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Inspiration on Salt Island

Posted on October 13, 2011 @ 3:08 PM in Canoeing

The paddling community in Northern Ireland has been a great support to in the development, maintenance and promotion of Northern Ireland’s canoe trails. However, every once in a while we hear a story of an inspirational individual who has went that extra mile to help maintain the high standard of these unique trails.

A fan, Andy recently sent us his blog on the few days he spent ‘tidying up’ Salt Island on the Strangford Lough Canoe Trail.

Andy has kindly allowed us the reproduce his blog originally posted on theNI Wild Forum

Salt Island is an excellent resource for the paddling community and it is really important that paddlers like Andy help maintain it.  If you would like to help out, why not sign up for the next Salt Island Clean Up Day! If you cant make this one, be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter or ‘like’ on Facebook to keep up to date.

Thanks again Andy – I hope the rest of you enjoy the blog.




I was going stir crazy  stuck in the house . The bloody wind just didn't seem to be letting up - XC  Weather was forecasting a lull on Wednesday . Packed my kit into the landrover and threw the yak onto the roof on Tuesday night , sacrificed two small children to appease Poseidon and prayed XC had got it right


My weather station (tree outside my window) indicated that indeed they had got it right. ate a quick breakfast and drove to Killyleagh . loaded the yak and set off on the short crossing to Salt Island

Carried my kit up into the forest behind the bothy and set up camp

Since my last trip to the island . I had a few new purchases that I wanted to test , but my main reason for the trip was to do a bit of tidying up.

I camped on the island a few weeks ago for the first time in a year , a serious illness had put me out of action for ten months and I was quite shocked/annoyed at the state of the place . the island is a fantastic resource, one of the few islands on the Lough that kayakers can legitimately camp . Why people litter the place , take stones out of the perimeter walls to build fire rings, strip the bark from trees etc I have no idea really really annoys me.

I had brought some bin liners, a pair of leather work gloves and a few other bits and pieces with me. I started off by  collecting most of the rubbish, beer tins/ bottles, discarded kettles, foil and the mesh from disposable BBQ's, tin foil, crisp packets etc etc .  I managed to fill two bin bags from the bothy grounds and the forest.

My kayak was fully loaded, perhaps even overloaded so I couldn't carry this rubbish back with me. So I dug a hole  and buried the rubbish. I will retrieve it the next time I'm out for a day paddle.

In the evening after my meal and a pot of coffee, I lay in the hammock read a book and caught up with the shipping forecast for the next day, by the sounds of it I wasn't going anywhere for a while

Moon rise

Thursday morning and I awoke to a fantastic sunrise

I got the stove lit and the coffee on . I cant function until at least one double espresso

The wind had swung round from the west to a southerly and the forecast had indicated it would stay that way for the next few days so I had to move my camp 90 deg to keep the wind off me

After breakfast I resumed the cleanup

There was a dead sheep at the gate of the bothy and it was rank. so i decided to leave it until my breakfast had settled a bit

First job was to repair the wall at the BBQ area , the strones from which had been used to build a fire ring



Next up was the wall at the other side of the bothy across from the water butt, again the stones had been used to build a fire ring



That done I removed another fire ring at the rear of the bothy and  repaired the wall at the side gate



I was getting hungry at this stage so went back to my camp baked a fruit soda type thingy , made more coffee and mulled over the problem of the leaking waterbutt

On the previous days litter gathering exercise I noticed quite a few of the pine tress had been producing resin to cover the wounds inflicted by  the people who don't know the difference between dead wood and living wood

So I gathered some of this resin and melted it down in a Lidl's finest spam can

Removing the valve assembly from the barrel was easy enough , I cleaned the valve seating area inside and out . replaced the valve and then used the resin to seal it

I took the barrel down to the shore and filled it to check the repair was water tight  and cleaned the barrel inside and out

The resin worked a treat :D

Next up was the thistles ..  An improvised sickle made short work of them

The final job was the dead sheep...  not a particularly pleasant job although I did manage  to keep my lunch down , It now resides in a bed of thistles a hundred yards from the bothy

Happy with the days work I retired to camp, read a bit and carved another spoon

Packed up on Friday and paddled back to the launch spot

Good to get away for a while



Chris Scott
Chris Scott

When not boring everyone about his little kids’ latest antics, Chris enjoys sailing and cycling, if only to offset his love of eating out and Marlborough Cabernet Sauvignon..

2 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Francis on November 13, 2011 @ 9:08 AM

Dear Sir,

have read yr trip description and firstly I must say how much I enjoyed the experience. Having, in the past, been a member of CANI and enjoyed manys a great trip from the N.I.Mountain Centre in Newcastle with Kevin Quinn (Owenkillue(sic.)/Lahinch surf), I got to go back out this summer near Belcoo at the Corralea centre under the eagis, not of Posidon, but a mere mortal, avery helpful and easy going Marius Lenoard. It was great, because I have been trying to do this sort of thing again for years ans this am. thankfully it worked. I can particularly understand your description of the disembarkment on the island as I did the same on a titchy little one pretty much opposite the shore at Corralea. I stayed for perhaps an hour as I walked around as best one can due to brush but again the sillies had left a lot of their plastic behind them.

Still the day was great and to be repeated when I next get home, as I live abroad at present.

Your style is clear and concise and very easy to read and with the pix following each time sets a nice, gentle, folksie pace.

Was that a dog?

Thanks a nd best wishes,



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