Mallaig and District Canoe Club

Mallaig and District Canoe Club - Trips 2015

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April 12th - Loch Linnhe
Our season's kick-off paddle to explore some of the environs of Fort William from the sea dawned cold and dreich but by launch time the sun was shining, albeit with the ever-present threat of a shower. Meeting at Outward Bound car park, we crossed the main road and railway line to access the launch slipway. This was not done as in days of yore, when we sauntered over the railway line with not a care in the world. Elf and safety has found this Highland backwater and rail crossing is achieved by first phoning railway personnel to advise them of our perilous plan and then phoning a few minutes later to let them know the manoeuvre had been successfully completed. Failure to make the second call results in closure of the railway line, which could obviously involve paddlers in some adverse publicity.

The passage through The Narrows was against the tide but as we were on neaps, the impediment to our progress was minor. Nevertheless, thirsts were built up and we landed at one of Corpach’s offshore islands for a break. During our refreshments the wind got quite blustery but our hopes that this was temporary were to prove forlorn. Continuing our journey along the north shore, we had to make a swift diversion as we approached the entrance to the Caledonian Canal: a very large floating gin palace (“The Lord of the Glens”) hove rapidly into view with the same idea and it seemed prudent to keep out of its way.

Our progress soon after was hindered by a shortage of that paddling essential: water. On the landward side of An Caol it was rapidly drying, so we rounded it on the west side. Unfortunately the wind at this point was strong enough to beach one of our number and we abandoned ideas of exploring the River Lochy and headed over to Camasnagaul. Here the wind was negligible, the sun was shining and we pulled ashore for a well earned lunch.
The post-prandial launch was in a heavy shower but it soon relented and we made steady passage back to Locheil OB in sunshine. The railway was safely crossed, during which the organiser solved a mystery. In the morning the phone had been answered by a man who said “ Hi, Valerie signalbox here” This seemed strange to say the least but in the afternoon all was clarified when he said “ Hi, Banavie signalbox here”. Memo to self: get ears syringed.
Our enjoyable day was completed by afternoon tea at the Moorings.
Paddlers: Bill & Jill Skeoch, Roger Wild, Ruth Sime, Kirsty Bloom, Tony & Elizabeth Laidler. Thanks to Roger for photos.

19 April - Shuna and Lismore

The sun shone, the tides were on our side and the little wind we had also favoured us. Dave and Jenny were there early to assemble their amazing double kayak while the rest of us had a more leisurely start. The ebb tide and a wee breeze gave us a good push down the Shuna Sound. In no time, we were at Castle Stalker for a photo shoot, then over to Eilean nan Caorach with three different limekilns for morning coffee. We then paddled on to Port Ramsay (another limekiln) and over towards yet another limekiln below Glas Druim for lunch. The views up towards Corran and Ben Nevis and over to Cruachan were superb. The wind had dropped completely so we took a pretty straight line towards Shuna past Eilean Glas then round the west side of Shuna to our starting place. We took in refreshments and more views at the cafe overlooking Castle Stalker before the long journey home for some folk.

Circa 17k, two castles and five limekilns

Dave and Jenny Ford, Margie Hemingway, Heather Lloyd, Dave and Moira Broadhead, Malcolm Thomson, Bill and Elvire Scott and Ruth Sime

27 April - Rescue day

13 of us met up at Salalaman bay to practice some rescues.
The day started windy and got windier with cold showers, so we started off with as many dry things as we could think of, such as towing, till after lunch. We then carried on to getting others back into boats with different methods and climbing onto rafts of boats. At the end finally some of us not totally frozen went just out of the bay to try it out in the F5+ outside in waves. After a few successful rescues we all ran back to the cars and the Lochailort Inn for warmth.

Circa 300m at most. (not counting going round in circles)

Allan Lindsay, Jill Skeoch, Kirsty Bloom, Bill Scott, Elvire Feeney, Cathy Mayne, Iain Donnelly, Jo Devlin, Mike & Sheila Kingswood, Bernie & Liz Swan and John Jenkins

9 May - Tobermory - not Loch Shiel

The weather forecast was playing games with us during the week, the wind strength and direction constantly changing, leading to much procrastination as the weekend drew closer. Eventually, we reverted to plan B because, although Saturday was flat calm, Sunday was excessively windy. The logistical challenge of shuttling 14 people and their boats between Glenfinnan and Glenuig was resolved by using the most up-to-date technology (playmobil and duplo) and innovative technicians (Kirsty's daughters), sadly to no avail. However, it's good to know that the club has access to these valuable resources for future planning.

