Monday, 7 November 2016

Carrying on to the end around Morvern

We woke to a bright morning at our camp on the shore of Loch Sunart, unfortunately so did the midges!  A welcome breeze started up as we ate breakfast which was just enough to keep them away.

We were soon on the water and heading into the enclosed Loch na Droma Buidhe (also known as Loch Drumbuie and meaning Loch of the yellow ridge). The mainland shore of this loch had been one possible camp site, but we were pretty sure that the loch would be busy with yachts as it's a popular and very sheltered anchorage.  There were six yachts at anchor immediately off the spot we'd identified, and anyway we'd have missed out on the superb sunset as the view from the loch is obscured by the high ground on Oronsay.

The east end of Loch na Droma Buidhe connects with Loch Sunart by a narrow channel which dries out to leave Oronsay connected to the Morvern shore.  We knew that we'd have a bit of a portage to move the boats across the gap, but felt that this would be a bit quicker than paddling around the outside of Oronsay against a stiff breeze.

The portage was a bit longer than we'd have liked at around 200 metres but having chosen this route we decided to just carry on and carry the boats over.  The yellow colour of the exposed weed here led us to speculate whether this might be the source of the loch's name?

Back on the water and we had a stiff paddle around the south end of Carna against the ebb stream pouring out of Loch Teacuis.  The flow here can be very strong but we arrived near the end of the ebb and were able to eddy-hop around the south of Carna then enjoy a push out of Caol Charna (narrows (kyle) of Carna).  Although we'd been going less than two hours, a stop for second breakfast was unanimously carried - the exertions of portaging and paddling had rekindled appetites!

Back out on Loch Sunart and we started to feel the east wind in our faces, but it was somewhat less than the F5 being broadcast on the VHF weather forecast.  We knew that if it remained at this sort of strength we'd finish our trip without difficulty.  Sunart is a long and fjord-like sea loch reaching far from the open sea, lined with glorious Atlantic oakwood for much of its length.  The scenery is grand, this part of the loch is dominated by Ben Resipol, which today was pin-sharp in the clear air.

The upper part of Loch Sunart is joined to the rest of the loch by a constriction at Laudale.  The tidal stream in the narrows can run very strongly and rough water is often found when wind opposes tide.  By the time we gathered in a bay immediately to the west of the narrows the flood tide was barrelling through against a breeze which had risen a notch as it too passed through the gap.  We expected some rough water but in truth it was just fun, the boats powering through eddy lines and along ribbons of surf.  Donald had so much fun in his F-RIB that he went back for a second pass!

Through the narrows and we were on the last leg of the trip.  At our final stop for a leisurely second luncheon the view ahead was to the Ardgour hills, below which we'd set off.  It seemed like a long time had passed since setting out on Loch Linnhe, but it was only two days previously; sea kayak trips seem to have this ability to make time seem extended.

By the time we reached the slipway near Strontian the wind had died completely to leave a very warm afternoon with temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius - well, very warm for Scotland that is!  After lifting our boats up the slipway, all that remained was to run the shuttle and collect our cars from Glensanda.  It had been a really great trip, almost around Morven, shared with good friends and with memories to treasure.

Our route was 95 kilometres, paddled over two and a half days with two nights en route.  We started on Loch Linnhe, turned up the Sound of Mull and then along Loch Sunart to finish at Strontian.  The forecast weather was for increasingly strong winds from the east, and certainly the wind in the Sound of Mull reached  the top of the forecast.  Otherwise we enjoyed a light easterly airflow and this is probably the best weather in which to do this trip.

Day 1

Not quite an island, not quite the mainland

How to remove a hill - one load at a time    Note that on the Google Earth slide above, the Glensanda quarry is clearly visible as two pale scars above Loch Linnhe, which gives an indication of scale.

Midge Avoidance at Inninmore

Day 2 

Having a blast on the Sound of Mull

The magic of a wild camp on Loch Sunart

A Sunart stunner

Day 3

This post


  1. It's been a pleasure following your trip, as always, and learning more about bonnie Scotland!

    1. Thank you Leif, glad you enjoyed it! I think your trip around the beautiful city of Stockholm shows what variety can be had in a sea kayak!

      Kind Regards

  2. What a brilliant trip. Really enjoyed that adventure.

    1. Thanks Bob, it was a super route but the company made for a great trip :o)

  3. Have you overlaid the route on Google Earth direct from your GPS?
    Great photos as ever Ian

  4. Thanks Steve, right place & time, and just me pressing the shutter release to catch what was in front of us!

    To display the tracks as above I export from GPS to Garmin's "Basecamp" program, then open Google Earth, select "View in Google Earth" in Basecamp and the route can be viewed and stored in G.E. Then I can save the G.E. slide as a JPEG. There's probably a more elegant way of doing it, but you know me and computers....