Hello, my name is Mal Tabb.
Thanks for visiting our web pages. Marion & I operate a small outdoor activity organisation called Canoes, Mountains & Caves. We provide activities for: adults, young people, schools, charities, families & individuals. A key aspect of our work is the provision of a "Community Programme" which is offered free of charge to participants. If you think we might be able to help please don't hesitate to contact us, you can find out more about what we do on our main website www.canoesmountainscaves.com

Monday, 10 June 2013

Open Canoe Expedition

Alan Rainford & myself headed north last week with a group of seven adults for a four day trip by open canoe in the Loch Morar area. The journey up from Cumbria was long but relatively uneventful & we arrived at the west end of the loch on a fine sunny but windy evening.

On the water by about half five, the wind did indeed have a role to play in the evening's paddle. At force 4+ north westerly we were forced to stay close to the northern shore of the loch and paddle deep inyo bays in order to enjoy the lee offered by the high ground. A couple of hours in the boats saw us arrive at our first, beach, camp site.
Bed Under the Boat

An array of overnight options had been selected by those in the group - mainly tents but with Alan & myself choosing to sleep underneath our boats. Evening meals were cooked together around the fire & then a first for me on expedition - Brendan had brought a music quiz with him - it was a good evening.

The following morning saw fine weather & we continued our journey east up the loch.

One possibility had always been for us to portage across to Loch Nevis & make our exit back to Mallaig by sea. We assessed the portage, helping a solo paddler shift her bags & boat across, before deciding that with a worsening weather forecast for Friday - it was best to forego the sea based return & stay on Loch Morar. As such after lunch in the sun we continued, with a freshening wind at our backs towards the Oban Bothy. The last hour of this paddle turned into something quite exhilirating as we surfed fully laden boats towards the beach.

We were all able to cook outside in the sunshine before the second evening's entertainment - Brendan's pub quiz!

The next morning was an early start & the promised deterioration in the weather had not arrived, in fact as we paddled east along the loch things were looking good. We decided to make an open crossing, deliberately, at the widest point. This went well, however, as we completed it the first indications of the change in conditions began to materialise and within an hour we were paddling into a force 5-6 headwind and progress became painfully slow. After one or two forced stoppages where gusting wind made time on the water too dangerous to consider plus a period of lining the boats along a long stretch of beach we finally arrived at the bay opposite the islands towarts the western end of the loch - 12 hours of paddling to travel a linear distance of less than 12 miles. 

We stopped and cooked again at the bay in improving conditions & after much deliberation decided to make the final crossing between the islands back to where we had started from.

Thankfully, conditions continued to settle & the final paddle was ultimately made in good weather. Back at our start point - fire in again - and time to enjoy one last night in the wilderness.

We had a great Team for the week:

Ian & Emma; Sara; Brendan & Andy; Paul & James - Mr Rainford & Mr Tabb!!

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