Canoe on calm loch

The Inaugural Otter Canoe Adventure

When Loch Sunart is completely still, it makes it easy to spot the otter that regularly fishes near the jetty. Right on cue for the very first canoe adventure of ‘Otter Adventures’, he appeared. Just as we were getting our waterproof jackets, buoyancy aids and paddles sorted by the jetty, he popped up.

We sat watching him feed for a while before remembering that we too wanted to enjoy this beautiful day from on the water.

And so, the first canoe adventure on Loch Sunart as ‘Otter Adventures’ began.

Canoe launching from jetty
The jetty just two minutes walk from our base makes for easy access to the water

Getting the canoes on and off the trailers is a job that requires teamwork and one that we ask every capable adult to help with. However, once they are on the trolleys we have, they are pretty easy to move around and children can wheel them on short journeys as this twelve-year old boy (above) demonstrates.

Our aim for our first half-day canoe adventure was to see how long it would take to get from the office, to the jetty, past the mouth of the Strontian River (Abhain Sron An T-Sithien) and along the loch to Ardnastang beach. We also hoped to see a seal (or two), another otter and possibly a pod of harbour porpoise. However these are not usually seen until early evening and during the summer months.

A Perfect Start

While we set off in perfectly calm, if cool, conditions before light rain came in spattering growing concentric rings across the loch. this was followed by  a rainbow above Strontian:

Canoeing under a rainbow
Raindrops on the water and rainbow over Loch Sunart

So many things we love about open canoeing are captured in this picture: the peacefulness of the journey, the reflections (both in the water and in thought), the time to soak in the surroundings, and so much more.

Reflection of young canoeist
A thoughtful youth reflected in the waters of Loch Sunart

(Natural) Treasure Hunting

Ardnastang Beach is the closest one to Strontian and is best approached from the water by canoe or kayak (or even wild swimming!)

Here you can find all sorts of treasures: muscles, oyster catchers, hermit crabs (below). We even found a fish new to us, what we think was a Long-spined sea scorpion (Taurulus bubbles)!

Hermit crab
Natural treasures can be discovered on almost every beach and pool – if you look hard enough!
Long-spined sea scorpion fish
Is this a Long-spined Sea Scorpion lurking in a small rock pool?

Homeward Bound

The little rain we had added to the experience by providing mesmerising texture to the otherwise flat water surface. It certainly never dampened our enthusiasm! Otter Adventures had provided us with high quality waterproofs designed for canoeing and our welly boots kept our feet dry and warm.

Homeward bound from a canoe adventure
Heading home after a family canoe adventure on Loch Sunart

On the journey home from our canoe adventure we looked towards Garbh Bheinn (The Rough Mountain). From on the water we really got a sense of just how big the landscape is! We are spoilt in this part of the Highlands of Scotland with mountains, forests and ample water to paddle  . Most of the routes to the summit require some element of scrambling – it is not generally a straightforward walk!

It also started thoughts of land-based adventures that are yet to come…