Sea kayaking is one of the best ways to explore the magnificence of the west coast of Scotland. Rich in wildlife, stunning coastline, sheltered waters, islands, beaches, and more, offering everything you might want from a world class kayaking destination.
The Argyll Sea Kayak Trail is 150km in length and offers some of the best sea kayaking in Europe. The route takes you along some of Scotland’s most scenic coastlines, and provides both beginners and the experienced kayaker an exciting and rewarding trip. Running from Ganavan Sands, up near Oban, down to Helensburgh, the Trail is split into eight sections, with various entry points. The closest entry point to Loch Melfort is right on our doorstep, round at Arduaine. You could either start your trip from here, or if you are starting your route further north you could stop in at Loch Melfort for a rest and a hot meal!
There are two short trips you could do starting from Arduaine that only cover part of the Trail.
The first is paddling from Arduaine to Ellenabeich, heading up the west coast. From the access point at Arduaine, paddle all the way across Asknish Bay to the far point of the bay, and head to Eileen Gamhna. From here, you can either choose to paddle round the south or north end of Torsa. If you want to paddle round the south end, paddle to the small islet of Scoul Eileen and then round Torsa; if you want to paddle round the north end, head to Degnish Point and then round the north end – both routes are the same distance. The southern route takes you through the narrows between Luing and Torsa, whilst the northern route gives you views into the Seil Sound.
After navigating Torsa you will head into the Cuan Sound, but because of ferry movements in the area please be cautious of other boats. After this section, follow the coastline up past Henderson’s Rock, and head towards Easdale Sound, where you will spot a ferry pier – the egress point is just beyond this.
The second possible route starts at Arduaine, heading down the west coast to Crinan.
The trail takes you along the coast down past Craobh Haven and a number of bays where you could easily stop if you needed a rest or wanted to do some exploring. Paddling round the end of the Craignish Peninsula, the infamous Dorus Mor is just round the corner. This stretch of water has very strong tidal flows, and can be very dangerous. This route should only be attempted by those who are suitably experienced, with careful planning necessary to allow safe passage. Keep in mind that you might need to delay your crossing until appropriate tidal or weather conditions are present.
If you do not want to attempt this section then an alternative land route is available. Find a suitable place to egress the water on the shore of Loch Beag, and follow the road to Kirkton, where you can then access Loch Craignish. Once successfully navigated, whether by land or sea, head towards Liath-sgeir Mhor and continue into Loch Crinan. You will then be able to spot the egress point, which is a slipway opposite Crinan Ferry. From here you can head to the Crinan Canal.
These are only suggested routes – numerous deviations do exist. You should check the Paddle Argyll website for more details and help with planning your route, they provide grid coordinates as well.
You should ensure that you are well prepared before heading off on your trip, and check that you have all of the necessary equipment. Bring a reliable form of communication too, and let someone know when you leave and what your estimated time of arrival at your next destination will be. Make sure to be considerate and respectful of the wildlife we are lucky to have here on the west coast, especially the birds which nest along the shore lines during the summer months.