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Thread: Assynt/Coigach, Scottish Wilderness

  1. #1

    Default Assynt/Coigach, Scottish Wilderness

    Hi,
    I'm off to Assynt in the far North of Scotland at the end of the month with 5 friends for a weeks wilderness camping/canoeing/hillwalking trip.


    Our primary objective is to canoe in along Loch Veyatie and Fionn Loch and do Suilven. Probably a paddle on Loch Sionascaig with an overnight camp on Eilean Mòr too.

    So... Has anyone here much experience in this area ? some questions....
    1. Is it possible to get in to Fionn Loch from the Lochinver road by going upstream along the River Kirkaig ?
    2. Where's the best place to portage between Fionn Loch and Loch Sionascaig ? At the narrowest point (seems plenty of contours to cross) or 2 portages further west with a paddle along Loch a Ghilie too (further, less contours) ?
    3. Is it possible to decend River Polly from Loch Sionascaig into Polly Bay ? At what Grade ?
    4. Anyone have any comments on Loch Laxford further North ?
    All ideas and secondhand knowledge gratefully received so that we can make the most of an 11 hour drive North from the Midlands

  2. #2
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    Default Assynt

    Andy
    I haven't paddled in here myself yet - but I have researched it slightly (trip planned in Autumn).

    I think most of the info you want is in the SCA Touring Guide - if you haven't got a copy then I can summarise for you tomorrow.

      1. Is it possible to get in to Fionn Loch from the Lochinver road by going upstream along the River Kirkaig ?
      2. Where's the best place to portage between Fionn Loch and Loch Sionascaig ? At the narrowest point (seems plenty of contours to cross) or 2 portages further west with a paddle along Loch a Ghilie too (further, less contours) ?
      3. Is it possible to decend River Polly from Loch Sionascaig into Polly Bay ? At what Grade ?
      4. Anyone have any comments on Loch Laxford further North ?
    1. I think that tthe Kirkaig is a narrow gorge & that getting in that way involves a rough portage.
    3. The Polly is paddleable (not sure what level of water you need) - I think it's Gd2, but will check.

    Probably someonelese can give you 1st hand experience, but I'll bring the guide in tomorrow.
    Rhod

  3. #3

    Default

    I have walked up to Fionn Loch from the road alongside the river Kirkaig. This was before I had a canoe, so I did not study the river closely. However I can't see that it would be viable - there is a lot of height to be gained in a short horizontal distance, and there is a falls which I remember thinking would be a barrier to salmon.

    I have to say that I would not want to portage it either. There is a path, of sorts. There are electricity cables near the road to avoid. I'm sure it could be portaged but I think it would be a very unpleasant half day or more.

    There used to be a nice bookshop at the bottom.
    Last edited by Doc; 4th-May-2006 at 04:44 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Last edited by bothyman; 4th-May-2006 at 05:59 PM.
    It'll be right, trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.



    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

  5. #5
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    Default

    But if you look really closely at that picture.......



    No problems!!

    Seriously though Newdaze, we're planning on a trip to Sionascaig in June, so do let us know how you get on.

    Doc - has the bookshop gone now? It used to be a fantastic wee place. Great for getting your nerves back together after driving over that mad wee road from the Stac Pollaidh end!

    Fantastic area - can't wait to paddle there.

    Blutack.
    The Canoeist's prayer: "Lord grant me the serenity to walk the portages I must, The courage to run the rapids I can, And the wisdom to know the difference".

    John Muir Trust - Wild Places for Nature & People.

  6. #6

    Default

    I hope the bookshop is still there - it was about 9 years ago that I was last there, so didn't want to give possibly obsolete info.

    The whole of the area is fantastic country - I was the locum GP at Lochinver for a month and didn't want to leave.

  7. #7
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    Default

    [quote=Doc]I hope the bookshop is still there - it was about 9 years ago that I was last there
    quote]

    I thought it had closed but according to this its still open

    >> http://www.scotlandindex.net/Lochinv...0Coffee%20Shop
    MickT
    It'll be right, trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.



    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Blutack
    But if you look really closely at that picture.......

