Monthly Archives: October 2009

Books – "A Forest By Night" Fred Speakman

I read a fantastic book as a boy call “A Forest By Night” by Fred J. Speakman and ever since have had a special affection for badgers. In the book which I thoroughly recommend, although it’s near impossible to get hold of now, the author, recently bereaved and injured during the second world war and unable to work spends a year in Epping Forest staying out at night and recording everything he sees, through each season – most of the activity focusses around the lives if the badgers he watches. It’s an inspiring read and one of the first books on what we would now know as ‘woodlore’ or bushcraft. The author also also wrote a seminal work called ‘Tracks, Trails and Signs’ on the art of tracking.

Baker Tent Hunt – The Bush Shelter Lightweight Campfire Tent

Update: See our latest test of a full size Campfire Tent.

The Bush Shelter

Discussed here before as part of our “Baker Tent Hunt” series the Bush Shelter from www.greenoutdoor.co.uk looked like an interesting lightweight “Campfire Tent” option, and is even designed with canoeing in mind in that you can use paddles to hold it up, meaning you don’t need poles, so it’s a tiny package, no bigger than taking a tarp really. Here’s the ‘Backyard Test’!

The tent arrives by courier, from greenoutdoors.co.uk - its a small package for a tent.

The tent arrives by courier, from greenoutdoors.co.uk - its a small package for a tent.

16ft Canoe for scale!

16ft Canoe for scale!

OUt of the bubblewrap.... a new tent in my life... The tent is made of recycled PTFE plastic, from bottles and the like!

OUt of the bubblewrap.... a new tent in my life... The tent is made of recycled PTFE plastic, from bottles and the like!

 

 

Size 10 boot for scale...

Size 10 boot for scale...

The tent laid out on the ground. The useful "pitching guide arrived with the order by email as a word document (to save the environment): very simple but valuableinstructions. 1. Peg out the grounsheet (black) first, but loosely. 2. Insert your uprights - can be paddles if canoeing, or walking poles or just sticks from your campsite.

The tent laid out on the ground. The useful "pitching guide arrived with the order by email as a word document (to save the environment): very simple but valuableinstructions. 1. Peg out the grounsheet (black) first, but loosely. 2. Insert your uprights - can be paddles if canoeing, or walking poles or just sticks from your campsite.

2minutes later it's up and looking good for a modern, small-scale 'campfire tent'!!

2minutes later it's up and looking good for a modern, small-scale 'campfire tent'!!

Depending on the lentgh of your paddles or poles, the groundsheet can be pulled up or lowered, and still pegged in OK.

Depending on the lentgh of your paddles or poles, the groundsheet can be pulled up or lowered, and still pegged in OK.

Nice wide-open front to the tent gives an authentic 'baker tent' feel, even in this small one-man tent, which is a real achievement.

Nice wide-open front to the tent gives an authentic 'baker tent' feel, even in this small one-man tent, which is a real achievement.

Good, useable space inside. I like the recycled material a lot.

Good, useable space inside. I like the recycled material a lot.

 

 

Set a bit lower t his time. Did a wind test at this pitch - facing into probably 20-30mph sou'westerlies up on our hill... it did very well but in the end...(See next!)

Set a bit lower t his time. Did a wind test at this pitch - facing into probably 20-30mph sou'westerlies up on our hill... it did very well but in the end...(See next!)

Did a wind test at this pitch - facing into probably 20-30mph sou'westerlies up on our hill... it did very well but in the end...(See next!)

Did a wind test at this pitch - facing into probably 20-30mph sou'westerlies up on our hill... it did very well but in the end...(See next!)

This happened!!! the air was forced inside and then trapped inside! Wierd. to be very fair though only a dome tent will stay up in this spot in Big Wind, so that's OK: it did very well actually and being able to zip up the front and lower the front canopy meant it lasted for a long time without a problem, only when a full on storm force hit it did this happen...!

