Arisaig May 18

Steve scribes…

Twelve paddlers, four landlubbers and one dug spent a beautiful late May holiday weekend at Back of Keppoch enjoying a great weekend playing about in boats and on bikes of various types under an azure Lochaber sky. For some it was the first time on a club outing to the Croft campsite, though even for the ‘regulars’ it came after a gap of two years, and what a time we had.

It has been known to be less than clement on corresponding weekends in previous years, indeed I seem to recall a weekend being cancelled when a major storm rolled in, but this weekend we go to see just how special the area is, with near unbroken sunshine and light winds for the bulk of the five days we were there.

It didn’t start quite as planned, with the first hardy campers (and caravaners) arriving on Thursday – many after a roadworks interrupted drive, to find a solid force 3/4 and some decent waves, but first Neil and Stuart and later Neil and myself nevertheless ventured out for short paddles to blow away the cobwebs before relaxing over a beer for the evening.

Friday began as a bit of a lazy day with the wind even stronger and we were waiting for others to arrive, and in the afternoon Celia, Neil, Stuart and myself ventured out into a stiff force 4/5 for a couple of hours to remember concepts such as edging, and we had a great time experimenting with the best strokes to use in wind and waves before surfing back to the site on some fantastic and perfectly times waves. Bigfoot smiled a wide smile.

Saturday dawned sunny with light winds and it was a big day on the water, with eleven paddlers on the go. Setting off from the campsite we made our way west and south round the outside of the Skerries and across the South Channel to the Rubh Peninsular where we stopped for lunch at the white sands of Port Nam Murrach. As all will attest, this really is a special place – a little bit of the Greek islands washed up on the West Coast of Scotland – and our colourful kayaks lined up on the beach with a yacht, framed by the bay and mountains behind was pretty breath-taking. It took the draw of the paddle to come – and the fact that Billy had grown fed-up of dragging our kayaks further up the beach to escape the advancing tide – to lure us away, and we returned north to explore the Skerries on the way home. Our timing was almost perfect as we approached the Gortenachullish Channel as it became deep enough to pass through, and we made our way back to the campsite to bask in the evening sunshine, all of us with smiling faces after a wonderful day on the water, and none more so than Arthur for whom this was the first time on the sea.

Sunday if anything was even better weather-wise, and this time we headed north, passing the motorhome clogged roads of Traigh Bay en route to Ben’s Beach at Camusdarach Bay. Here we tarried for a while along with a group of paddlers from Clydebank before continuing to the River Morar where we could play in some breaking waves before stopping on the sands below sea caves left high and dry by the post glacial-rebound; a process still ongoing and which means the Munros grow higher as London slips beneath the waves. Oh to dream!

Heading back north gave us a little excitement as we had our first wee swim of the day thanks to Jane showing a bit much edge to to a sculling draw, though as a consequence of the excellent recovery of her boat following the demonstration of fine paddling skills over the course of the day, she was rewarded with a 1 Star Award – so well done to Jane. And soon we were all pretty wet, taking the opportunity upon our return to campsite bay to practice rolls and rescues, with Heather standing up in her boat, and both Billy and Jane successfully self resting rodeo style taking the honours.

Monday mean’t home, but not before a final day of paddling down through the Skerries to take coffee, cakes and lashings of ice-cream at the marina cafe at Arisaig, and it was with heavy hearts that we made our way back to the campsite and the cars and the long journey home – other than Stuart, May, Billy and Jean who stayed on a little longer, the lucky (retired) devils.

An ending yes, but what a time we had – and as with all endings the prospect of beginnings … and looking forward to getting our bums on the water again. I hope it is very soon for us all.

Please feel free to add your own reflections – and to share photos in whichever way works best these days. Ill send some pics round to those I have e-mail addresses for and maybe others could do likewise.

See you on the sea

Steve