Mallaig and District Canoe Club

Mallaig and District Canoe Club - Trips 2018

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Saturday 25 May - Loch Sunart

Launching from Ardery, the sun was shining for our first paddle of the season but the wind had a distinctly chilly feel to it. We easily got through the gap between Eilean Mor and Camuschoirk and landed soon after for a coffee stop. From there it was an easy run with wind and tide in our favour to our lunch stop by the jetty near Monument Park, Roger getting in some nice sailing. During lunch we watched wild swimmer Liz swim to the other side of the loch and back, an impressive feat. We headed back with the tide but into what had now become a stiff breeze. The latter dominated the paddle back, much of the time it was F4 and was a complete contrast to our easy morning run up the loch. As usual in Loch Sunart the wildlife was good: we saw two Common seals and the birding highlights were at least a dozen each of curlew and redshank and two greenshanks. Afterwards we went to the cafe at Ariundle for copious amounts of tea and excellent cakes. 18km.

Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart

Paddlers: Elizabeth & Tony Laidler, Roger & Fiona Wild, Dave & Jenny Ford, Ruth Sime.


Saturday 14 April – Loch nan Uamh to Rhue

The weather was calm as our group of six left the head of Loch nan Uamh and made good progress on an outgoing tide. However by the time we reached Druimindarroch the wind had increased to a force 3 from the south as predicted. We stopped at An Garbh Eilean for our first lunch – a sheltered spot recommended by Stephen – but didn’t linger as the tide was due to turn at 12.20. We then paddled west along the exposed stretch of coast to Eilean a’ Ghaill for our second lunch. The remains of the fort on this island are on a superb position on top of steep rocks with commanding views all around. No signs of vitrification though. On our final leg of the paddle we took as much shelter from the islands as possible and soon turned the corner into the shelter of the south channel where we could relax and enjoy the remainder of the paddle to Rhue jetty. Distance paddled 18km.

Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Paddlers : Roger and Fiona Wild, Ruth Sime, Peter Sugden, Stephen Hudson and Bill Scott.

Sunday 20th May - Beach Clean-up

With a forecast of strong south easterly winds gusting up to 30 knots, it was with some trepidation that three club members set off from Mallaig under grey skies to undertake the club's inaugural beach clean up at Sandaig on the Knoydart peninsula. Turning into Loch Nevis, the threesome was surprised by the calm conditions and they were beginning to wonder if their fears were unfounded. However, on rounding Sron Raineach they were met with strong headwinds which persisted for two kilometres until they found shelter behind Eilean Giubhais just short of Earnsaig Point. It was quickly decided to abandon plans to cross the loch and instead to clean up the beach behind the island. So after a quick lunch (during which an otter was spotted fishing off the end of the island!) the paddlers donned gloves and, grabbing stout black bags, set to work. The rubbish collected consisted mainly of plastic bottles and rope. Much of the rope on the beach was so firmly enmeshed with the seaweed it was impossible to extricate it. The bigger items were polystyrene and plastic fish boxes. By the end of a couple of hours a sizeable pile of bags and larger item was gathered above the high water mark to await collection.. there was no way the paddlers could have taken it all out in their kayaks! They sky was still overcast when they set off for home, but the wind seemed to have dropped considerably and what wind there was, was at their backs. Good time was made on the 5km return to Mallaig, but the weather gods were not done with them! On paddling round Courteachan Point the paddlers encountered seriously strong headwinds which they had to battle all the way to the take out. With much relief and a sense of achievement they pulled their kayaks ashore. A good job well done! Thanks to Drew Harris from Inverie for collecting and disposing of the rubbish.

Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
 
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart

Paddlers:  Joan Smith, Iain Donnelly, Steve Hudson


Saturday 2nd. June - Ardnish


The good weather which had been blessing the west coast for a couple of weeks hung on for the Club’s sixth planned paddle of the season around the Ardnish peninsula.  The only fly in the ointment was the possibility of the thunder storms which had been plaguing the southern half of the country tracking north.  It would not be good to be out on the open water with lightening about! However, having studied all the available forecasts and the predicted track of the storms, it was decided to go ahead.  Eight club members were signed up for the trip, but two had to call off as the ferry from Skye was fully booked all day.  This lack of ferry space is proving to be an on-going problem, and club members should should be advised to book the ferry well before their date of travel.
Six paddlers set off from the beach under the railway viaduct at Glen Mama just west of Lochailort.  Conditions were perfect if slightly hazy, with only a light breeze to keep them cool.  They crossed the mouth of Loch Beag and on under the steep hillsides of Eiridh Gharbh.  Conditions remained calm as they rounded the first headland and looked back to the deserted settlement of Slochd. On rounding Rubha Chaolais and paddling inside Eilean Chaolais,  great views opened up of the Roshven hills and the islands of Loch Ailort, all layered in shades of grey.  A quick decision was taken to paddle over to Eilean nan Gobhar (aka Goat Island) for lunch. The beach on the eastern side of the island boasts some beautiful stones and a few of these were secreted inside hatches to enhance a local garden!  Mid lunch-break a thick mist rolled in from the west which obliterated sight of land in all directions. On leaving the beach there was still no sign of land, so the group set a course of 60 degrees hoping to reach Peanmeanach, one and a half kilometres away. Although the haar was very disorientating, the paddlers eventually sighted the bothy and ruins of Peanmeanach right in front of them and after a few photo opportunities, set off along the north shore of the loch past Laggan cottage and on through the narrow channel between Eilean Buidhe and the shore where the outgoing tide was still apparent. The rest of the paddle to the take out at the jetty just west of Inverailort was uneventful apart from the sighting of a couple of eider duck. A lovely paddle of some 16.5km….Great weather and great company!

Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart

Paddlers:  Sheila, Iain, Steve, Roger L., John J., and Joan


June 29 - July 2 - Loch Hourn

Seven members set off from Mallaig on Friday 29th June for a four day paddle to Kinloch Hourn.  The weather was warm and sunny, and the sea calm as they had come to expect over the previous weeks.  After crossing the mouth of Loch Nevis and rounding Mary Ann’s Point (as it is known locally) the group passed Doune and stopped for lunch at Airor.  After lunch it was a short 5 km paddle to the first night’s camp spot at Slisneach.  Having pitched their tents on the vast grassy sward, the paddlers set about collecting firewood and rubbish for the after dinner bonfire. Luckily the weather was too hot for midgies, but there were a fair few clegs to look out for. 

The next morning dawned clear and warm and the group were up and away early, paddling round Rubha ard Slisneach and into Loch Hourn.  After passing Croulin it was decided to cross the loch and paddle down the north shore past Arnisdale to Corran where they hoped to have morning coffee at the Tea Hut. On this leg of the journey the paddlers were treated to sightings of a porpoise and her calf feeding in the waters off Eilean Rarsaidh.  Disappointingly the Tea Hut was closed (be warned it closes every Saturday!), but the village Hall at Corran offered toilets, picnic tables and  interesting information boards about the area.  After lunch and an awkward launch the group headed past the three conical islands of Cor Eileanan and through the narrows to reach their next campsite at Caolasmor where one member of the team was brave enough to have a swim!

Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart

Sunday morning dawned clear and warm. Camp was soon broken and the group were heading down the Loch past Eilean Mhogh-Sgeir towards Kinloch Hourn for morning tea!  Luckily the tea shop was open and coffee, tea and cake was enjoyed by all before heading back up the loch in a stiffening breeze past Skiary and Runival toward the lunch stop at Barrisdale.  Paddling through the narrows was quite eventful with a lot of chop on the water.  Leaving Barrisdale under a darkening sky and heading for the proposed campsite at Croulin, the group encountered a strong north westerly wind blowing straight up the loch.  After about 5km paddling against the wind, the group found shelter behind Eilean a Phiobaire, before heading for Croulin.  On arriving there it was decided to push on back to Slisneach for the last night’s camp spot.  After the heat of the previous days it was on with the down jackets as the NW wind cooled the temperatures right down.  However, another bonfire helped to heat everyone up and it was off to bed early as an early start was needed on the last day.

