Kit Review – DRYROBE

A Dryrobe has been on my kit wish list for almost a year. I had a shot of my brothers Dryrobe on Christmas day last year and it was incredible. We had been out on the water and in the water all day and I got very very cold. This isn’t usual for me, I do get cold easily and I’m used to it. However that day I had next level chills; and the Dryrobe got me home without getting dangerously cold.

So, to my delight – a Dryrobe has been added to the kit bag just in time for winter adventures. This piece of kit is for when a towel doesn’t quite cut it anymore, you need more warmth and more protection from the elements – pre swims, post swims and for general use in cold situations.

When would I use it?

Wild swimming – for the last two weeks I’ve not needed to bother with clothes when I jump in the car or on my bike to get to the water. Dry robe before and after every swim, no shivery changing situations and straight into something that will warm me up.

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Competitions – it’s obvious now when I’m at triathlons and open water swims (usually cheering on my mum) that Dryrobe’s are becoming an essential bit of kit. There’s always a lot of standing around before and after a race, and often transport on boats with a lot of exposure to weather. Staying warm and dry in these situations is so important.

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Car park changing – I can say bon voyage to the car park struggle. Trying to get your pants on the right way round without your towel falling down – with numb hands its always a battle. Dryrobe = cosy changing palace!

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Photography – this is a bit of an alternative use, but since the weather is getting colder I’ve used my Dryrobe on a few occasions for photography. If I’m out with my tripod for long periods of time not moving I get really cold, so it has been really handy for that.

Van adventures – van dressing gown? The best thing ever. I say van and not tent because the Dryrobe takes up quite a lot of room so it’s not ideal for tent camping, but perfect to have in a van.

Boat journeys – wind chill is something I always forget to consider if we are heading somewhere on a rib/open top boat. Sticking my Dryrobe on over my wetty keeps that wind off, as well as sea spray and rain.

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Features
  • Completely waterproof and windproof
  • Super warm synthetic lambs wool lining
  • Full lengths 2 way reversible zip
  • Fleece lined pockets
  • Lightweight (1.3kg)
  • Waterproof chest pocket
  • Internal zip pocket (phone, wallet, iPod)
  • Huge A4 sized internal pocket
  • Velcro wrists
Key Benefits
  • Fits over clothing/wetsuit
  • Re-use multiple times without it feeling wet
  • Provides protection from the elements
  • The lining draws water away from my skin
  • Dries me instantly and continues to keep me warm
  • Hands kept warm in the insulated pockets
  • Stores my things safely (phone, money, camera, snacks)
  • Lightweight to carry

To sum it up, I can’t fault this product. It great, and truly a lifesaver for someone like me who gets very very cold. It’s something that will always be in the boot of my car ready to use. I also got a Dryrobe drybag with my order (bought separately) which I would recommend as the robe does take up a bit of space if it’s not in a bag.

I’ve had a lot of questions over price, this robe is £110. It is a pricey purchase and something to consider. For me, it came down to safety and how the product would perform keeping me warm and dry in challenging situations. It works – and therefore it is worth it in my opinion!

www.dryrobe.com

Thanks for reading

Keep up with adventures @ronamcmillan

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KAYAKING & WILD CAMPING IN LOCH KISHORN

It’s happened again – I’m the bearer of bad weather. I arrived in ‘sunny Kishorn’ – a small village in the Scottish Highlands where my mum moved to about two years ago. It’s an incredible place, surrounded by towering mountains, endless horizons, views of Skye – an ideal place for those who love to be outside. But whenever I visit… ‘sunny Kishorn’ loses its title. It’s the day before our trip and it’s dreich, windy and pretty miserable. However, that is a traditional Scottish summer and the addition of the wind means the subtraction of midges, so it’s not all bad.

The optimist in me predicted good weather for our kayaking camping trip, but nope. It’s still blowing a hoolie. With all of our kit stuffed into dry bags and stored inside our kayaks my mum and I headed off into the waves. We originally planned to paddle directly from Kishorn Bay to our destination (in a straight line) – makes sense on a calm day! But with the weather being borderline stormy we stuck to the coastline avoiding the worst of the swell.

