Trip Report Surely Sorley should go sometime.

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Making memories since '67
“He loves the outdoors. He is always in the woods lighting fires, making dens and using his Kelly Kettle. That’s why we have been badgering John for years to take him on a trip.”

Me, “This is literally the first time you’ve told me this”

Less than 2 weeks later.

Some context. It has been a while since I’ve done a trip report on BCUK but this felt like a bit more of a bushcrafty trip. Anyway the above conversation took place a couple of weeks ago at a barbecue we were having for friends, neighbours and family (some people fitted in more than one category). A neighbour was talking about her son, Sorley, when she made the comment above. As you see from my reply this was entirely news to me. Never one to miss an opportunity and having an overnight trip planned for the Friday just passed I asked if Sorley wanted to join me and the dogs. He did.

The weather forecast for the trip got steadily better as the week progressed. We were leaving on Friday after work / school. By the time it got to Friday it was full sunshine for the whole day then overcast but dry on the Saturday. 5pm found us at my usual launching spot at Balmaha taking the obligatory launching selfie.

It was flat calm in Balmaha bay but out in the more open water there was a decent breeze coming from the south east. Nothing too demanding paddling wise but more than enough to keep midgies away.

It did make it just fantastic to be out on the water. The sunshine and heat with enough wind to keep you pleasantly cool.

Once we got into the shelter of Clairinish the water was calmer and the paddling easier.

Wanting to keep things simple for Sorley’s first trip we were heading for Torrinch. Clairinish would have been perhaps an easier and more open campsite but it is both a less interesting island to explore and also becoming busier. As it turned out as we passed Clairinish it looked empty. This was a surprise as Balmaha had been very busy and there was a lot of boats out on the water. Friday was the start of the school holidays up here. For the next month and a half the islands will be at the peak of busyness.

Just before we landed on Torrinch I filled the Katadyn Be Free 3l water filter I am testing. I also have the 1l version. I’ll be writing up the review of these later in the week. This was partly my excuse for making this trip to get some pictures of these.

As the forecast for the week had improved so my plans for our camping spot had changed. I had originally thought we would use the same spot I used on my last solo trip, (, but since it was going to be so nice I was thinking the gravel beach at the end of the island would be better to get the sunlight. As it turned out this spot was just a little too exposed to the wind. I reverted back to the original plan. This location was slightly less sunny but had enough wind to keep the midgies away without being too windy. It also feels a bit more secluded which would help make this feel more wild for Sorley.

Sorley had opted to try a hammock. We set that up first with no tarp. I was certain it was not going to rain and hoped this would let him see the stars through the trees at night.

Like the last trip here there was loads of firewood. Nearly enough within arms reach of where we set up the firebox to do us for the trip. It’s a bit smokier at first than the weathered oak I tend to favour but so much easier to gather and cut.

Once it gets going the smoke gets less and once it is fully going it goes completely.

I got my Swag set up ( while Sorley got on with the important task of cooking dinner on the firebox.

There was some concern the burgers may be poisonous as they were still a bit frozen when we started cooking them. I bravely let Sorley eat the first one ;)

Dinner over it was time to suit up again to paddle out on a mission. We let the fire burn down and checked camp was organised first.

The wind had dropped a bit. We were in the wind shadow of the island anyway which made the paddling easy going.

Still good and sunny though.

We were heading to my secret spot to seek out dragons!!!!! Okay giant lizards!!!!! Lizards?? Okay, okay, newts.

I still maintain when you are 11 it is almost as good as a dragon :)

Wildlife safari over we headed back to camp.

Back at camp there was just enough embers left in the fire to get it going again without a match or lighter. Just some kindling and the blow poker soon had a roaring fire going. On the safari we had cut a section of birch to carve a couple of spoons. Sorley was soon engrossed in front of the fire working on his.

When the light started to fade I ruled that carving had to stop just for safety reasons. We could continue in the morning. Before the sun fully set we did a half lap of the island to stretch our legs, let the dogs stretch theirs and to just enjoy the views and sunset.

It’s not a real outdoor trip without a decent supper of hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows. Here we had a difference of opinion. I like my marshmallows hot through and softened but not burnt on the outside. Sorley favoured the crunchy burnt outside with raw innards. I hold hope that he will grow out of this madness.

Bedtime was about 11.30pm. My plans for Sorley to see the stars were thwarted by him immediately falling asleep and only opening his eyes at getting up time.


Making memories since '67
Teenagers are notoriously late risers. Not so 11 year olds. Turns out they get up just past 6am. Below is a picture of Sorley getting water while Sam and Marlowe look at me with their, “*** are we doing up at this time”, looks.

When you are up, you’re up. May as well make the most of the day. We had only explored the edges of the island so far. Now we headed inland to have more of a look about.

I refer to them as Blaeberries and my wife calls them Wimberries or you can just call them European Blueberries. Whatever you call them, they are out and we ate them as we zig zagged over the island.

We also found a duck nest but didn’t eat any of that ;)

Back at camp it was time for a quick breakfast.

The dogs sensed weakness in Sorley. Either that or clumsiness that could mean dropped food.

Then back to spoon carving.

I finished mine and got a picture but Sorley had packed his away by then. I was very impressed with his. He had trimmed a bit much off the sides of the spoon bowl and incorporated that into the design which gave a very modern looking result.

It is entirely possible Sorley’s wish to go wild camping may have actually been more of a desire to spend more time with my dogs. Marlowe spent quite a bit of time getting cuddled.

Sam tried not to look jealous.

But when an opportunity appeared she took it.

As we started to pack stuff away I got a text from Chainsaw asking if I was still on the loch. I confirmed I was and he said to get the kettle on. Mere moments later there he was.

You don’t often see Chainsaw out of his natural Loch Ard habitat but everyone needs a change now and again. Coffee was had with caramel logs, after which we were joined by Barelyafloat. He was trying out a canoe he had just bought. Sadly I forgot to get a picture of his arrival.

This of course led to an hour or more of chat while Sorley entertained himself getting the dogs to retrieve a stick with a GoPro tied to it. I’ve still to see those pictures. They should be interesting. Eventually I had to finish packing as I was due to return Sorley early afternoon.

We launched just as the clouds were beginning to darken. Looked like the rain was not far off.

Although the sun was away the wind was also much less too. Not quite flat calm but really easy paddling conditions.

It was a bit of a shame we couldn’t take more time to explore some of the other islands as it really was great paddling conditions. We could have visited a lot of islands when you don’t have to worry about paddling back into a strong wind.

But we had a schedule and needed to get back to Balmaha. As it turned out once we did land the rain started as soon as we got the canoe on the roof of the car. Ideal timing after all.

Sorting through the pictures for this blogg the one below makes me think Sorley may just want to come on another trip. It is just a hunch.


Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
Born for it that lad. Nice story and pics, cheers for taking the time to get us “in the zone”.


Full Member
Jan 21, 2013
Sorley up and about in the middle of the night? 6 am? I'd have drowned that little bugger unless he makes decent coffee and bacon sarnies!!!

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