A Scottish wilderness canoe adventure, Loch Awe 2019

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure

A Scottish wilderness canoe adventure, Loch Awe 2019

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
Jason getting his pose on in the princess seat.

At the end of September, we took our first group on The Whisky Explorer trip to Oban for a four-day Scottish wilderness canoe adventure exploring the beautiful shores of Loch Awe. Altogether there were 4 clients, 1 photographer and 2 fuzzy faced canoe guides leading the way. Here is the story of how it all went.

Day 1 

Glasgow to Oban

We started the trip in Glasgow picking the lads up at their accommodation in the city centre. They had all travelled up the day before and stayed overnight ready for an early pickup. Once picked up we head out of the city north-west towards the coastal town of Oban. This took us about 2 hours driving through the scenic highlands giving us a taste of the adventure to come.

We arrived at the busy coastal town of Oban at 11 am and picked up some lunch before going to the Oban distillery ready for our tour at 12pm. The tour was expertly lead by our guide, who educated us on all aspects of making their famous whiskey. It really was an interesting tour, ending in the tasting room. Here we sampled three different bottles, with the Oban 14-year-old being my favourite. They even gave the drivers a tasting travel drams for later in the evening. After the tour, we passed through the shop buying a couple of bottles for the trip. It was then time to get back on the road. Our Scottish wilderness, canoe adventure was about to begin.

Starting our Scottish wilderness canoe adventure

We start at the north-west corner of Loch Awe and park at a road lay-by. Here we make our final preparations before loading and launching the canoes to start our expedition. To start with we go over canoe tandem essentials to get everyone paddling in the same direction. Then with the light winds blowing in the direction of our journey, we paddle off into the expansive waters of Loch Awe. It is only a short paddle to our first nights’ wild camp on one of the beautiful black Island’s in the middle of the loch.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
First nights campsite on one of the northern black islands of Loch Awe

We circle to look for the best camp spot. Once happy we land the canoes and start the evening routine of setting up camp. There are a few things to do before everyone can settle around the fire. The camp set-up involves: collecting wood; setting up your bivy; identifying a toilet location; starting a fire and setting up the group shelter.

These are all simple tasks once you know what to do, which we guide guests through every step of the way. Once camp is set up we got stuck into making dinner, on this trip it was chicken & sweet potato curry.

It’s always a nice group activity to help relax around the fire. Once dinner is cooking, we have some time to explore the small island and have a play in the canoes. The rest of the evening is spent around the fire getting to know each other and discussing tomorrows route, whilst enjoying the stars on a wonderfully clear night.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
The evening view from camp one on Loch Awe.

Day 2

Morning routine on the Loch

We wake to birds singing and a crisp still lake.

I always start my day with a little walk to wake up before uncovering the embers from the night before to get the fire going again. Food and drink are such an important aspect to any expedition, breakfast being the most important meal of the day! I get the water boiling and find my wooden spoon to get stirring the porridge. Soon everyone is up filling their cup and tucking into the delicious banana and honey porridge.

We then go about packing up camp which involves; packing up our bivvy; cleaning and packing the food equipment away; loading the canoes; doing a litter sweep; and finally making sure the fire is properly put out.

It was time then to launch the boats for our first full day on the water.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure

A Long days paddle on Loch Awe

It was a still day again with light winds which makes for a very glassy lake. The weather always the aspect that dictates how the day’s paddle will go.

This day was very much about perfecting our tandem forward paddle technique and our J- stroke. We spent the day exploring the lakes and bays of Loch awe.

It was a peaceful day chatting away to our canoe partner, spotting interesting things on the horizon; washing our socks and underwear and generally taking in this spectacular environment. Every now and then stopping to explore or having some lunch.

Just after lunch we felt a breeze and thought we would give sailing a go. Unfortunately, once we had put up the sail it wasn’t to be, the wind had completely dropped. So we derigged and carried on paddling south towards our second nights camp.

Anthills on second nights wild camp.

True wilderness

We arrived late afternoon at our second nights camp, on the west shore close to the little island of Innis Errich, we found an absolute beauty.