So plan B involved considerable prevarication with options that included Canna and Carna but eventually the decision was made to paddle from just west of Glenmore on the Ardnamurchan peninsula to Tobermory. We put in at Port na Croisg and Camus Fearna and headed over to Auliston Point for morning coffee. Joan and Ruth scouted for campsites while everyone enjoyed the views and the sunshine. We then headed south down the Sound of Mull for a mile or so with great views of Ben More, Mull, before crossing over to the south end of Calve Island. For a while, it didn't look like there was a passage between Mull and Calve Island but our doubts were allayed by a creel boat which came chugging out of Tobermory. We paddled alongside Calve Island into Tobermory Bay, definitely the best approach as the panorama of Tobermory opened up in full colour. Lots of photos were taken; it's impossible not to. We lunched in Tob, had fish and chips, coffees and ice creams and then reluctantly headed back. As forecast, the wind had picked up a little, but was no problem as we headed back to Auliston Point for a stretch and then over to Rubha Aird Slingnish and back to our cars, then on to Salen Hotel for refreshments. As we packed up, we met two wild swimmers who were planning to swim three miles to a sandy bay where they planned to bivvy. With waterproof sacks the size of a day sack, they could teach us a thing or two about packing for wild camping. Circa 25k. Lovely day out

Best turned out awards went to Sheila - on the water, Alan M - off the water and to Heather for the longest journey on the day, although Alan M had come from Dorset a few days earlier.
Paddlers: Ruth Sime, Allan Lindsay, Kirsty Bloom, Alan Matthew, Joan Smith, Bill Scott, Mike & Sheila Kingswood, Bill & Jill Skeoch,
Heather Morton-Lloyd

17 May - not the Falls of Lora

Due to the weather forecast we cancelled the May 16th/17th trip to the Falls of Lora, but the wind died a bit on Sunday for 5 of us to go out west to Salalaman bay again and this time paddled out to play in the wind F5 and waves.

After practising manoeuvring before lunch we landed for a short break and then came out to have a go at rescuing and towing after a few hours we decided it was still cold and retreated back to the pub and home.

Allan, Kirsty, Ruth, Elaine and John

23-23 May - "Not the Treshnish" (again)

Put off by the idea of being stranded on the Treshnish Isles waiting for the Force 5 winds to abate, we quickly hatched an alternative paddle idea. I definitely wanted to avoid a one day paddle and do a journey,  but the wind was against us coming up with a good venue at our preferred destination of somewhere on Mull.  On Thursday morning both Sheila and I woke up with the same idea in our heads. Why not go down Loch Nevis to Sourlies for the night then back the next day in time to avoid the weather front bringing rain and even stronger wind from Saturday evening on.

Ten of us met up in Mallaig Friday lunchtime with the idea of being ready to leave at 13.30. We must have all been on a punctuality awareness course as we were ready bang on time; even I didn't waffle and faff to my usual extent, which drew a couple of incredulous comments.