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My mum, by the way, is of far higher ability than me in a kayak. She knows her stuff and has done heaps of rescue training. I am an amateur – but always enjoy going out and getting practice in. Thankfully today is not a good day for kayak rolling – so I’m off the hook!

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We had a good idea of where we could camp, but getting there was proving to be tricky. At this point I found paddling along to the beat of ‘another one bites the dust’ very motivational. However the further we got, the bigger the swell was… so instead of being numpties and having to call in the coast guard to be rescued we beached ourselves early and walked the rest of the route. Leaving the kayaks up high on a grassy bank.

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We clambered through thick bracken – getting mauled by ticks, and along the shoreline to a small bay with a stoney beach and large flat grassy area ideal for an overnighter… pretty certain this is the one we had in mind, and if not… it would do! Bonus, there were even two strong trees so I could try out the hammock.

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With views of the infamous Cuillin mountains on Skye and west facing (meaning sunsets) this beach should have been the perfect spot for a night under the stars. Except, when we got there the cloud cover was so thick I couldn’t even see the small island less than a km away, so no chance of a sunset OR stars… and the wind was chopping away at the sea so much my dream of a sea swim quickly went out the window. I also spotted enough large red jellyfish on our paddle to put me off a dip that day.

So – we set up camp, boiled up some water for cups of tea, changed into dry kit and had a wander around our highland residence of paradise. We found lots of small caves hidden among the vegetation that were piled with remains of old camping kit; sleeping bags, tanks of gas, glass bottles and clothing. Strange and creepy, and enough to stop me entering the caves for further investigation.

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So what happened for the rest of the night? Not very much – read books, scribbled in my sketchbook, heated up some soup for dinner… got cosy! I played with my camera for a while hoping that I would spot an otter on night watch… but that didn’t happen. My mum and I had a good catch up since we don’t get to see each other that often anymore, which was really nice because if we were in the house we would probably be watching a box set or something instead. I wrote some short stories in my notebook and eventually fell asleep (kind of).

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When I woke up, I was cold, damp and desperate to get home. My frustration with Scottish weather consumed me for about an hour until I got back into the kayak and started to paddle home; and it all disappeared. I felt so happy, grinning from ear to ear – I felt like I’d been on the biggest adventure with my mum.

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We didn’t wait for good weather, or let the depressing appearance of dark cloud put us off. I think every single time I go off to do something a little bit wild, there is always a moment when I think I’d rather be at home nice and warm. But these wild and crazy experiences are the best, they’re the days I never forget and I can tell everyone about that time I thought sleeping in a hammock in strong winds and torrential rain was a good idea. Well, I ALWAYS come home happy, and am very appreciative of a mug of tea and a good sleep. I think that speaks wonders.

Thanks for reading – keep up with all my recent adventures @ronamcmillan

Rona x

 

Sailing Jolanda

I AM HOME – phew. As many of you may know (due to an overkill of instagam stories) I have been away sailing in the English Channel for the last 10 days. I am suitably windswept and windburnt to call myself a yachty now… although I’m not sure that’s really a trend I want to keep up. But it was fun while it lasted all the same.

So, how did I become so lucky to hang around on a beauty of a yacht all week? Its nothing more glamourous than I tagged along with my Dad and step Mum while they were down there sailing – I guess they wanted a galley gal to come and make cups of tea, pour them gin and cook the occasional dinner. Which I’m happy with if I get to sail around the tropical coast of Cornwall for a few days.

When I first arrived the boat was tied up in Plymouth and with me came the rain, thunder, general horrible stormy weather. It’s a reoccurring theme, I’m the barer of bad weather. So it was lock down for the first few days of the trip, sorry fellow crew members. Time was well spent with lots of reading – I got through three books, yes THREE whole books. Which is more than I usually manage in a year. And lots of eating, cinema trips and wandering around chandleries for hours… and hours.

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Would recommend!

Anyway – once the weather unraveled a bit we hoisted the sails and set off along the Cornish coast. Regrettably I didn’t document the whole trip, because my phone and camera kept running out of battery – no power at sea, you see! But I got a few snaps along the way.