This happened!!! the air was forced inside and then trapped inside! Wierd. to be very fair though only a dome tent will stay up in this spot in Big Wind, so that's OK: it did very well actually and being able to zip up the front and lower the front canopy meant it lasted for a long time without a problem, only when a full on storm force hit it did this happen...!

You can't see the wind, but it was there... I collapsed it and forced the air back out!

You can't see the wind, but it was there... I collapsed it and forced the air back out!

The rear view.

The rear view.

Inside. Wow it's cozy, really nice, light and airy but sheltered and cozy too. Very happy with this tent.

Inside. Wow it's cozy, really nice, light and airy but sheltered and cozy too. Very happy with this tent.

So there it is. Proven: this is a great modern, and small/lightweight "Campfire Tent" that really works. Thumbs up and for only £49 that is superb, but even at the previous price of £99 its still great value.  Well done Greenoutdoors.co.uk! You win our Baker Tent Hunt "lightweight Category" competition!

So there it is. Proven: this is a great modern, and small/lightweight "Campfire Tent" that really works. Thumbs up and for only £49 that is superb, but even at the previous price of £99 its still great value. Well done Greenoutdoors.co.uk! You win our Baker Tent Hunt "lightweight Category" competition!

All set up with camp-fire and kelly kettle ready for a first test...

All set up with camp-fire and kelly kettle ready for a first test...

 

 

Autumn in the Chew Valley

Starting the day up on the Hill...

Starting the day up on the Hill...

Morning Mist in the Chew Valley, looking West.

Morning Mist in the Chew Valley, looking West.

A drive up the hillside and looking East over the Valley it's even more spectacular...

A drive up the hillside and looking East over the Valley it's even more spectacular...

The following photos need no captions...!

The following photos need no captions...!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tailgate Coffee....

Tailgate Coffee....

The mist begins to clear...

The mist begins to clear...

The fabulous Mendip hills in the background

The fabulous Mendip hills in the background

Autumn in the woods....

Autumn in the woods....

Kelly Kettle tea

Kelly Kettle tea

 

 

Birdwatching by Landrover

Birdwatching by Landrover

 

A male Kestrel sits in a tree on the hillside

A male Kestrel sits in a tree on the hillside

 

The bracken-covered Knowle Hill above Chew Valley Lake

The bracken-covered Knowle Hill above Chew Valley Lake

 

 

 

Chew Valley Lake from Knowle Hill

Chew Valley Lake from Knowle Hill

Fishermen on the Lake

Fishermen on the Lake

The Landrover blends in with the Autumn colours...

The Landrover blends in with the Autumn colours...

 

Sunlight through Tall Pines at Chew Valley Lake

Sunlight through Tall Pines at Chew Valley Lake

Magical skies in the evenings, the nights are drawing in...

Magical skies in the evenings, the nights are drawing in...

Time to turn in... Another Autumn day in Somerset's magical Chew Valley.

Time to turn in... Another Autumn day in Somerset's magical Chew Valley.

Landrover-Bushcrafting in Somerset…

Autumn colours make getting out into the woods a must…

Into the lane... carpet of autumn leaves hadn't been disturbed since the start of autumn a week ago..

Into the lane... carpet of autumn leaves hadn't been disturbed since the start of autumn a week ago..

The Defender stopped in a small grove of trees, a footpath up to the fields to the right, a great spot to watch out for deer grazing in the fields.

The Defender stopped in a small grove of trees, a footpath up to the fields to the right, a great spot to watch out for deer grazing in the fields.

The track winds around through the trees

The track winds around through the trees

 

Kelly Tea stop. Kelly Kettle (brand new 3pint stainless steel one) and some pine sticks ready on the tailgate for starting up a brew.

Kelly Tea stop. Kelly Kettle (brand new 3pint stainless steel one) and some pine sticks ready on the tailgate for starting up a brew.

My Opinel knife was used to shave off some thin strips for getting the Kelly started: quite a lot of rain the day before meant the twigs on the ground were wet, so my stack of these sticks I keep in my 'bushcraft bag' came in handy. Swedish Firesteel can be relied on of course, and in the Kelly base here I used some fluff gathered from the tumble drier at home which makes excellent tinder.

