Otter Adventures

Otter Adventures

Through small group adventures, Otter Adventures provide a range of outdoor experiences and unique expeditions that are tailored to your abilities leaving you with unforgettable memories of wild places.
The post Otter Adventures appeared first on Scottish Sea Kayaking.

Freeport Harbor

 This summer we were able to get back into our yearly Freeport camping grove. We had an awesome water front site and great weather.As typically seems to happen, we are camping over Fathers’ Day and my one ask is that I get to go on a paddle for a few hours.The timing can be tricky because of the tides. At low tide the ocean sits on the other side of an interminable mud flat from all points. At high tide you have to launch off of the rocky cliff. Thankfully, there has always been a day time window to get in and out without too much trouble.Usually, I take the opportunity to really explore some of the islands in Casco Bay near Freeport. This year, however, I was asked to be more careful since I haven’t really done much open water paddling during COVID and solo paddling is extra risky.So, I meandered up the coast into Freeport Harbor – after doing recon on some strange formations that we had seen from shore. The strange formations turned out to be what looked like fish traps strapped to large pontoons. My only guess is that there are part of some fish farming operation….Freeport Harbor is nice and full of luxury water craft to maneuver around.Towards the end of the harbor, the water got shallow. I had forgotten that the tide was going out. Fortunately I never had to use my hands to duck walk trough the shallows, but it was close a few times….I paddled back along the outer edge of the harbor where there are some big houses and a few very loud dogs. I didn’t really mind that the outgoing tide kept me a ways off shore. Loud dogs and overly wealthy people were not on my agenda for the day.I got back to camp just in time for lunch.It was a perfect ending to a very relaxing paddle.

June 20th – Discovery Island (#49)

June 20th – Discovery Island (#49)

The morning after my return from the six-week debris removal expeditions I managed to get out for a morning paddle with Dan. It was great to get out on the water after several weeks with almost no paddling. The wind and the current did not cause us much trouble (minimal lumpy water) and we saw quite a few others on the water. I found a scotsman fender/buoy on Griffin island which I managed to bring home! Mt Baker was nice and clear, but we could not see Mt. Rainier. Marbled murrelets, rhinoceros auklets, harlequin ducks, black oystercatchers, Canada geese, great blue herons were on the bird list. Looking at the track, we were able to keep up a steady pace.click to enlarge15 km, YTD 513 km

May 27th – McMicking Inlet (#48)

May 27th – McMicking Inlet (#48)

Carl and I went for an evening paddle to join the gang on the beach by the bog forest. We had the wind behind us on the way out and against on the way back to Cascadia. It was a beautiful evening and we also went for a short hike to the bog forest behind the beach. There were lots of sundews in the bog – more than I have seen before.paddle track – click to enlargetrail to the bog forest – click to enlarge8 km, YTD 498 km

New Kayaks!

New Kayaks!

 After long last, we finally got our new kayaks. They arrived on Thursday night from Eastern Outdoors in New Brunswick. We have been talking about getting new boats for years, and we have always loved Rockpool boats since we first saw Rene’s from Kayak Venice. Not being able to travel due to COVID, we figured it was a good time to take the plunge. Just like Christmas!Rockpool Back ETO and ISELWe were over the moon when we opened them up. Wow! So beautiful!I got out on the water yesterday for the maiden voyage. Angie had to work so hers has yet to touch the salt water…that will be very soon. All smilesBeauty 🙂

