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News, stories and observations from the Paddle Lochaber Team.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Other Activities- Part Two- Ocean Explorer Centre


We've been enjoying some amazing Sea Kayaking and Stand Up Paddling in Glencoe over the last few months. However with a visit from two twelve year old relatives in July Mark and Lindsay at Paddle Lochaber took a rare rainy afternoon off to visit the Ocean Explorer Centre at the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) at Dunstaffnage, just outside Oban. 

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The Ocean Explorer Centre opened in 2013, and aims to gives visitors a greater awareness and understanding of the marine system and the challenges it faces. The centre is certainly informative, and although it looks small at first the centre makes great use of the space with a range of interactive displays, hands on activities, oral information and films all about recent scientific research. 

For younger children there is lots to keep them entertained, including an artic polar bear tunnel, and a small area of tables with toys,  colouring in and some gorgeous sea shells. Despite being a little bit too old, Lindsay and Logan had a go in the tunnel, and made it through unscathed! 

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The technology in the centre is brilliant and being with our two youngsters Logan and Scott really responding to the interactive displays. Being able to control an underwater camera and hydrophone was great fun and we spotted a Jelly Fish right away! 

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We took a trip to the Café Scientific while we were there which is great for a cuppa and a cake. 

If the weather is dry it is worth visiting Dunstaffnage Castle overlooking the Firth of Lorn, right next to the research centre. The castle is owned by Historic Scotland and one of the oldest stone buildings in Scotland, probably being built around 1220. The stronghold of the MacDougals; the castle has a really interesting history. It was famously besieged by Robert the Bruce, during the wars of Independence in 1308 and Flora MacDonald is known to have been imprisoned in the castle after helping 'bonnie' prince Charlie to escape in 1746. 

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Dunstaffnage is just a 40 minute drive from Ballachulish. With great coastal scenery on the way and a number of great places to stop for lunch including Poppies, and The View Café we think the Ocean Explorer Centre is well worth a look. :)


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Monday, April 7, 2014

Other Activities in Glencoe- Part One- SeaXplorer!

Once you have been Sea Kayaking, Sit on Top Kayaking and Stand Up Paddling with Paddle Lochaber you might be a little tired out- but if you're not there are lots of other fun things to do in the Glencoe and Loch Leven area!

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 Myself and Lindsay, along with some of Lindsay's colleagues from NTS Glencoe (another great place to visit that we'll cover in a later blog), recently went for a trip on SeaXplorer's newest craft the 'Glencoe Xplorer'. This is one of two large RIBs owned by SeaXplorer, the other is based in Fort William, both can comfortably carry 12 passengers.

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Our skipper was company owner Paul who has lived in this area for over twenty years and has a wealth of knowledge about its history, which he shared with the group as he toured us around Loch Leven. Along the way we saw seals and sea birds, Paul also pulled up one of his creels for us to have a look in.

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SeaXplore run regular trips throughout the season from both Fort William and Ballachulish, the Ballachulish trips run from the opposite side of the Isles of Glencoe Hotel from Paddle Lochaber. For more information visit their website or call on 01855 413203.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Kayak communication - staying in touch while out for a float

A Variety Of Communication Devices

After my recent blog article about VHF Radio for Sea Kayakers our friends over at sitons.com asked if I could write something for them on different communication methods available for kayakers. You can read the full article here.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

VHF Radio for Sea Kayakers

In the modern world we are becoming more and more connected to those around us, sometimes to our detriment.  It is therefore tempting to completely disconnect from our communication devices when we head out on our sea kayaking adventures.  However, there are a few instances on the water where being connected to the outside water might help.  In this article we will look at one of the most ubiquitous communication devices on our seas, the VHF Radio.

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Mike checking in with the Coastguard

Radio has been used at sea since the early 20thcentury but it was the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Convention of 1914, in response to the Titanic disaster, which saw its use standardised and regulated.  Today’s VHF sets have come a long way since those early units which relied on Morse code but the principle remains the same- any one vessel or shore station can communicate with all those around it, who can in turn relay messages further than the original station could have.

Why not just use a mobile phone?
Many paddlers will routinely carry a mobile phone on the water, they probably already own one and only need to purchase a waterproof case to take it on the water safely.  At less than twenty pounds for a good waterproof phone case compared to one to two hundred pounds for a hand held VHF, it is definitely a tempting option.  In some locations with good mobile reception and for paddlers who stay close to shore a mobile phone may be all they need, however the majority of sea kayakers should consider the use of both mobile phones and VHF Radio.

