Commit to Good Times

Words by Ed Oxley

“Just do something, no matter how irrelevant, to mark the occasion. Do something fun to remember. Mark time with a good time.”

I don’t believe in God and I’m not a flag waver, so I wasn’t singing ‘God Save the Queen’ the other weekend. However I do admire commitment and nobody can accuse Queen Elizabeth, or the Lord God Almighty (unverifiable identity but bear with me) of lacking total commitment to their causes. If you want something to work, be it a religion, a dynasty, even a big night out and especially a ‘made in Britain’ business, then COMMITMENT is what you need.

Instead of just turning my nose up at everyone else maybe I should commit to my own celebration? Just do something, no matter how irrelevant, to mark the occasion. Do something fun that I’ll remember. Mark time with a good time. 

I didn’t fancy putting up bunting and having a garden party so I decided to celebrate what I love about living where I do by going for a proper walk in the big hills. Because I like to overdo it let’s make it three walks and the hills will be the biggest in the land. So me and Alex the photographer set off up Snowdon last week, we’ll go to Scafell Pike next week and then Ben Nevis later in the summer.

“It just feels right to aim for the top of the highest points in Britain”

Yes these are all well trodden paths which will be busier than some of the lesser known spots, but it just feels right to aim for the top of the highest points in Britain.

As a small child I walked up Ben Nevis in Scotland, but all I remember is being told the story about me doing it. In the 1990s I went up England’s Scafell Pike, but you know what they say it means if you remember anything from the 90s. I’ve been up Snowdon in Wales a few times on a mountain bike, but never to the actual summit. It always seemed a bit pointless going to these peaks just because they correspond with the highest number on the map and so they’ve not been on my list. If there’s one thing I’ve learned though it’s that pointless is often good and if I think I shouldn’t do something, then actually maybe I should.

When we started HebTroCo we swore we’d never do denim. We were also strictly against the zipped fly. Our best selling product now is our fantastic selvedge denim jeans and we love the zippers on our Cargo Pants and Action Shorts!

Yr Wyddfa (Snowden) stands at 1,085m or 3,560 ft above sea level and we walked up there on the very scenic Rhyd Ddu path. Soon you get views out over the other hills, with pretty lakes nestled between them and then the sea itself not far away, which gives a lovely sense of perspective and maximises your feeling of gaining height. Brooding clouds parted to give glimpses of the coiled spine of rocks leading to the summit. Neither of us had been this way before and the revelation of the mountain was exciting.

“Rambling is my time to get some perspective, let my mind wander as my feet beat out a rhythm across the ground.”

My eyes stretch out over the landscape and I can breathe the summer in. I love our countryside, our nature, our wild things and wild places. The beautifully relentless passage of time plays out in the natural world as a pattern. Things are possible and if it goes wrong, do it better next season. We know that we can make things happen because we can see it happening all around us. Spend enough time outdoors looking at the birds and clouds and trees and hills and you can see yourself and what you’re doing reflected all around you.

The steadily curving path soon turns steep, hard packed path goes loose. Up we go and hats come off, buttons open. Further up and the air starts to cool. We’re hundreds of feet higher than where we started. As we choose a spot with a head-bangingly good panoramic view, the moleskin shirt gets buttoned up, on goes the hat and so does the stove. Getting the Storm Stick Stove fired up is a great ritual and makes an occasion of just taking a break. There are usually jealous comments from passing walkers who can smell the proper coffee! Well worth taking the time to do it right.

We don’t make high tech outdoor clothing at HebTroCo. Everything we do has to look good, be comfortable and last well. Isn’t that what you want when you head outdoors most of the time anyway? Many of our products are developments of clothes or bits of kit that we’ve had for years that have been loved and worn to death. Things that have been made just that little bit better with a couple of tweaks or a change of fabric. We want stuff that will serve us well for a day in the hills and look good when we come back inside.

People often ask, “is it waterproof?” The answer is pretty simple. No not 100%. That’s because the only thing that’s really waterproof is a house with a good roof. With clothing there’s always a trade off between stopping the rain from coming in and letting the condensation from your body out. Plus proper rain will tend to come in at the neck, cuff and hem regardless. We prefer water and wind resistant fabrics that breathe well and dry quicker. Stay dry for a good while, get a bit wet, dry out. This suits our ‘day in the hills, day out in town’ needs and we think it will be spot on for most of you.

“Everything we sell at HebTroCo is British made, but rather than being flag shaggers our simple belief is that local is good.”

If we can make good quality clothes and other stuff here, well why wouldn’t we? British Made stuff? Fantastic, bring out the bubbly! It’s not all strawberries and cream though, there are plenty of difficulties making in the UK. Yes it’s easier having suppliers in the same country as you, so that you can go and see them in person, but mistakes happen, delays come with grinding frequency and wires still get crossed.

