Wester Ross Paddles

Seeking shelter from the winds forecast and taking advantage of where we had met up and spent our first night, Torridon, three of us decided on Loch Shieldaig for our first day of paddling in Wester Ross. Setting off from Inveralligin, we began an anti-clockwise loop, heading up to and just west of Diabeg before turning south in to a stiff wind for the 2km crossing to the south side. Hugging the coast, with obscured views of the Torridonian giants ahead, we aimed for Shieldaig as our intended lunch spot but luck was on us (even if the sun wasn’t) as winding our way between a group of islands and skerries, we chanced upon a small stone shetler / boat store which we used for twenty minutes to recharge out the rain.

Continuing on we followed the southern shore round all the ins and outs along the way to a point directly south of Inveraligin where we briefly saw a shy otter. Winds carried us back with the occasional wave to surf us along on our way.

Back to camp we decided to move our base up the coast and go somewhere a bit more scenic so off to Gairloch after a pint of ale at one of the local inns where we warmed ourselves by a toasty fire.

Day 2 (Saturday) was as forecast the worst of the three days and so we chose to stay off the sea and head instead to sheltered-as-possible an option as we could get which meant Loch Maree. Our launch was dry but breezy and we weighed up the conditions visible and decided it was okay to set-off with all the islands offering us shelter for a good few hours. Heading east at first from Slattadale, the mountain, Slioch, teased us by almost coming out clear of the cloud but soon the cloud level dropped right down and with it drizzle began. We even had a water devil thrown at us which was a first for me at least.

Isle Maree proved the most interesting point of the day with the money tree on it and a graveyard containing a Norse Prince (Olaf). Many channels and dead-ends make for interesting passage through the group of islands and we made our way west which would take us back to a point close to the cars. Our intention then was to continue on to the river Ewe for a look at the west end of Loch Maree but the winds, by now stronger, were not making this seem attractive anymore and instead we thought about finishing sooner by taking the direct route back. However, this 1.5km line looked less than desirable so we returned by way of the islands to the sheltered southern shore – still a good workout  but a bit more sensible an option. Rain was comically heavy at times but it was less comical when it continued on for the bit back at the car when trying to get changed and packed etc.

Another pint at our new favourite pub but we were too early this time for ‘the guy’ who lights the fire so not so cosy this time.

Day 3 (Sunday)

Winds lighter and from the SW so we opted to paddle in Loch Ewe. Following the coast up in relative shelter and exploring caves, an arch and rock hopping along the way. Sunny too!  We rounded the point and headed west part way along to Rubha Reidh, stopping for lunch in ‘Black Bay’ where a US ship sunk with many lives lost during the period when the ships assembled in Loch Ewe for the convoys to Russia.

The tide was dropping fast and the arch we had paddled through just over an hour earlier was now blocked by a 2m high wall of barnacle crusted rock. Another otter spotted, or rather an otter spotted me and bolted – running straight in to the sea with barely a ripple where it entered.

A fantastic area to paddle in with lots of options for short or long trips, definitely somewhere to return to for a multi-day trip.


3 Responses to “Wester Ross Paddles”

  1. Hey, been trying to email and also tried to leave a comment on an archived post of your yours. But no avail. So decided to so something amateurish and write about an old post here instead.

    Here’s the link to the post:

    Any plans to go back again? And aim for standing on Inchgarvie? Would love to join. Cheers!

  2. Hi – No, none to go back any time soon. I did land on Inchgarvie but it is pretty grubby and somehow less pleasant than the other islands despite the good views of the bridge structure above.

  3. Ah ok… Will be in touch, if I ever get lucky and get a chance to sail to the Inch Isles

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