Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

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Squirrely
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Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Squirrely »

Hi folks,

just joined this forum, which has been a mine of great info. Maybe you can help?

I'm a fairly recent convert to sea kayaking, having taken too much bodily damage from too many years of rock climbing. I'm qualified to grade 3 sea kayaker and have spent some time consolidating these technical skills. Done some of my 'own' trips (i.e. first solo trips without an expert guide present - don't laugh !) with a friend in and around Pembrokeshire last year. Quite happy with progress to date, but definitely need to work somewhat on building up my confidence in hairer conditions - still experiencing a blend of exhilaration/terror in force 5 winds, or waves bigger than 4-5 feet (you can laugh now!)

Anyhoo, to cut a long story short, I've finally persuaded the missus to take up kayaking, although she wasn't super happy about the full on boats she tried. Thus, have ordered her a Teksport Rockhopper as it seems spot on for beginners, a great laugh for surfing and still quite a good all round boat, although not a sea kayak per se. The crux of this is that I need to get her much happier on the water, enjoying the experience and hopefully she can develop into a full length boat if/when the time is right. If this doesn't work out, I'll still have a great surf boat, so no harm done.

We will be holidaying in Scotland again this year and part of this is the Isle of Mull, which I've no experience of. Given that I'm no expert, and don't know the area, and I absolutely want to spend a lot of time with her getting her up to speed with technique, but critically really enjoying the paddling and surrounding, can anyone advise me of 'safe' areas to take her. By this, I mean that we want places that will be interesting for her to potter, with loads to see and do, but with no risk of sneaky currents, plenty of exits if weather changes. I have no intention of taking her on open water crossings, round gnarly headlands etc, it will literally be hugging the coast and hopefully exploring bays etc. I will, of course, be checking out local charts/tables etc, but it would be foolish to ignore recommendations if people here have any relevant suggestions to make.

Any ideas/suggestions gratefully received.

Cheers
Neil

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MikeB
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by MikeB »

Fidden Farm campsite. Turn left and you can have a pleasant and sheltered wee paddle in and amongst the islands, or turn right and head over to Iona where you can do the cultural tourist thing and then head back over to Mull and explore a little down the coastline.

Lots of splendid sandy beaches to lounge on while snacking on sumptious delicacies. On no account consider offering a snack of boiled seagull and at all costs avoid getting her hair wet.

Mike.

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Squirrely
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Squirrely »

Hi Mike,

LOL. Thanks for the info!

Believe it or not, the wet hair issue has been discussed at length and (for her) seems to take precedence over safety. I've told her that if her technique is good enough she'll never need to get her hair wet. How long I can sustain the lie will remain to be seen. She is highly unresponsive to being taught rolling ;)
cheers
Neil

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Owen »

Two ideas in Loch na Keal.

1. Put in by the Ulva Ferry (NM 446 399), park up the road not by the ferry, then explore the islands in the Sound of Ulva. The sound is only a couple of km long and at it's widest 0.5km wide, there's lots of islets and bays to potter around in and it's a good place to see otters.

2. Park at Gribun (NM 352 454) and paddle out to Inch Kenneth visit the Grave yard if your into Clan history. If it's calm and your feel comfident enough you could go around the island or just visit the skerries at the east end of Inch Kenneth. I saw a whale just off the north side of the island last year.

Or, on the south coast, put in at Uisken (NM 391 188) and explore the little bays and skerries around there.

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by MikeB »

Lol - it's not rolling she needs to learn.

I rather expect she'll just "fall out" of the Rockhopper if she capsizes, and as long as she's not wearing a spraydeck there's little or no risk of not falling out. Accepting that the abilty to get out is fairly fundamental, I've always found that focussing on the things which people fear in an activity is a really good way of ensuring they don't even try the activity in the first place.

Once she's hooked and enjoying gentle little paddles a few feet offshore, then you can move on. Mike.

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by guy »

I'd second Owens suggestion - It is quite sheltered in there.

