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.
*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 Arisaig or Fort William
| Prepare for the expedition
| 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 - Arisaig or Fort William
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 meals - lunch on day one through to lunch on day 6. We can accommodate any dietary requirements if notified in advance.
START AND FINISH Meet at Fort William at 08.30 or Arisaig at 09.30 (no long term parking available in Arisaig). Finish at approx 15.00 - 18.00 Arisaig, 19.00 Fort William. Full details in trip info. on booking or by request.
GROUP Up to 4 people with one guide, or 8 people with two guides.
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 35km. An average daily distance would be about 20km -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 12km.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Individuals, couples or small groups of friends. This trip is not suitable for families.
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 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 inland. 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.
Midges are most active during mid summer, although it only takes a light breeze or direct sunlight to keep them away and they don't venture out onto the sea so most of the time they are not something we experience a problem with. However, they can be present in mid-summer in still and overcast conditions so bringing a midge head net and some repellent such as smidge (no DEET products allowed) is a necessary precaution.
A 25% deposit is required at the time of booking, the balance is due 6 weeks prior to the trip, for cancellation policy please see our full terms and conditions.
OTHER TRIPS TO CONSIDER
Trip calendar - If you would prefer to view our trips listed by date then we have a full calendar view of our scheduled trips