Coast to Coast

Inland paddling
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Mark R
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Coast to Coast

Post by Mark R »

After toying with the idea of a short trip to Africa at half term next month (no friends to play with), I've somehow now become fixated with the idea of crossing Scotland by kayak. I've been inspired by the green SCA Touring Guidebook.

Attempting such a trip seems to be really unpleasantly masochistic, although in a compelling sort of way.

Anyone done this? Thoughts?

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Post by Patrick Clissold »

I have toyed with the thoughts of paddling around Islay visiting all eight distilleries. Sounds like a better option than paddling across Scotland.

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Post by cucc2stu »

I seem to recal an article in canoe focus about a man crossing from kinlochleven to the tay with an open boat and a portage trolley. That sounded pretty masochistic.

On the other hand I know a few people who have done the great glen / caledonian canal - and that's really just an easy holiday.

I suspect you could pick a route for most levels of difficulty.
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Post by Mark R »

cucc2stu wrote:kinlochleven to the tay with an open boat and a portage trolley. That sounded pretty masochistic.
I must admit that I have been scanning maps in that very area...from the warmth of my house, though...just bouncing ideas around at this point. I've never done a multi-day inland trip in Britain (I don't think), might try it just once. No open boats involved, though...
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Post by Zoe Newsam »

I know a bloke who did that very thing- across Rannoch Moor etc.

I'll see if I can put him in touch with you.

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Post by Jim »

guidebook wrote:
cucc2stu wrote:kinlochleven to the tay with an open boat and a portage trolley. That sounded pretty masochistic.
I must admit that I have been scanning maps in that very area...from the warmth of my house, though...just bouncing ideas around at this point. I've never done a multi-day inland trip in Britain (I don't think), might try it just once. No open boats involved, though...
Ossian/Ghuillbinn? Didn't you do that as a multiday?

Someone was talking about the Kinlochleven-Perth trip the other day, or at least I surmised that must have been the route they were talking about, I would think that would involve quite a lot of portaging early on - up the Leven, paddle across Blackwater reservoir, and then where? Over The Devils Staircase and then try and find a trib leading towards the Ba/Gaor/Garbh Gaor/Tummel?

Another alternative would be from Loch Etive, up the river Etive portaging selected rapids (Dalness Falls and anything too shallow to pass) and then do a mega portage up the Allt a Chaorainn, over the pass and then put in directly on the upper reaches of the Ba.

When do you say you are going, February? Given that it's difficult to get water in all the sections you will need to paddle this could be a cunning plan, if they just happen to be nicely frozen that week..... It's a bizarre vision, a kayaker carrying his boat over a high pass with crampons and ice axe, all in order to slide all the way down to the sea on the other side... :)

The Cally Canal has been mentioned, if you are more hardcore you could do the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals - they meet at a big wheel in Falkirk and the principal hazard will be neds throwing bricks or shooting at you!

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Post by MikeB »

Might help?

Loch Leven (Glencoe) to the Tummel and down the Tay has also been done (iirc) by a guy in NCC - I'll forward this to him to see if he can help at all. They did it in open's as well.

Mike.

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Post by Jim »

Yes of course that's another option, Loch Etive, paddle/portage up the Awe, accross Loch Awe, paddle/portage up the Lower Orchy until the confluence with the Lochy and then portage/paddle up that, short hike accross the moor below ben Ben Lui/Ben Oss and onto the Cononish for the trip in the article.

Glen Oykel must go most of the way to Lochinver - yet another possible route?

Or an alternative start to the Caledonian canal, Up Loch Morar/Nevis and over the mountains into Loch Arkaig, obviously then use the river to get into Loch Lochy thus avoiding neptunes staircase an the river lochy/canal section.

There must be other possibilities?

JIM

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Post by frazerp »

Oh come on, this is Mark after all. How about:

Mallaig, Loch Nevis, up the Carnach into Loch Quoich, down this to Loch Garry and then down the Garry. Simple enough from there over the tops to Rannoch Station and then down the Tummel as previously suggested. The Tay to the coast ? Would prefer to head noth up the other Garry and jump across into Glen Shee somehow but not sure how.

What could possibly go wrong ?

