Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Kayaking Loch Laggan

Loch Laggan is in the central highlands between Speyside and  Lochaber. I drive the A86 road along the shore frequently on my way to and from the west coast of Scotland and have often thought that it would provide a good day's paddling.

In the winter the loch can freeze over and so an autumn day with the bonus of the woodland colour on the shore seemed like a good bet.  The forecast was for almost no wind and good visibility.  Emerging from thick fog at the north east end of the loch to a chilly and quite strong breeze was unexpected.

I launched from near the Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve car park at Aberarder and headed south west down the loch with the wind at my back.  I thought that this way the sun wouldn't be in my eyes too much as I made an anticlockwise circuit of the loch.

The colours of the woods fringing the loch were really rich and vibrant, the mix of birch, rowan pine and larch each adding their own shade to the whole.  Remnants of the morning mist were still hanging in some of the lower corries.

Above the shore the flanks of Creag Meagaidh drop steeply towards the loch.  I could hear stags roaring occasionally, the rut is still in full swing. When I was last on this hill we had a full-on winter day with driving snow, today was a lot different!

I found a small bay sheltered from the breeze and landed for first luncheon - a cup of hot tea and some cake was just the ticket.  A yellow boat in a yellow bay, perhaps I should have eaten a banana to keep the colour theme going?

At the bottom (south west) end of the loch it's possible to continue through the meandering River Spean to  a lower part of the loch which is damed for a hydro electric scheme.  This would have been a noe-way trip though s the flow was too strong to paddle back up to Loch Laggan. 

Instead I turned near Moy Lodge and began paddling back up towards the head of the loch on the quiet sothern shore.  The glacial origins of Laggan are plain to see, lots of smoothed bedrock bearing striations from the passage of the ice.

There are boulders left in place too, just as they settled when the ice melted.  The wind had conveniently dropped just as I began to paddle against it and my paddle was a relaxing one accompanied by birdsong and the sounds of the red deer rut.


  1. Hi Ian,

    Did you make it right round? The water level is still lower than it was on our March trip and the continuation to the western section would have been possible then.
    Regards, John

  2. Hi John,

    I did a circuit of the main loch, but the flow down the river feeding the western section was pretty strong; I had a look then had to PLF to break out of the flow :o)

    Kind regards