The New Boots...
In order to have new boots, there need to be old boots. My old boots have been in service for a season or so and are most definitely past their sell by date. Water damage, snow damage, and most latterly puppy damage have made sure that they are really not even fit for gardening. They are the second pair that I have had, the plus side being that they fit like a glove, are as comfortable and have just about done the job and are pretty affordable. The downside, they split across the middle of my foot and they aren't tall enough, and I hate wearing gaiters.
So it's a hard task. I need something that is wide enough to be comfortable, that will give enough flex across the middle of the foot for me to be able to "bob down to shoot", and not split, that are tall enough to negate the need for gaiters, that are warm enough to see me through the coldest of seasons, that will survive all year round wear, the summers often destroy boots and waterproofs more than the winters, that look good (a small amount of vanity is surely acceptable) and that will above all last more than a couple of seasons.
And then I heard about Brandecosse and their Diemme range of boots and in particular the 11" Cervo's. These boots are handmade in Italy and supplied in the UK by Jane Trueman and Brandecosse, two small family run businesses working in harmony.
From the moment you open the box, you are struck by the beauty and detail of the workmanship. A beautiful warm chestnut brown, polished and buffed to a mirror shine, the smell of leather as you lift them from the box is intoxicating.
I have very wide feet for a lady which normally means I wear a mans boot, which the Cervo's are, this also means that there is often a little extra room. This small issue is cleverly covered by the inclusion of a set of insoles designed to add padding.
I initially tried a size 41, and they fit, with a thin pair of socks pretty snugly, but knowing that I would be covering fair distances in these boots and would need to wear them with thicker socks, I opted for a size 42 and the addition of the insole created a perfect fit with a pair of standard thickness shooting socks.
Time for the test.
First up was an HPR training day on the moor. No real mileage covered and pretty easy going, everything was good. But the next couple of outings really would put them through their paces.
The Glorious 12th, and my boots and I joined our local Grouse shoot on photography duties for the start of the season.
Half a day on Friday across Yorkshire Moorland and I was over the moon that my feet were as good as new at the end of day one. Saturday and a different moor, out with the picking up team and 10 hard miles covered. I had plasters, spare socks and pain killers packed just in case, but needed none.
The terrain was far from easy, from near vertical climbs to the top of the moor, down gullies and ravines, across burnt heather and then out across the white grass. Bog ponds, standing water, cloughs swollen for the previous evenings rain all added to the testing conditions.
I ended the day with dry, warm, feet that were as good as when I put the boots on.
THE VERDICT :
Comfort : In terms of size, I did need to go up an extra size from my normal fitting but with the insoles this wasn't a problem and meant my feet had enough room. I haven't worn tall boots before and the first morning lacing them up a few choice words may have been heard. There is a definite art to lacing 11" boots. I haven't as yet discovered it but I am sure the method will come. What I did find is that if you lace your boots too tightly at the start of the day, as your calf muscles expand as you are climbing hills so the circulation becomes a little constricted. Again this is just getting used to wearing longer boots.
The boots do feel heavy, but this is only to be expected after wearing short ankle length hiking boots and something I am sure I will get used to. The grip was fantastic. First time out across the cobbles and boulders I felt a little unsure but after I learnt to trust the grip it was great to be able to walk down a bracken bank without the fear of slipping and to cross wet rocks and still feel sure footed.
The 11" meant that it didn't matter how many unseen bog holes I disappeared down my feet remained completely dry all day.
I also left my gaiters at home, which for me was brilliant, I find them a nuisance and it was nice to be free of them, although i am sure many would continue to wear theirs.
I have to say when I looked at the boots on Sunday morning after they had dried out I was dubious that they would ever look the same.
I have brushed away the remnants of the moors, wiped away the dirt and applied two coats of wax and buffed,
I am happy to report, my boots are as good as new. If you want to keep you boots in good condition so that they last, its simple, look after them. Dry them out, clean them down, polish them back
Cost : Expensive or not is a matter of opinion. I spend my life out in the countryside, either as a fieldsports and rural life photographer or training and working dogs, all year round. For me my boots are a tool of my trade and these are worth the investment.
Obviously everyone has different size feet and this only my view on how I have found these boots.
I was desperate for there to be a tiny niggle that I could mention, or something that wasn't quite right, just so it didn't sound like the perfect report, but there really is nothing, at the moment, that I would change about these boots.
As the season progresses and the weather changes I will report back on how me and my boots fair, so watch this space.
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