Day 1 – Paddle across Scotland Winter 2020


Day 1 – We arrived in fort William with a day to spare for a reason, prep time. We were well aware that we needed a chance to go over our gear one last time and also prepare the boards as well as our heads for the journey that lay in front of us, rushing this just wasn’t an option. Having some spare time to check out our first landings was also a huge advantage as we knew these would be in the pitch black bays of Loch Linnhe and navigating the shoreline at Caol would be more then difficult with zero visibility.

As the day drew onward the nerves began to creep in and we were all feeling apprehensive about what lay ahead. Every spare moment was spent looking out to the lochs and checking the weather forecasts and tide times. During the afternoon it became apparent that the conditions were worsening and we could see the evidence of this from the hotel window, the clouds began to form out at sea and roll toward land and the wind slowly crept upward until the water was filled with white caps and the hail started lashing down. We always knew that this was a real possibility. During the winter, conditions were never going to be on our side but I think in our heads we were all praying for calm waters on launch morning, however no such luck.

We spent the evening preparing the boards and then headed out to Corran ferry for one last check of the launch point. When we arrived the rain was relentless and looking out into the darkness of loch Linnhe was slightly intimidating. We were all well aware that in a few hours we would be launching from that spot into the abyss like blackness of the night to catch the incoming tide and the weather was showing no signs of letting up. Accepting the inevitable, we headed back to the hotel and tried to grab a few hours sleep before the chaos began and the journey finally got underway.


Is it worth getting up early for a paddle?

Back in March 2019, we were having a few good days of weather, cold in the mornings but heating up nicely through the day. We made the decision to go for an early paddle and watch the sun rise. This all sounds good until you start to look at the sunrise times and what time you need to meet up, what time to get on the water ready for the sun to rise.


We met at 0510 am, so a 04.30 am wake up. Now I really do love my bed and it doesn’t take much for me to make little excuses up in my head why I shouldn’t get up. I was meeting a friend so this helped motivate me, I can’t let Pete down, he knows where I live. The van was loaded up the night before but I didn’t anticipate scraping ice off the windows.

We arrived at the Barbican Plymouth, just a little way up towards the sound. It was still dark but you could see the light starting to show on the horizon. The water was like glass, not a ripple to be seen or anyone else for that matter. We paddled out and headed right towards the Tinside Lido and towards Millbay docks. The sun didn’t disappoint, it rose magnificently glowing a deep red staining the water with a red glow.

The cold fingers, the tired eyes, the early rise was all worth it! Until the next time my friend……