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Hillwalking with an RC Truck

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It's not been entirely dry all week, so there's still plenty of puddles to pay in

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Climbing up onto chalk

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And into the older woods that head up onto The Ridge

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And along the nice flat stretch at the top

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This is where we stopped for a rest and a trail snack last week.  I've made better time this week, and there's still a long way to go, so I opt not to eat my trail snack yet.

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Onto The Ridge, one of my favourite parts of the walk

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Around here we met some friendly dog walkers, who were keen to know more about the truck and what it's for.  They wanted to know how fast it went, and were quite amazed at it's top speed.  I decided not to mention the Brushless E-Maxx.

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A helicopter came up from Salisbury Plain, probably something to do with an exercise.

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I decided to take a different route here.  Instead of heading south and walking along the fence, where the Bruiser had really struggled in the long grass, I went north and picked up the other fence.  The view out across West Wilts is pretty good from up here.

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This brings us into another little patch of woodland and brings us out on the lane that we took last week.

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And just up the lane, we rejoin the same footpath we took last week.

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I took this same shot last week, too.  This is where I turned right to get back onto what I thought was the bridleway that would take us down into the valley, but I was wrong, and ended up in the field with the long grass.  This week I wouldn't make that mistake.

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Here we are - the footpath actually comes out in a sensible location.

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We stopped here for a trail snack as the sun started to descend.  I'd got warm from walking, but it was surprising how quick I cooled off.  We're an hour ahead of last week - the sun was just about to set at this point in the walk - but soon it'll feel cold.

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Descending into the shadows of the valley, on the gooey chalkey track.

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The CFX-W is taller and has much better tyres, so I felt more confident driving it through the puddles.  That said, the receiver isn't waterproof, and it sits right on top of the floor panels, with only a plastic interior to keep the splashes off.  If the sliders go under, the receiver is probably about to be swamped.  And I forgot to bring my bungee strap.

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We're right down in the valley now, so the sun is setting early.

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6.12 miles, nearly 3 hours, and finally the 4250mAh pack has quit.  I'd noticed the 74% cruise setting was gradually getting slower over the last 30 minutes, but I'm surprised it lasted this long.  The CFX-W probably weighs about the same as the Bruiser, but it has a planetary box up front, a transfer case in the middle, and portals on each corner.  That's a lot of extra gears.  Those taller wheels probably give it a slightly faster top speed, too.  In its favour, it's only had full throttle for a few short bursts here and there - the Bruiser was full throttle for huge parts of the grassy sections.

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When I think about it, the Bruiser did 3.74 miles on a 2200mAh pack, before we even got to the long grass.  The CFX-W would have done around 3.17 miles on 2200mAh, so in a very rough calculation, the Bruiser is more efficient when the terrain is easier.

Hill Bottom Farm, or as I refer to it, Stalker Farm.

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Yeah, I seriously thought about it, but, I didn't have my bungee strap, and I can't afford to replace another receiver...

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The skies were darkening and we had the long uphill slog to do, so I didn't take many more photos.  At the top of the long arcing climb, last week I turned left and followed shorter grass to the Imber junction.  That was fine, but it left me with almost 2 miles of flat gravel and tarmac road to do, which is boring.  This time I decided to cut right, following a tractor path across some very long grass, to get into another trail.

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And then I had my first roll!  It was my fault really, I'd been relying on cruise to keep the truck moving, the path was deep and the grass high, and it was a little too fast.  Once the wheels catch the side, it's too late to flip off the cruise and save it - it digs in and flips over...

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The correct way to recover this is to thread the winch over the sliders or rear cage and use it to pull the truck upright, but I did that lame thing that people sometimes do on the trails, revving it like crazy and turning the steering until it hooks up and flips back on its wheels.  One of the drawbacks of a "no hand of god" rule is people getting lazy and resorting to other non-scale methods of recovery.

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This path brought me back into Imber Path a little further up.  There I heard some loud and angry diesel engines, and I looked back towards the Imber junction to see some tracked vehicles on exercise.  If I'd gone on my original route, I'd have come out right next to them.  This shot is taken with full optical and digital zoom, so it's too grainy to see much.

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I set off towards the van, with the tanks behind me

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But soon enough the diesel engines started revving, and they stalked me from behind.  I snapped this shot from the hip.