Our first voyage took us west from Plymouth to explore all the little bays along the coast line. Bit bobby for the first few hours, gusting winds of 35-40knots and 3-4m swell – annoyingly waves NEVER look big in a photograph and I’m made out to be a drama queen. But they were big, and it was exciting!

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The sun eventually made a debut at Cawsand which is situated on the Rame Peninsula – a very pretty higglety pigglety town on the rocks. And I got my first swim of the trip – water temp was an unbelievable 16°. I could’ve stayed in all day.

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We got a nice gentle breeze to take us down to Salcombe in South Devon where we moored up for a few days. Salcombe seemed to be a bit of a holiday hot spot for yachts, we had a different boat rafted up next to us every night – so a pretty good turn around on the neighbour front. This provided endless entertainment of rope faffing, fender fails and a few slip and slides. Much like when you’ve pitched your tent in a campsite and your evening is filled with *as silent as possible* giggles as you watch people trickle in and struggle with guy lines and wind direction.

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Salcombe was really beautiful – heaps of small sandy beaches to explore, lovely water to swim in and the main street was full of posh shops… Musto, Henri Lloyd, Joules, Crew, Jack Wills yada, yada, yada. But the further I walked, the more interesting the shops became… and I stumbled across this beautiful shed with a guy making custom surfboards. If only I had a spare £1500! Oh, and there was a gin distillery… tried and tested, thumbs up for Salcombe Gin.

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Welcome to the galley. Saturday night menu, seafood spaggy with local muscles and prawns.

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Sundays are for scrubbing… galley gal turned mast cleaner. I’ve been itching to climb the mast for a bird’s eye view of Jolanda – so I sweetly offered to clean the cross tree which was all green and sad-looking. Sparkly clean yacht, and insta Dad was on hand to take some snaps of me while I was up there swinging around like a monkey.

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Meet Insta Dad/Captain.

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Sails up for the last wind of the week heading back to Plymouth to tie up – via my favourite bay at Rame Head for a dip to wash away the smell of five days at sea.

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The Cornish coast was absolutely beautiful and provided some fantastic weather – heading home with rose checks and secretly excited to get back to a drizzly Scotland… and a bed that doesn’t sway all night.

Thanks for being the best home at sea Jolanda. Until next time.

Bon voyage

R x

Keep up with future adventures  @ronamcmillan

 

 

Hot Weather Adventure Tips

This week the west coast of Scotland has been graced with what felt like endless hot sunny weather… although it has rudely come to an end now. So I am back inside for the first time in days covered in aftersun and drinking lots of water. Phew! As much as I LOVE the sun, I totally forget the strength of it… especially in Scotland. For some reason I feel I have immunity to the Scottish sun, as if it’s not really the same sun I’ve experienced in other parts of the world. And even when going up hills this week, or out on the water I kept forgetting that I needed to drink more and wear more suncream. Doh! Thankfully I’ve escaped unburnt, but I have defiantly been dehydrated more often than not this week – so my first hot weather adventure tip…

Water! I am going to admit something which is going to make me sound like such an idiot, however… I won’t make this mistake EVER again. We went for a scamper up Ben Lomond last Thursday in 25° heat with less than one litre of water between the two of us. Most of the assent was almost unenjoyable because we were so thirsty but we luckily found clean water to drink after the summit. I am now constantly drinking from a 2l bottle of water, and we bought a few big packs of 2l bottles to keep in the car so we will never be short! I read a bit about walking hydration online after that day – and the recommendation is to obviously drink LOTS of water before and during your walk, have some sports drinks that will replace electrolytes (body salt) on you as well, however avoid sugary drinks as they cause nausea and probably won’t rehydrate you very well. 

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Ben Lomond

Check the weather, and avoid the hottest part of the day for walking. On Tuesday we wanted to head to Glen Coe and Glen Etive to explore some hills and rivers, so decided to leave Glasgow really early to walk while the sun was still low in the sky. We were off the hillside by midday, and got to have a lovely lazy picnic afternoon in the shade. 

