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Tim’s Top 10 Scottish Sea Kayaking Spots

Posted on Apr 26, 2012 by Sarah Morton

Scotland’s Best Sea Kayaking Locations

Our resident Senior Travel Consultant, Tim Willis, is mad-keen on sea kayaking, you might even say he lives and breathes it!

He’s travelled the globe in search of his next expedition, and has even paddled his way through a few arctic waters, so we’re pretty sure he’s an expert in this field. But, as they say, there’s no place like home and Tim is a regular paddler in Scottish waters.

 

1. Vatersay to 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
  • Why Go: “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

  • 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.
  • Why Go: “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

Sea Kayaking in the Outer Hebridies

  • 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
  • Why Go: “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.”

Read More Inspiring Sea Kayak Blogs

  1. How to Get Fit for Sea Kayaking
  2. Photo Blog – Discovering the Outer Hebrides by Sea Kayak
  3. The Ultimate Sea Kayaking Resource for Beginners
  4. How to Take the Best Photographs on the Water
  5. FILM – Sea Kayaking the West Coast of Scotland
  6. 26 of Our Best Sea Kayaking Photos from Twitter

4. Upper to Lower Loch Torridon

  • WhereNW Highlands
  • Grade: Easy
  • Trip: Introduction to Sea Kayaking Course
  • Features: Surrounded by mountains to the north, all of which are over 3,000ft in height
  • Tide: Often low, generally sheltered and calm
  • Why Go: “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

  • 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.
  • Why Go: “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, steams are fairly negligible
  • Why Go: “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

  • 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, however, high winds can cause large waves
  • Why Go: “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

  • Where: Lochaber
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Trip: The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail Central: The Jacobite Coast
  • Features: Very remote, craggy hillsides, exceptionally tranquil
  • Tide: Generally calm
  • Why Go: “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 indeed in Scotland.”

 

9. The Summer Isles

The Summer Isles - Sea kayaking

  • 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
  • Why Go: “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

  • Where: NW Highlands
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Features: An abundance of mountains and natural harbours, islands and rocky beaches
  • Tide: Reasonably sheltered, tidal streams are fairly negligible
  • Why Go: “Another great sea loch to paddle on is Loch Carron and a drink in one of the many fine pubs and restaurants in the charming village of Plockton, is a great reward for day out on the sea.”

 

We’re sure you’ll agree, any of these locations would make for a truly memorable sea-kayaking trip – it certainly has us thinking ‘where to next?!’ In the meantime, Tim leaves us with his three essential pre-planning tips, which he wouldn’t dream of setting of on an expedition without having carefully researched:

  • Wind forecast
  • Tidal planning
  •  And most importantly – the location of local stores that sell Tim’s favourite sea kayaking treat: double caramel Magnum ice-creams!

Check out our Scottish Sea Kayaking video below, filmed on Loch Torridon with our Introduction to Sea Kayaking week, and feel what it is like to sea kayak in the calm 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.

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