Mallaig and District Canoe Club

Mallaig and District Canoe Club - Trips 2010

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April 11 - Glenuig to Ardtoe and back

SOUND OF ARISAIG                       
On a gloriously sunny morning, 18 paddlers assembled at Glenuig for the club’s first trip of the new touring season. The original billing was for “Loch Ailort” but starting and finishing at the Glenuig Inn seemed a nicer option. Despite a longish carry over sand and seaweed, we all got afloat just after eleven o’clock and headed west on a glassy sea. After 5km we came ashore at the sandy beach opposite Eilean Coille for a coffee and comfort break. Continuing south, en route for Ardtoe, some of the party turned into the inlet leading to Shoe Bay and surprised two otters playing in the water.  Lying  on the SW tip of Eilean Shona, the bay is a hidden gem  for sea kayakers.

The beach at Ardtoe had a fair sprinkling of people on it enjoying the sun, sand and sea and fortunately they didn’t seem to mind being invaded by a large party of paddlers. After our (late) lunch break, we turned back for Glenuig and although there was an initial slight headwind, this soon died away and the afternoon was pleasantly warm, although not so hot that those in dry suits were parboiled. Roger Wild continued to amaze us with his rolling practice, although this was curtailed after he took his part in towing one of the group who was flagging on the return leg. We landed back at 5.30pm and the almost full tide made boat carrying a lot quicker than our morning efforts. Enjoying the traditional post-paddle pint at the Inn, there was general agreement that we had had a good kick-off to the touring season.

Tony Laidler

April 25 - Lochcarron

15-21 May - Jura circumnavigation

This year’s “Summer Cruise” (well, spring really!) was scheduled for the Outer Hebrides but we had to bow to the weather and plan B was activated – another shot at getting around Jura
We launched at Tayvallich in warm sunshine but heading down Loch Sween into a stiff breeze soon cooled us down. Stopping at Linne Mhuirich to pay our respects to the Brittle stars wasn’t too rewarding, the wind waves hampering visibility. We pitched tents on the south end of the Island of Danna and awoke the following morning to calm sunshine and great views of seals. A late start to time the tide around slack for the crossing to Jura also saw Joan leaving the party to return back up Loch Sween.  The rest of the party passed through the MacCormaig Islands and headed out across the Sound into some choppy water. Halfway through the 8km crossing, the wind strengthened to F4 and as it was in our faces, the last part was a very hard slog. After a relaxing lunch in the sun we had an easy passage down to Craighouse and the camping field in front of the hotel. The latter being under new management, we had an excellent meal and made full use of the showers.

The following day was overcast to start with as we bimbled down the coast and pulled ashore at Jura House for an early lunch, having “scored” five otters already, including three small cubs that were very curious about us. Jura House gardens were open and worth the short walk up the hill but the signposted tea tent was sadly not operating.  After lunch the sun came out and we paddled into the Sound of Islay in time for the northward flow to whisk us through with very little effort  on our part. We landed on a lovely beach and decided to camp there: a stunning location looking across to Islay and beautiful turf to pitch on made it an easy decision.
Looking across the Sound of Islay from Jura Glenbatrick - windy beach Bagh Gleann nam Muc Horny Paul West coast of Jura

The forecast for the following day was southerly F4-6 winds but it started calmly enough. It was fresh by the time of launching but didn’t give us any problems as we dawdled along the spectacular coast of dykes, arches and raised beaches. After a break, we began heading eastwards towards the mouth of Loch Tarbert and the strengthening wind began to make things interesting. Rounding a headland and coming into Glenbatrick, we had a real struggle to gain the beach against a F5-6 wind. There followed a very long carry and the rest of the afternoon was spent recovering, drinking tea and sheltering from the wind as best we could.

The wind had subsided the following day but it was cooler and overcast. We headed up Loch Tarbert, the indentation  that almost bisects the island. The coast here is famous for its raised beaches and they didn’t disappoint – a bizarre, almost alien landscape. Part way, we met some canoe-sailors who were toiling through the narrows just short of the head of the loch against the ebb tide – our kayaks made short work of the obstacle and we landed at the jetty where a track leads in a mile or so to the east coast of the island. We were soon joined by the sailors, who were intent on portaging their boats by trolley rather than go around the island through Corrievreckan. We left them to their herculean task and returned along the north shore of the loch. We had a brief look at Ruantallan bothy before continuing to Shian Bay to camp for the night. The grass here was remarkable for the amount of deer droppings on it and the animals must have been annoyed to have a bunch of sea paddlers occupying their toilet area for the night.
Thursday was overcast but calm as we launched through some small surf without mishap. The next 18km had only one take-out point (craftily used as a comfort stop by one of the party), the rest of us had a long wait for our relief. It’s not a coast for rough weather; even on a calm day the swell made a rocky landing an uninviting prospect. A late lunch was eventually taken at Glengarrisdale, a picturesque place with a rather smart bothy. Our departure was timed to take us the 5km to Corrievreckan to coincide with the calmer water of the last hour of the ebb tide and thus avoid any unpleasantness  involving watery graves etc. Approaching the islands outside the Bagh Gleann nam Muc that lies at the western end of the Gulf, we met some large swell but nothing out of the ordinary and the tide wasn’t fast. The Gulf itself looked benign and as the tide wasn’t due to change direction for 30minutes, we decided to go across to the Scarba shore, about 1.5kms away. The current was visible but easy to handle and we returned to the Jura side without mishap. We pitched in the Bagh and in the evening walked over to watch Corrievreckan in full flow. Although a neap tide, there were some very impressive standing waves and races on the Scarba side.

Our final day saw us launch at 10.00 and the last of the flood gave us no problems as we rounded the northern tip of Jura and headed down the east coast of Jura. There was patchy fog in the Sound of Jura and gave us some concern that crossing to the mainland might be a tad risky. After an early lunch, the sun came out and quickly burned off the fog and so we set off. Aiming for the Ruadh Sgeir lighthouse, we didn’t make enough allowance for the accelerating ebb tide and it was a slog to paddle up-tide to gain the little rock with its lighthouse and colony of breeding terns. By the time we got there, there was a significant tide race downstream of it and we scooted smartly downstream  from it once we started back for the mainland. The weather was flat calm and tides neap – it would be a fearsome place with spring tides and adverse wind.  A few more kilometres and we landed at Carsaig beach for a final celebration dram.
So, after 147km (92 miles) we were done, having seen some wonderful wildlife ( including three sea eagles and 19 otter sightings) and fantastic scenery. It was great fun too! Thanks to everyone who took part.
Tony Laidler

June 6 - BBQ paddle Arisaig area

The gods were with us once again! With a forecast of grey skies and rain we were again blessed with a day of glorious sunshine for this year's bbq paddle. 23 finally got on the water at Mallaig by 11.15a.m. after a relaxed and chatty loading up, having come from as far afield as Inverness, Fort Augustus and Aviemore. A few new faces and plenty of old ones made for an interesting day. The sea had enough variety to keep some of the less experienced paddlers entertained and on their toes as we ambled down the coast to Morar, where we met up with more club members already ensconced on the beach with fires ablaze and rounders bats at the ready. The theme this year was for "something inside something else", the most (or least?) original being a sausage in a skin! Sand with everything, as usual, and someone just couldn't keep their nose out of the HOMEMADE chocolate sauce. The beach was left rather reluctantly and we travelled on down the coast to a variety of destinations - Traigh, Back of Keppoch (no points for navigation there - thank goodness for mobile phones) and Arisaig, then finally to gather at the Cnoc for a parting bevvy. Thanks to all who attended and made it another fun day out. See you next year.


After camping at Uig overnight, we caught the 09.40 ferry to Tarbert and launched from there in sunny, breezy  weather.  Heading through East Loch Tarbert, we went through Caolas Scalpaigh and once across the mouth of Loch Seaforth were on the coast of Lewis. Landing in Loch Bhallamus to camp, we came across the ruins of a house occupied in the early part of the 19th century by cruel land managers , the villainous Stewart brothers. We learnt about their history from “ Sea Room”, the book by Adam Nicholson about the Shiants that also covers the adjacent coast in great detail and was an inspiring guide on our trip.
The following day we planned to cross to the Shiant Islands but a lumpy sea and discouraging weather forecast decided us to stay on the Lewis coast. After exploring the length of Loch Bhrolluim, we continued westward and around the headland of Rubh’ Uisinis, with its lighthouse and east going tiderace. We paddled as far as Mol Truisg for a lunch break , then retraced our steps as far as Loch Bhrolluim and found another superb campsite with outstanding views.

Monday was overcast to start with and before long we were in “Scotch mist”. We explored the inlets west of Loch Claidh, including Bagh Ciarach, “Gloomy Bay”, said to be the site of the Pairc murders of 1785. Going further west, we coasted past Reinigeadal, a remote community and caught sight of a paddler on a sit-on-top towing a couple of fishing lines but he didn’t hang around to speak to us.
Late lunch on Scalpay and then on towards Tarbert where we found a pitch on one of the islands at  Ob Liceasto.
The following morning we were up smartly for the short paddle to Tarbert in sunny, calm conditions. Unlike us, two French yachtsmen anchored off the harbour weren’t too happy about the lack of wind for the start of their return home. After landing, we had found the local tea shop (which served excellent coffee) and then wheeled our boats aboard the ferry for the crossing back to Uig. Total distance paddled: 74.5km. Paddlers:  Elizabeth Laidler, Tony Laidler, Joan, Smith, Roger Wild, Bill Skeoch, Dave Cummins

August 14/15 Tobermory trip

After weeks of wind and rain and two cancelled trips, the forecasts at last promised little or no wind and wall to wall sunshine for all of two days - all the time needed for the long awaited paddle to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull!  Six paddlers set off from Laga Bay west of Salen on Loch Sunart and paddled on the out going tide towards the island of Carna.  On this leg we were lucky enough to have a close encounter with three porpoises who came within feet of our boats before diving deep.  We managed to squeeze through the narrows between Oronsay and the mainland at Doirlinn before they dried out, and paddled on down Loch na Droma Buidhe.  Having lunched at Auliston Point, we set off across the Sound of Mull watching out for the many ferries and small craft that ply up and down this busy seaway. 
Arriving in Tobermory on a still ebbing tide, we left the kayaks where we landed and headed straight for the ice cream shop!  Some paddlers found that they did not have enough hands to manage the melting ice cream and the scalding coffee!  After an hour browsing the great array of shops on offer in Tobermory and promising ourselves a return trip to do the Christmas shopping, we retrieved the kayaks and headed off past the lighthouse at Rubha nan Gall for our intended campsite at Bloody Bay (so called after a sea battle that was fought there).  The landing was at low water on a boulder beach, so it was decided to unload the kayaks, tether them and let the tide float them in up the obvious boat slip that had been cleared by previous residents.  The tide did the job very well, and deposited the boats high up the beach, leaving us a short carry to above the high water mark.  During the evening, despite scouring the whole area, we found no evidence of habitation, but we did however have two sightings of sea eagles!
The following morning dawned clear and windless and we were on the water just after our ETD of 9.30am!  We paddled on glassy calm seas across to Maclean’s Nose on the southern shore of Ardnamurchan, with views of the ruins of Mingary castle, Ben Hiant and the mountains of Rum peeping over a low point on the peninsula.  From there it was 3km east along the shore (looking out for the ruins of the village of Bourblaige) to our lunch stop at Camas nan Geall.   After lunch, we roused ourselves reluctantly from the drowsy warmth of the afternoon and set off on the last (10km) leg of our journey back to Laga Bay assisted by a following breeze. 
Thanks to all who managed along on the trip and apologies to those who couldn’t make the two days.  The weather and sea conditions were perfect, but of course it was the company that made this a memorable weekend - oh ….. and of course - the ice cream!!
Paddlers: Dave Cummins, Roger Lanyon, Elizabeth Laidler, Isla Kinnear, Paul Cromey, Joan Smith.
Distance paddled : approx 40km. 