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They went right past me, the big scary looking soldiers gave me a wave as they went past.  The noise is like nothing else.

Then, a few minutes later, they turned back onto the Imber Path and started racing towards me.  I snapped off another shot from the hip before I got up into the bank out of the way.  The ground shook as they came past.

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A while later I turned around to look behind, and saw the moon peaking up over the hills.  There's something strange about looking around and seeing it there.  It always looks tiny in the photos but it seems so big to the eye.

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Back at the van, I spent a while playing with camera settings to try to get a half-decent shot.  This is as good as I got.

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So, there we go - 8.71 miles in just over 4 hours, one and a half 3S packs and one Mars Bar consumed, no damage to the truck except Trail Jesus's coolbox full of coldsnacks had come loose and was rolling around in the interior.  Another good fun way to spend an evening, and with a bit of military excitement as well :)

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Thank you for taking us "with you" again on this walk. That CFX-W certainly looks good out on the trail. Good for you no electronics were soaked this time :D

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It's meditative, reading the text and looking at the photos. Just wonderful stuff - this was a nice way to "slow down" in the evening, participating from the kitchen table.

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The main reason I had to jump to it and post the last update was because I'd already gone out and done another walk with a truck, and I was in severe danger of getting badly behind.  I hate having a big stack of updates to do, because there's a risk I'll just abandon them.

Friday 6th wasn't planned to be a walk day - issues with the wife's car meant I had burned up most of my early-finish time during the week, and I'd need to hang around until 17:30 hundred hours PM in the afternoon for the evening school run.  Then suddenly the wife's car was fixed, and I was free to go out.  Only I hadn't charged any batteries, since I didn't think I was going out at all!

Still, it's a 30 minute drive to the hills, which was just enough to top off 2 of my 4250mAh 3S packs.  Although if I hadn't blown the fuse in the van trying to charge 2 packs at 8 amps I'd have got there 30 minutes earlier!

This week I decided to try the old SCX10 with the Cherokee body, since it's probably the best compromise between big-wheel clearance and trail truck looks.

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It was almost 6 by the time we got started, and although the skies were clear and the sun was bright, we had less than 2 hours before sunset.

I started by recapturing the same puddle-pic that I've taken with the 2 previous trucks, but then headed off in a different direction to try to get a shorter walk in.

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This was the view I got on one of my very first walks here.  I'd been walking across a flat, rather dull field for 10 minutes when I reached this gap in the hedge, and suddenly the view opened up.  It's still one of my favourite reveals, even crouched down on the ground.

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We're not even all the way down in the valley, and already the sun is behind the hill.

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Fortunately the Jeep has lights

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The cows were fascinated

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We came at Stalker Farm from the other direction this time

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I didn't take many pics for a while because it was that odd half-light where nothing comes out right.  Only when it got full dark could I take these.  We're at the home end of The Ridge here, about to drop down onto the farm lane and pick up a path that heads back to the van.

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Big dips in the gravel track look really odd under low-level LED lights, like the edge of the world is coming up.  At this point we were under trees and literally I could only see thanks to the lights on the truck

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It was nicer once we got back out in the fields, to be honest.  Britain doesn't have bears, wolves or other large predators, but hundreds of thousands of years of evolution seemed to be telling me not to walk alone under trees in the dark

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And then we were done!  4.6 miles in just under 2 hours, a nice little jaunt for a Friday, and still home in time for pizza and beers :)

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So, there we are - all caught up with the hillwalking posts!

How does the SCX10 compare?  Well, it's probably the ultimate walking companion.  It's tall enough to not get caught up in the longer grass, it takes the larger capacity batteries, and it's got a reasonable turn of speed.  Plus it's got genuine style cred, being set up like an overland / expedition truck.  The older axles lack the turning circle of modern hardware, but while that's a hindrance on the courses, it isn't a problem on the walks.  It's also got a very effective set of roof lights that really highlight the ground ahead, and are actually good enough to walk to.

I'd consider adding a spotlamp on the tailgate, pointing down behind the truck, so it will highlight where my feet will go when I'm following it.  I think that would be a nice touch.

