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!
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!
See our Canoeing & Bushcraft Videos section for more Canoing Videos (these are all uploaded & managed via You Tube)…
A look back at our Late winter trip – 1st week of March – cold crisp nights and chilly mornings, but what a trip it was! The second night featured hurricane force winds and snow in the middle of the night – it’s really something when you wake from a deep sleep to find all hell breaking lose in and around your camp, then you jump up in just your boots ‘n boxers to tie things down and the snow starts! I didn’t think the tarps would hold but somehow they did… Awesome trip though. Here’s the video from POTP-TV:
And the full set of photos:
We just got back from 3 great days on the Wye, wild camping and canoeing in fantastic weather. We’ll post a full trip report soon but here’s me on the river getting our camp set up on Day Two:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…….
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……..
On a recent Canoe Camping trip I found myself without any dry tinder or kindling to hand in the cold early morning, and the small fire from the night before having burnt out during the night. I remembered a Ray Mears episode where he used a charred log from an old firepit and using a flint-striker he got a spark going into the blackened wood and created an ember that he blew into flames in no time at all.
So with that piece of TV-derived Bushcraft knowledge in mind I used my Swedish firesteel and tried the same thing. Ray had said that it worked best where there were white ash bits on the charred logs due to the “free radicals” which he said he thought “sounded like revolutionaries” (very droll Ray…;-)) Anyway, whatever they are I tried that and to my great delight with some focussed blwoing sure enough the spark began to glow right away and was soon building up a good deal of glowing red charcoal – shortly after that and after positioning some other twigs and and burnt stick-ends on top the fire suddenly burst into flames! We put the Kelly Kettle right on top and shortly after had hot coffee while the small fire took the chill off the early morning air in the valley.
I did some further ‘Backyard testing’ on this since and yes it’s a great technique especially when you’re staying more than one night in one place, but if you are travelling downstream each day then you can use it as I did to get your breakfast on, or simpluy take a small piece of the prievious campste’s fire with you (allow it to cool of course) and apply this technique at your next stop! Here’s some pictures of this simple technique in action:
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 😀 Recommended!
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.