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Post by Jim »

OK, there are literally hundreds of options for this sort of madness in Scotland, I've just thought of another good possible with many variations.

Start on Loch Long, tarbet at Tarbet onto Loch Lomond, paddle accross and slightly north to Inversnaid. Portage up the falls on the Arklet water, onto Loch Arklet. Short portage to Loch Katrine and then it should be pretty much all downhill via Loch Venacher and the rivers Teith and Forth.

Option 1. Ignore Loch Long and start on Loch Fyne, portage to Loch Lomond up Glen Kinglas and over the Arrochar Alps - we will require a photograph of the kayak on the top of the cobbler (Ben Arthur).

Option 2. From Tarbet paddle directly accross Loch Lomond to Rowardennan and bag Ben Lomond (easy paths for carrying a kayak) before proceeding to Inversnaid.

Option 3. Get some peaks in the Trossachs between Loch Katrine and Loch Venacher.

Option 4. Turn left at the Leny confluence just before Callander, head up the pass of Leny and portage onto Loch Earn and then follow the river Earn to the sea/Tay estuary 4a. Bag Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich* whilst you are in the area.

Option 5. From the pass of Leny continue past LochEarnhead and work your way to the Dochart above Killin and the falls. Burns may help from the top of the pass down? 5a. Don't forget Ben Ledi, but go for Ben Lawyers instead of Ben Vorlich.

Option 6. Forget Inversnaid, paddle to the top of Loch Lomond and work up the Falloch. You will find that the portages are fairly short sections in low water. When the Falloch leaves the road it is only a short hop over to Crainlarich and the river Fillan (to the Dochart etc.). 6a. The Crainlarich hills are an obvious addendum, especially if you decide to follow the Falloch to it's source. Ben Challum is not too far off route but a bit upstream from Crainlarich - it has many neighbours and you could perhaps even hop over some of them into Glen Lyon whilst you are about it?

As usual I've digressed considerably. The original version should be very feasible, you might be able to get from Tarbet to Loch Arklett faster by boat/portage than it can be driven sensibly!

Frazer, from Glen Garry (Perthshire) the obvious link would be to Loch Ericht and thus onto the Spey System, in fact from the Inverness Garry one should probably head accross Loch Ness to the Tarff and do the Corrieyairack pass to get onto the Spey system......

JIM

*Combining options 1 and 4 will give you the option to bag 2 Ben Vorlichs!

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Post by Mark R »

frazerp wrote:down the Garry. Simple enough from there over the tops to Rannoch Station
I looked at a map. No it isn't.
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Post by MikeB »

For a man of your ability, prowess, and reputation - - - not to mention proven history of similar madness?

We eagerly await reports from a bothy on Ben Alder - something along the lines of "I've joined the library service at Kingussie - read both books - and the waves just keep getting bigger - - - "

- - - - - - Mike

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Post by Mark R »

Just casting ideas about, here...none of this commits me to anything at all.

The River Truim which drains Loch Ericht (map) - anyone seen it? Know anything about it? Does it carry water?
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Post by Jim »

guidebook wrote:Just casting ideas about, here...none of this commits me to anything at all.

The River Truim which drains Loch Ericht (map) - anyone seen it? Know anything about it? Does it carry water?
It has the falls of Truim, apparantly a common one for Unis clubs to synchro fall off in boats. Apart from that, Um, I'll have to look at a guidebook...

Page 182 of the 1st ed.
In case you don't have it, graded as 4 for 1/10 km, being "probably the only real whitewater interest on the river". Needs to be wet apparantly!

JIM

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Post by Jim »

Wait a minute, I missed it first, but Loch Ericht is on the Tay system, it is a small portage to the Truim from Loch Ericht. My Glengarry suggestion above is therefore incorrect (not to mention completely stupid anyway) you would go from the Garry to the Truim directly. I assume of course that Mark is actually looking at getting to Loch Ericht cross country from the Blackwater Reservoir?

JIM

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Post by Jamie Adam »

For a substantially less hardcore trip, paddle from the Clyde to the Forth or vice versa via - wait for it - the Forth and Clyde Canal. I did it in my youth over three easy days in a Pyranha Master, but it can be done in a day in a fast boat.

