Monday, 22 May 2017
A Cuil view
The cool northwesterly breeze dropped overnight but the sparkling sunshine of the previous day was replaced by an overcast and murky morning. The long view up Loch Linnhe from our camp with snow capped Ben Nevis looks cold, but in fact it was a reasonably mild morning.
We decided to paddle straight across the loch before any breeze might start up and create the sort of choppy conditions we'd enjoyed the previous evening. Landfall of the Morvern shore was made near the Glensanda superquarry, which as ever comes a a jarring intrusion into the loch scenery.
A few kilometres further on we stopped to take a walk around Arigh Shamraidh (the summer shieling). Visible from across the loch as a green patch lined by trees, there are five ruined buildings and a field system here, the ruins probably date to the early 18th century but earlier maps how a permanent settlement of similar size.
Further along again we passed Camasnacroise (Bay of the cross) with its neatly painted white houses and church on the shore of Loch a' Coire. The church-related names include the hill which towers over the shore - Beinn na Cille (hill of the (monks) cell) In 1890 the village is recorded as having a church, school, shop and smiddy. The village is quite remote by modern standards, and connected by tiny single track roads.
We enjoyed paddling the wild shore north of Camasnacroise, moving slowly and absorbing the atmosphere of the place. A couple of potential camping spots came and went before we found a place on a level grassy platform above the shore. The effort of carrying all our stuff up a steep 20 metre slope was rewarded with a view across Loch Linnhe to Cuil, from where we'd set out.
We could easily have crossed back and ended the trip without camping, but elected to spend another night out and have a short paddle the following morning.
We spent a pleasant evening enjoying the views from our camp, though the morning turned out damp with some drizzle and a thick mist. I took some bearings and set up a route on my GPS as we packed the boats, as well as putting the VHF radios to "scan" in order to pick up any traffic from vessels moving on the loch which we'd not be able to see.
After travelling up the shore a little way we struck out across Loch Linnhe towards Cuil just as the drizzle stopped and the mist began to break into banks of low cloud. With such damp, low-light conditions and little wind, we were thankful that the midges hadn't got going by this time in April!
All too soon we were back at Cuil in a rapidly improving morning with a fresh breeze dispersing the last of the cloud.
Our two night trip had been relatively short in distance at just over 50Km, but had been really relaxing as we'd deliberately kept our plans to the minimum and just gone with the flow. It had also been a useful shake-out of our kayak camping kit, which had shown up a couple of deficiencies and necessary tweaks before a longer trip.