    No problems!!
    Glad to see someone else has a sense of adventure, looks do-able

    I posted this thread while at work yesterday and didn't have the SCA Touring guide to hand. I do now . River Kirkaig was only a possible option. Obviously I hadn't done any research on the falls.

    I'm a lot more interested in the possibility of doing a full tour of Cam Loch-Loch Veyatie-Fionn Loch--portage--Loch Sionascaig-River Polly-Polly Bay-Garvie Bay--portage--Loch Osgaig-Loch Bad a' Ghaill-Loch Lurgainn over the course of a week, climbing Suilven, Cul Mor & Cul Beag en route.

    The SCA guide (route 018) suggests that the portage between Fionn Loch & Loch Sionascaig has been done with a kayak. I'd like to know if anyone has first hand info of the portage with something (much) larger. Also the remaing portage and the River Polly which the guide suggests can be rocky.

  9. #9
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    Default Links to a well-illustrated trip account

    www.gosney.com/inverpolly/html/inverpolly.html

    www.cyclingforums.com/t250888-re-tr-inverpolly.html

    I came across this trip account while checking the possibility of doing the same journey. I hope it might answer some of your questions. The alternative put-in from the Lochinver road seems a good idea.

    Unfortunately I slipped and broke my arm on Monday (I'm typing this one-handed) putting paid to our plans for a holiday on Scotland this year - there's no emoticon to convey how I feel.

  10. #10
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    Default

    HI, We attempted this trip last year but had to cut it short due to bad weather. You can enter Loch Veytie from the village of Elphin which cuts out the portage. Just before you leave the village heading for River Kirkaig, you'll see on you left handside a gate - it's around 100 meters of the roadside. This is the entrance to the fish hatchery and the starting point for the estate angling. There is a telephone number by the gate which is the contact for the local ghillie. We tried but he wasn't at home - so bold as brass, just drove through, parked the car and made our way down to the beach. I should say we did ask some neighbours and they seem to think it was ok but this was in October. As you can see from the picture it leads down to the hatchery and a small loading bay. We carried the canoe across a gate and left the vehicle there. I'm not suggesting you do the same but it worked for us. I think you may have to pay a fishing fee if you use the access during the season. The hatchery is at the base of the falls at the river. The next time we go I'll phone first and try and get 'official' access. I think this picture might help.

    http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e3...r/IMG_1372.jpg

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Leafletter
    www.gosney.com/inverpolly/html/inverpolly.html


    I came across this trip account while checking the possibility of doing the same journey.
    Cheers,
    The pics really do give some inspiration. Sorry to hear about your arm. Get well soon ! I've broken enough bones myself over the years to know how frustraiting it can be to be laid up when all you want to do is get outdoors.

  12. #12

    Default Assynt

    I did this trip a few years ago fron the Elphin end of of Loch Veyatie.

    Just past Elphin there is a track that runs from near the school down to a salmon farm in the loch edge, GR 210 122 gates are locked but local farmer gaves us key to drive back down to waters edge (on return trip we had to carry as could not find the farmer).

    On Veyatie dont miss a Loch a Mhadail is narrow entrance is a sand bar once inside its like a lost valley, a steep sided cwm.

    Good capm site is GR147 163 where the stream enters, also a good point to strike out at Suliven. Here Loch Veyatie empties in to Loch Fionn, ehere it narrows Gr I to II depending on water, possible to line boats back upstream. Had my best day's fly fishing here 10 wild brown trout on the camp fire. Not much natural fire wood about.

    I portaged via Loch a Ghille, flatter route and can drag boat over heather, cant comment on any other route.

    River Kirkaig was low at the time looker like portages necessary.

    Loads of possible camps in Sionscaig, some fishing boates in the NW of loch.

    We exited Sionascaig the same way, we wanted to head SE via Allt an Loin Duibh to A853 but water low and consider to much effort.

    Did not check River polly assumed that water level would be low. and Polly Bay is remote with little used track.

    Hope this helps

    Have a good trip

  13. #13
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Purcell
    I did this trip a few years ago fron the Elphin end of of Loch Veyatie.

    I portaged via Loch a Ghille, flatter route and can drag boat over heather, cant comment on any other route.
    How far down the Kirkaig did you go before portaging. e.g. grid 119176, or even further down 116176 (where the path shortcut)?

