Arisaig Trip Report 6-8 August 2016

Well the forecast looked pretty shabby on the Wednesday – and by Friday it had not improved and the duration of the gale force winds had extended from late Saturday afternoon through most of Sunday, with the sea state remaining rough through into Monday.……

A lot of people dropped off the trip given the forecast, so it was a small resilient team of Pete and Heather Crompton, John Hooson, Mac Knowles and myself that camped up at Silversands a little north of Arisaig village.  This is a great informal site with direct and easy access to the sea.

The view from the campsite– fantastic and relatively sheltered spot on a little outcrop – the sea didn’t look like this later in the weekend….

Saturday Given the continuing bad forecast on Saturday we sensibly opted not to cross to the Small Isles, despite the optimistic sunshine when launching off from the campsite, and good job we didn’t as we would certainly have been stranded on Eigg till Tuesday.

Instead we paddled south exploring the channels and skerries off Arisaig and down around the Rhue peninsula to try to find the vitrified fort on Eilean a’ Ghhaill.  There is certainly a lump on the top of the island but we could find no remains of any vitrified manmade structure (supposedly on the SE side of the fort) – if somebody knows where this is please let me know as despite clambering all over the island we couldn’t! The beach at Port nam Murrach is worth a visit and would make a fine semi wild camp spot.

The wind was beginning to lift from midday and we had some swell and following seas for fun at various stages.  Return was a lot faster with the following wind despite having a little bit of tide against us, we also had to be careful not to be cut off in the skerries with the falling tide.  Lots of paddlers around – mainly having hired boats for the day from Arisaig.  Approx 27 km.

Saturday night the winds really started to rise up to gale force – so we chose to paddle on Sunday in the shelter of Morar Bay – which is not very large – but we were able to do some very tame surfing on the southern aspect of the beach, and stick our noses out into the gale and surfing in some of the larger swell waves making it into the northern part of the bay.   Retired to the Seaman’s Mission in Mallaig for coffee and soups in increasing severe gale force winds and rain!

Sunday the wind was still up to F5/6 but the sea state was carrying the legacy of the gales and we elected to again go for a sheltered paddle on Loch Ailort before some of us had to make our way home.  This was a nice 15km paddle – with lunch at the bothy at Peanmeanach. This would be a fantastic semi-wild camp with a really sound building and shelter – but we imagined it could get busy as it is an easy 5km walk in from Polnish on the coast road;  Eilean nan Gobhar WSW out in the sound looked possible too if you really wanted to get away from people and the weather was suitable !  Met a Dutch couple who were staying at the bothy to wait out the storms.  They have been coming to Scotland for 5 weeks of sea kayaking each of the last 16 years.   Suspect they know the Scottish coast as well as anyone!

Surfed in some of the way home on the SW swell and wind into the entrance of Loch Ailort against the current which gave some great steep waves to fly along on!

So a trip that was very restricted by weather conditions – but still great company and enjoyment was had !

Alan Ashby




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