This weekend Chris, John, Nick, Fergus and I finally went on our expedition after many months of preparation. The trip was a source-to-sea kayak journey via the summit of Suilven . We split into two groups for the journey into and out of our base camp. Chris, John, Fergus and I kayaked in, towing the barge boat while Nick biked in towing a trailer. The paddle in wasn’t too bad as it was down a loch with the last half km down a gentle river. Nick on the other hand, had to bike across a large bog to where we had set up camp. After watching the first five minutes of his struggle, we went over to help him and through the combined effort, managed to get him and his kit back to the tents. That night we set up the shelter and lit a fire before dinner.
The following morning the team got up early to attempt the mighty mountain that is Suilven (all 731m). After a breakfast that included a bacon sandwich, somehow cooked by Nick on a gas stove without burning it (which we would have done), we started up the hill. The path began as a nice gentle slope before starting to climb straight up the side of the hill. The trip from camp to the saddle of the hill took an hour and a half, half an hour less than we had initially expected. We first walked up onto the main summit before going across to the lower end of the mountain. This was quite an eventful trip, as it involved scrambling down from the saddle and then up the other side. The scramble was made more exiting as the exposure was huge! With almost vertical sides, if we had fallen we would have bounced and rolled all the way back to camp.
On the last day we had to paddle out. We started on the loch which would have been fine except the wind had picked up over night and it had started to rain. After packing the kit up and repacking the boats, we strapped Nick’s trailer onto the barge and set off. Once we got to the end of the loch we dropped the trailer off and went to have a look at the rapids on the river we were about to run. The river was a grade 3, with a huge waterfall near the top that was too dangerous to run. After finding the waterfall we decided to portage the boats around the falls and get in below them. Once we were at the falls the team lowered the barge boat, Chris’ boat and my boat down to the water before Fergus and John said they would meet us further down stream. Once on the water, we pushed the barge down the rapids while following behind making sure it didn’t get stuck. The upper section went well until the barge raced round a corner, dropped down some rapids, capsized and got wedged on a rock. After about ten minutes, Chris and Fergus got the barge moving again and I collected it in the next pool. After that, the rapids became a lot dryer and we bumped and scraped down the last section before popping out at the sea.