Category Archives: Places

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.

Ray Mears' Swag Camp

You can catch Ray in his swag bedroll in the Australian desert: on DaveJaVue channel tonight at 7pm if you have Sky TV. Here’s a couple of images of his desert camp from the show:

For more on swag camping, see our main post about “swag” camping here: “Me Ol’ Swagaroo”

Ray waking up in the Desert in a traditional Australian 'Swag Bag'

Ray waking up in the Desert in a traditional Australian 'Swag Bag'

A beautiful desert camp spot for Ray Mears

A beautiful desert camp spot for Ray Mears

Ray packing the Swag back in the 4 x 4.

Ray packing the Swag back in the 4 x 4.

We love swag-camping – if you want to get yourself a swag see our post on “Where to Buy a Swag in the UK” and also see our “Duluth Bedroll” post for a Canadian ‘swag’ option!

For more Ray Mears swag camping see this clip from his DVD from YouTube, showing 4×4 swag camping in places with a lot of biting insects, so a fully enclosed mozzie net features heavily in the swag he uses here – You’ll need to view full screen because there’s an awful lot of split-screen editing gone on in this one!

River Wye – Get Out and Stay Out!

A Late Summer trip on the River Wye – just a 24 hour ‘get Out & Stay Out” trip, but a great one – highlights included a 2 foot Pike jumping out of the water within about a foot of the canoe – teeth bared!

Minimal gear this time - swag and 2 bags ready on the tailgate.

Minimal gear this time - swag and 2 bags ready on the tailgate.

Arrived at the put-in point at Kerne Bridge.

Arrived at the put-in point at Kerne Bridge.

 

"Hawkeye" Rich - describing all the the wildlife he's seeing up front

"Hawkeye" Rich - describing all the the wildlife he's seeing up front

"Campfire Kev" steering in the back.

"Campfire Kev" steering in the back.

 

 

 

 

Gathering firewood at dusk

Gathering firewood at dusk

LOTS of firewood...

LOTS of firewood...

Morning at the Camp, Symonds Yat Canyon

Morning at the Camp, Symonds Yat Canyon

 

 

Using the half-burnt logs from the previous nights fire to get it going again - a spark from a firesteel and a bit of blowing till it glows, then drop on some dry grass and it's away...

Using the half-burnt logs from the previous nights fire to get it going again - a spark from a firesteel and a bit of blowing till it glows, then drop on some dry grass and it's away...

Getting the fire going again... Rain in the air...

Getting the fire going again... Rain in the air...

 

And here's the rain....

And here's the rain....

"do you think it'll last?" "it's just a shower, let's wait it out..."

"do you think it'll last?" "it's just a shower, let's wait it out..."

Really Big Rain kicked in about 9am... we waited for the Kelly to boil from under the shelter...

Really Big Rain kicked in about 9am... we waited for the Kelly to boil from under the shelter...

 

Hot Coffee... out of the rain... no problem...

Hot Coffee... out of the rain... no problem...

 

 

 

 

Caption Not Required...

Caption Not Required...

 

 

Still Raining... more coffee on...

Still Raining... more coffee on...

The Shelter rigged to the canoe, propped with a paddle, simple and effective: only needed a single peg into the bank to stay up as the canoe provides the support.

The Shelter rigged to the canoe, propped with a paddle, simple and effective: only needed a single peg into the bank to stay up as the canoe provides the support.

The Crusader mug in use....

The Crusader mug in use....

"hmmm, this rain is lasting for a while, lets have some breakfast..."

"hmmm, this rain is lasting for a while, lets have some breakfast..."

A cup of Oats...

A cup of Oats...

Porridge cooking in the Crusader mug... straight on the fire.

Porridge cooking in the Crusader mug... straight on the fire.

 

 

We were a bit short of water so collected water running off teh shelter to top up - a litre gathered within about 10 minutes.

We were a bit short of water so collected water running off teh shelter to top up - a litre gathered within about 10 minutes.

We'll move when the rain stops....

We'll move when the rain stops....

It didn't stop so we got back on the river....

It didn't stop so we got back on the river....

Stopped under an old iron pontoon bridge, 'WWII style' and got the Kelly fired up again, wet-through, we needed more hot tea....