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Keith rescuing a sea kayak, the aerial of his VHF can be seen sticking out of his BA pocket  

A mobile phone with a ‘roaming’ SIM card, which can connect to multiple networks (a 999 or 112 call from a mobile is able to roam to any available network regardless of the type of SIM card but a SIM card must be fitted), can be of excellent use in calling home, reporting in to the Coastguard or getting an up to date forecast.  Of course the last two functions can be achieved with a VHF radio but most will find it more comfortable to talk on a phone when discussing route planning etc with the Coastguard.  Also use of a phone will allow you to get the forecast you like rather than just the Inshore waters or Shipping forecast issued by the Met Office and available from the Coastguard.

On the sea VHF Radio has a few key advantages, most important is that your transmissions may be received my multiple VHF users.  National and International regulations make it a requirement for many vessels, although not kayaks, to monitor VHF Channel 16 (the International Distress, Safety and Calling channel).  If, for example, in an emergency your transmission is not received by a Coastguard linked shore station it may be received by another vessel who could relay it to the Coastguard.  Also, other vessels hearing that you are in distress may be able to offer more immediate assistance than the Coastguard.  On the other hand, it is worth noting that if the Coastguard received a distress call via mobile phone they would then broadcast that fact via VHF radio, allowing the same vessels to offer assistance albeit by a slightly more convoluted method.

Another advantage of VHF Radio is the ability for the rescue services to pinpoint your location via a process known as direction finding.  Radio Direction Finding (RDF) is possible via the Coastguards shore stations, which can be used to approximate your location, and by equipment carried on most classes of RNLI Lifeboats and Search and Rescue Helicopters who can effectively use your transmissions as a homing beacon.  A similar process is possible via your mobile phone but relies on your transmission being picked up by multiple masts and can’t be used in the same way to home in on you by Lifeboats or helicopters.

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The RDF terminal on an RNLI Atlantic class ILB [source: http://www.haylinglifeboats.org.uk/ 01/02/14]

As well as the two major safety considerations above, VHF Radio allows you to access weather forecasts, communicate within a large group or between multiple groups of paddlers in the same location.  In some places, like at the ‘Old Forge’ in Knoydart (on Channel 12), you can even use VHF radio to arrange a dinner reservation!

How do I choose a VHF Radio?
VHF Radios generally fall into two categories, fixed sets or handheld.  The former is intended for permanent mounting on a large boat, requiring an external aerial and power source, it is therefore of no use to a sea kayaker.  Handheld VHF radios are self-contained units with a built in aerial and power source, they are what we need as sea kayakers.

When searching for a handheld VHF radio you will be presented with a bewildering assortment of options, not limited to; floating, DSC (Digital Selective Calling), built in GPS, various battery types, waterproof and a selection of wattages.  At first glance the idea of a floating set makes sense, however this feature was designed for sailors who don’t have the advantage of wearing a nice buoyancy aid with pockets.  Simply tying your radio to your buoyancy aid and putting it in a pocket removes the need for a floating set.  Floating radios, by their nature, will be slightly larger than non-floating counterparts meaning they may take up more valuable space in your pocket.

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My Icom M73 is tied to my BA

Waterproof radios will always be more expensive than non-waterproof variants. It is possible to use a waterproof case but you should consider how easy it is to use the unit inside the case, controls which must be rotated can be very tricky.  Given the demands of our sport it may be more sensible to purchase a waterproof set. Waterproofed electronics are given a standardised rating known as an IP rating, generally either IPX7 or IPX8.  IPX8 is more waterproof than IPX7 but both should be appropriate for a sea kayaker.

Some cheaper VHF Radios use Ni-Cad, or similar, batteries that need to be discharged and charged in a specific way to have a reasonable lifespan.  Li-Ion, or similar, batteries can withstand irregular charging and are more suited to leisure use allowing you to top up the battery between trips even though it is not depleted.  Li-Ion battery powered radios do tend to be more expensive but the battery may have a longer useful life.

A further consideration is the power output which is referred to in watts.  It is true that the limiting factor for the distance a handheld radio can transmit is more often the height of its aerial and not its output power.  However, a higher output may make for a clearer transmission which might make all the difference when giving that barely pronounceable Gaelic place name.

