Friday, May 07, 2021

28th April 2021 #1 Return to sea kayak camping, a trip to the Sound of Sleat and Loch Hourn.

Due to various health problems I have not posted much here recently mainly because I have not gone anywhere. However, I managed to get myself north to Glenelg on 28/4/2021 to join Ian from Mountain and Sea Scotland and friends. It is the furthest I have driven, furthest I have paddled and the most nights I have camped out in over 4 years.

I get easily tired these days and though previously I have driven to Loch Hourn, paddled and driven back in a day, I now stop every hour. I left Glasgow at 6am and my first stop was at the Falls of Falloch north of Loch Lomond.

My second stop was under the Three Sisters of Glencoe where 

the Alt Lairige Eilde tumbles into the glen over a series of three waterfalls. I also stopped at the Spean Bridge Commando Monument but there was no view to Ben Nevis due to fog. A further stop at the Loch Garry viewpoint was equally disappointing, due to a large forest having grown up and completely obliterated the view. Goodness knows what tourists make of it.

A final stop near the summit of the Mam Ratagan pass above Loch Duich gave a splendid view to the Five Sisters of Kintail.

Glenelg lay at the foot of the far side of the pass. We had wondered if we would get parked as all the likely spots are usually taken by motor homes. 

Before we left the cars we asked several locals. It turns out the popular Bernara beach was blighted by a few of the many camper vans who visit staying for weeks at a time and dumping sewage onto the beach. The community erected a 2 metre barrier which has kept all camper vans out. That is unfortunate for the responsible owners but was fortunate for us.

Soon we were loaded up and ready to go, though the tide was a long way out as it was spring tides.

My brother Donald came along in his small 2.75m Rib and 6HP outboard... the Guppy. He has made a video of the trip.

Photo Donald Wilcox.

Soon we were on our way with an increasing tail wind.

An RAF Typhoon banked overhead and we could see the pilot looking down on us then

we got a cheery wave from the local prawn boat OB164 MAIREAD M. I hope everyone was happy to see the return of tourists.

The wind quickly picked up and my camera stayed in its dry bag. The GoPro did capture 

some of the sense of freedom after the long winter lockdown.

All too soon it was time to drop the sail and land on our chosen spot for the night, an offshore reef with a white shell sand beach.

It was now spring low water so we had a long carry.

The kayak crew were Ian, Allan and his wife Lorna and his brother Raymond. My brother Donald had motored the Guppy round to the lee side of the reef where he would line it in as the tide rose. We were set for our first camp together in quite a few years. Our end of lockdown adventure had begun.


  1. Hi Douglas
    Hoping your health problems get better.
    How are you liking the Volan??
    Thanks Paul

    1. Thank you Paul :o) I really like the Volan though I did not get that initial "this is the right boat for me" feeling that I got after paddling the Cetus MV for three minutes. After some time it truly clicked. It does not track as straight as the Cetus especially if it is windy... see next point, it is more sensitive to load distribution than the Cetus, it cruises at the same speed and effort as the Cetus, it carries the same amount of gear as the Cetus, it is considerably more manoeuverable than the Cetus, it has more primary and secondary stability than the Cetus, it rolls as well as the Cetus but smaller people might need a bit more thigh padding than in the Cetus... see next point, the cockpit is a bit bigger and more comfortable than the Cetus, the cockpit is easier to get out of than the Cetus, lastly it is shorter than the Cetus! :o)

  2. I am glad you are posting again, I always really enjoy and am inspired by your adventures. One day perhaps I will get out sea kayaking myself!

    1. Robert, thank you very much :) I probably overdid it on this camping trip but fully intend to do more! :)

  3. Hi Douglas, I just chanced to check your Blog after a year or two, and was delighted to see that you were out kayaking again. Unknown to you, you played an important role in my beginning in kayaking from 2017 till the Covid-19 government lock-up began. I hope you keep up your output from the NW Highlands, especially as I live in the south of England, and its 600 miles to Arisaig, for example - not a weekend trip! But I have made it three times since discovering your Blog.

    Wishing you good health...
    Stuart James

    1. Stuart, thank you for your kind comments :) Unfortunately, I have not been well recently and my regular treatment has been cancelled during the Covid crisis. My post lock down trip to Loch Hourn was very enjoyable but it took it out of me. I have not been on any of the subsequent trips my friends, brother or daughter have been/are currently on. However, I look forward to returning to the west coast whenever that may be :)