CANOE / CAMPING NW SCOTLAND

Explore the remote and wild areas of Assynt in Sutherland by open canoe, and climb some of the North West’s most iconic mountains without the long walk-ins!

Open (Canadian) canoes have long been used for travel and exploration, enabling groups to access really remote areas more easily, whilst still being able to carry more kit than you would be able to on your back. Canoe camping enables you to travel a little more luxuriously and take those items that make life a little more comfortable. It also saves your legs and knees for the hill walking rather than tiring them out on the walk in. Assynt – the area we use for our canoe and hillwalking holidays, boasts some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery.

It is an area of dramatic mountain landscapes with the low lying areas studded with beautiful lochs and a stunning coastline, whilst dramatic peaks such as Suilven, Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag and Cul Mor belie their modest heights. It is often described as a primeval landscape -certainly the geology is some of the oldest on earth. Our trip takes us through the Inverpolly National Nature Reserve, one of the wildest and most unspoilt areas of Scotland, a wildlife haven with the opportunity to spot otters, buzzards, eagles, deer and red and back throated divers.

Traveling by canoe for part of this hillwalking holiday enables us to get a lot closer to wildlife than we would be able to on foot. There will also be the opportunity to do some fishing as the lochs of the North West are famed for their wild Brown Trout. Because canoeing (as with all adventure activities) is a little dependent on weather conditions we keep our plans flexible and will adapt to suit the conditions at the time, however our outline programme is this:-

On the first morning, out departure point will depend on the weather and local conditions – particularly wind direction. With favourable conditions we’ll start near Elphin and have a short paddle down a slow flowing river in to the Cam Loch. This first morning will be spent learning the basics of open canoe paddling. As we will be paddling as doubles (two people per boat) there is an element of team work involved in this (ie you can blame each other). From the Cam Loch we paddle into Loch Veyatie (portaging the boats round the small waterfall between the two lochs). From here we paddle North West down the loch and eventually into Fionn Loch, with the bulk of Suilven, one of the areas most recognizable mountains, looming above us. Our first nights camp is on the shore of the loch in the shadow of Suilven.

Suilven is our first hillwalking objective and can easily be accomplished from our camp site. Having done Suilven we have different options – we may strike camp and head for Loch Sionascaig via a short portage between Lochs Veyatie and Sionascaig. Here we are in the heart of the Inverpolly wilderness. This loch with many small secluded bays and islands is our home for the next camp. With the hills of Stac Pollaidh to the south and Cul Mor and Cul Beag to the south East we have plenty of opportunity for hillwalks as well as paddling, fishing and wildlife spotting. On our last day, after a walk, we paddle out to the NW end of loch Sionascaig where we will meet our transport for the return.

DATES (2011):

  • Arrive April 28th – Finish May 2nd;
  • Arrive August 25th – Finish August 29st;
  • Arrive October 6th – Finish October 10th;

Introductions are held on the first evening at 7.30pm and the holiday finishes at approx 4pm on the final day.

Other dates may be available for groups of 4 or more.

TRANSPORT:

A free lift is available from Inverness/Ullapool and back. Inverness can be reached by air or rail, or you can take your own car and meet at Ullapool

PRICE: 1:6 £425 per person

INCLUDED: (What is included in the Canoe and Hillwalking Holiday)

  • Hire of Canadian Canoes (2 persons per boat) plus ancillary equipment such as life jackets etc
  • Transport if required from Inverness or Ullapool to Elphin and return
  • Use of cooking equipment, fuel etc
  • Hire of tents
  • Camp food
  • Instruction and Guiding from qualified Canoe Instructor and Mountain Leader
  • Introduction on the first evening
  • Instruction/advice on wilderness camping techniques
  • Fishing equipment/instruction if required
  • 3 nights camping
  • 3 mountain walks

You will need to budget for accommodation on the first night in Ullapool, which has lots of B&Bs and Hotels (list available) and if you require it, accommodation on the last night as well. Food is supplied, but you should also take any extra food/drink you require plus personal medication etc.