Guided Canoe Expedition Scotland, Inverpolly

Wilderness Canoe & mountaineering adventure

Guided canoe expedition in Scotland, Inverpolly

Wilderness Canoe & mountaineering adventure
A well earned cool down after some long days on expedition

Last autumn we launched our first guided canoe expedition through Inverpolly, Scotland. As with all our multi-day expeditions, the aim is to give clients an unforgettable experience and encourage them to fully immerse themselves in the adventure. We aim for you to reconnect with the wilderness and to explore these amazing environments. At the same time learning how to enjoy the simplicity of a journey through some breathtaking scenery.

Inverpolly Nature Reserve

Inverpolly nature reserve is located in far Northwest Scotland, just to the North of Ullapool. It is a spectacular location made up of striking mountains towering out of the landscape divided up by many Lochs and rivers. It is one of the wildest places we have been in the UK, with only a few settlements dotted around the outer edges of the reserve.

There are only a few tracks regularly walked, mainly for the pursuit of mountain climbing and bagging Munros. We think the best way to explore this unique landscape is to travel via the waterways. This trip provides good opportunities for catching the eye of some Golden Eagles, Ravens, Dippers, Red Deer, Stags, Otters and other wildlife native to the Highlands.

Wilderness Canoe & mountaineering adventure
Suilven from the west after summiting the same morning

The journey ahead…

This was a four-day trip meeting the clients in Inverness before travelling to the incredible Inverpolly nature reserve. We spent four days Canoeing and mountain climbing, managing to bag the famous peak of Suilven. We spent all three nights wild camping under the Scottish stars with some incredible weather. It was a fantastic trip with an amazing group, here’s the story of how it went…

Day 1

We started this expedition in Inverness and met up with our group for some breakfast and to discuss the coming trip. After breakfast, we spent some time collecting final supplies and packing all our equipment into dry bags and barrels. We then travelled North to Elphin, a small highland village 2 hours North West of Inverness. This is a spectacular journey through the Northern Highlands, passing through the beautiful town of Ullapool and past the famous Knockan Crag.

Once we arrived in Elphin we loaded up and transported the boats to the shores of Cam Loch, where our journey begins. It is only a short paddle to our first camp so after a short skills session, this gave the group a first chance to get the paddles wet and get used to the canoes.

Wilderness Canoe & mountaineering adventure
A majestic evening looking out to Suilven, on my first trip to Inverpolly.

After a short paddle, we arrive at our island camp, which has great mountain views, one of them being the summit of Suilven. On all our trips we aim to teach you the skills that allow you to feel comfortable in such a wild and isolated environment. After showing our group how to store the canoes, we had an explore of the island. We then taught the group how to set up camp using various wild camp setups such as bivis and hammocks.

Guided canoe expedition in Scotland
Ed demonstrating how to skin and butcher a deer in preparation for dinner

First nights festivities

We then got stuck into preparing dinner with help from our friends at the Wild Bushcraft Company, Ed Hayhurst. One of there lead instructors came with us up to Inverpolly to be our bushcraft chef expert on the trip. Dinner for the first night was venison steaks burgers, so we showed the guys how to butcher a roe deer from skinning to cooking on our hot plate. Vegetarian options are also available.

Once the main part of the butchery session was finished we had time to go over some fundamental canoe strokes and techniques. The lake was perfectly calm allowing the group great conditions to practice manoeuvring the canoes. With two instructors on hand to offer expert guidance to really help hone in their skills. Soon the sun was setting, the red deer’s rutting calls could be heard on the horizon. It was time to get back around the fire to enjoy dinner and to have a great evening of getting to know one another.

Guided canoe expedition in Scotland
Dinner on day one, delicious venison steak with current jam and salad leaves

Day 2

It’s always nice to wake up on the first morning of any wild camp with the sun shining. Waking up in a sleeping bag really helps you settle into expedition life. It is a much slower way of life than normal, giving us time to slow down and enjoy all the little things in life, like a warm cup of coffee whilst looking out on the morning Loch.

The morning routine is a fairly relaxed couple of hours where we get the fire going from the night before, start cooking breakfast and get the water boiling. We then have time to break up camp and pack up kit; finally packing the canoes and making sure the camp is left as we found it. It is then time to get stuck into the day’s journey, we always start by talking through the daily plan.

Guided canoe expeditions in Scotland
First morning at camp with Fish enjoying a warm cup of coffee

The second day is a really exciting one of adventuring, it includes journeying from Cam Loch to Loch Veyatie. This involves portaging a 10-meter waterfall making sure we catch the last river eddie. The portage is only a small one but gives a great introduction on a few good techniques of how to carry equipment over this rough terrain. Even though portaging is one of the hardest parts of expeditions, it is also one of the things that makes it a great test and challenge. Before long after multiple trips back and forth, all our equipment is packed back into the canoes on the shores of Loch Veyatie.

