View Full Version : Islay's Journeyman - John Muir Award
The guys are now on the ferry and well done to all three. Leon, Gary and Jason. :You_Rock_ Have you dried out yet? It was wet, it was wet and boggy and even more bogs - but it was good.And on day two the sun shone and those who were folicly challenged would have suffered save for sun bloc. Experiencing rare wilderness, sleeping in the cave, moving across moorland, getting really close to wild deer, watching Gannets, Seals and being woken by the 'woo-woo bird', learning about the shoreline/coastal survival and doing it! I open this as a blog for those three to respond and post their feelings. We will be doing it again - in a longer format and more challenges but as a pilot this was successful. :super:
Yes I thought things seemed a little quieter.. :wink:
Sounds like a really enjoyable course. Well done Jeremy :You_Rock_ :biggthump
Can't wait to hear about it..... :wink: :biggthump
And you will - very soon!
Once I dry out!! And find the after sun!
Wondered who Jeremy meant by the 'follically challenged' :wink: :rolmao:
I can't say I'm at all jealous...well, ok, despite the fact you all got wet, I'M GREEN WITH ENVY
Next time I'll pass on the wedding and enjoy myself...
Saying we all got wet is like saying the grass is green - and less is more (that includes hair!)
There is certainly a lot to see, the first morning I saw 2 stoats scampering along a wall not more than 30 meters from where we had camped for the night, we were priviledged to see some very large herds of deer, a large number of communites of Grey Seals and Jeremy pointed out a number of wild birds explaining the calls that they were making.
There was a moderate amount of rain :umbrella: (as long as you class moderate as being in a swimming pool with all your kit on :rolmao: ) on the first day, but none of it detracted from the location. If there was only one thing that you could say about Islay it would be that that it is truly a beautifull island, the rain and stormy seas on the first day just added another aspect to its beauty (you could almost imagine being washed up on a beach which is truly huge and full of white sand). If the weather had been like the second day you could easily have been fooled that some part of the caribean had been teleported here.
The second day had more huge herds of deer at close range, wildlife running wild and views that most travel programs would kill to capture on film :photo:.
Mountains and moorland combined with rivers and waterfalls fed by the water coming off the hills, the general flora/fauna in beautifull sunshine (it was hot), all lend themselves to an area which is a bushcraft paradise :super: .
There is food to forage for (many types of seaweed and shellfish as well as the fish themselves) when on the seashore and Jeremy has got some good places to stay on an overnight stop :o): .
I enjoyed myself and will definitely be returning to Islay, cheers Jeremy for the opportunity, leon-1 :wave:
Leon pretty much summed it all up there. A long journey but well worth it.
That was our home one stormy night - and no the grey green haze isnt Leon its the camp fire inside the cave.
And here we have the happy - dry (for a change) - cave dwellers!!
Finally our home the first night - Falkland Sound? or Islay?
A good weekend of walking, coastal foraging and cave dwelling - but boy was I glad to see trees again when I got home!! :biggthump
Gary you (and I) are now three days 4hours and 47 minutes away from being a caveman :lol:
I had almost forgotten that Islay also has Adders when I came across this http://www.yoxio.com/img/72087.jpg
Not the best picture, but it was the only one we got a chance to get.
At least you got a picture of it - it'd buggered off by the tme my camera came out the several dozen waterproof layers!! :rolmao:
looks like a great weekend guys. Islay is a top spot. i am toally green. Shame it clashed with my course. not so sure i would have been fit or skilled enough though.
What course Wayne?
Fitness is in the mind in many ways - we (the guinea pigs) were hard pushed as the terrian was hard going and in the torrential rain and bogs it was even harder going but for all that hard work the reward in self-confidence was some much more.
It's all well and good going on a bushcraft course where your fed, pampered and watered - where there is a parachute to keep off the rain and a comfy tent to hide in, but do you really learn anything.
THAT WHICH DOESNT KILL US MAKES US STRONGER - Is the old saying not wipe my bum for me cos I'm to soft to try!
Train hard fight easy the army say - well all training has its place but unless you push yourself once in a while how do you know your alive and can do it? How do you know your training has been worth it?
Armchair survival is one thing but it will never be as good as the rough and tumble of the real thing, and make no mistake on that weekend, with the bear minimum of kit, we were in a real situation.
Help was a long way away.
As for experience well in the words of John Wayne, 'come see a one eyed old fat man!' well I have two eyes but hey training is training! :rolmao: :rolmao:
I'm glad that you've managed to get back from Islay in good shape, it truly is a beautiful spot. My in laws from Bowmore are down with me here in West Wales helping out as my other ( more sensible) half has just delivered twin girls!
