Boats and Bothies

After a few weeks in the Cairngorms, Arron and I drove across Scotland to Oban on the West Coast. There we met up with our friends Mimi and Sophie for a paddling adventure from Taynuilt, down Loch Etive to Cadderlie bothy. We didn’t know it but boy, were we in for a treat!

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After settling ourselves in Oban and catching up with Mimi and Sophie over a Wetherspoons tea, the idea of a paddling trip became our main conversation. Sophie knew we could get hold of some immersion suits so we could fight through the bitter Scottish cold, and she also had access to two open canoes, so the plan was born!

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The next day, we drove to Taynuilt from Oban, pulled on our immersion suits and jumper in the open boats in the late afternoon. We would lose light quickly but we chose a clear weather window and we all had head torches, so we knew we’d be fine. We paddled for a couple of hours through the calm waters and kept an eye out for the local wildlife. We were treated to a deer rehydrating on the banks of the loch, a couple of otters playing in the shallows and even a seal or two! As night started to close in, we paddled with more urgency to the little bothy’s hiding place on the hillside. We wanted to be in with the fire on and dinner cooking before night really fell. We pulled our canoes up onto the banks and out of the way of the water and then hiked all of our belongings up to the bothy. (The only problem with canoes is that they let you pack A LOT, and then you have to carry it to your destination once the water runs out. Tired arms from paddling plus lots of heavy things to carry isn’t the best combination!)

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We cosied up in the bothy and ended up with our own room, the other travellers choosing to band together by the fire in the neighbouring room. This meant that we could spread out our things, play card games to our heart’s content and choose our favourite spots to sleep for the night. It was barely 8pm when we decided to call it a night, practically buzzing with excitement for the next full day of paddling and exploring the beautiful Loch Etive.

Morning rose crisp and bright, and the loch was surreal in its stillness. The mountains of Glencoe reflected in the mirror of the water and we were all awestruck at the brilliance of the view. We brewed up some coffee to chase away the headaches of the evening before’s alcohol consumption and had a hearty breakfast of oats and jam, before putting out the fire and lugging our things back to the boats.

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The rest of the day was spent totally dazzled by the stillness and fierce, calm beauty of the landscape that surrounded us. It was the kind of day that cannot really be described with words; there aren’t the words that quite do the majesty of Loch Etive justice. So I shall end this post with a couple of photos, and they can do all of the talking.

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