Monday, 29 November 2010

The weekend that never was.

Well I just had three days off work and really didn't achieve anything. On Friday I was really tired so didn't get out of bed till late, on Friday night it snowed and the council didn't bother clearing the roads (hard times). Saturday was a beautiful wintery day but I was worried that my van would get stuck in the snow if I tried to get out for a paddle (it's useless in the snow) and Shuzzy was on call so the splitboarding I'd hoped to do was a non-starter too. Pat was supposed to get in touch so we could go hill walking and I could teach him some winter skills but I haven't heard from him. Another day in the house then. On Saturday night it snowed a lot more and once again the council didn't bother clearing the roads so Sunday was spent faffing about sorting a shovel for the car and checking my snowchains (plus a quick meet up with Shuzz). Back to work on night shift tonight, should be interesting trying to get in but I expect Dora's gonna love the snow.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Two days off (well one and a half really coming off night shift) and a plan was hatched. I wanted to paddle my new canoe and spend a night under the stars, Val fancied a paddle but it'd be too cold for her to sleep outdoors. So the plan was I head out Monday afternoon, paddle out to a camp spot I had in mind, bivi out. Val gets the bus to Luss next morning and I meet her there, then we have a nice paddle back to the van via the islands. Shimples!
   I got up later than I intended after my night shift so was rushing to get ready, Val kindly volunteered to go to the shops and get my food for camping but then discovered she'd lost her wallet! After turning the house upside down we couldn't find it and I was running even later (and wondering if this trip wasn't meant to be!) The only thing that Val could think of was that she'd dropped her wallet in the supermarket the day before so she set off to see while I continued to search at home fearing the worst. Eventually she got back with the wallet (it was at the supermarket) and my food so we were back on.
By the time I got to my put in at Aldochlay on Loch Lomond it was getting quite dark but no problem as the weather was settled (if cloudy), I know the loch well and I knew where I was going.
The Pal waiting to go at Aldochlay.

Rounding the southwest corner of Inchtavannach.

 It's a bit dark!!!!!

Once I got to my campsite on Inchmoan I set up my bivi-tarp, got my sleeping bag out and got my food ready to go. Although it was dark it was still only 5:45pm, a bit early for dinner. I decided to go for a paddle in the dark round Inchmoan to Inchconnachan. I wanted to try to see the wallabies and also to pick up some firewood I'd hidden there the last time I solo camped there on Halloween. As luck would have it it was full moon and the clouds started to break up as I set off. 
It was absolutely stunning!

I found the wood still where I'd left it about three weeks previously and had a quick look around for wallabies but there were non to be seen on this occasion so I loaded the wood into my canoe (it's great what you can pile into a canoe) and set off back to my campsite.
  I got back to camp for about 7:20pm so set about cooking my dinner a task made more interesting by one of my stoves exploding, briefly engulfing me in a fireball!! Once I'd extinguished the faulty stove and got the smell of burnt hair (from the backs of my hands!) out of my nostrils dinner went smoothly, it was so bright under the full moon I hardly needed my headtorch!
 After dinner, I lit my firebox and kept busy chopping wood and maintaining the fire for a couple of hours. Although it was cold I was toasty, warmed by my fire and a few cups of tea.
     After that it was bed time, luckily I have a warm sleeping bag and I slept well.
 During the night the cloud came back in and the temperature lifted above freezing but it was still chilly as I ate breakfast. The cloud broke up gradually and as the sun rose it was lovely and warm as I packed up my gear.
My camp in the daylight
Organised chaos!
My beautiful boat with a beautiful backdrop.

After a leisurely pack up I set off in perfect conditions to paddle back to Aldochlay via the narrows. Unfortunately Val had slept in and missed the bus so my paddle was to be a solitary one. 
Looking back at my campsite (just to the right of the bow of the canoe), Ben Lomond behind.
Heading towards Inchconnahan with the Luss hills in the distance.
Through the narrows ( I love the Scots Pines).
The final paddle back to Aldochlay. 

After a shaky start this trip turned out to be truly memorable. Here's hoping for plenty more to come. 

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Night shifts.

I quite like night shifts, I'm not a morning person, I hate getting up early in the morning to go to work on early shift. I enjoy the solitude when no one's about at night. Dora likes it too. In the morning you come home and go to bed when everyone else is getting up to go to work (particularly nice in winter), after a sleep I get up and have a leisurely afternoon then go to work and the cycle starts again. One down, two to go.................

Friday, 19 November 2010


I've just had two days off work and done nothing more constructive than paying a couple of bills, buying a new kettle and drying my tent and stuff out from last weekends trip. The weather's been too windy for paddling and the wind's been the wrong direction for windsurfing so I've done nothing really. Today we had intended going for a paddle (Val's first trip in the Pal) and it's been a lovely, cold, calm winters day but as I'm on nights tonight I ended up lying in until late morning and then Val changed her mind and didn't want to go anymore so I'm really just WAITING to go back to work. Next week will be different though. At least I get to see my girl tonight though, that's some consolation.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

My new canoe.

Last week I realised an ambition that I've had for about twenty years and bought a canoe. I'd spent almost a year deciding which boat to buy and had settled on the NovaCraft Pal. A phone call to the nearest dealer revealed that there were only three new Pals currently available in the UK, a red one with ash gunwales, a green one with ash gunwales and a green one with aluminium gunwales. It had to be alu trim for my boat as it'd be stored outside but I really wanted one in burgundy. I decided to think about it. After much thought I decided to go for the green one with ally gunwales but sod's law, it'd been sold when I phoned back! The shop said the next batch would be coming from Canada next year sometime so I resigned myself to a long wait. Later that day I happened to look in the wanted section of the SOTP (canoe) forum as there was a guy from Glasgow looking for a canoe  which caught my eye (I've never looked in the wanted section before although I'm on the forum a lot). One of the replies to his post was from someone guessed it....... a burgundy Pal with ally gunwales for sale! It was nearly new, it was a big saving on new price and it was in Scotland! It had to be fate! I got in touch with him and ended up buying the boat (which was minted) and a pair of nice Grey Owl ottertail paddles he had.
  Last week was spent getting all the bits together that I wanted to fit to the boat. After much thought I decided to fit airbags, I hate the look of them but I intend to paddle this canoe a lot on my own so I want to be confident that I can rescue my self if needs be. The airbags were duly bought and fitted (which involved drilling holes in my nice new canoe to lace them in, very nerve racking!) At the weekend I was off work and the forecast was for cold, clear dry weather with light winds, canoeing weather. Here's the trip I did with my mate Chris.

Hello, welcome to my new blog.

Hi folks, I've been thinking about doing a blog for ages now and have finally got around to it. I use Facebook a lot for posting pics and letting people know what I've been up to but I worry that it'll be a bit boring for friends who don't share my passion for outdoor activities. I thought this way I could be more self-indulgent in describing my trips and people can choose whether or not they'd like to read what I've been up to.