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

 

Seafood at home

Sorry I’m going to begin with a rant… and get onto recipes in a sec

Nothing pains me more than going to a restaurant IN SCOTLAND that is serving seafood from overseas. We all know Europe to be a haven for seafood excellence, but what about us? Scotland has 16,500km (including the islands) of coast line, which is pretty outstanding for such a small country – teaming with marine life. It’s hard to believe that Scotland is often overlooked as a ‘foodie’ location. I’ve traveled a lot in the last 5 years and while on the topic of food I’ve been asked so many times if deep-fried mars bars and chippies are the local cuisine. WHAT! NO! Scotland has such a rich culture around food with seafood right at the top. It doesn’t get much better than whats being caught right on our doorstep – because no matter where you are in Scotland – you’re never too far from the sea.

I think on the whole, most fish and shellfish eaters in Scotland consume fish in their diet at least once a week. And there’s a reason local fishmongers are still alive and thriving – the quality and range of seafood available is fantastic. Maybe less so in cities where supermarkets supply such a big range – but if possible, supporting local businesses is something we can all agree is good.

So – a seafood feast at home? Not a problem (if you’ve got a pot big enough for langoustines). Seafood dinners like this are a big treat in our family, because shellfish can be a bit pricey – but by ‘compromising’ with a few veggie meals throughout the week (not really a compromise), it can become a more regular treat.

First up – ‘The Palate Cleanser’

Beetroot and goats cheese salad
  • 4 cooked beetroot
  • 100g goats cheese
  • A bag or 2 of greens and leafs
  • Oil & balsamic vinegar
  • Chuck in a few walnuts as well if you like them!

Toss together – easy peasy.

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Smoked Mackerel Pate
  • 400g smoked mackerel
  • 200g cream cheese (ish – taste as you go)
  • 70g butter (ish)
  • lemon juice
  • pepper

Whiz together in a blender – tasting as you go.

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Smoked trout and smoked salmon

Needs no fuss – not even a plate! I got this delivered from Murray Smoked Products – and its some of the best smoked fish I’ve ever tasted! Online they have a variety of different types – honey and pepper, Cajun spiced, long sliced, dill coated – i’ve tried many of them and they are all fantastic.

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Scallops with bacon & black pudding
  • Scallops (2 or 3 per person)
  • One large onion
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • 1 bacon rasher cooked
  • 1/2 sliced of black pud cooked

Soften onion and garlic in oil – fry scallops for 1min on each side – sprinkle with chives and serve with bacon or black pud – or both!

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Langoustines

Bring a large pod of salted water to the boil – and cook the langoustines for 3-4 minutes (careful not to overcook).

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CRAB!

Okay we cheated – we bought this pre cooked crab from the fishmonger… because cooking crab in your house is SO stinky. I’d probably only ever do it if I knew I could cook it outside.

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Yorkshire Puddings?

Not so Scottish – but Yorkshires taste amazing with mackerel pate. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

  • 140g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • sunflower oil

Drizzle oil into tin and put into oven to heat (230c) – beat eggs into flour and slowly add milk to make the batter – pour into heated tin and cook for 20 mins (until golden). Do this just before your about to eat so you can have them hot with the pate.

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We also had a loaf of homemade bread (made in a bread machine) and a last-minute pea puree made by blending garden peas with some lemon juice.

What a feast – and not ridiculously expensive. For the seafood alone we spent £23 – so adding the extras our whole meal cost less than £30.

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Thanks for reading

R x 
@ronamcmillan

 

Tasting Scotland – Seafood Special

What an incredible day, we are going home happy, sun-kissed and full up on seafood! We left Glasgow at 9am this morning for a one day gastro and cultural tour of the west coast, and we are blown away by everything we have experienced today. From food and scenery to drink and conversation we have thoroughly enjoyed our day with Tasting Scotland.

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Top 5 elements from my Tasting Scotland experience 

Brenda! This tour of the west coast really thrives from the master mind behind the brand. Brenda and her talented team have such incredible knowledge of food & drink heritage – specifically in Scotland but also worldwide. Throughout the day we had fantastic conversations with Brenda about food through the ages, local food history along with recipe tips and restaurant recommendations.

Chatting to industry professionals – I found this a really special element of the trip. At each location we were introduced to local people working in the smokehouses, on the production line and in the restaurants and kitchens, which gave us an extra insight into Scottish seafood.

A tailored experience – as well as the Wednesday Weekly tour (that leaves from Glasgow every Wednesday morning), Brenda and her team are experts in creating tailored tasting experiences. Weather it’s whisky, craft beer or gin, seafood or curries they can create packages perfectly suited to your personal taste. Brenda was telling us about a 3 day tour she recently set up for a client that included hand selected accommodation, luxury transport as well as lunch, dinner and activities every day. What a way to experience Scotland at its best!