Stopped under an old iron pontoon bridge, 'WWII style' and got the Kelly fired up again, wet-through, we needed more hot tea....

Getting the Kelly Going....

Getting the Kelly Going....

approaching the get-out point at Symonds Yat West

approaching the get-out point at Symonds Yat West

Thoroughly soaked, but completely invigorated.

Thoroughly soaked, but completely invigorated.

Loaded up, the end of a great trip on the Wye.

Loaded up, the end of a great trip on the Wye.

 

Let's Go.

Let's Go.

 

Back over the Severn Bridge towards Bristol, the rain finally did stop!

Back over the Severn Bridge towards Bristol, the rain finally did stop!

River Wye – Summer Trip Report

Finally documented our Summer Season Wye trip. We decided to start at The River Lugg – I arrived in daylight (just) and went down the Lugg until it met with the Wye and made camp on the far bank and then waited for a text saying TheRangerD had arrived at Mordiford. That meant I had to cross back over the wye just as it got dark at midnight, and teh bad news the mist suddenly thickened up like gray soup about 5 feet high on the surface of the water – my headtorch did nothing but bounce back in a white-out, so it was torches off and pretty much doing the maneuver blind! Lucky I practiced it a few times in the light eh… But I made across and after walking back to teh main road and meeting with The Ranger at 1am we began the trip in earnest – with a long portage of canoes and gear across the fields near Mordiford as the Lugg wasn’t anywhere near safe to paddle in the dark. Then we loaded up and crossed the Wye in the dark around 1.30am just where it meets the Lugg – the swirling water, mist and perfect bright moonlight made it an incredible start to the trip! Sleep came about 3am just as the sun began to lighten up the sky again. The swags held out the sunlight and we slept pretty well until 6am or so. And so the Summer Trip began…. Enjoy the pictures!

Summer on the River Wye- In Pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wye Video?

Because it captures the mood of the river, and the ‘path’ of the paddle! This one is in high definition video so click the youtubefullscreen icon to view it full screen.

See our Canoeing & Bushcraft Videos section for more Canoing Videos (these are all uploaded & managed via You Tube)…

These were filmed with an excellent digital HD widescreen handheld camcorder from Toshiba – more info here.

Good 'Ol Kelly…

Just thought I’d collect my thoughts following a recent canoeing and ‘get out and stay out’ camping trip in the Wye valley. I’ve shared a few tips and ‘learns’ below that I’ve picked up in recent trips with the help of a touch of ‘backyard’ testing too. 

Camp Fire!  Firstly, respect your surroundings at all times, only light camp fires where and when they are allowed and keep it safe. Depending on where you are and if there are restrictions – find out and follow the rules.  Extinguish remains and embers thoroughly as it can travel both over and under the ground.     

  • Collect the fluffy bits from your tumble dryer – from the filter you have to keep clear. Great tinder support. Keep it dry and take it as back up as you can find tinder in the field / woods, even in the rain if you know where to look. Ray can anyway.!
     
  • Open pine cones great too, put a couple in with your small twigs.  The air gets in around them and it really picks up quickly
  • Prepare your sizes of sticks before hand and have them in different graded size piles.  Nothing too fussy but otherwise you will be scrabbling around for the right sizes…. and the fire has gone out.
     
  • Birch tree – tiny delicate bark shavings are fab too – they are flakey – care not to damage any trees though.  We’re talking the tiny bits from broken branches if possible.
     
  • Have a lighter and/or matches as back up but try to light your camp fire with a simple steel striker without an instant naked flame doing the work for you. I know this maybe cheating too but it’s only a step away from a flint stone approach, so stop making it so easy and improve your skills.
     
  • I find that firing up Kelly Kettle and using what’s left is easier than starting from scratch with a general camp fire. Let the chimney effect of the Kelly process do its thing.  Remember to point the ‘vent’ hole into the approaching wind to feed Kelly with air.  If there’s no wind, blow in there but too much puff and its out. Once your water is boiling use the established fire base to start your camp fire and have the sticks ready.  It’s all in the prep.

    rich1 

  • A well as a small sharp knife, if you don’t mind carrying it – a little wooden handled hand axe is very useful or even a hand sized fold up saw – most DIY stores.

    rich2 

  • On two occasions recently, I burnt my hand lifting the full kettle from the fire and in my instant reaction to the burn, spilt precious water on the fire that I still needed as I lifted it off! Now I run a decent stick under the kettle handle, angle it and lift from there, to keep my hand away from climbing flames in the ‘chimney’ of the kettle. Also, if you put the kettle straight on to a small fire rather than its own base, remember to keep the cork and wooden part of the handle away from the ‘wider’ flames.
     
