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Thread: Inverpolly: The Southwest Passage

  1. #1

    Default Inverpolly: The Southwest Passage




    Where do you take someone who wants a taste of classic canoe tripping, not just paddling, but the real deal — paddle and portage, navigation over trackless land between lakes, having to respond to changes in the weather? You need to go somewhere where you have to learn to read the water, land and sky; somewhere to get about as close to the heart of the wilderness as you can be. There is no better place than Inverpolly. I have paddled in Inverpolly many times; is there still adventure to be had? It turned out that there was.


    Dan hadn’t canoed since his early teens, preferring instead to climb steep rocks. But he had become inspired to head off in a canoe again after reading about great deeds in Scotland and Canada. Now he had the chance of a rare free week, so we had to cram the maximum amount of adventure into the minimum amount of time.


    Our chosen week was one of those times when only the far northwest tip of Scotland was poking out of a grey, swirling cloud that covered the rest of the country, giving Inverpolly, for a rare and brief period of enchantment, the best weather in Britain. The good forecast lent a rosy glow to our journey up. The sunshine got progressively stronger as the busy-busy world receded behind us, and when we finally turned the corner at Ullapool into the real wilderness, the mountains looked at their spectacular best. When we parked up at Loch Buine Moire and opened the car doors, we stepped out into the most intense silence cradled amidst Inverpolly’s improbable peaks.




    The Perfect Campsite



    Dan’s introduction to classic canoe tripping began just a few seconds after we put the Peterborough into the loch. The canoe started to fill with water. I detected a slightly quizzical look from Dan directed at me. I spoke up before any doubts could materialise: “ No, this is normal. Just read any account of early canoe exploration in Canada, almost every page has something like …. ‘pulled in to re-gum the canoe’…or ‘sent the men off into the woods to procure birch bark for repairs’ ”. There is a quick way to detect leaks in the canvas, and demonstrating this technique to Dan, coupled with our generous supply of duct tape seemed to restore confidence. In truth, the canoe had taken quite a battering on last year’s Poolewe to Conon Bridge trip and I’d missed a few leaks when I repaired the hull. I must get better lights in my workshop.



    Farewell to the van


    Loch Buine Moire was almost mirror calm, quite a difference from the last time I was here. I had not canoed into Inverpolly from this loch before, but figured that the lowest point on the horizon would be the most likely place for the portage. On the far shore we found a runnel which gave an easy carry over the hill and ended up at a handsome little beach on that secluded little offshoot of Loch Sionascaig — Boat Bay. We loaded up with all the firewood we could find before we set out, to minimize our impact on the region’s often modest tree populations.



    Inverpolly beckons: Loch Buine Moire


    As we paddled out through The Gap at the entrance to Boat Bay, the horizon widened to reveal a canoe tripper’s wonderland, and the conditions, for once, invited exploration. The prospect was sunny and calm, although all the giant peaks around had their heads permanently in the clouds. We paddled on easily, with the sunlight dancing on the water; everything seemed right with the world. We headed leftwards and crossed the inlet that marks the start of the Westerly and Central Portages and I related some of the adventures we’ve had there on previous trips. We continued onward past the mountainous Big Island, where everyone seems to camp. I had stayed on Big Island in the past, but this time we decided not to, in case a commercial trip turned up and shattered the solitude. And anyhow, last time I camped there we got marooned by a storm.


    We had in mind another potential camping place nearby which, from space at least, looked ideal. It was with great anticipation that we laid in a course for this. It seemed a bit surreal when we landed there because we had studied it so much that it seemed familiar, like deja vu; it was like stepping through into Google Earth. In fact, it exceeded our expectations.