The wind had dropped and the sun had come out by the time the group left Slisneach and paddled down past Inverguseran, Samadalan and Airor to their morning tea stop at Doune catching site of a golden eagle on the way.  The last leg back to Mallaig was uneventful other than watching and listening to the ferry and boat traffic coming and going from the harbour.

A great four day paddle in mainly fine conditions…..long may the good weather continue!

Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart
Loch Sunart

Distance covered: 77kms
Paddlers: Joan, Sheila, Tony, Elizabeth, Ruth, Moira and Pen. 


13/14th July 2018 - Kilt Rock and the Strome Islands

Disappointingly after all the good weather, the forecast for the proposed trip from Portree to Staffin on Skye was looking windy and wet…..the Sod’s Law of kayaking!  However, it was decided to bring the trip forward one day and tackle the 30km Kilt Rock paddle on Friday 13th (seriously?).  Unfortunately, some of those signed up to the trip couldn’t make the changed date, so it was a depleted group of six paddlers who set up camp at Torvaig campsite just north of Portree on the evening of Thursday 12th.  

Saturday dawned clear and calm and after running the shuttle to Staffin the group set off from Portree bay past Sgeir Mhor and turned north sighting a sea eagle almost immediately.  A southerly breeze had picked up by that time which persisted throughout the trip. This gave the paddlers a good push on their way! This stretch of coastline is very unforgiving with no means of escape if the weather cuts up rough, so careful planning is essential before tackling it.  The group paddled past Prince Charlie’s cave and Holm Island before their first lunch stop at Bearreraig Bay. With the outgoing tide this proved to be a difficult landing characterised by large barnacle covered boulders and slippery seaweed. Refreshed by their snack the paddlers pushed on and after 4km were treated to various arches and stacks and sightings of golden eagles and otters.  The rock formations here are amazing, comprising sedimentary rock with large round boulders protruding from the distinct layers. Second lunch was taken at Inver Tote where the remains of a large industrial building is evidence of the diatomite industry established in 1899. From here the diatomite was shipped as far away as South Africa. After passing Rubha nam Brathairean (Brothers’ Point) where a dinosaur footprint has recently been found, the group came to the main event - Kilt Rock so called because the towering vertical basalt columns resemble the folds of a kilt (or alternatively because part of the rock formation resembles tartan!).

After landing at Staffin slipway the boats were loaded onto cars for the journey back to the campsite and fish and chips for some! After supper the paddlers gathered to study the forecast for Saturday which wasn’t looking very promising with increasing winds and significant gusts. It was decided to break camp in the morning and drive to Plockton to assess the conditions before making a final decision.The original plan was to paddle round the Strome Islands and head for the Kishorn islands before returning to Plockton. Although it was reasonably sheltered in Plockton it was decided to paddle up the south shore to maximise the shelter on offer and head to the Strome Islands missing out the more exposed Kishorn Islands.  After paddling along the shore overlooked by the Kyle railway line the group stopped for lunch at Portchullin before paddling out to the Strome Islands. With the outgoing spring tide at its strongest and the gusty wind against the tide the conditions on the paddle back to Plockton were interesting to say the least! Thank you to all who came along and contributed to such a great weekend of paddling!

Paddlers:  Tony & Elizabeth Laidler, Sheila Kingswood, Iain Donnelly, Ruth Sime and Joan Smith

Distance paddled:  Day 1 – 30km, Day 2 – 10.5km


21-22 July – Lismore

In contrast to last year the forecast was good for the Lismore trip and a group of five paddlers set off through the Sound of Shuna and round Castle Stalker. First lunch was taken with the lime-kilns and gulls on Eilean nan Caorach. High tide allowed us to pass between Eilean Ramsey and the village and with the tide in our favour we set off down the west side of Lismore. The bay at Castle Coeffin was our next stopping point and we shared it with another group of paddlers who we passed putting in opposite Shuna with a similar plan to us. Continuing down the coast we saw a sea eagle and passed Grogan Dubh and An Sailean which has a disused quay, quarry and lime-kilns (closed 1934). The water was high enough at Bernera to allow us through the gap and avoid going round the island which was a bonus as the wind was starting to strengthen and by the time we reached the bottom of Lismore we were happy to stop and camp.

