Scotland

Canoeing Loch Sionasgaig, Scotland

I love Scotland, especially the Highlands and the Coasts. To me, the far North West is one of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere on this planet of ours. 

I've been lucky enough to visit on many occasions, walking and canoeing. Here are just a few of the most memorable trips in recent years.

Many of these trips have been "blogged" or written up on other sites. As this site develops, I'll update these with specific articles, so apologies that most of these are just links which take you elsewhere. Please come back later to see what's new!

"Pirates" - canoe adventures with kids

The "Pirate" trips were inspired by friends Lynne and Darren, who started taking their lad Tobey on wilderness canoe trips at a very young age. The group grew, and the young Pirate Captains have now undertaken several voyages across some of the toughest parts of Scotland, places that many adults would consider adventurous but the kids take in their stride. I tag along as Uncle Mal, general dogsbody, navigator and recorder of the trip.

We hope that these trips can inspire others, with the right planning and consideration, to take young people into the most fantastic bits of the British Isles and abroad. Canoeing with kids is both great fun, and very rewarding. They are far more adaptable to the places and conditions than many of us adults, you just need to think everything through and take it all one step at a time.

Canoeing, Loch Shiel Circuit, Moidart, canoeing with kids
Canoeing, Fionn Loch, Inverpolly, Suilven, canoeing with kids
Canoeing, Loch Maree, canoeing with kids

This was the first of our trips as a group. The Loch Shiel-Moidart-Ailort Circuit is quite well known amongst paddlers, but it would be a much more serious task to take a bunch of under 7s across big lochs, wild camping along the way, culminating in a coastal paddle back to the shelter of Loch Ailort. We learnt much as we travelled, but the biggest thing we took away from the trip was just how unphased the kids are out in the wilds. They just adapt.

Inverpolly and Assynt are part of a truly wonderful area of Scotland where monolithic mountains rise abruptly from a land studded with thousands of lochs. We would up our game here, as we had to portage for considerable distances between the lochs. At times the weather was grim, but at times it was incredible and I will never forget this trip.

Looking for another adventure, we turned to the beautiful Loch Maree. However, paddling around a loch is no longer enough, so we added in an excursion via a 4 mile portage to Fionn Loch and the Letterewe Forest. Things didn't go entirely to plan...

This tale of wild camping on islands in the loch had us facing some of the toughest conditions any of us have camped in, yet in the end, the trip was fantastic.

canoeig, loch, morar, nevis, canoeing with kids, mallaig, inverie
canoeig, loch, morar, nevis, canoeing with kids, mallaig, inverie

The most serious adventure yet. Adding in the challenge of paddling on serious coastal waters we spent time on Britain's deepest loch before portaging to the fjord-like Loch Nevis and paddling out around the coast to the fishing port of Mallaig, via Britain's "Remotest" village, Inverie.

This trip took a lot of planning, and involved a constant assessment of forecasts, conditions, tides and timing. 

Weather conditions dictated a two-part adventure this time. In the far north west, lochs like fjords lead to the highest waterfall in Britain. Later, we returned to Assynt and spent a few days on Loch Lurgainn beneath the remarkable hills of Inverpolly and Coigach.

This trip involved some exposed paddling on sea lochs, and also introduced the young Pirates to life in a bothy.

35. Atmospheric conditions on the final

The Pirates are growing, and this trip was a huge step up in terms of ambition. We planned a daft route across the lochs and hills of Inverpolly, and somehow we actually achieved it. Over 9 days, we heaved and hauled canoes, and paddled windy lochs, in otherwise excellent weather, living happily outside on some wonderful wild camping spots.

Rivers

Scotland is home to some fantastic rivers. So far, I've barely touched the sides of what is possible.

canoeing, river spey, camping, blackboats, washing machine

Perhaps the classic touring river of Scotland, this was a flying foray from the south to paddle the sections between Grantown and Spey Bay. There was plenty of moderate moving water to keep us interested, but I was surprised just how beautiful the Spey is.

Winter Walking

My original love was hillwalking. A couple of old friends & I try to maintain a long-standing tradition of a week's walking in the Highlands each winter. Over the years we've had over 20 such trips. Sometimes the weather is good, sometimes the weather is grim, normally its a bit of both. Here are just a few of the more recent trips.

Camasunary, bothy, skye, walking, winter

The weather was pretty wild in March 2015, snow conditions soft and winds high, classic avalanche conditions. This kept us off the tops, but we had a wonderful few days in the old bothy at Camasunary.

This report won the Webtogs Walk Report of the Month on the Walk Highlands website.

Stob Ban, Lairig Leacach, winter walking

Back in 2010, we had a great week with some fabulous conditions. After a few days in the Torridon area, we headed for the Grey Corries and a long wade through drifts to the Lairig Leacach bothy.

Kintail, Forcan Ridge, winter, walking, Faochag

In February 2011, we did things slightly differently and rented a cottage rather than use a bothy or hostel. The hills of Kintail were a fitting destination, and the ridges looked magnificent under a coat of snow.

Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Fisherfield, winter, walking
Beinn Dearg, Ullapool, winter, walking

In late February 2017, we headed for the excellent bothy at Lochivroan, from where we headed for a couple of the most remote Munros, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Sgurr Ban. Standing on the summit gazing across one of the UK's greatest wilderness areas, the Fisherfield Forest, each hill covered in a glistening white cloak, was an unforgettable experience.

This report won the Webtogs Walk Report of the Month on the Walk Highlands website.

After moving to the luxury of the excellent Sail Mhor Croft hostel, we were rewarded with a fantastic but arduous day over the hills east of the Ullapool Road. Deep snow slowed our progress, but the views were astonishing.

Beinn Damh summit ridge

Beinn Damp. Well, that's what we always called it, thanks to the conditions prevailing the couple of times we'd made the summit. Persistent rain, more like a Scottish summer than the winter conditions we hoped for.

This time, though, conditions looked perfect for a winter ascent of this shapely mountain on the south side of the legendary Torridon glen.

The ascent of Fuar Tholl in winter

Towering over Glen Carron, Fuar Tholl is a spectacular looking hill, a great pyramid split on its eastern side into a great gash of a corrie just below the summit. This is likely the Cold Hole for which the mountain in named. Once, 25 years ago, we’d climbed up the gully at the back of this hole in bad conditions, right to the summit. This was not something I had any wish to repeat these days, so this time we'd pick a slightly more sensible route up around the back.

About Me

I've always loved the outdoors, and take great pleasure from both the big adventures and the days close to home. Through my writing and photography, I hope to help others understand that by simply getting outside with open eyes, having adventures is easy.

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