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Home Blog Camping Trips There and Back Again, A Coracle Tale

There and Back Again, A Coracle Tale

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Phil with CoracleWritten by Phil Keelan | Photos & Editing by Ashley Cawley.

With a free ish weekend ahead and torrential rain forcasted.... Lets go camping! Once again last minute plans were cobbled together and we settled on heading for a local quiet spot for a night in the woods. We being myself, Ashley, Matt and Martin. The first time we'd all managed to get together since the Cornwall RV in April. Maybe we could discuss plans for this years Challenge trip? Maybe I could finish off my kids camp spoons? Maybe I could get started on the bullroarer MK2? Who knows? These days I live life with no expectations and would be quite happy just to hang out in the woods with the gennelmen three.


 I set myself only two goals. One, to walk there and back with all my kit plus coracle, a 5 mile round trip. Two, as I was trying to go lightweight and a certain someone keeps hiding my chair in the emergent layer of the tree foliage, I decided to take a canvas sack and make my own chair. I've never tried this before so hopefully it'd go well, else I'd be on the soggy floor! Kit wise, I took my normal overnight gear and this time I took a telescopic fishing rod too, armed with a trusty spinner. Maybe have a dangle too if I got the chance.

So after a disappointing wave turnout at dawn meaning no surf and a morning working in the ocean, guiding a coasteer session, I headed home to load my gear on. I've refined the load distribution and also stabilised the coracle by using four lengths of paracord attached to the gunwhale on krabs attached to my rucsack. This was great, it didn't wobble around so much and also pulled it more over my head to shelter from the forcasted rain. Rain? What rain? As it happened the rain swept NE and Cornwall dried itself out. I set off on the 2.5 mile hike to camp. Once again, folks driving by would slow down and stare, bless them :) It didn't take too long and the sun popped out too, meaning the walk proper warmed me up!

bushcraft-chair-smallWhen I arrived, the guys were pretty much settled in and I was keen to get started on my chair. I cut a very small ash down that was surrounded by many other ash trees. I feel bad about just tearing into living trees and plants and try not to take more than is needed. Once I'd got the ash cut into three equal lengths I lashed them together with paracord using a Tripod Lashing which I've recently learned and has proven very useful for cooking tripods. I replaced the drawsting in the sack with paracord and attached to the top of the tripod, then I attached a piece of paracord to the bottom corners of the sack and lashed these to the front two legs. I tentatively tested it out..... Wow!! It was really comfy and I like the way it swung about a bit, like a hammock almost. Then to everyones amusement the left attachment failed and I ended up on the floor!! So I re did the knots on the canvas using a stone to hold them in place and here is the result.


It was also a great place to hang all the gear I'd want to have at hand while round the fire. I got the rest of my stuff sorted, hammock, tarp etc...

While Martin got his stew on.


And Matt whipped up a storm of sausages n pork.


Once all my stuff was set up I decided on having a breather. I was absolutely shattered. I've been training hard over the past few days. With good surf this week meaning extra exercise and the morning spent swimming around the Atlantic, a chillout in my new furniture was welcome. So welcome I ended up having a snooze by the fire:) 'ansum. Upon awakening, Ashley presented me with an awesome gift... A Dave Budd steel flint striker! Amazing! It has a built in bottle opener too. I couldn't wait to give it a go, but the night was ticking on and I wanted to take the coracle for a spin afore dark.


I paddled out onto the lake and took the rod too. Second cast and I hooked into a small perch! Brilliant! Was not expecting that. After many more casts I only got one more perch that got off just as I was getting it into the coracle. Then after many more "last casts" I called it a day and Matt had his first go in the coracle.


As night began to fall we retired fireside where Matt busied himself preparing nettles for cordage, Ash busied himself whipping up a mighty fine bannock and Martin and I busied ourselves with a cup of blackberry wine. A fine evening of banter about our next bushcraft challenge was had until I was falling asleep in my chair as per usual. So I peeled myself out of the throne and hit the hammock.


In the morning, after lazing around in my hammock for an hour and getting breakfast sorted, Matt and Martin headed off, leaving Ash and I trying our luck with the fish again. Having caught nothing we packed up and I was keen to have a go with my new steel. I used charcloth and a piece of quartz, which is found in abundance in Cornwall, whereas flint is not. After a few strikes the charcloth took and I cupped it into the shavings I'd prepared and got a small fire going, enough to get my lunch cooking, that was all I needed.

Once fed and packed I loaded all my gear and headed on home. I arrived at my house with a huge sense of fulfilment. I hadn't got any carving done, but I'd made a chair, I'd fished from the coracle successfully, I'd got a fire going with my new steel and most importantly, I'd walked, there and back again....

Thanks for reading 


Comments (9)
9 Wednesday, 18 July 2012 15:25
Great write up
8 Saturday, 14 July 2012 09:21
Great read Phil, I must have a go at one of them chairs, on my next wander, A lot lighter than my chair and not as damp as the floor. Coracle looks great do you have a photo of it on your back with you new pack set up?
7 Wednesday, 11 July 2012 09:57
Phil Keelan
Thanks for all the comments folks :D
6 Wednesday, 11 July 2012 09:25
Paul Raybould
Nice chair action Phil !
5 Monday, 09 July 2012 22:39
Martin Saint
Of course I do Jan. :)
4 Monday, 09 July 2012 22:14
Does Martin really carry his throne into the middle of Dartmoor?..........

Brilliant account Phil, makes me wish there was a Ladies adventure group too :o)
3 Monday, 09 July 2012 21:56
Justin Young
Beautiful account again Phil, most envious ;)
2 Monday, 09 July 2012 19:36
Bernhard Hofmann
Excellent. It's almost like being there, I can picture you all. What an excellent way to enjoy your free time.
1 Monday, 09 July 2012 17:42
Ross Everitt
Looks like you had a great time. Excellent account too! Nice one Phil. :o)

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