Home » Sea Kayak Expeditions » The Small Isles Expedition

The Small Isles Expedition

6 day expedition The Small Isles Wild camp

What to Expect The Small Isles – Muck, Eigg, Rum and Canna – are a group of islands west of Arisaig. Rich in marine life and with a dramatic coastline of cliffs, sea caves and secluded bays, the Small Isles are a fantastic sea kayaking destination. Exploring them will be our objective on this trip - paddling the open crossings between islands and exploring the wonderful variety of coastline.

This is a true sea kayaking expedition: We will be entirely self sufficient, carrying all the food and equipment we need and paddling in a range of conditions.

Trip Highlights   A six day kayak expedition exploring the islands of Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna, with open crossings between the islands and exposed coastline to explore.

  • Wild island full of individual character and history.
  • Wild camp in spectacular places or stay in bunkhouses/huts in the small settlements on the islands.
  • The islands are rich in wildlife - Eagles and Puffins, Seals and Otters, Dolphins and Whales can all be seen here.
  • A chance to build more advanced sea kayaking expedition experience and improve your skills.


Dates and Prices £760 per person

Scroll down or click to see the trip story or the detailed trip information


Shown as a guide, each trip has its own story, plans are always open to change.

*Leaving Crossing Arriving - Nowadays its almost impossible to know distance, we can compare and equate kilometres and miles and work out timings and routes but it all goes by so fast - the blur of objects passing windows faster than we can realise.

Sitting in a kayak at the edge of the Arisaig Skerries, the bow pointing towards the Isle of Eigg and we can start to think about how far those 12km actually are - a distance that will occupy the next two hours of our effort and time. The small skerries have passed in the detail of crabs scurrying along the sandy seabed or the weave and glide of the kayak between the rocks. Ahead of us is a deep blue - an open space bigger than anything we have ever known.

Mid-way through the crossing we can pause and just float, fully aware of being out at sea - the circling Shearwaters and the dark hump of a Minke Whale showing us welcome flashes of detail framed in the outline of islands.

Those first few steps on dry land, the turn back and the slow squint at the hazy shape of land we have paddled from. Through leaving, crossing and arriving on the island we get to know, really know, how far we have come. Those 12km are mapped not in an abstract number but in our effort and strength, thoughts and feelings, sights and sounds - The first 12km of a slow, purposeful and beautiful journey.

Day One *Leaving Crossing Arriving

| Meet Mallaig

| Sea kayak journey

| Stay - Wild camp

*A Wild Beach at Sunset - The beach lay at the north end of Rum, the Isle of Skye a distant, jagged skyline above the sand and sea. At the top of the beach was small area of dunes and grass where we pitched our tents, now lit up by the low sun.

The evening was still and clear, we had sat together for dinner, sharing the preparation and cooking before dispersing to some part of the beach or headland that caught our curiosity and led us off into the wild. The Red Deer watched us from the hillside above and the Terns darted overhead, screeching down on us if we ventured too close to their nests.

I made my way down to the beach and watched the Oyster catchers. Two pairs of birds scurried across the sand, flew low and piped loudly or watched from the rocks above. As the light faded and the stillness grew, the movement of each bird became a dark shape blurred across the deep glow of the reflected light in the sand and sea.

As the sun dropped below the horizon, we re-grouped on the beach, lit a small fire and shared a wee dram, recounting the days adventures on the sea.

Day Two - Four *A Wild Beach at Sunset

Explore by sea kayak

| Stay - Wild camp

*An Island Home - Arriving at the sandy lagoon between Canna and Sanday and hearing the sound of voices lift over the dunes seemed a little strange after the rhythmic churn of the sea - a little strange but welcome. The crossing to the island tested our skills and nerve as we negotiated the exposed coast of the Isle of Rum, pushing us to use the tactics and experience we'd gained from our time on the sea.

Paddling on past the waterside houses, we land on the small beach in front of a long white building - Cafe Canna, and set about exploring the menu. The afternoon passes on island time - friendly words with the few locals we meet, eagles overhead and footprints in the sand.

That evening our cafe table is stacked with Lobster - landed that afternoon from a local boat and we catch in each others eyes a knowing flash - we have definitely earned this!

Day Five - Six *An Island Home

Explore by sea kayak

| Stay - Wild camp

| Trip ends - Mallaig

Trip Information

Accommodation For this trip we will be wild camping. Tents can be provided (see kit list for full details), if booking as an individual you will not have to share a tent.

Food Includes breakfast and dinner on expedition (excluding meals at cafes). The islands all have shops and there are also good cafes on the islands which we may visit.

Start and Finish Meet at Mallaig at 09.00. Finish at approx 15.00 - 18.00 Mallaig.

Kit List Our expedition kit list applies to this trip. All specialist kayaking equipment and camping equipment can be provided.

Trip Grade This is an expedition style trip, we will paddle variable distances each day depending on conditions but these could include some longer days - we have paddled single long days before on Small Isles trips of up to 40km. An average daily distance would be about 15km -25km. The islands are open to the wind and swell from multiple directions and so it is very likely that we will experience wind and waves at some point in the trip and we may need to paddle in winds of force 4 and 1m waves for sustained amounts of time. The trip also features several long open crossings, up to 14km.

Good paddling fitness is necessary to join this trip - you should be comfortable paddling 25km in a day and being able to hold a paddling speed of 6 km/hour (3 knots) is an essential requirement for joining this trip.


Frequently Asked Questions 

Individuals, couples or small groups of friends. Our Expeditions are only open to over 18's.

Yes - a lot of learning about sea kayaking comes from experience and is best done as individuals on the move and in context. We won't spend time on long instructional briefings or static group skills practice during an expedition but will give you hints and tips on the journey to make it easier for you and suggest improvements to your technique as we go along. We'll help you develop your knowledge and sea kayak handling skill throughout the trip but also allow plenty of time simply to enjoy the journey and the experience of sea kayaking.

The weather on the West coast of Scotland can vary through the course of the season and from area to area - Scottish islands and coastline can see dramatically better weather and more sunshine than more mountainous areas on the West coast. The wind speed and sea state are the primary factors that affect the trip - if the conditions are difficult then we will seek out a more sheltered section of coast to run the trip. You should note that it is very rare that we have to stay off the water on multi-day trips and the vast majority of trips run as planned. For full terms and conditions see the link below. You can read more about the weather/cancellation/booking on our FAQ page.

A 25% deposit is required at the time of booking, the balance is due 11 weeks prior to the trip, for cancellation policy please see our full terms and conditions.

We have a much larger FAQ page that covers all aspects of sea kayak trips with us.

Other Trips to Consider

Full list - Sea Kayak Expeditions