be aware that I’m used to using bombproof geodesic tents. That this single pole tunnel tent would best be pitched in the lea of a wall or a bank is the price to pay for the reduced weight. I reckon that’s fair enough.

How does it handle condensation?

Most Hilleberg tents are designed to be able to be used in snow with their flysheets coming right down to the ground. This reduces the ventilation between the fly and the inner tent and seems to lead to significant condensation for many people. So significant as to be ‘unworkable’ in a number of reported cases.  So, for me at least, it was time to think about the science. According to a variety of sources, and depending on body weight and environmental factors, people respire between 300 – 500 ml of water over an eight hour period of sleep. If little or none of that water escapes the tent then that could become a lot of condensation. Also as the temperature drops overnight so will the dew point of the water laden air within the tent. Thus I reasoned, if you choose to sleep in a tent whose volume is very small, you are likely to end up with a condensation problem whatever the make / shape of the tent.

So, was the Enan likely to reduce this issue to an acceptable level? On paper Hilleberg looked likely to have resolved the issue and asking around proved that it was people with problems who had published their thoughts, a good number of long-term Akto users were quietly very happy with their tents. The secret to reducing condensation is to have a good number of air changes within the space. Good air circulation is promoted by having a cross flow of air, ideally from bottom to top rather than just from left to right. This is how sash windows are designed to work.  Here Hilleberg have come up with an unusual but effective solution by including a mesh panel at both ends of the tent, the ends which should be aligned with the direction of the wind. [Also true of the Terra Nova Laser.]

Cunningly, these are steeper than vertical. Thus water from the fly will not run down them, nothing can pool on them either. Whilst wind blown rain will pass through them it is slowed down enough so that (in my experience) >>99% drops to the ground before it hits the inner tent. In my first pitch in an elevated exposed position, with winds of 40-50 mph and heavy rain I counted three drops of water on the inner tent behind the windward vent in the morning. No water actually came into the inner tent itself. There are rain covers you can put across the vents if the weather is really foul and thus is best done from outside the tent ahead of need, it’s very fiddly to do from inside the tent in the middle of the night.

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On my first test night I had both vents open until around 0500 when I shut the windward one. Things were getting a little wild outside! In the morning the inside of the fly was completely dry. However the overnight temperature was a very mild 14 C. On my second test night I shut the windward vent from the outset and devised an effective and lightweight way to keep the top of the door open despite it’s design.

This is where Hilleberg may have missed a trick. The Akto has a small rain hood over the top of the door and a second zip allowing you to have a segment of the door open, not just a slit which is practice is pretty much held closed by the tension of the flysheet. But if a 10 g clothes peg can reduce the condensation I have to carry in a damp tent by 100’s grams it’s an excellent investment. After the second night which consisted of heavy rain, 20-30 mph winds and a minimum overnight temperature of 10 C I had just the lightest layer of condensation on the flysheet, an amount that anyone would consider acceptable.

What next?

With pubs and campsites to open from 4th July, I think I have the ideal tent to walk a five day section of Wainright’s Coast to Coast. Thanks to the Enan and an upgraded sleeping bag, my kit will be down by a whole kilo on what I’ve had until now, and at 10 kg (excluding food and water) this is around half the weight which I used to carry 30 years ago.

Leaden Hills under Azure Skies – a four day wild walk in the Northern Dales

With limited options today , thanks to both COVID house-arrest and inclement weather, it seemed a good time to reminisce about a micro adventure from the some time ago…

A weather window had opened and I had already had a walk in mind to make good use of it. The plan was to walk from Reeth in Swaledale to Ingleton (46 miles) and to take in Great Shunner Fell (GSF) and Ingleborough en route. I have really happy memories of climbing GSF in the snow when I was in the University hill walking group. Mark & I were the first people on the summit that day and virgin slow lay all around. We got out bivvy bags and sledged most of the way back down to the valley. It was amazing, and whilst there would be no snow this time, it was a peak I wanted to climb again.

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My route started walking up onto and along Fremington Edge. It is a magnificent Scarp Edge affording uninterrupted views on the Beck below. I had started a little late to avoid the low cloud which was forecast first thing. This worked well and meant it was lunchtime as I reached the cairn which marks the point where the Edge path heads down to the beck. The bridge across the beck had been badly damaged by the flooding earlier in the year and meant a small detour in and out of Langthwaite, itself a neighbour with the enticingly named Booze.

My route took me though the lead mines and smelting mills on the tops – this land had been badly scarred by the mining activity and not at all photogenic.

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© Copyright Trevor Littlewood and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

My aim was to get to the much more picturesque Gunnerside Gill. This too had been a lead mining area, but being lower down and better irrigated the vegetation has grown back and it is now lush and lovely with the ruined mill buildings adding charm rather than mess to the scene. Shelter, beauty and a good stream – an ideal spot to camp for the night, so I did.