We're travelling up to Islay for September and I will be spending a couple of days in the area which you guys have just traversed, it's fantastic and the caves at Balsa are just great.
I'm also hoping to get accross to Jura on this visit, which is well worth the trip if you can make it, there are even fewer people there if that's possible.
For my money we have some of the most beautiful and challenging scenery in the world within the British Isles and there's absolutely no need to go too far to find it. ( I know that it seems as if you have to do that to get to Islay sometimes!) But we have some treasures right here in our backyard.
Good on you Jeremy for bringing this awareness to people, it may help raise a much needed profile for an area that badly needs it, and good on you guys for going to the considerable effort of getting up there.
i just spent a great weekend on a woodcraft course. John Ryder and Nick were top notch. i am looking forward to spending a week with them both in September.
However if john smiles and asks for volunteers to build a large group debris shelter run. myself and 2 other sacrifical lambs started building at 2 and after 2 failures finally had the thing thatched at 9pm. 3 cosy one man lean-tos would have been done in half the time. It taught us loads about shelter design and i'm glad i did it.
I have to agree with Gary Its all too easy to take the softer option. I try to train hard and play hard. The introduction to tracking was interesting. Looks like its going to be a steep learning curve.
We had a terrific weekend in a physically challenging, unique and beautiful wilderness environment, Didnt encounter another soul while out in the field though we did come across large herds of wild deer, numerous species of bird, grey seal, wild goat and hare amongst others. Apparently its not at all unusual to see otters, dolphins and even whales in the bay. Jeremy H was always on hand to share his impressive expert local knowledge of any species of flora or fauna that we encountered.
I had the opportunity to try out various types of gear I hadn't come cross before, I borrowed a Go Lite Lair from Jeremy's kit pile for our first night out and I liked it enough to add it to my list of must buys! I also got to try out several types of water purifying kit and thanks to some help from Gary of Bearclaw Bushcraft I ironed out a few problems with my bow drill technique. I ate my first limpet with some periwinkles, we sampled several types of seaweed but unfortunately due to tide times we were unable to gather food from the Oyster/Muscle/Cockle beds. There is clearly a wealth of natural food in this area and I believe Jeremy intends to extend future courses to allow more time to be spent foraging in the beach/estuarine areas.
I also got to carry an army issue Trangia and I'm afraid my opinion of these stoves remains unchanged: slow, smelly, leaky, bulky and heavy...sorry guys just my opinion! The course was perhaps a little light on the pure Bushcraft aspect but this was a tester, the final format of the course has yet to be finalised.
The "Journeyman" part of the course involved a two day trek across beaches and ancient peat bogs, the difficulty of walking any distance across this terrain with a hefty bergen can't be over-emphasised, the bog is dangerous, being full of deep black holes hidden in amongst the tussocks of grass and split with fast flowing burns of dark peat stained water flowing off the hills and ridges above. It's physically challenging, not for the armchair bushcrafter or the faint of heart and you can expect to get very wet at the least. If the going gets too tough there's no Land Rover pick up or easy way out, I enjoy the challenge of this kind of place but its not for everyone. Its not all black holes though, the bog is covered in rare orchids amongst its many plant forms and it was here that I saw my first adder, reacting slowly due to the lack of sun, we had the chance to watch him for a minute of two before he slid away with a bit of a hiss!
The course has a lot of emphasis on ecology, being run in association with the John Muir trust and rightly concentrates on co-existing within this environment without leaving any trace, in fact we left the area in a better state than we found it thanks to our beach clean up on the last day. As more and more of us go out into the few remaining wild places I think its imperative that we all take individual responsibility to reduce the impact of our presence to an absolute minimum.
The second nights accommodation was spent in an old sea cave that showed signs of ancient habitation, we gathered enough drift wood for a fine fire once we had evicted the wild goats we found squatting there. Our third and final night was spent back in a real bed at the local hotel, this accommodation together with a decent meal and breakfast the following morning was included in the course price.
The Hastings greeted us as a family and their warm hospitality was apparent for the duration of our stay on Islay, I came away with a lovely 4 point antler (thanks Dave) which will be going into several knife handles (including a Nessmuk when I get round to forging it). I also came away with some great memories and much knowledge gained. I'm sure this course will be a great success, not least because it is so unique and probably unlike any other bushcraft course you'll find, but be warned, if you never walk further than the car or youre not comfortable in real wilderness, this is not for you!
I cannot agree more with Gary and Jason about this not being an armchair bushcrafters course, you need to go here with a fair amount of knowledge and a good fitness level.
One thing on reflection I regret not having taken with me was binoculars, but they are far from being essential on this course, keeping the kit weight down, but still carrying the correct safety kit on the other hand is an essential. :o):
Well, that scuppers me then. Fit I ain't!