Next day the wind from the south west gave a lumpy start, but once round the corner we made good progress with wind and tide behind, although fog meant that we could only see a few hundred metres ahead. We stopped at Port Kilcheran for a break then continued up past Achnacroish, the Oban ferry, and monument to Waverley Arthur Cameron who drowned nearby. Sunday lunch was taken at the Port Appin ferry jetty where the fog lifted and our route back to the car park became clear.

Distance paddled on Saturday was 25km and on Sunday 22km.
Paddlers : Joan Smith, Tony and Elizabeth Laidler, Iain Donnelly, Bill Scott.


4/5 August - Skye


Paddlers: Cathy, Mike, Kirsty, Pen, Peter, ?


12 th August - Loch Morar

Eight club members gathered at Bun an Loin Bay on Loch Morar on Sunday 12 th August for the last ‘A’ paddle of the season. The weather was overcast with a brisk easterly wind blowing up the loch when they set off round Torr na Ba and out into the open loch beyond the shelter of the islands where they were faced with a strong headwind. The first coffee stop was at Inbhir Beag where the ruins of the church were explored before the group set off for Brinacory Island. The plan was to stop at Brinacory for lunch, but a quick decision was taken to cross the loch and lunch at a more sheltered bay on the south shore. After a lengthy and convivial lunch the paddlers set off along the south shore of the loch pushed along by the easterly wind which, although forecast to do so, had not abated significantly. Passing Lettermorar and noting the lazy beds on the hillside, the group crossedto the islands, coming first to Eilean nam Breac where they paused for breath in the small “lagoon”. From there they set off for Eilean Ban, the most westerly island on the loch. Approaching the island the paddlers were amazed to see a sea eagle alight on a dead tree. When they approached, the eagle flew up to the tallest tree on the island affording the paddlers some great photo opportunities! Arriving back at Bun an Loin bay everyone agreed that they had made the most of a dreich Sunday and that the sea eagle sighting had been a real bonus!

Joan, Iain, Tony, Elizabeth, Steve, Petra, Ian & Kieran.   Distance approx. 19km.


7-9 September – Mull

Despite the last-minute loss of the “leader”, due to incapacity,  it was decided to go ahead with the Mull trip.  An ever-changing and uncertain forecast dictated a different plan to the original journey, and it was decided to camp two nights at Uisken and paddle from there each day.

As the forecast for the Friday looked reasonably cheerful and benign, 5 of the 6 paddlers met at the Lochaline ferry with a plan to paddle in the afternoon. Uisken seemed a fine and satisfactory base, so, after setting up tents and having a cuppa, an outing was taken to the west into a moderate breeze. After crossing the large, sandy bay at Ardalanish, they followed the coast, with good views across to Jura, Colonsay and Islay. There were some interesting rock formations. At Rubh’ Ardalansish the seas became pretty lively and there were no stopping places within the allotted time, so, heading back the way they had come, they snuck into Port Faoileann a’ Chlachanaidh for a stretch and a cuppa. From here there were lovely views eastwards to the imposing cliffs of Malcolm’s Point, with the various outcrops tinted in the late afternoon shades of grey. Back at camp paddler number 6 wandered in from a spot of fishing and a convivial evening of eating, drinking and singing-along-a-Cairns ensued in Ruth’s cosy campervan haven, sheltered from the evening’s rain.

Distance paddled 12kms.

West from Uisken

Looking across to Jura Looking east towards Malcolm's Point Campsite evening Saturday morning - passing the various Traigh Bhans  

