Just before I headed to Scotland I had an email from a company in the United States asking about distributors for their inflatable solar lantern. I duly responded and the company sent me a sample to try.
The MPOWERD Luci inflatable lantern is intended for outdoor leisure users including hikers, campers, anglers, kayakers, cyclists… you get the picture. It is constructed from soft clear transparent plastic, is waterproof and features a square solar panel in the base charging a slim 3.7V DC lithium polymer battery. This is sealed in the base with no facility for replacement.
Light is provided by 10 led lights arranged in a circle in the base providing a maximum of 65 lumens. In the top of the cylindrical lantern is a flexible reflective disc that helps distribute the light to a claimed area of a square metre. The top disc also features a mouthpiece with stop valve for inflation/deflation while plastic handles are located at the top and base allowing the lantern to be suspended.
A switch at the centre of the solar panel toggles the lantern between ‘bright’, ‘super bright’, and ‘flashing/beacon’ settings and powers the unit down.
The manufacturers claim 12 hours on the bright setting and this seems plausible in summer temperatures. I left the unit on all night on the hearth and it was still emitting good light in the morning after nine hours. Charge time is eight hours and the unit will still provide four hours of light if not used for a year from full charge.
Inflation and deflation can be a little tricky, though. The mouthpiece features a stiff valve making it quite difficult to inflate by blowing straight from the lungs (as if you were inflating a Thermarest). Musicians familiar with the embouchure technique will have an advantage!
I found it easier to inflate the lantern by opening it gently like an accordion (forgive the musical references) while holding the valve open with the point of a pencil or other pointed (but not sharp) implement. The lantern can then be topped up by blowing air in the mouthpiece.
This is a well-designed and well-made lantern that performs well based on early use. It may be a luxury for lightweight backpackers given that it weighs a little over 110g but I will find room for it in my cycle panniers as it illuminates the inner of my Vaude Hogan XT perfectly. It has particular practical benefits for anglers fishing at night and those who love messing around in boats.
I’d spent much of Saturday drying out in our small cottage. Sunday, it was time to get wet again.
Clambering over the rough hills of North Morar in July delivered a new sense of dampness. The air was as thick and soggy as the boggy basins I was negotiating between rocky hummocks while trying to follow a compass bearing.
And then it rained… I watched wraith-like storms charge up Loch Morar and Nevis. Distant hills were cloaked by another smear of rain. I counted till heavy raindrops drummed on the shoulders of my jacket: Less than a minute; conditions changeable.
Standing atop Eun-Tium, a mere pimple by Scottish hill standards and yet an engaging climb in this wild land, I took a simple westerly bearing and followed it.
I headed to familiar ground by an unfamiliar route… A straight line. It wasn’t straight, of course, and I diverted around streams, rocky obstacles and contoured terraces in a bid to find the best line. Map distances are stretched here and I doff my flatcap to experienced navigators who can pace with precision.
Cresting yet another summit, I disturbed a deer and a calf. They disappeared over a small bealach, underlining my inadequate, heavy-booted progress.
I then found my objective: Loch a Braghaid, a sizeable lozenge of water tucked away in the hills. I had a five-weight fly rod strapped to my pack and a small box of flies: Anglinglight.com
I made tea with loch water and rolled out a short cast. The trout obliged and I spent a contented hour or so messing about by the water. As my cast deteriorated, I knew it was time to head back, to dry out again for next time.
Angling, by and large, has lost its sheen these days. ‘Too many anglers chasing too few fish’ (as my Dad used to say!) and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to capture those still moments of contemplation that used to be common currency during a day at the waterside. Now I go fishing in my daydreams.
However, once in a while, romantic notions can become reality…
I’ve just returned from a second week in Kylesmorar on the shores of Loch Nevis. To be honest, I was a little reluctant to go back. Time off work is so very scarce, and there are so many places to go, so many things to see.
However, the Kyles has a distinct advantage for holidaying with the other half: it combines some very fine outdoor distractions for me with some equally high quality ‘chilling’ for her.
Once we’d stepped off the boat, I realised pretty quickly my fears had been unfounded.
Some quite splendid weather this year allowed me to fill my boots (literally) on the hills of north Morar and Knoydart. The piscatorial planets aligned and I managed to catch fish from Loch Nevis – including a stunning, if wee, sea trout – while a day’s ‘anglhiking’ with map and compass revealed the most beautiful lochan filled with equally beautiful wild brown trout.
Add to that otter watching, deer stalking (read: ‘photostalking’), seals and tracing the daily beat of a golden eagle, and the area’s abundant wildlife obliged too.
The week was crowned by a shindig at the Tarbet Bunkhouse. Warden Frank was on form (not for the easily offended) and the whisky flowed.
I’ve gone fishing for many years. Actually, scrub that, I’ve gone ‘sitting by a lake or river’ for many years.
I started bait fishing when a teenager – ‘coarse fishing‘, although it wasn’t particularly coarse, save for some of the unsavoury brothers of the angle whom I met along the way.
My earliest memories were spent shivering on the banks of canals in gthe Midlands in the Christmas holiday, eager to try a new Bruce and Walker float road which constituted my Christmas box.
My long suffering father accompanied me and we searched out the fishing beats of his youth. We caught very little through holes in the ice, but those tiny roach and perch fascinated me. I was hooked for life.
I spent the summer holidays practically encamped on the banks the ‘Little Pit’ near my home, a small body of water but seemingly bottomless. I have a particular angle on this characteristic, too, as I sampled its waters first hand one summer afternoon tumbling in head first just near ‘The Point’… or was it ‘The Winter Bank’? All the fishing stations had unofficial, though apposite, names, carefully concocted by my fishing buddies and I during the long biteless hours at the waterside.
I’ve delayed writing about our stay in a cottage on Kylesmorar, Loch Nevis, since our return at the weekend. I’ve needed time to reflect.
Many will identify with that feeling of isolation when they make tracks to the hills, but our week on this Kyeslmorar offered more. Yes, the ‘Kyles’ are remote, but they’re not devoid of people.
Staying on a on a working estate, our lodgings were free from the paraphernalia of modern living (mobiles, radio, television).
Here, the passage of time is marked by other events: the evening grazing of a stag, the early morning call of a buzzard, the solitary hoot of hello from the Western Isles ferry as she steams the eastern end of the loch, the comings and goings of the estate staff, their conversations over vhf radio. Continue reading →