Eigg and Rum
Eigg and Rum
With winds forecast at between force 6 and force 8, the trip evolved into a rough water training session in a relatively safe environment. The chosen location was a Goldilocks affair. Original choices; Largs, Fairlie and Seamill were thought to be too calm. Replacement choice, Irvine was just too wild. Eventually we settled on the excellent Ardrossan South beach which looked just right. In fact the very high winds generated very frequent and very steep waves that did not look too large but made the kayaking very difficult.
Main finding; it is virtually impossible to do any rescues in surf. Rafting is potentially lethal, re-entry virtually impossible and pumping out without a spray deck completely on, pointless. However the experience was both useful and extremely good fun. We will be back when the surf is up.
The trip was the bad weather alternative and a strong westerly wind force 3-5 was the dominant feature of the trip. Loch Awe is the longest loch in Scotland (longer than both Loch Ness and Loch Lomond) but had few outstanding features. Previous trips had explored the north so the group headed south west into the wind. The Friday evening paddle covered 6km to an excellent site at Inverinan.
Cold, wet and windy, the highlight of the following day was the remarkable Innis Chonnel castle. In many ways much better than its partner to the north (Kilchurn) but much less well known because of its island location.
Lunch on Liever Island followed by a river trip down to Ford then a long paddle back up the loch to a glade site at Barr Point a toal of 36.8 km (21miles) in less than ideal conditions. An excellent fire before heavy rain drove us to bed.
Sunday proved to be bright and breezy. An attractive paddle up the loch with short breaks for elevenses and lunch and back to Portsonnachan for 3pm. A pleasant if rather unexciting trip in excellent company.
The weather forecast was force 4 plus winds and a decision was taken early on to abandon Inchcailloch as a target and Inchvannach was arranged as a substitute. By Friday night we had become really worried about the forecast for Sunday morning and, given the age of our group, decided that an island trip was not on. Rather than let down our youngsters, at least one of whom had never camped, we arranged at the last moment to camp at Arden, on the mainland, and do as much as we could from there.
Arden is a lovely site free from animals and with its own beach. We were delighted to find that the owner had kindly cut the grass and, all in all, it was a close to perfect choice in the light of the prevailing weather.
We had enjoyable paddles to the North before dinner and south after and, though it was breezy, the wind was nearer force 2 than 4.
A good fire, good food (despite the extremely charred sausages) and good company led a a pleasant evening.
Apart from the occasional “spit” the weather stayed dry until about 10pm when light rain commenced. A quickly erected shelter kept us dry for the rest of the evening. Sometime after 6am, however, the promised heavy rain commenced, albeit without the promised high winds. Reluctance by the youngsters to venture out of their tents and the continuing downpour led to a decision to abandon canoeing. By 10 am the promised high winds started to move in (along with the rain) finally confirming that our decision to abandon the islands was probably correct.
The decision to go to Skye was made on the morning of the departure after wind forecasts suggested the Jura route would not be possible/pleasant. Skye proved an excellent choice, albeit windy and testing at times. On days one and two we were pushed by a strongish wind southward, covering a planned three days to Glen Brittle in two. Because of the wind, swell and forecast, for the third and fourth days we opted for the more sheltered Loch Eishort.
A group of six made the drive up to Loch Striven. In calm waters, we paddled down the loch, round the anchored Maersk tankers and back again. Despite the odd squally shower, it was a most pleasant day.