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The Scottish Spare Seat Kayak Expedition

Adventure Stats: 

Weather Conditions: It rained cats and dogs and whipped up a Force 5 on Loch Ness

Miles: 125

Duration: 6 days

High Points: Corryvreckan Whirlpool, Wild Camping, Loch Ness, Canoeing the River Ness, More Spare Seaters on the trip

Low Points: Some bad weather

Team: Richard Harpham, Olly Jay, Grace Dickinson, Alex Perry, Colin Day, Jamie Queen, Ashley Kenlock 

A MillionThanks: Aquabound Paddles, Paramo Clothing, Bamboo Clothing, Reed Chillcheater, Leatherman, Garmin, Mountain Fuels

After the amazing success of the New York Spare Seat we decided to try the same approach with Scotland and offer everyday people the chance to join us for an adventure. This time we would feature the stunning paddling of the Great Glenn Canoe Trail originally known as the Caledonian Canal.  Our plan was to start on the coast South of Oban and paddle the Corryvreckan Whirlpool, the Grey Dogs tide race and up to Oban before paddling up Loch Linhe to Fort William and into the Great Glenn Canoe Trail. (see more at )

Olly Jay of Active4Seasons, my long term expedition buddy and another mate Jamie Queen would join me for the sea kayaking leg to Fort William and some of our colleagues would paddle on the Great Glenn. The weather was pretty bad after the first day wild camping at the entrance to the Corryvreckan. We enjoyed a fantastic Pasta Meatballs dish and eyed the channel with some caution knowing at its worst this was a dangerous stretch of water.

We paddled in close to slack water and played in the weird eddies and currents before touching Jura and heading North for the Grey Dogs. We passed two nesting eagles and found plenty of seals for company as the stormy weather set in and stayed with us for a few days. I can honestly say that the Reed Chillcheater paddling kit saved any misery and the Paramo clothing for après paddling made life much better. We met up with the rest of the team at Oban at the campsite before paddling the long finger like tendril of the Loch Linhe sea loch into Fort William.

We were joined by our first ‘Spare Seaters’ at Fort William who paddled for the majority of the day. They had won our competition to come and join us. Our route saw us paddle the main Loch’s but opt for the Rivers where possible on the River Oich and at the end the River Ness. On this section I got to paddle with my wife Ashley which was lovely and we had recruited one of our dogs, William to enjoy the trip (don’t tell the other dogs!!).  The Great Glenn is a fantastic adventure paddle to cut your teeth on, with open Lochs that can really whip up with waves and strong winds and also some great Grade 2 River sections.  It is equipped with hostels as well as wild camping along the way which was lucky as the weather was not for the faint hearted.

We had more Spare Seaters in tow and at Loch Ness we had organized for a group of young students to join us for a ‘Come and Try It’ Session with canoes and kayaks in the sheltered bay. They were writing up the piece for National Geographic Kids Magazine to encourage others to try paddling and learn about adventure. Loch Ness saw me in the double with karate champion surfing some of the waves. The rest of the team were in 2 canoes rafted together with a makeshift sail. Needless to say we flew down across the water.

Finishing Loch Ness we said our goodbyes and opted for paddling the River Ness into Inverness. It was flowing well and we got some decent wave trains and play waves which proved a great way to finish this adventure.


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