My Opinel knife was used to shave off some thin strips for getting the Kelly started: quite a lot of rain the day before meant the twigs on the ground were wet, so my stack of these sticks I keep in my 'bushcraft bag' came in handy. Swedish Firesteel can be relied on of course, and in the Kelly base here I used some fluff gathered from the tumble drier at home which makes excellent tinder.

Embers firing up...

Embers firing up...

 

The Kelly placed on the ground once it really gets going.

The Kelly placed on the ground once it really gets going.

Feeding the flames, and looking forward to some hot tea.

Feeding the flames, and looking forward to some hot tea.

Gathering more fuel - once the pine sticks had gotten it started, there's enough heat in it to use any fuel off the ground even if it's damp.

Gathering more fuel - once the pine sticks had gotten it started, there's enough heat in it to use any fuel off the ground even if it's damp.

The Landrover is almost completely camouflaged with the mix of green and autumn leaf colours...

The Landrover is almost completely camouflaged with the mix of green and autumn leaf colours...

Hot tea by the brook...

Hot tea by the brook...

 

Beautiful carpet of autumn leaves on the track.

Beautiful carpet of autumn leaves on the track.

Ready to get going again and explore the rest of the track.

Ready to get going again and explore the rest of the track.

The track emerges from the woods into pastureland at the North end.

The track emerges from the woods into pastureland at the North end.

For more “Bushcrafting By Landrover” see our LandroverExplorer.co.uk website – follows the same “Get Out & Stay Out” philosophy but applied to on-land travel instead of on water!

Autumn on the River Wye

At the first sign of it getting colder and the leaves turning we loaded up and headed for an overnight trip down the Wye to catch the early autumn mood – leaving enough time for a late Autumn trip to follow before winter hopefully…

The water level was very low over the rocks at English Bicknor: made for a challenge not to get stuck on the rocks, we just managed to follow the flow enough to get through with a sharp left and right turn thorough this stretch.

The water level was very low over the rocks at English Bicknor: made for a challenge not to get stuck on the rocks, we just managed to follow the flow enough to get through with a sharp left and right turn thorough this stretch.

'Hawkeye' Rich steering at the back - Good Work!

'Hawkeye' Rich steering at the back - Good Work!

 

Some cattle were drinking at the river bank...

Some cattle were drinking at the river bank...

 

 

 

The view back up the river...

The view back up the river...

This iconic Pastoral scene unfolded before us...

This iconic Pastoral scene unfolded before us...

a bit of a rumble through this stretch, because the river level was so low - normally you'd float right over this section with smooth water on the surface.

a bit of a rumble through this stretch, because the river level was so low - normally you'd float right over this section with smooth water on the surface.

 

A flat stretch as the evening began...

A flat stretch as the evening began...

 

Clear skies above... it was beginning to get a bit chilled, you could tell it was proper Autumn now, a real chill in the air.

Clear skies above... it was beginning to get a bit chilled, you could tell it was proper Autumn now, a real chill in the air.

Approaching Symonds Yat at Dusk...

Approaching Symonds Yat at Dusk...

Our chosen stop for the night's camp.

Our chosen stop for the night's camp.

Some firewood gathered along the way.

Some firewood gathered along the way.

Ahh a warm fire finally - it was a bit tricky to get this one going in truth... we were rushing as it was getting dark: you can never rush starting a fire: stop and start again slowly - it's quicker in the end!

Ahh a warm fire finally - it was a bit tricky to get this one going in truth... we were rushing as it was getting dark: you can never rush starting a fire: stop and start again slowly - it's quicker in the end!

Morning Camp. Just climbed out of the swag. Earlier, after I woke up I'd watched from inside the swag as a female Row deer picking her way along rocks on the opposite bank just 20 feet away, what a way to start the day!

Morning Camp. Just climbed out of the swag. Earlier, after I woke up I'd watched from inside the swag as a female Row deer picking her way along rocks on the opposite bank just 20 feet away, what a way to start the day!