Digital Selective Calling or DSC was approved by Ofcom for use in handheld VFH Radios in late 2010 and we have seen a few radios introduced taking advantage of the system.  DSC has been available on fixed VHF sets for some time and is routinely used by commercial and some leisure craft. The system has a variety of features, a lot of which are of little use to a sea kayaker, but it is the ability to integrate a GPS has made sea kayakers take note.  DSC, as part of the wider Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), allows for operators to effectively send a text message, with included coordinates from a built in or connected GPS, notifying other users of their distress.  The distress message is activated by simply pushing a red button and selecting the type of distress.

In the DSC enabled Handheld VHFs currently on the market most seem to include an integrated GPS.  The GPS can be used as a normal GPS, albeit with limited functionality, however as anyone with a GPS enabled camera or smartphone will tell you, GPS receivers can be power hungry.  This is an exciting technology and definitely one to watch but it might not give the sort of battery life you’d need on an extended expedition.

IC M91DHandheld VHF With DSC
The IC-M91D with built in DSC/GPS [source: http://www.icomuk.co.uk/]

Do I need a license?
In the UK the use of radio equipment is regulated by Ofcom who require that all Ships Portable Radios (i.e. Marine Handheld VHF radio) are licensed and operated by, or under the supervision of, a qualified person.  The good news is the licence is free but there is a fee attached to the operators qualification which is run by the Royal Yachting Association.  Gaining the required Short Range Certificate (SRC) qualification involves attending a course which covers everything from routine calling through to distress signals and use of DSC enabled equipment.  Incorrect use of VHF equipment can cause disruption to other leisure, commercial and rescue users, gaining appropriate training is vital.  You can find more details on the RYA website at www.rya.org.uk


Carrying a VHF radio is not the solution to all possible sea kayaking problems but is one arrow in your quiver which may prove useful from time to time.  When purchasing one have a good think about where you are paddling and what you might need it for.  A top of the range, non-DSC, radio will cost less than £200, which might seem a lot but consider how little that will seem if you ever have to use it in an emergency.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kayak Coaching (& 3 Star Assessment) with Paddle Lochaber

In our first guest blog, Neil from EEKCC talks about his experiences of being coached by Mark and Keith during Paddle Lochaber courses and the effect it has had on his paddling. 

"I have had the pleasure of paddling with Mark & Keith McKerral of Paddle Lochaber on three occasions over the last two years.

Both guys have a very relaxed way of getting their ideas and skills across to you; in a way that helps you take it in, apply it and remember it.

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Neil's first visit on a cold December Weekend

My first coaching experience with Paddle Lochaber was in December two years ago when about fourteen of us from Eastwood & East Kilbride Canoe Club had a thoroughly enjoyable and educational weekend. On the Saturday we covered a wide range of skills. Some were new to me, as I had only taken up kayaking the previous year. But for new or existing skills the Paddle Lochaber coaches ensured we not only learned the techniques, but understood their importance and the circumstances in which they may be required.  For sure, we were all performing them much better by the end of the day.

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Playing the 'How many paddlers can we add to the tow before he notices' game!

On the Sunday, with a fair bit of bounce on the water, we were taken out around Shuna and down the west side of Lismore. This was my first experience of diagonals, and they were coming at me pretty quick and heavy. I have to admit they were something I had been a bit worried about tackling and in the beginning, I wasn’t handling them very well. Seeing my considerable discomfort, one of the coaches stayed close by and talked me through the initial discomfort period. Before the end of the day I was perfectly comfortable with them.

We had the chance to apply several other key sea skills during that day. By the time I sat down, rather stiffly, in the pub that night, I realised I was on my way to becoming a decent paddler.

As a long term sufferer from arthritis and with very bad knees, I lost much of 2012 following a full knee replacement operation.  It was therefore into 2013 before my friend Brian and I decided to sign up for another weekend at Lochaber in the October, with the aim of going for our 3 Star Certificate.

We used that spring and summer to add to our skills with help from more experienced paddlers within EEKCC, but had no doubts that a weekend with the McKerrals would be sure to hone those skills and tackle any bits of the syllabus we were  at all dodgy on.  And so it turned out.

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Brian playing with paddling close to the rocks

Keith took us through every aspect of the 3 Star syllabus over the two days. He was able to teach us refinements to the skills we already had, both by explaining a technique then demonstrating it until we were performing it almost as well as him.

