Loch Hourn

It is nice to fill in a gap, a gap in areas explored previously and this in a way happened with a recent paddle on Loch Hourn. I had previously looked down on to Loch Hourn from both the north, on a gorgeous day, and the south on an awful day. I had also been part way in towards Kinlochhourn from Loch Quoich area and this latest trip began there after an increasingly impressive drive down to the Loch following a river as it cascades steeply down a narrow glen from Glen Quoich.

We loaded boats quickly and set off before the tide dropped too low and were soon paddling along as-fjord-like a setting as I have come across in Scotland. Grey and dry to begin with, it was soon damp for a short spell too but there were hints of brightness on occasion tempting us along our way and we were also assisted in the narrows by the surprisingly strong ebb tide which bubbled and swirled chaotically.

Soon enough we reached Barrisdale Bay and the group of islands which sit just out from it. An atmospheric scene comprised of them sitting in light mist with steep hills all around like the leftovers of a collapsed wall.

Potential camp spots had been briefly mulled over and at the first one we stopped for lunch and decided to carry on the short distance to the next one to see if it was any better. It was, and we settled for this tidal island and the adjacent spit of land. Tents went up both sides of the joining pebble beach with thoughts of whether or not we would be separated with the high Spring tide later on. As it happens this was indeed the case but we managed just fine in our two little groups for the hour or so of highest water.

A paddle across to the village of Arnisdale filled the afternoon and along the way in both directions we spotted a few porpoise. We arrived back at camp in good time to eat, explore immediate surroundings, take photos and after a re-union following the drop in water, chat for a bit before dark set in properly.

Next day started off for me with a very pleasant five minutes watching an otter eating on a rock close by. At one point the otter turned and spotted me but ignored me after sniffing the air and carried on before eventually swimming off and hunting for more food.

Plans for the day were restricted to a short paddle over to Barrisdale Bay for some photography and a walk up to see the bothy nearby. There was a dry spell but it remained breezy and cold throughout and was also otherwise pretty wet. Winds blew out the rain and soon some dramatic lighting on the hillsides lifted our spirits a bit – that and dry clothes, dinner and wine.

A wild night of gusting winds and heavy rain made for a few interruptions to otherwise comfortable sleep but the morning though starting grey soon brightened. Newly fallen snow on the hills hinted at the cold air we paddled west through and it took a while to warm up but once stopped next to the islands just beneath Beinn Sgritheal, we soon warmed up nicely and stayed that way for the rest of the day.

Views continued to improve through the day and we had a real feel for why the lands of Knoydart are called the Rough Bounds. Looking at the way ahead, form where we had come just two days earlier, you would not easily guess at a route in between the hills beyond but the narrow loch runs narrowly for a few kilometers with a couple of kinks and narrows along the way hiding the full length. Our timing was planned well and we enjoyed the flood tide carrying our tired bodies up towards Kinlochhourn even when not paddling in places.

Anyway, though a gap has been filled, many smaller ones in the area have been noticed which need to be looked at more closely.


2 Responses to “Loch Hourn”

  1. Gardner's World Says:

    Like the way these capture contrasting periods of sunny tranquillity and ominous, moody looking storms

  2. Cheers, it was very mixed weather.

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