Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A Great Glen Adventure

The rain stopped before dawn, mountains still wrapped in cloud blankets as the sun rose red across Rannoch Moor. Reflections of sky and boulder dotted the moor, the water glass-still, and two deer crossed the road in front of my car. A monumental atmosphere entering Glencoe. A primevally perfect day for a paddle.

Lunch stop, Loch Lochy:


The aim was to travel from Banavie locks to Fort Augustus along the Caledonian Canal, taking two days, staying on the side of Loch Lochy on Saturday night. We had sea kayaks hired from Snowgoose Mountain Centre in Corpach, and enough gear to take care of ourselves.

Weather closes in:


The Caledonian Canal was a revelation. I had always previously considered the area from Fort William to Invergarry to be dull, a lull on the road to Skye between the crescendoes of Glencoe and Kintail. The reason for this is that the car-bound hillwalker doesn't see much except trees on either side of the road. From the water, and at a slower pace, far more is revealed.

Put in next day, Loch Lochy:


The paddlers:


I was especially impressed with Loch Oich. This is a place I want to return to again. Oak, birch, scots pine and other trees are turning for autumn, the water full of fallen leaves, a romantic ruined castle perched on a crag above the loch, one whose existence I never even knew of.

Old Invergarry Castle, Loch Oich:


There had been a couple of hairy moments crossing Loch Lochy, with squalls and a building swell that threw us onto our last beach of Saturday. But the canal itself was beautiful and quiet, and we glided past swans, dippers, and ducks, unconcerned with our passage through their territory, brambles bushes fat with fruit hanging over the sides of the broad handsome canal, acessible only to canoeists.

Caledonian Canal:


This was my first canoe trip, but I hope it won't be my last.

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