We set off, in the almost-sun, into the chop which is often there at the corner of the harbour in the shallow rocky area just before turning into Loch Nevis; interesting conditions to warm up in but not anything that caused concern. Leaving Mallaig behind, travelling east down the loch, the wind gave us a nice push and provided good surfing opportunities. Up above there was a sea eagle being harried by a lone gull. In this area of the loch I have watched gulls working in pairs dive bombing a sea eagle, probably the same one, and forcing it right to the surface of the loch. We made a quick and early stop to fix Elaine's skeg which was refusing to deploy, then pressed on to Eilean Giubhais. There was another party of kayakers on the beach there but they left as we approached; we were able to track their progress over to Inverie as we headed south round the corner and across the loch to it's east shore. We carried on to our tea break destination at Kylesknoydart where we stopped to enjoy the sun and played mountain goats or sheep to sit on the rocks rather than the beach. We now have a new Ovis section of the club. We should probably have dallied longer to allow the flood tide to have gathered momentum more, but, as our boats were beginning to drift, we set off through the narrows into the head of the loch not long after slack water; there was minimal current running, but we still gained from it and the wind was still at our backs, so we continued to make good time to our destination of Eilean Tioram. The sky was bright, the views of Sgurr na Ciche, Sgurr Sgeith, Ben Aden and them other ones were stunning. Cathy stopped off to chat to Jamie, who owns the estate and happened to be out on the Camusroy pier. He suggested he might come for a visit, so we all anticipated ice for our gin and tonic and maybe canapés, but this wasn't to be. It turned into a glorious, perfect evening apart from the temperature of the wind. We hid in the Skeoch's tent, chatted and drank until bedtime. A great evening.

When I woke up on Saturday I was convinced that the sea must have frozen over. I have never camped anywhere colder without snow on the ground. However, the morning was beautiful, sunny and calm, and not an iceberg to be seen. We planned a half nine start and were again spot on. These awareness courses really are value for money. Our initial progress was worryingly into wind, a bit of a concern, as it was supposed to be from the south and on our beam. We watched the clouds and weather front begin to roll in and hoped that the wind would be from the south as predicted and not in our face all the way back. We carried on out of the head of the loch, through the narrows and stopped at Tarbet. This was a good opportunity for those that hadn't seen Cam Mac's house to get a good view of it and all the restored buildings down in the bay. Cameron's Auntie's husband was there and gave Joan all the gen. The bunk house is still operational even without Frank, which is good to know. We set off with the intention of reaching the beach by Eilean Giubhais for lunch. The wind was building and, with no tidal assistance, it definitely took longer to get there than going in the opposite direction the previous day. At lunch I used the Honey Stove to toast both Sheila and my sandwiches. I can definitely recommend driftwood smoky burnt toasties. The wind was looking a lot less southerly than hoped and a lot more westerly than wanted; it was building too. We had the last 6k to do, 5 of it into the wind, which was now a strong Force 3 to mid Force 4. Nice to get a good work out though and our luck had held; it hadn't yet rained all trip, so we weren't dis-spirited. Arriving back in civilization was all too early but the right decision, as by the time we had packed the cars it started spitting with rain. Nothing else for it but to retire to the mission café for tea, cake and final farewells, then a walk back to the car in proper rain.

Mike & Sheila Kingswood, Tony & Elizabeth Laidler, Bill & Jill Skech, Joan Smith, Cathy Mayne, Peter & Elaine Venters

30 May - Kinlochmoidart

As we all know the weather in May has not been kind to paddlers, and the last weekend of the month proved no exception!  The paddle due to take place on Sunday 31st was rescheduled for Saturday 30th when the wind was expected to drop to manageable proportions.  So it was that 8 paddlers met at Samalaman,  west of Glenuig, and set off for Kinlochmoidart, a distance of some 12 km.  Although the wind was certainly dropping and due to drop still further,  the sea state that the paddlers encountered on rounding Rubha Ghead a Leighe was decidedly choppy and it was decided to stay well out to avoid the surf breaking on the skerries and the clapotis rebounding from the rocky shoreline.  After passing the small township of Smirisary, the group headed for the white sandy beach sheltered by Eilean Coille.  At this popular spot first lunch was eaten on the grassy sward above the beach, and the decision was taken to turn into the North Channel and not to carry on along the rocky western shore of Eilean Shona and into the South Channel.  Once through the narrow islet-strewn entrance and into the channel, the group found itself in flat calm waters under a blue sky; beautiful paddling conditions after the turbulent waters on the outside.  Any concerns that there would not be enough water to paddle over the causeway from Kylesbeg to Shona Beag were soon forgotten and all eight boats crossed the causeway with only a couple of minor scrapes.   As there was plenty of time to spare, it was decided to paddle round the south shore of Shona Beag, past Eilean an Feidh and Riska to the sandy shore below the impressive Castle Tioram where second lunch was had.  By the time the group left the shore, the tide had filled the muddy estuary of Loch Moidart (not a place to be with a kayak at low tide!) and a leisurely paddle in calm waters brought the group to the take out at Kinacarra at the end of the “new road” (which is not so new now!).  Enough cars had been left there to transport all the boats back to Samalaman from where it was off to Lochailort Inn for refreshments before the paddlers headed off in various directions.
Thank you to those who came along and made it such a good day’s paddle.....not a great distance, but lots of good craic, interesting and contrasting conditions as well as some of the most beautiful scenery on the west coast!

