Tag Archives: Autumn

Cold October Canoe Trip

A sudden down-turn in the temperatures in mid October didn’t put us off a planned canoe trip on the river Wye. We set off for a short trip with an overnight wild camp on the river, Autumn sunshine and the trees just beginning to turn, we had a brief shower once we got on the river, but sheltered under a huge oak tree, with acorns dropping all around us as the squirrels above were busy feeding before winter. There were a lot of pheasants around too, and we saw them scatter as the sound of a Goshawk called loudly from the tree just above us, something I’d never heard before – I still haven’t ever seen one of these elusive predators, even though the Wye valley and the Forest of Dean are one of the best places to see them, they are making a great comeback in recent years after being persecuted, like many birds of prey to the verge of extinction in the UK in the past. But the pheasants certainly know about them!

We canoed downstream in the most beautiful sharp autumn light late in the afternoon, the shower brought out the best rainbow I’ve ever seen, reflected in the river and reaching right across the sky. Arriving at our camp spot as dusk drew in, the temperature was dropping sharply, so with one strike from the firesteel on some birchbark and dry twigs gathered along the way we had a fire going, and set about organising the camp. With a bit of rain still in the air Hawkeye set up his usual tarp rig as a back-up, but we planned to sleep out until any rain came. In fact the sky cleared completely during the evening, but that meant the temperature really began to drop fast – with the fire roaring we were warm but a little apprehensive about how cold it would get during the night. The owls hooted all around the valley in the dark, and the sound of the fire crackling and the river running past made for a fantastic evening around the fire. We ate strips of rump steak on sticks over the flames, and big roast potatoes cooked straight in the embers – the best way: the ferocious heat in the embers cooks the potato much hotter than an oven, and really brings out the best sweet flavour, we both agreed that you need no more than potatoes cooked this way with some butter for a great camp meal. They were in about 40 minutes, then pulled out to cool: the surface turns to a kind of charcoal egg-cup, once cool you can hold that, break open the top and scoop out the soft potato inside, your hands get a blackened, but holy smoke it’s worth it!

Rainbow reflected in the water...

Getting the fire going and the camp set up at dusk

The stars were soon out, full moon rising too over the treeline, and later we retired to the swag and sleeping bags with the fire still providing plenty of warmth. I fell asleep with the freshening air, looking up at a billion stars, with the sound of the owls and the river, an unforgettable magical experience.

Sure enough during the night it got very cold: I pulled the canvas swag over my head to keep off the breeze, and slept soundly, perfectly warm and dry: still nothing better for me than an australian canvas ‘swag bag’ and sleeping out, no tent required. Worst case if you get heavy rain a small tarp over the top would do the trick, but unless you get heavy rain you can sleep right out there in the open, in comfort too.

Hawkeye woke early, and got the fire re-started from the remains of last nights logs, then poked my swag with a stick to wake me so I wouldn’t miss the most beautiful morning scene on the river I’ve ever witnessed: the cold meant a thick mist was swirling around over the water, shifted around by a light breeze, the river and the forest around was stirring. H had the Kelly Kettle on too so I had no excuse but to jump up, get some clothes on quick and enjoy some hot tea by the fire, just watching the day begin. The cold was such that a thick frost had formed on most of our gear, and it felt like a winter trip rather then autumn! Warmed my hands on the fire as they were getting numb it was that cold, definitely sub-zero by one or two degrees.

The Kelly Kettle fires up for some hot tea on a cold morning

Cold morning camp scene

The sun begins to wake up the valley...

After some coffee and hot porridge on the fire cooked in the trusty crusader mugs, we got into the canoes and pushed off to explore up river, paddling quietly through the swirling mist, the forest all around – a magical experience I’ll never forget.

Canoeing through the mist...

So here’s the video of the trip… watch it full screen if you can, hope you enjoy it.

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.

Wye Valley in Autumn: Testing mobile & GPS tools….

A live picture we took today in the lower Wye valley: uploaded via an Apple iPhone. We’re also making use of Everytrail.com iPhone GPS tools to track our route and Geo-tag our photos with map positions. We’ll be posting the routes and photos of our trips here from now using this excellent new mobile technology.