The biggest drawback is this one runs off my Spektrum DX3C handset, which doesn't have the option of cruise control.  I'll either have to stop being lazy and finish my Arduino scaler controller build, or switch it over to my FlySky stick handset, which is kinda nicer for walking anyway.  Although I like to have at least one crawler off the Spektrum so I can offer it as a spare / handout rig without having to mess around with transmitter rebinding.  Maybe there's another way to make it work.

I'd probably add taller gearing if I was going to use it as my prime trail walker, too, and maybe even switch back to a conventional transmission (seems a shame to waste the nice Element overdriven transmission in a rig that mostly just goes on walks) but time will tell - I haven't done a walk with the GMade BOM yet, and that's the rig that has the most problems on the courses but also one of my favourite looking trucks, so perhaps it will be my new walking fave?  Let's see how that goes, I'll maybe try it in 2 weeks, as I'm away at Tamiya Junkies next weekend, so no walking on Friday :) 

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The weather had been pretty poor for the last few days, plus I had missed my usual Friday walking window due to an inset day.  I actually took my daughter to the place I usually go walking, because the weather was improving - we took some trucks to play in the woods, and bought some nice burgers to cook in the van and eat while we watched the sunset.  But naturally once we got there she decided she didn't want to play trucks, so we played games around the van, then the clouds refused to clear, so the sunset wasn't that good either.  Plus my van still smells of burnt burger.

The weather on Sunday was much better, and although I'd spent 6 hours on my feet in the workshop already, I figured I could do with some proper fresh air and exercise before the working week started again.  So loaded up the BOM and took it with me to the hills.  You'll be pleased to know that I was much more judicious with my camera, and didn't take nearly so many of the exact same photos you've already seen, but I did replicate a few classics.

Here's the same starting point.  The puddle is quite big after all the rain.

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This is a shot I haven't taken before.  It's in the woods, at the top of the hill.  It's hard to say just how steep that drop is - I've never driven a truck down it, there's no way I'd dare walk down it without a rope, and it's a seriously long walk to get to the bottom - in other words, it's not worth the risk of the truck getting lost while I was taking the walk to fetch it.

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A familiar shot from Wellhead Pond, a little under 2 miles in, I think

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We're maybe 45 minutes from sundown here, and the sunset colours are starting to come in.  A few weeks ago I was getting absolutely soaked at this point.

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I know I complain about this truck a lot, but I still think it's one of my favourites to look at.  Honestly, I could just stare at this truck all night.  There's no angle that doesn't look good.

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This is like the English version of that classic American photo of Route 66 stretching off through the desert.  It's just me and the road.

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Natasha really needs a steering wheel - she's still got that "somebody stole my newspaper" look even from this far away.  Need to put some arch liners in too, that air cap under the front wings detracts from the scaley scaleness of it all.

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We were still 15 minutes off sunset here, but we must have been slightly lower than the hill on the western horizon, so it got us early

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I didn't take any more photos after that - the light was feeling kinda washed out, and the body was getting a lot of condensation as a low mist rolled in, but it was a pretty nice walk, coming in at around 6.5 miles because I was a little later getting out and the sunset is getting earlier, plus I was already tired from having all day on my feet.

The main reason I brought the BOM on this trip is because I want to some something it's good at - and this might be it.  I'm thinking I need to streamline a rig for hill walking over crawling - I thought a smaller wheel rig would be better, but there's too much long grass, and the Bruiser just couldn't cut it.  The Class 2 rigs have definitely been better.  I thought the SCX10 Cherokee would be the one, because it has the lowest ground clearance of all my class 2 rigs, plus the older SCX axles have a poor turning circle, which is a problem for crawler courses but no problem for hillwalking.  But the SCX10 has that split ratio Element transmission now, and it seems like overkill to use that just for hillwalking.

But the BOM's deficiencies mean nothing out in the hills.  It's not really challenged enough to fall over, the drivetrain is efficient (it's kinda noisy - I need to open it up and check for problems) - it managed all 6.5 miles on a single 4250mAh pack.  The body is way easier to lift out on the trails than the Cherokee body, although I need to secure it at the rear (the BOM doesn't come with training screws to locate it) and come up with a "hood support" to hold it up (it doesn't self-support like the CFX-W body).  I can fit some stiffer shocks to reduce the wobbly body roll without worrying about its ability on the courses.  I'll want to come up with a better location for the light switches (currently requires lifting the body and removing the interior tray) and also fit a spotlight on the rear to help me see the ground when I'm walking.