Everyone got straight into the launching routine, and soon enough camp was set up. Whilst looking for a suitable bivvy camp, we came across an impressively big ant colony. With further inspection, we discovered interconnecting ant tracks throughout the forest. 

As it was such a long day paddling, some of the group wanted a wash so went for a quick swim, followed by drying off by the fire.

Dinner time soon arrived and as normal, the group got stuck in to helping out, soon enough we had the beef stew bubbling away over the fire. 

One of the lads going for a swim.

Whilst we waited for the stew to thicken it was time for the famous Mike Robbinson whiskey tasting quiz. This involved us getting into pairs, we had a selection of 5 different whiskeys to sample.

Mike would read a tasting description note and we would have to match our whiskey too. It went down a storm with lots of wrong answers but plenty of laughs. Soon enough the Stew was ready to chow down on and we continued sipping whiskey into the night.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
Sipping whiskey by the fire.

Day 3

It was a still and cloudy start to the day with a light breeze. I always love waking up in my hammock and peaking out to predict what the day will hold. On this morning I sensed a bit of wind in the air, which always gets me looking forward to the day.

This camp spot felt nice and wild, no noise pollution just the sounds of the forest and birds singing with the trees swaying in the wind, definately worth the journey.

A glassy Loch Awe, with the porridge cooking away.

It was a slow morning as we didn’t have a huge distance to paddle. Along with the possibility of some wind, we decided to have a relaxed morning. So after breakfast, we spent a couple of hours coaching the group on their canoe paddle skills which went down a treat.

Let’s go sailing

The wind picked up and we got on our way heading south again to our final camp. It was nice few hours spent paddling, sailing, navigating and exploring a few more tiny islands before arriving at the final camp. Once we launch the group jumped right to the normal routine to get the group camp ready for the evening. It is great to become part of a team whilst out on an expedition. It happens so naturally everybody getting stuck into the various task with smiles and a look of content.

The final evening was spent eating sausages, sipping whiskey and laughing into the night. We reminisced on the past few days, a great end to another wonderful Scottish canoe trip.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
Mike looking very content next to the fire.

Day 4

The final day of this Scottish wilderness canoe adventure is always a bittersweet affair, but there is always another trip on the horizon to look forward too.

On the last day, we start early to have time for breakfast, break camp and get the vehicles packed ready to depart for Glasgow. This leaves time to get everyone back to Glasgow for 1 pm, so they can carry on with the journeys. We say our goodbyes leaving with great memories. 

Reflections

Another great trip with a really top bunch of lads. It was a pleasure spending 4 days in the highlands. The weather was very calm for us which made for a relaxed and comfortable trip, with my personal highlights being;

  • The discovery of a new wild camp on the second night, and exploring the ant Colony – definitely a first.
  • The amazing whiskey tasting quiz that Mike put together for us and the many laughs we had.

If you have liked this blog please share and tag us when you do.

If you would like to find out more about our Scottish wilderness canoe Adventures or the Whiskey Explorer click on the links.

Finally here’s a short video of from the trip The Whiskey Explorer video

Top 5 stag dos: Bearded Men Adventures In North Wales

Woodland bushcraft stag weekend

Amazing North wales stags: Five things that make Bearded Men Adventures stag dos great

Here at Bearded Men Adventures, it is our passion to make Amazing North wales stags. We want you leaving with memories and stories that you will share for a long time. Below I have put together five things that make us really stand out from the crowd.

Our welcome and hospitality

Amazing North Wales stags
The first night of the stag, with the group settling in with our own BMA quiz…good times had by all.

We can’t wait for you to arrive and really look forward to welcoming you with a drink and a smile. When you arrive we always have cold beers on hand. Jason or I will be there to greet you in person.  The BBQ will be on and prepared so the food is ready for when you want to eat. For the evenings we make sure there is a great selection of games to help kick start your weekend. From the famous Austrian nail game or beer pong – we have got you covered.

Check out our Tripadvisor reviews if you need any more convincing.

It’s all about the planning and we do it all for you

Throughout your amazing North wales stags weekend, our aim is for you to have the best time. We plan the weekend out so that you can relax and party hard. Allowing you to enjoy all the activities and have time to relax and recuperate so you can last the whole weekend.

We pride ourselves on thinking of everything so you don’t have to.