Loch Scridan has a road runs that the whole length of the Loch so just pick a bit you fancy
You can also hitch back to the car if you need a plan B

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Squirrely
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Squirrely »

Hi everyone,

thanks for the various comments. Very helpful. Open to more suggestions if anyone else has them but thats a few days paddling sorted already :)

I had a bit of an experience last year where I headed out in lovely conditions in my new 18ft boat, which is a tippy bastard, and ended coming back a few hours later with beam winds, big swell and strong surf. Not much fun. Whilst I'm not cocky with the sea - far from it - this was an experience that was unexpected and I'd prefer to avoid (even in a more moderate scale) this happening to a flegling kayaker, especially one that can, and will castrate me, if this happened.

cheers

Neil

Erik Brunskill
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Erik Brunskill »

Hi Neil, good to hear a fellow climber taking up this superb sport. Just a wee cooment about your boat.. is 18ft not a bit big for your first boat? no wonder it felt tippy! I would recommend getting a much smaller boat, one that is more 'sporty', keep the big boat for your future week long expeditions with your sea kayking obsessed wife ;-)

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Squirrely
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Squirrely »

Hi Erik,

In hindsight, I sort of agree with you.

Prior to buying the boat, I'd went on various guided excursions. I used this as a way to try out as many boats as possible and went to various kayak shop open days. The problem is I'm quite big and a lot of the smaller boats are really uncomfortable for me. More to the point, I've broken both ankles in the past and got a reconstructed knee (20 years of damned mountain pursuits) so getting in and out is quite difficult on some boats. Anyway, the best balance of fit, cost and future usage (I'm a mountaineering type and ultimately want to use the boat for expeditions instead of backpacking) was an Island Expedition HV. Believe it or not, there are not many sea kayaks that I've paddled that are easier to turn as its got a fair rocker to it.

I've since found out that this boat is totally transformed when its got a bit of gear in it, but prior to that I was totally crapping myself in bigger seas. Now I just merely get the fear sometimes - healthy no? :)

However, as you say a shorter boat would perhaps been better for someone like me with not so much experience. That being said, I've developed some killer bracing strokes, can edge reet over now, so I think the boat has pushed me technique wise, even if it has rattled my confidence on a few occasions. Also, I can fit more gear in it than I could ever carry backpacking so the Knoydart dream can become a reality soon :)

Still I'd love a Rockpool or similar but out of budget now ! You live and learn

cheers
Neil

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by RichardCree »

Sorry to take this of topic, but can you explain to me how length effects tippyness??

Back to topic, i paddled a bit of Mull just 3 weeks ago, really nice place, i took my wife a wee trip along past Mckinnons cave, spent lunch time watching a mink eating his lunch. Another option would be out from Dervaig turn right or left or drive around to Calgary bay (best launching from the campsite on the left of the bay, out to the right if the sea is flat is great cliffs and stuff to look at. If she hasnt kayaked before it wont matter, where you take her its all going to look great.

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maryinoxford
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by maryinoxford »

Squirrely wrote: Believe it or not, the wet hair issue has been discussed at length
As a long-haired female, I have some sympathy. It's not so much getting it wet, it's the chore of having to shampoo out the salt (or, if inland, brownish river water) immediately after paddling. If I want to practise wet exits and other "wet" stuff, I schedule it on a day when my hair needs washing anyway...
Mary
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Erik Brunskill
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Erik Brunskill »

Neil, sounds like you have the right boat then!

Re Knoydart, I once had a mental trip there. tried a winter first ascent on Ladhar Bheinn in a day trip from Glasgow! got 2 piiches up then bailed, made it to work for 9am the next day!! didnt use a kayak but I also have an inflatable with 8hp outboard all of which fit in the car! :-)

its amazing when you look back at the things you did!

Ive been lucky, no real injuries in 20 years climbing but my right hip suffers when in a kayak for a prolonged period

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Squirrely
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Squirrely »

Hi Richard,

thanks for those tips. Looks like we'll be spoiled for choice. She has done a bit of kayaking before (sit on tops and a bit of surf kayak) and also a full length sea kayak, which she found totally unresponsive. Not surprising as she didn't want to edge it and it didn't fit well. A mink sighting would be a bonus!

