New Podcast

OK, so I'm a little early with the first of the two podcasts for December. As promised it's Dr Douglas on how to take sea kayaking photos like the one below.

Listen and see the photos he talks about here. Subscribe free here so new podcasts drop automatically into your player. Or download manually from here. There'll be a major overhaul of the website in mid-December with the second podcast of the month being about the best routes in North Wales.


I've been contacted by Noel Webb who is planning to paddle around the entire UK mainland in 2007, wondering if I could write about him for TGO magazine and general seeking some publcity advice.

In bashing out the reply I sounded terse and grumpy (Noel later compared me to Gordon Ramsey!) which I now regret because Noel is undertaking a hell of a trip, well beyond my ability, and raising money for a charity I know well the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

I gave him contact names and numbers, but in my estimation, TGO Magazine won't be interested. They're a hiking mag, have only run two kayak articles in my memory, and hear about charity walks and events all the time. But there are many other things, most of which Noel had clearly already considered. I've taken out some of the sepcific points I made about his trip, but here are my thoughts on publicising an expedition.

I stress - this is from the point of view of someone who works in the media and paddles, not someone who is experienced at getting publicity for exepdtions!

Think narrow-casting, not broad. Your two likely areas of interest are kayakers and local people who think you're passing through their area. Target the places in which they consume their media.

Approach Canoeist, Paddles, Canoe & Kayak UK, Scottish Paddler, Canoe Focus etc. They're more likely to run something. Remember, even a short piece is worth it if it mentions your website. I'll come back to the importance of your website.

Local radio stations are voracious beasts to feed. If you pass through their areas, get the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the mid-morning or mid-afternoon shows and ring them up before you go, then again while you're in their area. Offer them a phone call "live" with someone paddling past their coastline. Some will bite. Have a mental "script" for each which always includes an on air mention of your website.

Consider approaching weekly newspapers along your route. Send them a good dramatic photo in advance, so they can run something along the lines of "look out for the paddler passing through next Tuesday". Make sure your website is written BIG down the side of your boat so the photo is an advert for the site. Ring them to find their print day, then make sure your photo and press release arrive well in advance. Check if it can be done by e-mail and the correct address, as some "generic" e-mail addresses can go unchecked for weeks!

Your website is the place people who are interested in you (and your sponsors) will find you and your sponsors. Make sure the sponsors are happy with their placing on your website and that links work. Once your trip is announcesd, consider blogging get people interested in what you'll be doing, how you're raising your profile, getting organised. If raising cash for charity, you might ask regular readers to donate in return for a good read. There should be an RSS feed on the site (definitely on the blog) so a reader like Bloglines will automatically catch updates. Some blog systems allow you to e-mail in your blogs or even telephone in a Podcast which automatically goes live onto your site.

If you have more or better tips for getting publicity for your expedition I'd love to know. Please add to the comments below.

December Podcast

The secrets of taking better sea kayaking photos will be revealed in the next podcast on

Douglas Wilcox of kindly agreed to share some of his techniques which produce stunning images like this one. It is actually a composite photograph, with the foreground and sunset taken at different exposures and joined together in photoshop.

Is that cheating? Douglas argues it's just a way of making a camera "see" what your eye can see. He has allowed me to illustrate the podcast with several images relevant to our chat, all of which I'll post on the website on 1st December or shortly after.

Make sure you don't miss it by subscribing free with iTunes on this page and it'll automatically drop into your iTunes Podcast box. All this presumes I can get my Mac working again!

The small power adapter has broken and the Apple store currently has it on 3-4 week delivery.

My local Apple re-seller told me 5 people were in the store this morning wanting exactly the same product. Apple forums indicate many people are equally frustrated.

I like the Apple but this has to be sorted out.

Boot on other foot?

For twenty three years I've been earning a crust by poking my microphone under people's noses and asking them questions. Today Cameron McNeish did it to me.

He recorded a podcast for the next TGO Show which will be appearing in the near future on The Outdoors Channel. It felt rather odd to be answering rather than asking the questions, and I have no idea whether I made sense or not.

