The last two weeks have been a hectic whirl, but they were well worth it. The first week was spend in preparation for our holiday. Not only did we have packing to do with the attendant mess that that makes but I also needed to cook meals for the following week too. In the space of three days I cooked the food for each of those days plus the following seven! By the end of it I was fed up with the endless time I seemed to be spending in the kitchen and the mound of washing up it created, I knew it would be worth it for the following week.
The second week we travelled up to Scotland with our trusty open canoe on the roof of the car. We were off on a canoe expedition. The weather forecast was pretty lousy for the week ahead so our plans were by necessity fluid. We started off with a night in a campsite at Resipole on the shores of Loch Sunart.
The next day dawned grey with light rain and we decided to start our planned journey of Loch Shiel from the bottom. We found a pier in the village of Acharacle and got the boats on, the weather forecast was due to change in a few days from south westerly winds (hence launching a the bottom of the Loch) to Northerlies so we were not sure if we would make it to Glenfinnan at the other end. We therefore left both cars (we were with another family) at Acharacle, a decision that was not entirely wise as we discovered as the week went on. Our first day of paddling took us along the flat countryside that surrounds the Loch at this point. The wind was strong but behind us (yippee) and the rain showery but not persistant. We met some other paddlers shortly before stopping for lunch going against the wind, they told us they had direction envy! We found a beach for lunch and then went to explore the island of Eilean Fhianain which has the remains of a chapel and an extensive burial ground. We continued on our journey and decided to camp for the night at Rubha na h-Airde. Whilst the adults put the tent and shelter up and got a brew going the children went off exploring. They found evidence of otters in many places but sadly we did not see any. The evening was dry with a magnificent sunset which we enjoyed with a stroll on the beach to a shingle bar. You could really see the evidence of the action of the water on the bar as the shingle had been pushed up and graded by the water, the bar is slowly growing out into the loch, who knows if one day if will change the shape of the loch? We built a great fire and rigged a tripod of wood poles to boil water for tea in the billy.
Day two dawned gray and drizzly, the rain stopped to allow us to take the tents down although they were all soaking wet. It rained hard as we got onto the water. The wind was still behind us (at least we had something to be thankful for) it rained on and off all morning, we stopped for lunch in a sheltered bay and put up the shelter. Almost immediately the sky cleared and the sun came out and we had a wonderful lunch in the sunshine which dried us all out nicely. The sun shone for the rest of the afternoon and we had a lovely paddle to somewhere near Coille Ruighe nam Fiadh where we decided to camp for the night. It was a mostly dry evening although the rain really came down just at the time we decided to build a fire for the evening, I went to bed at this point but I think they did get a fairly decent fire going in the end and made and cooked some bread on it.
Day three dawned dry, however it had rained in the night and my tent was in a huge puddle, the bottom of my sleeping bag was sodden as were mine and my youngest's sleep mats. Hey ho! It was very cold and the snow line had definitely lowered in the night it was only a couple of hundred metres above us now. We packed up and got back on the water, the only morning that it was not raining as we did so. The wind was still blowing south westerly so we decided to continue to Glenfinnan and then hitch back to the cars at Acharacle. This last day was completely dry, the views of the hills were magnificent in all directions, we could see the tops (we had not seen most of them before then). We stopped for lunch and arrived in a very sunny Glenfinnan at around 1pm. The men then went off to retrieve the cars whilst the rest of us waited at the pier. We got all the wet kit out to dry and had hours of fun watching boats come in and out, throwing stones in the loch, building sculptures and shapes with rocks, drinking tea and eating. The children during their long wait never once said I'm bored or how much longer? The cars arrived back at about 5pm, the men had hitched but also had to walk about 10 miles to get them so both has very sore feet (wet socks in wellies not a great combination). We ate our tea at the pier before setting off for the hamlet of Camasinas on the shores of Loch Sunart.
The next three nights were spent on the shores of Loch Sunart it was dry and sunny with glorious sunsets and sun rises. We had an explore of the loch to the east of us to wet our appetite for returning here for a longer trip. As Loch Sunart is a sea loch the wildlife was very different. Where the water was shallow enough you could see masses of seaweed, crabs, mussels, limpets, barnacles and a few starfish. We will definitely be returning to this area for a longer trip.
Our last day was spent exploring the Ardnamurchan peninsula by car. We visited the wonderful Nadurra Visitor Centre a small natural history centre in Glenmore which was housed in an amazing building. It was a very interesting display about the area and well worth a visit. We then drove on to the Point of Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point in the British Isles. We climbed the lighthouse at the point and enjoyed views of many islands including Treshnish, Dutchmans Cap, Coll, Barra, South Uist, Rhum, Muck and Eigg to name but a few. There is also a small exhibition in a building at the base of the tower. We decided to cook our tea here, but just as we were about to eat, and in keeping with the rest of the week, the rain came down for a short sharp shower!
We returned home the next day tired but happy, now we just have the cleaning of kit and the putting away to do..........