Guided canoe expedition in Scotland
Getting stuck into the first portage on day 2

We stop for a quick drink, snack and get the canoes ready for sailing. With a light easterly wind providing the goods we raft up the canoes, set up an improvised sail and sit back to sail the entirety of Loch Veyatie. Sailing is a great way to travel in canoes whilst conserving energy. We teach you how to raft the canoes, how to prepare the sail and also go over key elements to make it a successful journey. We end up sailing for just under two hours exploring the lake, enjoying the views and eating lunch. We soon get to our first stop, where we stretch our legs and climb a small hill to get a better look at the impressive surroundings of famous summits and lochs.

Wilderness Canoe & mountaineering adventure
Full sail mode down Loch Veyatie

Off to second nights camp

It is then time to jump back in the canoes and head for our second nights camp. The next part of the journey gets interesting where Loch Veyatie narrows to form a shallow river. This can make things pretty exciting when the easterly winds make a big swell on the lake. Once we make it safely into the river things settle down and we break off into single canoes trying to find our way through the shallow waters. Soon it gets too shallow so we have to take the boats for a walk, also known as Lining. This is great technique which allows you to keep the weight in the canoe and navigate big or small rapids safely and quickly. The river soon flows into Loch FFion where we arrive at our second nights camp.

Guided canoe expeditions in Scotland
Taking the canoes for a walk using lining techniques

Once we arrived at camp we slip into the expedition routine of setting up camp, collecting firewood and getting the fire going. Before long we are preparing dinner whilst enjoying the views and good company around the fire. This camp consisted of tarping off of our canoes on rivers banks.

Wilderness Canoe & mountaineering adventure
Ed stirring a creamy sun dried tomato sauce to go with some fire smoked butterflied salmon

Day 3

A windy and early start to the day, the group soon got up once the smell of fresh coffee was wafted around. We had a busy day ahead, the morning’s plan was to climb Suilven from camp. Then the afternoon we had a long but rewarding portage over to Loch Sionascaig where our third night camp spot awaited. After a quick breakfast, we set off up the impressive Suilven.

Suilven is a very striking mountain standing alone amongst a sea of lochs, there are only a handful of ways to hike to the top as it is incredibly steep all the way around. We head up the South facing slope, which starts picking out a track through the boggy heather. Soon leading to the steeper slopes where we made our way to the top of the ridge. Once on the ridge you then gain another spectacular view of this incredible landscape. We then make our way westwards along the ridge soon getting to the summit.

Guided canoe expeditions in Scotland
Conquering to the summit of Suilven

Once we enjoyed the views we made our way back down. It didn’t take long to make our way down the mountain and back to camp where Ed had prepared lunch for us. We spent an hour to enjoy lunch and have a little rest and finish packing the boats ready for the afternoon’s portage.

The afternoon’s portage was a long one, just over three-kilometres across very boggy and rough heather ground. The aim of portage is to choose the easiest route overland to connect the Lochs. This portage consists of two long walking sections broken up with two small Lochens to allow a bit of ease in the middle. To complete it we break it up into lots of legs, shuttling equipment back and forth in various loads, with tea breaks in between. Soon enough we set our sights on Loch Sionascaig, the end of the portage. Our group did an amazing job and we tackled the portage in an incredibly quick time of about 2 hours, where it normally takes 3 to 4 hours. A Lot of gym memberships on this trip.

Wilderness Canoe & mountaineering adventure
The team working hard to tackle the long portage

Once we had a good rest and packed the canoes for the last time that day. We set off on the final leg aiming for our nights camp on the Eilean Mor, a beautiful island in the middle of the Loch.

Wilderness Canoe & mountaineering adventure
The beautiful Eilean Mor, with stormy skies just about to clear

This was our final night in the highlands and it turned into an absolute banger. The skies cleared and the winds dropped as we arrived on the island, giving us a stunning evening sun, along with a peaceful loch. This made it perfect for a quick swim to wash away the days’ efforts. The group arrived to a set up basecamp. Ed and Ant had raced ahead to get the camp ready so the group could enjoy their final evening. We ate a delicious venison stew using the offcuts from our first night, this ensured we used all of the meat of the sustainably hunted doe.

Post dinner, we climbed the small hill of the island to watch the sunset and await the coming star soaked sky. The evening was then spent reflecting on goals accomplished, individually and together.

