Paddlers: Geoff, Hugh and David
Weather: The dominating feature of the trip was the wind. The forecast was F3/4 with occasional drop to F2 and some gusts at F5. In reality it was a notch up at F4/5 which made the idea of a paddle of 5 miles into it extremely unattractive. On the Friday the wind was forecast to rise after lunch with persistent rain and so it transpired.
Report: It is a long way to the North West of Scotland. Despite a prompt start at 08:30 from Garelochead we did not arrive at the Handa Island ferry point until 3pm. The residue of an Atlantic storm plus strongish winds and a counter tide suggested that our original plan of a short paddle across the Sound was not sensible. Instead we crossed to Loch Laxford for pleasant afternoon/evening trip heading into a strongish easterly breeze.
After a fairly lengthy search of the upper loch we selected a camp site, got a camp fire going and had a meal. It was a beautiful evening but with a clear sky and with a bitter east wind, temperatures dropped quickly.
A freezing night was followed by a wonderful day.
The trip back across Loch Laxford was not comfortable. The strong cold easterly wind (F5) was at our back, the boats were less than stable and hands quickly became very cold. At this stage it was clear that Handa was not possible so we headed south for what we thought would be the sheltered GlenCoul which has Britain’s highest(and most inaccessible) waterfall at its far end. However this loch was covered in white horses and a 4.5 mile slog into the wind was not desired. With paddling off on what was otherwise a glorious day we decided to return up North to visit what has been called Britain’s most beautiful beach at Sandwood Bay. Click here for further information. The 4.5 mile path to the bay is extremely good and the beach is indeed breathtaking.
Back at the car we headed south again looking for either a moderated wind for a paddle up GlenCoul or at least a camp site close by. We got neither and after a drive along one of the most difficult roads in the UK we found lovely site at the top end of Loch Nedd. This had everything, including shelter from the endless wind, flat ground and firewood.
The morning was overcast but less windy. However with the forecast change at lunch we decided on a trip up Loch Nedd and along to Oldany Island. This proved to be an excellent choice with interesting cliff scenery, many wild seabirds, seals and a lovely beach on the island.
Whilst on the island the weather became noticeably worse with a few drops of rain, so we quickly headed back up Loch Nedd to the car for the long, long journey home.
With none of the original targets achieved the question is “was it worth the travel up there?” The answer is undoubtedly yes. The scenery is fantastic and the paddles and walks we did excellent. Overall a wonderful trip