2½ Days Paddling on Loch Awe 10th-12th April 2010.
Loch Awe is the third largest (surface area) freshwater loch in Scotland and the longest freshwater loch, measuring 41 kilometres from end to end with an average width of 1 kilometre.
Annie and I started from the village of Dalavich about half way down the Western shore with the intention of wild camping on some of the many islands. We covered approx 30 miles, mostly over 2 long full-on days. The pictures don’t do the trip justice, weather conditions were fantastic and it was like paddling in a dream…
First Night Camp : North of Eradine
After the long drive North we didn’t get on the water until around 16:00. Launching at Dalavich we paddled across the loch, passing the islands of Innis Chonnell, Eilean nam Meann and Innis Sea-ràmhaich. We found a small sandy beach ideal for camping with plenty of dead wood to get a fire going. As dusk fell, the loch turned into a mirror, the stars came out with both Venus and Mercury hanging low over the Western horizon.
Approaching Castle Innis Chonnel
The 11th century castle holds a surprise. From the outside it’s covered in ivy and you expect to find an overgrown ruin. Inside is clear with all the internal walls and stone staircases still intact. It looks a great place to camp and there is a prime area within the "garden" where it’s obvious that many have stopped before.
Second Night Camp : Inishail
At the end of the day we found an ideal spot to rest on what was once known as the holy Isle of Inishail. We set up camp on a small causeway of land about 20ft wide with a beach on either side; a view of the loch from each side of the tent. That night the Loch was once again mirror like and we could look both up and down to see stars, the milky way, and their reflection. I’ve never really experienced anything like it before.
From the map and previous research I was aware of the 13th century chapel and graveyard on the island. We took the 5 min walk across the island to look at the graveyard at dusk; which mentally was a mistake. As I entered the burial grounds I got major he-bee-geebies and all the hairs on my arms stood on end. Many of the grave stones date from medieval times, as well as more recent resting places of Dukes of Argyll. We both drifted off to sleep with ghosts in mind…
Medieval Tomb Stone
We visited the grave yard again. The medieval tomb stones are fascinating and this one, presumably of a knight, shows Christ on the Crucifix and a figure offering the Chalice, both ranked by four knights.
Loch Awe : What a great trip !
After the Islands we spent the third day paddling back towards Dalavich. We had intended to spend the night in the grounds of Innis Chonnel, but in the afternoon the breeze started to pick up and lenticular clouds (a sign of bad weather approaching) could be seen high over some summits. With limited time the following day we decided to quit while on top; I didn’t want to be on the wrong side of the loch the following morning with an epic paddle back and limited time to drive home.