    Loch Sionascaig. On the look out for the camping place we had spotted on Google Earth


    Our campsite really was the stuff of dreams; a sandy inlet, flat ground and plenty of trees, spaced as if planned for easy tarping. But the place was not pristine. Native American trackers can follow the subtlest of trails, often nothing more than bent-over grass, moss compressed by the lightest footfall, and maybe a thread caught on the bark of a tree. They can pursue over land only slightly more marked than if by the passing of a cloud’s shadow. No such expertise was needed to follow some of our site’s previous occupants. They had blundered through with feeble wilderness skills and, maybe thinking it was enough simply not dropping bean cans or lager bottles, had left not so much a trail as an aftermath of blackened stones, cut ends, lost tent pegs and half-burnt logs.



    Vandalism at our campsite on Loch Sionascaig


    Although it was sunny now, the weather had been wet for several weeks. Wood on the ground would mostly be saturated, very difficult to ignite, and low in heat content. Even the master firelighters, the Chipewyans, were known to fail to get a fire going sometimes in wet weather. But we were hopeful. One of the things Dan was most looking forward to on our trip was lighting and managing our fires, a topic he had studied in some detail. Fire is an art-form for him; show him anything vaguely combustible and he will try to get a campfire going with it — but beautifully. Dan is not so much a pyromaniac as a pyromaestro. He insists on natural starting materials, which we gathered once the tent and tarp were up. I love the traditional fire forage, it is then you really get to know the little intimacies of your campsite. The trees here were mainly birches, which handily self-thin, raining down a bounty of dead twigs. We looked for the ones that had been caught in the branches during their flight from treetop to ground and hung out to dry.


    Fire going, we sorted through the packets from our dehydrator to select something tasty for our meal, hung up the wine box, and poured ourselves a pre-dinner drink. A wine box used to be a permanent fixture in my tripping outfit until a sad experience on Fionn Loch above Loch Maree. It was here that my canoe tripping friends, for perhaps the only time, really let me down. They refused to drink the wine that I had carried in. I guess they wanted to stay sharp for any challenges that might come our way in this remote location; I just wanted to dull the thought of the five-mile portage to come the next day. Anyhow, and it pains me to relate this, I ended up pouring a lot of the wine away to lighten my load for the carry back over to Loch Maree.



    Happiness is a calm loch, a great campsite and 3 litres of red wine


    We spent a happy hour firing stones at a target with Dan’s catapult, the target being a tiny raft we had made and floated out into our bay. After dark, we sat on the rocks across the little inlet from our camp. The firelight was flickering around the bay, lighting up the trunks of the birches, and the great dark mountains rose mysteriously all around, stretching up to the stars. What a place.



    A canoe tripper’s wonderland





    Moving on



    It seemed a shame to leave this spot next morning, because finding yourself in a perfect camp, with perfect weather, and the time to enjoy them is so rare, but the loch was still calm so we decided to move on whilst we could. Before going we looked over our campsite. No Trace camping is no longer good enough, we now have to embrace Negative Trace. So in addition to scattering the little remaining charcoal from our fire and distributing our firestones, sooty side down, we also loaded up with other people’s trash.


    We paddled over past Big Island to the sandy beach on the far side, then eastwards towards the inlet of the river, which leads up to Lochan Gainmheich. Dan was concerned about my tale of Graham’s Rock, a submerged spike that I always manage to hit on Loch Sionascaig. I said we were well clear, hoping that we were. Loch Sionascaig is still (mercifully) more-or-less a wilderness in terms of mobile phone coverage. There was no signal at either side of the loch, but a backlog of messages arrived whilst we were paddling across. Civilisation, it seems, has claimed a small patch of water somewhere out there in the middle.




    Sea of Tranquility: landing at the start of the portage over to Lochan Gainmheich


    The river flowing out of Gleann Laoigh was too shallow to track at the moment so we opted for the short portage on the right. We had landed at an accommodating little beach, and it was lunch time. It was warm in the sun, sheltered from the strengthening breeze, and we were a little tired after the usual wakeful first night in an unfamiliar wild. These ingredients made the perfect recipe for a snooze — why rush — so out came our Z-lite mats, spread on the sand. We were in no hurry to move. With the canoe tied off, all blowable items secured, and minds thus reassured that everything would still be there when we opened our eyes, we let go, and all the cares of the world melted away.


