Tuesday, 10 February 2015
In the bleak midwinter - friends reunited on Loch Sunart
The third day of our winter trip would start with the ferry crossing from Lochaber to Ardgour at Corran. It's only a short distance across Loch Linnhe but a vital link for those who live in Ardgour and Ardnamurchan and avoids a very lengthy road route around the head of Loch Eil. We'd loaded the boats onto the cars the previous evening and left in good time to ensure that we caught the planned ferry.
After disembarking on the Ardgour side we drove over to Strontian where we'd arranged to meet our friends Simon and Liz at the jetty just to the east of the village. Launching is easy here, but parking is limited and needs to be done considerately to avoid inconveniencing other jetty users. The weather looked to be shaping into a fine day with light winds and there was a lovely delicate quality to the morning light.
We were delighted that Liz and Simon were able to join us, particularly as this is their local paddle. The last time that Simon, Liz, Douglas and I were all on the water together had been during a wonderful trip to St Kilda in the summer of 2011 and though we'd met up since we'd not managed out on the water.
We set out down Loch Sunart in really great conditions with sunny skies and snowy hills all around - a really super morning to be out on the water. There was no target which had to be reached; we planned to just paddle until lunchtime, then wherever that found us we'd head back up, exploring along the northern shore with its very special Maritime Oak forest.
An occasional breeze sprang up to give a little gentle kayak sailing practice. This was a useful opportunity for me to experiment with the sail for a few minutes, then recover it as the others caught up.
Loch Sunart is a narrow, fjord-like sea loch with a number of twists and turns along its length. The upper (eastern) part is dominated by Beinn Resipol which was looking splendid under a covering of snow.
After threading through the narrow part of the loch at Laudale and threading through some of the tiny islands here we began to look for a lunch spot. The tide was quite low which meant that some of the beaches which would normally be ideal had weed covered rock exposed, but soon we pulled into a bay which Simon pointed out - time for lunch!