Archive for July, 2010

Just for the record, here are a few pics from last week’s walk with Brian and Pete. Two cracking hills, plus the bonus ‘top’ of Stob Coire an Lochain.

From the top, it was great to look over and see the twin peaks of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin that we had climbed only a couple of weeks before.

Looking Northwards, we could clearly see Ben Nevis, though more surprisingly, in the other direction, we could even make out the outline of Dumgoyne, and the tower blocks of Glasgow behind.

And I *know* I’m going to have to have a go at climbing up to fish this wee loch at some point, as part of my ongoing quest for high-altitude trout!!

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We have a love-hate relationship with Ardnamurchan – love the place, but hate the road you have to drive to get there!! Actually it’s not too bad by usual single-track standards, but having suffered one burst tyre and a couple of near misses on that road over the past few years, it’s not a drive I look forward to, even if the destination is invariably worth it!!

We stayed at Resipole Campsite, right next to the coast, on the South side of the penninsula.

“I really should charge you extra for your awning you know, but I can’t really be bothered” said the site owner when he came round to check tags on the Saturday morning. Now the thought that anybody could consider my hastily errected tarp an “awning” was nearly enough to put me off organised campsites forever, until a fantastic hot shower convinced me that I’d maybe been a little too hasty on this occasion!

To pass the time, we went for a wee walk in the woods just North of Strontian.

The highlight of the morning was spotting this slow-worm sunning itself beside the path – something neither of us had ever seen before.

However, with the weather remaining dreich, we spent the rest of the weekend ‘loitering within tent’, before heading back to catch the Corran Ferry for the short hop back to civilisation.

Oh, and the mackerel? Well, I didn’t take any photos at the time, as we were in a rush to catch the ferry. However, let’s just say there is a superb spot for fishing about a mile North of the ferry slip, and they tasted simply superb when filletted and poached in lemon juice ;-).

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I’d always pretty much ignored these two Munros, despite them being right on my doorstep, as had Pete and Brian, my companions for the day.

So, what to expect? A slightly larger version of Ben Ledi perhaps, which lies just the other side of the main A84 route North?………… actually, not a bit of it!!

This is a snap of Ben Vorlich, taken from part way up Stuc a Chroin. It was at this point that I realised that this would be a considerably bigger walk than I had imagined, like what’s a huge lump of rock like that doing between Callander and Lochearhead, and how had I managed to ignore it up until now!?

We opted for the harder, circular route option, which involved walking right around to the South-East Spur of Stuc a Chroin, before climing up onto the ridge and following it North-West to the summit. The route down from Stuc a Chroin basically drops straight down from the summit, but is not actually as bad as it looks….. which is a very good thing if this photo looking back up is anything to go by!

But the sun came out, and we were still smiling!

The route then climbs steadily up to the summit of Ben Vorlich itself………

…………before an easy walk Northwards back to the car at Ardvorlich, and home for tea! 🙂

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The stats for this blog show that a fair few people are visiting after searching for “P&H Sirius”, and I’ve realised I haven’t really said anything more about my ongoing quest to tame the tippy beast that was Cyril the Sirius when I first got him.

Yes, I’ll be honest, my first outing on the sea  at Easter, scared me half to death, and I was convinced I’d made a terrible mistake in buying such a tippy boat. The whole ride was incredibly twitchy, such that I hardly even dared to take a photo, despite the relatively calm sea conditions. However,  this didn’t match with my previous experience of paddling one last year albeit briefly, so the whole thing had me scratching my head somewhat!

The previous owner told me that HIS predecessor had raised the seat so he could put lead sheets underneath to aid the stability, so I borrowed some lumps of lead from a friend to try, and actually this made a significant difference to the ride, (I’m no naval architect, but I presume this was due to the  lowered centre of gravity).

It got me thinking though, what sense did it make to raise up my own body  (80kg) and hence C of G  just so I could put lead underneath (10kg) to lower it again?!?

It was time for a closer look at that seat!

A quick internet search revealed that others had encountered similar problems before (here and here), and this was all the encouragement I needed to do something a bit drastic! 🙂

Which revealed….. well frankly I was speechless!

A plastic board had been placed on the bottom of the hull, and this had been glassed over to make a channel right underneath the seat. Now, I have no idea if the seat was actually raised to achieve this, but it was clear that there was plenty of scope for lowering it.

No more photos at this stage, as I haven’t done a permanent fix yet, but hey, what a difference – you really would swear he was a different boat entirely. Whilst he’s still a bit too lively for fishing from for example, at least I can now stop for a drink or take a photo without feeling as though I’m in mortal danger!  Anyhow, I’m at least convinced now that we’re going to be friends.

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I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Loch Ard. On the one hand, it’s a lovely place to paddle, but on the other, it’s just a little too close to civilisation to be “wild” enough for me. Oh, and there’s always the fact that despite no fewer than four previous outings, I’ve not yet landed a single fish!!