    Two Rock Bay




    Loading up on Lochan Gainmheich



    An easy portage led to a handy beach on Lochan Gainmheich, the Sandy Lake. Indeed there is a fine sweep of sand at the eastern end which could make a good camp, but only if it is calm, for there is little shelter there. But now the wind was definitely starting to rise and presented us with the first real waves we had seen. We paddled through the narrow channel into Loch an Doire Dhuibh, the Lake of the Forlorn Woods, and headed for a campsite I had used before in Two Rock Bay. The canoe scrunched onto the sandy bottom by the twin boulders. Whilst I went off to find the flattish area we had camped on last time, Dan found a much better one that we hadn’t previously seen.




    Two Rock Bay


    Although the weather seemed to be changing, it was still sunny, and the woods seemed not at all melancholy. I have a slight suspicion that Scottish place-namers are a bit of a depressive lot. There are so many “Dark Lochs”” and “Black Cliffs” around. And now here is Forlorn Wood. But there was no way we were going to let the place-namers’ gloom get to us so we dubbed our campsite in the trees Happy Valley. We strung out the tarp from the lee side of a big rock across to two paddles, and built our fireplace on an altar of stones to protect the ground. With hindsight, the signs of things to come were already there. The tarp was now beginning to strain a little more in the wind, so we marked the position of all its guy pegs with rocks so we would have a chance of finding them again should they ping out.


    Most of the fallen firewood we could find was still very damp, but I was confident we could get a “natural” fire going because I knew where there was a magic bark tree. Last time here, I found only one, but this time happened across a second. Also, I could see a couple of aged hollies, easily spotted at this time in April. Good news; I walked over to them. These twisted veterans of a thousand storms drop their dead branches once hardened and whitened. These are like gold to the firemonger, so hard and dense that they don’t absorb moisture from the ground. With “holly bones” a fire is assured. But they are a precious and slowly renewed resource, so I picked up just the minimum for our needs, and only fallen ones.


    While I was away, Dan had found a special birch that gave the finest bark peelings imaginable, perfect for catching a spark. Birches vary so much that it is worth hunting around to find one that is genetically predisposed to aid the firelighter. Birches wear their genes on their bark: maroon, white, smooth, flakey, rough. Our fire was soon happily alight.


    The Ghost Mountain


    We had come here to climb Cul Beag. Next morning, the mountain looked at its most ominous, with mist not just hanging about its summit, but in constant sinister motion, building, shrinking back, pouring through gaps. The flow of the wind aloft was somehow sculpting the clouds to mimic the contours of the land, creating a replica ghost mountain hovering above the actual peak. Spooky.


    There was no path up the peak from our camp; it would have to be an au naturelle approach. We made an effort to remember landmarks for finding the way back; the holly where we cross the stream, a patch of purple moorgrass shaped like a fish, a prominent runnel, a snow streak. We played a kind of landscape Kim’s Game. When we disappeared up into the mist, we added a few markers to help our return — a rock balanced on a boulder here, an arrow there. As we reached the top of a prominent knoll in the grim mist, the wind had risen to such an extent at we had to hang on with both hands. Standing unaided was becoming impossible. We passed a spot where someone had clearly had a bad day - they had ignited an emergency smoke canister; I hope help came. The final zig-zag up to the summit amidst the snows was an epic battle to stay on our feet. Our GoPro video shows two grey figures bent over against the wind, stumbling in the misty gloom, as if on some high peak in the Himalaya. We spent the briefest possible time at the summit— no need to bother looking for a view— just keeping upright was challenge enough. The temperature had plummeted from 16˚ in camp to 2˚ on the summit according to my zip-tag thermometer.





    Staying on the summit just long enough for a photo


    Two hours of descent took us back from deepest Winter to Spring, a journey punctuated by the welcome recognition of landmarks we had memorized on the way up. When Loch Sionascaig appeared out of the cloud, it looked very troubled filling us with doubts for the morrow.