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The following morning was gloriously sunny, a great day to be having breakfast next to a babbling stream. My route then took me over the shoulder of Black Hill and down into Swinnergill and possibly the most beautiful valley in the whole of the Dales which links Muker to Tan Hill. Three LDP’s go up or across this section of valley and it is no surprise.

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In no time I was on the other side of Thwaite and on the gradual ascent of Great Shunner Fell, the inspiration around which this route was planned. GSF is not dramatic in itself, but the views from it are. It proves a great reward for you efforts. As I ate my lunch just before the summit I reflected on how fortunate we are to have access to the modern materials which make backpacking over peaks like this easily manageable. I’m not an ultra-light ‘weight weenie’ walker, but having to only carry 13 kg vs. the 22 kg I used to heft in my teens and twenties brings so much pleasure with, now, a total absence of pain.

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It was extremely windy on the top and I exchange hand gestures with someone coming back down. Now I had just three km to get to where I planned to wild camp. Again time to reflect what a great resource the shared knowledge of the internet can provide. A review of the map did not suggest any suitable wild camping spots in the area, but when I shook the internet a blog of someone’s wild camp aided walk along the Pennine Way suggested a good pitch. I found the wall corner they had used but noted that this side of the fell was well sheltered from the wind today, so looked further and found a lovely flat spot with open views over Wensleydale. I know from experience that my Hilleberg doesn’t need shelter, it handled very strong winds in the Cheviots with aplomb so I took the pitch with a view.

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By the following morning the cloud had descended and I woke to whiteness all around. This section of the my route co-insided with the Pennine Way, making navigation a breeze. I walked down out of the cloud and into Hawes. As I headed out of Hawes and uphill I experienced an odd phenomenon. The cloud was fairly low and I kept thinking to myself, another two minutes and I’ll be in that cloud. Then ten minutes later I would say the same thing to myself, the cloud kept ascending just ahead of me and in fact when I reached the top of the Cam Fell ridge at Ten End the cloud had gone completely. What came next was probably the most beautiful section of the whole walk. Made better still by being unexpected. The view down into Widdale was stunning. It’s a closed valley, the road into which stops early on just leaving fields, walls and trees for the upper two thirds of its extent.

The path is now call the Cam Highway and I felt highly blessed to have this view and to have it to myself. Something else this highlights is the options which become open to you if you are able to walk for more than just a single day. Linear walks allow you to daisy-chain highlight sections without having to find a route back through less inspiring scenery which is almost always necessary if you are only heading out for the day. There are good circular walks out there, but there are places like the Cam Highway which are so enhanced by not having to turn around and head back to the car.

I was then to be treated to the vista of Ribblesdale, now in glorious sunshine.

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The contours that I saw on the map whilst I planned this walk strongly suggested that Ling Gill would prove a good wild-camping spot. Here I’d like to make a plug for the Geograph project, whose aim is to gather at least one photograph from each OS grid square in the UK. This can be a great way to confirm the terrain and ground conditions for a proposed camping pitch. The sun was beating down on me by the time I got to the stream at Ling Gill and it was too early to pitch the tent, so instead I used it as a pillow and had refreshing nap in the sunshine. Then it was tent up, dinner on and heading to bed even ahead of the sun, so I could be fresh for an early start.

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This was to be my first ascent of Ingleborough from the East. I got great views of the Ribblehead Viaduct and Whernside, aided by my early start. It was a treat to climb this ‘peak’ using a path rather than the normal motorway. After a steep initial climb up Park Fell it was then a gentle ascent up a broad ridge to Ingleborough itself.

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It was odd to come to a crowded summit after ascending alone. I had made excellent time and it looked like I would be able to complete my 10 mile day by 2pm and reward myself with a beer to go with a late lunch from the Co-op which was my planned rendezvous point with Mrs W and Junior. Whilst I enjoy my time alone in the hills, I had started to miss them and thus the motivation for my early start and fast pace that morning. I was, however, regretting having left my hat in the car at the start of the walk as the heat from the sun was now actually hurting the top of my head. My solution was far from elegant, but at least it was effective.

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The track down into Ingleton was not as rough as I remembered it and was easier on my feet that I had feared. The range in Co-op shops might be limited but I love their emphasis on both Fairtrade and local goods. I was able to get a bottle of Ilkley Pale, from a brewery who have several excellent offerings in their range.

What is a personal relationship with God?

