Same Procedure as Last Year...

Last year, my birthday started with a huge English breakfast, followed by goldpanning and sushi in the evening - you can read up on all of that here. This year? It was exactly the same... and I loved it!! (Look, this time, I had orange juice as well!)

We ended up going to my local canyon. The water was pretty low, but I had brought my fancy waders. I've had them for quite a while, but never tried them out. They worked great though, and I could access places I hadn't been able to pan otherwise.

Frankly, I did sit in the sun a lot (going out the night before, tired), but I did pan - pump's still great - and found some little bits. Biggest ones yet from this area, actually, which was nice.

Testing the Pump - A Bit of Winter Panning in the Canyon

So today, I finally got to try out the new pump. Me, my boyfriend and his brother took a little walk and I couln't help taking it with me - along with my pan and a bucket. Minimal equipment, and hardly any time, as it was freezing and I had no wellies to access the more promising spots...

The pump however, performed great! Nice suction and a good grip on the handle. Easy to manage. As I said, I didn't give it a lot of time, but I did get three small specks of gold. Next time, I am definitely going to bring more things and find myself a big boulder to dig under. The water level is really low and all the places that are usually unaccessible in the summer months lie bare and open now.

How to Build Yourself a Henderson Pump - A STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL

It is done! For Christmas, my dad, bless him, gave me a voucher for custom-making me a Henderson gold pump. Awesome gift! Since he is a very skilled handyman, I knew it would turn out great (it did - works like a charm). And since it did turn out so great, I made a tutorial for you. Step by step, with photos to lead you through. Hope it helps.


Unfortunately, my panning realms are currently covered in snow and ice. As soon as that has melted a bit, I will put it to the field test, as the water levels are still low, which will enable me to access areas I won't get to in the summer.

Something for the Ladies...

Got your own mad gold-digging (literally!) lady at home? Well, then you might want to check out this cute little pendant here. Alas, 51$ is not really a steal, but I know I would like one under my Christmas tree...

On a different note: what I actually want for Christmas is a proper pump (like the ones I was allowed to borrow from my Scottish goldpanning buddies ;). Should work out, fingers crossed - dad has bought stuff and is working on it. With that, I can then take my winter panning to a whole new level, haha. No snow here anyway, so I might as well...

What I found in Tyndrum...

The time has come to share my findings with you all! May I proudly present: my collection of gold from this year's vacation in Scotland!

On the left, my gold pieces from the river that runs by the wigwam site (scaled up times 60). I found most of them stuck in the deep cracks in the bedrock, just like last year. And now the more interesting stuff - my biggest pieces so far:

The one on the left measures about half a centimetre and is pretty chunky. I was able to pick it directly off the bedrock - something I had heard other panner's talking about but had never been able to experience myself, so that was nice! Guess, it's my first picker. Literally. The lovely triangular piece on the right is technically not mine - it was a lovely present given to me from Tony and Dave. Thanks a lot guys. Let's be a bit philosophical here and say its corners stand for the three of you and the fun day we spent! Lastly, this is how my pan looked after two days of backbreaking work:

I am really, really chuffed about what I found! I put all my gold on the little scales I own. I had been given them for my birthday by a friend, but they start at 0,1 grams and so far, I had never even had enough gold to make it show up. This year however, my total amounted to 0,2 grams. Now, for some of you lucky devils out there, that might not sound like a lot, but it's the most gold I have found so far. I've been panning for 1,5 years and what I had found in all that time before this holiday, did not add up to this trip's achievement. So yay! I am confident though that when I apply my newly acquired knowledge about pumps and sluices (thank you, Andrew, Dave, Hamish and Tony!), I will get luckier here in Austria as well - and I can't wait!

Gold @ Natural History Museum, Ldn

Before I proudly show you my humble findings from my own goldpanning adventures in Scotland, I thought I'd chuck in a few pictures I took at the Natural History Museum in London. Disappointingly, they didn't have any British gold on display, but you have to give them credit for the collection of samples from all around the globe. Pretty impressive stuff indeed. Click to see a bigger view of the photos!

PS: Call me a smartass-nitpicker, but I instantly noticed that the positioning of the gold in the displayed pan is off. Do not expect to find the yellow stuff neatly organised in the middle of your pan, while the blacksand and heavies are lying near the rim. Do your reasearch, museum people!

A Wigwam-Gold-Rush?

Wigwam Holidays are really pushing for panners, it seems. Just a few days ago, they posted this series of pictures on their Facebook page - and might very well cause a little overexcitement among the panners trying their luck in Strathfillan. Well, I did get excited: look at that chunky nugget in the middle!

You can read the whole article here (I recommend it!). Strathfillan Wigwams manager Rena Baillie is talking about the re-opening of the Cononish mine and the hopes for new jobs in the area. She goes on to explain the potential of the area for hobby panners: "...some have left us samples in a small bottle for us to show other would be gold prospectors that it's worth a try [...] The biggest nugget of gold found on site was above the waterfall."

I have met Mrs. Baillie (who was really lovely, as well as her husband) and I know what she is talking about. This summer, as well as last year, I have seen some of the souvenirs she received from fellow panners - although none as big. Unfortunately, I cannot yet afford to give away presents like the chunkies shown above. One day, maybe... I am curious to see if this picture stirs up a new mini gold-rush in the area. Already, as Mrs. Baillie claims, a third of the visitors to Strathfillan Wigwams are panners who want to try their luck in the surrounding hills. I wouldn't be surprised if a few more jumped on the bandwaggon now.

