Monday, 30 May 2011

New Tent

There comes a time when you have to accept the realities of life. A friend that in the past, has looked after you, sheltered you from the storms, protected you from torrential rain, and provided a haven from the elements and midges, is now looking tired, weary and fray around the edges. Tents are sometimes taken for granted: they are dried/aired after each trip, and stowed away for the next trip. However, there will be no next trip for the intrepid Wynnster Praire 2 man tent that was bought for £40 about seven years ago, off the bargain shelf of an outdoor retailer. It has travel with me throughout the past years providing a sanctuary at the end of a day’s paddling: overnight, weekends, and extended trips. From the Outer Hebrides, Islay, Mull to the many small islands and skerries of the West Coast of Scotland, never has it let me down, even camping in a force 8. Yes, it was battered and bruised, but it kept me dry.
My old Wynnster tent. One of the problems was that you had to put the inner tent up first before putting on the flysheet.

The porch of the Wynnster was too small to keep kit in, and cook at the same time if the weather was poor, but I did like the windows.

My new tent is a Coleman Phad 3. It is meant to be a 3 man tent, but I would call it a large 2 man tent. There is plenty of space in the inner compartment and a large porch area that will take some kit and allow me to cook at the same time if the weather is poor. Some people might say that this is a bit extravagant for one person, but I have never been a minimalist when it comes kayaking and camping. I like my space and luxury when out in the wild. The weight is just under 4KG and has a 4000 hydrostatic head flysheet, and the whole tent can be put up at once as the inner is attached to the flysheet with togs. One other important feature is you can have access through two sides into the porch. The tent cost £109 pp included, through Amazon, it is by no means a top of the range tent for extreme weather, but it does get some very good reviews from other outdoor enthusiasts.

What put me off getting a more expensive, better/well known makes was the problems associated with pole breakages (£150-350, and the poles break!!!). Only time will tell if the Coleman Phad lives up to the standard and reliability of my old Wynnster.
Bye for know.
David A

Friday, 27 May 2011

Followers Box

Apologies to everyone who had registered as followers/pics, as it has disappeared!!!!!!

David A

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Island Macaskin

The problem with planning a kayaking weekend a few weeks in advance is the weather: just what will the weather be like. With this in mind, Plan A: Easdale to the Garvellachs ; Plan B: parking area at Graignish Point then round through Dorus Mor, then see what happens. At this planning stage there was no plan C. The weather forecast was NW/W 5-7, plan A was ruled out before we set of north on our journey, plan B was unlikely as we headed to Graignish to spend the night there before launching in the morning. In the morning plan B was also cancelled due to the increasing wind/squalls and sea conditions. A quick look at the map and plan C was formulated: launch at Ardfern explore some of the Islands in Loch Graignish, find a sheltered campsite for the night and take in the wonders around us. As it turned out is was a leisurely trip. Even with the rain showers and squalls, it turned out to be special (there all special). Launching at Ardfern was good with easy access to the shore. Soon we were paddling through the moorings towards the east channel between Eilean Mhic Chrion and the mainland exploring the salmon cages as bars of silver fish leaped out of the water. The mainland shore was heavily wooded trees with branches hanging out from the shore on to the water and the bird song gave this environment a fresh water loch atmosphere. Even with occasional shower, it was good to be out on the water. After exploring the channels at Eilean nan Gabhar we paddled down the east shore of Island Macaskin to its southerly point, before heading back north to a sheltered campsite we had selected.
The squalls and rain showers close in.
We explored the interior of the island and were amazed by the numerous high dry stain dykes that enclose some of the old pastures/crop fields throughout the island. The toil, sweat and physical demands of sourcing the stones from this island, moving them to where they are needed and building these dykes and clearing the fields in all weather conditions are unimaginable. Macaskin Island seems to have rich soil, if the mole hills are anything to go by. Most of the island is heavily wooded apart from the land that has been cleared in the past; unlike most of the smaller island on the west coast. There is also a kiln on the east coast which could have been used for liming the land. Perhaps the trees were managed for this very purpose.
As we walked to the summit of the island we came across an very old building, possibly a summer shieling.

The view north up Loch Grainish. View to the west towards Graignish Point and in the distance Jura.
Derelict crofts or dwellings are always sad places of stories forgotten, no fires in the hearth and no laughter of the children who no doubt once lived there. Without humans a sad lonely place, with no soul, and no welcoming smile.

Views from the southern end of Macaskin.

The wildlife was also fantastic: Hen Harriers, Canadian Geese with chicks, Wood Peckers drumming, herons, Pheasants, numerous types of Ducks and sea birds were seen and heard. And of course the Cuckoo’s that seemed to be calling everywhere, especially the one that that decided to take up a calling post on a tree next to the campsite at 6am. Fantastic.
Pheasant nest raided, possibly by a Hooded Crow.

Rocks on the shore being used as an anvil, possibly by Gulls, Crows or Otters, which there was plenty of signs of.

The weather was not good, but the memories of this trip and of the lonely croft will be with me forever.

The end.