Friday, April 25, 2008

Going Mobile on the Road to the Isles

"I don't care about pollution,
I'm an air conditioned gypsy, that's my solution"

Going Mobile, Pete Townshend

Lots of people think that sea kayaking is a green sport. However, getting to a paddling destination isn't exactly green, unless you limit yourself to local waters. Currently there is a fuel shortage in Scotland so I doubt I will be going far this weekend. This last year I have been paddling nearer at home but I mentioned Loch Hourn in a recent post. What a fantastic trip that was! A day trip in February with 380 miles there and back on the A82 and the A87. For those of you who do not know Scotland, these are not motorways, freeways or autobahns!

A. We left Glasgow in the darkness at 6am and by 07:38, just as dawn was breaking, we had reached Lochan na h-Achlaise on Rannoch Moor.

B. By 08:42 we had reached the Commando Memorial above Spean Bridge with this view over the ridges of Carn Mor Dearg to Ben Nevis beyond.

C. High above Loch Garry the morning mist was lifting at 09:06. We were headed for Loch Hourn which lies to the north (right) of the distant mountains of Knoydart.

D. This view of the Five Sisters of Kintail was taken at 09:41 near the summit of the Mam Ratagan pass... was this view of a calm Loch Duich.

E. At 10:06 we arrived at beautiful Loch Hourn. Not a very green way to spend a day but it was a wonderful drive, not to mention the sea kayaking!

The rapidity with which Scottish fuel supplies have run low illustrates how reliant we are on fossil fuels. What will my grandchildren think when I tell them that one winter day, I drove 380 miles, just to go sea kayaking?


  1. I am glad to see that it looked like you at least carpooled to there. That is much better than each person driving their own vehicle with their boat on the roof.

    I tried to make up for your drive today by doing a car free paddle. I live about 8 blocks from a launch point in San Francisco (though my boats live in a storage area). I parked my car yesterday with a boat on the roof about half way between my house and where I was going to paddle. This morning, I grabbed my gear, walked to my car, loaded the boat onto a dolly, and rolled it to the launch point. Had a good paddle around the San Francisco waterfront.

  2. Hello Peter, Thanks for your comment. I guess three people in one car, with no shuttle involved, might not be too bad. We were desperate to get out. The weather in south Scotland had been miserable for months and there was a great forecast for the north. Sometimes we go 4 in the car with 4boats on the trailer. We went to the Outer Hebrides for a 10 day trip like that. All our gear was loaded into the boats on the trailer which made launching on arrival very fast!

    I am lucky that I am within half an hour to an hour of some great parts of the Firth of Clyde. Still just a bit far for a dolly/trolley though!

  3. Douglas , what a hoot, I thought it was just us Newfoundland nutters who drove that far for a day's paddle (feeling guilty of course but dang it's good to get on water & see nice lumpy land!)

  4. Hi Doug, I'm loving all this photography. I have to be really nosey and ask if you're considering coming up to the isle of Lewis again in the next few months... I'm hatching a curious plan :D
    all the best
    Helen (from the black kayak pick up at Tarbet)

  5. Alison, I am glad I am not the only one. The furthest I have gone on a day paddling trip was 451 miles from Glasgow to Sheidaig, Wester Ross and back via Applecross and one of the highest and steepest roads in Britain; the Bealach na Ba. My wife Alison shared the drivingh on that one.

    Helen, it's good to hear from you, pass my regards to Si. By chance I will be in Lewis in a few weeks, I am hopefully heading out to St Kilda on MV Cuma with Stornoway CC.