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Thread: Loch Shiel Circuit - blessed by the weather Gods!

  1. #1
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    Default Loch Shiel Circuit - blessed by the weather Gods!

    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!

    Day 1

    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!

    Day 2

    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.



    Day 3

    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.

    Day 4



    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.



    Day 5

    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.

    Cheers,

    Lynne

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    Fantastic blog, great trip and stunning photos too.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Big Al.

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    and the last river been poisoned
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    will we realise we cannot eat money.
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    Superb.

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    Looks brilliant!

    Great blog.

    Thanks!


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    What a seriously great trip. Nice work.

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    Hi Lynne,

    What an excellent blog!

    I'm just off to bed but tomorrow morning we set off from York to paddle around the Loch Moidart, Arasaig and Loch Morrar area so it is great to see that you had such excellent canoeing/camping weather so recently.

    We did the same trip as you last year but the weather changed for the worse towards the end and we were not able to complete the trip beyond Loch Moidart. Instead we had to walk from there back to the railway station at Lochailort so that we could finally get back to our car at Glenfinnan.

    You seem to have had an excellent time and some great paddling + some very pretty looking campsites!

    FYI I've "borrowed" your pic of the rapid where the River Sheil empties into the sea Loch Moidart and added it to the collection on this blog. Hope this is OK with you.

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    found it really interesting that you took your kid along, i know so many people (my sister) that use their kids as an excuse to never do anything remotely adventurous.

    Looks like he had a great time and he looks at home out there.

    Good for you and well done

    Lovely pictures too

  8. #8

    Thumbs up

    Superb blogg, thanks for sharing!

    You're lucky to have a kid that likes sitting still in a canoe for so many hours!


    /Zealot

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    Cracking blog: one of the best this year! Many thanks for sharing. It brought back memories of doing the trip back in 2005.

    Tobey seems to have behaved impeccably! Did he pull his weight with a paddle?
    Juvanile delinkwit (retired), vaguely faffing around with a pair of pliers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockhopper View Post
    Cracking blog: one of the best this year! Many thanks for sharing. It brought back memories of doing the trip back in 2005.

    Tobey seems to have behaved impeccably! Did he pull his weight with a paddle?
    Tobey doesn't sit perfectly still all of the time!! He sits on a little step in front of me and has his own paddle for short trips but loves to drop it in for Daddy to pick up!

    He is very good and this trip had lots of wildlife to keep him amused but he does have his moments - usually at very inconvenient times like trying to stand on my knee as we went through the north channel into very choppy seas!

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    Awesome - you were indeed bless'd by the weather gods.


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    Superb stuff Lynne, great bloggage and some lovely pics.

    It looks like you had it about as good as it gets up there

    Love the sunset pics
    Rich




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    I am deeply impressed at your trip and your decision to take such a small child with you. There can't be many small children nowadays who have that kind of experience and adventure, mine included!
    Hats off to you, long may you continue to paddle.
    "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

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    Default Loch Shiel Circuit

    blessed,you said it! What a thoroughly enjoyable blogg of this high adventure you sharedwillie
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    some chord that will vibrate in eternity"

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    Superb trip and blogg. Shame I am too old to be adopted by you as this is the sort of family trip I would kill to have been taken on as a child.
    John

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    Brilliant blogg, I really enjoyed it. You had fantastic weather and cetainly made the most of it. Well done and thanks for sharing it with us.
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


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    Quote Originally Posted by nickrorke View Post
    I'm just off to bed but tomorrow morning we set off from York to paddle around the Loch Moidart, Arasaig and Loch Morrar area so it is great to see that you had such excellent canoeing/camping weather so recently.

    We did the same trip as you last year but the weather changed for the worse towards the end and we were not able to complete the trip beyond Loch Moidart. Instead we had to walk from there back to the railway station at Lochailort so that we could finally get back to our car at Glenfinnan.
    Absolutely brilliant blog, and such great conditions! This really is a place of stunning beauty!
    Funnily enough, we met Nick Rorke and partner on that same trip, (picking up a few ticks in the process, too!), and also had to give up that day and walk miles back to the car!!

    Yet the three days we did spend on this trip were some of the best outdoor experiences ever for me, there's such a feeling of wild beauty here, and your pics reminded me that i have to get back there asap, and hope for the conditions to make the whole journey... thanks for posting!
    Nick, if you read this, hope you had better luck this time
    "the river flows, flows to the sea, wherever that river goes, that's where i want to be"- the Byrds

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    Lynne that was fantastic, thanks for taking the time to share it with us. I plan on taking my kids up there one day and your blog has fired me up to go sooner rather than later. I bet that took some planning though. I'm picturing nights spent poring over maps and long long lists revised many times of all the gear you'd have to bring to keep everyone happy and comfortable, especially Tobey. Brilliant blog.