So, yeah, I think I've found something that the BOM can really excel at, and I can take the time to make it a more focussed hillwalking rig, and look forward to a lot more time on the trails.

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You made some great trips with your RCs. Respect for even driving in the pouring rain. Something I always hate even when I am just hiking without a car. Mud is my enemy. I can hike 20Km with a 10Kg backpack on a day, but not when its wet. I took a Kyosho 1/9 4Runner into the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and carried a TRX-4 1979 Bronco around the Margaritze Reservoir into the vincinity of the Pasterze Glacier in Austria. But only when its dry.

There was a guy in the early eighties. He drove a Tamiya Toyota 4x4 Pickup close to the Großglockner and close to the Großvenediger. I guess information about these trips can be found in the WWW.

Regarding the encounters with "muggles" (the normal people who don't operate RCs ;)) I made mostly positive experiences. Some were astonished finding a nerd with a radio controlled car on top of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Some mountain bikers stopped and watched our cars climbing over rocks and roots. But the best moment was when a family with a five year old girl crossed my path and the girl looked up at me and asked me with a slight note of accusatory: "Are you still playing (with toys at your age)?"

I always say: "We don't stop playing because we're getting old. But we're getting old because we stopped playing!"

Cheers

Martin

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9 hours ago, urban warrior said:

Respect for even driving in the pouring rain. Something I always hate even when I am just hiking without a car.

I some weird way, I actually like walking in the rain.  I definitely need better waterproof overtrousers - sometimes here the rain can come on sudden and strong, and not let up for an hour or more, so I can't even wait it out under the trees.  On that first walk, I was just leaving the tree line when it started and by the time I got to the next wooded area my legs were completely sodden.  My trousers dry out fairly quick, but it soaked down into my socks, hence the blisters.  That's not a problem that's going to fix itself, especially as we move into the British winter, so I need to find a solution!

It's nice to have another RC hillwalker join the thread :) 

My encounters with muggles have generally been positive, with a few neutrals thrown in.  Never really had a negative.  This weekend just as I was setting out, a horse rider came the other way.  I was literally only 3 paces in (I was still beside the puddle where I took the first pic) and I had to wait a while for them to walk past, but we had a nice chat about the weather.  I could hear some nitros running over the other end of the field, but they were gone by the time I came back that way a couple of hours later.  I said hi to a young couple on my way into the woods, and saw them again an hour later going past the pond.  Also saw a family down near the cricket ground, they stopped as I came past on the path and were pointing the truck out to their little girl.

I saw a couple of cars driving up to the parking spot, I heard someone riding a motorcycle (technically not allowed but mostly they stay out of the way of walkers), I saw a farmer in his Polaris through the trees, and a couple of security 4x4s came past on Imber Path as I was walking back to the van (I think they patrol the range overnight, they're always around after it gets dark) and as I was getting changed in the van I heard some shouting and saw some torch light way out in the fields - couldn't tell for sure if it was soldiers on exercise over the boundary in the no-go zone, or civvies out playing in the dark.  But that's how quiet it is, and why I love that area for walking so much.

I'm an hour's drive from the Mendip Hills, and there are some great places to walk there, but it's much busier - parking can be tricky sometimes - I'm never that far from bumping into another muggle.  I don't really like walking in other people's shadows, and I really hate when people walk in mine, so I don't know if I'll take the truck to the Mendips any time soon (maybe only when it's raining and therefore quiet ;) )

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Can’t quite compare with the trails around Imber and Salisbury plains but had a two mile walk around Croxley Moor on this beautiful sunny afternoon IMG_0304.jpeg
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I have to say the TRX4 ( this is the full fat builders chassis with Sport body) is just fantastic for this kind of thing. It got stopped once by a bog which was over the top of the wheels but otherwise streams ponds and puddle it just sailed through.

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I finished work a bit early last Friday, so I got straight up into the workshop and slapped the slightly faster 5-pole 20T motor back into Big 6 to get it ready for its first ever trail walk.  I don't usually take it, since it's heavy, with a very laggy drivetrain, and only fits my smallest 2200mAh 3S LiPos, which would never last the full 8 miles.  However, I figured I could velcro strap a bigger 4250mAh pack onto the rear rails, and with 3 of those fully charged, I'd be sure to make it all the way round.

