Paddlers: Hugh, Vee, Adele and Geoff
Weather: Started grey then cleared and became brilliant, with a F3 SE breeze. Night clear and very cold with cloudless blue sky in morning. Clouded after noon with strongish SW breeze.
Report; The glacial trench that forms Loch Etive starts in Glencoe reaching salt water at Glualachalain and then on for another 30km. It contains some of the most impressive and beautiful scenery in Scotland and we were lucky in seeing it at its very best. Double click on any picture for full screen version.
The parking and launch point is just at the mouth of the River Awe, which provides a quick getaway on to the loch.
As we paddled north the grey skies broke completely and a strong breeze from the south developed. The views up the loch to Ben Starav and further to Bidean, Buchaille Etive Mor and Buchaille Etive Beag were sensational.
We paddled up the east shore, stopping for lunch at Glen Noe, before crossing the loch for the beach at Barrs. The breeze was, by now, strong enough to allow a little surfing.
Barrs Bothy lies about 500m up a steepish climb on a terrible path. It is a “private”, single roomed bothy now being maintained by the Borders Bothy association after some years in the care of Argyll Scouts, and is both well hidden and very difficult to get to. Water is problematic and has to be carried up from the river.
After landing we carried our gear up, fully intending to return to the kayaks and carry on up the loch. Such plans did not envisage coffee and cake in a sun-drenched, wind free location. Coupled with the thought of battling against the wind to get back if we went further up the loch, we stayed.
As the afternoon progressed all clouds disappeared and the wind dropped. Thanks to excellent work on the saw and axe by Hugh, a splendid fire kept us warm with sub-zero temperatures outside. In the morning, after sunshine for a couple of hours, the boats in the shade were still covered with ice. Meals were cooked, beer, wine and whisky drunk, and the evening slipped away.
After clearing up we retraced our steps down the hill through the soft ground.
The return paddle was kayaking at its best; sensational scenery and placid water.
The Mountain Bothies Association maintain an “open” bothy a few kilometers south of Barrs. On investigation this appear to be an excellent 3 room alternative.
By now cloud had started to gather and a strong breeze from the South east (straight at us) was developing. As a result the next few km to Bonawe were quite challenging. We decided to go through the narrows before stopping for lunch. We had originally contemplated going on westward to Ardchattan but by now it was totally grey and getting cold with the strengthening wind so we decided to call it a day and paddled back the Taynuilt side to land on the sand just to the north of the stone pier. Thus ended a wonderful weekend,