Luxury products and locations – Tasting Scotland tours are SO far from naff Scottish tat and the unfortunate reputation we have for deep-fried food! Brenda focuses solely on the luxury market and premium Scottish product which is incredibly beneficial in the support of local businesses while at the same time gives her clients a taste for what Scotland really has to offer.

For locals as well as visitors – having grown up on the west coast surrounded by stunning scenery and eating local seafood I was really intrigued by this tour and whether or not it would be worthwhile for me… and truthfully it was such a great day, I wouldn’t hesitate to book again. I learnt so much from Brenda; about food, cooking, drink pairing as well as local history that I had never picked up on before. I am already sending messages to my friends and family to recommend Tasting Scotland – a 5 star experience in every way.

So where did we go?

Brunch at Luss Seafood Bar and a look around Luss SmokehouseIMG_0716IMG_3644IMG_3634IMG_3651Champagne Lunch at Loch Fyne Oyster BarIMG_0724IMG_0726IMG_0733IMG_3664IMG_3672IMG_3769Guided tour of Inverary Castle and gardensIMG_3767IMG_3692IMG_3682IMG_3679

If you are interested in a Tasting Scotland tour feel free to contact Brenda Anderson by email at brenda@tastingscotland.com or on +44(0)7974212529 – she’s super friendly!

http://www.tastingscotland.com

Thank you to Tasting Scotland for inviting us along.

Thanks for reading 

R x

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

Two Bare Feet Review – 12ft SUP

*please note this is not a sponsored post – we bought this larger board for bigger and better adventures

Two Bare Feet Sport Air 12'0 x 6" Inflatable SUP

It’s been almost a year since I first got my SUP board from Two Bare Feet, which is a smaller 10ft board. It is perfect for me, and I still use it weekly for solo paddling. I’ve tried a few times to attach various dry bags to the board with adventure kit inside – with the aim to paddle to an island and set up camp… however this board isn’t really designed for super stability. It is perfectly stable for my weight, however anything added (or anyone heavier than me) does struggle with the wobble! SO, this spurred the idea of another board.

We’ve had the 12ft sport air for just over a week and it has been INCREDIBLE – what a difference. It was advertised as being designed to meet the demands of today’s SUP explorer – with maximum volume, stability and speed ‘making long distance a breeze’. It does all of that and more…

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The good things
  • Super stability – so much so you can easily carry two people. This board has a flatter and wider deck than my 10ft board – making it much easier to balance.
  • Speed – for some reason I thought this board (because it’s HUGE) would be slower than my smaller SUP, but it feels more streamlined and cuts through waves with its pointer bow.
  • Improved carry handle – these boards aren’t heavy to carry anyway, but sometimes a little tricky and awkward due to the size especially when the wind is blowing… so the extra comfortable handle does make a difference. This board also came with a attachable shoulder strap which I imagine will be really useful if we need to carry the board for any distance.
  • New and improved pump – big thumbs up for the high pressure dual action pump. Having a gauged pump is a must – without it I don’t think I’d ever know when the board was pumped up enough. The dual action also makes deflating much faster – and the board can be packed away much tighter.
  • Appearance – I am loving the design of the 12ft sports. They come in three different colour options, and they’re all pretty cool – but we went for the navy, teal and orange. I also really like the choice of text used on the board… TBF have really upped their design game!
  • Size matters – how this is possible I do not know, but the 12ft board packs down into the same size dry bag as my 10ft board… a bit heavier to carry, but still easy enough to put on your back.
  • Extras – with this board you get a repair kit, paddle, dry bag, pump, centre fin and a shoulder strap. This is a basic starter pack, but you can also upgrade to deluxe/ultimate packs that offer added extras.
The bad things

So far, I genuinely have no complaints or improvements to suggest towards this board. It is quick to pump up, efficient in the water and easy to pack down. The board does exactly what we wanted it to. I guess the only thing I would say is it is big, duh! But if you’re buying for a child/lightweight person, a 12ft board wouldn’t be necessary – I’d defiantly recommend a 10ft board – I still love my smaller SUP.

