Ballachulish area?^

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GeoffBowles
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Ballachulish area?^

Post by GeoffBowles » Tue May 09, 2006 4:29 pm

That's it - I can't take any more.....I've read enough posts about the wonderful trips in Scottish waters...

My climbing club have a meet based in Ballachulish next week, so I've decided to go for the week, and to take my boat. I won't be paddling every day (unless it rains all week) but I hope to alternate walking, climbing and paddling as weather and whim take me.

For example, today's Paddles magazine raves about Loch Etive, so that might be worth a short diversion on the way to the meet...

Sadly I'll be the only one with a boat, so I'm looking for advice on must-do short trips in that area, considering scenery, wildlife etc. Bearing in mind that I'll be paddling solo, it would be worth knowing about anywhere I should steer clear of too....

Geoff

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Post by Owen » Tue May 09, 2006 4:52 pm

Hi Geoff,
If your going to be on your own you should keep away from the narrows under the Ballachulish bridge, the corren narrows and the Falls of Lora (Loch Etive). Apart from those three pinch points the tide streams aren't great so you should be ok.
You could try having a look at the islands in Loch Leven or put in at Kentallan Bay and do an out and back trip.

Have fun.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue May 09, 2006 4:54 pm

Hi Geoff

Welcome to Scotland:

http://www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgenetics/se ... linnhe.htm

Douglas :o)

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Mark R
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Re: Ballachulish area?

Post by Mark R » Tue May 09, 2006 5:51 pm

GeoffBowles wrote:For example, today's Paddles magazine raves about Loch Etive, so that might be worth a short diversion on the way to the meet...
The raving was written by me...I was really impressed by the place.

Thoughts...

Why not paddle the whole thing, being picked up by someone at the other end? Trip could be 12-20 miles depending on where you meet the road.

I was on my own when I paddled most of it....just stay close to shore.

Mix your paddle with a hillwalk/ climb?

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GeoffBowles
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Post by GeoffBowles » Tue May 09, 2006 6:50 pm

Wow! Thanks for the tips, links and photos - keep them coming...

I suspect I may be doing more paddling and less climbing than I expected next week

I'll obviously have to start working on my climbing club-mates to spark an interest in paddling. I almost wish I was taking a canoe instead of a kayak so that I could offer rides.... or is that heresy on this forum :)

Roll on Friday!

Geoff

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Helen M
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Post by Helen M » Tue May 09, 2006 7:10 pm

Personally Geoff I don't think you'll have to work very hard! In a sea kayak you can .. carry all the gear needed .. AND get to hard to reach climbing places.

Where are all the hill walkers/climbers turned paddlers when you need them!

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Sunset on Loch Etive - just look at all those mountains there to climb!

Enjoy - H - x

Loch Leven, Linnhe, Etive are all stunning places

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GeoffBowles
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Post by GeoffBowles » Thu May 11, 2006 12:29 am

I'll be a little limited for gear-space as I live too far from the sea and too close to the Thames to justify a "proper" sea kayak. I paddle a nice little plastic Manitou 14 footer with a couple of hatches, so I can go equipped for a lightweight mountain walk, but my climbing rack with a couple of ropes would put the plimsoll line well below water level... especially with a climbing partner sitting astride the boat behind me!

From your photos you all enjoyed better weather than I did the last time I was in this region - I took a group to Tyndrum in January about three years ago hoping for winter mountaineering conditions, but had a full week of torrential rain and gale-force winds. At least we didn't have to worry about midges

By the way, what's the midge forecast for next week?

Geoff

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Zoe Newsam
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Post by Zoe Newsam » Thu May 11, 2006 9:48 am

Hi Geoff,

I started sea paddling (solo, mostly) when I worked at the Clachaig, in Glencoe, so I suppose that area is my original stamping ground. I now live in the South of England, sadly...

Must-Do short trips:

-Cuil Bay (just south of Kentallen, off the main road), to Eilean Balnagowan or Eilean Shuna

-Loch Etive

-Loch Leven: Lochside Cottages, near Ballachulish, East to Kinlochleven. Time it so slack water is at lunchtime, and get a free ride both ways with the tide.

-Loch Leven again, same put in, over to the burial isles and the bay opposite- known locally as Bishop's Bay, but I can't remember its' 'real' name.

- Loch Leven, under the Ballachulish Bridge into Loch Linnhe, round to Cuil Bay & back (time it with the tide!)


***And my favourite- Port Appin, around the islands at the top of Lismore, Castle Stalker etc. Put in from the pub car park, but don't leave your car there- they don't like it, and there's plenty of spaces nearby. Make sure you call in after wards to my FAVOURITE little cafe- Castle Stalker Cafe on the roadside on the way back to Bally- you can sit &
watch the tide do its' stuff around the castle & islands whilst eating lovely food & drinking copious quantities of hot chocolate. Lovely :0)

It's a superb area for easy, short trips- Have Fun! (oh, and say hello to the Clachaig for me...;0) )

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GeoffBowles
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Post by GeoffBowles » Sat May 27, 2006 7:23 pm

After all your helpful advice, the least I can do is to let you know what I managed to do during my week in Scotland. A proper trip report will have to wait as I'm currently in Guangzhou, China on a business trip - isn't the internet wonderful - but here's a summary:

Saturday: after spending the night with my sister in Peebles, I drove to Ballachulish but with a diversion into Glen Etive. Launched at the top of the loch and paddled down to where it widens. I don't have the OS map with me so can't remember the name, but I landed at the headland on the right bank before paddling back to the head of the loch

Sunday: weather reasonable so was sociable and joined a walk up Sgor-na-h-Ulaidh as a party of 4. Obviously, we stopped at the Clachaig for a pint on the way back...