Paddlers:  Roger L, Michelle, Joan, Heather, Ruth, Kirstie, Pat and Bill.
Footnote:  While paddling down the North Channel admiring the renovated cottages and the impressive hand built road on Eilean Shona, a plan was hatched to paddle to the island and walk its circular track before paddling back to Tioram (Having run a shuttle).  Keep an eye out for this paddle on next year’s calendar!  Happy to do a trial run this summer if anyone fancies it!


26-29 June - North and N.E. coast

This year has been the worst in many a year for constantly wind watching and wondering whether it is possible to run a paddle on the club calendar. The North Coast paddle was no exception, with a plan B, C and even D contemplated. In the end we decided to attempt whatever came about ,even if most of it was walking. In the event we managed three spectacular days up in the Pentland Firth, never to be forgotten. We travelled up on the Friday, abandoning any expectation of a half day paddle, and set up camp for the long weekend at the campsite owned by Marilyn and Ian of the Halladale Inn, Melvich. A sensible central location to access the coast in either direction.

Day 1:

Saturday morning looked like the best weather day, so we decided to attempt the rounding of Strathy Point. Although it seemed a bit contrary we decided to head out in an easterly direction, possibly against the tide, to arrive at the point at slack water, then maybe battle the continuous north going eddy on the east side until following the coast back to Melvich and a pint or two in the pub. This seemed a sensible idea as there was a strong force 4 westerly forecast and a steep downhill put in at Port a'Chinn that would be a complete pain in the ass after a day's paddle battling against the wind. I also figured that there might be a back eddy on the west side to assist us given the topography. The put in proved to be steep and awkward as predicted. The F4 wind never really materialised and the paddle was a relaxed and easy affair. No swell, no waves, no tide race and definitely no noticeable current. Plenty of bimbling in and out of caves and spectacular coastline with nesting cormorants, gulls and puffins in the cliffs. We managed to turn a 15 kilometer paddle into 25k, getting back late after a thoroughly enjoyable day. The general consensus was that if this turned out to be the only day on the water it was worth the journey up. However, we managed  two more days, each with increasing difficulty.

Day 2:

On Sunday we set off in a poor forecast for the best possible compromise of a fairly sheltered paddle round Neave Island and Eilean nan Ron. The forecast seemed to be wrong yet again; as we put in at Skerray pier we couldn't believe our luck and contemplated extending the day to include the Rabbit Islands. We set off anti-clockwise around Neave Island which is so close to the mainland it looked attached from the beach viewpoint. It wasn't, and as we moved along the south shore we came across a picture perfect beach in one of the most beautiful bays I have ever seen. This set the tone for the rest of the island coast, with caves and arches that begged us to linger and explore. We had taken so long to reach the north west of the island it was now nearly lunch time so we shot across the short crossing to Eilean Nan Ron and the beach at Mol na Coinnle. Flat calm all the way there, we were feeling content and looking forward to exploring the island. The pier and harbour was accessible via a low arch as it was low tide but the harbour steps were eroded, with a section missing, so we landed on the beach and climbed up the steep cliff path to the plateau of the main island.  Sheep are now the only inhabitants of the 8 derelict houses, but it is easy to feel the sense of community and daily life standing amongst them and looking around the in-bye fields. The views here are stunning in all directions. Leaving the beach the clouds were whistling in from the south west and there was a breeze getting up; a different feel to the day was developing.  We continued anti-clockwise with yet more caves and arches to explore. By the time we reached the north corner the wind was much stronger and we cut through between the main island and Eilean Iosal, to be confronted by very confused sea and a 12 knot wind. All thought of heading to the Rabbits was abandoned and we continued round the island to the south shore bouncing about in the confusion, then crossed to Lamigo bay and shelter from the cliff face. After a short pause we drifted back with ease to Skerray Bay and our cars. A short distance but very memorable paddle which we seemed to manage to fill an entire day with.