A few days onboard ‘Jolanda’ in Plymouth – paddling English ChannelIMG_2563IMG_1436We also went for a bit of a fancy paddle this time – TBF brought out a new range of carbon pro paddles with this lovely wood effect. It is super lightweight and feels a lot stronger than my original paddle. Processed with VSCO with c8 presetIMG_1426Angus and Callum free diving for scallops – Sound of Mull IMG_2752IMG_2730IMG_1503IMG_1509IMG_1500IMG_2716Day trip with Emily and Callum – paddling on Loch LubnaigIMG_2545IMG_9285IMG_0188Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

 

Thanks for reading – if you have any questions about SUP boards please don’t hesitate to drop me and email or send me a message on Instagram @ronamcmillan

R x

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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Two Bare Feet review – snorkelling kit

Snorkelling is an awesome way to explore the blue shallows – most people have given it a go in warmer waters abroad, but there are some incredible snorkelling spots on our door step if we are willing to face the cold. Kit wise… not much is required and what you do need; doesn’t come at too much of a cost. I think most of my Scottish snorkelling experiences have been fairly unplanned – I carry my kit bag around in the back of my car everywhere I go just on the off chance I stumble upon a a beautiful stretch of water.

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So – I got some new snorkelling kit from Two Bare Feet last week and after taking it out for a spin I am going to write up my first impressions. I also have a few tips for buying new kit that could be helpful if you are looking to get in the water.

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Hood

I went for this 5mm hood in size M – I found the sizing pretty hard to work out/took a total guess and luckily it fits perfectly. The hood is snug around my whole head and neck – so much so I don’t think any water got in, my hair even stayed dry under the hood. The water temp was sitting at 8° on the surface, and quite a bit cooler as I dived down – the 5mm of neoprene kept me very toasty – so a big thumbs up from me.

My only negative for this product (other than the size guess) is that the neck panel was too bulky to go under my wetsuit. I thought this would be a bit of an issue for water leakage – but since the hood was so snug, I didn’t seem to have any problems.

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Fins

I’d usually opt for a longer fin (more of a free diving style) – however I thought a short pair would be really useful for wild swimming if I wanted to do any distance swims this summer – and they’re also a bit easier to manoeuvre!

These guys have an adjustable back which meant my feet didn’t slide back and forward while kicking and there is enough room to wear a very small boot with these if your prone to cold feet. I wore a neoprene sock and it worked perfectly with those too. No section of the fin rubbed on my ankle (which usually happens for me). So I’m pretty delighted with these – no negatives.

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Mask

I choose this silicone mask with tempered glass – reason being… silicone trumps PVC in colder waters. PVC masks look as good as silicone, and are usually cheaper; however they loose their flexibility in cold water which effectively ruins the fit of the mask around the face. Choosing a mask with tempered glass is also a good idea – tempered glass has a better resistance to scratches and is also better suited to changes in water pressure when diving down.

My only negative here (which is actually a fault of my own) was that I had some trouble clearing my mask when I first went in – I did the old saliva in the lens, then rinse with water etc and it continued to fog up. My mum gave it a good scrub with a soft piece of fabric and that seemed to do the job. Since then i’ve read that putting a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and rubbing it into the lense and washing it also helps prevent a foggy mask – so i’ll give that a go next time.

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Snorkel 

LOVE this snorkel – it’s the first time i’ve ever had a proper dry top snorkel and it makes such a difference when diving. FYI – a dry snorkel is a snorkel that has a mechanism on the top that prevents water from entering the snorkel as the snorkeler dives underwater. Very handy, and this one works very well. This snorkel also features a splash guard, and purge valve and the mouth piece is made from silicone (also good for cold water). No negatives here!

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Hood & Mask

Side note – usually I’d wear my mask seal under the lining of my hood… but as mentioned previously my 5mm hood is super snug and the width of the mask is greater than the width of the hood, so that didn’t really work when I tried. Instead, I wore the mask seal on the outside of my hood and I was really surprised that my mask stayed sealed.

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Gloves 

I was a bit stumped over getting 3mm or 5mm gloves – and given I always have frozen hands 5mm would have probably been wise. BUT I feel like I can’t move wearing such thick neoprene, turing a GoPro on and off is a bit of a struggle with thick gloves – so I went for the thinner ones and i’m really happy with them. I got a size S and the fit is great – they also have a velcro wrist fastening which stops water creeping in.

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Croc says 8

Why choose Two Bare Feet? 

– British company – based in Devon 

– Extremely helpful customer service – always happy to answer questions and give recommendations 

– Fast delivery – and easy returns

– As a returning customer (my SUP board is from this company, and have also bought a few different paddles and accessories in the last year) I have always had a fantastic experience, and have recommended to many friends. 

– Very reasonably priced – with incredible sale prices too

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A little bit from Two Bare Feet...

'In an age where everything is available at your fingertips, we thank you for shopping with us and for your continued support of Two Bare Feet.

We pride ourselves on delivering the best possible experience whilst shopping on our site and exceeding expectations from there on in. We moved from our retail shops to online e-commerce in 2008 and have continued to evolve, enhance and expand our product offerings whilst ensuring your shopping experience with us remains hassle and fuss free.

