Around The Wrekin

Around The Wrekin

It’s a saying that apparently is ‘local’ to me, so the chances are none of you will ever have heard of it before.

If, for example, someone has got lost on a journey and put a good few extra miles on, or didn’t even know where they were, they may say they’ve been “all around the Wrekin” (pronounced “Ree-kin”, by the way).

So when someone in my recent training course came out with the saying, I got myself onto Google to find out just what in the blue-blazing Hell it was going on about!

Wikipedia told me that it was a hill in Shropshire, with a few pictures that got me all excited.  I LOVE Shropshire.  It’s the closest county that really inspires me, and is chock-full of beautiful countryside and officially recognised Areas Of Natural Beauty (AONB).  The Wrekin itself is a part of the Shropshire Hills near Telford, and from the pictures I was reminded of a miniature version of The Malvern Hills, which I also love.

I emailed Lill Boo to tell her that on Saturday we would be going around the Wrekin.

In hindsight, considering the handbrake on my car has snapped the cable, this probably wasn’t the wisest choice.  “Oh, I have no handbrake on the car – let’s go to the most hilly -ing area we can find!!!”.

Yeah, I was a breach birth – screw you!

Maybe it’s a little ironic that it was an absolute barsket to find!  I was hoping for, you know, a sign saying “Wrekin Hill” or some kind of directions.  Ohh no!

The good news was that we spent several hours driving around absolutely gorgeous scenery inbetween poking my bony digit at maps and proclaiming that “It’s right -ing HERE!!!”.  Even more frustrating was that I could see bloody hills EVERYWHERE, but just didn’t know which was the right one!!

If you head from Horsehay towards Little Wenlock, you’ll be driving along and suddenly the road disappears to the left whilst you inadvertently go straight on over a junction you can’t see, and then you end up heading towards Wrekin.  It’s THAT simple.


Of course I had my Vibram FiveFingers on for this, and I’m glad I did for most of it, too!

Parking up at the base of the Hill, we followed the pathway through the wooded area that goes upwards REALLY harshly from the start.  There were a fair few people around heading up and down, and I could see a few fat kids heading down sucking on icecreams and stuff, so figured I could probably survive the trek if there was a shop at the top.

Unfortunately we followed the wrong path, which took us to the option of retracing our steps or pushing on through the woods on the hillside, taking tiny pathways that were almost vertical in some places.  This took serious work and a lot of sweat!  I found that the FiveFingers are really in their element in these conditions – using your toes to climb very steep slopes covered in loose leaves and mud.  It was encouraging to the point that I felt I could attempt to run up these slopes – except I’d have definitely died of heart and muscle failure.

We were also a few feet away from a woodpecker doing his stuff, although much searching never revealed the little bugger!

Climbing over the ridge at the top, we came across all the people who’d arrived there by the sensible (boring) path, sitting on logs and stuff whilst admiring the stunning views overlooking the Shropshire Plains for miles and miles.

Another last effort took us up an easy slop to the very summit, where there is a huge ariel and a trig point.

We followed the regular path on the way down, which was easier on the lungs, but the Vibrams were most definitely now OUT of their element!  Hard surfaces covered in medium-sized loose jagged rocks hurt like a mo-fo, as I could feel every single one of them digging into the soles of my feet – much like the way you’d probably feel if someone was caning the soles of your bare feet.

On the way down we did indeed find a shop selling ice lollies and liquids, which was well in order by this time!  If you take the ‘normal’ route up the hill you can’t miss it…

Overall it’s a great day out in the sunshine, and worthy of a picnic if you can lug it up the hill – but it’s far from an easy trek.

And WTF were the gang of people dressed in togas about???  Wrekin Wromans???


My Favourite Road – Bridgnorth To Ludlow

My Favourite Road – Bridgnorth To Ludlow

As a biker, I’m happy to just jump on the bike and ride.  It doesn’t matter where I’m going, or for how long.

Much as I hate paying almost £1.40 for a litre of Super Unleaded petrol, I WILL pay it and have fk all to show from it apart from a smile on my face and slightly less rubber on my tyres, and maybe less plastic on my toe and kneesliders.  Yeah, screw you Society!  That’s how I roll!

Of course, I do have my favourite destinations.  The Redditch Cloverleaf is almost impossible to resist anytime I have to ride past and the roads are dry.  I mean, you simply pull off the dual carriageway and scrape your knee around the four corners and then carry on in the direction you were headed as if nothing had happened.  It really is Heaven.

Except this year the road surface on the Cloverleaf is rather shocking… The tarmac is broken and very rough on EXACTLY the line you want to be taking around there!

Anyway, enough about that – what I really wanted to blog about here is one of my favourite roads.

It’s the B4364 that runs from Bridgnorth to Ludlow.  It’s over 22 miles through some of the most beautiful Shropshire countryside, and has everything from open straights and fast sweeping corners to mega-tight OFM (“Oh Fuck Me!”) twisties.