Saturday dawned misty, but not cold. Setting off at 9.00 into the grey mizzle, an amiably lively sea and a moderate head wind, the day’s outing was eastward, heading for Malcolm’s Point and the Carsaig Arches. Passing the various sandy bays an otter was spotted by some. After rounding Rubha nam Braithrean,  a sandy stopping place was discovered at Port nan Droigheann for a short break. Heading along the cliffs eastwards a white tailed sea eagle soared above the cliffs. The sun made some half-hearted attempts at breaking through the mist, without success. The waterfall at Traigh Cadh an Easa’ (beach of the pass of the waterfall) beckoned, but, having only recently stopped, it was decided to delay gratification till the return journey, hoping it might be a good location for the traditionally sunny lunch stop. The cliffs along this section are a stunning, plummeting carpet of green from summit to sea. Approaching Malcolm's Point the cliffs became more rocky at the base. The group, being hungry by now, were getting just a little impatient to find the arches, but were rewarded before patience ran out entirely. Approaching from the west, the spectacular main arch and its isolated cathedral-like outcrop, are not come upon to best advantage. Paddling past and taking in the view from the east was better. Sadly the mizzle had not relented. After fairly slow progress into the not problematical wind all morning, there was excited anticipation of getting a push homewards. Returning to satisfy gratification at the waterfall they found the shoreline, following the turned tide, was surfy and not a tempting landing spot. Below the cliffs of Cadha an da Luain (Monday Pass) was a huge flock of feral goats. After marvelling at the waterfall and a low fly-past of the sea eagle, chased by a crow, a speedy retreat was beaten to Port nan Droigheann for a well-deserved lunch break. Just in time the sun won and the tradition of the sunny lunch was upheld and enjoyed. Heading off, refreshed, with the sun shining, the offshore islands in view and the wind from behind, all was well, but it was no more than 5 minutes before the wind did its usual trick of veering 180 degrees. At the same time a considerable swell rose up, so that people came and went in the dips. Although maybe a bit more lively in places than some would have wished, it was thoroughly enjoyed. In this way the group made a fairly straight bee-line back to Uisken and the evening’s entertainment, which included, amongst other things, a practise roll, Traighathlon swim training, a quick dip and another sing-song.

Distance paddled 25kms.

Waterfall at Traigh Cadh an Easa'

Malcolm's Point Carsaig Arch Lunch spot Where are you?  

Saturday night was relentlessly wet. The forecast for Sunday was for high winds and the group decided that, with paddling not an option, they would go their own ways and do their own things.
Joan and Sheila made a trip to Loch Buie, where they sheltered from a heavy shower and enjoyed a cuppa and some shopping at the small but interesting, unmanned Post Office shop, followed by a walk to explore the various points of interest – Loch Buie House, the 15th. century onwards Moy Castle, the old MacLaine family chapel and Mausoleum and a friendly herd of Highland Cattle. The highlight was meeting the landowner and getting a guided tour of the ancient castle ruins, which have had some restoration work done by him with the help of various agencies. Lovely views across a wild and windy Loch Buie were had from the top.
An enjoyable weekend and definitely worth the long journey.

The Old Post Office, Loch Buie St. Kilda's Church, Loch Buie Moy Castle, Loch Buie Lunch time companions Loch Buie from the Mausoleum and graveyard  


Paddlers:  Joan, Ruth, Margie, Iain, Cairns, Sheila


23 September - Not the Crowlins - Ardtoe Circular

A very poor weather forecast meant that the 2-day Crowlins trip had to be postponed for a second year. Instead, we met at Ardtoe with the intention of paddling clockwise round Eilean Shona and back to Ardtoe. The wind was due to blow up again in the afternoon from the north, so a clockwise circuit meant only one headland would have to be negotiated in windy conditions. We knew the tide would not be favourable in the North Channel, but were prepared to carry boats.

Heading out from Ardtoe was pleasant paddling with good views of the Small Isles. We stopped at the west end of the North Channel for an early lunch, then headed down the channel, straps at the ready for portage. We weren't prepared for the MUD. Deep, muddy sand made it almost impossible to move ourselves, let alone boats and there was a bit of cavorting in the mud, especially by those with yellow drysuits! Admitting defeat, we retired to the shore for more coffee until the tide came in far enough to reach the causeway. Once out of the shelter of the North Channel, the wind was picking up by the hour. Rather than a lumpy paddle round Farquhar's point, we made a slightly lumpy crossing to Newton and walked back to Ardtoe for the cars. An excellent trip, mixture of conditions and changing plans.

circa 17kms. (and 3km. walk).

Paddlers: Joan Smith, Sheila Kingswood, Iain Donnelly and Ruth Sime.




 

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