    Or did you cut across elsewhere, e.g. across to the little lochan at 121171?
    Philip

  14. #14

    Default

    Hi it was closer to 119 176, where the contours are flater west of stream marked.

    This is not an easy ortage, it borken ground and water levels in the loch a ghille can vary, it took us most of the day to get into sionascaig but we had nothing else to do that day!

    dragging the boat over the heather was possible.

    I would recommend getting to the area described and going and take a look on foot for your self for the path of least resistance

  15. #15

    Default

    Thanks for the replies guys. 16:30 and I'm out of here for a 565 mile drive North, stopping off at the lakes en route. I'll post a trip report when I get back and settle back into the rat race.....

  16. #16

    Default

    Well...

    Many a good plan has been hatched in the pub between friends over a few pints, but as always the weather tends to have the last say.

    Last week was one of constant winds over the highlands that hampered our plans to cross Inverpolly. We did get to paddle on Loch Sionscaig but came in from the other direction via boat bay to spend 2 nights wild camping on Eiliean Mor. The weather was good last Wednesday and we had a paddle/walk over towards Suilven. There are some great places to camp at the end of Loch Veyatie.

    Plans to paddle on Loch Glencoul and Loch Laxford (sea lochs) went out of the window because of the strength of the wind. Instead we had day out at Sandwood bay.....



    .....and a short day on Loch Nam Brac near Faganmore. We were a mixed flotilla with my Old Town, a stitch and tape touring Kayak and an inflatable canoe.....





    The paddle to Eilean Mor on Loch Sionscaig was superb, though not uneventful. My friend had to make emergency duct tape repairs to his kayak when it was holed by a rock during the portage between Loch Buine Moire and Boat Bay.






    We had a great wild camping experience and, despite the photo, we camped with a "leave no trace" philosophy. Cul Mor and firelight...



    And with scenery like this who can complain.....





    We left Eilean Mor on Thursday. Wednesday night was wild and there was some discussion as whether to sit it out and wait for the weather to improve for the journey out. Maybe lack of experience, but I found the paddle back really hair raising, struggling to paddle against a heavy headwind and keep the canoe form turning broadside to the waves. Several were crashing over the bow. Capsizing with over a kilometer of open water to cross was a real concern. I was too busy to take the camera out

    Well, the full crossing of Inverpolly along with Suilven is still one of my aspirations and just one adventure "pidgeon holed" for the future when time and conditions permit. Maybe next year...

    Cheers.

  17. #17
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    Default

    Sounds like it was a good trip. Did your outfitting live up to your hopes or have you tweaks planned?
    John

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

  18. #18

    Default

    Yes, it was a good trip. Very relaxed, a bit dissapointed I didn't get chance to get up Suilven but as they say, "The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too" .

    The outfitting worked fine, couldn't be better. ...I really can't think of anything that I would change. I might add a couple of D-rings closer to the rear seat just for clipping day gear (drinks,cameras, etc) to. When Summer is just a memory I'll think about making a tarp that can be easily used as a sail, but that's about it.

    Some repairs are needed though as the cargo net was vibrating with the wind on the drive back ; rubbing against something while on the car roof and has worn through part of the webbing and one of the bungees. Minor really. I'm going to get a decent touring paddle at some point, something with a bigger blade and more power, "Go faster" stripes too if I can get them


  19. #19
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    Default River Kirkaig

    Glad you had a a good trip - not making all the objectives first time just means that there's more reason to come back (& more sense of achievement when you get them all!). It's a fantastic landscape all right.

    I somehow forgot to post it after my trip, but I used my last wet & windy day inspecting the River Kirkaig, just out of interest. It was pretty low, but looked paddleable from below the falls, however the portage would be a bit of a nightmare & a trolley only usable if it was the single wheel type. Access to the river from the path would be very difficult until a good mile down-river from the falls.

    Egress from the river would have to be made well up river from the falls for the same reason (plus the fact that it speeds up quite a bit, with minimal eddies ). All in all it would seem far too much hassle to be worth trying.

    For info. The egress on the Kirkaig for the portage to Sionscraig looked to be marked by a deer fence running at right-angles to the bank on river left, with a slow pool & good haul-out.

    Rhod

  20. #20
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    Question Suilven Questions!

