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Top tips for days out & expeditions

There are lots to think about when organising and ultimately undertaking a canoe or kayak expedition, but there a few things you should try your best to remember that will not only benefit you, but other users of the inland or coastal waters that you are exploring.

Care of the hire equipment and yourself:

It goes without saying that for a successful and enjoyable expedition or day out you need to look after your equipment. In particular:

- On rivers, obstacles in your way can damage the boats and potentially you. Think carefully before you decide to attempt rapids or go round fallen trees. If you’re not 100% sure, get out and carry the boat or line it down river.
- Be careful when using paddles to push off or away from land or obstacles. They might break.
- When landing for a break or to camp, look for somewhere that isn’t too rocky that might damage the boat as you land or capsize the boat.
- Make sure you pull the boat right out of the water in case water levels rise and it is washed away. Tie it up for extra security. This also prevents potential damage to the hull of the boat caused by movement of the water rubbing the boat against stones/ rocks underneath – remember you may be liable to damage done to our equipment.

Leave No Trace

Everyone has a responsibility to try and minimise their impact on the environment when out enjoying themselves on canoe or kayak expeditions. Keep in mind a few key things and it can make a huge difference.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit, e.g. wildlife, rare plants
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use (busiest months are May and June).
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses.
- Protect the areas of land near to water by camping at least 50 metres from lochs and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas: Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails and avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for rubbish or spilled foods. Pack out all rubbish, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in cat-holes dug 15-20cm deep, at least 50 metres from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cat-hole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 50 metres away from streams or lochs and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artefacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviours, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and rubbish securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
 
These are not meant to be seen as a list of rules, simply some guidelines that can help make a positive difference without spoiling your enjoyment.

For more information about Leave no Trace go to www.lnt.org
 
Want to find out more about what the Paddlers' Access Code is about - click here
Want to find out more about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code - click here
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