Days like these – a spectacular morning on Loch Hourn

Days like these – a spectacular morning on Loch Hourn

I slept really well at our camp on Loch Hourn, waking early as the light grew stronger.  Stepping outside, this was my first view of the day – the majestic Ladhar Bheinn rearing into a flawless blue sky across the loch.  I’ve climbed Ladhar Bheinn twice, once from each side of the hill, and had remarkably good weather both times.  It’s one of the Munro “superstars” in my opinion and anyone who climbed it on this day would have an unforgettable ascent.The view in the other direction up Loch Hourn wasn’t too shabby either!  The low early morning sunshine was silhouetting the tangle of ridges and spurs around Kinloch Hourn, a very different aspect of the same scene we’d watched the previous evening.Rather than rush away we took our time to enjoy being in this utterly remote spot on such a great morning.  Everywhere we looked was stunning scenery and we found lots of interest all around, including some strange miniature fountains where the tide was pushing water and air up thorough the saltmarsh areas.But it was Ladhar Bheinn which held our attention.  We had breakfast facing across the loch so that we could watch the light change on the cliffs at the head of Coire Dhorrcail (on the left of this image) and the gullies and faces at the head of Coire Odhair.Eventually we decided to get underway and enjoy the view from the water.  We took down the tents and erased all evidence of our second fire; the tide had taken care of the remains of the first one!  We paddled out onto a mirror calm loch for a truly memorable morning’s paddle.It was now mid-morning and the warm sunshine had started to form clouds.  These didn’t detract from the views at all, in fact the pattern of light and shade enhanced features and gave depth to the whole scene.  Douglas and I blazed away with our cameras and Donny filmed from “Guppy”.  The backdrop of Ladhar Bheinn was hard to beat, the kayaks tiny underneath the bulk of the mountain.  I took a tremendous amount of images and even now I can’t decide which I prefer, so here’s a few of them….Douglas’ bright red P&H Volan providing a real splash of colour against deep shadows…….a colour and light gradient as a passing cloud accentuated the warm sunshine against the shadow……….Lorna and Allan in a perfect reflection of the dramatic skyline of the summit ridges………Donny motoring Guppy along below Druim a’ Choire Odhair (ridge of the dun coloured Corrie)….Already this was an outstanding day, and it was only mid-morning!  Days like these, they stay with you forever. 

Hablando de kayak de mar en la televisión

Hablando de kayak de mar en la televisión

Para ver el programa HORIZONTE SUR Click en la imagen de abajo.

Tur med Louise

Tur med Louise

Louise fortalte ved en familie sammenkomst at hun gerne ville i gang med at ro kajak efter en længere pause.  Vi tog en 9 km tur til Gavnø og retur ad Gammelåen. Det lykkedes mig at knække en af mine hule pagajer da jeg skulle prøve en heelhook-redning og fik lagt for meget tryk på – hvad der viste sig at være – et meget tyndt blad – ØV! Louise fik mit træktov bundet i kajakken og fik fornøjelsen af at trække mig – jeg roede dog med, og tog endda den sidste del af turen for egen (halv) kraft.

29th April 2021 #4 Let’s do lunch at the lonesome pine of Loch Hourn.

29th April 2021 #4 Let’s do lunch at the lonesome pine of Loch Hourn.

Stafet for livet

Stafet for livet

Jeg havde en gammel aftale med en flyveven – Kim – om at deltage i Stafet for Livet sammen med Arresø Kajakkub, så jeg surrede Perlen på taget og kørte til Ramløse Havn.Det blæste voldsomt – op til 18 m i støddene – så stafetroningen foregik inde i havnen. Det var ikke verdens mest spændende sted at ro rundt, så efter en del omgange fik jeg lokket Kim med ud på søen. Jeg kom ud i den kraftige blæst og fik rettet kajakken op mod vinden. Jeg lå og ventede lidt på Kim, men han dukkede ikke op. Da jeg vendte kajakken kunne jeg se at han var på vej ind i havnen. Jeg red på et par bølger, og da jeg kom ind til ham, kunne han fortælle at det havde ikke været muligt for ham at rette kajakken op mod vinden. det var vist også kun lykkedes mig pga af Perlens meget lave profil, så vi blev enige om at tage et par omgange til inde i havnen for at bakke lidt om om arrangementet.Om aftenen pyntede vi kajakkerne med lysposer og sendte et billede til dem der stod for stafetten i området5 km

Nybegyndertur

Nybegyndertur

Hjarne havde inviteret til nybegyndertur. Den gik med 13 roere til De Hvide Svaner, hvor vi nød den medbragte mad. Jeg tog hjemturen rundt om Lindholm sammen med 5 andre. Da vi lå ved Ydernæs var der en af begynderne der gerne ville have en kajakspids og træne lidt forøvelser til rul. Stig og jeg rullede også 5-6 gange. Om det var lidt ondt i ryggen, en stor klat tang i hovedet eller dårlig koncentration, ved jeg ikke – men jeg måtte ud af kajakken og lavede efterfølgende en soloredning i Black Pearl. Det gav en del vand i kajakken, men ikke værre end jeg kunne snuppe et par rul til og ro tilbage til klubben. Stig klarede rullene i fin stil.12 km

