I can not really describe adequately what this trip was all about. I hope that the magic of the photographs tells the story. The area is a very fragile environment with more wild flowers, mosses and lichens than we had ever expected. There is also a struggle between conservation and sustainable Highland and Estate life. For this reason, I hope you will forgive me if I do not give exact locations, names and details. It would be so easy to irreversibly mess up this wonderful area. For the mountaineers amongst you, you may recognise one or two of the landscapes.
Our rough plan was to spend seven days touring the area by open canoe. We did not paddle huge distances, we didn't have too, the scenery was just so stunning with a different view in all directions. The only thing controlling our destiny was the weather which was as unpredictable as ever. We were in such an isolated, wilderness position, the weather had us glued to the Shipping Forecast every evening.
We experienced more varied and extreme weather, the type of which only Scotland could do for you, the benefit being that it kept the midges at bay. We encountered hail, flat calms with mirror like lochs, blue skies and sun shine, then force 7/8 gales with 35, gusting 40 miles an hour winds. The latter, kept us on an island for two days with boats belayed to trees and tents cross pegged.
The highlights of the trip for me were not seeing anyone other than our immediate party for six days, paddling on such clear water in such an unspoilt area and seeing three stags silhouetted against the night sky on a little night paddle at the end of the trip. There were, of course, the other benefits of touring with open canoes, fantastic cooking with fresh meat and veg, olives, wine and whiskey each night. The hard bits were the 4 km portage mid tour and going home at the end.
My thanks to Mel (wife, paddling partner and fantastic camp cook) and to our other two paddling companions who are a bit camera shy. As well as good paddlers and skilled wilderness campers, their inside knowledge of the area as mountaineers and the environment was a lesson in its self. As for their camp humour ??!!
The next trip is already in the 'embryonic stage !
If you are planning a trip of this nature, please remember that it is important to check out the access first with the relevant land owners and estate offices.