Video Series, Safety In Wild Places

It's easy to take your own skills for granted and undervalue them.

Acquired over a lifetime of exploring wild places, techniques that are second nature to me might not be to other people.

After a tricky hike-a-bike through woods, where a slip could see me impaled on a branch, I looked at my small collections of safety kit and thought, "I should tell people about this".

So I have made a series of videos.  There are three at the time of writing but I might add more, and they apply to cycling, wild swimming, sea kayaking, hiking and any activity that takes you into remote places, particularly where there might be no mobile phone signal.

1. how to avoid getting into difficulties - free OS maps as a back-up to electronic navigation aids
2. in an emergency how to reliably call for help - use a Personal Locator Beacon
3. how to stay warm until help arrives

People who think this is over-kill probably don't ride solo in remote parts of Scotland. I'll put the videos below and they're all in this playlist on YouTube.

Video, Castle Tioram Swim

Castle Tioram is an imposing presence on Loch Moidart and a popular destination for visitors to our area.

This one one of the first lochs in which we sea kayaked, taking our rented vessels out to a lovely beach at the head of the loch.

We also 'enjoyed' more than a little excitement trying to paddle around Riska Island.  I knew a lot less about tidal streams back then and hadn't appreciated how strong they can be.

Buy This Swim Kit For Winter

Through my voluntary work with the local charity Highland Openwater Swim, I'm delighted to have played a small part in helping people to start wild swimming.

Recent converts who hope to keep swimming year-round and ask, "How do I stay warm"?

I usually give a couple of answers; get a good wetsuit that fits tight to the body - Liz and I think the BlueSeventy Thermal Reaction is the warmest we've worn.

Get a good cap too, and again BlueSeventy makes a thermal cap which fits tight to the head.

When it gets particularly chilly - under 10C - I'll add a swimming balaclava.

However, the BlueSeventy thermal socks and gloves are not warm enough for Scottish winter conditions.  The CEO knows - I told him.

We use the Lomo Tri-X gloves and now their new socks.  The only problem with Lomo kit is that it's not always in stock.  Mark and Bruce will bring a container load to Scotland and when they're gone, they're gone.  Until the next container arrives.  

Video, Dunoon Dirt Dash 2019. 2-day Bikepacking Event

The Surly Dunoon Dirt Dash - what a great event!

Huge congratulations to the organisers Markus Stitz and Charlie Hobbs for delivering a weekend with such an amazing atmosphere and top quality bikepacking.

I'm sure both will have learnt loads and the 2020 event will be even better.

But it was an honour to take part in the first.  The video is below.

Video, Great Glen Way & Back. Sort-of.

On my weekly trips to our local town of Fort William, I occasionally meet people about to cycle the Great Glen Way.

As I'm local on a bike, they ask me what it's like.  I had to say, "Dunno", because I'd never ridden it.  A situation I had to rectify.

Turns out I need another dental implant (stay with me) and I wanted a second opinion.  There's a good implantologist in Inverness, so I made an afternoon appointment and planned a ride there to see him.  I'd get first hand experience of Sustrans Route 78 from Fort William, and it's just 65 miles so easy enough.  

Video, Fixing a Swaying Backpacking Seat Pack

I didn't realise I had a problem until I saw the video.

In this story and video was trying to work out where it's best to carry weight in a bikepacking rig, front or back.

The answer is probably 'the middle' but I don't have a frame pack yet.

Anyway, it was watching the video of me riding away from camera that I realised how much the full, long seat pack swayed from side to side.  Indeed, I saw a cyclist recently in Glencoe and his pack was doing the same left-right jiggle.

Video, Magic Muddy Mull

The Sonder Camino Ti gravel bike I bought in May is tempting me to ride new and unusual places.

In particular I've been seeking out routes new to me and possible, anyone.

I found such a route on Mull this weekend.  Here is is on Komoot although read on before you rush off and ride it.  It's a challenge.

The aim was to ride a loop of the lovely Loch Frisa.  If time permitted I'd add a second loop onto of the first, taking in the trails of Glengorm and visiting the excellent cafe at the castle.

So was there a route along the south west side fo Loch Frisa?  The maps did not agree.