A friend of mine from England, had discussed a long weekend trip to a part of Scotland I had passed thru but never explored, Loch Sween, which is on the Argyll, Kintyre Peninsular, Jura and Islay is just off the coast, so we decided to set up a little trip, originally there had been six, but as the world interferes we were whittled down to three.
To be frank the two weeks leading up to the trip hadn’t been promising, gale force winds and flooding all over the Country, plus my new canoe, a Mad River Reflection 15 hadn’t cleared the dock/customs, so I was either taking my inflatable (which had sprung a leak the last outing, Loch Ken with Grizz) or riding tandem.
Wednesday morning I get a phone call, my canoe is here, ready to be picked up, brilliant, then I thought, I suppose I should fit the components together that make up my roof rack, and actually fit that to the car, so Wednesday night in a howling gale and driving rain I did just that, the “quick fit” system took over two hours, to actually fit, and I was soaked to the skin and frozen by the time I finished, never mind, it means I can pick up my new canoe tomorrow…..
The wind gets worse, gusts of over 70 mph, discretion being the better part of valor, I phone the canoe shop and delayed picking the canoe up till the Friday morning, hoping the wind would have died down, as forecast.
It did, the wind died, the sun came out, car packed, the canoe shop people were great, checked I had fitted the rack properly, and helped me load the canoe, by 11:30 I was on the road North, about an hour behind the other two, I arrived at the Tayvallich Inn about 14:40, where I met up with my two friends who were on their second pint ! they had been there a while.
I was taught my first lesson on parking with a canoe on top, I had parked as normal, not thinking at all about the canoe, which my friends had a great deal of fun pointing out to me had left the canoe sticking out over the road about 3 feet....oops, fixed that.
We loaded the boats, parked the cars further up the village, and set off..
As you can see my canoe is the barge on this outing, so I get to carry the fire logs and kindling
On her maiden voyage, she's trimmed a tad nose heavy, which made itself very apparent once we hit open water and the wind picked up, I spent a great deal of the weekend figuring out how to trim her properly as the conditions changed.
We had a few spots picked out from the OS 1:25k maps, but when we got there, they were not suitable for camping, (2 of us were hammocking, 1 in a bivi), however we both had bivi bags as back up if required. In the end as the light was fading, we had travelled up to the far end of the Loch, beside the Faery Isles, Shewie had spotted a place, pretty boggy, but it had Scots pine trees to suspend from and a semi dry area for Grooveski's bivi, almost primeval isn't it, a Grooveski pic
Early Saturday morning, we had had a fair bit of rain during the night, very cold too, but it had all died away to leave us with a truly wonderful morning
We brought our cooking gear down to the shore and enjoyed breakfast on the beach in glorious sunshine
We packed up and went looking for a better camp site, looking back down Loch Sween, from the water
That's Grooveski in the distance in his superb clinker built sailing canoe
From the shore at our new camp site
My new craft, not so pristine now, just out of the bubble wrap on Friday
The weather was looking ominous out towards Jura and Islay
We got the fire going, and settled down to dinner and watch the night fall. A really nice photo from Shewie
Luckily the storm came to nothing, but gave us a fantastic evening sky
My hammock set up; Blackbird, double layer 1.7, with the superfly over the top, I wanted to enjoy the sunrise, so left that side up. I have an early Wanderinstar underblanket, (snugpak bought the rights to it) and a Alpkit Pipedream 600 down sleeping bag
Shewies set up, Open hammock (not sure of the make) either the new DD tarp or the "Song of the Paddle forum" one, snugpak underblanket and he also used an Alpkit Pipedream 600.
It was quite cold both nights, any standing water froze, and my wet gloves froze solid, as well as the canoes themselves, and anything left in them.
A really enjoyable weekend, but Saturday night was amazing, no light pollution, no clouds, a three quarter moon, and so many stars, brilliant.