Time and tide on the shore of Loch Hourn

Time and tide on the shore of Loch Hourn

A leisurely paddle back along the shore of upper Loch Hourn took us back to our intended camp site on the point where we’d sheltered from the worst of the earlier squall.  The kayakers could carry our boats above the tideline, Donny moored his F-RIB “Guppy” in a small bay close by where it would be well out of the tidal stream.  There was plenty of space to camp here and good ground to pitch our tents; we got set up and did the usual sorting of kit after a day on the water.  I really enjoy this aspect of trips whether by kayak or on foot – a reasonably early arrival at camp with time to enjoy the evening and to appreciate the setting.  This is a pretty remote spot, takes a bit of getting to and is well worth spending some time at.  The flow of the tide past the camp was quite hypnotic, it was fascinating watching the development of boils and swirls on the ebb and then the flood.Through the early evening and while there was still some energy in the weather we were treated to a wonderful range of light as showers built over Kinloch Hourn.  The area around Loch Quoich gets some the highest rainfall totals anywhere in the UK and is used to “head” hydro power schemes – there’s often plenty of energy potential falling from the sky!We were pleased to see the showers remain concentrated at the head of the loch while we stayed dry and in a light breeze. It wasn’t particularly warm, but cool and dry was fine by us.As the sun dipped, the shadows deepened and increased the contrast with the sunlit hills, the highest of which still had a smattering of white from the earlier hailstorms – it was developing into a lovely evening.After a dinner of home-made chilli  followed by baked fruit and custard, both kindly supplied by Raymond we secured the boats for the evening and made our way down below the high water mark to light our fire.  This early in the season there was no shortage of firewood – which as things turned out was a good thing. We lit the fire right on the previous evening’s tide mark, but miscalculated by about 30 minutes of tide….with the result that we experienced “the lost fire of Loch Hourn”!  Managing to rescue some hot embers, we re-lit a fire on the shingle further up, but still below the Spring tide line.  We were glad of that fire, it was a fairly cold evening with a chilly breeze and though enjoyable to sit around chatting after so long apart, we didn’t stay up too late.  The cloud began to dissipate as we were heading for our tents and we had hopes of good weather the following morning.  We were certainly not to be disappointed…..

29th April 2021 #3 Skyfall and rainfall in Loch Hourn.

29th April 2021 #3 Skyfall and rainfall in Loch Hourn.

Curso de tecnificacion 19 y 20 de Junio

Curso de tecnificacion 19 y 20 de Junio

Contenidos 

A Sea Gypsy Extreme Sea Kayak Race Retrospective

A Sea Gypsy Extreme Sea Kayak Race Retrospective

Editor’s note: For 30 years the Tsunami Rangers hosted an Extreme Sea Kayak race every spring. The first race was held at Rodeo Beach near San Francisco, California but the event eventually ended up with a permanent home at Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay. A great big shout out to our friends who took […]

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The post A Sea Gypsy Extreme Sea Kayak Race Retrospective appeared first on Extreme Sea Kayaking Adventures.

