We landed on the white sand at Shoe Bay and climbed to a grassy terrace above the beach for a luncheon stop. The view across Loch Moidart and away to the Ardnamurchan peninsula is reason enough to spend time here, as was the warm sunshine. We lay back and relaxed, just savouring being in this special place.
You won't find the name "Shoe Bay" on a map. A tiny beach in an enclosed bay which has three entrances, it gets its unofficial name from the extremely fine and soft white sand...........
.....which as this image from a previous visit shows, must have claimed many a shoe!
From our vantage point we had spotted a strange shape in the water outside the bay. Was it a shark, a huge salmon maybe? Sadly not; as the shape drifted closer it proved to be nothing more than a semi-submerged log, but it gave us a reason to linger a little longer in this lovely spot.
But we still had some way to go on our day's paddle and so strolled back down to the waiting boats. Each time I visit Shoe Bay it seems to exert this relaxing effect - it's not a place in which to rush.
Heading up the rugged seaward coast of Eilean Shona we picked up a bit of afternoon onshore breeze and hoisted our sails to take advantage of the wind assistance.
By the time we passed the entrance to the North Channel separating Eilean Shona from Moidart the slight breeze had died again. Inland we could see a haze in the air from the warmth of the day, unusual for March but welcome all the same.
It was now about eight hours since we'd left our campsite on Loch Shiel, with some 30km of paddling and a portage behind us. We didn't need too much persuasion to take in one more stop on one more beautiful white sand beach.........
....and really, paddling past these beaches just wouldn't seem right!
Our already modest pace had begun to slow further, but as we turned the headland at Smirisary and entered the Sound of Arisaig we had the familiar sight of Roshven to draw us onwards. The sun was now low in the sky astern of us but there was no need for us to hurry......
.......as our landing at our accommodation for the night, the Glenuig Inn, was perfectly timed to coincide with high water. This meant that we had just a short carry of our boats to park them outside the hotel - and importantly, from where we stepped from the boats we were less than 50 paces from the bar and a round of frothing sports recovery drinks!
What a day we'd had - starting from our campsite on Loch Shiel in the freezing pre-dawn air, we'd experienced a glorious hour of early morning light, explored the history of a holy island, travelled from fresh water to the sea down the River Shiel and visited the white sand beaches of Moidart. It had been a long day in time and a fair day in distance, 38 kilometres in total, but it was a day to cherish. This, for me, is what sea kayaking is really about - a small group of like-minded friends making a journey among wild places with spectacular scenery and resonating interest.
Days like these, they stay with you forever.