Mary: thanks for the female perspective. i've a crew cut and so getting wet isn't a big deal for me. Hmm, best not let my partner see this thread as you've given her some ammo - " today is not a wet hair day" :)

Erik: Very jealous of the Knoydart experience - sounds very cool. Sounds like you are a better climber than me to be injury free. I was a bit wild when I was younger and kept pushing my envelope. It takes a decade or so to really appreciate the long lasting damage you can do. Hence, I'm taking it a lot slower, and more easy, with the kayaking. By the way, what do you find more 'exposed' - sea kayaking or climbing. i've given this a lot of thought and I definitely feel more at risk in the sea and its conditions than climbing where an abseil or two is usually what you need to do to beat a hasty retreat.

Stay safe :)

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by paddledragger »

maryinoxford wrote:
Squirrely wrote: As a long-haired female, I have some sympathy. It's not so much getting it wet, it's the chore of having to shampoo out the salt (or, if inland, brownish river water) immediately after paddling. If I want to practise wet exits and other "wet" stuff, I schedule it on a day when my hair needs washing anyway...
Mary

This made me smile! As a female paddler I often get laughed at when I say I don't really want to get my hair wet today!! Like you Mary, (though my hair isn't exactly long-more in between!) it isn't that I'm wussy about getting it wet, it's just such an absolute pain in the neck sometimes having to wash it and faff about getting it dry - especially if you are changing on a car park with no facilities and have a two plus hour journey home with the the bits you missed dripping down your neck! Hee hee. Like you I tend to schedule my wet hair paddling with the days it needs a washing though there are days it gets an unscheduled dunking!! Wonder how many other women do this - my guess is loads!


Back to the originial post though never been I have friends who visit Mull on hols and they always have a wonderful time, I have never sea kayaked but wonder if this is a good place for us to have a go at it.

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Skerry Packer »

Camped at Fidden a few weeks ago and have to agree with MikeB. Great place to paddle and safe practice in the bays at high tide. Camp site was great and at £6 per person per night which includes the use of toilets and showers, I thought good value for money. They have a fridge and an electric point should you need anything recharged.
A bit of advice though, bring plenty of food as the local shop I thought a bit pricy and diesel was £1.16 per litre. That said I would go back anytime.
Gerry
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Simon Willis »

Hi Neil
Fidden's the campsite, although you might also be able to camp at Uisken where the first of these routes departs.
If you'd like to see what some of the routes mentioned above are like check out these:
Ross of Mull area
Iona
Staffa
Treshnish Islands

The last two might be a little far, it all depends on the weather, but you can see the Ulva / Gometra / Inch Kenneth posibilities from the GPS tracks.
S

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Skerry Packer »

ImageImageImagebums/kk253/Artisan01/FiddenMull023.jpg[/IMG]
Some Pics at Fidden
Gerry
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by guy »

Simon had 4 suggestions for a beginner

1 of which was 50km

I'd hate to be on his intermediate trips...

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Squirrely
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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Squirrely »

Thanks Gerry, Simon,

very useful. Even more to choose from. This Fidden looks great :)

Looks like Mull is going to be pretty damn cool for kayaking. Really excited by all the feedback I've had and some of the photos look ace. Will try to take more and post then for others to see what we got up to.

By the way, haven't yet got charts etc for this area, so does anyone know what the tidal stream like between Mull and Iona, as this looks really cool to do. Anyone got this information to hand?

cheers

Neil

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by fiona »

I got great advice about paddling in Mull last year - you'll hopefully find some useful information and suggestions in that thread.

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... =4&t=34378
(Hope the link works!)

I'm sure you'll have an amazing time on Mull - we did.

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by Owen »

Squirrely wrote: By the way, haven't yet got charts etc for this area, so does anyone know what the tidal stream like between Mull and Iona, as this looks really cool to do. Anyone got this information to hand?

cheers

Neil
Tidal timing for the sound of Iona are within five minutes of Oban the tide runs at about 2kn. The sound of Ulva is ten minutes different. I just use Oban.

There's strong current that runs up the west side of Iona to the Treshnish Isle's can reach about 4kn if I remember rightly. Off Gometra's north west corner is an underwater reef that can cause breaking waves in heavy seas. Apart from that the tidal currents are very weak and nothing to worry about.

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Re: Kayaking around Isle of Mull for a beginner - suggestions?

Post by jamesl2play »

Fidden is a stunning place we went there for a weekend about a month ago.

More pictures here http://paddleaway.blogspot.com/2009/06/ ... 05-07.html if you are interested.

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