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The widespread assertion of a ‘personal relationship with God’ seems to stem back to the arguments of the 95 Thesis of Martin Luther in the 15th Century. Whilst many passages in the New Testament have always pointed to God’s desire to relate to his people, is the true Biblical form of that relationship how many evangelical Christians view it nowadays? Today in most evangelical and charismatic churches it has come to mean a close, intimate and emotional relationship with one or more members of the Trinity. But was this really Luther’s point? What was it that he saw in the culture of the Catholic church of the time which he viewed as wrong and what was he seeking to propose as a more accurate Biblical view?

Today the UK church is dominated by women. A recent Tearfund survey showed the ratio to be 65:35 women to men. Further they predicted that at the current rate of decline that there would be no men in the UK church by 2028. The latter point should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the overall issue and trend is clear. The church in the UK is appealing far more strongly to women than men. I think this may have been disguised by the fact that the clergy are dominated by men. So why is the 21st century UK church so much more appealing to women than men?

People with Asperger’s, such as myself, are said to demonstrate a number of ‘extreme male’ characteristics. A pertinent example would be our greater connection to facts and philosophy than emotion and sentiment. Now that the church promotes us to have an ‘intimate relationship with God’ you can see why people such as myself feel increasingly uncomfortable. I can only imagine men nearer to the centre of the neuro-typical spectrum feel the same way, albeit to a lesser extent. But am I supposed to treat Christ as my sweetheart or my spouse? Is that the relationship that the Bible is pointing to, was it the view of Luther when he espoused the virtue of a personal relationship with God?

My experience is that there is a sizeable segment of doctrine within charismatic / evangelical church from which it has reverse engineered Biblical precedent (which is surely back to front?) The Charismatic movement started in California. I think it is clear to see that whilst financially successful, that the core culture of the USA is still one marked by immaturity. (That is not to say that there are not a good number of exceptions, but this view appears to be in the majority.) It is common for those still immature to follow their emotions and their feelings to a greater extent than knowledge and proven fact. In creative arts this is very positive. In matters of faith, I would suggest, rather less so. So we find a church culture driven by feelings rather than facts taking root in a culture which itself valued this approach. Perhaps because of the financial success of the USA or the global reach of their film industry, the culture of the USA has spread out to be admired by many other nations including the UK. It is said, and seems true in my experience that “When America sneezes, Europe catches a cold.” So we see the emotive interpretation of a ‘personal relationship with God’ spread to the UK in the 60’s and 70’s and become part of the mainstream by the 90’s and 00’s.

So this is where we find ourselves, and in this environment many men, including myself, find ourselves uncomfortable in the Evangelical / Charismatic church. Were it just me that were uncomfortable then I should look inside myself for the issue; However the statistics show the issue is much more widespread and thus we should look more closely at the ethos of the church rather than the quirks of this individual.

That’s a whole lot of preamble for me to get to my point. If you look at the writings of Luther his concerns were focussed with the indulgences of the Catholic church and that the church taught that salvation was via the church to God and not with God directly. The Catholic church of the time had taken advantage of their position of power to seek money (indulgences) as the price for them dispensing the forgiveness of God. To me it seems very clear that when Luther talks of a personal relationship he is not talking primarily about intimacy and emotion but talking about a relationship directly with God rather than via the mediation of the church. Thus I would suggest that today’s emotion driven movement has come primarily from the culture of early 20th century California. Of course emotion has its place, something that speaks to the core of our being should be expected to stir our emotions. I would suggest that outwardly expressed emotion was never supposed to be the endpoint.

So whilst the Bible teaches that salvation comes from personal faith, neither via works nor dispensed by the church, Jesus was never supposed to be my brother or my boyfriend. Read of love in 1 Corinthians and the word used is agape, not philia or eros. It is self sacrificing love, not the love directed to a brother or a spouse. It was good that Luther spoke out;  The pendulum of relationship was being restrained at one end of it’s swing for the benefit of the organisation that was the Catholic church of the time (not that of today). But as with many issues, we see that the pendulum has been now been encouraged to swing to the other extreme. The Bible is full of examples of the great value of balanced juxtapositions: Faith and works work together, as do love and reproach, confidence in God and planning, rights and responsibilities, dependence and hard work.

Correct this cultural bias, bring the pendulum back nearer its centre and hopefully we can again have a representative number of men of vision and motivation in the church to help build the kingdom of God.

Covid Diaries – Weeks 8-12

It seems that at this time people are finding themselves in one of two categories.   Mown out (uber-busy) or bored.  For those of you wishing there was a 25th hour in the day, perhaps you could delegate something to me, for I now find myself in the latter category.  Lancashire have back peddled on allowing primary age children back to school.  This prompted Mrs W and I to investigate the status of key workers wrt schooling a little more closely.  We knew that as an (emergency) vet that she had been upgraded to key worker status, but closer inspection showed that only one parent needed to be a key worker for a child to be allowed school provision.

