Monday, 30 August 2010

Loch Maree Revisited.

Friday the 27th of august finally arrived so Sandra and I were up early packing the van with camping gear, food, drink etc. We had arranged to meet up at Slattadale with Peatbog, Christine and Peat, and our daughter Laurie and boyfriend Dave to once more visit the majestic Loch Maree.

Just about to set off.

Laurie experiencing the joy of "the midgie" for the first time.

This would be us setting up camp, while being devoured by these tiny pyhranna's of the insect world. Ricky, (Peatbog) got the Yukon fired up and cooked us a beef cobbler, thats beef in a rich onion gravy with dumplings, served with new potatoes and green beans. Real stick to your ribs stuff, followed by a few mugs of plonk.

Saturday morning was a bit overcast with a ligh north westerly of about 10 knots. Ricky wanted to have a paddle on a loch on an island on a loch so we headed south to Eilean Subhainn.

Exploring the islands on the way.

This is Ricky folding up his Windpaddle.

This is Meggy, our ESS, happiest when wet.

Having tea and cake before the portage to the loch on the island on the loch, while Ricky puts his Pal on the C-Tug.

No-one thinks to take a pic of the portage. Ricky invites me to be his bow paddler to explore the wee loch. It's the first time I've done this so experiment with a few draws and bow jams.

The wee loch has just about the shortest river section I've ever seen, so we're very quickly back in the main loch and paddle around to meet with the rest of the group.

We saddle up and head to the south of Eilean Subhainn in search of Isle Maree. Laurie and Dave particularly want to visit the Viking graves and the wishing tree.

I think this is Peat drinking the loch in preparation for peeing on Christines sleeping bag.

Throw a stick Dad

The older headstones are of Viking origin, the more modern ones are family of the owners of the Loch Maree hotel, and go by the name Maclean.

Hammering a coin into the wishing tree is a centuries old tradition. Queen Victoria visited the island at some time during her reign.

I found a large stone and knocked in a whole 20p, which is very generous for a Scottish person. Copper wire was invented by two Scotsmen deciding ownership of a 2p coin.

I think that this dove and bits and pieces were placed here by witches or who knows?

Wallace stretching the aching back muscles.

Time to head back to camp, the wind has increased to about 15-16 knots so hard paddling, no pics and a few scary moments going around the points. Sandra gets into a strop because I'm telling her to paddle harder.

Obligatory pic of Slioch.

Back at camp, the clouds clear, the sun comes out, and so do the midgies.

I'm cooking Alloo Ghosht, a lamb and potato curry.

It's a bit of a disaster because I serve it with basmati rice, rogni naan and midgies.

The dogs seemed to enjoy it though. We sit there for a few hours, supping wine and putting the world to rights, finally hitting the sack at about midnight.

At about 3am we are rudely awakened by heavy rain and gale force winds that take out our tarps, chairs tables etc, and its hard to get back to sleep with the fear of a tree being blown onto your tent.

Next morning we awake to a sunny but very windy day, and wonder if we'll be stranded here for a while.

Our spirits are raised by cups of tea and bacon sarnies, and we just sit around blethering, fishing, and chucking sticks for the dogs. Ricky and Christine make a pot of Minestrone for lunch, followed by fruitcake and stilton, and a brew.

MRX makes a nice table.

A wild and windy Loch Maree.

Late afternoon and Laurie makes us barbecued steak, new potatoes, and a creamy mushroom sauce, yummy. The wind by this time had dropped a wee bit, and Laurie and Dave need to get home tonight as they have work next day, so decide to make a break for it. This will mean a 1500 metre crossing in a cross wind so Sandra and I decide to go with them for safety in numbers. We quickly roll up our tents, load the boats, tidy up and say goodbye to our campmates. Ricky and Christine are far better equiped than us for longer stays, and being millionaires, dont need to worry about wether they can make work the next day.

Another pic of Slioch, Sandra just loves this mountain and wants to climb it next year.

By the time we reach the middle of the channel we realise that the wind is decievingly stronger than we thought, and the last few hundred yards are decidedly lumpy with some substantial waves hitting us side on. We decided to ferry glide downwind with Sandra paddling like a demented dervish and your narrator bracing and steering. With a big sigh of relief we reach the lee shore closely followed by Laurie and Dave in the Adventure.

Just for the record, I had always thought of the Mad River Adventure as a sort of recreational peddalo type of craft rather than a serious open canoe. This is not the case and it comfortably carries two people and all their gear in some challenging conditions.

Another pic of, you've guessed it, Slioch.

And another.


Back on terra firma.

Unloading the boats. The treeline that you can see looks like a coast, it's not until you get closer that you realise it's actually a group of islands.

The trees behind give shelter from the wind and the midgies are out in force, so it's back on with the nets.

We stop at the viewpoint and have a last look at Loch Maree.

I have to say this, to anyone who has'nt yet been there, this has got to be the ultimate Scottish paddle. The scenery is stunning in all directions, and exploring the islands is an adventure in itself.

We're only here for a short while, and dead for a very long time, so here's one for your bucket list.
Loch Maree.