We appreciate all feedback as they help us to keep focused and on top of our game and of course exceed your expectations.'

With thanks to Two Bare Feet for supporting this post – all opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading 

R x @ronamcmillan

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

Ad(van)tures Pending

RIP Rusty - The search for a new van begins

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Summer is approaching… slowly! And the search has begun for a new family van, because our loved and ‘trusted’ red T4 kicked the bucket last year… due to summer exhaustion. I say family van; its my mums – she is the poor soul who has to pick up the pieces whenever it breaks down! So why a van? Why not pack your kit and sleep in a tent somewhere further away from a road? I asked exactly that when we first got the van a few year ago, but van life is so much fun and only enhances accessibility to the outdoors. A van becomes your own portable base of warmth and safety, as well as your mode of transport. It provides storage, cooking facilities, shelter, a place to charge your tech… and you can always tuck your tent away somewhere for more adventurous nights.

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The positives of van life

Freedom – the ability to go where you want when you want for as long as you want.

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Cost effective holidays – you can eliminate the cost of hotels, restaurant bills, flights, public transport, tickets, organised entertainment! Some cash for fuel and food is all you need.

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Simple living – Living in such a small space allows you to cut out nonessential items that clog up your average day – having a level of simplicity discards distractions that tend to melt away time day after day (Netflix, instagram, doing your hair and make up)!

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Forces organisation – not essential, however a messy van is pretty awful. Once things have a place, it makes finding them again much easier!

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Inspiration – new people, places and thoughts. I think it’s always nice to notice how your thoughts change depending on where you are and what you’re doing; at home I’m guilty of  toxic rational thinking – but when I remove myself from certain environments I think I become more logical, creative and adventurous!

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Waking up to awesome views and fresh air – waking up and being outside immediately is the most refreshing thing (unless its raining and howling)!

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Negatives

Planning ahead – almost everything requires a bit of planning and preparation, going for a shower, to the toilet, cooking, washing up…

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Loneliness – it’s always a nice idea to run away and be by yourself, but being alone without much human contact even through social media can quickly become a little too isolating – find someone to share adventures with!

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Time goes slow – although this can be good, the weather always gets bad and you can be stuck in a small space with not a lot to do. Always remember to pack a few books, and even more wine!

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Breaking down is expensive! It’s bound to happen at some point, so be prepared with some tools and good breakdown cover. Just try to break down somewhere beautiful, with waves to surf while you wait!

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Things to pack and things to do

Surfboards, bodyboards, SUPboards – something that gets you in the water. They’re easy to strap on the roof, so don’t take up any precious inside space… and if anyone forgets their sleeping bag, a board bag is your next best bet!

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Snorkel on rainy days – because it doesn’t rain underwater!

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Open water swimming to rinse off that funky perfume that you develop from living in a van for too long!

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Catch yourself some dinner while you’re in the sea!

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Warm yourself up, get the blood pumping and head for the hills –

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Check out a west coast music festival – even when your siblings aren’t thrilled to be getting drunk with you for a 4th night in a row!

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Search for magical fresh water pools to wash the salt away –

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Meet the local wildlife –

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And finally – hang out with your fam, they’re the best friends you’ll ever have!

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If you fancy a peep at some of our adventure videos (that are extremely amateur) – follow these links!

48 hours on Tiree // April 2017
Tiree Ultra 2017
Thanks for reading 

Oidhhe Mhath

R x

The Arrochar Alps in December

The Arrochar alps – sitting quietly in the midst of surrounding giants. Blue sky and views that stretch forever, glistening icicles, frozen burns and that iconic rock formation iced with heavy coats of white. The Cobbler in December!IMG_2190IMG_2198The best thing about winter hill walking in Scotland is unpredictability. The worst thing about winter hill walking in Scotland is also unpredictability! It is so hard to plan ahead, weather flickers by the second and so you either have to go super scout prepared with kit or take a risk with the elements.IMG_2197IMG_2195Without an abundance of waking kit this year, the plan was to stick to the wee hills only. 6 hour max routes, so we didn’t end up walking down icy ridges in darkness. Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) is one of my favourite hills, sitting at 2884 ft and with breathtaking views down Loch Long. We completed the hill up and down in 4 hours, and given our lacking kit of no crampons or poles it felt pretty speedy. IMG_2196We reached the summit at 2pm – the sun was low in the sky and cast incredible pink hues across the landscape. IMG_2194-5 at the top, and at least -10 with windchill meant our decent was slightly more challenging with frozen fingers and toes – IMG_2193But we weren’t as chilly as the ice climbers! IMG_2192IMG_2191Triple layers on the way down – and a teeny bit frosty/grumpy!WARM AGAIN! Thanks for a fantastic day Callum!

-and thanks for reading

R x