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Canoeing Around Ardnamurchan Point – Exploring Wild Scotland

Driving along Loch Sunart along the single-track road from Strontian to Kilchoan is simply breathtaking. At every turn there is a beautiful bay set amongst the historic Sunart Oakwoods, leaving sublime views across Loch Sunart to the Morvern Peninsula and Mull. The Oakwoods themselves add to the timeless aura of Ardnamurchan, their history being traced to 8000 BC. They are the last remnants of a vast forest that stretched as far as Portugal.

There is a record of human habitation on the peninsular going back 4000 years. Place names such as Glenborrodale and Ormsaig are Norse in origin. With a little imagination it is easy to believe that Vikings would have seen the same landscape as the one seen today.  A world less damaged by the human hand.

In March we were visited by two friends, Nikki and Martin, who had just spent a few days canoeing on Loch Shiel. Both wanted to go out on a coastal canoe trip and as the weather was settled I suggested that we paddle around Ardnamurchan Point from Kilchoan to Sanna Bay.  It was agreed and after a bit of tidal planning we decided that an 11am start from Kilchoan would be ideal to use the tide to our advantage.

Kilchoan, a quiet and friendly village on the South Coast of Sunart has a superb outlook. It is at a crossroads of Loch Sunart, The Sound of Mull and the Atlantic.  Here you are exposed to a wild untamed mountainous landscape, this is wild Scotland!

We left the Kilchoan Jetty and paddled out, following the rocky shoreline. It was exhilarating to be in a canoe, in a beautiful place and good company.  There was a slight breeze which, although against, caused us no problems. We paddled, chatted and took photographs. What a place to unwind!  The coast along the peninsular is rugged, guarded by cliffs of ancient rock topped by moorland. There are occasional beachy bays providing for an easy landing and a place to have dinner.

It was on this trip that I saw the most Eagles I have ever seen in one day – 13! To be honest it could have been the same 3 seen several times! Both Golden and White Tailed Eagles are common sightings on Loch Sunart, they are both huge birds, the Golden Eagle has a wingspan of 8 feet whilst the White Tailed Eagle has a massive 8 ½  feet! It was a privilege to be in such a beautiful place watching our biggest birds glide along the clifftops.

As we neared the end of the Peninsula the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse came into view.  I love lighthouses, a symbol of people looking after each other.  This one is no exception, built in the 19th Century it sits proudly on the western most point of the British Mainland.  It is superb.

Out to our West were the Small Isles of Rum, Muck, Egg and Canna. Ahead lay Skye with is Cullin mountains mysterious, lurking in the distance. A place to stir the soul.

Followed by common seals, our paddle took us passed the delightful Portuairk, with a scattering of white houses some even have a beach for a garden, to land at Sanna Bay. One of the most beautiful, white sandy beaches anywhere. Here there is a random collection of houses, mainly crofts, protected by steep white sand dunes.

At the end of this incredible journey I had one of the most unusual experiences I have ever had whilst on an adventure paddling. On landing on the beach at Sanna Katrina stated, with passion saved for the starved, that she could smell curry.  Some detective work later we found that one of the crofts was home to Sanna Spice, the most Westerly Curry Takeaway on the British Mainland! We duly ordered a meal each and, canoes packed, we spent the evening at Sanna Bay eating one of the best curries I’ve ever had (fine praise from a man from West Yorkshire!) and watching the sun set.  A superb way to end such a brilliant day!