Just out of intrest could you guys post up your kit list for your time on Islay,thats if you mind.I go to Islay about 3 to 4 times a year to work there,also did you stay in the Lochindaal hotel Port Charlotte,thats where i stay when over there.
No worries Stuart F - heres the full kit I carried and wore,
Green Woolly hat
Ice breaker T-shirt
Army issue green socks
Some french make of boot I was testing out - (but they were crap)
Field and trek (big baggy) waterproof thats older than me! - (well nearly)
First Aid kit (small cuts)
whistle + compass. Map
Hat when not on head.
Match safe in trouser pockets as in theory I would loose these last!
Mora knife in home made neck sheath with fireball fire steel
Sabre 45 minus side pockets.
Army bivi bag
1 qrt canteen - Mug and mug stand
Billy with brew kit, green heat fuel and beef jerky enough for the weekend.
Premac pocket filter
Sharpening stone (dc4)
Tikka head torch
Swanni ranger Xtreme
Mosi head net aka gathering bag
Go lite lair (which I thought to buy but as the company dont answer emails I think they can stick their £89 and Ill stick to my hootchie!)
Rations as issued.
Laplander folding saw.
I think that about sums up all the gear I took with me.
Hope that helps.
Cheers gary.I was just wanting to compare what differencies in kit you all had,to see if there was much in it.
Thank you all for positing these comments. We are looking forward to developing this course properly and running it as a five day programme with more bushcraft/foraging - thus giving tidal opportunities but still keeping it as challenging.
We really enjoyed welcoming you to Islay and on behalf of IB, ReIG the JMT and Islay Estate again THANK YOU so much fro taking time to be part of this exciting future. We hope that when this becomes part of Bushcraft mythology Gary, Leon and Jason will say - yep - we know ..we were the story!
All being well we may well run one before the clocks go back...watch this space and the Islay Birding website. :wave:
Cheers gary.I was just wanting to compare what differencies in kit you all had,to see if there was much in it.
There was quite a variation in the kit that we carried,
Ron Hill Coolmax top
Asolo Globetrotter boots
Sabre 45 + one side pouch.
Warm & Dry shirt
Emergency kit (complete set of clothing waterproofed).
Midge head net.
Jungle Lightweight Basha
Sleeping Bag (Blencathra Down Bag)
Led torch on snow cape.
Lucido Lightwave and headband.
Fuel for stove.
2 500ml Nalgene
Comprehensive first aid kit
Inflatable Splint (leg, no foot)
250/1000 grit water stone.
Gene Ingram #30
GB Hunters Axe
Salt, pepper, cajun spice and chilli powder
2 packs Noodles (Won Ton)
4 packs dried fruit
3 packs Beef Jerky
2 packs tuna fish
1 2litre water bag
2 1litre water bags
Small first aid kit
2 Field dressings
Led torch attached to the zip of the jacket.
Camera and Spare Batteries.
Leatherman Wave on belt.
The only place that I could of used the hammock was at the end when we came up through some trees, oh well never mind (hammocks can also be used as an emergency stretcher if need be) it was still worth carrying.
Jeremy that pan set is made by Gelert and they cost £10. :biggthump
Leon now I see why your pack weighed soooooooooo much! :o):
Repeat after me - LESS IS MORE!! :rolmao:
I was carrying:-
Karrimor Condor 60/80
orange bergen liner
3 season HH down bag
Wild Country Scout bivi
foam Karri mat
the clothes I was wearing, crag hopper trousers, Lowe light weight T shirt, canvas gaters, 2 pairs socks, soft brimmed hat, boots, watch (wrist waterproof)
midge head net
Tikka plus headlamp
some wash gear and lightweight towel & midge repellant
small first aid pack
fags and assorted means of lighting them
1lb dried fruit and nuts
2L water in a Sigg
Go Lite Lair, issued
Trangia, bluurrgh, issued to us
24hr ration pack, issued to us
Small water filter/pump, issued
One ski pole, I borrowed this to use as a centre pole for the Lair and to try out while walking, I mostly carried it.
couple metres of cord
bow drill set
I started out with the lightest pack I guess and it does make a difference ;) I still feel it couldve been lighter. And once I'd added deer antlers, bags of rubbish and god knows what else it was plenty heavy enough!
Good point there Jason, and one to be aware of.
The kit we carried in was lighter than what we carried out as we did a beach clean up while there and these bags of rubbish then had to be man packed out adding weight to our packs and also (and probably worse) unbalancing them.
Hopefully future trips will not have so much flotsum and jetsum to haul but you never know what will wash ashore we found the float of a sea plane in the bay before the one we camped in!! :yikes: