Mallaig and District Canoe Club

Mallaig and District Canoe Club - Trips 2012

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April 20-22 - Raasay and Rona

When you set out on a trip that you have done several times before there is always a wee niggle in the back of your mind that is saying in a bored voice ‘been there done that’ but it seldom actually works out that way and the Rona and Raasay circumnavigation is one of those trips. It’s not named a classic trip for nothing. It’s a ‘must do’ and well within the reach of most people.

Six us set off on the Friday at 11 am hoping that the forecast of light winds would hold true and expecting at least light rain over the weekend. We paddled from Sconser round the south end of Raasay and up along it’s east coast with barely a ripple on the water, watching the rain showers fall on the mainland on the other side of the Sound. We took a couple of stops, one of them to look at Brochel Castle, and arrived at our chosen campsite on the north of the island shortly after 6pm.
The rain we saw over on the mainland never visited us and we were able to pitch our tents in the dry.

The following day, after a cold night we took the east coast of Rona in slightly choppy conditions taking a break on the north of the island after some playful clapotis. Some nice swell and occasional surfing saw us down the west side to Acairseid Mhór. Be warned, there is now a charge of £1 for landing on the ‘slip’ there, something I’m sure will prove controversial.  From here we took a walk over to the other side of the island to visit the church cave where the islanders used to worship before the church was built in 1912.

Sunday, after another chilly night, saw us take the route home down the west side of Raasay with a couple of otter sightings. It was flat calm most of the way with wonderful views across to Skye. A moving tableau from The Quirang, Storr, Ben Tiananvaig and past Braes to Sconser. It was on the final approaches that we finally got rain. Well, we had to really! It would not be Skye without it.
Lastly, as tradition demands, a pint in the Broadford Hotel and home.

April 28-29 Lorne & Linnhe

The only time I’ve been on this water is care of the Council ferry at Corran.  I’ve checked it out loads of times from the A82 and A828 but never actually paddled North of Shuna Island.

So it was that we six set afloat with a good breeze taking us down round Castle Stalker for a close up of this impressive bastion of Appin.  No flag was flying and nobody was in to offer us coffee so we rode the bumpy waves to the West of Shuna for Eilean Balnagowan.  The bay to the South gave a sheltered and sunny spot for lunch but was accompanied by the cacophony of gulls wheeling over their nests.  Several pairs of nesting Canada geese somehow put up with this din and the aggressive behaviour of their neighbours. We stayed well out of their way in the tidal rocks and they gradually settled down.

 On reaching the North end of the island the wind had settled to a breeze and we headed NW over Loch Linnhe to the shores of Kingairloch, then Inversanda Bay.  The dull red navigational beacon on Sallachan Point had been visible for quite a distance and the long grass covered, shingle peninsula leading down to it proved to be a reasonable spot for putting up our tents. On closer inspection the beacon was an octagonal concrete structure, complete with a ball on top but lacking paint on it’s landward side – Council Cuts?  Another party of paddlers came on shore, looked around then, promptly set sail in the darkening skies for Onich.  Very social!

After the camping faff and a feast Joan lit a wee fire on the shore, Graham and Iain treated us to a tasting session, then a sunset on Glencoe and the Ben provided a lovely change from Saturday night television. As the whisky dried up, the fire died down and several lightly smoked paddlers headed for their sleeping bags.

The Sunday winds were a bit stronger than forecast but the tidal push through the Corran narrows helped our progress for a few kilometres.  The Easterlies were getting funnelled straight on to us but Inverscaddle Bay was sunny and sheltered for our first break.  The solitude of West shore paddling was pleasant but hard work and the wind had brought the racing dinghies out from the Fort to buzz our progress.

Turning East past Corpach we met Elizabeth and Tony who’d come out to join us.  This allowed us to finish a little earlier at the end of the canal instead of the jetty at Linnhe camp site. 

5th – 7th May - Scourie

Nine hardy campers braved the sub-zero temperatures at the excellent Scourie campsite. Present were John Jenkins, Joan Smith, Jill Skeoch, Bill Skeoch, Jane Carr, Graham Donnelly, Iain Donnelly, Fiona Wild, Roger Wild.

On Saturday the windchill temperature was minus 4 degrees centigrade. With extra warm layers, gloves and pogies the team set forth from the head of Loch Laxford with two plans. Plan A was to go around the headland at Sgeir Ruadh and continue to Scourie. Plan B was to turn back from the headland and explore Loch Laxford and Loch a’ Chadh-Fi. Conditions were manageable until we reached the headland where we could see the lumpy sea further out. We hung about for a few minutes before deciding that discretion was the better part of getting stuck in a scary sea and we turned back to explore Loch Laxford and environs. This proved a good call if only because we were able to see a lot of countryside we would otherwise have missed. First up was a short excursion around the small island east of Eilean an t-Sithein. This provided some entertainment and a little surfing. We then tried to paddle through the narrow channel north of Eilean an Eireannaich and into Loch a’ Chadh-Fi. This proved impossible however, despite the map showing clear blue water in the channel. No doubt this was because of the low spring tide but it is interesting to note that blue on the map doesn’t necessarily guarantee navigable water. We went around the island and landed at Ardmore for a lunch break. This coincided with a heavy fall of hailstones the size of peas. We found some shelter and replenished the energy stocks. Setting off again the weather was still inclement as we made our way to the head of Loch a’ Chadh-Fi going past the Adventure School on the way. We met a group of four paddlers from the centre – I’m not sure who was the most surprised to see another group on the water. We turned back and had an enjoyable if rather chilly paddle back to the start point. A comment was made about the day, “that was good but could we have no **** hailstones next time!” Distance paddled 23kms.

Sunday’s plan was to paddle from Scourie to Kylesku which would have some tidal assistance and hopefully a little shelter from the northerlies behind the islands. The first job was to drive over to Kylesku and leave a vehicle for the shuttle. The weather was great, sunny with blue skies. As we returned to Scourie we were greeted by snow and hail. We decided to get going and if the weather didn’t brighten up we would turn back. This was a good call as the sun came out again and we had a great paddle against the backdrop of snowy peaks. The Kylesku Hotel provided great hospitality at the end of a memorable trip. Distance paddled 20kms.

Monday dawned fair and a plan evolved to paddle from Fanagmore, go around Sgeir Ruadh and continue to Scourie via a break at Tarbet. The sea was pretty flat until the headland and we then had a bit of chop and some clapotis before reaching the calmer waters on the run into Tarbet. Food and drink was taken on board before heading through the Sound of Handa where much fun was had exploring the caves on the mainland side. The sun continued to shine as we cruised back to Scourie, packed up camp and went for tea and medals at the Kylesku Hotel. Distance paddled 12kms.

20th. May - BBQ paddle

Great turn-out again for the annual foodie extravaganza and good to see some new faces. 24 paddlers took to the water at Invercaimbe - mostly on foot and dragging their boats for quite some distance as the tide was fully out - useful for those who needed practice getting in and out their boats! It was especially good to have some youngsters - one paddling their own boat, one in a double with dad and one with dad and gran in a Canadian Canoe. Both kayaks managed 9.4kms. of varied conditions; the canoeist was left to manfully paddle back unassisted. Lunch was by the elephant rocks north of Camusdarach, where we were met by an assortment of adults, children, the youngest baby ever to attend a BBQ paddle at 4 weeks old and a couple of dogs, bringing the number of humans to 30. We had the whole beach to ourselves. Few food photos have appeared - only Iain's wok prawn Thai stir-fry makes it onto the page this year. Heading back south a few paddlers called it a day back at Invercaimbe whilst the rest headed round to the skerries for a bit of wildlife spotting, then back to Invercaimbe too late for most people even to manage a visit to the pub.

27 May - Rescue Day, Glenuig

24 club members enjoyed the glorious sunshine at Samalaman and practiced bracing, towing, bow rescues, assisted rescues, self rescues, paddle float rescues, re-entry and roll and rolling. One member even went swimming at lunch time! Paddlers were Mike, Sheila, Josh, Joan, John, Pete, Jo, Fiona, Roger W, Michelle, Tony, Elizabeth, Graham, Jane, Iain D, Ian M, Roger L, Margie, Ruth, Quentin, Jill, Kirsty, Bill, Elvire.

10 June - Eilean Shona

Twelve members gathered at Kinlochmoidart and donned midge nets to launch onto the calm and quiet water. Cruising effortlessly through the North Channel we met three paddlers coming the opposite way loaded with kit on their decks for an extended trip. Near Baramore we stopped for jelly snakes and gazed up at the mushroom shaped rock on the lower slopes of Smirisary Hill. We were soon paddling along the west coast of Eilean Shona where the water was still calm and we had a very relaxing journey along to the south-west corner of the island. The magical Shoe Bay beckoned and we stopped for an early lunch. The sun came out as we landed and we enjoyed a splendid sojourn on the soft sand which apparently provided the name for the bay - the sand being so soft that many people have lost their shoes in it. Suitably replenished we headed off again with several members swopping boats and paddles for experimentation. As we departed the forecasted rain began, fairly light at first but slowly increasing in intensity. This was OK as we had had our lunch in the sun. The group posed for photographs by Castle Tioram before the final leg back to the road and subsequent landing and loading in the now heavy rain. Paddlers were: Mike, Sheila, Kirsty, Moira, Dave, Elizabeth, Tony, Roger L, Ruth, Margie, Fiona and Roger W

16 June - Loch Hourn

On Saturday 16th June 12 paddlers set off south from Glenelg with a brisk northerly wind behind and a push from the last of the ebbing tide.  First stop was the Sandaig Islands and Camus Fearna, the setting of Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water.  This is a beautiful section of cliffy wooded shoreline with a mixture of native woodland and pine forest where a white tailed sea eagle gave the group quite a show!  Having visited the memorials to Maxwell and his otter Edal at Camus Fearna, the group set off round Rubha Mor and into the mouth of Loch Hourn hugging the north shore to gain shelter from the northerly wind.  After a late lunch and toilet stop at the Ceilidh House in Corran, the group paddled on to the narrows at Caolas Mor where they camped for the night.  By this time the wind had dropped and the rain and midges had become a serious deterrent to any socialising so the group bedded down early having agreed a 9.30am start in the morning.

By morning the rain had stopped, but the midges were awaiting breakfast at the tent flaps!  However a welcome breeze soon picked up and drove them back under cover by the time the group were ready to pack boats.  Sadly Sheila and Mike had to leave at this point as they had a date with an elephant in Fort William!  Hugging the north shore the group made their way round Eilean Mhogh Sgeir to Kinloch Hourn, and the promise of tea and buns at the tea shop! There was some uncertainty as to where the kayaks could be safely beached in the shallows at low tide.  A set of stone steps provided the  perfect place to tether the kayaks while the group enjoyed tea, coffee and hot chocolate at the tearoom in the company of four mountain bikers who were setting off to cycle the path to Barrisdale.  A little bit of banter ensued and bets were laid as to which group would reach Barrisdale first.  The bikers had a few hills and a rocky path to negotiate and the kayakers had tide and wind against them, so the odds were even!  Paddling along the south shore of the loch the kayakers passed Skiary and Runival with the bikers ever in their sight on the precipitous path.  Arriving at Fraoch Eilean in the entrance to Barrisdale Bay, the group was just settling down to eat lunch when the bikers rode past on their way to dinner at The Old Forge in Inverie.  All agreed the honours were shared!  This is a beautiful spot overlooked by the semicircle of peaks that forms Ladhar Bheinn. 
The last leg was a 5km stretch to journey’s end back at  the Corran Celeidh House; a great place to unpack boats and sort gear before setting off for home.
A great weekend in a magical place with good company and nature at its best.  Thanks to the paddlers:  Roger & Fiona, Iain, Graham, Jill, Michelle, Lesley, Helen, Mike & Sheila and John.
Distance travelled: 46km      

23 June - FAMILY FUN on Loch Morar

On Sunday 24th June, 17 paddlers young and old gathered at Bun an Loin Bay on Loch Morar on a cloudy, but thankfully calm day, for a family paddle.  There were kayaks and canoes of all shapes and sizes for people to try out.  Once it had been decided who was going in what boat the company set off out of the bay, round Eilean Ban and on to An t-Eilean Meadhoin where they ate a picnic lunch on a sandy beach underneath the canopy of beautiful natural woodlands that cover the islands of Loch Morar.  After lunch some folks decided to swap boats before setting off for the bay via the jetty on Eilean Ban. 
Once back at the start, some families went off to other activities while others stayed to practise paddling skills and try out different boats again.  A great day was had by all and it was great to have all the age groups paddling together. This sort of family activity will definitely feature in the club’s calendar in future years!
Thanks to all the participants and to Mike and Sheila for bringing all the boats!

Junior River Trips - 14th and 28th of June

On the 14th and 28th of June Six junior members of Mallaig & District Canoe Club took part in two descents of the river Oich which flows from Loch Oich into Loch Ness at Fort Augustus. The unusually dry spring and early summer meant that river levels were very low. However Loch Oich is fed by the river Garry which benefits from a weekly dam release. This in turn raises the level on the river Oich.
The trips were led by Stuart and Ben from Rockhopper who worked with the boys on moving water skills such as edging, ferry gliding, breaking in and out of eddies and surfing standing waves. The river Oich has many natural features such as boulders, rapids, wave trains and standing waves which make it an ideal training ground for young paddlers.
The river paddles were the culmination of the hard work done by the boys in the Mallaig pool over the winter months and on Loch Morar in the Spring. All of the juniors acquitted themselves very well, impressing the instructors with their enthusiasm and willingness to give everything a go! Two of the young paddlers even managed to roll their kayaks on the moving water!
A big thank you to Josh Kingswood for driving the boys and boats to the river and to Ben and Stuart for their excellent instruction. Roll on the next river!

1-6 July North Harris and Uist

A pod of about 20 common dolphins chasing mackerel in the bay was a spectacular start to the trip at Uig in northwest Skye, as eight paddlers gathered for the 18.15 sailing to Lochmaddy.  Similar weather greeted us in Lochmaddy as we trundled our kayaks out of the ferry and down a slip into the water.  All except Bill that is – he had hardly got off the boat when his trolley broke and it was rapidly consigned to a bin.  Little did we know that this was only the start of his troubles!  We paddled away from the pier looking for a place to pitch the tents and soon found a spot on nearby Rubha Mor.

Link to slide show on YouTube - best viewed small screen

Link to .wmv slide show download

The following day the weather was still sunny but a stiff north easterly breeze and whitecaps on the sea promised a bumpy ride as we prepared to set off down the east coast of the island.  By the time we reached the beacon on Glas Eilean Mor at the entrance to the loch, the waves were  two metres high and more and very intimidating. Turning around was unthinkable and we just hoped that these monsters would subside once we got out of the mouth of the loch.  As we approached the Madadh Mor rock, Bill shouted out that he had a major problem: his front hatch cover had been knocked off by a huge breaking wave. In an increasingly unstable boat, he made it to the lee of the big rock, where Roger and Tony came alongside him to pump out.  To do this, some cargo had to be removed to allow the pumps to get down to the bottom of the front compartment and it was here that we discovered that a wellie sinks really quickly when it’s dropped into the sea.  Hatch cover back in place, we continued southwards in a slightly more manageable sea.  After another three kilometres and a view of a sea eagle, we reached a little inlet where we pulled ashore for a very welcome break and allow Bill and Jill to sort out some soggy gear.  Bill had now had three misfortunes and we deemed him safe from further mishaps. Luckily this proved to be indeed the case.
The next hour’s paddling required serious concentration but we made it safely to the narrow channel that separates Flodaigh Beag from North Uist and surfed through into a millpond-like inlet. After a lunch break, the ebb tide made for easy paddling as we passed north of Grimsay, heading for the north ford causeway.  During the afternoon Mike had been in touch with former club member Colin Biddulph, now resident locally, and we came ashore just short of the tunnel under the road for a reunion blether.  Once through the gap, the tide was against us and it was something of a slog to get to our camping spot on the south east tip of Baleshare.  The pitching here was very low lying and because of the spring tides, everyone except Joan (a woman with nerves of steel) retreated to fractionally higher ground.  Her confidence was well placed and she didn’t suffer a nocturnal inundation.

As we carried our boats down to the sea the following day we were joined by club members Dave and Moira Broadhead and their friends Sid and Jane; staying on North Uist, they had come to join us for a morning’s paddle. The ebb tide propelled us smartly through the Beul an Toim channel and we were onto the Atlantic ocean. Calm, with a little swell, our boats were pointed northwards and paralleled a seemingly endless succession of sandy beaches backed by dunes, a complete contrast to the rocky east coast of the island. After our four extra paddlers had left us we found some calm water behind a rock skerry for an early lunch break. The weather forecast had been changing on a daily basis, so we were keen to press on and round the day’s two headlands in case conditions took an unexpected turn for the worse.  In the event they didn’t, and Aird an Runair and Rubha Ghriminis were passed without trauma, despite some spectacular waves breaking on the latter.  A campsite was now the priority and we soon found a beautifully situated one on sheep-cropped turf above a sandy beach.  An otter fishing in the sea completed another very enjoyable day.

