28th to 30th August, 2009 – Club Paddle to Camasunary Bothy and Loch Coruisk

A club paddle to Loch Coruisk which in the end was based mainly for weather related reasons at Camusunary Bothy just round the coast.

This was my first overnight trip in a kayak so I had some apprehension about what I’d be able to get in the boat having until now only paddled open canoes on overnight trips which seem at a glance to have tons more room for carrying gear. I needn’t have worried though as everything went in with only some slight effort switching things about, the main issue was keeping individual items small enough to make use of all the narrowest nooks and crannies, Guinness and whisky make particularly good use of the pointy ends and it would have been a shame to waste the space by not taking any.

The weather had been fairly unpleasant, both on the drive up the night before and on waking up about an hour south of Elgol too and this together with the forecast for the weekend didn’t hint at a dry experience ahead. However, as luck would have it we managed to pack the boats (a lengthy process itself), set up camp and have lunch there and a couple of days later, strike camp unpack boats & pack cars all without a drop of rain. Some inbetween bits were not so dry though and our walk on Saturday was my wettest for a couple of years by a long way.

We decided early on to abandon going to Soay which was unfortunate but sensible at the time and instead paddled direct in to Camasunary with a Sea Eagle passing close overhead within ten minutes of leaving Elgol, a great start. After setting up camp and having lunch we set off with lighter kayaks to Loch Coruisk for a bit of exploring and as well as having a play at ‘the Bad Step’ and in the falls which empty Coruisk in to Loch Scavaig, we wandered about on foot too. There wasn’t a great deal of enthusiasm for portaging the kayaks up to Loch Coruisk itself and so we missed out on paddling within the Cuillins themselves but that can be done some other time.

As we left the local seals left their vantage points on the shore to check us out or was it tell us to clear off; there was a mixture of curiosity and noisy splashing about the way they circled about us. Further out from the head of Loch Scavaig I got confirmation that I probably had seen an otter earlier as one was playfully swimming about and didn’t seem too phased by our presence nearby. Soon after this a pretty stunning double rainbow came out right in front of us which was nice after the heavy shower we had just had to endure.

Pretty much a straight forward paddle back to base and once dried (oops, I capsized) good food, drinks and chat followed to finish off a great day. I for one slept well that night and apparently through some very strong winds too, a kayak was rolled 30 feet along the beach and I heard nothing.

Next day, we avoided the water and instead opted for a walk taking in the nearby hills of Sgurr Hain and Sgurr na Stri. At the point of crossing a river early on in bare feet to keep my boots dry I slipped and plunged forward submerging the boots in the process. I put them back on and wore them for the thigh deep crossing and gave up any further attempt to stay dry which was just as well as numerous showers of various lengths and strengths followed us round the rest of the walk. There were strong gusting winds too which at one point caused a chuckle as their timing coincided with ‘imminent gusting winds’ on the forecast we were listening to at the time. Spot on. Despite the weather, the walk itself was quite nice and good for getting bearings on the Cuillins and how they fit in with surrounding places. Views were mixed but mostly good especially those over lochs Coruisk and Scavaig but the Cuillin tops remained hidden throuhgout so I hope to repeat the walk some time when the Cuillins can be seen fully.

We all seemed a bit tired that night but at least this time we were in the bothy proper (rather than loitering in the porch) with a good fire going and afterwards another good sleep followed.

The paddle out on Sunday was easier than the forecast suggested it might be and though we were wondering again if we should have gone to Soay, it was nice to get down the road a bit earlier.

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