Duct Tape Or Gaffer Tape?

Edit 07 May 2010: Folks – Duct tape is not the same thing as Gaffer tape. Gaffer tape comes from specialist camera equipment suppliers and is very, very expensive. I can use Google pretty effectively and if I could have turned up actual Gaffer tape with a quick search or two, believe me, I would have done. What’s the difference? Read on! :)

I’ve been looking for Gaffer tape for ages and at last my search has come to an end, twice in the same week.

What? Surely you can walk in to any DIY shop or visit ebay to pick up a roll of Gaffer? Same as Duct tape – right?


Duct (or should that be Duck tape?) tape is great stuff. It should be part of everyone’s repair and first aid kits.

But if you’ve ever used it (and really, who hasn’t?) then you’ll know it’s sticky.

Really, very sticky.

Which is rather the point. It sticks like… well, you know what.

But it’s also a drawback, you stick it on something, and when you want to peel it off, some of it stays. Or, worse, some of what you’ve stuck it to, doesn’t stay.

When the film and theatre industries started using it for sticking cables and other things that they didn’t want covered in glue, that became a problem.

So, they invented Gaffer tape. Named for the head of the lighting department on a film crew.

Its surprisingly hard to find. I eventually stumbled across it in the obvious place; professional camera supplies.

In the USA Adorama supply a 50 yard roll (they still use measurements that are impossible to convert between ;) and in Europe Calumet do it in a 50M roll (they also have a large selection in their US shop, and also in those odd measurements!).

It’s a specialist item, so, as the Wikipedia article has it; “[it] is therefore not a consumer good“.

Meaning it’s not cheap.

But if, you want to make things using tape or if you find yourself having to repair something that you don’t want to get covered in residual glue, it might be just what you need.

GR5: Walking The GR5 Using Google Street View

As we walked the GR5, we used a Spot tracker to record way-points along the route. It managed pretty well and only missed one day (oddly, I’m sure it was on…).

As we walked, I had it uploading to a page on the Spot web site so people could track our progress, but sadly it only logged the last seven days of activity. I hadn’t realised that I should have logged in to spotadventures.com and created an “Adventure” so that the way-points could be recorded permanently. The Spot web site, rather like the Spot tracker, doesn’t always have a very intuitive interface.

Luckily though, Google Maps allows you to import several track formats, so in they went. (It only shows 200 track points at any one time; scroll to the bottom of the list of points, in the left hand panel, to see more of them).

The great thing is, since Google Street View has arrived in France, you can see a couple of landmark points on the walk in an “interactive” format:

The start of the walk, just by the roofed-over shelter by Lake Geneva.

Our favourite village, St Dalmas le Selvage.

And the end of the walk, on the tiny beach at the edge of the marina in Menton.

In ordinary map view, try left-dragging the little orange man (in the top left, at the end of the scale) and as you wave him about over the map, the roads that have Street View are highlighted in blue.

Of course, there are only a few points where the Street View images intersect with our walking route, but it’s remarkably evocative to be able to see the route in such detail.

GR20: The Big Walk for 2010

Well, despite the fact I’ve still got several half-written GR5 write-up postings… Here’s the start of the Big Walk 2010 postings: Corsica, the GR20. It’s around 190 kilometres long with 12,500 of height gain (and loss).

We decided that we’d have to do it when we also decided that we’d have to walk the GR5;  as we listened to a Cicerone sponsored podcast with Andy Howell interviewing Paddy Dillon.

We’d considered going straight on to the GR20 from the end of the GR5 but realised that we’d rather just take our time meandering about on the GR5 instead. Which was certainly the right decision. After all, it’s not about how far you go or even where you end-up; it’s about the journey itself.

Although the GR20 is often described as “the toughest waymarked route in the world” it has to be noted that’s “waymarked” route (I think Paddy mentions exactly that in the podcast). By the sound of it, many “walkers”, including us, do more technical scrambling routes in North Wales, albeit for far shorter distances. None the less, it’s probably not the long distance route to be starting on as a novice walker, unless perhaps you’ve done some scrambling.

Once again we’ll be using Paddy’s excellent Cicerone guide book and taking  a TopoGuide number 67:  GR20: À Travers la Montagne Corse (from The Map Shop – as usual). The TopoGuides worked out very well on the GR5 since four of them cover the whole route. I’m also getting a couple of 1:100,000 scale maps to paw-over whilst planning and to get a feeling for how the whole route fits into the island.

It looks like the most practical way to get there will be to fly into Nice and then take either a ferry or a local flight over to Corsica. Which will mean we’ll be effectively picking up the walk from the point where we left  it last summer.

As last year, a couple of the Usual Suspects from other Big Walks will be joining us for the first sections before leaving us to complete it at our leisure.

Paddy outlines the route at fifteen days of actual walking. Add on another day each side for travelling to and from the start and finish points and you’re a couple of days short of a whole three working weeks. So we’ve decided to stay for those extra days to give us contingency on the route itself as well as some time to explore the more inhabited parts of the island once we’ve finished.

I’ll probably make most of the postings for this walk retrospectively since, on the one hand, I’ve not even finished the GR5 set and on the other, I like recording not only what our planning was but perhaps more importantly how that planning actually worked out in reality.

Excited now…