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    Exactly what a two year old should be doing, a 20 year old should be doing and a 200 year old should be doing!

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    What a great trip, and a fantastic blogg. Lovely photo's too - great scenery and lovely sunsets - I'm jealous!!

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

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    Default Loch Shiel blessed by the weather Gods

    reminded me of a trip we did a couple of years ago, same type of weather and it seemed very similar camp spots.

    Luckily the ticks were away at the time.

    I have a 2 year old grandson and looking forward to taking him on a trip - perhaps not so ambitious - yet!

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    Default Wow!

    Absolutely fantastic! I am full of admiration for you and your adventure. You deserved the good weather for being so bold. Well done to you all and thanks for sharing.

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    Awesome indeed Well done you folks. Great photos. Really glad the weather gods smiled . Loch Ailort can be nasty. You sometimes get strong gusts of wind funnelling down from the hills to the north. Hope the selkies were singing the wee fella to sleep.
    Regards,
    Stravaiger.
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    Smashing blogg, absolutely great photos. We saw a piper at Loch Shiel on the way to Loch Morar, I wonder if it was the same?
    BTW, I wish I'd known you were staying at Camusdarach, we stayed around the corner at Portnadoran site!
    sooooo close !
    Last edited by Sundowner; 18th-April-2010 at 06:09 PM.
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    Default Well done

    It simply doesn't get better than that.
    What a great trip, thanks for posting.
    Well done to you all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean the Prawn View Post
    Lynne that was fantastic, thanks for taking the time to share it with us. I plan on taking my kids up there one day and your blog has fired me up to go sooner rather than later. I bet that took some planning though. I'm picturing nights spent poring over maps and long long lists revised many times of all the gear you'd have to bring to keep everyone happy and comfortable, especially Tobey. Brilliant blog.
    Sean - yes I spent ages with maps and books but I did most of my research from SOtP. My menu planner was the most difficult to do as we do eat well - no dried food for us! Now I have all my kit lists I just use the same ones. We actually took one less dry bag this time than when we went to Loch Morar last year - but still too much!

    Tobey is the easiest one to keep happy! He is better kitted out than we are!

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    Absolutely great.
    I thought last year's Morar blogg would be hard to beat.

    Tobey is a lucky lad.
    Newbond

    'In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.'

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    Fantastic blogg, great photos of a great trip! Very jealous!!
    Cheers,

    Alan


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    Default Ah bless...

    Cracking blog, well done and thanks. Your nipper stole the show though, bless him. Especially the one where he's asleep on the shingle while his dad wrestles the kelly kettle.
    Well the forecast said it would be good...

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    Excellent blog, brilliant weather too.

    The report of choppy seas and strong winds is the same as the conditions I have found the twice I have been down the north channel.

    We saw a lot of wild goats on the beach where you camped at the end of the channel.


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    Brilliant blog, & one of the most inspiring ones I've read this year.

    I'm up in Scotland this June, & my friends with their kids have a cottage near Lochinver for the week, & this has totally inspired me to take my 10 year old godson & his 8 year old bro canoe camping in Assynt.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

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  32. #32

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    love the blogg,great pic smashin weather.only disapointed to hear folks using bothy fr a week not holiday cottage but surely for the passing traveler to take a break from the weather.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Brilliant blog, & one of the most inspiring ones I've read this year.

    I'm up in Scotland this June, & my friends with their kids have a cottage near Lochinver for the week, & this has totally inspired me to take my 10 year old godson & his 8 year old bro canoe camping in Assynt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by warthog View Post
    love the blogg,great pic smashin weather.only disapointed to hear folks using bothy fr a week not holiday cottage but surely for the passing traveler to take a break from the weather.
    We were also disappointed as we were looking forward to not putting the tarp up! I also thought a bothy was a place to stay for a night but they had taken over all the rooms!

  34. #34

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    Can I add my voice to the chorus of approval for this blogg. Really fantastic.

    I remember a few years ago, the first time I ever set foot in a canoe was on Loch Shiel, just going from Glenfinnan to Acharacle with one nights camping. At the time we thought we were the bees knees (as indeed we were!). But you guys are the mutts nuts!

    Well done.

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    Excellent, best blog I've seen.

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    Default Inspired

    Thank you for sharing your trip. You have inspired me to do greater things with my 3 year old (J)!

    Best wishes

    Chris.