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Glen Etive

Remember to eat – the ONLY time I ever lose my appetite is when I’m overheating, and this has happened every single day this week… especially when exercising. It is so hard to force food down when your feeling exhausted from the sun, but amount of energy burnt in hot weather needs to be replaced with some food. On the go I totally recommend lightweight small energy bars and fruit, they’re packed with goodness and you don’t need to eat much to get the boost you need. 

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These guys are my favourite! Perk!er

Get framed and protect your eyes – block UVA and UVB with a pair of lightweight sunnies. I would recommend glasses with plastic lenses that are light and durable. Also make sure they fit really well, otherwise they’ll be slipping and sliding all over your sweaty face! 

Keep yourself cool – pick clothes and shoes that are going to be lightweight, breathable and made of fabric that isn’t going to cause you irritation when you start getting hot and sticky. A hat is also really helpful for keeping your head and face cool – I look incredibly dorky in a cap but I really need one to stop my scalp from burning and to keep the sun from my eyes. 

“Don’t get summit fever” Callum has said to me more than once this week. Listen to your body, and if your feeling dizzy and dehydrated be prepared to stop. We actually did turn back on a hill this week because I was feeling really unwell, I felt bad about it – but also knew it would be stupid to carry on in discomfort. 

Don’t be fooled by ocean breeze. The wind is so refreshing when it’s hot, but it is also very deceiving. The sun will still burn your skin! I found that checking the UV index gave me a good indication of how strong the sun was going to be for the day. 

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SUP boarding Loch Lomond 

And finally, listen to Ryan Gosling and “Get in the water”!

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We stumbled across Etive pools on our walk and couldn’t resist a swim to cool down!

Thanks for reading – I hope everyone has managed to enjoy the sun this week!

R x @ronamcmillan

Spontaneous Wild Camping Mull of kintyre

There are few experiences in life that can overrule the excitment and the freedom of sleeping in the wild. Sleeping outside, whether the experience is good or bad will undoubtably set the scene to be one of those unfogettable moments in your life. Camping in a campsite is fun too, but it doesn’t give the same buzz of being totally alone miles away from anyone the way wild camping does.

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Views of the Kilbranan Sound – looking across to Arran

Wild camping can be a bit of hassle if you’re not prepared, and this is exactly what happened when Emily and I jumped in the car for an adventure at the start of the week.

Shall we just go find somewhere to camp?

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We were pretty unprepared, and we ended up taking a TON of stuff we didn’t really need. You know when you panic pack and end up with a million bags and ten outfits you don’t need? We had ALL the kit in the world, for every kind of adventure and we were only planning to be away for 24 hours. I would also just like to say that this is not a female thing; all my male friends and family members are just as guilty of the panic pack.

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5 star bedroom views

So what was the plan? 

There wasn’t much of a plan. I made a kit list just to be sure I didn’t forget vital items, stuffed it all into the car and we hit the road. I had a rough idea of where we could camp so that made things a little easier. I grew up in a tiny village called Skipness on the Mull of Kintyre which is very remote and quiet – so I thought it would be cool spot to revisit and explore again.

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Basic Kit list 

  • Tent & sleeping bag & mat
  • Camping stove & gas
  • Torch & lighter
  • Sharp Knife & sporks
  • Pan & mug/bowl
  • FOOD & water
  • Small first aid kit

Extras (if your not walking far)

  • Fire wood
  • Bluetooth Speaker
  • Book & playing cards
  • Sketchbook & pen
  • GoPro/camera/tri-pod
  • Wetsuit & snorkelling kit
  • Quick dry Towel
  • Wine
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We didn’t have far to walk since we camped by the beach – so we took quite a lot of food & wine

Is it allowed? 

The beauty of Scotland is, you can almost camp wherever you like as long as you’re not causing any harm to the environment or people who live nearby. Wild camping is legal; however elsewhere in the UK you are supposed to ask landowners permission first.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code says this: 

Access rights extend to wild camping. This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply, but help to avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner’s permission. Leave no trace by:

  • taking away all your litter
  • removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (follow the guidance for lighting fires)
  • not causing any pollution.

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Side note – it is really important when lighting a fire in the wild that you do it somewhere that isn’t going to kill surrounding vegetation – and all your wood should be burnt to a fine ash to leave no trace. 

