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Sea Kayaking around Fort William and Lochaber's shores

This page provides information about where to sea-kayak around the shores of Fort William and Lochaber.

It’s time to get afloat and experience the world class West Coast of Scotland. Lochaber's west Highland coastline is blessed with a great diversity of paddling areas, which will keep the excited beginner to seasoned sea kayaker happy and content - sandy beaches, sea cliffs, mystical isles, remote sea lochs and scenic mountain backdrops.

Sea kayaking is the way to get away from the crowds and offers the opportunity to see Lochaber’s wildlife up close – seals, porpoises, sea eagles, otters, oyster catchers and much more. Sea kayaking is a special kind of freedom, away from it all, and one that you can experience in Lochaber - the Outdoor Capital of the UK.

Some of Lochaber’s top sea kayaking areas are:
Arisaig – fantastic sandy beaches, rugged reefs, seals in abundance - quite simply a magical sea kayaking area.

Knoydart – The UK’s last wilderness? Loch Hourn and Loch Nevis offer the sea kayaker a remote journeying experience.

Loch Sunart – A majestic but yet sheltered fjord in the heart of the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

Small Isles – The Isles of Canna, Muck, Rum and Eigg, offer the committed sea kayaker a challenge to paddle out to them and explore around their varied coastlines. Look out for the basking sharks!

Loch Ailort – Sheltered waters at it’s north easterly end leads out to the rocky skerries of Smirisary and the sandy harbour at Samalaman Island.

Ardnamurchan Point – A trip under the cliffs of the most Westernly point of mainland UK or a paddle around rocky shores and bright white sandy beaches at Sanna.

Loch Linnhe – Offers a variety of sea kayaking opportunities. There is a tide race at the Corran Narrows, where the ferry crosses to Ardgour and Ardnamurchan, and at the North end of Lismore, there is a proper Highland Castle which you can paddle under - Castle Stalker.

Loch Leven – Stunning backdrop of Glencoe’s mighty mountains and the burial isles of the Macdonalds who were slaughtered in the famous Glencoe massacre after the Jacobite uprising. For kayakers wishing to use the tides to their favour, the tide flows quickly under the Ballachulish road bridge leading them out to Loch Linnhe.

Lochaber offers a wide selection of sea kayaking trips for kayakers of all abilities to undertake in all but the most extreme weather and tidal conditions. Sea kayakers getting afloat in Lochaber should be properly equipped, well trained and know what their limits are in terms of ability and experience. The sea does not do ‘forgiveness’ and is pretty cold all year round (8 – 12c)! Good modern kayaking clothing means there is no excuse to be cold, damp and miserable though. Local guiding is available for those wishing to experience it and coaching is also available for those wishing to learn how to sea kayak for themselves or to improve their skills / knowledge.
 
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Useful contacts:
The shipping forecasts and inshore waters forecast can be obtained from:
The times of high and low water for various locations in Lochaber can be obtained from:

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Snowgoose Mountain Centre
The centre's position offers exceptional facilities for watersports enthusiasts of all levels. The Lochaber & Fort William area bounded by an extensive coastal & marine environment. Snowgoose Mountain Centre is surrounded by safe water with easy access to the sheltered tidal waters of Loch Linnhe and access to the open sea down the length of Loch Linnhe beyond Corran Narrows. SEA KAYAKING In the Lochaber area there is a truly amazing variety of inland lochs and coastline offering wide selection of sea kayak trips - offering everything from sheltered paddling journeys on placid lochs with lots of islands to discover, to open tidal water with fast tidal currents. Our beginner sea kayak sessions on Loch Linnhe are a gentle introduction to the effects of paddling on tidal waters. The inland lochs of Loch Lochy and Loch Sheil are also excellent locations for sea kayaking. A little further away protected by hundreds of small tidal islands (known as skerries) is the coastline surrounding Arisaig bay. An ideal spot to begin an adventure. This area is home to a huge variety of marine wildlife with a fair weather option to paddle up the coastline towards Mallaig with fantastic views out the Inner Hebrides. RIVER KAYAKING Our novice kayaking sessions, courses & holidays are initially based on the sheltered open inland waters of Loch Linnhe, Loch Lochy, or Loch Shiel                                With a more experience we can easily progress to the moving water of the rivers Lochy, Oich, and later to the amazing white water of the Roy, Spean, etc. Our favourite spot for beginners on moving water is on Loch Lochy in a wide sheltered open bay with visiting ospreys in the summer – along with small rapids tumbling down from Loch Arkaig a few miles above. Based on the short steep side of the country we have good local access to excellent Grade 111 and above white water rivers which are largely spate in nature, some of which are quite technical in nature. This gives excellent training opportunities for intermediate and advanced white water paddling in a unique environment. OPEN CANOEING. These basic skills sessions are based inland on the more sheltered  Loch Lochy or the tidal waters of Loch Linnhe with also excellent locations to learn the skills of open canoe journeying, for day paddles or with an over night wild camping stop.There are excellent opportunities for overnight expeditions for those with a little more experience - we regularly venture further a field to the tidal waters of Loch Moidart – paddle the Rough Bounds into Arisaig; Loch Sheil; Loch Oich and Loch Arkaig. All of this as well as guided open canoe trips over the 70 mile long Caledonian Canal on the Great Glen Canoe Trail – this being one of the favourites. The idyllic River Oich and Loch Lochy are excellent for an introduction to river paddling in an open canoe  learning  to raft up effectively, lining & poling as well as the opportunity to canoe sail on more advanced courses DINGHY SAILING We have a small fleet of 16' Devon Yawls & 21’ keeled Flying 15 dinghies which can take 4 students plus an instructor. These are all weather dinghies which are fun to sail but also fast and responsive for single handed sailing or a family day out.   There are several options available for Dinghy Sailing with our experienced Instructors from ½ day taster sessions for all the family to 2-3 day sailing & boat handling courses.By the end of a 2 day Beginners course you will have experienced handling the dinghy, sail handling, rope work, be aware of safety on board and  be able to sail as a crew in light winds under supervision. There will be hands on experience of:| The dinghy and its main parts; Basic boat handling – how to sail in all wind directions; Launching & recovery;  weather & meteorology. CANOE AND KAYAK HIRE & THE GREAT GLEN CANOE TRAIL Snowgoose Mountain Centre is well placed at the extreme SW end of the Caledonian Canal for the recently opened Great Glen Canoe Trail. This offers a great opportunity to canoe or kayak along the spectacular Caledonian Canal which runs for nearly 70 miles from near Fort William to Inverness along the very varied stretches of canal as well as the wide open waters of Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness (which are classed as inland seas).We provideGuided canoe & sea kayak trips along the Great Glen Canoe Trail as well as 2 - 5 day expeditions in other fantastic remote and wild locations on the west coast of Scotland. We do not hire our boats to inexperienced paddlersFull open canoe, sea & river kayak hire / outfitting packages including paddles, buoyancy aids, barrels, BDH bottles, dry bags, trolley wheels, etc.  Full camping & expedition equipment hire - plus full information on the best campsites & local services.A full shuttle service for boats & gear to the end of the finish of the Canoe Trail and elsewhere - and free drop of to the top of Neptune's Staircase at Banavie to all our hire customers.  Locally based paddling information and advice when you arrive with us - based on over 30 years of local paddling experience.
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