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Thread: Veyatie, Rannoch Moor, Etive, sunshine and blue skies.

  1. #1
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    Default Veyatie, Rannoch Moor, Etive, sunshine and blue skies.

    The last week of October we found where summer had gone this year and it was in the Scottish Highlands. Our staff trip, with Fred standing in for Sam who was moving house, was a return to Inverpolly and the bits we did not get to do last time in 2009. However the weather still ended up thwarting our aims somewhat but whose complaining when you have six, yes six days of blue skies, sun and little wind.

    Day 1 – Monday

    Setting off from Glasbury early Sunday evening we made it to Ullapool by 8.00am the following morning and after a distinctly average breakfast in a local café pulled up outside the gate down to Loch Veyatie a few hours later.


    Top of the track leading down to Veyatie on a beautiful Monday morning

    Our aim was to get up Veyatie and over the sand bar into the little Loch a' Mhadail and an early camp before portaging onto Sionasgaig the following day. We had plans to explore then sail\paddle down Sionasgaig and get up into the upper lochs before reversing the route out back to Elphin. The forecast said snow at the end of the week which we thought would made things all rather fun and exciting but after overhearing one of the Ullapool locals in the café gloomily predicting loads of the white stuff on Friday we agreed to rethink plans over early evening drinks at the campsite.

    Our last trip up Veyatie had been in the teeth of a gale and taken most of the day. This could not be more different Basking in warmish sunshine, blue skies and a barely rippling loch we floated up Veyatie with a slight chill breeze at our backs, rousing ourselves occasionally to put a paddle in the water. It was so calm and peaceful.


    On the water heading up Veyatie with Sullivan in the background

    Near the end of Veyatie we turned left into the bay, pushed the boats over the sandbar and cruised into Loch a' Mhadail.


    Approaching the sandbar into Loch a' Mhadail with a clear blue sky overhead

    After a quick recce of the portage route for the following day we circled around the loch until we found a decent enough campsite, set up camp and opened a bottle of 12 year old Old Pulteney to toast the start of the trip. The sun started to set as we sat with a glass in one hand, a piece of fruit cake in the other and took in the beauty and wildness of the place.



    Campsite on the banks of Loch a' Mhadail



    The sun sets over Loch a' Mhadail

    Day 2 – Tuesday

    We woke to a chilly misty morning but after breakfast the sun started to break through and burn the mist off. During pre-dinner and after dinner drinks the previous night we had decided that if the forecast was correct it probably was not the best idea to portage down to Sionascaig and get stuck or get back to the road to find the minibus stuck in a snowdrift. After a leisurely breakfast we packed up and went back over the sandbank into Veyatie and started a slow paddle back down to the fish hatchery stopping to explore whenever we spotted something interesting. We were going to head back down to Fort William and then onto the wilds of Rannoch Moor.






    Morning mist burning off in the sun


    Looking down a calm Veyatie



    The little bay half way down Veyatie – mirror calm



    Sun setting at the end of day 2

    Day 3 – Wednesday

    Travelling day back down to Inverness, then the crawl down the A82 along Loch Ness to Fort William.
    Quick stop for more supplies (malty) and onto Glen Coe and finally a few miles down the road to Loch Etive and a great campsite by the river.


    Campsite down Glen Etive – very dry river

    Day 4 – Thursday

    Breakfast by the very dry Etive and the short drive up the A82 to the road bridge at the head of Loch Ba with the clouds clearing and a cool breeze blowing. The river leading into the loch was low and plenty of rocks were visible, we packed the boats and poled our way under the bridge into the loch.


    Low water and plenty of rocks getting ready to paddle onto Loch Ba

    The sky cleared and we paddles around the islands and into Loch Ba with the spectacular backdrop of Glencoe behind us.


    Looking back to Glencoe from Loch Ba

    Water levels were low with sandy little beaches dotted all along the banks and coming to the end of the Loch where the river starts to flow down to Loch Laidon it became very shallow and rocky.


    The end of the line – shallow waters down to Loch Laidon

    Our vague idea of paddling down to Laidon to camp and explore looked like ending here and a quick recce showed no letup, just more rocky shallows. Dragging two heavily laden canoes across the moors did not appeal so we reluctantly turned and made our way back up the loch to Eilean Molach.


    Bottom end of Loch Ba - beautiful

    This is a beautiful island with shady woodland glens, grassy hummocks and coarse sandy beaches, we sat on the beach to toast our good fortune to be in such a beautiful place. It felt as if we were camping on a set from Lord of the Rings but the hand of man was evident unfortunately with a dump of beer bottles and cans and just to add insult injury the bottle tops had been tossed into the water. Canoeists? I hope not.


    Campsite on Eilean Molach.


    Time for a toast on the sandy beach.


    Martin clears up the bottle\can dump.

    Day 5 – Friday

    A cold cold night starry night on the island and once more it was back to the bridge over the A82 and a drive back down Glencoe for a final paddle on Loch Etive. We trundled down the winding road to the car park at the end where we unloaded and loaded the boats and although cold there was no wind and the loch stretched away into the distance with hardly a ripple breaking the surface.

    We had a slight delay getting away as a Dutchman called Barry wobbled down the path and bellowed at us through very dilated eyes expressing his happiness at being with us while drum and bass and blue smoke pounded and wafted out from his campervan. We paddled off quickly eager to get back to the sounds of the wilds and the lapping water.


    Looking back to the head of Loch Etive.

    A tight bumpy campsite but no matter, our final night spent by the fire with your mates, a glass in hand and the the mountains all around.


    Simon with spoon in hand and empty glass.



    Another lovely sunrise over Loch Etive.

    Day 6 – Saturday

    A final paddle on down the loch until we reluctantly turned and made our way back to the minibus as the weather at last broke and the rain started to fall.


    Turn around point on Etive at low tide.

    Celebration at the Claigach before weaving our way back to the minibus in heavy rain and a rather uncomfortable night crashing in the minibus before the long drive back down south in pouring rain. Another wonderful trip to canoeing heaven, not what we planned but Scotland never fails to deliver.
    Last edited by DaveM; 20th-December-2012 at 05:03 PM.

  2. #2
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    Excellent Blogg cheers!
    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  3. #3
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    Oh, that looks fantastic, even if it was different to what you wanted.

    October was great, wasn't it, seems like years ago now!!!
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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  4. #4
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    Mouthwatering scenery and an excellent blog of the trip. Thanks!

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    a terrific blogg of a wonderful looking trip...thanks Jim

  6. #6
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    This blogg like many others highlights the problem with Scotland - it's too far away!

    Thanks for posting, looks like a great trip even if it wasn't what you'd planned.

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    Looks like a stunning trip, love it. Nice one fellas. Great pics.

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    Looks fantastic. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    Biff
    'I can gather all the news I need on the weather report...'

  9. #9
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    Brilliant Wow to the sheer amount of driving, but certainly looks worth the effort. Yip October was great - we spent a bit of time paddling on loch sunart in oct and had the very same clear blue skies and flat calm loch.

  10. #10
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    Good to see Veyatie again.

    Great blog.

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    Great blog and some lovely shots! :-)
    To Canoe is to be moved!!!

  12. #12
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    Fantastic blogg, made me think a return to Etive is long overdue.


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