August 27/29 Torrin

On Friday 27th August eight paddlers gathered at Torrin Outdoor Centre in Skye for the penultimate paddle of the club’s touring season.  After a week of calm seas and sunny skies, winds were forecast to blow from the west on Saturday and the north on Sunday, so plans were made to paddle from Kyleakin on Loch Alsh to Glenelg on Saturday.  This was an excellent paddle involving some exciting water as the group paddled through the narrows at Kylerhea.  The plan was  for those of the group who felt that this was enough to get off the water at the slip on the Skye side of Kylerhea.  However the whole group decided that as the weather was calm (if somewhat wet!) they would paddle back to Kyleakin, making the distance covered 24km in total.  Points of interest on the paddle were the colony of seals on the rocks just north of Kylerhea,  many of whom showed great interest in our kayaks, the numerous heron spotted along the way and a good view of the ruins of Bernera  Barracks at Glenelg.  These were built in 1723, one of four barracks built in the Highlands in the aftermath of the 1715 Jacobite uprising.
After dinner that night the group was entertained by a selection of slides depicting various paddling adventures undertaken over the season.
Sunday dawned sunny but windy!  It was soon decided that paddling in the F5/6 northerly was not an option, so other plans were hatched.  One member of the group opted to climb a mountain, one to relax in the center and the rest to walk the track south of Torrin along the shore of Loch Slapin to the deserted village of Suisnish.  This afforded the walkers amazing views out to Eigg and Rum as well as of the craggy peaks of Blaven.  At Suisnish the party split, some walking on round the shore of Loch Eishort via Boreraig to rejoin the main road  from Broadford to Elgol at the ruins of Cill Chiosd (church of Christ).  On this section of the walk they had an amazing encounter with three otters feeding and playing on the shore! The rest returned to the Center to get packed up for the journey home.
All in all the weekend was a great success, with everybody gaining a bit of paddling experience while having a jolly good time! It was agreed that we are very privileged to have such a stunning location for paddling on our doorstep - we’ll be back!!
Thanks to everyone who came along.
Paddlers:  Roger Lanyon, Fiona Wild, Lesley Gorman, Moira Broadhead, Michelle MacDonald, Dave Cummins and Joan Smith.
Climber and Shuttle Bunny!: Roger Wild

18/19 September - Sandaig Islands

On Saturday 18th September four paddlers set off from Mallaig on the final trip of the season to the Sandaig Islands (of Ring of Bright Water fame!) just north of Loch Hourn.  The weather was overcast with rain and light winds forecast.  The sea state crossing the mouth of Loch Nevis was decidedly lumpy and the paddlers had to be on their guard for the odd large breaking wave!!  However as soon as they rounded Mary Ann’s Point, the sea flattened out totally and paddling conditions were perfect.  The small settlement of Airor was the first stop for coffee, which was taken huddled in group shelters against the rain! After coffee it was on past Inverguseran  and round Rubha Ard Slisneach into Loch Hourn.  On the stretch from Mary Ann’s Point to Loch Hourn the group enjoyed various close encounters with  otters.
The plan was to paddle some way along the south shore of the loch before crossing to the north shore and then on to the Sandaig islands.  Having eaten lunch just east of Croulin, the group crossed the loch and as they paddled back along the north shore, the sun came out and they enjoyed the very different, tree lined aspect of this side of the loch. Here they had another sighting of an otter atop a large wave munching a small fish. Leaving the mouth of Loch Hourn the group again encountered lumpy seas as they rounded  various small headlands before surfing into the shelter of the islands.

The camp spot was on the island nearest the shore which dries out at low tide.  The views across to Skye and up towards Glenelg in the early evening sunshine were glorious, but the group were driven early to their tents by the dreaded midge!

Sunday morning dawned wet and windless and camp was broken early to afford the group time to visit the memorials to Gavin Maxwell and his otters (see picture).  The return paddle to Mallaig, via coffee at Inverguseran and lunch at Dune, was uneventful if somewhat wet, and the expected increase in wind strength thankfully did not materialise.

This was a great two day paddle which has spawned plans for a club trip to the head of Loch Hourn next season.  Thanks to Tony for arranging!
Paddlers: Tony, Elizabeth, Roger L & Joan