Kintyre Gravel Bike Way

Kintyre Gravel Bike Way

The Kintyre Way was ahead of its time.  Established in 2006, it’s a good 100 mile walking route, usually split over seven days.   However, since its inception a new breed of outdoor transport has appeared, the gravel bike.   It’s a hybrid of road and mountain bikes, ideally suited to mixed terrain, and utterly perfect for the Kintyre Way.  Almost. A few sections of the walking route are just too narrow, too steep, or too fragile to be explored on bicycles.  What if alternatives could be found to these?  What if gravel bike riders could exploit the new rough roads installed for forest harvesting and wind-farm construction?  What if there could be a rideable, top to bottom, Kintyre Gravel Bike Way?  We decided that would be a good thing, and set out to create it.Disclaimer: we safely followed the route given here but that does not guarantee it is safe for you or a Right of Way.  Please use your own common sense and cycle safely.     @font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;}@font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;}@font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} Also available on Ride with GPSThe Kintyre Gravel Bike Way is the perfect introduction to multi-day off-road touring, offering a level of safety that’s hard to find in some parts of the Scottish Highlands.  It explores seriously wild country running down the spine of Kintyre, yet descends to towns and villages every night so cyclists can camp or seek out accommodation.  If this three-day, zig-zag route gets too much it’s easy to switch to road riding.  There’s a mobile phone signal almost all the way.  And then there are the views.  Kintyre is a rugged, rounded, peninsula, arguably less dramatic than many parts of the west coast.  Yet its location means it’s a perfect viewing platform for the mountains of Jura to the west and Arran to the East.    We’re not trying to detract from the original Kintyre Way.  Those blue post waymarks are very welcome when you see them through a haze of pelting rain.  They confirm you’re on the right track.  Yet we think we’ve improved on it for cyclists.  Using Sean McFarlane’s knowledge of racing the Kintyre Way on a bike (he came second) and on foot (Kintyre Way Ultra) plus that of James McNair who runs the KR Bike Project in Campbeltown, we’ve stayed faithful to the experience of the route while allowing the pedals to keep turning – provided you have a good set of lungs and legs.   We’ve plotted the route we took, having first removed the sections where we became (ahem) temporarily dislocated.  You can find and download the GPS tracks on Komoot and Ride with GPS above.  We made a video of the ride which you can watch here on YouTube.   Once down the south end, the obvious return route is to follow The Caledonia Way, a cycling specific road route that has been adopted by Sustrans to form part of Route 78 to Inverness.  We made a video about that too and it’s coming soon. However, in summer you can use ferries from the mainland to make a rather special loop. Either get the train to Ardrossen, or park a vehicle there, and take the CalMac ferry over to Arran. Ride across Arran, then catch the Lochranza-Claonaig ferry. You’d have to skip the first half of our first day and pick up the route at Claonaig. Then ride our three day route to Machrihanish, and back to Campbeltown where you can catch a summer ferry back to Ardrossen.      The tourism associations Explore Kintyre and Gigha and Wild About Argyll arranged complimentary accommodation and some meals, for which we’re grateful.  However, the businesses described here are those we feel are worth knowing about, regardless of whether they gave us free stuff. @font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;}@font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;}@font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}   Tarbert: The Gather is a relatively new business where we were allowed to leave a vehicle for the duration of our ride.  As well as coffee and food, they have ‘glamping’ pods.  While they can’t take touring tents, cyclists who camp on the wild land behind their business are allowed to use their showers and facilities.     Tayinloan: the obvious first night for accommodation.  Ferry Farm B&B is well placed and linked to Big Jessie’s Cafe, where we stopped for coffee and cake.  However, you might have to travel a short distance up or down the coast to find somewhere, in which case we’d recommend The House at Glenbarr.  There’s a cafe alongside, plus a local store and strangely a garden centre. As there’s nowhere to eat evening meals locally, the owner kindly left a plate of food for us which we devoured in one of the big greenhouses. Carradale: two great coffee stops here.  Dottie’s Cafe is small and friendly with a bike repairbusiness alongside. Torrisdale Castle’s Bienn a Tuirc cafe is a little pricier but fabulous quality.  They make their own gin and their website is a useful source of local knowledge.    Campbletown: We stayed in Campbeltown Backpackerswhich Alan kindly opened for us while he was still working out how to deal with groups of visitors during a pandemic.  It doesn’t look like it will be re-opening during 2021 for most guests due to the difficulty of making it Covid compliant, but please check for yourself.   We had a great dinner at Craigard HouseHotel and a frankly superb dinner at Ardshiel Hotel which is walking distance from the hostel and has a multi-award winning whisky bar.   Southend: The Muneroy Tearoom (not sure how well that website works!) at the south end of Kintyre is something of a legend thanks to chef Francis’ amazing cakes which are baked fresh every day.  It was take-away only on our visit but worth it.  Machrihanish: we only had a snack here but the Old Clubhouse Pub was good.  Dunlossit House B&B was excellent with a room overlooking the first tee of the world-famous golf course, and breakfast overlooking the start of the 6km long beach.  The family who run it are keen cyclists. On our return ride up the Caledonia Way, Sustrans 78, we now feel the best location for first night accommodation would be around Tarbet, possibly at The Gather where we left our vehicle. Instead, we chose to cycle the ‘Kilmory Loop’, although some people prefer to head directly north towards Lochgilphead.  If you’re doing this, then head for Argyll Backpackers’ Hostel where the Kilmory Loop returns to the main road.  Run by Kate and Pam, we called in for a coffee and chat, and were impressed by their Covid protection measures. Kilmory: accommodation options are limited.  We managed to get a one night deal in a mobile home (usually 2-night minimum) at Port Ban Holiday Park although they seemed to expect people to travel with all their own bedding.  Book well in advance if you want to stay or eat at the Kilberry Inn a seafood restaurant with rooms. Bridgend: A short detour from route 78, but one of the nicest places we stayed, was King’s Reach Vegan B&B.  Sean and Sara were keen to learn how to be more cycle friendly, so might by now offer kit washing, track pump and bike washing facilities.  The Horseshoe Inn is walking distance for a good meal or alternative accommodation.@font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;}@font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;}@font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}