We plan out each weekend focusing on the specific needs for your group. knowing the best places to eat and drink really helps so we will guide you where to go. A taxi will be booked to take you in and pick you up when you are ready. Then in the morning, we will have breakfast ready to get you going for the day. Allowing you to fully relax and enjoy your whole weekend.

Our incredible activities

  • River tubing Bearded men adventures
  • 20190712_210802
  • Archery & Axe throwing pic 2
  • Archery and axe throwing pic 1
  • Coasteering with bearded men adventures.jpg
  • Bearded men adventures coasteering group. JPG
  • Canyoning with Bearded Men Adventures 2 (1)
  • The Welsh 3000’s challenge pic 4
  • The Whiskey Explorer 1

Our activities are second to none in North Wales, led by some of the best and experienced instructors you could wish for. What sets us apart is continuity you will have the same instructor leading you through all activities. We are all enthusiastic instructor always looking to give you the best possible time. All you need to do is choose which activity you want from our great selection.

Check out all our Bearded Men Adventures Activities here.

Our Locations and accommodation partners

Accommodation is important and we have a great variety to choose from.

What are the options:

– Wild camping – in the woods; next to lakes and rivers; in the mountains or on the beach watching the sunset. All giving you and your friends time to get back to nature and reconnecting in a truly unique way.

– Boutique camping option – For those who like camping but don’t want to rough it. We have three great private locations in Wales: one by the river; one in the mountains; and one on the coast. We provide bell tents, fire pits, fully catered, with space for you to make as much noise as you please.

– Lodges and holiday cottages – If you want a roof over your head we understand and have great relationships with bunkhouses, hostels, hotels and self-contained holiday lets for all types of budget. These links give you a good example of a few we work with; Horseshoe Pass Holiday LetsCoed-y-Glyn log cabinsLlangollen hostel, and The Wild Pheasant hotel.

Our unique twists on the weekend

Amazing North Wales Stags
A great start to the weekend, just been white water rafting.

We like to make it interesting, we always try and come up with new ideas to make each stag and hen weekend unique and adventurous. All you need to do is choose how you want your weekend to go to.

Our Zero to Hero Stag, a very different weekend where everyone is in it together through the trials and tribulations of wild camping in an unknown location at the beginning ending up in luxury.

Our The High Roller or The Happy Camper which is the most popular of all our Stag weekends. We look after you throughout this action-packed few days fitting in great activities to staying in great accommodation. All ending in a local night out with the famous BMA scavenger Hunt helping to make it an unforgettable night.

Our Scottish The Whisky Explorer, Where we take you on an unforgettable adventure on Scotland’s impressive Loch Awe. You will enjoy a tour of Oban distillery, learn how to canoe and camp under the stars for three nights on this epic adventure.

Or let us design you an amazing North Wales stag adventure weekend unique to you and your group. Jason and I love to turn a crazy idea into an unforgettable experience. Get in touch and help guide it into reality.

Working with Essential adventures…

Coasteering with bearded men adventures

Working with Essential adventure

Stag do packages North Wales
Posing before running into the sea

Being a small company we find it useful to work alongside other companies that we can work with to help improve our Stag do packages North Wales and visibility. One of those companies is Essential Adventure who we have been selling our packages over this past year. They have written a nice little blog post for us to share, check it out:

Essential Adventures: Stag do packages North Wales

“When looking for an adventure, we mean a REAL adventure, it’s useful to have expertise in the best places to go and have a plan for the whole trip. The (child-friendly version of the) saying goes that ‘Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance’ and with so many things to organize for an amazing adventure. It’s best to get help from people who know their onions.

Hugh and Jason at Bearded Men Adventures are two such chaps. With a vast knowledge and experience of the great outdoors. They know exactly the best places to go and activities to do, to best suit your group. From Bushcraft to Coasteering, Canoeing to Mountaineering and everything in between. Bearded Men Adventures can sort you out with the perfect activities for your event. Whether a stag do, hen party or just a group of like-minded people looking for some fun, it can be done.