Ludlow itself is a very nice place for a stop-off, as is Bridgnorth – and the Quatt Biker Cafe just outside Bridgnorth is always a mecca for bikers of all kinds who drop in for a bacon sandwich and a coffee.

At the Ludlow end of the B4364, if you head in the opposite direction towards Kidderminster, you cross the stunning Cleehill – where you’ll see a lot of my bike photographs are taken.

This was a lovely sunny day, so I got the Veho HD10+ mounted on the bike and decided to get footage of the whole of the B4364, at legal speeds to show how it is still a lot of fun to ride without being silly.

I hope you enjoy this and don’t criticise my riding too harshly!

Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Full Review After Onboard Test

Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Full Review After Onboard Test

See this blog for my initial review of what you get and some tech specs: INITIAL REVIEW

The Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ comes with millions of mountings and attachments.  By far the best option for a sportsbike is to stick it near the front of the tank where it will have an excellent view of the clocks and through the screen.  Mounting it on the tailpiece would be quick and simple, too.  In fact, for a track bike there are loads of options!

For the road, however, I soon realised my options were far more limited.  I don’t want to film my speedo.  That’s far too easy to incriminate yourself when you’re pulled over doing 75mph and the Police view the footage.

My other big consideration is for a bit of stealth – and the HD10 just doesn’t allow this anywhere near as well as the smaller cams such as the Veho Muvi Pro or MD80.  Plus there’s the 1.5″ video screen which draws attention at the traffic lights.

In the end, I went back to duct tape and sponge, mounting the HD10 on the front of the brake reservoir in the same place I favoured for smaller cams.

This still isn’t ideal for fast installment and removal – such as when you stop for petrol and don’t want some Scrote grabbing your camera off the bike whilst you’re inside paying.  This is something I will work on.

The velcro strips are very useful for mounting and as extra ‘security’ measures in case the cam does fly off at 190mph.

I used a simple piece of foam between the cam and the brake reservoir, and vibrations were minimal.  The footage doesn’t go wavy at high revs or over bumps.  There is some jolting, but footage is still continuous and it seems good.

More of a problem is the sound.  I think it’s more sensitive than the smaller cams, which means it does pick up more, but the crisper sound also picks up a lot of wind noise.  I think the hole on the front cover is for the mic, and I will try and dampen it next time by putting some tape across and see how that helps.  It has potential.

The time/date stamp is still there, although smaller on the HD10 it’s still a totally unnecessary pisser.  It is easier to set and can be altered through the menu options at any time – but I don’t want it there at all!  For one it’s unsightly, and secondly it goes back to incriminating yourself by showing the exact time and date the footage was filmed.  It could work in your favour or very much against it, so I randomise any stamps on my cams.  PLEASE GET RID OF IT, VEHO!!!

To be honest, I wasn’t  as impressed with the video quality as I was expecting to be.  It is better than a Veho Muvi Pro, but not by much… that is until you watch it on a full-size TV, where the difference really shows!  It’s still a bit grainy – especially in poor light conditions (see my test video) but the widescreen is good.

The 160 degree fisheye-type lens isn’t as terrible as I thought it might be, and doesn’t distort the footage in ways that make it look weird and unwatchable.  It’s just about right.

Playback on a TV directly from the DH10 is very impressive.  There is no broken footage or waiting around for it to play.  I’ve only tested this with the USB cable into my Xbox, but I should imagine the HDMI connection is just as flawless.

In my test the HD10 was recording at 1.28GB for every 30 minutes of footage – and again Veho needlessly split the footage every 30 minutes.  It does this quickly and does offer some protection if a file goes corrupt, but I doubt anyone likes it.  Sort it out, Veho.  And I got a shock editing my video in Windows Media Player, as this cam records as a .mov file and not a .avi.  This may not be an issue with other software, but WMP has to convert all the file before you can even snip a 30 second chunk out to edit.  Having said this, the .avi’s from the Muvi Pro and MD80 wouldn’t play from the cam through the Xbox or video player, whereas these files WILL.  And this is a Very Good Thing!

What is impressive is battery life.  All these cams make a claim that you can halve and then it’s getting closer to the truth.  Veho claim ‘4 hours recording time’ for the HD10 and for my test I left it recording for well over 3 hours before it switched itself off… and I later noticed that this was because the memory card was full!  Four hours of recording seems very realistic – and possibly more!

So overall the Veho Muvi HD10+ is damned good, but a bit of a let-down in parts, for me.  It’s just about perfect for filming trackdays – aside from it not being waterproof – or other more overt uses.

It IS a good camera, and for the price there isn’t much that compares.  The next one up is a £250 GoPro, and the next one down is probably a Veho Muvi Pro for around £60, so it does sit nicely in the gap.  Would I buy one again?  Well… unless my budget extended to the GoPro (which is even less covert and awkward to mount anywhere for everyday road use), then I would have to say that I would.

I was just hoping Veho would have sorted out things like the file-splitting and especially the time/date stamp.

You may disagree and think it’s amazing – I just think that they could have done better…


Click here for my review and comparison of: Keychain Spycam, MD80 and Veho Muvi Pro