Monday: raining, so started by driving to Fort William for provisions and to check that the gear shops were still there. Drove to Glenfinnon and thought about putting in to Loch Shiel, but met someone who recommended Arisaig - he said it was "teeming" with seals and sea otters.... At Arisaig, the tide was out and I didn't fancy the walk across the beach, so I continued up the coast road and put in opposite some islands. Had a briliant paddle out to the islands, then South towards Arisaig, but was initially disappointed at the lack of aquatic mammals. Eventually I did see an otter slide off its rock as I approached, and I found a colony of seals at the very last island I circumnavigated, so I paddled North well satisfied. I then had an awkward 15 minutes trying to recognise the beach I'd put in at, now that the tide was in ....

Tuesday: low cloud and drizzle had my climbing club friends muttering about low-level routes so I decided to go paddling. Top of my tick list was Port Appin, so I set off along the coast - not forgetting to stop for coffee at the Castle Stalker Cafe. I launched from the beach next to the ferry onto perfectly flat water, in rather brighter weather than expected. The tide was very low as I paddled past the lighthouse, then round castle Stalker with the water glassy enough to see the bottom very clearly. I stopped at the Southern tip of Shuna Island for a pee and a brew, then paddled down the western coast of Lismore, inside the islands, meeting a pair of sea kayaks coming the other way, against the tide. (These were the only sea kayakers I saw all week - where were you all?) Once the tide turned, there was a significant swell, so concentration was required as I turned North and paddled back past the islands - on the Western side this time to get full benefit from the tide. I crossed back to Port Appin, made a short excursion down to the Appin rocks then joined friends who had opted for an easy day wandering around Lismore for a good meal in the Pierhead hotel

Wednesday: joined a friend on a walk over Buchaille Etive Beag. More beer in the Clachaig waiting for another party to complete the Anoch Eagach

Thursday: raining again, but with added wind, so decided to explore a new area by car - but with the kayak on the roof just in case. Headed towards Ardnamurchan and was impressed by the coast - and the height of the waves! Stopped at Castle Tiorum and after some thought, launched to explore Loch Moidart. The conditions weren't too bad, though the water was either very shallow or "interesting" - i.e. whipped up by wind and squalls

Friday: best weather of the week so intended to do a mountain walk, then realised that the tide was perfect for a trip up Loch Leven (predicted high tide at 1100). Put in from the car park near the burial island and paddled up the loch, arriving at Kinlochleven exactly 2 hours later, just as the tide was turning. Idled in the village for an hour or so then set off back with the tide but against a stiff breeze. Made good progress into choppy water, until I got level with Glencoe village, where the loch widens. At this point, a squall brought heavy rain and rough water, so I had to paddle-like-hell to get into the lee of the islands. At this point, my spray deck started leaking, so I was already wet when I landed on the burial island for a short walk in the rain. By the time I left, the sun was out and the water a glassy calm...

I guess this is familiar backyard territory for many of you, but I found it a very nice introduction to "proper" sea kayaking. If you want to tell me where I should have gone instead, I'll start making my tick list for next year!

Geoff

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Helen M
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Post by Helen M » Sat May 27, 2006 9:50 pm

Geoff - there are so many tick lists! Scottish guidebooks, recommendations ... this website. You've made a great start. And everyone has to start somewhere. May I wish you many hours of happy paddling in front of you - Scotland is a very good training ground! It rocks. Literally! (You only have to ask Richard Cree!)

H - x

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GeoffBowles
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Post by GeoffBowles » Sun May 28, 2006 12:41 pm

I forgot to mention the final Saturday: set off for the drive back to Peebles planning a nice quiet day as a tourist, with no intention of paddling. Drove round the coast road with visits to the Castle Stalker café, the seal sanctuary and Dunstaffnage castle and a peek at the Falls of Lora from the bridge (disappointingly placid). I lunched on fish and chips on Oban’s harbour front, then changed my mind about having a paddle and drove a little way up the coast towards Ganavan bay. I launched from a beach opposite a small island, a few hundred metres offshore. Halfway across, I realised that the sea coming from my right was much heavier than it had appeared from the shore and I was very relieved to reach the lee of the island. From my sheltered position, the sea now looked very big on both sides, especially when a large MacBrayne ferry hove into sight around the headland heading into Oban, so I gritted my teeth, paddled straight back where I’d come from and hoisted my boat back onto the roof of my car! A good example of just how fast things can change at sea!

Geoff

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Post by CaileanMac » Mon May 29, 2006 6:41 pm

Geoff,
A good example of just how fast things can change at sea!
This is the essence of sea kayaking - a true adventure and never boring or dull (chess, darts, noughts/crosses ;-)

Enjoy and I trust that you will have a lifetime of satisfying adventures on the deep, blue briny.

CaileanMac

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Mon May 29, 2006 10:59 pm

GeoffBowles wrote:I guess this is familiar backyard territory for many of you, but I found it a very nice introduction to "proper" sea kayaking. If you want to tell me where I should have gone instead, I'll start making my tick list for next year!

Geoff
There are no rights and wrongs, all your trips sound great!

I still want to explore the area around Arisaig, was hoping to this weekend but the weather was against us so we went elsewhere, I presume this was the same Saturday you headed out from Ganavan - if so I can totally appreciate the conditions you would have met, we were out in them too - well trying to find as much shelter from them as possible.

Also don't worry about lack of wildlife, it may be a bit disappointing but the point is that it is wild and does what it likes, so even areas where seals are usually seen may not have any when you are there. Ultimately I reckon I see seals on around 50% of trips, but you do have to look since they often watch us from behind and it is possible to be completely unaware that they are following you!

I'm sure you have collected some great memories, and that is the most important thing!

JIM

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