THE trip I had imagined in my head that would really appeal to me was up along the coast between Arisaig and Mallaig and out to the 'Sma Isles' (Small Islands) Eigg and Rum... I had been up there years ago and all I could remember was the white sand and aqua marine coloured seas.
So, when Muir Porter had posted on the Glasgow Kayak Club's web site about heading up there from Glasgow I jumped in with both paddles.
Trip members included, from left: Andrew Jennings, Me, Muir Porter, Chris Bell and Dave McCall, Dick Parsons took the picture.
This image is my screen saver, it's my favourite from the weekend, us on the beach at our first night stop over of Port nam Murrach, just south of Arisaig and what a belting place to stop (see later images and story).
Off up the road myself on Thursday June 2 as the rest of the team weren't coming up until the following day. Original member Andy Mcmanus couldn't make it, so I went on my own. An early stop at The Black Mount entering Glen Coe saw the morning mist over the mountains.
On arrival at Arisaig I had to venture along the 'old road' between Arisaig and Mallaig - there is now a vastly quicker road by-passing Arisaig and the winding coastal route - however, I urge you to NEVER by-pass the coastal route!!
This is the view of the mountains of Rum through low cloud.
By the time I eventually got up the sun was thinking about setting, so I sat on the sand dunes of Camusdarach Beach, more famously known for the beach scenes shot in the acclaimed movie by Bill Forsyth - 'Local Hero'.
Eigg and Rum from the Camusdarach Beach sand dunes.
So, back to the camp spot for the night, and what a spot. Just three miles along the 'Rhu' road from Arisaig with the sun setting over Loch nan Ceal and the skerries just outside Arisaig.
The view from my sleeping bag the following morning... flat calm loch
Loch nan Ceal from my camp site.
Loch nan Ceal and Arisaig across the water, a gorgeous setting for breakfast at Arlene and Murdo's bench and table.
The bench and table and flowers are in memory of Arlene and Murdo (McMillan?) at Millburn Cottages corner at Port Mhuilion, where I stayed two nights because of the peace and beauty of the area. Thanks for having me.
Views of Eigg and Rum across the top of the skerries outside Arisaig
The skerries at Arisaig
The mountains of Rum and Eigg rise above the skerries outside Arisaig.
I went for a wee run in the car again along the coastal route instead of hitting the water, as the lads were coming up later on the Friday anyway and I couldn't resist the area.
Morar Sands with the tide out.
During the Friday I thought I should sort my gear out as I had brought everything kayakie I had.. stuff I was going to take and stuff I was leaving were put in their relevant boxes.
The Bird?...It was coming
Earlier in the previous week I had spotted a posting on Facebolox about how someone should start a beach message writing page, so I took this to add it to the world beach message writing page HELLO!
The lads eventually pitched up and we all had a grand time getting aquainted in the Arisaig Hotel over a cuppla Guinness and steak and chips with the venerable Muir getting aquainted with the bar maid with the straight to the point question - "Are those real...?" Everyone sniggered and the fair maiden reddened in the face a little as she asked nervously if he meant her Tattoos?.. "Of course," answers our Muir, and everyone relaxed as she looked as though she could deal with the rest of us no bother if further questions took a more suspicious line.
Oh how we laughed, for the rest of the weekend.
Onto preparing for getting onto the water at last, Muir, Andrew, Dick and Dave discuss routes and weather as we launch from near the Rhu road-end.
Muir and Dick get going quicker than everyone else as we phaff...
Andrew J phaffs and is last onto the water as Dick, Dave and Chris wait patiently on the water below the 81m high Tor Mor.
We ventured south west from launch site to the white sandy beach at Port nam Murrach.. a stunning beach and camp site with awe inspiring views out to Eigg and Rum and beyond.
Chris and Dave carry Dave's carbon fibre stealth boat up the beach as Andrew and Muir digest the views.
Andrew J and Muir await 'haunners' with their boats.
Our camp site of Port nam Murrach
Chris Bell noticed water in his hatch and on further investigation he also noticed that his hatch cover seal was... er, loose, on his brand new boat!
The views from our tents of Rum
Every time I see this image I try to find words to describe how I felt that morning looking at the scenery and taking in the views whilst having breakfast. Probably speechless.
Time to get moving - but as the wind had picked up and a number of other factors - me and Chris's loose hatch seal - being two, the final decision NOT to head to the 'Sma Isles' Eigg and Rum was taken and the new heading was north into the wind and tide
As the boats were put in the water in preparation for a photo-opperchancity, however, Dick's boat was caught by a wave and taken out quickly.
Dave McCall raced to catch it in his slippers.
Andrew and Muir head north with Eigg and Rum as a tremendous backdrop.
We prepared to leave the cosy shelter of the skerries to cross the north channel and out into the head wind.
After a very hard (for me) 10km paddle into a heavy head wind I had to stop and what a place to stop?! - The small beach just south and next to Camusdarach Beach, this one called Camus an Daraich.
We had the place to ourselves except for a small family playing in the sea as we wanted to snap the scenery without them in it, we had lunch.
Andrew and Muir discuss how to move the folk out the water..
When they moved we had this to ourselves...
Another wee breather futher up the coast was required as my back was starting to give in with the struggle against the wind.
This one was just in the bay of Bogha Dearg, with the mast on Bourblach Hill above Morar on the ridge above.
It was no use, after 12 miles my back had gone into spasm and refused to help me paddle another stroke as we arrived at Mallaig, just as the Skye ferry arrived in port, so I had to give in and abandon and leave the lads to head across Loch Nevis to the 'Old Forge Inn' at Inverie.
It is the most remotest Inn with NO road into the site only an 18 mile trek or 7km sea crossing - I left my kayak in a local B+B's garden with the permission of the owner and took the train back to Arisaig.
The plan was I would stay at Arisaig again and return to Mallaig the following afternoon to 'Shuttle' the drivers back to their cars so they could collect their own boats and save on a long paddle back there themselves.
The train journey was gorgeous along the coast again with ice cream in hand.
On arrival at Arisaig I had the small job of a 4 mile walk to my car!! But it was a beautiful day and my back had eased off after a long stretching session in a local lay-by! and more Ice Cream from the Arisaig Spar!
Arisaig from Morroch Point.
Sunday morning arrived and I had a few hours to kill before heading up to Mallaig to ferry the lads back down to their respective motors, so I had a wee wonder over land to the Port nam Murrach camp site and the views of the skerries are superb from on high.
An Sgurr hill on Eigg
Ferry from Skye with the Cuillin Hills above
The lads arrive in Mallaig harbour
Ben Nevis rising above Fort William as I head south and home still stunned by the beauty of it all..