Sailing & Mountains

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I really enoyed Bob Shepton's article on sailing an climbing in Greenland in YM this month. However, having explored the the Western Highlands, from Fort William to Cape Wrath on foot (in my youth) I always wondered what it would be like to sail into lochs like Loch Nevis & Loch Hourn, and explore the hills usind a sailing boat as a base.

Would be interested to know about anyone's experiences.
 

claymore

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I was in Loch Nevis last summer and picked up a mooring belonging to the Estate.We went walking for the day which was pleasant. I'd not like to leave the boat at anchor unattended for the time it would take me to climb anything big.
I did leave her in Lochinver and we went up Suilven but that was years ago and I've not been in since.
 

bedouin

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We sailing up and down the Caledonian Canal a couple of years back. The sailing was fine, and we did manage to climb a hill or two - but it would not be very successful as a climbing holiday.

The problem with Scotland (IMHO) is that the mountains can be quite difficult to get to. If you are constrained to walking from a mooring that will very much restrict your options as to which mountains to climb. Based on that experience if I want a sailing holiday, I sail, and if I want a climbing holiday I climb.

I have been wondering whether the islands wouldn't offer more scope; with easier access to the peaks from the water.
 

tcm

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I think it would be great! BUT some of those scottish mountains are a big slog: Ben Nevis, for example, starts from sea level, whereas (say) Snowdon car park is at 1500feet+
 

jsl

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Yes, the far north-west is tempting. Suilven from Lochinver; Ben More Coigach from Culnacraig; Quinag from near Kylesku, perhaps; Ben More Assynt or Glasven or Conival from further up the same loch (whose name escapes me). But these are all what I would call big days: many, many feet of ascent from an anchorage which would not be utterly secure in every conceivable circumstance. Would you leave a crew aboard? What happens if you arrive back at the beach and they have had to clear out?
 

Mirelle

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I think you've put your finger on the problem. The average cruising crew is too small to provide a "climbing party" and a "shipkeeping party", when the latter must be able to look after the boat in the sort of anchorage which is reasonably close to a respectable mountain.

Such places are usually places where "anchorage must be prompted by necessity and not by any hope of tranquillity"!

In such places the boat may need to clear out to sea in a hurry. That's why HW Tilman always carried a crew of at least 5, of whom 3 were usually climbers.
 
G

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That seems to be the case with most of the sailing/climbing expeditions I've read about. I must admit I would feel pretty cheesed off if I returned after a hard slog in the hills to find my boat had moved on to a safer anchorage.

One advantage of using a boat as a base to climb from is the comfort factor. Compared to sleeping/cooking in a tiny tent when it is chucking cats and dogs, even in a modest 30 footer it wouild be sheer luxury. However, that would be disadvantaged by having 5 people on board!

Appreciate your responses.
 
G

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One ambition I have not yet done is to do the Sky ridge from a boat! The sea is nearer than the road. A practical suggestion is to go back to the 'old days' of the Scottish climbing clubs and take a bike - though probly a nice light mountain bike not the boanshakers they had. This enable a wider choice of anchorage so gets over some of the problem of secrurity. Summer befor last I did a two day trip over the Morne Mountains in Ireland leaving the boat at Carlingford Lough. Maybe I am nieve but I had no worries about the boat. (26ft, She had a 25lb CQR, 30m 5/16 chain plus about 20m rope in 8m depth and had ridden out sevear squalls the night before we left) In a less shelted spot lay a two or three anchor mooring? though in some scottish lochs you might need a crane for retreval!

Roly, Voya Con Dios, Glasson, Lancaster
 
G

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I agree with this - when doing long-distance hiking, I have found that overestimating the amount of the 'great outdoors' that you want to be exposed to in one dose can ruin a holiday.

After big physical exertions, do you want a hot bath (or something approximating), a really decent meal and a comfy bed? Can you get all these satisfactorily on board your boat? And will you fancy treating all your aches and pains to a nice vigorous sail the next day? What if the weather is bad? You could probably find a way to do it - but will you enjoy it?

You may give positive answers to all these questions and enjoy yourself immensely - after all, it's a lovely idea. All I'm saying is that it makes my personal alarm bells ring.
 

extravert

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I stayed near a few good mountains last summer on a round UK trip, including Lochinver and Loch Nevis. Both have a secure place that a boat could be left, pontoons in Lochinver and pub moorings in Loch Nevis. Anchoring in Scottish lochs is often unsatisfactory though because of the weedy or rocky bottom often found. We had real trouble getting a good hold in Loch Eribol for example.

For some pictures of these places, see

www.xrayted.freeserve.co.uk
 
G

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I get the feeling that most of the posters in this thread are a little timid. Many members of the Clyde Cruising Club and Royal Highland YC - as well as members of other clubs and of none, forbye - have been doing this sort of thing for years. They may have had some frights, but not many have come to grief, and have had memorable positive experiences. Some of the best mountains (Larbheinn on the south side of Loch Hourn is an example) can only be reached from the sea, and Ben More Mull is better reached from the sea. Take a good pair of walking boots and be ready to take the chance if it arises and you'll remember it for the rest of your life. You need wellies to get ashore, but do not walk in them.


Martin
 
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