I really enjoyed the home schooling, but I reckon I had covered more than all his syllabus for Year 1 and that what he was needed more now was social interactions with his peers.  Further I could feel the dark fingers of depression starting to claw and my ankles.  It was time to be proactive for both our sakes.  He is now coming to the end of his first week back at school which he is loving.  I have applied for temporary work in the brewing sector with breweries I expect to be busy brewing for the bottle and can market.  So far two great conversations with brewers who didn’t need another pair of hands and no further replies.  Next week I’ll spread my net a little wider if I need to.

With important household repairs and upgrades behind me I was still in need of a project.  So I set about ridding the lawn of moss and dandelions.  And that sound you can hear…   …that’s the sound of the bottle of a barrel being scraped!  Anyway, we have a lush, almost weed free lawn as a result.  However, for those who would seek to criticise my reduction in biodiversity I would point them to our herb garden which seems a veritable Mecca to local honey bees.

In week 9 Mrs W had a dry cough for 24 hours so went to the local COVID drive through centre for a test.  Thankfully this came back negative.

I’ve stepped up my brewing at home in the last two weeks which has been good.  On Saturday my second Bx 23 Grapefruit & Hibiscusattempt at Hibiscus and Grapefruit Ale will have conditioned enough to try.  This is an exciting project because whilst version one did not hit my ‘design spec.’ both myself, my tasting panel and the neighbours all liked it very much.  And the colour was to die for, or should that be ‘to dye for?’

Right now some session “Isolation Pale Ale” is just finishing its primary fermentation.

More interesting still has been a commission from a friend / former colleague to brew a beer for their wedding.  They liked my idea of combining aspects of their character, background and tastes to produce something which should reflect something of both of them. It could be fruitful if I could think of a way of making such projects commercially viable rather than just fun because then I could make some income from something very creatively enjoyable.  For now, in this season of house arrest I am delighted to have a fun challenge to work on.  Design one is ready on paper, awaiting some speciality malt to arrive in the next couple of days, then ready to brew next week.  I hope it does not seek combine too many flavours and become confused.  If it does I know the first thing I’d drop, so I have a plan B.  This is what I always enjoyed about developing chemical processes, that ideas beget ideas.

So as we wait for the pubs to open, and with it the opportunity for me to return to my missed routine of work and banter with the other brewers / dray-men if you have a beer design commission in mind, drop me a line and I can give you a quote.

Hibiscus & Grapefruit Pale Ale

Today’s experimental brew (version 2, more grapefruit and less hibiscus to try for a better balance). Ready from the 21st June. Version 1 was well received by my tasting panel but was not exactly what I was looking for. Hopefully this will be a lot closer. Inspired by T2’s French Earl Grey Tea.

It will be interesting to see what colour this comes out as, version one was amazing…

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Hibiscus & Grapefruit Pale Ale – Version 1

Recording memories

This time of house arrest gives one a lot of time, and sometimes I’ve been able to put it to good use doing things I should have got around to many weeks / months or even years ago.  One of these way to make good my lack of photographs of our wonderful moggie and faithful companion, Henry.  And what did Time Berners-Lee invent the internet for if it was not for the sharing of cat photo’s?

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COVID diary – week 7

dsc_1134Everyone on the Weston Front has remained well so far, we are blessed by the sunshine and home school seems to be going well.  I did spend the whole years school resources budget on one topic though.  An introduction to coding, by way of Bob the (Lego) robot.

The whole concept is very well thought out and seems ideal for 6-9 year olds.  We’ve learned about variables, triggers, flags and sub-routines in a really fun way.  To get a better insight into what’s possible take a look at the video’s of Bob’s antics on my Flickr Feed.

I would not want to do a ‘Facebook Front‘ post and suggest that everything is rosy.  I am finding motivation hard when I’m not home schooling and it is frustrating to remain in limbo as to whether we will get away on holiday this year.  It’s true we have not got a foreign trip planned where we will lose deposits etc, but we really did (and still do) hope to go to Shetland at some point during the sunnier part of the year.  Nathan is missing interacting with his friends too.  Video calls are good, but no still no substitute for the real thing.

What I want to leave you with this week is the best advise I’ve yet seen on surviving ‘house arrest’ which comes in the form of a allegorical video from James Veitch. But note that really it should come with a ’16’ certificate!

An alternative approach to manage the Coronavirus outbreak?

A friend showed this article to me and I thought it made some excellent points from the alternative medical perspective of the veterinary profession.  It’s well worth a read. So good I forwarded a copy to my local MP and to Matt Hancock.  There’s a low chance it will ever reach them, physically, less so intellectually but you’ve got to try.  I’ve included below as a pair of .jpg files.  You could also download as a pdf from here.

The article first appeared in the Vet Record and was written by Dick Sibley of West Ridge Veterinary Practice and Joe Brownlie formerly of the Royal Vet College.