Two Nights in Knoydart: Leaving Loch Nevis

The previous afternoon, I had arrived back at my camp with several hours of light left. The last forecast I had seen, on Saturday morning, predicted freshening easterly winds, dropping pressure and rain arriving later. The rain would be tolerable if less pleasant than the last two days of blue skies and sun, but this was Knoydart, perhaps the wettest place in the UK after all. I was more concerned about the wind; Loch Nevis is notorious for the severe squalls it is frequently subject to. I debated whether to break camp and paddle out as far as I could, at least reducing the distance I would have to cover tomorrow if the weather did break, but in the end, tired after a day on the hill and feeling more inclined to relax in the late afternoon sun, such a rare opportunity in such a place, I stayed put.
Unlike the previous morning however, I made the effort to rise early in the hope of escaping before the wind and rain arived. Rolling the icy tent and loading the boat by moonlight, all was still, the stars bright.
Passing Eilean Maol an icy breeze picked up and pushed me on towards the narrows. I landed beneath Creag Chruachan, watching the still flooding tide pushing against the wind, though I knew it would be passed easily enough, until shortly after 7am the first rays of the day's sun broke across the flanks Sgurr na Ciche.
The easterly breeze remained cold but benign, no sign yet of the detoriorating weather forecast. I pushed on, using a eddy through the narrows, then heading directly towards Ardintigh Point, beyond Tarbet. Here the waves were just enough to surf me up the loch; another free ride, the wind have turned in my favour, another rarity.
Soon I was level with Torr nan Gamhainn, the sun now warming my back and highlighting the lazy beds above Stoul. Again I was reminded of those who farmed this land, growing grain and potatoes, a hard and simple existence amidst such beauty...
Before long I had drawn level with Inverie, and opposite, the striking rocks and gravel beaches of Sgier a Ghaill prompted a second stop. Tucked behind a boulder, out of the wind, the sun quickly warmed cold hands as I enjoyed a second breakfast; not an early riser by nature, early starts do at least provide a good excuse for extra breakfasts...
Leaving Loch Nevis I headed west now, beneath the steep, wooded slopes and north facing coves that lead to Mallaig. In their lee, the wind ruffled surface of the loch was replaced by an oily calm with the gentlest of swells reaching the craggy shoreline. I plodded on, the crew of fishing boat nodding as I paddled, a relaxed cadence bringing me gently to the harbour entrance.
Turning the corner and heading now for Morar, the south westerly swell, still gentle but growing, made itself felt on the skerries around Rubha Reamhar and whilst the wind remained light, dark clouds were gathering to the south. It seemed the early start had given me the best of the day.
On reaching the mouth of the Morar estuary, atmospheric clouds crowded the skies. Relieved that the tide had not dropped sufficiently to cause the low swell to break on the bar, I rode small waves up the main channel and then broke out of the flow, across the clear shallow waters covering white sands, towards Toigal...
...a last glimmer of sun and the end of three days and two nights in Knoydart.


Ian said…
Hi Will,

Great trip report and (as usual) some cracking photos. I really like the new blog design - did you do it yourself?

all the best
Will Herman said…
Hi Ian

Thanks, was a great trip, worth the wait.
The blog design is one of the newer templates; lots of new features since I first started the blog. Unfortunately it has thrown the formatting of some of the older posts...