Rob McIntyre of Sea Kayaking South West certainly made sense when he spoke to me about North Devon, that's the second of this months Podcasts on

Waterproof Bags

I came across these new waterproof bags which look useful for sea kayakers and hill walkers. Consequently, I'm very excited. Yes, excited about plastic bags. Sad, eh....?

Although the plastic bags aren't as thick as an Aquapack, they're much stronger than regular poly bags. The closure system is very simple so seems less likely to break. You fold the bag, then push the "rod" across the top to seal it.

This product and others are specifically designed as waterproof gear cases but there are others in the range. These seem just as strong but are meant to be used to keep food fresh. Check out The small size is ideal as a phone/GPS bag, while the medium makes a good map case or water carrier in camp.

That said, they also make one designed as a water carrier with its own spout. The CarryLock is a little heavier but is a very useful bit of kit.

They also do something called the Outdoor Roll bag. It could be used for storing your filled rolls, but as it is reinforced with a nylon mesh to make it much stronger, it could be put to better use.

It's meant to be for air-tight storage clothes (stuff 'em in the loft) but I reckon these strong, pliable bags would have other uses for sea kayakers, not least for storing flares. I'm looking forward to trying them on the water. Kayakers and hill walkers might use them for keeping sleeping bags dry.

Most of these things cost about £5 and if you call Scott Brothers on 01606 837787 they'll tell you your nearest stockist.

Recording Podcast

I spent an enjoyable couple of hours in the company of Dr Douglas Wilcox, not actually kayaking but at least talking about it.

Douglas agreed to record a podcast about the Solway and had clearly prepared well because he spoke with great passion and detailed knowledge about an area often overlooked by many people, myself included. However, I might not publish it for a couple of months because he also recorded a second podcast which I want to use first. It is all about taking better photos when sea kayaking, and as his website demonstrates, it's a subject Douglas knows a thing or two about! Expect that podcast in mid-December.

On the 15th Nov I'll publish the second November podcast.

In this one, Rob McIntyre of Sea Kayaking South West describes the best routes in Devon, including two routes to get to Lundy island. If you want to hear it first, go to the Podcast page of and subscribe free for the podcasts and it'll download onto your iTunes player as soon as it's published.


Liz had a little bit of an epic in Loch Sunart on Saturday. Went out in the sea kayaks with her 21 yr old nephew, a beginner, misjudged the wind and both capsized. While swimming to shore she realised she'd left her dry-suit zip open and it was filling.

The wind was blowing onto the shore, so they were unlikely to be swept away, but she was a little shaken when I arrived eventually. A good example of the mistake happening long before going on the water; she misjudged the seriousness of the undertaking, and consequently didn't prepare herself or her nephew for what might happen. Not zipping up the dry suit and other errors came from that.

However, the best thing to come of the whole episode was finally discovering the whereabouts of my Hilleberg Nallo2 tent. It has been missing ever since the Storm Gathering on Mull. You'd have thought a tent wasn't the easiest thing to loose, yet I somehow managed it. Opening the front hatch of my boat, guess what was peering out of it? Yep.

Winter work

I've been asked by TGO magazine to write another piece about light hiking, this time seeing how light we can go in winter. We did something similar between Christmas and Hogmanay 2001 which is on my website. Now I'd like to go even lighter without comprimising safety. That's tricky to do because you only find your limits by pushing them; push too far in winter and an epic isn't far away.

I'm thinking of using Inov-8 shoes with SealSkinz waterproof socks, my prefered combination for Autumn backpacking. But with snow on the ground I'll need some grip, so I'm going to try Yaktrax.Will they work in Scottish winter conditions on the hill? We'll see.

This is what they look like on their website. A knowledgeable friend remarked they "looked like Mallory Crampons" and would need good judgement of snow conditions. I'll report back.

I'm now working my way through catalogues trying to establish what's the lightest, warmest gear around. Any suggestions, please e-mail me or comment.

Oh, if you know when it's going to snow, I'd be delighted to get a tip-off!

First post

At home for two days, feeling grotty with a head-cold, bored out of my mind I decided to start this blog. Since all I have to write about today is echinacea, vitamin c and tissues, anything which comes afte this has to be more interesting. Doesn't it?