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I went to Scotland's north west coast, to paddle the 'Small Islands'' area near Skye with an old friend from UK. Very nice scenery, and great camping comfort, but the weather went bad on day two and worse on day 4. I spent 36 hours on day 4 into 5 in my tent at a camp on Rum to weigh it down from blowing away in what the Coast Guard weather report on my vhf called force 7 out of the south west, visibility poor, seas rough. Early on day 5 we paddled 25 miles from our camp at Kilmory on north end of Rum, back to at Arisaig. The wind hit force 9 gale on day 6, but we were drinking in Edinburgh by then. Arisaig is near Fort William, the heart of the mountain climbing area with Ben Nevis at over 4000 feet. Its all Rob Roy McGregor country.

I at least became familiar with the area and know what I'd do next time. The waters are generally friendly as they are guarded by the Outer Hebrides that were clearly visible on the horizon on clear days. The SW wind did drive some big swells between the islands. A huge long wave shape, you could have paddled with no spray skirt but they were over head. The topography is dramatic, so land masses are visible for long distances. You need some navigation skills in thick fog, but its hard to miss a 10 mile wide island from 7 miles away.

some photos in slide show


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