  • Update. New Kelly Kettle Video Here.

  • The medium Kelly kettle takes 2.5 pints but remember not to fill it unnecessarily.  How much tea do you need? You’ll be peeing all night. Boil what you need for 2 mugs and it will be quicker anyway.
     
  • Collect fire wood, tinder, dried grass, leaves etc during your walk or canoe trip.  Don’t expect it to be lined up for you where you want to light your fire.  There won’t be a boot sale there with an estate car full of twigs with a bloke going, ‘’50p for the lot – get your fire here.’’  Not in the places I’ve camped anyway. Chances are it will be getting dark and there won’t be a dry stick in 50 metres radius especially if it’s a well used spot.  You might be lucky but don’t walk past some great natural fuel if it’s jumping out at you.  And it will be.  So much of it you might not see it.  Can’t see the wood for the trees and all that.  Take the dead stuff – don’t hack away at branches.  Look under your feet. Chuck it in your bag or into the canoe if you can reach it but don’t rock the boat!  It’s all in the prep.
     
  • Get the right side of the wind.  There’s nothing worse than a face full and eye full of smoke just as you’re getting it going. As your eyes sting and stream with tears, the appeal will wear off and you’ll be longing for a gas cooker and a wet flannel.
     
  • During the effort, refrain from putting your ‘tools’ from your kit on the ground – eg knife, striker, maglite etc.  You’ll mislay it, walk it into the soil, lose it in the cover or generally lose track.  Get in the habit of putting it into one handy pocket with a zip… and zip it up or it’s falling out with all the stooping you’re doing.  It’s like at home doing a bit of DIY – can you ever find your pencil if you put it down?! And the car keys…….

    rich31 

old swag in a bag 

There’s something to be said for not having a tent covering you up and hiding you away from the sky, especially when it’s fine. I guess in a tent, you’re not really out – you’re still ‘in’ and enclosed.  Recently, I lay half under the half turned boat in my sleeping bag with nothing above me apart from a little dew and a million stars.  As my old mate, Kevin, snored and grunted like a badger in his swag bag with only his beard on show, I listened to the Tawny Owls echoing in the valley, the splash of jumping fish in the Wye beside us and I picked out the shooting stars that were occasionally trailing and burning through the sky – sometimes I was momentarily tricked by the constant path and track of a man made one.  The birds were singing at 4.30 and it was impossible to sleep so watching the sunrise in the valley was the next thing and it was going to be a scorcher.  The ‘badger’ was awake too, not long after – and it was coffee, courtesy of good ol’ Kelly! 

travelling light with your buddy 

  • I find a good way to keep things to a minimum, with your buddy doing the same, is to challenge each other.  Basically swap bags and go through each others and get ‘tuff with the stuff’.  Take it out.  Why do you need this? and this? and this? How many of these?! Be honest with each other and eliminate any unnecessary duplication of kit.  Never cut out essentials but know what the essentials are. Could be they’ve forgotten something and you need to add rather than take away but you only know by checking. Oh, when you’ve checked it to an essentials ‘list’, check it again. Make sure you both know where the car keys are, the mobile, the tiny first aid kit you argued about taking earlier……….and zip up pockets and pouches ….or an item could slip out in the long grass when you have your next brew and you’ve lost it for ever……..
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Pic Of The Day; "Old Red"

Old Red is our new canoe – an Old Town Discovery 158 in classic canoe red. We just returned from her maiden river trip, on the River Wye – here’s a great picture of Old Red pulled up at the bank, while Hawkeye looks out for birds in the woods on the river bank. We’ll post a full report of the trip here in the coming days – it was a great trip – still very wintery, no sign of green in the trees – just some early wild garlic out in the woods, and a few daffs and snowdrops. The birds were urging Spring on though with fantastic chorus of song coming from the woods and riverbanks.

"Old Red" with Hawkeye in spotting birds, on the river wye. Click for larger image.