    Both of us were more-or-less born as avid rock climbers, and it was clear from the rocky terrain that there was limitless scope for this sport around us now. From our camp, we had noticed a particularly striking rock formation in the distance. Our eyes kept being drawn back to it. We became haunted by the myth, popular in climbing circles, of The Perfect Boulder, a rock with the theoretical minimum of holds for it to be climbable, where only the perfect blend of strength, balance and momentum will allow its ascent. In the end, we had no choice but to obey our DNA and investigate when we passed by.


    Becoming Trapped


    In the night, inside the tent, we could tell that all was not well outside. You just know, don’t you. Next day the loch was definitely angry. Plumes of spray were being thrown up over the rocks around the channel back to Lochan Gainmheich, never a good sign. Unfortunately, this channel gave by far the most direct route out from our present rather land-locked position. We were becoming trapped and would have to find an alternative way to get back to the van, but alternatives were in short supply just here and any other route was going to be, lets say, ‘physical’.



    Loch Sionascaig starts to turn nasty


    But our first concern was to investigate The Perfect Boulder. The wind was clearly worsening so we opted to get paddling without delay and have breakfast when safely off the loch. We paddled over relatively sheltered water along the south edge of Loch an Doire Dhuibh, into unknown country. It may have been more sheltered than the north side of the loch, but as we paddled out of the lee of the hill and back into the wind, the loch gave us an increasingly bumpy ride leading to a ‘surf-in-and-hope-there’s-no-rocks’ landing. A portage of 230 yds took us to Loch Lon na h-Uamha and completely unfamiliar territory. The loch names, and the land itself, seemed to be getting stranger as we strayed further from the beaten track. An eagle soared overhead. Once at Loch Lon na h-Uamha, we immobilised all the gear and set off to investigate the rock, which was an adventure in itself. What was it like? Climbers never let on.




    Aiming for the beach: a bumpy landing at the start of the portage to Loch Doire na h-Airbhe




    The wind was still rising. Over lunch, sitting on a rock down out of the wind, we worked on a plan of escape. We talked through the options:


    1. Portage over past Stac Polly to the road. For: there is a path. Against: it’s a substantial carry (1.5-miles), and a long walk back to the van.

    2. Portage to Loch Doire na h-Airbhe and escape down the stream to the Polly River. Looked hard work.

    3. Portage back over to Loch Sionascaig on the assumption that the wind would calm down tomorrow, then head back to Boat Bay. If the loch stayed rough, we could continue the portage to link a chain of smaller, potentially sheltered lochs, and try to work out a sort of Southwest Passage to lead us back to the van.


    After some discussion, we decided on Option 3, which by pure coincidence looked the least knackering one.


    From the nearest point on our present loch, a portage of around half-a-mile led us back to one of the few sheltered bays on Loch Sionascaig. It took an hour or so. Out on the open water, things looked increasingly wild, but we could paddle westwards in the shelter of a ridge to the back of the bay where we banked on there being a camping spot. If there wasn’t, things might get awkward this late in the day. We had become accustomed to sheltered, level campsites, with sufficient trees to make a camp fire an acceptable option. A wet, windswept and barren campsite held no appeal whatsoever.




    Halfway across the portage back to Loch Sionascaig. We hoped the wind would drop by the next day


    We landed at the back of the bay. There wasn’t a campsite. So we now had a “situation” on our hands.


    Whilst fantasy-paddling on Google Earth, Dan had taken a fancy to the rather hidden loch over the hill which we christened Dan’s Secret Loch. This was Loch Doire na h-Airbhe — our escape option 2. He had spotted a little stretch of sand, a potential camping place, at its eastern (sheltered) end and suggested visiting it if we had the time, which hadn’t seemed very likely. Now it looked like an excellent idea, especially as it formed part of our potential escape along the (mythical) Southwest Passage. But it was getting on for a mile away across the trackless moor. Somewhat gloomily, we decided to give it a try, with the vision of a sheltered beach camp keeping us going. We laboured to the top of the first knoll, and were a bit downcast by the wall of barreness that presented itself. A night in a windswept, tussocky bog seemed now a real possibility.