Pyramidal orchid

The sea was glassy calm the next day as we headed east towards the Sound of Harris. Unfortunately the ebbing tide meant that we couldn't pass over the tidal flats to the south of Vallay island and we made a more or less straight line for Udal on the Aird a Mhorain peninsula. We walked ashore accompanied by clouds of flies, fortunately of the non-biting variety. The Udal is an archaeological site that is thought to have been occupied for a longer period than anywhere else in Scotland: from Neolithic (4500 BC), through the Vikings about 800 AD, to the 17th century. The place was excavated by researchers over a 33 year period and the landscape shows the remains of many dwellings on various levels. It's a magical place but unfortunately we couldn't locate it exactly from our landing point and we didn't have enough time to search for it. It's much easier to find by walking in from the distant road.  We paddled onwards on a calm sea and reached the causeway linking Berneray to North Uist.  We could not see an opening under the road and a portage would therefore be required when the tide was high enough to access the slip running alongside the causeway.  However, an excursion by Joan and Jill resulted in them gleaning local knowledge that there was a culvert at the other end.  Bill led off and headed for the helpful local man’s van that was now parked over the culvert. We were delighted when we saw him disappear rapidly down an unseen opening and knew that we had avoided the portage. The culvert was only about two boat widths across and would only be accessible at low tide states.  Our next objective was the local shop, conveniently located close to the shore where provisions were taken and tea and scones consumed.  Several of us needed water, so the next stop was the harbour toilet block.  From previous visits to Berneray we knew that the local camping was not ideal and we set off across the Sound of Harris for the island of Killegray.  This was an entrancing leg of the day’s paddle: a glassy sea, gannets and terns flying overhead and manx shearwaters skimming the water close by.  Seals bobbed up and down to peer at us inquisitively. An inlet on the east side of island led to a wonderfully scenic pitch with views out to the Sound and a wealth of terns and oystercatchers.  A corncrake called intermittently in the long grass but fortunately didn’t continue all night.  A walk before turning in for the night was rewarded with a beautiful sunset.     

To our surprise, the next day saw us setting off in fog and we followed Roger’s GPS directions that he had thoughtfully put in for our first objective:  the shop at Leverburgh on Harris that might just stock a pair of wellies to fit Bill.  The ferry from Berneray hove into sight and in view of the size difference between our respective vessels, we thought it sensible to let it pass and dock ahead of us.  We came ashore close to the shop where Bill got his much needed new footware and we all enjoyed the attached cafe.  Harris Co-op got the full M&DCC stamp of approval.  The sun had now cleared the fog and we paddled up the coast towards Toe Head in glorious weather . Before long a tide race became visible but the passage through it was uneventful and shortly afterwards Roger diverted to the shore for water supplies.  The rest of us went on to a beautiful beach with an old chapel above it.  A relaxed lunch was enjoyed and Roger joined us before long.  He had filled the water bags at the house of a very hospitable old lady called Robena , who had lived there all her life.  Our last water refill had tasted unpleasant, so we judged that if Robena had been drinking it for the last 80 years or so, it must be good stuff.   We left the calm water of the Sound and rounded Toe Head in lumpy but manageable seas.  Once into the lee our thoughts were focussed on a place to camp.  The map didn’t suggest a lot of choices – plenty of housing dotted about and surf beaches that we didn’t want to land on if possible.  An inlet at Taigh Bhuirgh looked hopeful and so it proved to be.  Although we normally make every effort to camp out of sight of housing, this time we had no choice but to be overlooked by a bungalow about 500m away.  Relaxation in the warm sunshine was followed by a lovely evening as the sun set towards the horizon.

We expected the following day to be windy and it was.  The next one was going to be even windier, so we decided to cut the trip short by one day and catch the 16.00 ferry from Tarbert.  After a sharp start, we had a very hard paddle into a wind of force 4, gusting to 5 at times.   We made the 17km to Tarbert in a fraction over four hours, only the last hour giving us some respite from the fierce headwind.  Tarbert was warm and sheltered and we ate very welcome ice creams sitting in the sun awaiting the ferry.   A wee celebratory drink was taken on the voyage home and all agreed that it had a very enjoyable trip.