As someone pointed out, neds throwing bricks is potential added hazard, but our trip was fine. The towpath is excellent for cycling too. The route goes through some gorgeous countryside as well as old industrial areas, which is interesting from a historical point of view. The Falkirk Wheel is amazing too.

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A cautionary cross country tale.

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Hello Mark, in June/July 1972 my friend Hamish and I did a trans SW Scotland route from Ayr up the Doon then down the Dee to Kirkcudbright. It was the height of masochism and I did not step foot in a kayak for over 30 years afterwards!

We did it in home made fiberglass 13 foot kayaks and for the wading up stream sections used home made wetsuit trousers and jackets from a firm called Aquaquipment. We kept our other clothes and tent dry in heavy duty polythene bags for putting dead pigs in (my Dad was a vet). He resupplied us with food and glassfibre repair kit at Loch Doon and Hamish's Dad resupplied us with food and more glassfibre repair kit at Clatteringshaws Loch. He left the stuff hidden for us, (no mobiles in those days.) There might have been another resupply further down but the years have blotted out a lot of the detail and misery.

There was a great deal of portaging but up above Loch Doon the clumps of deer grass allowed the kayaks to slide along very easily. Lower down on either side of the watershed we wore through the hulls but they were easily fixed with fibre mat and resin. I think we did it in in less than 10 days which would be about 10km per day. The only two nights not camping were in Backhill of Bush Bothy just over the Dee watershed and White Laggan Bothy further down above Loch Dee. White Laggan had just been restored by the MBA and we were 2 of the very first visitors. We took one day detour/rest at Loch Dee as there were terrible thunderstorms. Apart from that it was pretty dry and in the days before the thunder storms it was baking hot and there was no escape from the black Galloway flies.

In those days the Black Water of Dee below Clateringshaws dam released on Thursdays (which was another reason for having a rest day higher up). Nowadays I don't think it releases at all and it is almost a dry river as its waters are constantly diverted through a rock tunnel from Clateringshaws into the Water of Ken which flows into the Dee further down. Also, since those days, a lot of forestry has been planted right up to the riverbanks which would hinder portaging.

I would not recommend this route to anyone but the most committed serial masochist. Two weeks after this trip Hamish lost his leg in a motorbike accident on a camping/climbing/kayaking trip to Glencoe and another two friends on the same trip were involved in a tragic river accident in similar home made kayaks. A fourth friend on the trip was killed in a motorbike accident in the Alps a few weeks later.

I did not regret stopping paddling at the time as I moved onto rock climbing but in retrospect I lost a lot of potential good kayaking times. As a teenager, you have so much energy and we never ever contemplated turning back and it was true exploration. I had never even been to Kirkudbright before.

Whatever you do, choose your route very carefully and take lots of insect repellent and always look on the bright side. I will not be surprised to hear you have departed on a solo trip!

Douglas.

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Post by adventurer185 »

Wow!
They don't make em like they used to...

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Home made wetsuits

Post by Chris Bolton »

Douglas wrote:home made wetsuit trousers and jackets from a firm called Aquaquipment
I had one of those! I used it for dinghy sailing, as I didn't paddle in those days. I left it hanging over the bath in our student flat, and one of my flatmates saw it through the frosted glass window in the door, though it was me, and waited 2 hours to use the bathroom.

That was quite a trip you did!

Chris

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Re: A cautionary cross country tale.

Post by Mark R »

Douglas Wilcox wrote:take lots of insect repellent.
Bloody hell, the midges are even out and about in February?


Whatever I could possibly cook up (and I'm very worried that I'm gradually talking myself up an alleyway of no backing out) I'm fairly sure it couldn't come close to your tale of misery, woe and fibreglass.
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Post by MikeB »

There is a dirty big dam at the NE end of Loch Etive - and although I've never paddled the Truim, I don't recall it attracting my attention whever I drive that way - - - -

Mike.

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Re: A cautionary cross country tale.

Post by neilfarmer »

guidebook wrote: Whatever I could possibly cook up (and I'm very worried that I'm gradually talking myself up an alleyway of no backing out) I'm fairly sure it couldn't come close to your tale of misery, woe and fibreglass.
Oh, I am not so sure.... holes in plastic boats, the new 'genetically modified midges', map reading errors, flash floods/drought, .....!
MikeB wrote: There is a dirty big dam at the NE end of Loch Etive
Where? On what river?
Neil Farmer.

