A late winter family canoe adventure
One of the joys of living in Otterburn Bed and Breakfast on the edge of Strontian and so close to Loch Sunart is that we look from the head of the loch as far as Laudale and can watch storms coming in from the west as dark skies creep towards us before lashing our house with heavy rain drops!
At the other end of the scale we are often able to sit and watch otters fishing and eating from our front window. On a number of occasions we have been privileged to be able to stand within meters of them watching, and listening for they are not especially quite eaters, to then devouring numerous crustaceans and fish.
It just so happens that the morning of our half-day canoe journey with Otter Adventures was one of the latter and we stood looking not at approaching storms but at the mountains of Morvern reflected in the mirror calm waters of Loch Sunart.
Today we were graced with the presence of our local otter as we embarked on a family adventure in canoes to Ardnastang Beach.
Was this to be a good omen for the day?
With the otter’s appetite sated and excitement levels growing in our group, ‘he’ disappeared and our desire to get on the water took over.
With canoes gliding us almost effortlessly through mirror-like water, we were mesmerised by the passing clouds. Not the ones in the sky, but those reflected in the water. The feelings of peace and tranquillity cutting through undisturbed water brings cannot be described and only comes from human powered modes of transport and even then, only with slow ones.
And then it rained!
Not the big heavy ‘bombs’ of the storms that occasionally move in from the west, but an occasional patter on the surface of the loch. Enough to create concentric circles of tiny waves that grow and merge with their neighbours, hypnotising us from under the hoods of our paddling jackets.
The rain could do nothing to dent out enthusiasm on this beautiful journey especially when, as we passed the mouth of the Strontian River, the appearance of a rainbow over the village added to our feelings of fulfilment.
Before we reached Ardnastang Beach, which is best approached by boat, the light rain had cleared away leaving the loch calm and peaceful once again. It also encouraged us to stop and drink our tea on the beach before searching for ‘natural treasures’ in the pools and under the seaweed and explore the little promontory of Eilean a’ Mhuirich (the tide was out and it wasn’t an island today).
Numerous crabs scuttled away from us, the mussels couldn’t. Oyster catches and gulls came in to land on a normally deserted beach, saw us and rapidly flew away again. We found a very odd looking fish that felt sitting still would mean we couldn’t see it! Well, we did and, although we are not sure, it was probably a Long-spined Scorpion fish the likes of which we had never seen before!
And then it happened!
The journey back to the jetty and home again is usually much quieter than the journey out. The anticipation dies away and people get lost in their thoughts and embed the memories of the day spent with family and friends into the consciousness forever.
The opportunities that even short journeys such as this create for connecting with nature are vast; no matter what your age or experience you can find something about the experience that you’ll want to share over dinner in the evening.
Once everyone had helped return their equipment to Otter Adventures HQ and changed into less ‘adventurous’ clothes, we were all rewarded with a beautiful sunset lighting up the early evening sky almost as if it were competing with the otter and the rainbow!
A suitable reward for our efforts on the loch and a fitting end to our half‑day adventure in wonderland…