The group tucking into the delicious venison stew on their final night

Day 4

The fourth day of the expedition was an early start, with a quick breakfast to allow us to pack and have the camp clear ready to leave by 8am. The final leg of the journey is normally a steady paddle to Boat Bay. This day was far from that, overnight the wind had picked up causing some very choppy conditions. This made the final leg of the trip very exciting! We rafted up the canoes, decided on a plan and went for it. With some strong consistent paddling, we soon made it to the shelter of Boat Bay, where we completed our final small portage. We arrived back at the vehicles and after some high fives and hugs our journey was at an end. We enjoyed a slap-up meal at a cosy pub in Inverness and back to the busy world. We would like to congratulate our clients on this trip for their true grit and positive attitudes from start to finish.

Guided canoe expedition in Scotland

How to book your next adventure

We make our expeditions specific to every groups needs and expectations. Tailor building them so we can achieve goals set by the clients. You can book as a private group or look for trips already running and meet some new people along the way. These trips typically run in spring and autumn to avoid those pesky famous scottish midges.

Email us: hello@beardedmenadventures.com

If you would like more insight into these trips go to our youtube channel and watch the Adventurer also, check out our product page.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland, Torridon

Scottish guided mountaineering adventure

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland, Torridon

Guided Mountaineer expeditions Scotland
The impressive 3 pinnacles of Beinn Alligin

Last autumn we took our first group on the first guided mountain expeditions in Scotland. As with all our multi-day expeditions, the aim is to give the clients an unforgettable experience. We want to allow you to fully immerse yourself in the adventure. We allow you to reconnect with the wilderness to explore these amazing environments. Learning how to enjoy the simplicity of a journey through some breathtaking scenery.

About Loch Torridon

The expedition will take you across the Torridon Mountain Range. We will look to bag multiple peaks whilst immersed in a truly beautiful wilderness area. Some of the oldest rocks found in the world throw up peaks, Liathach, Beinn Eighe, Beinn Alligin, Beinn Dearg and Baosbheinn.

Each of the Torridon mountains sits very much apart from one another and they are often likened to castles. They have steep terraced sides and broken summit crests, riven into many pinnacles. There are numerous steep gullies and the summit ridges provide excellent scrambling. These mountains provide a really committing venture that you will not forget easily.

Whilst in walking in Torridon you will be surrounded by wildlife in abundance. The trip provides good opportunities to see Golden Eagles, Raven’s, Dippers, Red Deer, Otters and numerous other species. 

Guided Mountaineer expedition in Scotland
The storm came in quick producing this incredible rainbow.

Our guided mountain expeditions in Scotland comprised of…

This was a five-day trip meeting the clients in Inverness before travelling to the stunning Loch Torridon. We spent five days in the mountains climbing three of the famous ridges Beinn Eighe, Ilathac and Beinn Aligain. We spent some nights wild camping under the Scottish stars and others in a highland pub by the fire. Here’s the story of how it went…

Day 1

We met up with both clients Simon and Arthur, the night before. Where we enjoyed a pint to discuss the week’s plans. The next morning we picked them up and drove west towards Loch Torridon. It takes about two hours to drive to Torridon, with stops. It is one I always look forward to driving through the striking highlands.

We arrived at the car park at the bottom of Beinn Aligien, and take five minutes to stretch the legs. Then it is time to share out the food and fuel, to prepare for the three-day mini-expedition. We give a quick demonstration of what and how we pack our rucksacks, it is important to only take the essentials.

Before the trip, we help everyone prepare properly, by sending a comprehensive kit list. Also if you have any questions we are happy to answer them before the trip. 

Guided Mountaineer expedition in Scotland
The group walking to the first nights wild camp.

We where soon ready and eager to set off walking into the mountains. Day one is a half days walk into the Torridon valley. We walk for three hours along the valley floor surround by magnificent peaks. Along the way we teach navigation techniques, allowing you to practice your map reading. Soon enough we arrive at a couple of lochans and start exploring for the perfect wild camp. It takes a little while to find a flat area big enough to accommodate four tents.

Eventually, we find a good spot and pop the tents up before making some dinner. There are a good variety of dehydrated meals to choose from and set about boiling water. Soon enough we have all eaten and it time to explore the local area. We make the most of the good weather, as we are expecting a storm to come in midweek. The evening is spent watching out for deer and other wildlife. Moving on to picking lines of weakness on the steep mountainsides. Eventually, settling into some stargazing for the remainder of the night.