Day 3:

Monday  was uncertain yet again, given the forecast, but after a couple of beers round the planning table in the pub we decided that if nothing changed we would attempt Duncansby Head. Nothing did, so packed up and set out to leave a shuttle vehicle at John O'Groats  and check out the put-in at Skirza Pier. The wind was okay, maybe 8 knots with the odd gust of 11 or 12 from the SW and due to continue like this all day. We stood on the pier and deliberated; this is a committing paddle and not to be undertaken lightly. Bill had a bad feeling about it, Sheila wasn't too keen either and we all jawed our way around the decision for quite a while. In the end Bill said, 'That's it! Lets go', and that was the decision made. We all hopped off the fence and set about getting ready. I was the only person that had been here before and that was on springs running at a full 8 knots which, although big, hadn't been a problem. The group was capable enough and it was roughly neaps. We were aiming to round the head at slack water;  what could possibly go wrong!! We headed off in good spirits and enjoyed the journey up to Wife Geo, which is a remarkable place of high cliff walls which we entered via a narrow passage in to the larger pool round the back. Sea birds were nesting everywhere, their calls echoing off the vertical rock face back and forth. We exited through an even narrower passage at the north end  and meandered up the coast to the Stacks of Duncansby.  A remarkable place, the main stack being pyramid shaped with some rocks wedged in a gap on one side, reminiscent of ancient Egyptian carvings to add to the effect. We could see the tide race off the corner of the head which was odd as, although we were behind schedule, we were only slightly so, and there should have been nothing to see at all! We continued keeping a wary eye on the race, which was not large but definitely there from a little before The Knee and in evidence for quite some distance out NE from there. Looking at it, the best option seemed to be to avoid the worst by going behind the Knee.  Going on the outside looked worse, if anything. The only way to do that, in calmer water, would have been to go 400  or 500 meters off shore. With a SW off shore wind, possibly up to F4, it didn’t seem  the best option. When we hit the race it wasn't fast, but the waves were very close together and steep, maybe a boat length crest to crest and 1 meter tall.  I couldn't see how big they were round the rest of the head, but outside the Knee they seemed larger, which confirmed to me that we should go behind it. It looked okay every time I checked the sea state behind The Knee, but I have to say my attention was on trying to see out beyond to the rest of the race and I was becoming increasingly nervous that someone may not be able to cope and capsize.
We took the route behind The Knee, which proved, err, shall we say, testing. We survived, though, but didn’t make the Geo of Sclaites in all the confusion and instead stopped briefly in the Bay of Sannick to catch our breath and have a drink, which might have been from a hip flask had we thought of it at the time. The rest of the journey was spent if not actually laughing and joking, definitely in good humour and story swapping about the recent brush with the tide race. We had calm easy water for the final leg to a slippery landing at John O'Groats pier only possible with the use of the handrail then a nice sit down with tea, coffee and food at the café before all parting.  We unanimously agreed that it was a superb weekend which will be remembered, for all it’s contrasts and spectacle with fond memories for years to come.

Suffice it say, no-one took any photos of The Knee area, so here are a couple I found, along with an indication of sea state.

Kirsty Bloom, Cathy Mayne, Joan Smith, Bill and Jill Skeoch, Mike and Sheila Kingswood

3rd. July - NOT the circumnavigation of Morvern!