    Dan’s stock of protein bars. He was taking the trip seriously



    Looking back the way we had come, from our higher perspective, I could see a terrace above where we had paddled in. It looked much flatter and more hospitable from this angle than it had from below. Tucked behind a sharply rising bank, it could have a reasonable degree of shelter from the very unpleasant wind. We decided to dump the packs and split up. Dan would go on towards the secret loch, and I would go back and check out the terrace. We would meet up again on this knoll in half an hour and swap notes. As I walked back, I looked around a couple of times to see Dan’s diminishing figure eventually disappear into very unappetizing-looking country.


    I approached the terrace apprehensively, because I felt this was by far our best hope. Against all the odds, it turned out to be splendid, and my spirits got an instant lift. It even had its own little inlet for the canoe, a fine elevated view out over the water and all-important shelter from the wind. When I got back up to the barren knoll, Dan was just coming back into sight. His body language said glum. It turned out that he didn’t even get close to the secret loch, it was simply too far away, given the difficulty of the terrain and the lateness of the hour. My tales of a hidden Shangri La cheered him up, and we set off back down the hill with a purpose. We repacked the canoe and headed back aways for the little landing place and unloaded.


    The sun was setting by the time we got the tent pitched and the tarp strung from one of our tracking lines stretched between two trees. We hunted for firewood as the light faded; again there were some accommodating hollies. We enjoyed our meal, wine and generally chilling out amidst the wondrous colours of a Scottish mountain dusk. We turned in hoping that the loch would be calmer in the morning.




    A lucky find. A gem of a campsite hidden away where we least expected it


    Dan’s Secret Loch


    Our gamble didn’t pay off. The next day, Loch Sionascaig looked worse than ever, certainly no fun at all to paddle. Still we’d had a comfortable night. It looked like the main business of the day would be the portage to Loch Doire na h-Airbhe, the first stage of the Southwest Passage. It wasn’t easy to decide on the best portage route because the terrain was quite a complex mixture of gradients and obstacles. We eventually pieced together a reasonably direct and fairly easy-going route. Excitement mounted as we approached the final horizon and water came into view.



    Approaching Dan’s Secret Loch; looking good


    The beach turned out to be excellent, tucked under Stac Polly and relatively sheltered as Dan had imagined. Perhaps he’s got the magic touch for finding good sites. Not everyone has. Apparently John Wesley Powell of Colorado River fame had gonads of steel when it came to rowing round blind bends with the sound of extreme rapids drifting up the canyon, but was utterly terrible at finding a decent place to camp at the end of the day.


    Our beach site sported a splendid little stream with picturesque waterfalls, and plenty of firewood nearby. The sun was now fully out so we had an early lunch then flopped out on the sand for an hour in perfect comfort whilst, as we later learned, the folks at home looked out at the rain beating against the windows. Then we got ourselves wound up for the return trip for the canoe.


    One of the joys of canoe tripping is planning how best to set up at your chosen camp site. Our beach had a small section of wall that invited a tarp-to-paddle construction; the sand beckoned for the tent. The pegging was too loose for security in the present windy conditions, so we employed the laced-rock system using the canoe’s painters. In lifting one particular rock for our fireplace, right under the tarp, we found a lizard underneath, so we lowered it carefully back down. No reason why we shouldn’t all enjoy this place. Anyhow, how cool to have a camp lizard.




    Our desirable beach-side apartment at Dan’s Secret Loch, complete with lizard


    Dan had taken on the role of apprentice. He looked up to me — I’d clearly been around the loch. Today’s lesson was Cooking on a Beach; no one wants sand in their food. I showed him how to be scrupulous about keeping sand out of the preparation area, cooking pots and utensils. Then I demonstrated how to drop sand into the meal, sand that had been lurking unnoticed on the underside of a pan. Between gritty mouthfuls he implied how impressed he was. Later, I also showed him how I could drop sand in his face from the bottom of my sack as I lifted it over him. Valuable lessons indeed.