Scottish guided mountaineering adventure
Waiting for the stars to come out

Day 2

We wake to a clear still morning, with birds singing and deer’s piping and bellowing. I get the water boiling for a cuppa to warm up the hands. It is an early start as we have a long day ahead, the aim is to climb Iliathac. At 8 am we leave base camp and head east, back along the valley floor. One we leave the main path we contour around the bottom of Iliathac, slightly gaining height. It is rough going with thick heather underfoot, we slowly gain height traversing around the south-east side. Finally, we find the main track up and continue up to the ridge.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
Tackling the traverse, whilst taking in the views

Once on the ridge, we take in the views have a breather and grab a snack. It is a spectacularly clear day, allowing us to see the striking landscape. Ilathac’s ridge is pretty impressive, it has many peaks connected by knife-edge ridges. It also takes at least 4 to 5 hours to comfortably walk from one end to the other. You are humbled at the base and amazed when on top it is a truly a magnificent place to experience. Each horizon line gives you differ offers another spectacular view. Every now and then you have to stop and take it all in.

Scottish guided mountaineering adventure
A long way to go

After a long but thoroughly enjoyable walk and scramble, we make it to the end of the ridge. It is now time to find our way back to basecamp, picking our way down the steep sides. We find a steady route down and before long we are back at camp ready to tuck into some dinner. With tired legs and sore feet, we enjoy a cold but refreshing swim in the little stream near camp. Relaxing into a night of stargazing, and listening out for bellowing deer.

Scottish guided mountaineering adventure
Enjoying a brisk wild swim

Day 3

Another early start as we have another long day ahead of us, today’s mountain is Beinn Aligain. It is a cloudy start to the day, with patches of blue peaking through. We have breakfast and break camp with conversations about the days plan. Today we are dropping our big bags at the car park first. We then head up Beinn Aligain, taking the beating track from the south peak ending at the Pinnacles. 

Guided Mountaineer expedition in Scotland
Beinn Aligain from Ilathac

Beinn Aligain is another magnificent mountain, and provides another great day out. It is slightly less intimidating than Ilathac, but still has some exposed ridges to get the juices flowing. A steady walk up to the first peak, with the cloud settling and visibility low we practice navigation techniques. The tricky section make us take time to find the right route, but we find the next ridge and make away along. The cloud soon lifts and leaves us with more amazing views, this landscape is so rugged and vast you can easily get lost in views.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
Halfway along the ridge, we come an amazing gully.

We make our way up to the second pitch, passing a striking gully which looks like the to mountains have been pulled apart.  Its time to break for lunch on top of the second peak enjoying some cheese and chorizo thins. After lunch its time to tackle the impressive three pinnacles, these steep and narrow peaks are are truly unique. Once we have completed the pinnacles we make our way back down the Torridon along the fast-flowing river to car park. It is the end of the three day mini-expedition and we have earnt a shower and good meal.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
The three pinnacles

On to the local Torridon youth hostel nestled at the bottom of Ilathac, one of the best YHA’s I have stayed. The night is spent at the Torridon Inn a 5 minute drive from hostel. We sit by the fire feast on a delicious meal enjoying the local ales and whisky, the perfect end to a few day wild camping.

Day 4

On the fourth day we wake in our comfy hostel beds, and enjoy a cooked breakfast. It is a slower start to the day, with the storm finally arriving in the night. We decided in the pub to listen to forecast and give Beinn Eighe a miss and go canoeing on the Loch instead. Luckily we had our fleet canoes with us from finishing the Whisky explorer the week before. So we jump in the van and headed to the nearby coastal town of Shieldaig.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
Arthur and Simon looking out for Golden eagles nesting on the nearby island

We spend about 3 hours exploring this incredible bay, full of wildlife and fishing boats. The storm brings in some nice winds and manage to get the sail up. This gives Arthur and Simon a taste for canoeing, so we spend the rest of the afternoon canoe coaching. Teaching them paddle strokes and trim and all things solo canoeing. 

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
Canoe sailing to the rainbow

As the rain gets heavier we call it a day pack away the canoes and equipment and head down the coast. Our destination is the beautiful  coastal town of Applecross. The journey is an adventure in itself, driving over the famous Bealach na Bà pass. It is a winding single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula.  It has the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres (2,054 ft), and is the third-highest road in Scotland. Once over the pass, we head down to the stunning town of Applecross. To enjoy a meal at the Applecross Inn, my favourite restaurant in the UK. Our evening is then spent back at the Torridon youth hostel playing games into the night. 

The next day is a relaxed affair travelling back to Inverness. We aim to get people back by 3 pm at the latest. This allows you to get connecting flights or trains home. Alternatively, you can spend one more night enjoying Inverness.

How to book onto The Mountaineer?

If you would like more information about our Torridon trip, please go to The mountaineer page. You can also get more insights into how we run our expeditions from our youtube channel.