A trip from Glenfinnan down Loch Shiel, Loch Moidart coast to Glenuig and Loch Ailort by Lynne, Darren, Tobey (age 2) and Jake the dog.
This year's trip from 10 - 14 April had been planned for months. I was worried we wouldn't make it with reports of frozen lochs and snow the week before but it turned out to be sunny and calm for the whole trip!
We left home at midnight and after a long drive, parked at the hotel at Glenfinnan. The boat was loaded up and we set off at 10 am with blue sky and a slight breeze behind us.
The breeze dropped and the loch was mirror calm for most of the day.
Stopped for a brew on a little beach for Tobey and Jake to stretch their legs.
I chose a pink fluffy spinner for Darren's fishing rod to which he said "I'll never catch anything with that!" Tobey fell asleep lying across my knee so it was a good excuse to stop paddling and enjoy the scenery.
Darren then caught his first brown trout of the day and not long after landed another.
Good choice of spinner!
Looking back towards Glenfinnan, the weather was perfect.
Stopped for lunch and a brew on a shingle beach and Tobey fell asleep.
We seemed to be making good time but carried on to find a spot to camp. Stopped just after the River Polloch.
We spotted another couple camping with a canoe on the next beach down, the only people we had seen. I prepared and cooked sweet and sour chicken on the firebox.
It had been a long day so there was just time for a fire, watching the sun go down and then bed.
We slept really well considering we were on a slope!
We awoke to another perfect day and Darren cooked the fish for breakfast.
Tobey tried some fishing!
Headed up the River Polloch for a while.
When we got back to the loch, a stiff breeze had got up. We had lunch on Eilean Fhianain after which we explored the burial ground.
The never ending loch stretching in front of us!
The breeze dropped and we made good time so stopped to check the map and stretch our legs.
I think we had paddled further than we thought on day 1 as we were near Acharacle. We carried on and hoped to arrive at the river at high tide. At last the Shiel Bridge - I was beginning to think we would never get there!
Looking down the river, it seemed quite high and was fast flowing after this bridge.
We explored the tidal rapid and realised we had hopelessly misjudged the tide and decided to portage! After a long hour and several trips we had carried everything round with Tobey on my shoulders. It was now 7.30 pm. I have been asking for a trolley for ages and after this Darren has finally agreed with me and we will be getting one!
We were starting to flag now but it was all worth while as Moidart was beautiful and calm and two seals were playing in the shallows.
I am glad we didn't come down that!
The seals were inquisitive and followed us down the channel.
Castle Tiarum at dusk.
The sun was setting as we headed for the small steep wooded island Eilean na Gruagaig.
The tide was low so it was hard work lugging all the stuff up to our camp. It was getting late so we set up the tarp and explored the island.
Luckily there was a fire ring there with plenty of firewood. I ended up chopping veg and making chilli by torchlight!
Tobey's first night under a tarp.
Another gorgeous day. We had a lazy morning waiting for the tide to come in.
Tobey was convinced that the noise from the birds was monkeys! So we spent all morning looking for monkeys but didn't find any!
We paddled round Moidart and saw an otter and more seals. Stopped at the castle for lunch. It was very atmospheric as a man was playing bagpipes on the shore.
We decided not to paddle down the South Channel as the tide was coming in and it was very choppy.
I picked up a tick here and when I checked, I was infested! After removing 15 of them I decided that we would move on from our island camp and only camp on sand from now on!
Packed up and set off to paddle to the sea along the North Channel on the north side of Shola Beag, Eilean Shona and the mainland of Moidart. It was a hard slog against the wind.
We decided that if the sea was too rough we would come back. Two seals followed us up the channel and we spotted a deer on the hill.
As we rounded the corner into the sea the waves were huge and it was very windy! The swell was about a metre. No pictures as waves were crashiong over the front!. We headed for the white sandy beach just round the corner. The picture doesn't show how bad it was.
We made it without taking on much water, the canoe handled the conditions well and felt very stable but it would have been madness to go beyond the shelter of the skerries.
It was freezing here and blowing a gale so we set up camp quickly and made dinner then went to bed early.
If the conditions were still bad in the morning we decided that we would return to Moidart but Darren woke me up at 5 am and the wind had dropped and the sea was calm. Perfect! We packed up quickly and set off on the coastal paddle to Glenuig with no escape route.
This was my favourite part of the trip as I didn't expect to be able to do it. It was so quiet and still and was awesome to paddle in a canoe. We saw lots of seals and watched the sun rise over the mountains.
Arrived at Glenuig at 8am for breakfast and a brew. I can't believe we made it!
The shop was closed but the owner of the Glenuig Inn kindly refilled our water container for us and stopped for a chat. He was impressed with our trip and told us lots of stories about open canoes ditching on the coast and said we had done the right thing setting off when we did.
The tide had gone out miles when we got back to the canoe and a very kind holiday maker helped us drag it back to the water. Ready to set off again to Loch Ailort in calm waters.
A perfect beach for lunch and a brew.
We stayed for a while as we were all tired, including Jake.
Tobey enjoyed the whole beach to himself.
We paddled round the corner and thought about spending the night at Peanmeanach bothy.
We were disappointed to find a scottish family who had walked from the road and were spending the week there! But as the tide was low and we couldn't face carrying everything up we decided to carry on.
View from the bothy.
We found a small white sandy beach with a grassy shelf and put up the tarp.
Tobey played with his boat on a rope while Darren cooked fresh mussels with butter and garlic.
Tobey seems to like the tarp and went to bed early.
We watched another glorious sunset.
Woke up early whilst the tide was in, had breakfast and set off on the last part of our journey to Loch Ailort.
Into Loch Ailort which was very clear with lots of jelly fish.
Our get out point was the last jetty on the right where we arrived at 9.30 am.
We had done it!
I had just made a brew and was about to go for the train when the owner of the Glenuig Inn drove past and offered me a lift to the car at Glenfinnan.
All packed and ready for a relaxing day on the coast at Camusdarach before our long journey home.
We have enjoyed an awesome trip with stunning scenery and wildlife, friendly people and unbelieveable weather. For us it was a real sense of achievement and I am now planning our adventure for next year.