    We're heading up to Assynt next week in the hope of climbing Suilven - access from Veyatie.

    I've read varying accounts of the river between Fionnn Loch and Loch Veyatie. The current plan is to camp at the SE end of Fionn Loch. Can anyone advise if this is a good idea, and principally whether we'll be able to get back up the river again afterwards?

    I don't have a pole and haven't tried lining before. Strikes me that this might not be an ideal place for a first practice! Depending on advice, we may camp before the river narrows and just walk a bit further to Suilven, but it would make for a better trip to get from one loch into the other. Besides, I'm still troutless this year , so have lots of catching up to do .

    All advice on this trip, and others in the area (Sionascaig, Lurigainn etc) gratefully received!

    Cheers,

    Blutack.
    The Canoeist's prayer: "Lord grant me the serenity to walk the portages I must, The courage to run the rapids I can, And the wisdom to know the difference".

    John Muir Trust - Wild Places for Nature & People.

  21. #21

    Default

    Well, Due to the weather at the time (windy) we didn't commit ourselves to crossing Inverpolly in the end. We did do a recee from Sionascaig across towards Suilven. There is a superb spot for camping on the bend in the river at NC142164. The short section of river that we looked at was plenty deep to paddle with ; no need for a pole. I don't think you need to worry about lining. Where it was flowing faster (a very short section) it was only just over ankle deep and you'd just get out and push - but we didn't follow the river all the way back to Veyatie.

    I spoke to a guy last year who had done the trip down Veyatie and got caught out by the winds. He and his wife had to spend an extra night out untill the wind died enough for them to paddle back. Take extra supplies and be prepared to be flexible with your time allowance.

    Have a great trip and tell us all about it when you get back

  22. #22

    Default

    We didn't manage Loch Vayatie in July due to bad weather. We did have a couple of days on Loch Sionascaig, though the weather wasn't any better. The portage in to boat bay is about half a mile, but fairly straighforward. We had a quick look at the route out towards the Kirkaig, and it looks like there would be an awkward portage past a sluice and short section of river between the Polly Lochs and Loch Sionascaig. As for camping spots etc. best to find out for yourself, too much information would only spoil the adventure.
    Have a good time, and watch out for the ticks.

    Paul

  23. #23
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    Default

    I've just been on an organised trip in this area. One of our guides has done various portages and reckons the best one is from the Kirkaig via Loch a Ghille to Loch Sionascaig.

    It was a great trip & we hardly saw a trace of humanity apart from a pile of ashes on Eilean Mor, can't think who left them.
    We had a great wild camping experience and, despite the photo, we camped with a "leave no trace" philosophy. Cul Mor and firelight...

    Anyway I'll try to get up a proper report soon.

  24. #24

    Default

    Hmmmmm....

    Our "pile of ashes" were amongst boulders within inches of the water line on the East end of the Island and were brushed completely away into the loch before we left. There were at least 2 other parties camped on the Island while we were there including one group at the "bay" in the middle of the island facing Stac Polly who had been chopping wood and left wood chippings all over the place when they left. It's a pity that some groups can't be more considerate of others.

  25. #25
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    I went Achiltibuie yesterday (Tuesday) and there were a couple of Folk sat in a Passing Place with a couple of open canoes where the river joins the two lochs, one had a bandana on ?? was it anyone on here?? they were gone when I returned later.
    Also last week (Thursday)I went Durness on the way back home (via Kylesku) I saw a canoe on Loch Assynt near Ardvreck Castle with three folk in it ??

    I need an StoP Flag?????????

    MickT
    Last edited by bothyman; 13th-September-2006 at 10:44 AM.
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    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by bothyman View Post
    I went Achiltibuie yesterday (Tuesday) and there were a couple of Folk sat in a Passing Place with a couple of open canoes where the river joins the two lochs......
    Well we were at Achiltibuie on Tuesday, but I don't have a bandana.......

    Had a fantastic trip - hoping to coerce Mrs Blutack into writing it up this week!

    Blutack.
    The Canoeist's prayer: "Lord grant me the serenity to walk the portages I must, The courage to run the rapids I can, And the wisdom to know the difference".

    John Muir Trust - Wild Places for Nature & People.

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