A few Exmoor stary night pictures from a very cold weekends camping in the heart of Exmoor’s Dark Sky Reserve at

Star trails looking south from the campfire

Making fireworks for little Charlie by bashing the fire logs

Star trails again

Long exposure shot of Gordons Discovery and Ambi-Van, lots of frost on the Disco’ and light spill from the bunkhouse and campfire, fun shot though.


Salamander Firesteel

Salamander Firesteel

I am testing this little Salamander Firesteel by Andy at Feather Forge. Andy kindly offered this prototype as a hand around tester through Bushcraft UK Forum. It has been travelling around the country from person to person, in theory stopping with each for 4 days at a time although this seems to have been abused a bit as it should have been back with Andy by last Christmas! It arrived with me yesterday.

Its a great little gadget for firestarting, a quick strike of the steel on flint results in a strong spark that will take to anything such as the bushcrafters favourites like charcloth or ‘King Alfreds Cakes’ otherwise known as coal fungus (Daldinia concentrica).

The firesteel has a very useful blade that I think would be good for skinning. The Salamanders shape means it fits nicely in the hand and makes the blade easy to control.

Now I just need to talk Andy into letting me buy one of these off him, in fact I’d like to buy lots and offer them to people staying at The Exmoor Centre.


stary night

With the prospect of an amazing night sky we set off for a night at The Exmoor Centre last night. We were rewarded with a spectacular display.

A manic week

On top of the usual chaos that is life here on Monday last week disaster struck.

I was collecting a full trailer load from The Exmoor Centre and climbing the steep rutted stoney track the Land Rover was uncharacteristically struggling for grip. Odd seeing as it is permanent 4×4 and has a Quaife limited slip differential in the back axle. A quick glance in the mirrors showed there was no drive going to the back axle. The difflock was not engaging as it should meaning just a single wheel spinning would result in loss of traction.

On a 1 in 3 narrow track with no possibility of turning around there was no option but to apply girt heaps of right welly and  use momentum to get up. Unfortunately in the process this started the demise of the front diff. Stupidly after dropping the trailer load and the top I decided to return the trailer to the bottom of the valley. Apart from the occasional nasty mechanical crunch all seemed OK until I went the climb out of the river crossing coming back. A loud bang and no drive. Bother. Now bang slap in the middle of the river I was properly stuck.

Luckily half a mile away a chap I know was doing a spot of walling so I trotted along and pleaded for help. We used his 4×4 to drag the Land Rover out of the river. Safely locked up I went to celebrate the Queens Jubilee and drown my sorrows.

Next day the mission to fix it began. A mate had volunteered to come out with his Discovery to drag the 110 back to base. This was a good plan right up until when he lost traction in the same place I had with the trailer the day before. Seems he only had front wheel drive too! We both set off up the the chap walling and dragged him away from his work again. We soon had the stricken Land Rover out of the valley on heading back to base.

Pulling the halfshafts revealed both were in fine fettle. Damn, definitely a destroyed diff then. A bit more time spannering and the old diff was undone, pulling it out I was hit squarely on the chin by a falling cog. Yep, definitely busted.

On the ground this is what I had.

I think a new one would be a good idea


Lots of sympathy and mickey taking ensued on the Land Rover forums, Facebook and Twitter before a new diff was found for £60.

With a crowd of mates arriving on Friday it was a marathon of dashing around to get everything I needed to get it all back together. Finally finished on Friday lunchtime.

A major breakdown that would cost a fortune on most cars and even write some off sorted by some mates and a few quid. Thats why I drive a Land Rover.