Paddlers: Mike and Sheila, Bill and Jill, Joan, Roger W, Tony and Elizabeth. Total distance paddled: 134km (84 miles)  

Loch Nan Uamh 
On Saturday 11th August, 6 paddlers set off from the beach at Ard-nam-Buth just west of Lochailort bound for Arisaig.  This A paddle was due to take place on 15th July but had to be cancelled due to wind and rain.   On 11th August the conditions could not have been more different with blue skies and light winds forecast for the whole day.  The group paddled close to the north shore of Loch nan Uamh with its scattering of islands and skerries, looking into the bay at Druimindarroch and admiring the bothy at Camus Ghaoideil (pronounced Gutchel), before lunching at the sandy beach north of Eilean a Ghaill with its vitrified fort.  Two hardy members of the group grabbed the chance of a quick swim in the clear waters of the bay before lunch (and after Bill had seen off a herd of very determined and quite aggressive cows and calves which obviously felt that they had squatting rights to the beach!)  After a leisurely lunch the group set off round Rhu Point and into the south channel of Loch nan Ceall, landing at the new concrete slip at Arisaig Marina after a paddle of approximately 20km.  A very relaxed and beautiful paddle – thanks to all who came along!
Paddlers: Joan, Bill, Jill, Ruth, Jon and Kjersti

18/19 August  Summer Isles

Friday saw a doughty bunch of paddlers gradually congregate in the pub at Altandhu and gather the intent to ‘do’ Rubha Na Còigach the following day as the weather forecast was looking favourable for headland paddling.

Saturday did, indeed, start with sunshine and calm waters but some late weather info informed us of an incoming force 5 south westerly around lunchtime.  So suitably forewarned we made a no nonsense bolt for the tip of the headland, drew breath in the sunshine and flat water then bimbled the caves, inlets and skerries of the west side of the rubh. Great fun knowing we had plenty time to indulge ourselves.
The wind did pick up but it was later than forecast and only affected us towards the end of our trip. When ashore, the wind became our friend as the midges were being particularly ferocious.

On Sunday morning most of us, those that were going home later that day packed up and we all drove along to Achiltibuie to put in at pier bay for the Summer isles. Sadly the trip leader had been feeling unwell and therefore, up to that point, had excluded herself from the trip. Ah, the healing powers of the sight of an excellent day’s paddling and the threat of missing out. Recovery was swift and we had a marvellous time, again in sunshine and flat water, rounding the Tanera Mòr and Tanera Beag to head for the teashop on Tanera Beag. It was closed but did not to spoil a good day as tea and cake was taken in Achiltibuie later. Well, that is apart from a renegade group of paddlers, five in all, that decided paddling to Ullapool would be a wizard wheeze. They pealed off after the circumnavigation thus packing in 33km by the end of the day. Thanks to those that were kind enough to pick them and their boats up in Ullapool.
A great weekend!

Torrin  24th- 26th August  2012
On Friday 24th August 18 club members gathered from the four corners of Scotland at Torrin Outdoor Centre west of Broadford on the Isle of Skye.  Weather forecasts and maps were scrutinised during the evening and a plan was forged for two days of paddling. 
Saturday was forecast to be the windier of the two days with gusty winds getting up to 15/16knots from the north.  It was decided to paddle from Torrin to Heast on the north shore  of Loch Eishort which should mean a tail wind for the first section of the journey down loch Slapin and shelter as the group turned into Loch Eishort.  Three cars were shuttled to Heast early doors on Saturday morning.  The sun shone as the group of nineteen kayakers set off from Torrin heading south to the mouth of Loch Slapin with the following wind and sea hastening them on their way.  Rounding Rubha Suisnish into Loch Eishort, the shelter from the north wind calmed the waters for the kayakers who were now on the lookout for a suitable lunch stop which turned out to be a rocky beach under the steep slopes of Carn Dearg.  Here three or four rocks were found containing fossils which afforded much excitement.  The decision was made to push on after lunch to the beach at the deserted settlement of Boreraig where paddlers were assured there was a greater chance of finding fossils and so it proved to be.  The group came ashore where the Alt na Pairte cascades in an impressive waterfall into a deep pool which feeds into the sea.  Layers of fossil shells were visible in the cliffs above the beach and many fossils were discovered and stowed away in hatches.  All the while the wind from which the group was expecting to be sheltered was gaining in strength and funnelling down the loch.  Thus the last four kilometres into Heast was a battle against a steady force 4 gusting 5.  All members of the group were glad when Heast hove into sight and they were able to paddle between Eileen Heast and the mainland to reach the take out.  Cars and boats were shuttled back to Torrin where hot showers were followed by an excellent dinner and slide show of various paddling adventures undertaken throughout the season.

