Corran Narrows, Ardgour & Kingairloch

Adventure-wise it’s been a frustrating Summer so far; I’ve had various work commitments regularly taking me away from the Highland’s since Spring. My genetic need for adventure ; aka “feeding the rat” has been gnawing away at me…

There were lots of “hash tags” recently on Twitter regarding a “supermoon” – when full moon coincides with it’s closest approach to the Earth in it’s elliptical orbit.  …and so with the Sun-Earth-Moon all lining up to create the regular spring tide, with the moon closer than normal; this also created a bigger than usual spring tide.

The mean range of “springs” at Oban is 3.3m and on the afternoon of our trip it was forecast to be 3.8m.  At the Corran Narrows, where the ferry runs across to the Ardnamurchan peninsular, that extra half a metre in ebb and flood of Loch Linnhe would increase the already fast 5 knot flow.

The weather forecast was good, and soon we were being catapulted on the ebbing tide South West through the narrows and on our way…


We visited the pirates store en route and our journey took us past lots of wildlife; orchids, starfish, hermit crabs and the local heard of feral goats.


Eventually we pulled in for lunch at Camas Chil Mhalieu when we spotted this huge buoy washed up on the shore. Stuart really had difficulty climbing up on to it…


Weather improved as the afternoon wore on…


…and eventually we were spat back through the Corran Narrows on the flood tide.  My GPS registered we were travelling at 9 knots…


Date : 13 July 2014 – 1 day before Spring Tide.
Oban : HW 07:03 LW 13:21 HW 19:28
Max Speed : 18.3Km/h
Trip Odom : 37.8 Km
Moving Time : 5h 48min
Moving Average 6.5Km/h
Forecast – Wind W F3, Sea Slight, Weather Cloud, some Sun, Visibility Good

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Back on the water

Finally with the rain cleared, sunny skies coincided with a weekend free to get out sea kayaking…   However the forecast strong winds led to a change in plan and we sought shelter in the Lynn of Lorn.


We launched at Port Appin and were soon making headway for Eilean Dubh


The snowy backdrop was captivating, here looking across to Beinn Sgulaird (937m)


After crossing to Lismore, we eventually made for Eilean na Cloiche for an extended lunch break, hidden from the wind and basking in a sun trap. We caught two friends on the VHF who joined us shortly after our arrival.


The sun continues to shine, and what cloud there had been melted away. The afternoon journey back to Port Appin was just spectacular.

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Date : 23 March 2014 – 5 days after Spring Tide.
Oban : HW 09:32 LW 16:12
Max Speed : 11.1Km/h
Trip Odom : 21.9 Km
Moving Time : 4h 20min
Moving Average 5.1Km/h
Forecast – Wind NW F4 gusting F7, Sea Slight, Weather Sun, Visibility Good

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Arrival of Spring

Now don’t get me wrong; I love living in the Highlands (who wouldn’t?). Every day there is something to gaze and marvel at but this last Winter has dragged on, and on, and on…  We had a succession of storms, sometimes with hurricane force winds starting early in December with other storms lined up across the Atlantic, waiting in the wings ready for attack. Wind speeds in excess of 140mph were recorded 15 miles away at the Nevis Range Ski area of Aonach Mòr.  I could count the number of dry days on one hand that we’ve seen over the last 5 months and, although we lost 36 tiles from the roof, I’m thankful that we’ve not seen the flooding that’s taken place further South in England.

On the 1st of March each year the Sun finally rises around mid-day above the hill South of our house. At this time I find myself counting down the days looking forward to warmer times and (more importantly) longer days.  …I love March.  I’ve said it before.  It’s my favourite month of the year with Spring springing, the whole of the Summer to look forward to and plans for future adventures being made.

The sun shone this week, dragging locals out from Winter’s malaise. It’s amazing how the Sun makes one feel alive.  I took the chance to take some photos.  These that follow are a few that I’ve snapped over this last week or so and have previously posted on twitter

I hope Spring and Summer are good for you, and that you grab your chances of the adventures “just waiting for you to turn up”.


Sunrise over the Pap of Glencoe (742m) and  Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (967m)


Looking across Loch Leven to Glencoe and Stob Coire nam Beith (1107m)


Eilean a’Chòmhraidh on Loch Leven – “The Isles of the dead”


Loch Leven across to Mam na Gualainn (796m)


Sgorr Dhearg (1024m), Beinn a’Bheithir

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BCU 4 Star (Sea)

Wind : Southwest 5 to 7, perhaps gale 8 later, veering northwest 5 or 6 later.
Sea state : Rough or very rough.
Weather : Occasional drizzle, rain later.
Visibility : Moderate or good, occasionally poor later.

Two years of preparation…

Two days of stress and anticipation …

4 Star (Sea) ….  PASS!  Open-mouthed smile

….time to chill for a while….