    Chilling out by the campfire at sunset on the beach at Dan’s Secret Loch


    Dan spent a long time looking out over the water at dusk, contemplating the wildness of the place. It was a beautiful, clear night so at his suggestion we slept out on the beach beneath the shooting stars. Gazing up into the void, we couldn’t help thinking about the Solar System’s other Lake Sionascaig (named after the one on Earth), complete with big island, out there on Titan. Rather than water, it is a lake of liquid methane and ethane, but probably no more forbidding to the paddler than the one just over the hill under the present conditions.


    (To be continued ...)


    Graham
    Dan

  2. #2

    Default Part 2.

    A Game of Chess with the Wind


    The east wind hadn’t dropped at all by next morning. All you could see out on the water was a lot of white and spray rising from the rocks around the edge of the loch. The far end of the loch looked particularly wild, effectively blocking off that route down to the Polly River. The wind had made its play, now it was our move. Getting ourselves out of this situation now became all engrossing. If Dan was having ‘why-am-I-here?’ moments, he hid them well. Our options were diminishing fast, in fact the only sensible course of action now seemed to be to go all out for the Southwest Passage, although the difficulty of linking up the chain of lochans remained an open question.



    Working on our plan of escape



    From our beach, an escape along a strip of calmish water around the north-east shore, sheltered by a ridge, looked vaguely promising. We paddled along this to a hasty exit where the shelter ran out. Then we took a compass bearing to aim ourselves through the wildly waving heather towards the closest point of the next loch. We had breakfast partway along the portage, sheltering behind the canoe in a little haven of calm. The enjoyment of paddling on tranquil, sunlit water had been replaced by the satisfaction in making any kind of progress at all; just as pleasurable in its own way.




    Moosehead & Son: Canoe Trippers











    We had now reached a place so far off the beaten track that the lochs didn’t even have names, at least that’s how it felt. The next one was short and comparatively sheltered being deeply embossed into the hills, and led to a longer rising portage with some navigating to do around a large boggy area. It was here that Dan added to his growing stock of tripping wisdom by experiencing that gem of the wilder type of Scottish canoe trip “hitting the Heather Wall”. This is that feeling when cresting a ridge (with a heavy weight on your shoulders) expecting to see the next loch close by, but there being nothing but heather as far as the eye can see. Time for some portage stories to help pass the time as we toted the canoe over our heads. I like the one about the French Canadian voyageur “portaging” George Simpson, the austere, all-powerful boss of the Hudson’s Bay company, from his canoe to dry land. The voyageur stumbled and deposited the “Emperor of the North” headlong into the river. Words were said.




    Creeping around the loch edges to avoid the wind on the Southwest Passage








    A another couple of horizons later we finally got to see the next loch, again nameless on our map, again mercifully sporting a sheltered strip of water heading north-westwards, which in turn led to an easy carry through to Loch Uidh Tarraigean. Yet again there was a sheltered arc of water leading around to the outflow sluice of Loch Sionascaig. The beach below the sluice seemed a lonely place that day, the roar of the cascading water adding to the howl of the wind to give a quite un-nerving effect. One look over the sluice at the big waves extinguished any thought of escape in that direction. The view in the other direction, southward towards The Gap, the Polly river and safety was equally nasty. To continue on our Southwest Passage we needed an escape on the north bank of the loch. Our one remaining option was to paddle along the final stretch of sheltered water as far as we dared then escape straight up the mountainside, which rose right out of the water. It looked strenuous and a bit daunting because a slip would end you up back in the loch. Even so, I felt relaxed about it because I knew that Dan was strong enough to carry both me and the canoe if needs be. After some discussion we bit the bullet and went for it, and after a blur of hauling and shoving found ourselves collapsed in the heather at the top of the hill.




