Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Wye Winter 2008 October Trip Report

Finally, after spending a lot of time putting the site together :) We can start to put some of the trip reports up! This is a few months old now but looking at the pictures ready for this report really brings it all back!

We had fantastic weather for October actually.  I recall it was the last good week of the year, very lucky.  We had T-Shirt weather as you can see in the pics, although the water was cold enough that you really wouldn’t want to be falling in :).

We set off from Hoarwithy on Saturday morning.  The river Wye was pretty high and was running quite fast (although it doesn’t look it in these pics).  We were worried about making good time to find a good camp site, because the sunset came early, but we needn’t have worried as the current really helped!  In fact it was so fast that we nearly tipped the ‘old stable’ Old Town Disco’ when beaching!  We turned into eddy just at the end of a shingle beach, but realised we were going to really struggle to fight the current.  Luckily we didn’t get wet and campsite for the first night became a shingle/pebble beach right on the bow of the river.  The moonlight was stunning, but a good campfire was essential to keep warm once the sun had gone down. 

Sunday was amazing sunshine and even warmer than Saturday – did I mention we had fantastic October weather :).  Eddying out with the full on current became second nature after the first day, and we took advantage several beaches for breaks and lunch.

The campsite for Sunday was a small pebble and sand island just in the valley of Symmonds Yat.  The scenery here is stunning!  We camped on the island to avoid any issues with land-owners.  We fully practice ‘no trace’ camping – (see here for more info) and as you will see from the photo’s we left the island pristine and like we hadn’t been there. 

Camping ‘wild’ like this means we dont carry much gear, and have a zero footprint on the environment.  Generally we will have just a ‘Swag’ and a Tarp or shelter.  We’ll be trialling a few different set-ups and making reports and recommendations on this site!

We had wild deer visit us (only seen by prints in the morning!), and were treated with Owls chorusing through the night – fantastic.  We set off late on Monday morning, around 11am and stopped in Symmonds Yat for a ‘quick drink’. 

At this point, after heading off from Symmonds Yat, we realised that the river way had been closed through the rapids section!  There was a portage sign with around a 1 mile portage!  We pulled over at the get out and checked with a couple of builders stood by.  It was then that we found out there was a very large excavator, mid river on the main through way!!  However, and luckilly for us as we didn’t have a portage trolley, we could go river right around an island and avoiding the digger, this was “If you want to risk it”. !!  Well not wanting a 1 mile carry… we risked it!  And although it was tight and fast with quite a few strainers, we made it through (with a bit of water on board)..

Finally get-out was river right at Monmouth rowing club several miles out of Symmonds Yat at about 3pm. 

A fantastic trip that had perfect weather, amazing nature and wild life, fantastic moonlight and just enough adventure and risk to finish it off :D  Recommended!






Baker Tent Hunt: Get Out and Stay Out… in your own Backyard

Update: See our latest test of the Green Outdoor full size Campfire Tent.

The Baker Tent/Campfire Tent search continues… Evening Tea under the Tarp… Kelly Kettle fires up – wish I bought the bigger one though as the small 1pt version is fiddly to light and get going; next choice for me is an Eydon Kettle, the 2pt “Popular” model looks good according to reviews on SOTP (www.songofthepaddle.co.uk). But the Brew is good once it’s ready.

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After tea the light started to dim, chopped some logs and got the firepit going (this is an old chiminea that fell over and broke during a storm: it’s much improved now!

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Saw a Hare dart across the field just before dusk – haven’t seen him all Winter – lovely to see him back: takes the same path every morning and night during the summer – perhaps one of our most beautiful native animals to see in thier natural habitat.
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The wind picked up a bit once the sun went down, giving the tarp a bit of a test as we’re up on a hillside facing the prevailing wind. The campfire tent / tarp rig stood up perfectly as expected, securely anchored to the canoe behind. Such a simple set up too: it’s easy to raise or lower the side walls dependent on the weather, using sticks of the right height to prop up the wings.

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I’m completely happy with this rig now as the perfect Campfire Tent and simple canoe shelter: it packs up tiny with no poles needed ( I hate threading shock-corded poles in the dark ;-), sets up in under 5 mintes nd provides great cover even in storms with the option of rigging it low over the canoe. And as an open camp-fire style tent for one its fantastic, you really feel your open to the elements and the views and sounds of nature around you. Why go outdoors only to lock yourself in inside a little canvas room! My Baker Tent Hunt is over.

As it got dark the Owls came out – I sat listening to their calls for an hour, back and forth between a male and female. At times they were so close I was sure I would see them – I’m convinced now that they’re invisible! They’re Tawny Owls and that classic Twit-Twoo is surely one of the great experiences of being outdoors at night.

Climbed into the swag at 11am and slept soundly with just the gentle flapping of the tarp against the canoe and more owl noises echoing through the air. Tomorrow we work, but felt I made the most of an average evening at home! If you can’t get to the river, at least “Get Out and Stay Out”, even if it’s in your own back yard!

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Kelly Kettle In The Snow

I received a new (large size) Kelly Kettle at the back end of 2008. We just missed out on taking this on our October 2008 trip down the Wye (see the trip report for more info on this!). Anyway, itching to use the Kelly Kettle, I decided that the garden in January, with plenty of snow, was the right place to give it a good test :) For fuel I had a small amount of card (and I mean small), a few twigs (mostly dry) and a bit of kindling that I chopped up with a hatchet.

Firstly, lighting the Kelly Kettle with a fire steel is straightforward, the base protects your spark from wind and lets you build the fire a little. I used a small cotton pad to take the spark, and added the card and twigs on top. After about a minute I added a few small bits of kindling and put the top kettle onto the base. This is the crucial point, if you don’t keep enough air going into the fuel/air hole on the side then there’s a chance the flame will go out. Solve this by either blowing into the hole or turning the hole to face into the wind. Once properly alight there is little chance of it going out.

Some people use barbecue lighters/fuel but I prefer to keep it as natural as possible and will only use pure cotton wool as a tinder to help start the fire. Extra fuel is added through the top chimney, or the side hole – but make sure you only drop small pieces in.

The water boils in minutes – honestly, our house kettle is slower! I was surprised too as there was enough water for 3 large cups easily, probably 4. As far as gear goes this is a must have for any trip (for us anyway!).

Also check out our March 2009 4 day trip (being added real soon), where the Kelly Kettle was not only used for water boiling but also cooking. Enjoy the pictures. We are also thinking of doing a Kelly Kettle video review soon – watch this space!

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Canoe and Tarp Rig Test – Campfire Tent

Part of our Hunt for the perfect Baker Tent/ Campfire Tent – this rig looks promising – the tarp is secured to the canoe for stability and extra shelter, and out front with the paddles. See the following post for why this is a good set up!

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Tarp is held up by a paddle and secured to the canoe giving extreme stability without the need for pegging.

Tarp is held up by a paddle and secured to the canoe giving extreme stability without the need for pegging.

Tarp Set-up

From http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=16298 this looks like a great Tarp – I think it’s from True North, the Big Tarp (see second pic below and http://www.truenorthoutdoor.co.uk/bigtarp.htm ).

These rigs need good pegging ground to work though: camping on sand and pebbles would give a problem, especially in Big Wind. Our solution is to anchor the tarp to the canoe itself (see previous post) requiring only one guy rope out front which could be held in place with a log or rock: the canoe will provide all the stabiity you need from any Big Wind plus if a storm kicks in you simply collapse the tarp down over the canoe ‘Voyageur-style’ and settle in for the night.

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