Once again the weather played havoc with the Club calendar!  The circumnavigation of Morvern,  scheduled to take place from 3rd to 6th July, was scuppered by winds forecast to gust up to force 9 from the south east on the Saturday....not a time to be in the Sound of Mull!  The alternative of a paddle to Eigg on the Friday was proposed, but many of the paddlers coming from the Inverness area felt that this was a step too far for a one day paddle and instead opted for a 23km  paddle around Loch Ewe from Aultbea.  On the west side two paddlers set off on the ferry to Eigg on a sunny and calm Friday morning. After disembarking from the Loch Nevis, they paddled along the east coast of the island catching sight of three young golden eagles soaring above the cliffs.   A quick snack stop was taken at the northern tip of Eigg on a boulder beach behind  Eilean Thuilm before the 8km crossing to Dibidil on the south east coast of Rum for lunch.  The rising tide necessitated a quick getaway before the boats floated off the rocky shore.  The 7km paddle from Dibidil to Kinloch in Loch Scresort rewarded the paddlers with a wonderful shoreline of caves, waterfalls and towering cliffs white with the guano of nesting guillemots, gulls and kittiwakes.  A few puffins even put in an appearance!  The campsite at Kinloch was home for the night and there was time for a post dinner stroll round the bay to Kinloch Castle before the dreaded Rum midge put in an appearance and chased the paddlers off to their tents.  Saturday dawned windy and overcast as predicted.  Camp was broken early and after a short paddle to the slip, the paddlers boarded the Loch Nevis again for the 5 hour cruise back to Mallaig via Canna, Muck and Eigg!  Not the expected 4 day trip, but a worthwhile alternative and a chance to plan more adventures around the Small isles!

Small isles paddlers:  Joan & Roger
Loch Ewe paddlers: Moira, Dave, Heather and Margie  

Picnic Paddle, Sunday 19th July 2015

Squeezed in amongst the relentless waves of cold Atlantic fronts that have blighted the season on the west coast was a perfect paddling day; light winds, sunshine and calm seas was Sunday 19th July, the day of the club’s annual Picnic Paddle! 
As usual, the forecast had been all over the place during the preceding week, which may account for the lack of takers.  In the event, five paddlers set off at high tide from the oyster farm east of Rhumach on the Rhu peninsula and headed out past the mussel farm to the north shore of Loch nan Ceall.  From there the group, conscious of the falling tide and the danger of being stranded on the sands between the north and south channels, headed to Eilean Ban for the picnic and a quick game of footie (the Frisbee was a disaster and failed miserably to fly!).   After lunch the group headed across the South Channel to a sandy cove west of Rhu Pier for some beach combing and sand art.  Some amazing seaweed had been washed up there in the storms of the previous week.  The group then bimbled back to the start point enjoying paddling through narrow gaps between the rocky islets.  Here a bright orange starfish and a 6 spotted Burnet moth were sighted and captured on camera. 
Not a great distance paddled, about 8km in total, but a great way to spend a sunny Sunday!

Paddlers:  Michelle, Joan, Kirsty, Lucy and Lily.

15th/16th August - Juniors' weekend kayaking trip

Fingers were crossed for favourable weather for the club’s top junior group’s weekend paddle round Rubh Arisaig, and it didn’t disappoint!  Unfortunately only two members out of a possible five were able to come along on what proved to be a very educational weekend for all concerned.
The two juniors accompanied by two coaches set off on the morning of Saturday 15th August from the oyster farm just east of Rhumach on the Rhue peninsula.  They paddled north across the sheltered water of Loch nan Ceall with the intention of turning into the north channel and heading for the outside of Luinga Bheag and Luinga Mhor before rounding Rubh Arisaig and on into Loch Nan Uamh.  However as the wind had picked up and white caps could be seen  outside the skerries, it was decided to cut through the shallow waters inside Eilean Ban.  The group stopped for lunch on one of the many sandy beaches exposed by the falling tide before heading out into the choppy water around the end of the peninsula.  After two kilometres of exciting paddling they surfed into the sheltered Port Nam Murrach.  One of the juniors fancied a quick paddle round Eilean Port nam Murrach so along with one of the coaches set off once more into the big waves on the western shores of the island.  From Port nam Murrach the group paddled a couple of kilometres east into Loch Nan Uamh and set up camp for the night above a sandy beach sheltered by Eilean a’ Ghaill.  This proved to be a great camp spot and the brisk southerly breeze kept the dreaded midge at bay all evening, allowing the group to sit round the campfire in the evening sun and toast marshmallows!
Next morning, having eventually roused the younger members of the team from their tent, the group set off on the final leg of their journey to the beach under the railway viaduct at the head of Loch Nan Uamh.  Lunch was eaten in the bothy clinging to the cliff above Camas  Ghaoideil which afforded the group glorious views westwards towards the open sea and the small Isles.  The final few kilometres of the journey took the group past Am Fraoch-Eilean (Heather Island) and Eilean nan Cabor (presumably named for the tall straight pine trees which grow there!).
Hopefully the juniors will have learned a bit about journeying with a sea kayak and as they head off to university will join kayak clubs and continue with the sport.  For the coaches it was also a learning experience, as the juniors had strong family ties to the Rhue area and were a mine of information on the history, place names and topography of the peninsula and the lochs.  We wish them well as they set off on the next phase of their lives!

