Tuesday, April 05, 2016

To Knoydart for Easter

In an effort to make the best of a for day weekend we began our mad dash for the Scottish Highlands straight after work on Thursday night. The van, crammed with gear and with 4 kayaks on the roof was taking the strain well. We celebrated crossing the border by scoffing down a late supper of haggis and chips. Eventually we arrived at Arisaig after 2am on Good Friday morning. We wearily pitched our tents in the dark and promptly fell asleep to the peaceful sounds of the Scottish sea.

The view in the morning was breathtaking. What a sight to wake up to. Crystal blue skies, warm sunshine and a gentle breeze set the scene for breakfast time. However, the forecast was for strengthening winds from the south. Our plan was to make it into the sheltered waters of Loch Nevis as quickly as possible.

By late morning the skies had darkened and the wind had arrived. Before long it was cold and rainy and we were glad of our booking at the Knoydart Foundation Bunkhouse. It was the perfect place to settle down on an increasingly stormy afternoon. As we ventured along the track to the Old Forge Pub we gazed at the whirling columns of sea spray whipped up by the gale force gusts. We were glad to have landed as early as we had.

We spent Saturday exploring the shores of Loch Nevis and visited Tarbert where there is a portage track into neighboring Loch Morar. The bunkhouse run by the late legendary 'Frank', is closed for now but I was assured that there are plans to re-open it next year.

On the way back to Inverie we passed Tom McLean's Highland Outdoor Centre and his bizarre 'whale ship', collected mussels and paid a visit to the holy statue that overlooks the entrance to the Loch.

It rained all day.

Improving weather on Easter Sunday prompted us to head out of the loch and look for somewhere to camp for the final nigh of our trip. It was so pleasing to finally see blue skies and paddle in the sunshine again. However, it wasn't long before we were pelted with hail and blasted with squally gusts.

We were left with only a short paddle on the bank holiday. The overnight weather had left the air cold, crisp and clear. Blue skies had returned and the island of Rum had a shiny new white coat. Among the rocks and skerries we spotted an otter chewing a stump of kelp. This is the special scenery that we had come for.

Thanks to Andy, Andy, Andy and Ian from Manchester Canoe Club for their company. The fish and chips at Mallaig was the perfect way to end the trip.

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