Welcome To My World of Pedals and Paddles

An account of my Sea Kayaking and Mountain Biking exploits

Friday, 4 September 2009

Scottish Road Trip August 09

The weather forecast for this trip was much the same as when we left Applecross back in May. I do not think much has changed since then. The wind was still blowing the same and that made for three trips with identical weather. Anyway we still went and this will probably be classed as our 09 holiday.

The first leg was up to Newbiggin at the northern end of the Lakes for an overnight stop and then onto Fort William the next day.

Someone had got into a spot of bother on the tourist path up Ben Nevis and a SAR Sea King was in the middle of a rescue. The visibility was appalling and it kept having to land in Glen Nevis. This meant overflying the campsite a few times providing a good photo opportunity, but Kath had not yet arrived with her hi tech camera.

On Friday we set off for Skye with still no prospect of an improvement in the weather.

We stopped off at Eilean Donan castle for lunch in the tea room.

Harry was enjoying the trip to the land of his ancestors.

This was our first trip over the Skye bridge. Last time we were here (1980) the ferry was running from The Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin on Skye.

This Loch Ainort

Looking North to Raasay across Caol Mor.

Our destination was Dunvegan at the north end of the island. On the way up we passed some cracking views of the mountains and coast.

The Cuillin Ridge from the north.

Loch Bracadale which will have to be paddled one day. On the headland to the right you can just see one of Macleods Maidens an impressive group of three sea stacks. According to legend the 14C Chieften of Clan Macleod had been mortally wounded in battle on the island of Harris. His wife and two daughters were returning to Dunvegan and were shipwrecked off the point and drowned. The stacks are named in their memory.

The campsite was on the shores of Loch Dunvegan, but again it was very windy. The two mountains are Healabhal Mor 468M (Macleods Table North) and Healabhal Beag 488M (Macleods Table South). I have read two legends as to the origin of their name. The first concerns St Columba who was on a visit to the area. He was not well received by the Clan Chieften and was not offered any hospitality. Whilst preaching a sermon lightening struck the two hills providing him with a flat area to sleep on and a table to dine at. The one I prefer relates to The Eighth Chief of the Macleods Alasdair Crotach who whilst dining at court had the quality of his table at Dunvegan called in to question by a lowland nobleman. He responded by declaring that his table was fit for a King and invited the nobleman to pay him a visit which he did. A grand feast was had at the top of the mountain by torch light and the chiefs honour was restored.

The slipway at Stein where we had intended to start our trip.

Loch Dunvegan where were to be headed.

Dunvegan Castle which was well worth the visit.

The Seal boat trips were still running even though it was too windy for us.

After an overnight stop and some exploring we decided to head back down south.

We travelled back to Ft William. I was more than a little dissappointed. This was the third trip to Scotland and the weather has gone against us on each trip.

We decided to paddle to Port Ramsey on the north end of Lismore. Loch Linhe was much calmer the Skye.

The west side of Shuna looking towards Kingair Loch and Camasnacroise.
There were a lot of seals on the skerries over towards Lismore. We kept well clear but they still came over for a nose at us.

We stopped for lunch opposite the old lime kilns near Port Ramsey.

The wind was blowing hard up Loch Linhe near to the Lismore ferry. We crossed over to have a look at the prominent navigation light.

Then over to Castle Stalker near Appin. The castle was built around 1540 by Duncan Stewart of Appin. This castle was gifted to James IV for use as a hunting lodge. In fact, its Gaelic name Caisteal Stalcair is a translation of'Castle of the Hunter'. It is situated at the entrance to Loch Laich on the east side of Loch Linhe and is built on a rocky outcrop known as the Rock of the Cormorants.

One 17th century Stewart gambled it away to a Campbell for an eight-oared galley. During the 1745 Jacobite Rising it was used as a garrison for troops.

It was abandoned around 1780, it lost its roof shortly before 1831 and was restored from its ruinous state in the late 1960s by the late Lt. Col. Stewart Allward whose family still owns the castle. It is so popular with tourists that a visitor centre and tea room has been built off the main road overlooking the castle.

We took a few photos and headed north back to the camper.

There is a campsite at Ledaig just north of the Connel Bridge beneath which are the Falls Of Lora. We booked on for couple of nights. This gave us time to visit Oban and Seil Island about ten miles to the south.

There is plenty of sea kayaking to be done in this area but the weather put a stop to that.

This is the view to The Garvellachs and Scarba.

Easedale Island sits just off the coast and the picturesque village of Ellenabeich. From here you can catch a rib for a trip around the Corryvreckan.

With the Falls of Lora so close to the campsite I could not resist a trip in the kayak to have a look.

The tide was slack high water so I could paddle up and then drift back down, a complete fraud because it was so quiet.

I then turned south down the coast towards Oban for a few miles before heading back across the bay to the campsite.

Overall another great trip but a lot of miles.

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