How time flies.

With a recent and rather wonderful canoe camping trip to the west coast of Scotland and various writing deadlines to meet in between, it’s only now I realise that well over a month has swept by since the 2017 Bushcraft Show closed its bustling gates. Looking back it’s all a bit of a whirl. A very good whirl though.

With our tipi pitched once again alongside the Show’s Beehive Farm lake, my Canoe Camping Clinic sign was up from dawn to dusk over the three days. This was just a very good ploy to meet some extremely interesting people, and I had the good fortune to chat about canoes, destinations, tactics and kit with a whole range of showgoers from seasoned paddling campers to those who had never set foot in a canoe before. Thank you to everyone who wandered into our camp to ask questions, or just say hello. And to those who came over to tell me they now owned a canoe and tent because of my articles and book – a very special thank you indeed. I don’t think an author could hope to hear anything more uplifting.

With willow wands gathered from as far afield as the Somerset Levels to the nearest tree, two more coracles were built and launched over the weekend. I can’t claim that everyone who took part in the courses returned dry to the banks this year, but that certainly didn’t seem to dull the fun. Besides, it was pretty warm on the Saturday, so I suspect those capsizes were intentional anyway.

Saturday’s coracle, out on the water.
Sewing on the waterproof cover during the Sunday build. The finished coracle from the first session sits off to the right.

I think it was Rich Harpham, spotting the two new woven craft, resplendent in their pale blue waterproof covers, who suggested a race. In the blink of an eye, two teams had formed for a lake-crossing relay. We stood at the bank, poised for the gun… or at least a healthy shout.

Pre-race refinements. Well, with all that raw power, you don’t need a slippery seat.

Preparing to take on the first leg for team A (I’m fairly certain we were team A), I have to admit I was pretty confident. After all, I was the only person out of the eight (actually make that nine) competitors who had even set foot in a coracle before. That confidence lasted right up until the moment we dipped a paddle.

Henry, from Frontier Bushcraft, taking on the second leg.
Lina and Maya race for the far bank.

Preceded by a simply stupendous bow wave, Jay Goss from Canoe Trail (and team B) was off, arriving at the far bank to swap places for the next leg before I’d even made it halfway across the lake. Try as they might, my fellow teammates never did manage to make up the deficit. Ah well, if only due to the other members, I like to think team A scored pretty favourably for style.

The other team may have finished, but Rich fights on to the end.

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