At 2.30 am we'd woken to see a huge stag coming down to drink just about where this phot was taken - no more than 15 feet from our beds... He was spooked as Hawkeye woke me up to see it, and turned and headed back up to the top of the bank - treating us to an amazing perfect silhouette against the moonlight sky of this big stag with his large antlers, looking back at us... the highlight of the trip. If we hadn't stirred he'd have just come and had a drinkand wouldn't have known or cared we were there...

At 2.30 am we'd woken to see a huge stag coming down to drink just about where this phot was taken - no more than 15 feet from our beds... He was spooked as Hawkeye woke me up to see it, and turned and headed back up to the top of the bank - treating us to an amazing perfect silhouette against the moonlight sky of this big stag with his large antlers, looking back at us... the highlight of the trip. If we hadn't stirred he'd have just come and had a drinkand wouldn't have known or cared we were there...

Getting the fire started in the morning, from the pieces of last night campfire...

Getting the fire started in the morning, from the pieces of last night campfire...

It was going in no time..

It was going in no time..

Chilly morning so we needed the fire going and some hot tea brewing in the Kelly.

Chilly morning so we needed the fire going and some hot tea brewing in the Kelly.

 

Swag 'n Kelly Kettle scene...

Swag 'n Kelly Kettle scene...

The fire going....

The fire going....

 

 

With the swag you can sleep very close to the campfire to keep warm because it's made of think canvas - I needed nothing more than a light sleeping bag inside the swag: had a great night's sleep...

With the swag you can sleep very close to the campfire to keep warm because it's made of think canvas - I needed nothing more than a light sleeping bag inside the swag: had a great night's sleep...

 

 

Coffee...

Coffee...

And what a place to have it... beautiful morning, we could have been waking in Canada, it was so secluded...

And what a place to have it... beautiful morning, we could have been waking in Canada, it was so secluded...

 

'Hawkeye' enjoying his Kelly Tea.

'Hawkeye' enjoying his Kelly Tea.

 

At the Bank on Monday morning... The river bank that is ;-)

At the Bank on Monday morning... The river bank that is ;-)

 

Water level was incredibly low - I hadn't seem it this low since I first camped here 15 years ago, learning canoe craft and bushcrafting techniques with Dirk Stronnsun - you could almost wade across - we'd had a very dry late summer/autumn to this point.

Water level was incredibly low - I hadn't seem it this low since I first camped here 15 years ago, learning canoe craft and bushcrafting techniques with Dirk Stronnsun - you could almost wade across - we'd had a very dry late summer/autumn to this point.

 

 

Porridge cooking on the fire in a steel 'crusader' mug.

Porridge cooking on the fire in a steel 'crusader' mug.

Back on the water, Hawkeye looks back to check again that we left 'no trace' from our camp - this is essential, leave nothing...

Back on the water, Hawkeye looks back to check again that we left 'no trace' from our camp - this is essential, leave nothing...

 

 

 

The view back to Symonds Yat gorge...

The view back to Symonds Yat gorge...

 

Hawkeye spotted a female Sparrowhawk hunting along the river bank, right at the water's edge - we followed it a good 1/4 mile down the river as it hunted.

Hawkeye spotted a female Sparrowhawk hunting along the river bank, right at the water's edge - we followed it a good 1/4 mile down the river as it hunted.

 

 

We planned to stop for Kelly tea on this rock, but getting there there was no way up from the canoe onto the rock - it's bigger than it looks!

We planned to stop for Kelly tea on this rock, but getting there there was no way up from the canoe onto the rock - it's bigger than it looks!

We settled for a smaller rock and got the Kelly fired up again. Q: Can you have too much tea?

We settled for a smaller rock and got the Kelly fired up again. Q: Can you have too much tea?

 

 

 

Last few riffles on the route before the get-out...

Last few riffles on the route before the get-out...

 

And we're out, the canoe back on the car and off home - a great and eventful Autumn trip.

And we're out, the canoe back on the car and off home - a great and eventful Autumn trip.