Paradise Lost: Loch Etive

A short overnight trip I'd had in mind for a long time - one which I'm sure most sea kayakers have made or have planned to make...
The view that inspired me.
In part because of the popularity of the loch with paddlers, but also due to the crowds that descend on this area generally, later in the year (causing a great deal of damage - witnessed on this trip in the form of excessive fire pits, large amounts of litter, whole trees felled for fire logs and branches sawn from living oaks, melted plastic or similar covering a large area of grass in a popular camping area etc etc - which reminds me of a night a year or so ago that I drove into Glencoe and had to call the fire brigade to attend a wild fire, out of control, burning across the road, started by one of many car campers who stood by their own fires doing nothing...), I had left it for a suitable weekend early enough in the year I hoped to avoid both.

Looking smug: Clearly I choose the right weekend; perfect conditions and not a soul in sight.
Ben Starav. One day I will actually climb this mountain, as well as...
...Beinn Trilleachan, where the renowned Etive Slabs are found. (Visible here directly above the stern of the kayak, the routes here are amongst the best slab routes in the UK, providing serious and delicate climbing which should never be attempted on a calm day in July, as a friend once discovered - possibly the worst midge experience possible!)

Looking back towards the head of the loch.
Later, common seals provided much entertainment both around the islands off Aird Eilean...
...and across the loch...
...as they followed me for the rest of the day.
A dramatic lunch stop here, Rubha na Staing.
A wonderfully situated camp. A disgrace the way in which the area is treated. I did what I could, taking out the rubbish I could carry, scattering the many and enormous fire pits and generally tidying up. If it is outdoor folk that behave so, then I am ashamed to call myself one.
A brief but heavy shower resulted in a spectacular double rainbow above the camp.
A great trip, but an area in which, whilst all is not lost, it is impossible to ignore the ignorance, disregard and abuse as well as the increasing benign pressure that our 'wild' places must endure. 

Comments

Ian said…
Absolutely stunning Will, particularly the first and last images. Ben Starav via the north ridge is a super route, a natural staircase finishing right at the summit; perfect.

I've noticed the overuse of Loch Etiveside too. Easy to blame other interest groups, but sadly some of it's got to be down to our own kind. I just can't comprehend people how folk can do that sort of damage.

Ian
Andy said…
A great post Will. I think it all comes down to education and (like you) the public at large taking a personal responsibility for protecting the wild places that we treasure so much. Personally I always get irritated seeing banana and orange peel discarded on summit cairns, by hill lovers who should know better...

Anyway; fantastic photos make me wish I was there. See you soon, I'm looking forward to the Arran trip and should have a serious bit of new kit by then... ;o)
gnarlydog said…
Will, the problem of human impact in pristine locations is a world wide phenomenon. It becomes more obvious at locations where the setting is stunning.
While lack of education is often the culprit I have come to believe it's human nature: some of us just don't want to be responsible enough to ensure a locations remains beautiful.
I was very disappointed when my kayaking Club decided to abandon the Leave No Trace policy on their outings because it did not advocate for camp fires, large groups or the use of hammocks (without protection) on trees.
Some of my paddling companions are just lazy and shortsighted.
As you mentioned, the remains of the campfires is disturbing.
I love fires (who doesn't?) but these days I prefer to resort to a no impact alternative: a Fire-in-a-can.
Using a bit of wax melted in a medium size can and a large wick it gives me the feeling of a fire (unfortunately no the warmth thou).
If interested details at: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2009/04/diy-candlefire.html
BTW, stunning images! Really good work.