Scary, but not really

 The first group paddle in two years was bound to be a little nerve wracking. So much of this transition out of COVID is socially nerve wracking without adding in paddling conditions. Do you wear masks on the beach and keep distance at lunch? Is everyone vaccinated?Adding condition into the mix added an extra layer of anxiety. The sea was a carpet of white caps and the wind was forecast to increase. The conditions were nothing I haven’t paddle in before, but I also haven’t paddled in them in more than a year. Nor have I paddled in a group in more than a year.Familiarity and trust go a long way in bolstering confidence.When we rounded the point things were bouncy. The horizon was a line of breakers and we were heading straight into them.I was feeling a bit on edge and questioning the wisdom of leaving the beach. However, I stayed the course. We had a core of strong, experienced paddlers in the group. I trusted that they would pick a reasonable route. Also, we each stroke of the paddle I began to get back into the groove.About 30 minutes in I most of the edge I had burned off and I was feeling good. If there isn’t any bounce, is it really ocean paddling?We lunched just south of the nubble at the mouth of the Westport River. It was nice to just sit around and chat on the beach. We may have been a little more spread out than in previous years or not. It was just nice to hang on the beach and chat.Since we were in a little bit of a time crunch, we decided to paddle straight from lunch to the tip of Gooseberry. The threatened winds were mild, the fog had burned off, and the white caps had mostly subsided.It was a perfect route for experimenting with my skeg. The wind was just enough to cause some weather cocking. A little skeg could lighten the burden of using correcting strokes.  Too much skeg could be counter productive. Any amount of skeg blunts the Aries best feature.In the end, I came back to my default position. Skegs are too complicated unless absolutely needed…. The Aries is maneuverable enough that keeping her on course with a little edging and slipping a little bow rudder into my forward stroke does wonders.Rounding the point to get back to the beach looked a little intimidating. The tide had gone out enough to make the rocks visible and the swells breaky. We had two choices: paddle around or paddle through.I was torn, but choose to go with the paddle around crew. We got to play a little on the far side where the swell was a little less pushy.It turned out that the paddle through group wound up having to paddle around as well. Things got a little too shallow for comfort at the exit point.Once I shook the cobwebs out, it was a nice day on the water. I am looking forward to a long paddling season with many group trips.

Hemma vid havet…

Hemma vid havet…

 

Lunchpaddling…

Lunchpaddling…

Ännu en tur till Yttre Gården. Jag tycks aldrig tröttna. Varje gång känns stranden som ny. Den välkomnar en. På vägen ut lyfter en mäktig Havsörn och seglar stilla bort. Ejderhanarna ligger fortfarande kvar på klipporna. Grattis till Din nya kajak Christian! Och tack för en trevlig tur. Ser fram mot en övernattning i september…

ESB Paparazza!