Paddlers:  Joan, Michelle, Joey and Eddie

21/23 August - TORRIN!

As we have come to expect this summer, the forecast lead us merry dance on the run up to the annual Torrin weekend! In any event, twenty three club members were joined at the Torrin Outdoor Centre on the shores of Loch Slapin in Skye by four of our friends from the Stornoway club for a weekend of paddling and merrymaking on the south of the island.  As numbers were high, it was decided to split into two groups to paddle, group A being the less experienced paddlers and group B those up for something a bit more challenging.
On Saturday the forecast was for decreasing winds and sunny spells. Group A, comprising 11 paddlers, put in at Kyleakin on Skye and paddled to Plockton, a distance of about 12km.  After a stop for lunch and a quick tour of the village (including a coffee stop!), 6 paddlers set off on the return journey to Kyleakin.  Two others opted to paddle further into Loch Carron and the remaining three decided to stay in Plockton to be picked up later.  Meanwhile group B left from Elgol, paddled to the old shark factory on Soay set up by Gavin Maxwell and back to Elgol via Loch Coruisk.  Saturday evening was spent sharing a meal at the Outdoor Centre after which everybody enjoyed a slide show of paddling trips and an Indian odyssey by the Kingswoods!  Plans for Sunday’s paddling were put on hold until an up to date forecast was available on Sunday morning.

Torrin hostel

Torrin group - minus Graham!

Old shark factory, Soay

Shark factory, Soay

South Skye coast - Sound of Soay

Approaching Plockton

Viking Canal, Skye

Viking Canal

Sunday morning dawned wet and breezy! The forecast was for warm sun later with strengthening easterly winds gusting even more strongly.   Various plans were considered and thrown out before it was decided that group A would paddle from Elgol to Camasunary and undertake a beach clean up, while group B would paddle from Torrin, down loch Slapin and round Ruhba Suishnish into Loch Eishort.  Five members made the decision to walk into Camasunary from Kilmarie on the Strathaird peninsula and help with the beach clean up. This turned out to be a herculean task which would take an army a week to accomplish!  However the group did what they could in the time available and stashed the rubbish bags behind a stone wall to be collected by the children of Elgol school when they do their annual clean up in September.  Although sheltered from the east wind by the cliffs, the paddlers encountered very strong gusts on the return journey to Elgol particularly where the wind funnelled down Glen Scaladal. 
After a quick cup of tea and clean up on at the Centre everyone headed off in various directions to catch ferries from Uig and Armadale or cross the Skye Bridge to the mainland and on homewards.  It was agreed that the weekend had been a great success and in a season blighted by fickle weather conditions the paddling was very enjoyable.  Until next year Torrin.........

Loch Eishort

Loch Scavaig

Litter pick-up at Camasunary


Camasunary beach

Elgol pier


Paddlers:  Mallaig Club - Roger L, Joan, Michelle, Pat, Mike K, Sheila, Iain, Jo, Alison, Cathy, Roger W, Fiona, Kirsty, Alan M, Allan L, John J, Mal, Jane and Graham.
Stornoway Club -  Murty, Mike, Donnie and Christine

