What you need to know
If you can’t bring kit with you, then you can rent kayaks from Ian and Jess McWhinney on Dry Island, just below the cottage – £20 for half a day. Tel 01445 741263
Alternatively, the Gairloch Canoe & Kayak Centre Kayak Centre located beside the Shieldaig Lodge Hotel is the place to go.
If you have your own equipment, know what you are doing and study the weather forecast – the wind can whip up in no time – you can enjoy some great trips locally. Look out for seals, a variety of seabirds, maybe porpoises and a roe deer on Isle Horrisdale, and, if you’re extremely lucky, a sea eagle or otter.
Badachro Bay is great for pottering, but you can also circumnavigate Isle Horrisdale by heading north out into the loch and then turning right and returning into Badachro Bay via ‘The Narrows’.
A longer trip for experienced kayakers on a nice day is to go round the north side of Horrisdale and then head off across the loch to Gairloch Pier, perhaps buying a choc-ice in the shop. Then follow the coast south to Kerry Bay and on into Shieldaig Bay – a great place to see seals and herons. From here its back to Badachro along the south side of the loch and through The Narrows.
Alternatively, head left along the south shore of the loch, heading towards its mouth, hugging the land and looking at the cliffs as you go.
Further afield, a day’s paddling around the Loch Maree islands’ breath-taking scenery is an amazing, truly memorable experience. Launch at Slattadale . However, two things to note. First, winds can blow up amazingly quickly and extreme care must be taken, and second, the islands are environmentally fragile and care must be taken – please read this before you decide to go.