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Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Mark>
Bloody hell, the midges are even out and about in February?
Sorry Mark, I misunderstood, I thought you were going to make things easier for yourself by taking advantage of long summer evenings, but short February days..... True respect!



Chris>
Aquaquipment wetsuits I had one of those! I used it for dinghy sailing, as I didn't paddle in those days.
Hello Chris, what a funny thing memory is. I had blocked out a lot of things about that trip and as I left for uni shortly after and my parents moved away from Ayrshire at the same time I never really reviewed it in my mind at the time: just did it then moved on.

Then I wrote it down and it all came flooding back. I hadn't thought of those wetsuits for 33 years (as although we made them, they belonged to the Scouts). Then all of a sudden the address we sent off to for the kits popped into my head.

Aquaquipment, 69 Hatfield Road, St Albans, Herts. (There was no post code in those days or I might even remembered that as well!) How strange is that? Then a microsecond later I remembered the terrible chaffing we got from them. I am sure a hypnotherapist would dredge up even more but I dont really want to go there again!


Douglas

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Post by James F »

Historian moot that there was once a complete navigation, created by the mystic, and mad, monks of Glastonbury (ref: Mystic Isle of Avalon) between the Bristol Channel in Somerset and Axminster on the Devon, Dorset border.

Interesting, eh!

What could be better than 5 days on King Sedgemoor's Drain followed by a yomp, lost in the badlands of North Dorset?

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Post by steddyjames »

There was an article in one of the paddling mags (I forget which but think canoe focus) about two people crossing Scotland in open boats. It was a couple of years ago though.

This probably isn't much help because I can't remember when it was or which magazine but I knew the person doing it which is why it sticks in my head!!

SJ

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Re: A cautionary cross country tale.

Post by MikeB »

neilfarmer wrote:
MikeB wrote: There is a dirty big dam at the NE end of Loch Etive
Where? On what river?
Oops. ERICHT - of course.

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Coast to coast

Post by IainS »

Another option is in the far North.

Put in to the salt of Loch Laxford, paddle up the meandery River Laxford to Loch Stack, then a short paddle/portage up to Loch More. Then portage across catchments into Loch Merkland. From there you can probably paddle down the Merkland River to Loch a' Ghriama and into Loch Shin. Over the dam and down the River Shin which flows into the Kyle of Sutherland and the salt.

Advantages of the above: all portages can be done on the adjacent single track A838 so not as masochistic as it could be. You'll get a bit of excitement as you tumble over the Falls of Shin.

Apologies if you already knew about this one.

Iain

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masochistic

Post by waverley610 »

Sorry to turn this thread 'sidewards' as it were, but it reminded me of a TV prog from about 10yrs ago;

A New York city slicker, paddles very long old school kayak solo from Tower Bridge London all the way up to the Highlands to present a letter to the head of his 'clan'. And the laird invited him to dinner and didn't even say "get orf my ******* land"

I don't recall the route but mostly canals and I remember him paddling through a long thin tunnel only to find a grating at the end! Him bandit camping each night, and some yobs trying to nick his video camera under spaghetti junction.

They showed a sequel later of the same dude paddling somewhere more remote and frozen.. Does anyone else remember this?

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Post by frazerp »

guidebook wrote:
frazerp wrote:down the Garry. Simple enough from there over the tops to Rannoch Station
I looked at a map. No it isn't.
Damn, and there I was hoping you wouldn't spot that. Up the Pattack perhaps ? I'm sure Jim could come up with a concise suggestion.

Frazer

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R »

So far the interesting possibilities break down to...

Almost pleasant - launch on Rannoch Moor, paddle downstream into Tay system, stop when water gets salty.

Fiendish - Start in sea at Kinlochleven...somehow or other get over the watershed to the Tay system, then as above.

Excruciating - As above, but cross from Tay system to Spey somehow or other involving Loch Ericht, stop when North Sea is reached.


...or I might just say, 'Stuff all that' and go paddle the Etive. Keeping my options open depending upon factors such as weather, laziness, feng shui and horoscopes.


Come on folks...has anyone actually SEEN the River Truim? What did it look like?

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