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Archive for March, 2010

Natural Tinder

Just a quick update, having had a go with the tinder fungus and cat-tail seed heads I gathered yesterday.

As expected, the fungus was too damp to do anything with just now, but I’ve split it and left it to dry for a few weeks, so I’ll give that a go later (that’s if my wife doesn’t get fed up with the smell of wet dog in the hall before then, and chuck it out!).

I had also expected the cat-tail heads to be too damp to light easily, but actually it’s amazing just how much fluff you can get out of just a tiny portion of the tightly packed seedhead………….

………….and also just how easily it will take a spark.


The main thing I found is that the flames tend to quickly flash over the surface of the fluff, and then die away quite rapidly. I suspect this could make it quite difficult to use in ‘real life’. However, if you were to drop a good ember into a ball of these seeds, it would probably work better.

As an experiment, I tried mixing a bit of vaseline in with the seeds, and found this quite easy to light and sustain a flame long enough to get a fire going.

I also managed to get some dried birchbark to catch, having shaved off some fluffy bits from the inside skin with an axe. So, though none of these tricks were successful enough to replace the cotton wool and vaseline in my regular firelighting kit, they’re still useful to know about. The seed-pods look especially promising, particularly since the inside of the pods seems to keep dry quite well even in the rain.

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I thought I’d better introduce my new friend Cyril:

He’s a P&H Sirius sea kayak, and my latest E-bay aquisition.  So, despite being short on time this weekend, I was desperate to get him out for a wee outing, even if only  on the canal at Auchinstarry for a few miles.

First impressions? Well, he’s a tippy wee chap, and is certainly going to teach me a thing or two about my paddling technique!! He requires more aggressive edging than the Capella before he’ll turn, but then becomes really quite manoverable. He also feels much faster than the Capella, although I’ll have to wait until I paddle with a group next to put this theory to the test.

I did try to give these two a race, but gave up – very quickly!!:

The South bank of the canal past Dullatur  has no towpath, and is quite overgrown, and with many fallen trees.

Still, it gave me a chance to collect a piece of tinder fungus, and the seed-heads from some rushes to try later for firelighting (and a couple of lost fishing floats of course!).

I’ll dry these out and have a go with them later.

So, only a short outing, but it looks as though it could be the start of a beautiful friendship! 🙂

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I was at Comrie Croft this weekend for a Skills Sharing Meet, with BuscraftUK.

Anyhow, despite the obbligatory games of “knifey-spoony“, which lasted most of the weekend, this was a great chilled out meet-up, mainly consisting of blethering around the campfire, and eating unhealthy foods.

I even managed to get a lid lifter for my dutch oven forged up to order!!

Great stuff eh!?

That and the usual hanging about of course………….

shooting the breeze………………

and meeting the locals…………………..

I just hope this fella was blowing and not sucking!!

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So, thanks to a long-term Tesco Clubcard deal, we booked a weekend in Grasmere Youth Hostel in exchange for only £20 worth of tesco vouchers: Result!!

On the Saturday we went for a lazy trek up to Easdale Tarn, which was still frozen over (note to self – charge camera batteries next time!), and on the Sunday, went for a wee bimble from Brothers Water up in the direction of Stony Cove Pike (good details on the general area of Hartsop here).

First port of call was an old (lead?) mine, just above the snowline.

At this point we realised that the snow was really hard-packed, having thawed and re-frozen several times. Definitely a crampon job to go any higher in safety……. which would have been fine if either of us actually owned a pair!!

So, there was nothing for it but to traverse around the coire, and up onto Hartsop Dodd. This gave spectacular views of Caudale Head – probably more spectacular than we would have got had we climbed to the top (although we’ll have to wait until next time to confirm this!).

Climbing down from the mine workings was a bit tricky…………

……………….but we soon made it onto the ridge of Hartsop Dodd.

The view from the top was amazing, with an incredible feeling of altitude, far in excess of the mere 618m we had actually climbed.

So, thankyou Tescos for another fantastic weekend…….. well, every little helps! 😉

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Back to Loch Lomond again, this time with the guys from Song of The Paddle.

Note to self: Don’t turn up in a kayak again if the water’s too cold for a ducking! 😉

OK, I jest, but you get the idea!

Russ demonstrates how to make fire the hard way:

Anyhow, another great trip. Not much paddling, but plenty of chilling out in the Tipi whilst eating pancakes. Now that’s my idea of a weekend. 🙂

Perfect!!

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We’ve spent one Saturday a couple couple of weekends floating about on Loch Lomond with Willie McLeod, a local kayak coach, who luckily for us owed me a favour! Suffice to say we both improved our paddling technique no end!  What else can I say? Great to be out at this time of year, with so few others about.

It’s late though, so it’s probably best to let the pictures do the talking!

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