ESB Paparazza!

ok the story was, I had morning chemo and an afternoon scan last week Tuesday, so I took the day off from work, took my camera along & wandered the vicinity between appointments. Unftunately the day ended up being really hard on my poor chemo-cranky feet but I did really enjoy roving around and taking pix and I realized today that except for a skyline from the ferry, I haven’t shared any yet. Did some editing tonight and here’s the first batch – I don’t care how long I live in NYC, I will always enjoy taking pictures of the Empire State Building!

To hell in a hailstorm

To hell in a hailstorm

After a chilly night, we woke to a lovely morning at our camp on the Sound of Sleat.  Handily, as it was Springs the tide would be fairly high in the mornings meaning that we’d only have a long carry with our boats at one end of each day of our trip.The cool air was very clear and every colour was really “zinging” – Raymond’s paddling attire of sea-blue top and grey trousers were in perfect colour coordination with the scenery!A leisurely breakfast taken, tents down and final preparations complete, we had just a short carry with our heavily laden boats to the water……..and soon were off down the Sound in truly glorious conditions.As we paddled south a view opened up through a gap in the hills to the Cuillin of Skye, the iconic skyline drawing both eye and memory – what days have been enjoyed on that ridge!Our route took us south across the mouth of Loch Hourn which the previous afternoon had been whipped by a strong wind and raked by steep breaking swells.  No such issue this morning though as we paddled the 4km wide mouth in flat calm conditions.A glance over the shoulder stopped us in our tracks as a more open view of the Black Cuillin opened up, the main ridge to the left with gars Bheinn prominent at the end of the ridge and the mighty Blaven with Clach Glas on the right.After a coffee stop on the south shore we turned our bows inwards and headed along the south shore with the sun at our backs and a view across to Beinn Sgritheall (Scree hill) – one of the loosest mountains in Scotland to climb – it does what it says on the tin!Conditions were very atmospheric, alternating between warm sunshine and chilling air as snow and hail showers passed.  Remarkably, we were missed by all of these through the morning.After a lunch stop we paddled into Barrisdale Bay where Loch Hourn takes a twist and becomes very fjiord-like.  Initially it’s difficult to make out the route through the Caolas Mor (big narrows) but it soon becomes clear as one approaches.  The channel is only a few metres wide and has very strong tidal flow; we’d timed our passage here carefully.  Loch Hourn has a well-deserved reputation for fierce weather – indeed one translation of the name is Loch of Hell!  Situated on the edge of Knoydart which “enjoys” the highest rainfall  anywhere in the UK with annual totals exceeding 4.5 metres.  The loch’s position sandwiched between high mountains, west facing aspect and narrow topography result in fierce winds and squalls….as we were about to rediscover!  Although the weather here can be superb for many days on end – that’s not the norm…..We arrived at the narrows just as a squall gathered at the head of the loch and swept down towards us.  Donny had already gone through in his F-RIB and pulled into the shore to sit it out.  Douglas and I were already into the throat of the channel, which is just a few metres wide, when all hell broke loose.  The squall arrived with an instantaneous rise in wind and a frightening roar.  We simple bowed our heads into lashing hail and tried to hold position by paddling hard.  For fully ten minutes we were battered by wind, hail and spray – then just as suddenly as it had arrived, it passed.  We all gathered on the shore of the spit at Caolas Mor, a little battered and more than a little chilled.  We decieded that the best course of action would be to warm up by doing some more paddling and so got back in the boats and headed farther into the narrow upper loch. We made it as far as another narrows leading to the tiny Loch Beag and the road end at Kinloch Hourn.  This is one of the more remote spots in Scotland…although we were just 2km from the end of a road, that twisting, precipitous and narrow ribbon of eroded tarmac goes through totally empty country for fully 37km/23 miles before reaching a main road.  The ebbing tide was pouring out from here and the whole area dries out at low water – we could go no further.  Turning back, we headed down the ebb tide towards our intended camp site.

29th april 2021 #2 Crossing the deep at the mouth of Loch Hourn.

29th april 2021 #2 Crossing the deep at the mouth of Loch Hourn.