One of my favourite things about this job is testing out samples, seeing if they stand up to hard wear and making adjustments or additions. Time is spent thoroughly wearing everything that we sell before it goes into production. I have to be happy before we sell it to you and I’m well known for being hard to make happy! We have sampled some Merino wool base layer t-shirts and long sleeve tops. I had both of these with me on this hike and they’re lovely and soft to wear, breathe well and are odour resistant. Unfortunately we haven’t found anyone who can make them tough enough for us yet. Mine all have holes in them from everyday wear and tear, which just isn’t good enough for them to have a HebTroCo logo sewn into them. Sometimes it can be a long game to get things right. Failures are better experienced in the sample stage. We don’t want to be trying to sell you stuff that’s a bit shit! Hopefully we’ll find the right combination of soft but hardwearing yarn and someone who can make them to a high standard.

“For my walk I picked the Moleskin Overshirt V2 because it’s cosy soft and wind resistant. “
The big side pockets make good hand warmers and handy stash places. Unbuttoned and with sleeves rolled up to regulate the temperature for the climb, or all done up to keep the cool breeze out during the coffee stop.
Ventile makes a great shell that keeps the wind off and is highly water resistant. When it gets wet the fabric stiffens up, making it block the ingress of the rain. Our Ventile smocks aren’t noisy or clammy like more plastic based jackets. For what we want it gets the job done and it looks fantastic. Expect to see this new Cinnamon colour, as well as an Olive Green join the current Orange and Blue smocks.

“Taking photographs with a film camera has been a real pleasure for me again after years of just using my phone…”

It’s just nice to have an actual photo to hold, look at and pass on. Don’t get me wrong I love my phone camera and use it a lot, but I’ve enjoyed slowing down and thinking it through a bit more before releasing the shutter.

It also costs about a quid a shot after buying film and having it processed which sharpens the mind of a Yorkshireman. The incentive is there to make it count and to strive for ‘less is more’.

On the Rhyd Ddu path there’s a more exposed rocky section just before the top where you feel more exposed. We really are on a mountain now. The ground falls away severely at each side and it’s a strange sensation to “feel” so much space around you. The sound of the wind isn’t just on you and above you, it’s under you as well. The calling of some birds, eager to eat our packed lunch, is quite freaky coming from the air that’s way below where our feet tread. It’s not dangerous, there’s plenty of room to walk, it’s just not like Hebden Bridge anymore Toto.

Cargo Pants are a comfy loose fit and made from tightly woven, but light 100% cotton in a herringbone twill weave. Along with my Nine Pint Bum Bag I had more than enough space to hold things like my camera, binoculars, snacks, phone and pocket knife. It’s nice to be able to have access to all these things without having to stop and rummage in a rucksack.

I’ve been really pleased with our new Lambswool Beanie. It’s super soft, not itchy and packs away small, so it’s no hassle to always have it in your pack for those times you need it.

The Merino Hiker and Trail socks have made me really chuffed too. They’re properly technical level outdoor socks without looking like a sports science experiment…

“… I’ve run and walked hundreds of miles in them with no blisters, only smiles”

As you get nearer you can see people at the top. Nothing prepares you though for the incongruity of a very British queue, with at least twenty five people and rising, that leads to the trig point, or what’s probably better described as the ‘selfie spot’ at the very top. Usually painted white, this trig point has been bricked round with stones and there’s even a flight of stone steps leading up to and then down from the monument in an orderly fashion. Normally I’d be running a mile from this, but actually it’s rather cute. This place is for everyone, the mountain doesn’t care whether you’ve struggled up here on your own two feet or if you’ve let the train take the strain. It’s lovely, it’s funny and makes the pointlessness  of having the top of a mountain as your aim that extra bit absurd. Anyone can come up here either by foot or on the narrow gauge Snowdon Mountain Railway which drops people off bang on the highest bit of Wales. I really loved it and then was equally happy to leave it for the next person.

“Right then, Scafell Pike next. Onwards and outdoors…”


Good Times at HebTroCo

Moleskin Overshirt / Morecambe Bay Grey

100% cotton with a super soft brushed outer finish. Clean and simple design with great hidden pockets. 9.5oz luxur...
Quick View

Action Shorts V1 / Navy (Size 30)

Original price was: £90.00.Current price is: £50.00.
One pair of shorts to do it all – swim, run, climb or saunter around the pool and into the bar. Fully adjustable wa...
Quick View

In stock

Lambswool Beanie / Charcoal

Made in Scotland, exclusively for HebTroCo. Our best hat for the outdoors. Small pack size and lightweight at just 50...
Quick View