What else did we do? 

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We walked around Skipness, and visited the castle which has beautiful views of Arran from the top.

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We took lots of photos!

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We drank beers in the sunshine

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…and wine round the fire

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We also wrote a few bad poems

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…and took some really pretty selfies

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Then, on our way home we detoured for a swim at Westport Beach.

Thanks for a fun night away Emily –

R x @ronamcmillan

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How to spend more time doing what you love with the people you love

Plan your days and weeks ahead – there’s nothing more exciting than having a calendar full of things to look forward to.

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Tiree Ultra Marathon – Vivian

Check the weather – getting organised to make the best use of good weather is a million times better than being stuck twiddling your thumbs on a sunny day because everyone else is already off up hills, on the water or in a beer garden… FOMO really starts to kick in.

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Surf wake improvisation – Callum

Stick to your word – there’s nothing worse than really needing an adventure, and plans get cancelled. Doh! Sometimes we really rely on other people to get us going, so a cancelled plan can be a real downer.

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Firewood mission – Ewan & Angus

Don’t be afraid to contact people… even when you’ve not seen them in a long time – more often than not they’re going to be delighted to get that message. Better still, give them a call.

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The outdoor beauty – Emily

Go the distance – what a bummer when one of your best friends or family members moves across the country… but how appreciated is it when they make the effort to visit?

My mum is a 5 hour drive from Glasgow – the trip is pretty tiresome, but always worth it because I love her company, and I know we will always get up to something fun together.

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Red Point – Mum

Do things, that aren’t ‘ya thang’ – what if someone suggests meeting up to do something that you don’t really fancy doing? If not for any other reason, do it because they’re going to enjoy it.

My family was really keen to go and explore caves last weekend; I totally didn’t see the appeal of climbing into dark, damp smelly caves… but I went with them and actually really enjoyed it.

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Old mining caves – Kishorn

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And we found a cute newt!

Being present – how often do you turn into a tech zombie and realise you’ve been staring at a screen for an hour. I do, all the time – but having no signal up north is helping this problem!

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Tiree – Emily and I

Silence is ok – this is something my mum and I were chatting about recently. We are both relatively quiet people and find it pretty tricky when it comes to small talk… not because we aren’t friendly and interested in other people… we are just fairly shy. But once we decided we didn’t need to try and make conversation ALL the time – silence didn’t feel awkward, it was actually pretty nice.

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Sunny Applecross – Ewan

Encourage other people in things they do – going along to be a support for someone is hopefully going to be helpful for them, and also inspiring for you.

Last weekend my brother ran up the Bealach; my mum and I drove half the way up to give him water, I took some snaps and we met him at the top when he finished. It was really great watching him achieve something – even though the run was no bother at all for him, it would be something I would find difficult and now I feel pretty egged on to do the same run.

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Running up the Bealach – Angus

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Tiree Ultra – Angus and Gary

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Ultra running super Mum

And after all that – time alone seems to feel different. My itching restlessness is gone and I’m feeling content and pretty chilled. Being around other people who love doing what I love doing generally makes me a more productive and happier person.

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Beers, poems, hammock!

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Just a couple dudes I love – The Bros

Thanks for reading

R x @ronamcmillan

Ice Buzz – Christmas Water Sports

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A cold Christmas? It defiantly was for me; I feel the cold… unlike my three older brothers who seem to have built up an impressive immunity. Our holidays began with Christmas and Boxing day on the Isle of Bute at our Dads. With lots of relations on the island, we are really lucky to have access to boats, outdoor toys and equipment whenever we go over to stay! Despite the drizzle and dampening grey clouds (which would often put me off), we got going and had a great afternoon in Port Bannatyne Bay. Kit choice was slightly questionable – borrowed bits and pieces and with a wake board too small for anyones feet to fit in we improvised with one of Ewan’s surf boards.

IMG_3383IMG_3381IMG_0037IMG_0018If anyone fancies wake boarding (properly – unlike us) give Loch Lomond Wakeboard a visit, or alternatively the Glasgow Wake Park.