On a more critical sidenote: If the gold shown is indeed from the wigwam-river, that's great, but I wonder if the long-established panners in the area agree with such open promotion and the public revelation of the finding-spot...?


*edit* Turns out that, apparently, the gold is indeed from the region, but not the wigwam burn - and it probably took quite some time and energy to get such a great reward. Phew. I was already kicking my ass for missing these chunkies... ;) It does put it into perspective. Yes, it is possible to find bigger stuff - but it is hard, hard work and certainly not all found in just a day or two. Does motivate me though!

The Fun Continues (PART 2)

Some days later, I had the chance to meet up with even more fellow panners: Andrew, Dave and Tony! They had also agreed to take me panning and after a rainy, somewhat unsuccessful week on my own, I was really looking forward to company.

Same as Hamish, they also travelled quite far to the meetup, and also them and I instantly clicked and got along great. Contrary to me, they specify in sniping the gold off the bedrock, which means they have to wear dry-suits and snorkelling-gear. At first, it was quite an unusual sight for me to see three grown men lying face down in a shallow river, but I soon saw the fun of it and all the advantages one has with this strategy. Who knows, maybe, I'll try it myself next year!

We panned two days in a row. Sure enough, I also picked up many great tips from the three of them. Dave taught me speedpanning and its benefits. I haven't quite mastered it yet, but I'm working on it. Andrew and Tony (lending me his waders) had an impressive amount of geological knowledge and gold in general. And all three had an eye for the right spots of where to find stuff. And so I struck it lucky, too!

Again, I am very thankful for meeting all of you lovely people. It was a blast and I hope it wasn't the last time we panned together!

Back in Tyndrum - My Second Goldpanning Holidays! (PART 1)

Oh my. This post comes terribly late and long overdue. Let's blame it on uni, shall we? This semester is a bitch, but luckily, I spent some great holidays in Scotland, which I can now feed upon with all the fond memories... So finally, here they are:

Again, we stayed at the Wigwam site - around the same time as last year, mid to end of August. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't half as good this time. On most days, it was overcast and rainy, but then again, last year, we really struck it lucky with sunshine for 7+ days. This year, I discovered a different side of the Highlands: wilder, somewhat colder, and certainly more wet. On some days, the rivers were so flooded that a tiny creek would turn into a raging river and made panning virtually impossible.

However, this time, I was not alone. Several panners took it upon themselves to travel all the way to Tyndrum to meet up with me and show me the ropes. First was Hamish:

He travelled a ridiculously long distance and brought along a shitload of equipment for me, as I hadn't been able to transport mine. Priceless! Being such a sweetheart, he invited, my boyfriend and me to some yummy burgers and beer at Paddy's, and we discussed our strategy. Such a treat, after we had been told at the Wigwam site that our booking had been lost and all the wigwams were full. Luckily, after a night in the tent, we did still get proper accomodation and it was all good. Early the next day, Hamish and I hit the river close to the campsite to look for the yellow stuff:

It was so so nice to finally pan with someone who shares my passion! Hamish showed me lots of valuable tips and I learned how great a good pump can be! Also, it was my first time trying out a proper sluice. Hamish had made his own (one small one and then, there's the legendary Big Bertha) and showed me what makes all the differences. I'll be sure to adapt my own homemade one and improve it with his suggestions!

I'll be honest - I didn't find all that much that day, but it was a ton of fun, I took so much valuable experience from it! Unfortunately, Hamish couldn't stay another day, but he did leave half of his equipment with me for another week, which I was so thankful for. Especially the pump and his wellies made work so much easier!
So thank you very, very much for a lovely day and this generous gesture, Hamish. I really hope to go panning with you again sometime!

A Prospector's Birthday...

Right, this is really late, but i forgot to share these with you: On the first of April, it was my birthday. My wish for it was to spend a day goldpanning with my boyfriend and one of my best friends. Although neither of them is a panner, they agreed and it was a wonderful day! Starting with a proper breakfast, of course (everyone knows that a real golddigger needs baked beans to function properly)...

We then drove to a little mountain river nearby (goldpanning songs on blasting volume, of course!). Getting to a good spot meant a lot of hiking and crossing a slightly scary looking bridge. Once arrived on the scene though, I realised that the little waterfall was probably keeping a lot of the gold from being moved on by collecting it at the bottom right under the waterfall. We tried to get to an earlier part of the river, but the surrounding valley was so steep and the little walking path so unclear that we basically managed to walk uphill and slightly to the right for one full hour (it was a very hot day, exhausting!) - just to end up in the very same place again. Don't ask me how this is possible. I honestly have no idea.

As a result, we ended up driving to my "home river" still, which turned out to be a great decision. It was sunnier there than in the narrow canyon - and I managed to find gold, too. Don't have any of it photographed, though, since after coming home in the evening, I didn't have much time before we headed out again to grab some food and a beer with my best friends at the pub afterwards...

So, as you can probably tell: I had a lovely, pretty much perfect day! My favourite breakfast, my favourite hobby, my favourite foods and drinks - and most importantly - surrounded by my favourite people... THANKS A LOT! I wish for every fellow goldpanner to have such a cool birthday!