Keith's exercise on towing was particularly enlightening. I had practiced all aspects of rescues and towing, but never quite in the way I was about to. First he told me that a colleague, behind me, was in trouble and needed towed. I got back to the other boat, secured it and began to tow it out of trouble when he yelled that another boat (off to my right) was in trouble and I had to drop the initial tow and go to the aid of the third boat. As soon as I released the initial tow (and told the guy in that boat what I was doing), I headed for the third boat. Keith let me get about 15 metres from the initial boat when he yelled again “OK, someone else has rescued him, go back and pick up the initial tow again.”  This flurry of activity all happened within about two minutes and was a brilliant way to understand just what might be required of you in tough sea conditions; far better than practicing each element in isolation.

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The start of the lumpy water

I am happy to share an experience I had towards the end of the second day’s coaching. I was demonstrating my hi-brace for Keith who said “It’s OK Neil, you’re doing it, but it would be so much better if you would relax. Your shoulders and neck are way too tense.”  He then demonstrated a very relaxed series of five consecutive hi-braces, right, left, right etc. And made it look so easy.  I hadn't thought about it before, but he was right, I was very stiff and tense.

I took on board what Keith had shown me and by the following weekend, I had improved my technique beyond recognition and was doing hi-braces, left and right in consecutive sets of ten.  I have also always found rotation during efficient forward paddling to be quite difficult, mainly because at 63 and with my arthritis, duff knees and one duff hip, I am not as flexible as the younger paddlers. Keith filmed my motion, made a few critical suggestions and while I am not the smoothest of rotators, I am 100% better than I was prior to his input.

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Rescues in sheltered conditions

When it came to our 3 Star Assessment by Mark McKerral (two weeks after the weekend with Keith) Brian and I expected a tough, tense, perhaps stressful day of stern examination in 3 Star seas. What we did not expect was that we would enjoy it so much, surprisingly, from start to finish.  I put this down to a combination of two things –

  1. a new found confidence in our abilities after our weekend with Keith and    
  2. Mark’s very relaxed ‘pre-match’ talk. He put us both completely at ease and I believe it showed, throughout the five hours of our assessment, in the confident way we tackled everything he asked of us.

As is often the case in Bonnie Scotland, we experienced just about every variation of wind, wave, temperature and visibility that day but were unfazed by any of it and, after our ‘wet work’ in a bay near Castle Stalker, we turned around a headland and into the biggest waves I have ever faced, compounded by sizeable clapotis coming in from our right, for the final mile or so back to the take out.

Thanks to the efforts of Keith and Mark, it was clear, from a couple of sideways glances between us, that Brian and I loved this final challenge.

If you are considering a coaching session with Paddle Lochaber, I can only say, based on my three experiences . . . . . DO IT!"

If you would like to find out how Paddle Lochaber can help your paddling please have a look at the courses on our website or get in touch to ask us to put something together just for you, your club or group.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year, a New Paddling Adventure...

Looking forward to 2014 is an exciting prospect for us at Paddle Lochaber. In 2013 we led the first of our overnight expeditions, took forward a new paddlesport, Stand Up Paddling as well as continuing our sea kayaking adventures and courses. Oh I almost forgot, Lindsay and Mark got Married, making it a very busy year.

2014 is the year of Homecoming, celebrating what is great about Scotland, and we'd certainly like to celebrate the opportunities we have for some great paddling adventures in some of the best coastline and lochs that the West Coast of Scotland has to offer.

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This month, Mark, Keith and Mike, who are already qualified open canoe coaches, will start working towards gaining the next level of BCU open canoe coaching qualification. We are really excited about spending more time canoeing and looking forward to sharing our adventures with you.

Sea Kayak Mist


We are really looking forward to some great sea kayaking, and will be aiming to get to some beautiful locations including Loch Leven, Loch Etive, Arisaig and Knoydart. We'll be running several trips and BCU courses for those who are looking to improve their skills.

Our half day sea kayak trips continue to be our most popular activity, and we love taking people out to enjoy the wildlife and scenery at Loch Leven, near Glencoe, while introducing many to Sea Kayaking for the first time.

We'll be keeping you upto date with all our adventures here and on facebook.

Hope to see you on the water.


Mark and Lindsay

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Paddle Lochaber's Top 10 Christmas Gifts

Christmas is almost here so I thought I'd list my top ten Christmas gifts.  Enjoy!

10. Palm Aleutian/ Lofoten drysuit

The Aleutian drysuit has been around for a while now, it is one of the few drysuits around that has been designed with sea kayaker in mind.  Palm have replaced the normal latex neck gasket with a GlideSkin neck which is much more comfortable when worn for long periods and added a large, easy to adjust, hood.  Other notable features include a fleece hand warmer and relief zip.

