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Thread: Shiel, Loch

  1. #1

    Default Shiel, Loch

    Loch Shiel (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Seile) is a 25 km freshwater loch, 120 m deep, situated 20 km west of Fort William in Lochaber, Highland, Scotland.

    Its nature changes considerably along its length, being deep and enclosed by mountains in the north east and shallow surrounded by bog and rough pasture in the south west, from which end the 4 km River Shiel drains to the sea in Loch Moidart near Castle Tioram.

    Loch Shiel should not be confused with Glen Shiel, 40 km further north in Skye and Lochalsh, which contains a longer River Shiel and a much smaller Loch Shiel.

    The surrounding mountains are picturesque but relatively rarely climbed as none quite reaches the 3000 ft (914 m) required for Munro status. The area is well wooded compared to the many Highland areas that have suffered from overgrazing, and much of the shore is designated a Special Area of Conservation. No roads run down either side of the loch and, uniquely for a major loch, the flow is not regulated. Boat trips for tourists have recently started on the loch.

    Loch Shiel is only marginally above sea level and was in fact a sea loch a few thousand years ago when sea levels (relative to Scotland) were higher.

    History
    A ruined chapel can be found on the largest island said to be the first home on the Scottish mainland of St. Finan, a teacher of St. Columba.

    Acharacle, at the south of the Loch, is the site of the 1140 battle in which Somerled defeated the Norse to found the ruling dynasty of Lord of the Isles. During these times, the loch had strategic importance as a communications route through the mountains, as the short River Shiel is easily navigable. In 1745, after disembarking at Moidart, Bonnie Prince Charlie was rowed the length of the loch in order to raise his standard at Glenfinnan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Newcastle under lyme
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    Enjoyed a 5 night trip on Loch Shiel in June 2011. We put the boat in at Glenfinnan and paddled down to Acharacle at the other end of the loch. There are plenty of suitable wild camping sites right next to the shingle beaches on the shore, and it's fairly easy to find springs for water. Hardly saw anyone for the whole trip.
    The weather was mixed, with some glorious sunshine and some of the traditional Scottish rain and wind which made paddling somewhat difficult at times (not to mention scary!).
    All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable trip which I would recommend. Take your time and enjoy the scenery and the wild camping. And don't forget your midge repellant

  3. Default

    Anyone have any experience of accessing Loch Shiel from Polloch? I've seen some references to people paddling up the River Polloch from Loch Shiel but giving up at shallows. Would this then make access here a no-go, or is it a short enough stretch to be only a slight inconvenience?

  4. #4

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    Hi Jinjacoo

    I was at Polloch last October, but with a 5 month old baby so no canoe. We walked alongside the Allt coire nan con where it passes thru Polloch and it is 3m wide, shallow and full of big rocks. We then walked along the logging track towards Loch Shiel and could see the loops of the river Polloch below and it looked passable but no way of knowing for sure. With a trolley it would be over a mile of portage down a wide fairly smooth logging track but a rough 50m down to the water. I seem to remember there being a no overnight parking sign but there was a big car park, loads and loads of room and i would risk leaving a car there. There was a shop or tourist information hut there, it was shut so i didnt take a close look but they might be able to advise on the parking, i expect no overnight parking is avoid the camper vans. Its a long drive to Pollock all down tiny single track roads and Pollock itself appeared to consist of 3 houses.

    I did stand at the end of the logging road looking at Loch Shiel think how beautiful it looks and wondering how/when i could get back to canoe it. Go for it and let us know how you get on. Loch Sunart is tidal but also looked fantastic, another place i will have to go back to.

    Chicken

  5. Default

    Excellent, thanks for that - very useful. I might just give this a go despite the potential effort and will update if I do. Google earth certainly shows the narrowness of the river and references on here to shallows was making me doubt the worth, but will see what happens.
    Last edited by JinjaCoo; 20th-May-2013 at 11:16 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Cumbria
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    You can access the water where the river runs into the loch - there are usually one or two fishing boats moored there. Upstream from there the river itself quickly becomes very shallow.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Glasgow
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    Can you launch and return/land on the river Finnan if parking at the free car park just off the main road?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Surrey
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trig View Post
    Can you launch and return/land on the river Finnan if parking at the free car park just off the main road?
    Memory says you'd probably be able to launch there, but as the river can be quite shallow, you may have a little brief getting in and out if the water low-medium. If the water higher, presumably it'd be hard to get back up. Its all close enough to the lake to not be a major problem in the scheme of a multi-day trip.

    I think Elveys parked in that car park in a blog, but they did the "Circuit" backwards and can't remember if they paddled up to the car park at the end, or just walked back to their vehicles.


    We used the Glenfinnan hotel, who were happy to help, but can get too busy to allow cars to park. Its a nice safety back up too, as they record your emergency details as well. Our trip here: http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...-of-Loch-Shiel
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  9. #9
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    Jun 2013
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    Glasgow
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    Just had a look at their blog, but it doesnt mention where they landed, good read anyway, cheers.
    Worst case i can park at the hotel as you say or trolley up the road. Was just curious when i noticed the river so close to the car park but no mention of it. Browsing my maps at the moment trying to plan a trip while ive got the holidays off, but if im honest with myself, id be quite glad to just sit in the house for the next 2 weeks.

  10. #10
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    Jul 2008
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    Surrey
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trig View Post
    Just had a look at their blog, but it doesnt mention where they landed, good read anyway, cheers.
    Worst case i can park at the hotel as you say or trolley up the road. Was just curious when i noticed the river so close to the car park but no mention of it. Browsing my maps at the moment trying to plan a trip while ive got the holidays off, but if im honest with myself, id be quite glad to just sit in the house for the next 2 weeks.
    Look on Streetview, shows a clear, shallowish river, looks just deep enough to float downstream of road bridge, very shallow above. Dated June 11, so perhaps lowish levels. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@56.87...7i13312!8i6656


    I get almost as much pleasure from the planning and looking at maps etc, as I do from the trip itself...
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trig View Post
    Can you launch and return/land on the river Finnan if parking at the free car park just off the main road?
    You can and we did.....once, but it was in winter and the water was high. Every other time I have visited the area the river was too shallow to paddle.
    When we did the circuit: like Mal and Co, we parked at the Glenfinnan Hotel it's only a short carry/trolley to a beach.
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

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