However, somehow I had a feeling that this time it was going to be different……

Come on, look at the place – it surely must be stuffed full of pike! (actually, I suspect the large numbers of pike present are probably responsible for the shortage of trout observed during my previous trips!). So, time to switch tactics, and a piking we will go!
This decision was soon rewarded with this fellow taking my bait, and putting up a cracking fight on the way to the net.

OK, not huge by pike standards, but given that I’m new to coarse fishing, I was still fair chuffed to land him!

Right then, howabout some trout!?

This proved a little more difficult however (as usual!), and even the osprey circling overhead wasn’t catching anything, and he’s a professional!  Come the evening, a few trout started to show on the surface, and to my great delight, I managed to land a couple of them on a small dry-fly, just as dark was setting in.

Why so delighted?  Well, perhaps now I’ve finally broken my duck,  I can start going to other more productive places instead!! 🙂

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So, after working far too hard almost every day for the whole of May, I was desperate for some time off just to retreat and recover my sanity. I needed “wild”, and quickly! A quick look at the map confirmed that there’s a fair bit of it to be found just 40 miles North of Glasgow, on Loch Long and Loch Goil. So finally with two precious days to myself, I loaded up the kayak with an excess of fishing gear, and headed out.

First stop was the newly refurbished bothy at the loch side, which was a pleasant spot for a bit of breakfast.

The MBA have done a fantastic job doing it up, but their ongoing struggle in maintaining these bothies was only too evident from reading the visitors book. “Fantastic bothy, just hope the local Neds don’t trash it” read one signed comment. “Then why scratch your name on the window frame then?” read the entry below!  I don’t think there’s much I can add to that really!!

Depressed with human nature again, I paddled on a bit, disturbing these oystercatchers from their low-tide mussel bed as I went.

It was an easy paddle round into Loch Goil, and since the fish weren’t biting (did the porpoises scare them off, or was it still too early for Mackerel?), I pitched camp instead.

And thus my grand plans for two active days of fishing and paddling quickly changed into two days lounging in the hammock, and watching the world go by.

The fishing will have to wait another month or two then, but for sheer R&R, this wee trip was just what the doctor ordered!

Reprise, 7th July:

I don’t know what we were thinking, looking for shelter from a Southerly breeze, on a loch called “Loch Long”, which runs basically South-West to North-East, but hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Loch Goil wasn’t much better, with the wind funnelling in between the hills, and generating the kind of waves that scare you witless at the time, but somehow reduce to mere ripples when you see the photos later (ok, I’m exaggerating, but I swear they  always feel three times bigger than they ever look in the photos!).

“What on earth is that?!?” I exclaimed, upon seeing some sort of gigantic tug boat approaching. (The trouble is that I wear my old glasses for kayaking, and the prescription is a few years out of date now!)  Still, I was pretty surprised to see the tug boat turn towards us, and morph into what looked like a giant catamaran, before finally getting a bit closer, and turning out to be none other than The Waverley, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world, on its way up for a quick look at Carrick Castle.

“I hope the tourists brought their umbrellas with them”, I thought ten minutes later, as we were caught in a torrential downpour. That’s Scotland for you though, and as ever, it was great just to be outside enjoying it, whatever the weather.

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I just thought I’d put up a few photos I took of our homemade chicken waterer, MK2, while I was sorting out the rhubarb champagne the other day. Now I know this is nothing particularly revolutionary, but given that the equivalent commercial product can cost anything up to £40, I thought I’d share just in case it’s helpful to somebody.

The MK2 is, funnily enough, the successor to the MK1, which was really just a 5 litre bottle with an 8mm hole drilled in the bottom!:

The bottle  sits in a plastic tray, and due to the effect of a vacuum building in the bottle as the water drains out, the water level magically stays just below the rim of the tray, and tops up automatically as the hens drink.

So, although the MK1 was meant to be a temporary measure until I sorted out something better, in the end it lasted for almost a year, until the MK2 was born!

This was made very easily from an old home-brew pressure barrel, which was being thrown out because the CO2 injector on the lid was broken.

To change it into a chicken waterer, I first removed the CO2 injector, and sealed the hole in the lid with a nut, some penny washers, and a tap washer, and then replaced the original wire handle, which was also broken:

I then unscrewed the tap on the bottom, and fitted a reducing bush from a hose kit into the hole (it’s a standard pipe-thread). I drilled a hole in a copper plumbing plug to act as the water outlet, and then fitted this through a small plastic tub with a hole drilled in it, sealing with rubber washers both sides, before screwing the whole assembly into the barrel.

And there you have it!  A deluxe poultry drinker, for half an hour’s work, and at a cost of less than a pound.

This principle can be followed with any container rigid enough not to collapse under the slight vacuum produced. The small tub is easily cleaned out by running a finger around the inside to dislodge any dirt, followed by pouring a litre of water into it from a height to flush out any debris. Best of all, it only needs to be filled up every couple of weeks, and because it’s black, there aren’t the same issues with algae growing inside as there are with many commercial versions.

All in all, a perfect bit of wombling!!  🙂

By the way, if you liked this, also check out my idea for an automatic peck trigger feeder for poultry.

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