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Thread: Ram's Island (May 2018)

  1. #1
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    Default Ram's Island (May 2018)

    Ram's Island is in Lough Neagh, just off the eastern shore. Its a fascinating place with a checkered history that includes Glaciers, Vikings, monks, American Airmen as well as more recent poachers, fishermen and wildfowlers to name but a few.

    I've paddled to it a few times before but never stayed overnight before.

    My buddy Noel invited me to join him, Mark and Paul on Ram's Island for a spot of regeneration work. They were helping the team who are caretakers for the island and planned to spend a day there working, then stay overnight before they returned to the mainland.

    They planned to take down one of the existing large Sycamore trees (not native to our country) and plant the clearing they created with some more traditional native oak trees.

    I planned to join them that morning, but going to a retirement party the day before scuppered all those plans. As a result, I didn't get there until late afternoon, as luck would have it, just as the guys were finishing their planting. But in time to sling my hammock and help gather firewood for the cooking fire.

    Noel (left) and Paul (right) are traditional bushcrafters, so had to light the fire with firesteels and wood shavings.



    Mark was our decoy for the midges and so wore a bug net to attract them away from the rest of us.



    It was great having an abundant supply of felled trees so close to hand. I got to play with my new axe, and with 4 of us collecting and chopping, it wasn't long before we had a good pile of fire wood.



    I had my stove with me so set about cooking some chilli and rice for tea. Washed down with some "Twisted Hop" ale, I was in my element.



    Its fair to say we all ate well, but as it was such a nice sunny evening, we decided to go for a paddle round the island rather than settle down for the evening. The wind was in the east, so we were sheltered as we paddled round the west side.







    We stopped at the northern point to assess the wind and see if it was worth me putting up my sail. I decided to give it a go. The structure in the picture is a wildfowler shooting hide.



    The journey back to the jetty was tougher that I'd thought, as the wind had shifted slightly, so the sail was of little assistance. Never mind, I'd worked up a thirst.

    So we went back to our camp and settled down for the night.

    The guys decided to construct seats to sit round the fire.









    Then it was down to some serious burning.



    And a few drams to keep the cold out later.





    Another reason for coming was to try out one of Noel's hammocks which I used for about an hour or so, but couldn't settle in. So about 1am, I rose and rigged my old faithful SotP group buy hammock, and promptly fell asleep. The dawn chorus was deafening at about 4am. But after a few minutes listening, I drifted off to sleep again. I slept until about 7am, when I was woken by a tapping noise. A wood pecker. At first I thought it must be back on the mainland as we could hear cattle the night before as if they were on the island with us, but in fact were a good mile away.

    I should point out that wood peckers are a newish arrival in Ireland, and have only recently been moving north, building and nesting up here. So hearing one was something of a treat. Especially as I'd never actually heard one in real life before.

    But as I lay in my hammock, I could hear that it was on the island, as it worked its way up the west shore, eventually disappearing off the north end. Fantastic. I was buzzing, so I got out of the hammock and went for a walk. The morning sunshine was fantastic. Really warm too.



    The others were still asleep.



    So I walked over to inspect their planting from the day before.





    I decided to walk down to the jetty and watch the birds.











    Ram's Island is one of the designated stops for the Canoe trail. Definitely worth a visit.



    Then it was down to the serious business of Breakfast.



    A couple of Noel's other mates arrived as we were packing up camp, so we went for a dander to the north end to look at the scenery.







    We left shortly after that. Its just a twenty minute paddle back to the marina at Sandy Bay, and I had a tailwind most of the way. So I put the sail up and enjoyed the ride home.

    There are worse ways to spend a Saturday night. But I enjoyed the craic, the scenery, the paddling and the company. Thanks lads, lets go again soon.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  2. #2
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    Crow is offline こんにちは。私はカラスと私はスコットラ ンドの出身で す。
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    Looks great! Apart from the midges.

    That's one big lough you've got there.

    Do you ever cross it?

    It's a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer

    Crow Trip Log

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    That looks like an excellent place for an overnight camp, nice one gents.


    I like a woodpecker, but they do need to wait until breakfast time, they're far too efficient an alarm clock...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    Looks great! Apart from the midges.

    That's one big lough you've got there.

    Do you ever cross it?
    I crossed it once on a windsurfer from Antrim to Ballyronan. It was a strong northerly wind so we planed all the way across and back. I wouldn't fancy it in the canoe.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

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    Looks perfect, bush crafting and canoeing what more could one want. Mmm perhaps a little music at night,
    do you take your tin whistles with you Al.
    Terry

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    Nice looking place to spend the night - had no idea sycamore was non-native.....that'll be my thing I've learned for today, today.
    A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope - Epictetus

  7. #7
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    I had my whistle with me, but the chat round the fire was so good, we didn't need any music.

    Yes, I learned that about the sycamore on Saturday. They are a lovely tree, but seemingly don't allow the native trees to flourish. They also self seed better than the natives so take over very quickly.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  8. #8
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    I’d not realised we were back into midgie season. Im planning to get out this weekend so better look the headsets out. Hope we are as lucky as you with the setting and weather.

  9. #9
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    looks like a good time was had by all, only slightly jealous, thanks for sharing.

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