Away from it all

winter paddleFinally having encountered a break in the rain/wind that actually coincided with a weekend, we headed out for a paddle up Loch Striven again. We set out at the entrance to Glen Striven Estate and headed up towards the top of the loch. I confess to having lost a little conditioning, as attested by my sore bits today. The good thing is, however, that it’s not my arms that are aching, but my torso/side muscles. Hopefully, this means that I was managing a bit of rotation in the old forward paddle stroke. I did try.

I do like Loch Striven. No-one goes there. It was just us, some sea birds, one fishing boat and one seal. Oh, and a dirty great warship with the unassuming name of HMS Wave Ruler parked at the NATO fuel depot. I’ve heard locals describe the loch as an “eerie” place, but I disagree. It’s incredibly peaceful, especially as there are no roads nearby. Not that we exactly live in a seething metropolis in nearby Innellan, but still – it’s nice to not hear or see a single car for a few hours.

Chota mukluks = toastie (and dry) toes!

Chota mukluks = toastie (and dry) toes!

I am pleased to report that our new Chota mukluks do exactly what it says on the box and it’s toastie toes all round. This is a fairly big deal for me as I suffer from chronic idiopathic urticaria, which is a fancy way of saying itchy hives. I am allergic to something, I know not what, and cold (or rather core versus skin temperature differential) triggers an itchy outbreak. This has been going on for 6 years now. A bad situation for me is when such an outbreak is concentrated on my feet as it’s usually not convenient to rip off one’s shoes to engage in a much desired desperate scratching frenzy. This is especially so when entombed in a kayak. So, after a bit of research with the helpful folks at the UK Rivers Guidebook sea kayaking forum, I honed in on the dog’s biscuits of winter paddling footwear, the mukluks. They are awesome.

Sometimes when you’re falling asleep at night, the sounds and sensations of the day seep through your semi-conscious state. I recall it was a phone ringing when I first worked in an office. Last night, as I was about to drop off, I could hear seagulls. A sure sign of a winter’s day well spent.

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