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      Tim’s Top 10 Scottish Sea Kayaking Spots

      9 min read

      By Tim Willis
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      Scotland’s Best Sea Kayaking Locations

      Having paddled and guided all over the world, I’m delighted to say that for me, paddling in Scottish waters is hard to beat.

      So with that said, I d like to share my absolute favourite 10 sea kayaking spots in Scotland.

      1. Vatersay to Mingulay

      scottish sea kayaking

      Mingulay

      Where: The Outer Hebrides
      Grade: Moderate Plus
      Features: The rocky scenery – cliffs are on a scale rarely seen anywhere else in Scotland, complete solitude.
      Tide: Streams run fast between the islands, opposing streams can cause problems, waters are often turbulent.

      “I was lucky enough to have paddled this incredible stretch of water last year. We paddled into enormous caves, under colossal arches, next to gigantic basking sharks, puffins and playful seals. It was the most memorable days sea kayaking I have ever enjoyed.”

      2. The Sound of Arisaig

      Scottish Sea Kayaking

      Arisaig

      • Where: Arisaig
      • Grade: Moderate Plus
      • TripThe Sound of Arisaig expedition
      • Features: This is the nearest you will get to paddling in the Caribbean in Scotland – golden sands and crystal clear waters.
      • Tide: Waters are sheltered inside the skerries, but can be rough on the outside depending on the swell and wind.

      “If I had one last day to paddle on the planet, I would come here. Nothing beats getting lost in the myriad of skerries with their turquoise waters and golden sandy beaches. Time seems to stand still here and there are endless skerries to explore and dolphins to look out for.”

       

      3. Luskentyre to Taransay

      Scottish Sea Kayaking

      Luskentyre

      • Where: The Outer Hebrides
      • Grade: Moderate Plus
      • Trip: The Outer Hebrides expedition
      • Features: Sea caves, sandy beaches, views to Harris and the ultimate sense of peace and quiet.
      • Tide: Mostly gentle – the weather is the biggest hazard, significant down draughts are present when winds come from the N or NE.

      “On a sunny day, the colours of the water in this area are beyond description. You could happily spend hours not paddling and just trying to take in the extraordinary landscape that is constantly changing as the sun moves around the sky.”

      4. Upper to Lower Loch Torridon

      Scottish Sea Kayaking

      Loch Torridon

      “Paddling underneath the amphitheater of mountains that surround the loch, is a wonderful experience. We often pick mussels off the rocks, which we cook later that evening. The sunsets that often finish each day are magnificent.”

      5. Loch Maree

      Scottish Sea Kayaking

      Loch Maree

      • Where: Wester Ross
      • Grade: Intermediate
      • Features: All of the loch’s islands are conservation areas – the largest of which is the only island in Britain to contain a loch that itself contains an island.
      • Tide: No tide as such, since Loch Maree is an inland loch, however, generally calm and sheltered, but can be choppy in high winds.

      “An inland fresh water loch that is often used on stormy weather days. This is often regarded as Scotland’s most scenic loch and you understand why as soon as you glimpse it. Gorgeous wee islands clad in Scots Pine trees are great fun to paddle beside and it’s always with a heavy heart that you leave this area at the day’s end.”

      6. Applecross to the Crowlin Islands

      Sea kayaking in Applecross

      • Where: Applecross
      • Grade: Easy
      • TripIntroduction to Sea Kayaking
      • Features: Unique natural harbours, fine views to Raasay, Rona and the Cuillins of Skye, relatively sheltered.
      • Tide: Sheltered – an ideal first open water crossing, streams are fairly negligible.

      “Applecross is a wonderful village with a fabulous pub, a perfect place to end a day of sea kayaking. The journey out to the Crowlin Islands is not only very scenic with views out to Rona, Raasay and the Small Isles, but the Crowlin Islands themselves are full of magic and mystery and a joy to paddle though, often with glimpses of otters. There has been human settlement here for 8,000 years.”

      7. Loch Morar

      Scottish Sea Kayaking

      Loch Morar

      • Where: Arisaig
      • Grade: Moderate Plus
      • Trip: The Sound of Arisaig expedition
      • Features: Of glacial origin with very deep sides, contains five sizeable islands.
      • Tide: No tide as such, since Loch Morar is an inland loch.

      “Another loch often used on those super windy days, although I have paddled here on many occasions on calm, blue sky days and never left anything but delighted. This is the deepest loch in the UK and it feels very remote when you are out on the water and paddling east towards the mountains. Half way along the loch on the northern side, there is a small track that takes you over a hill to Tarbet, on the shores of Loch Nevis. A welcome chance to stretch your legs and enjoy the sweeping views over to Knoydart.”

       

      8. Loch Moidart

      Scottish Sea Kayaking

      Loch Moidart

      “Launching onto the loch next to Castle Tioram is hard to beat, it’s an impressive backdrop. The island of Eilean Shona sits in the middle of the loch giving two options to paddle past – the north channel and the south channel. Once past the island, which was leased to J.M. Barrie in the 1920’s to write Peter Pan, the loch continues down towards the sea, where a number of small islands are located just at the entrance. These would not look out of place in the Bahamas, with their crystal clear water and white sandy beaches. The deer you may see along the nearby hills will most certainly remind you that you are indeed in Scotland.”

      9. The Summer Isles

      Scottish Sea Kayaking

      Summer Isles

      • Where: NW Highlands
      • Grade: Moderate plus
      • Trip: The Summer Isles expedition
      • Features: Sandstone cliffs, uninhabited islands and sheltered lagoons
      • Tide: Generally sheltered waters, although some exposed pockets are subject to wind and rough seas

      “The Summer Isles are a very special part of Scotland. Even the journey up to the put-in point, near Achiltibuie, will amaze you. The hills of Assynt are my favourite in the country and are so full of character. They are usually visible from the kayaks wherever you are on the Summer Isles. There are arches to paddle under, caves to explore, incredible wildlife to spot, wonderful islands to explore and these make for excellent camping with their mesmerising views out across the isles to the sea and Outer Hebrides beyond.”

       

      10. Loch Carron

      Scottish Sea Kayaking

      Looking across the village of Plockton, Loch Carron and Loch Kishorn behind.

      • WhereNW Highlands
      • Grade: Moderate
      • Features: An abundance of mountains and natural harbours, islands and rocky beaches.
      • Tide: Reasonably sheltered, tidal streams are fairly negligible.

      “Another great sea loch to paddle on is Loch Carron. A drink in one of the many fine pubs and restaurants in the charming village of Plockton is a great reward for a day out on the sea.”

      Check out our Scottish Sea Kayaking video below, filmed around the Knoydart peninsula on our West Coast Explorer week, and feel what it is like to sea kayak in these pristine waters on a Wilderness Scotland adventure.

      At Wilderness Scotland we offer a range of exciting sea kayaking adventure holidays where you can admire the stunning coastlines of Scotland.

      Feeling inspired to venture out onto the tranquil waters of Scotland on a grand sea kayaking adventure? Check out our range of sea kayaking trips – we offer adventures for beginners and seasoned kayaking enthusiasts alike.

      Meet the Author: Tim Willis

      “Having travelled and enjoyed adventures in much of the world, for Tim there is nowhere more beautiful, dramatic and captivating than home in Scotland. Travel has made Tim realise just how lucky he is to live in a country with so much history, tradition, scenic beauty and incredible accessibility. In his words "It is a total pleasure and a great privilege to host and guide visitors to Scotland each year."”

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