    Time for another protein bar: hauling up the hillside out of Loch Uidh Tarraigean




    We had been lucky so far, now we just needed the final loch in the chain, Loch Call nan Uldhean, to have enough calm water and we would win the game. As our portage route neared the final loch, we headed steeply down the western slope of the hill, which was good news because it meant that the loch should be tucked away out of the wind, and this proved to be the case. Tension ebbed away as we realised that we had safely made it and we could relax and enjoy the final paddle across to the road, landing about half a mile from the van. We paused for some “victory” photos, revelled in the feeling of having survived another Scottish adventure, then trekked off up the road.


    We stopped off in Aviemore for a celebratory curry, then camped in the woods at an excellent place we knew of nearby, before starting the 400mile journey home next day.




    This was definitely a trip to remember and perhaps the perfect blend of the idyllic and profound faces of canoe tripping for someone who was keen to sample the spectrum of what canoeing in the wild has to offer. Dan was a natural canoe tripper; unflappable and great company. He especially liked encountering the Scottish wilderness from within the safety of a drysuit, to such an extent that he resolved to wear it, along with his expedition hat, whenever he left the house in future. It is the camaraderie of a trip that remains in the memory longest, the pleasure of a shared enterprise, mutual dependence and generally having a good laugh.




    Dan discovering that a drysuit opens up a whole new world


    We saw nobody else during our six days of travel. Where else in the UK could you do this? Probably only if you were down a cave. Or in a coma. Surely we must do whatever it takes to preserve this wildness, for it is under constant threat from new developments of shooting tracks, inappropriate hydros and ill-sited windfarms.






    Graham
    Dan

  3. #3
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    Excellent blog and trip; most impressed, thank you. I will have to go there.

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    Superb !!!

    Thanks for taking the time to post.

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    Fantastic, as always, Graham. The urge to return to this part of the world was already strong, and now its even stronger.

    Somewhat dispiriting to hear of rubbish in the camp spot by Sionasgaig, in this most special of all places, but spirits happily revived by the knowledge that you saw nobody in 6 days...

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    Brilliant stuff. Thank you.

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    Nice adventure....really enjoyed your tale.
    A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope - Epictetus

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    Great stuff Graham, a good read as always, thanks for taking the time to blogg. Negative Trace, yeah kinda sad that's a thing nowadays, we expect it down here in the lowlands but there, not so much! Good you got Dan out too.
    Cheers,

    Alan


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    Really enjoy wilderness travel bloggs from Scotland. Yours is particularly well written along with nice pictures too.
    http://www.davidwperry.blogspot.co.uk/

  10. #10
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    After a couple of weeks on the road with various canoe hire clients, I got back last night with a pile of damp gear and an empty fridge/freezer so cobbled some food together, then resolved to get up early and sort it all out in the morning.

    I made the mistake of checking SOTP over coffee and saw you’d posted a blog. Gear sorting could wait. I always love your blogs, both for the Trips themselves and the way you relate them.

    Still nothing done and not at all bothered .... Another excellent account of a proper canoe trip with all the elements wrapped up perfectly.

    Thanks
    MarkL
    www.canoemassifcentral.com
    Open Canoe hire/outfitting in the Massif Central
    ”We will make your trip work”



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    Excellent. Almost tempts me to do a portaging trip but then I remember my aversion to travelling light

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    awesome blog, i really enjoyed that. i also like the maps you draw.
    thanks for sharing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    Excellent. Almost tempts me to do a portaging trip but then I remember my aversion to travelling light
    Who said portaging is anything to do with travelling light?



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Wantage, United Kingdom
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    Default Inverpolly: The Southwest Passage

    Fantastic tale! I’m feeling inspired to visit this area - I have an unsettled score with Cul Mor which repelled us many years ago with huge winds. It is indeed a stunning area.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    Last edited by Andrew Sansum; 15th-September-2018 at 07:38 PM.

  15. #15
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    Nov 2016
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    Aberdeenshire
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    I love your bloggs; your journeys are always a little different and very inspiring. I must get back to this area now that the better weather is coming in!