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    Excellent stuff Lynne, and superb pics.
    I just hope that Tobey can remember some of this when he's older.
    It was good to meet you three at Coniston on Saturday too. What time did Tobey wake up on Saturday afternoon?

    Cheers, Michael.
    Cheers, Michael.


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  38. #38

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    .
    It was good to meet you three at Coniston on Saturday too. What time did Tobey wake up on Saturday afternoon?

    he got up about 5.30 we got back had our bbq it was dark by the time we set of home . hope to see you at the next meet

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    Excellent blogg - Looks like you all had a great time.

    Smurf xx
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    Amazing blogg, guys! Bit o' woodworking next?

    Kitey
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    And pensive monitor of fleeting years!


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    Inspiring and beautiful blogg.
    What a family!

    dave

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    A grand blog with photos to match.

    TGB
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    Great to see people getting their kids into adventures early.

    Its a beautiful area, thanks for sharing.
    'There is no wealth but life itself.'

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    Inspirational . Well done you guys..

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    Superb great pics, well done.
    Sandy

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    Thumbs up Thats done it!

    I've just ordered the maps for this trip, I'm planning on giving it a go, tandem of course, on or about 20-25 July

    I've already followed the route, via google earth and I'm completely hooked

    There is a photograph on G E of a replica "voyaguer" canoe, with 6 or so folk, running the chute into the sea. I certainly could fancy that but I think we'll wait and see

    Truly excellent stuff

    all the best

    Steve
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    I somehow missed this superb blog. Wonderful photos. I recognise several of the campsites and the whole thing brought back some great memories. Thanks for sharing this.
    It's turned out nice again!

  48. #48

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    Darren and Lynne just read this again whilst sat at my desk before work, brilliant!

    So where we going next year then?


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    What a great adventure, very inspiring and giving me thoughts..... thank you for sharing it with us.... :-)
    Cheers
    Mike

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    Schöner Reisebericht! Thanks for sharing!!
    Dull Knives are the most dangerous ones.

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    Superb blogg, fantastic photography. Very jelous I need to get out more.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Roy.

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    Default Loch Shiel

    For Toby - the luckiest little boy in the paddling world! When he is older you will be able to look back and recount the tales of his great adventures with him, hopefully he will follow in your footsteps ( paddle strokes? ) and do it with his children, sleep tight little man.

    Owain

    ps - Darren and Lynne, we learn so much from your pictures, thank you.

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    Default Superb

    Just fantastic. This just shows what life is about. I'm sure you will all remember this time for ever, just looking at the blog leaves me pineing for the outdoors. Well done to you all. (sure beats a week lying on a sun lounge getting sun burn and the runs)
    Hind sight is always 20/20

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    Great trip and well done doing it with dog and Tobey in as well.

    Excellent adventure.

    Alan L.

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    Brilliant blog, and great trip, some great photo's. Inspiring!

  56. #56

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    super travelogue. Toby may well remember that as one of his earliest memories. totally adventurous. his lesser creche mates probably did a hotel on a costa And totally professional standard photography cool!!

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    I thoroughly enjoyed the commentary, the photos and the little one enjoying himself so much, oh yeah and Toby too !! Very reminiscent of the SOTP film by the man himself. It's a beautiful country the kilted lot have got. I wish I'd had parents who would take me on something like that - are you perhaps in the market to adopt a large, elderly idiot ? Just a thought.

    Liked the tent by the way, what make was it ? Looks like one of the Khyam ones ?

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    ah, what a super trip! we're in the middle of planning something similar for this year, so that's a very timely blog Last summer we had a week on Loch Glencoul and then a week at Loch Assynt - and while our sea-loch experience past Kylesku was on an amazingly calm day, we had big wind and big waves on Loch Veyati so similarly don't have photos of one of the most 'exciting' paddles...

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    A very nice blog- thanks for sharing.
    The pictures looked so good, it inspired a Loch Shiel trip, over 4 days, with a few friends last week!
    After canoing the length of the Loch and River, due to the wind, we did not quite make it to the islands in the estuary,
    but we enjoyed camping on the beach in the shadow of castle, for our final night.

    (We hired canoes from Rockhoppers ( near Fort William ),
    who also provided a drop off and collection service.
    As they were very helpfull and enthusiastic,
    I hope it is acceptable to give them a quick mention here.)

    Thanks again for sharing

    John
    Last edited by SurfJohnny; 18th-June-2012 at 08:07 PM.

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    It's seeing trips like this that inspire me to want to take up this lifestyle, one day I hope that I'll be able to take a voyage to such a wonderful place.
    need to get out on the water soon.

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