Sunday dawned overcast but calm.  The group, now numbering 22 paddlers, set off for Elgol where they split into two.  A group of 8 opted to paddle round the island of Soay while the other group of 14 headed for Loch Coruisk and the beautiful bay of Camasunary in the shadow of Blaven.  Those who went to Coruisk could not but be impressed by the Cuillin Mountains towering over little Loch na Cuilce where the boats were pulled onto seaweed covered slabs.  The paddlers walked the short distance up the Scavaig river to Loch Coruisk before eating lunch and hurrying back to their kayaks as the tourist boats arrived!  Another stop was taken at Camasunary before the group headed back to Elgol along the eastern shore of Loch Scavaig where they met up with team Soay before heading back to Torrin for a cup of tea.  Fond farewells were taken before the paddlers headed home after what everyone agreed was a great weekend. 

Team Soay had a rewarding 22km paddle with calm seas, a fascinating variety of geological formations and stunning views of the Small Isles (seem from a different perspective than we normally see them) and the Cuillin mountains on Skye. Thanks to all the people who shared and contributed photos of the trips.

Moray Firth 8/9 September
On Saturday 8th September  six paddlers set out from North Kessock  in sunny conditions to paddle into the Beauly Firth.  They  paddled up the north shore searching for the remains of crannogs rumoured to dotted along the shore.  With the breezy conditions it was difficult to spot the sandbanks which are exposed by the low tide and  two members of the party got well and truly stuck and had to disembark and pull their kayaks to deeper water – jokingly observing that it was the first time they had ever paddled up hill!  It was decided to paddle on up into the Beauly river to find a lunch stop.  Four paddlers went ashore and found themselves knee deep in cloying mud!  Seeing this,  the other paddlers decided to lunch in the safety of their kayaks.  After lunch they paddled back along the south shore of the firth to the entrance to the Caledonian Canal before crossing the firth in conditions made interesting by wind and tide.  Safely back at North Kessock, refreshments were taken at the local hotel where plans were made for Sunday’s paddle..........
........and the plan was to paddle from Cromarty back to Avoch.    Nine paddlers launched from the pretty village of Cromarty in the Black Isle looking over to the impressive fabrication yard at Nigg on the north shore of the Cromarty Firth, which has recently reopened bringing much needed employment to the area.  Paddling out through the ”Souters” (the word souter means cobbler !)  in glassy calm conditions, the paddlers were afforded great views of the remains of the WW2 gun emplacements set high in the cliffs guarding the narrow entrance to the firth.  All along this shoreline the red sandstone cliffs are sheer and boast many caves, some of which have until not too long ago been occupied!  A comfort break was taken at a beach where the kayaks were pulled up under a rock arch and the paddlers explored an old fisherman’s bothy which had sadly fallen into disrepair and been replaced by a securely locked and bolted shed.   Throughout the day the paddlers were entertained by a lighthouse authority ship which was lifting and cleaning the navigation buoys in this busy shipping lane, and by the sounds of distant gunfire from Fort George.  After lunch the group rounded Chanonry Point and had a close encounter with two dolphins which were entertaining the large crowd that gathers there on a daily basis to catch a glimpse of these fascinating creatures.  The wind picked up as expected after the group rounded the point and the last few kilometres to Avoch were into a stiff headwind and under an increasingly glowering sky.  Having landed at Avoch and done the shuttle thing to bring cars back from Cromarty, the paddlers were entertained to tea and buns at Elaine’s house – a very pleasant way to end a successful weekend of paddling on the east coast.  A big thank you to Elaine for the organisation!

PaddlersSaturday: Elaine, Joan, Roger & Fiona, Moira & Dave.
                  Sunday: Elaine, Joan, Roger & Fiona, Dave, Roger L., Ruth, Kirsty, John J.