The main reason I wanted to run Big 6 is because the tyres were still absolutely caked in some awful concoction of mud and plant fibres from the Scale Nationals, and I wanted to give it a good run over damp grass to clear them.  However, when it was time to leave, I realised the truck has an XT60 connector and all my big LiPos (which I had spent all morning charging) have Deans, and I don't have any spare XT60s to make an adaptor.  Faceplam.

So, I grabbed the BOM and ran out of the door before the weather turned.

It's been pretty gosh darned rainy for while in these parts, and we had an epic downpour as I was heading out on the walk, but when I arrived, the sun had come nicely out.

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Looking North, I could see the storm heading off towards Devizes and Avebury.

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The puddle, which has been a permanent feature for some weeks now, was not mirror smooth like it has been in previous adventures, such was the blusteriness of the wind.

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I started off by taking my usual route, but kept the photos to a minimum, as I have done this a few times now.

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Plenty of rain made for some cool obstacles.

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Around the 4 mile mark I was almost tempted to cut back early, to round it off early, but I still had plenty of time left and I felt I needed the exercise, so I pushed on as the sun set.

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Down in the valley, among a little thicket, it got properly dark.  The camera makes it look a lot lighter than it really was, and the muddy track was ankle-deep in places.  I even got the BOM stuck at one point, and had to work hard to get it out of the mire (the alternative would have been to wade in to rescue it, filling my boots in the process).

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Here we're a little under 2 miles from the van, what you can see it pretty much what I could see - I'd forgotten to bring my head torch, and the BOM's lights are really only for display, they aren't that good at showing me where to put my feet.

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Talking of feet - rising damp in the trouserleg was setting off a blister on my left heel, so around a mile from the van I had to stop and put on a plaster.  It wasn't easy in the utter pitch darkness, but I got there in the end.

And then, just as I hit the throttle to drive away, the battery dumped.  I mean, literally, it did about 3 feet.  So I had to remove my rucksack all over again to change the pack.

However, that meant I was cresting the steepest part of the hill just as the Starlink array came up over the horizon, right in front of me.  I stood in silence for about 5 minutes and counted 21 of them in a near-perfect line, until they were all gone.

All-in-all, another epic night out in the hills, a casual 6.6 miles at an average of 2.3mph, which meant I wasn't too achy that evening or the next morning :) 

EDIT: Just went back to Strava to check something, and it was actually the 8 miles after all - the 6.6 came from a photo I took when I stopped to change the battery!

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I keep promising myself that I don't need to update this thread any more, since I'm doing pretty much the same route with the same truck over and over again, but the scenery changes so much with the seasons that there's always something new to share.

I had to go out on Friday evening last week, so I couldn't so my usual walk, which was a shame as the weather was fabulous.  Having spent the previous weekend in Cornwall, during which it rained solid for most of the time I was there, I was desperate to get out for some fresh, dry air.  My daughter stayed away last weekend, and I found myself with an unexpected free Saturday.  So, having spent the morning tidying the workshop, I decided to get out for a quick walk before I had to go to Bristol for a friend's birthday.

Thankfully, the good weather held into Saturday, although it was somewhat cold up on the hills.  The morning's frost hadn't cleared from the north-facing slopes, having not had any sun all day, but the skies were clear and the sun was bright.

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I thought I'd take this classic shot again, since it looks so good when the sun's out.  Still some ice in the puddles despite being in the sun all day.

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A lot of leaves have come down since I was last in the woods.  Actually took a lot of effort to drive through these.

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This area had been in shade all day, and was still frosty.

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I tried to drive the truck over the ice sheets, but it was too thin, and it went all Ice Road Trucker trailerbait on me

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Yeah, just like when you wait through an entire ad break to see nothing of interest happen, the truck just went through the ice and landed on the bottom.

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Still, it was fun

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A lot of the trees are bare now, but there's still some glorious autumnal colours hanging around.

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Those rainbow over on the left, just above the trees, aren't a lens artefact.  That was visible to the naked eye, hence why I took this shot.  I think it's called a sundog, and I'm not sure I've ever seen one before.

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