Stag do packages North Wales
One of our stags enjoying an archery and axe throwing session

What else we do

Bearded Men Adventures don’t stop at just activities though, oh no! Hugh and Jason can build custom packages. This will include accommodation, food, and activities all rolled into one awesome price. If it’s easiness of organization that you’re after, then that’s exactly what Bearded Men Adventures offer.

Their set packages offer a ‘ready-made’ option, meaning even less to think about.  However, if you’d like something slightly different then all there is to do is ask and they will discuss the possibilities with you.

What they offer ranges from individual activities through to 3-4 day events, ll run by Hugh and Jason. With their experience and enthusiasm, they ensure that any activity or break is made to be as much fun as you can handle. While being carried out with ultimate professionalism. Your group’s safety is always put first and so you can sit back and relax by booking with BeardedMenAdventures.

If you’re not 100% set on a Welsh adventure, then get in touch with Essential Adventure. Who can discuss alternative locations throughout the UK. Essential Adventure can also offer tailor-made packages to suit your group’s needs. We have loads of experience of what’s available and what the best options will be for your group.”

If you are looking for something a little bit different from what we offer, go check them out at Essential adventure. They will help you organize a great weekend for your group.

Stag do packages North Wales
Hugh cooking the stew on the Whisky Explorer

Bearded Men adventures stag do packages

Check out our stag & hen packages on bearded men adventures site or get an insight into our amazing weekends from a youtube channel.

Starting out with a Blob…

Unique activity in North Wales

Starting out with a Blob…

Unique activity in North Wales

It all started in spring 2018, with a Unique activity in North Wales. A friend asked if I could do anything with a large inflatable called the blob. After being shown some footage of what this thing could do. I decided to take it off his hands and see if I could make an activity out of it.

The first thing was to make a list of what to do

– Get the blob insured.

– Write a risk assessment and method of operating the blob.

– Speak to insurers again.

– Find a location to run the blob.

– Get equipment to run the blob.

– Practice running the blob.

– Marketing????

This is literally how Bearded Men Adventures started, with an idea and list of things to do. Once I made a list, I kept ticking off jobs I’d completed and added new jobs to the list until it was the first big blob day!

Day 1 – A Unique activity in North Wales

The first day was a whirlwind! Starting at 5 am and getting off the water at 8:30 pm. A long and tiring day but it was a SUCCESS!! Not so much financially, as we may have outpriced our selves. Unfortunately, we only managed two paying customers, this did not deter us. In the afternoon, we got our salesman Fletcher to work and put the word out that the Blob was free that afternoon. Sure enough, we had three groups signed up. This was a win just because we caused interest and excitement which brought the crowds. Sure enough the next day we had customers paying including a few return blobbers from the Saturday.

Over the next four weekends, we preserved. Through low numbers, high winds and stormy weather we had the blob operating every Saturday and Sunday. After four weekends of small amounts of paying participants. We decided to stop running it as an open event as financially we couldn’t work it the way we hoped. Even though we were disappointed that it didn’t succeed. There where so many positives to take from what we had made so far.

What we realised;

– Our first activity was insured and safe to run.

– The name Bearded men adventure had become somewhat popular on Facebook and Instagram.

– From the publicity, we had inquiring for stag weekends.

– We had the start of business with identity, a brand and the knowledge we could run a great activity in North Wales.

So starting out with a blob ended up giving us the confidence and all we needed to start our adventurous stag and hen do business. Lesson learnt to go for it what’s the worse that can happen.

Unique activity in North Wales
Our leaflet for the 2018 summer.

What we do now

Since our first summer in 2018, we have grown a little providing a variety of products. We remember this first summer fondly and still trying out new things to help us grow. 

Activities – We now have eight activities to choose from in North Wales: Canoyoning; River Tubing; Coasteering; Canoeing; Mountaineering; Climbing & abseiling; Bushcraft; and Archery & Axe throwing.

Adventures- We also provide spectacular multi-day adventures in Scotland. To find out more click on one of the links: The Whisky Explorer; The Mountaineer; The Adventurer

Stag & Hen Packages- We also have a great variety of stag and hen packages to choose from; Zero to hero; The Woodland Warrior; The Happy Camper; The High Roller; and The Bearded Lady.

To get a taste of what these products are like check out our youtube channel.

Continue reading “Starting out with a Blob…”