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Bergen, Norway

Currently enjoying a short break in Norway with Annie. Weather’s pretty good too.

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West is Best

Annie and I headed over to Ardnamurchan today for some chill time. I’ve blogged about a committing sea kayaking trip about this peninsula in the past, though today Annie and I were just going for a walk and a bumble; to snap some scenery, and just generally have a good time in what may have been one of the last warm days of Summer.


I was inspired by a post on the Kilchoan blog earlier this week regarding fossils on Ormsaigbeg beach.  I hoped to find myself an ammonite – but no such luck.  The views were good though…


Annie and I wandered  v e r y   s l o w l y  along the beach taking about 3 hours to cover just 2km.  Rockpools are always fun.


Eventually we returned to the car and made our way over to the light house, the most Westerly point on the British mainland.  We watched several ships and this yacht, “Lark”, pass the point.

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Luck lets us down with finding any ammonites, but right on cue, a pod of dolphins passed the point just below us putting on a great show…  Smile


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A brief gap in the showers last night produced a beautiful double rainbow and in the other direction a fantastic sunset…


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Skye Sea Kayak Symposium

This last week Summer has seemed on the wane in Glencoe.  Last Monday I was up a ladder, shirtless, painting our house in warm sunshine, but days since have been grey and with days shortening and nights drawing in there is a hint of Autumn in the air.

It’s been a great Summer, lot’s happening and some adventures to blog about over coming months ; if I ever manage to find time with on-going DIY…  …So wind the clock back to the end of May when Stuart and I headed West for 3 days paddling at the 10th Skye Sea Kayak Symposium.

I’d been looking forward to this for some considerable time. I think it’s the first time the event has been held in the last 4 years.  Stuart and I left work and raced for the ferry from Malaig to Armadale making the Gaelic College, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on Sleat in time to pitch our tents before Sundown…


The event attracted around 250 people, paddlers and their families. There was plenty of time to meet old friends and make new acquaintances.

On Saturday I joined a group for some tidal paddling under the Skye bridge. The standing waves that formed at the time felt quite big. Monday was spent in a Greenland rolling session with Cherri Perry & Turner Wilson which I really enjoyed.


However on Sunday of the event I had hoped to join a group paddling across to the Isle of Rum, but conditions were forecast to deteriorate that evening and so our attention switched to Soay below the famous Cuillin Hills. I’d kayaked here in the past, but it’s a great trip was well worth repeating.


It was a strong group that left Tarskavaig and for what was quite a long trip (35.6Km) we maintained a great speed with a moving average of 6.0Km/h throughout the day.


Passing Suidhe Biorach near Elgol


We reached Soay harbour near low water and it became an uphill haul into the bay…


Soay harbour : Here Tex Geddes and Gavin Maxwell (Ring of Bright Water fame) nearly wiped out the local basking shark population harvesting their livers for oil.  The harbour was said to have turned red when they butchered their catch.


The return home was made in good company with good scenery…

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….arriving back at Tarskavaig before the forecast change in the weather arrived.

Date : 26 May 2013 – 1 day before Spring Tide.
Ullapool : HW 08:25 LW 14:50
Max Speed : 9.7Km/h
Trip Odom : 35.6 Km
Moving Time : 5h 56min
Moving Average 6.0Km/h

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Glencoe at dusk.

With long Summer nights there has been plenty going on. Lots of paddling adventures and trips afar; but so little time to blog…

So here’s a photo taken this evening on Loch Leven at Glencoe boat club…


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Buongiòrno Italia. Part 1 – Verona

Annie loves Italy and so we decided on a bit of a road trip for our annual Summer holiday. Cheap flights with Easyjet took us from Edinburgh to Milan. Our schedule was :

We used trains between the airport and Vernoa : The Malpensa Express (€10/person/each way) between the airport  and Milano Centrale and the ‘FrecciaBianca’ (€19/person/each way) between Milano Centrale  and Verona Porta Nuova.  A taxi between the railway station and our accommodation in Verona was approx €25.  We hired a car from Hertz in Verona airport for our week on the Dolomites.

Verona – Dolomites – Milan .  A mix of culture, adventure and chic metropolis.

We both needed time to chill and relax and I really recommend this trip to anyone in need of a get-away.  Verona is just an amazing city, full of history that continues when you turn off the main thorough fare and wander the backstreets.  I shot 880 photos over 12 days, and not many were bad.  Here are the highlights from the first 2 days in of our holiday….

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Milano Centrale and the ‘FrecciaBianca’


Ponte Scaligero bridge, Verona.

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Verona Arena.

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Bill Shakespeare and Romeo & Juliet’s Balcony

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Ponte Pietra (originally built in 100BC !!)  and Castel San Pietro


Basilica di San Zeno. Tradition states that its crypt was the place of the marriage of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.


Ponte Scaligero bridge at night.

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