6 September - South Channel exploration

The final A paddle of the year took place on Sunday 6th September.  Seven paddlers set off from Cul Doirlinn on Loch Moidart on an overcast morning to circumnavigate the South Channel.  The loch was relatively sheltered from the brisk northerly breeze as the group paddled across to the south shore of Eilean Shona and westwards toward their lunch stop at Shoe Bay on the south western point of the island.  This is a great picnic spot with pure white sands, a choice of beaches and great views out to Eigg Muck and Rum.   It is also very popular with other paddling outfits, but on this day the group had it to themselves .  Setting off after lunch, they found the water on the outside of the sheltered sea loch considerably more lumpy which proved challenging for the beginners in the group.  However  they were soon across the mouth of the loch and surfing in the following sea between Eilean Raonuill and Farquhar’s Point, before paddling along the south shore and making a short foray into the tidal Faodhail Dhubh before it dried out.  The group then paddled round Riska Island before passing under the impressive Castle Tioram and back to the beach at Cul Doirlinn.  It was good to get out on the water in the final weeks of a summer which has been dogged by low temperatures and wind.  It was also good to welcome some new members out with the group.  Thanks to those who came along!

Paddlers:  Roger & Fiona, Michelle, Joan, Kirsty, Barrie and Peter.
Distance paddled: approx 14 Km

September 26th/27th- Loch Shiel to Loch Ailort - take two

This was our second attempt to do this trip and we were keen that the last trip on the club calendar would not be a victim of the weather. There was a lot of checking and re-checking weather forecasts, wondering about funnelling winds on Loch Shiel and how choppy Smirisary Point would be. Finally on Thursday, it was agreed to go ahead and the Logistics Team (Josie, Lily and Lucy) and their technology (playmobil) were called in to advise Kirsty on the shuttle. Kirsty's tidal planning, which required us to be at the mouth of the river Shiel between 5pm and 7pm to ensure that no portage of boats was needed, was spot on. And so, eight of us were on the water for 10am at Glenfinnan with packed boats, keen to get moving and escape the Glenfinnan midges. It was flat calm and an easy paddle down the west side of the loch for a coffee stop or lunch for the early risers at Glenaladale. The midges were still present, so we didn't linger too long and continued down the loch to St Finnan's Isle for a leisurely late lunch. We'd made very good progress, so there was plenty time to explore the island, checking out the old buildings, old and new graves and wondering which animal or bird could not digest rowan berries! Barrie even rang the bell, but no great disaster befell the trip thankfully. Back on the water, the wind gave us a wee push as we paddled along the south end of the loch to the road bridge and then to the old bridge with obligatory photos. There were only a few fishermen about, who didn't appear to be too bothered by us, and the 4k down the river was lovely, quiet and serene with some beautiful early evening light. In no time, we were at the sea and paddling to our very fine campsite at Castle Tioram. There was ample flat ground for seven tents, firewood to hand and trees to hang our gear up. In no time, Mallaig Canoe Club had cluttered and occupied the campsite. And we had our very own boy scout (Allan) to start and maintain the bonfire on the beach assisted by Barrie, whilst the rest of us watched, ate, drank and chatted.

Day 1: 34kms

1st stop at Camas Crom


Lunch on Eilean Fhianin

St. Finnan's Chapel bell

Cruising down the river Shiel

In order to paddle the north channel, a reasonably early start was required on the Sunday, so we were on the water by 9.30, all signs of our "occupation" gone. The wind had picked up as forecast and gave us a very helpful push along the north channel without much effort on our part. A short bit of portage was required but then we sped along again, stopping at the big beach near Smirisary for a coffee stop. An otter was spotted at the east end of Eilean Shona and a young sea eagle flew over us as we approached Smirisary Beach. Smirisary Point was very tame in the southerly wind and we made good progress towards Samalaman where the wind did pick up a bit more. We continued to the beach near Roshven House for lunch, where Helen's dog made an unaccompanied visit (clearly she can sniff out kayakers!) and then on to our cars at Alisary. As usual Loch Ailort was doing its own thing with some wind v tide, bits of moving water and odd gusts of wind which was unexpected but no problem, and by 3pm, we were back at our cars. It was great to finally have the weather to do this excellent trip and to get a wild camping trip in this late in the year. Hopefully a good omen for next year.

Day 2: 18kms.

Tioram camp spot

Leaving Tioram

Approaching lunch spot at Eilean Coile

Loch Ailort

Roshven and Roshven House

Paddlers: Kirsty, Ruth, Allan, Heather, Joan, Barrie, Sheila, Mike