IMG_3157We then headed North West to Kishorn, beautifully caked in snow. This is my mums front garden, with breathtaking views over the Bealach na Bà and escaping sea views across to the Isle of Skye. It blows my mind every time I visit! My mum is very into wild swimming, whether its long distance, short distance or a speedy dip – she swears its beneficial physically and mentally; and I would not disagree. More often than not, it does take quite a bit of convincing to get me in the water, especially if I’m feeling a little run down. But I always come out the sea feeling fresh, awake and full of adrenalin. The best natural pain-killer!

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 IMG_3373With new toys to be tested, and old toys to be used – we paddled round Kishorn Bay. Three kayaks, two paddle boards and a rowing boat (not pictured).

IMG_3370IMG_3210My birthday present shamefully getting used for the first time. I cannot recommend an inflatable SUP board more; Callum got this blue SUP (in my favourite colour) from Two Bare Feet for my birthday in October. I have always been keen to try SUP boarding, and I was also convinced I wanted a solid board that I could strap to the roof of my car. But I couldn’t be more pleased with the decision to get an inflatable – it performs as well as a solid board once inflated and is a million times easier for transportation.

IMG_3321New year, new wetsuit, same me?
New years day, we took the SUPboards (Ewan bought one as well, so thankfully there will be no soloSUPing) to Loch Lomond for a hangover cure paddle. I also got to try out my new super luminous Hurley wetty, which did a great job after I fell in attempting some SUPyoga. IMG_3384IMG_3357Hurley wetsuit from Surfdome

Thanks for reading, and if anyone fancies some SUP adventures let me know!

R x

Bothy Culture

First Bothy adventure of the year - UAGS

Unless approached by sea, Uags Bothy is at the end of an extremely boggy scramble from Toscaig (south of Applecross). We (Callum, Ewan and I) did plan to paddle there in sea kayaks – launching from my mums front garden in Kishorn and exploring the coast line until we reached Uags. Typically the weather came in, and the wind would’ve made it impossible for my wee arms to manage the 10 mile paddle – Ewan and Callum would’ve been fine, but they kindly joined me for the walk instead!

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We left Kishorn in Ewan’s new van, excitedly arriving at Toscaig at 4pm – we expected to be over the hill and at the bothy for sunset.. which we almost made; if only the path didn’t keep disappearing from under our feet!

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Arriving at Uags, we saw the very last of the sun dip behind the Cuillin mountains on Skye – which the bothy looks straight out to. January adventure meant darkness at 5pm, so we set up camp inside the Bothy and began prepping dinner – steak, rocket, peppers, broccoli, camembert cheese? Possibly THE poshest bothy dinner ever, but so delicious! The rest of the evening was spent huddled round the small fireplace, listening to the flames crackle, we chatted and told stories – and once the Jura was finished we hunkered down for sleep.

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I can’t say it was the best sleep I’ve ever had; Callum convinced me the Bothy was ghost infested and the creaking of the building warming up with our presence totally spooked me… I think i’ll sleep in a tent next time! In the morning Ewan went beach scavenging for fire wood (to restock what we had used the night before) as Callum and I swept, and tidied up the inside of the Bothy.

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We walked back to Toscaig – following the correct path this time, and headed home for a bowl of mums soup! Great adventure with the best people!

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Bothy Etiquette
  • Leave the Bothy in as good (if not better) condition as you found it
  • Take ALL rubbish home
  • Don’t leave food – this encourage mice and other hungry rodents
  • Double check all the windows and doors are closed tight before leaving
  • Bring some extras to leave behind – maybe a lighter, some candles, fire lighters etc
  • Collect fire wood for the next visitor – and stack indoors to allow it to dry – but don’t cut live wood!
  • Respect and welcome other people visiting the Bothy at the same time as you!
Kit List
  • Roll mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Torch
  • Candles + matches/lighter
  • Firewood + firelighters
  • Pan + spork + sharp knife
  • Bin bag
  • Hip flak/whole bottle
  • FOOD + water
  • Waterproofs + boots + socks (with spares) + LOTS more warm stuff
  • MAP!

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Thanks for reading!

R x