AT150 Aleutian Saffron Front
Palm Aleutian Drysuit
The Lofoten is new for 2014, it is a female specific version of the Aleutian.  The suit has largely the same features as the Aleutian but the relief zip has been replaced with a drop seat zip.  If you are looking for a gift for someone who would like to paddle all year round the Aleutian or Lofoten drysuits are definitely the way to go.



AT160 Lofoten Womens Saffron Front
Palm Lofoten Drysuit

9. Venture Islay Sit On Top

The Islay Sit on Top was announced earlier this year and will be Venture’s first foray into the touring Sit on Top market.  Venture’s parent company, Pyranha, have been importing the FeelFree Sit on Tops that Paddle Lochaber use for years so clearly understand this market well.  The most exciting feature of the Islay will be its ‘Skudder’, a combination skeg and rudder.  Rudders are common on Touring Sit on Tops but we've never seen one with a skeg before.

We are really looking forward to getting hold of one of these soon.  The Venture Islay Sit on Top will make a great first boat for someone looking explore sheltered waters.
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Venture Islay SoT


8. Olympus Tough TG-830 Waterproof Camera

We have been using the Olympus Tough TG-830 for most of this year, it is a fantastic little compact waterproof camera that has produced some of the fantastic images we have used on our website, Facebook page and in our printed material.  The camera is waterproof enough to live in a buoyancy aid pocket, its GPS sensor will record where your photos were taken and it can record HD movies.

An Olympus Tough would be a perfect gift for someone who would like to record their sea kayaking adventures.
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7. McMurdo Fast Find PLB 220

PLBs or Personal Locator Beacons have been around for a while but have just recently dropped in price to a point where they are affordable for recreational users.  The PLB is an accurate and reliable way of raising the alarm if the worst happens.  When activated it transmits your GPS coordinates to the Coastguard via satellite, who can then arrange your rescue.  Because the device uses satellite it will work anywhere and is not limited by the reception issues associated with mobile phones or VHF radio.

The Fast Find 220 is waterproof and small enough to carry in a buoyancy aid pocket.  PLBs have also recently been approved for non-marine use, so could be used by hill walkers too.  It would be a perfect for any loved one you worry about getting in to trouble on their adventures.
Mcmurdo 220 Front


6. Icom M73EURO VHF Radio

Paddle Lochaber guides always carry a VHF radio when on the water, we use them for talking to each other, other water users and the Coastguard.  We have spent a lot of time looking at the various models on the market and have decide the M73EURO is the best unit for sea kayaking.  The unit is one of the most powerful and waterproof available.  It is compact enough to be carried in a buoyancy aid and Icom have excellent UK based support.

An Icom M73EURO would make an ideal gift for someone who sea kayaks regularly.
Ic M73euro



5. Red Paddle Co. Explorer

The Explorer is a 12’6” inflatable SUP from Red Paddle Co., Paddle Lochaber have had one for the past month and have had a few fantastic trips on it.  The board is one of the most solid feeling inflatables we have paddled.  Forget any thoughts you might have of inflatable lilos this is a seriously well engineered bit of kit, Red use the latest drop stitch technology to produce something a casual observer would never know is inflatable.

At 12’6” long and 32” the Explorer has a good glide and is really stable.  It is perfect for coastal exploring and downwind paddling.  There are two big advantages of inflatable SUPs over hardboards, first they are a lot tougher and secondly they can easily pack down for storage.  The Explorer packs down into a supplied rucksack, it also comes with a repair kit and pump.

The Explorer would be a perfect gift for someone looking for their next big adventure.


4. P&H Aries with Sailing Rig

The Aries is a development of the hugely successful Delphin roto moulded boat from P&H.  The composite Aries is available in a diolen or Carbon Kevlar constructions and has been available for a few years.  The exciting development though is the new sailing rig.  Working with Flat Earth Sails, P&H have developed skeg which is fitted just forward of the cockpit and works like a sailing dinghies centreboard, allowing the Aries to sail as close as 45 degrees to the wind.

The new set up is available as an optional extra on new boats or as a retrofit to older boats.  We saw it at Paddle 2013- Scotland's Canoe and Kayak Show, it looks awesome!  This would make a great gift for an experienced sea kayaker looking for a new thrill.
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3. GoPro Hero 3

We have had a GoPro Hero 2 for a while now, we have used it to produce some excellent still images and video.  The big draw to GoPro for us is the versatility of their camers, they can be used to record movies, a single image, a series of images in quick succession or a series of time lapsed images.

