Castles of Loch Awe; Sat 20th March

Paddlers: Colin, Geoff, Stuart, Sharon, Bill

Weather: Excellent, Hazy Sun and Full Sun throughout day. Mostly calm but NW wind channeled up loch by mountains surprisingly strong in places.


Report: A glorious day on a stunning loch. We met at 9.30 at the Rest Car Park, getting to the launch point at around 10.15. Parking close to the loch is not easy. This place is an old stretch of road down a steep rough access from the main road. There is a further steep descent carrying the kayaks to a rough beach where we launched

The launch site

From the access pint we crossed to our first target, the burial island of Inishail. There is a lovely sand beach on both sides of the small peninsular to the south of the island with potentially an excellent little camp site where a rough path runs along the shore to the mound on the west.


A rough path runs along the shore to the mound on the west. On the mound are the ruins of an old convent and church with a graveyard. The age of some of the slabs appears to be considerable, probably back to around 1200 when Somerled was Lord of the Isles.

Colin, Bill, Sharon and Stuart examine an ancient grave stone

Both the 11th and 12th Dukes of Argyll chose to be buried here (in 1973 and 2001). Their graves are surprisingly modest. All told the island is strongly recommended for a really intersting half hour.

From Inisail we progressed on pas a couple of Crannogs to the beach beneath Ardanaseig Hotel. We wandered up to the hotel for a drink and nose about. It is a really lovely place with some beautiful furnishings and paintings and very expensive beer. It was absolutely empty of all customers with ghost like staff.

The journey to the hotel from Taynuilt is long and tortuous but would appear to be worth it if you can afford it. The grounds are extensive and in the garden you can find 66 labelled species of tree.

Bill contemplates the hotel

After the beer, lunch was taken on the lawns beneath the hotel before setting off for our third target, the castle of Fraoch Eilean. This castle was built in 1267 by the McNaughton clan before coming under the control of the deadly Campbells. It has its usual collection of clan wars and seiges but is not now in a good state having been overtaken in the castle stakes by its neighbour Kilchurn .

Investigating the Ruins

The landing point on the isalnd is quite rough and bouldery and on return a sharp breeze directly on to it had sprung up. The loch had become alive with white crested wavelets. After we had negotiated the exit we swung round and were pushed eastwards towards our next target Kilchurn Castle.

Kilchurn must be one of the most photogenic of Scotland’s Castles. It is also one of the most popular and, despite the half mile walk from the road, was very popular on a lovely Easter Saturday. The top of the main tower was sadly shut so we could not get the best views of the loch and Ben Cruachan but despite that it was well worth the visit.

After a prolonged coffee break we ventured back; this time into the F3 breeze. It proved to be a surprisingly comfortable paddle with few breaks and no problems.

We were back just before 5pm for the 90 minute journey home. Conditions were fantastic and the route combined interest, beauty and just the mildest of challenges. All in all a perfect day.