Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
Sheepskin
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:36 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Sheepskin » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:12 am

I like the cold and often have time off in February, guess others have done this so hints and tips?

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8063
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by MikeB » Mon Sep 17, 2018 5:13 pm

Well, what sort of "hints and tips" do you want? Most people seem to go south to north (prevailing wind). It'll be cold. The canal bits will require portaging thro the locks I believe. If you check the Almanac / Trips section there's a trip report and some links to previous discussions etc.

Mike

Sheepskin
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:36 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Sheepskin » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:16 pm

Thanks your pointer to the almanac is ace

Sheepskin
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:36 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Sheepskin » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:06 pm

29 locks!! Portage special route, any other coast to coast winter route?

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 13904
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 44 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Jim » Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:41 pm

Most of the locks are in flights so it does not need 29 seperate portages...

pathbrae
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:42 pm
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 26 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by pathbrae » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:36 pm

It's a comparatively easy route to do but well worth it - I did it solo a few years ago when the weather was too wild to do anything else.
The lochs can get fairly interesting though. Loch Lochy is pretty shallow so it throws up some fairly tough waves to batter through - but there's the floating pub at Lagan Locks at the far end to keep you going. Loch Ness can get more serious if there's a wind blowing and might need a bit of care.
There's plenty of camping available and doing it out of season you'll have no problem getting a pitch.
Loch Oich is a beautiful spot, and a visit to the Well Of The Seven Heads shop for a bit of home baking is a must! The Loch Oich campsite is excellent, masses of space and pretty flat.
A couple of the portages are fairly long (and steep if you start at the sea lock and portage Neptunes Staircase) but they are all manageable. If you take an old bit of carpet with you it'll protect your boat landing and launching off their pontoons - they are all a bit sharp edged so loaded boats tend to leave some gel-coat behind otherwise.
Watch out for the wild goats if you camp on the S shore of Loch Ness - I'm sure they'd be off with anything tasty given half a chance. :-)
There's also a commercial site on Loch Ness at Loch Ness Shores, near Foyers, if you feel the need to wash before heading into Inverness and civilisation again.
Just make sure your trolley is up to the job, I punctured on the first portage into Loch Lochy!

https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/wp-con ... ted-AW.pdf

http://lochnessshores.com/
So much sea - so little time to see it.

pugwash
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:53 am
Location: South Devon
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by pugwash » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:23 am

Agree it’s a lovely place to paddle, I can beat the puncture story above, my c-tug tyre exploded on the back deck of the kayak as we paddled the very first stretch of canal, turned out I hadn’t used the trolley for ages and then inflated the tyres just before we set off, leaving the boat on the trolley with the tyres in full sun while we drove the cars to the other end was enough to blow the perished inner tube. Nearly jumped right out of the boat, and scared the hell out of the local wildlife.

EdSmith
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:48 pm
Location: Aberdeen

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by EdSmith » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:16 pm

The canal is normally closed to sea-to-sea traffic for the winter months to allow for essential maintainence. This can include anything up to and including draining a section of the canal. Which could leave you a long portage.

Consequently it would be worth enquiring now with Scottish Canals if there is anything in thier planned winter programme of works that might cause an significant issue to a winter kayak passage, and just again before you go.

Collecting a permit and paying for a key was hassle free in summer. The key is worthwhile as it gives you access to toilets at the locks, and showers plus washing machines at some locations (not that I used the later). Worth checking what the Canals office winter opening hours are.

Sections of the canal have frozen on occasions which would result in longer portages. Also after prolonged exceptionally heavy rain fall, and rapid snow melt I've seen the out fall sluice/ wear into the River Ness flowing like a steam train. Portaging the first and last bits to the sea are by all accounts a 'pain', which is why I started at the top of Neptunes Stair Case and finished short of Inverness. Others may have different, or more advice.

I did it as a foul weather option 'Plan C' and was surprised how good it was, I was expecting the canal to be boring, but there was a lot to see and the surroundings were quite varied. Loch Lochy with hail squals and horizontal rainbows across the surface of the water, and Loch Oich were my highlights.

Sheepskin
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:36 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Sheepskin » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:11 pm

Pmr’s forgot about them, long distance portage makes me re-examine a pulk harness set up for the kayak again

User avatar
Robert Craig
Posts: 774
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:55 pm
Location: Glasgow
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 11 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Robert Craig » Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:02 am

The portages are all easy, as the surfaces are nice and smooth. However, you migh want to consider launching at the top of Neptune's Staircase. That's a long portage for not much paddling. +1 for cafe at "Well of seven heads."

mcgruff
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:06 am
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 27 times
Been thanked: 24 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by mcgruff » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:52 pm

Lots of trees around so take a hammock :)

Sheepskin
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:36 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Sheepskin » Thu Oct 04, 2018 9:18 am

Having called it seems maintenance is done between January and March, info on website somewhere but unable to work out where, mobile version issues maybe?
Spoken to another paddling friend, interested but concerned about cold but mentioned hot showers and perked up. Allowing a week for weather conditions

Sheepskin
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:36 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Sheepskin » Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:54 am

Thoughts on fleece/pile undersuits for winter paddling.
I have various forms of Buffalo pile clothing but wondering about one as a tent suit/ paddling midlayer

Owen
Posts: 2150
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:42 pm
Location: Nr Stirling
Been thanked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Owen » Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:19 am

I use a Lomo fleece undersuit with just a thin thermal t-shirt. Anymore would by too bulky and hot while paddling. It's a fine balance between having enough insulation if you do take a dip, and not over heating and sweating like mad when you're working hard. Once off the water I prefer get the sweaty cloths off and a dry set on, even if I'm going to be putting the damp stuff back on the next day.

Sheepskin
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:36 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Sheepskin » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:57 pm

I had to shelve this plan, my Dad became much more seriously ill and I lost him on the 7th of March. I’m wanting to return to Scotland in winter so, best pressurised liquid fuel stove? I have my redoubtable Svea123 ( originally dad’s) and a Manaslu 96 great things but need cold weather mods, suggestions?

mcgruff
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:06 am
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 27 times
Been thanked: 24 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by mcgruff » Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:50 am

I'm sorry to hear about your father.

Sheepskin
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:36 am
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Sheepskin » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:36 am

Having paddled around Ramsey I reminded myself of my intentions of a frigid adventure. Any joiners or pointers?

User avatar
Robert Craig
Posts: 774
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:55 pm
Location: Glasgow
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 11 times

Re: Paddling the Great Glen in Winter

Post by Robert Craig » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:54 am

Sheepskin wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:57 pm
I had to shelve this plan, my Dad became much more seriously ill and I lost him on the 7th of March. I’m wanting to return to Scotland in winter so, best pressurised liquid fuel stove? I have my redoubtable Svea123 ( originally dad’s) and a Manaslu 96 great things but need cold weather mods, suggestions?
Scotland at sea level - and Great Glen level - doesn't get that cold in winter. Even in Braemar at mid-winter (and Braemar is 300 metres up and a long way from the coast) I'm happy with a gas stove or a meths Trangia. I'd guess anything would do. Main issue is enough books for the long long nights.

Post Reply