  16. #16
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    Aug 2017
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    Stirling, Scotland
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    An excellent trip and blog, cheers! Added to my growing list of trips to do! Given the portaging, it looks ideal for a solo packraft trip over a long weekend!

    Nigel

  17. #17

    Default

    Thanks guys for your generous comments.


    Even though now you expect it, it's still depressing to come across thoughtless litter and damage so far out in the wild. Sadly, it seems that you can never get away from it now. In July I was on a trip in one of the less frequented canoe areas in Canada and we came across all sorts of stuff, and I had to do something that I never thought I would at a camp - bury a previous occupant's faeces.


    Mal - your portaging picture - bloody hell!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    Canada
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    428

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moosehead View Post
    Thanks guys for your generous comments.


    Even though now you expect it, it's still depressing to come across thoughtless litter and damage so far out in the wild. Sadly, it seems that you can never get away from it now. In July I was on a trip in one of the less frequented canoe areas in Canada and we came across all sorts of stuff, and I had to do something that I never thought I would at a camp - bury a previous occupant's faeces.


    Mal - your portaging picture - bloody hell!
    I have always wondered about the psychology of this. What drives people to go to these beautiful, wild places and then leave litter, bog paper etc. It takes some effort to get there so I'd say they aren't usually the 'chavs or environmentally ignorant. So I've tried to observe my own behaviour to what I think is going on and I think it comes down to this:

    "My little bit won't really matter" along with some thoughtlessness and selfishness which all then accumulates. In Canada we also get a lot of fishermen who fly into wild fishing camps who treat these as boozy boys weeks away with the inevitable results.

  19. #19
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    Apr 2011
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    SW France
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobt View Post
    I have always wondered about the psychology of this. What drives people to go to these beautiful, wild places and then leave litter, bog paper etc. It takes some effort to get there so I'd say they aren't usually the 'chavs or environmentally ignorant. So I've tried to observe my own behaviour to what I think is going on and I think it comes down to this:

    "My little bit won't really matter" along with some thoughtlessness and selfishness which all then accumulates. In Canada we also get a lot of fishermen who fly into wild fishing camps who treat these as boozy boys weeks away with the inevitable results.

    Yeah, I’ve dragged empty rubbish out of a pile of places including remote France and Sweden and wondered the same. I’ve also wondered about the logic of carting it in full and then leaving relatively light empty rubbish behind. WTF ?
    MarkL
    www.canoemassifcentral.com
    Open Canoe hire/outfitting in the Massif Central
    ”We will make your trip work”



  20. #20
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    Jul 2008
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    Surrey
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
    Yeah, I’ve dragged empty rubbish out of a pile of places including remote France and Sweden and wondered the same. I’ve also wondered about the logic of carting it in full and then leaving relatively light empty rubbish behind. WTF ?
    Quite. One of my biggest bugbears is the lazy sods who carry it in full but can't be arsed to carry it out when it weighs sweet F all. Same happens in bothies, as well as the classic "oh, well they can use this bottle as a candle holder", putting along with the three dozen other candle holders already there, despite the fact that everybody knows that you only ever carry Four Candles to a bothy, known as the Ronnie Rule (which I just invented).

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Canada
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    The good old "I'll just leave it here for others to use" excuse.

    I've often wondered if it is groups of younger men, where there might be a certain amount of bravado in the "look at me, I don't give a f***" mentality.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    ~Kirkintolloch, Glasgow
    Posts
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    Default

    Great report. Nice to be able to follow along on the Big Maps (OS maps selectable!). Myself and my wife were there just a few weeks ago and again saw nobody! 3 days in the wild. Managed to line the boat fairly easily at the East end of Sionscaig. Walked up An Lough (546) for a view on the 'off day'. Managed to paddle back on the SW edge of the loch (F4-5), but keeping close to shore and having to line in a few places. It is a fair trip!

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Shefford, Central Bedfordshire
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    Excellent blog and pictures. Just a bit too remote for me.
    Simms ..

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