The Hero 3 offers lots more exciting features, like WiFi connectivity, and even sharper images.  We'd really like to get our hands on one of these!  This would make a great gift for... well anyone how enjoys the outdoors!
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2. Palm Rivertec Mitt

You might have noticed that it has started to get a little cooler out on the water?  These fantastic mitts from Palm attach to your paddle to provide protection for your hands.  The outside is a wind and waterproof material and the inside is lovely soft fleece.  The big advantage these paddle mitts (sometimes called pogies) have over gloves is that your hands are still directly on the paddle inside allowing for fine control.

Paddle mitts are a must for anyone who wants to paddle all year round.
MS006 RiverTec Mitts Front Lg


1. Paddle Lochaber Gift Voucher!

Is there someone in your life that you know would love paddling but has never given it a go?  Or maybe someone who has been bitten by the paddling bug but is in need of a little more tuition?  A Paddle Lochaber Gift Voucher would be the perfect gift for them.  You can purchase a gift voucher for any of our trips or courses and they are valid for 12 months.  Vouchers can be purchased online through our booking system and you can choose to receive an e-voucher (perfect for last minute gifts!) or we can send you a real voucher at no extra cost.
PicMonkey Collage

That's our top ten Christmas gifts, are there any others on your list?  Tell us below!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The end of a great Second Season

We are coming to the end of our second season at Paddle Lochaber. It's been a really busy summer; we've enjoyed trips to Knoydart, Kingairloch, Loch Ba (on Rannoch moor), Moidart, Shuna and spend many days paddling on our home water of Loch Leven.

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Family Fun Session 
Our Introduction to Sea Kayaking trips have continued to be really popular and we have enjoyed our new Sit on Tops, taking visitors out for family fun sessions on the Loch. As we've been so busy this year we will be hoping to run regular activities right up to the end of October in 2013.

In 2013 we are excited to offer a couple of new activities, including a five day Sea Kayak Holiday, Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning and Stand Up Paddling.

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Enjoying a paddle on Loch Leven
See you on the water
Mark



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Certificate of Excellence for Paddle Lochaber

Paddle Lochaber today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Approximately 10 percent of accommodations listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.

TripAdvisorTo qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.

Paddle Lochaber is pleased to receive a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence,” Mark McKerral at Paddle Lochaber. “We strive to offer our customers a memorable experience, and this accolade is evidence that our hard work is translating into positive traveller reviews on TripAdvisor.”

“TripAdvisor is pleased to honor exceptional businesses for consistent excellence, as reviewed by travellers on the site,” said Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award gives highly rated establishments around the world the recognition they deserve. From exceptional accommodations in Beijing to remarkable restaurants in Boston, we want to applaud these businesses for offering TripAdvisor travellers a great customer experience.”

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stand up Paddleboarding on Tiree

Mark and I are just back from Tiree! According to the guide book, Tiree has three 'sizable' hills but with the highest at just 141m it is a huge contrast from our mountainous home of Lochaber.

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Mark on the Loch
Tiree is one of the few places in Scotland where you can learn to Stand Up Paddle. A relatively new paddle sport we were really keen to give it a try. Well known for it's wind and surf, so we were lucky to some a beautifully calm and sunny weather for our introductory lesson with Wild Diamond on Loch Basapol. We spent the morning practicing some skills including our surf stance; which did need some practice as you can imagine we don't use this much sea kayaking. Once we'd mastered the basics we took a trip to the coast to explore the islands coast on a short journey. We were amazed by how far you can see when standing in comparison to sitting in a kayak. Tiree has many beautiful white sandy beaches seperated by some rockier coast and we enjoyed exploring the beaches and rocky outcrops where we saw common seals basking in the sun.

Tiree is a great place to see wildlife, inland lapwings, snipe and corncrake can be found, while along the coast it is possible to see porpoise, minke and basking shark. All of which we spotted from the ferry. We were told that another paddler had recently met a basking shark which swam underneath him a short way out from the coast. We weren't lucky enough on our trip although we did spot an ominous large fin dissapearing under the water further out....

Definately a SUPer place to visit! we'll be back and hopefully for some surf next time!


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At the end of our 'Downwinder' along the coast
Last updated: 27 May, 2017 08:02
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