David Savage
Lochs Awe and Etive  2019

The photos are mostly mine; the story was written by Ross Miller. 
Participants were me, Ross, Alan Weeks and Mike Norman - four Old Gits and 4 bottles of Single Malt!
Tuesday 22nd October
We assembled at Torran Bay Hostel at the southwest end of Loch Awe. The very attractive hostel hostel was a strange place with masses of uneaten food in the kitchen, draconian notices about smoking in the bunkrooms and a warden who cooked in our kitchen?  Ross and Alan also contracted ticks whilst we were there!

Wednesday 23rd October
We set off up the loch by 9.30am to the sound of a rutting stag. Conditions were calm. Stopped for a brew on a little island with a very inquisitive Robin.

Continued onwards and made good progress. Stopped on a beach for lunch as the wind started to strengthen. Conditions became much livelier after lunch and headlands were hard going. Rounded one point into a little bay and two Sea Eagles, with white tails clearly visible, took off from a bankside tree.

Stopped for the night shortly after. Dave put up his tarp whilst the rest of us gathered wood. Heavy rain set in for the evening, so we sat under the tarp watching the firewood get soaked.

Thursday October 24th
Away by 9am in calm conditions. Managed to save some miles by heading direct for North Port and missing out a large bay on the
western shore.  Lochside houses now much more frequent, number of visible Crannogs also increasing. Kept paddling northeast and
saw a fox on the bank, then a distant Kilchurn Castle just before we turned the corner. Stopped for a brew just past Ardanaiseig
Resumed paddling towards the Pass of Brander into a stiff westerly breeze. 
Took out just before the Barrage and managed to take boats and kit up a steep bank and onto the road. Had portaged past the Barrage and down to the River Awe by 14.30  Quite  a tricky carry through a wood and then a trolley portage along the road.

First problem was a long rock garden which we had to line down. This involved a lot of wading and the loss of one bow line. Next problem was rapids with holes and meaty wave trains. This resulted in one swamping and capsize. Managed to recover all the kit, including the portage trolley. Stopped for the night in a little gorge just upstream of a tricky looking rapid. Found a nice campsite in a wood 20 metres above the river. Started a decent fire, dried out and warmed up. Then chased off to bed by heavy rain.
Friday October 25th
Away by 9am again. Lined the first rapid, ran most of the others amidst frequent hail showers. Snow lying quite low down on Ben  
Cruachan. Reached the jetty at the mouth of the Awe for 1030. Decided to head northwards up Loch Etive and investigate  
Cadderlie bothy. Had a strong swell behind us, so we reached the shore by the bothy in just over an hour. Discovered that the  
bothy was five star; clean, dry and with a supply of precut, slightly damp, firewood. Had lunch, spread the kit out and lit the fire.  
Alan managed to find dry firewood, so eventually we had a nice fire going.
Saturday 26th October
Away for 0915. We were heading for Dunstaffnage and knew that the last safe passage through the Falls of Lora was at 1400. Surprised
two otters sitting on a rock as we paddled down. Initially very calm, so we crossed the loch from Bonawe to Airds Point. Had a brew and
discovered that England had thumped the All Blacks. Still calm so crossed directly over the next bay to Rubha nan Carn, saw another
three Sea Eagles having a squabble over some food.
Wind now strengthening with some
ferocious squalls. Threaded round
Abbots Isles and round the last big
headland at Kilmaronaig. Now
hugged the coast towards Connel,
as the loch noticeably emptied out. 
Lots of seals on little islands as we
approached Connel at 1300. No
obvious waves or holes, so we ran
under the bridge, hugging the south
bank. Encountered a few swirlies,
but nothing untoward.
Carried on to the last promontory
before Dunstaffnage, rounded the
headland into the strongest squall
yet. Both boats took shelter on the
first available beach.
Eventually managed to paddle the
1km into the marina. Took out on the
slipway in another squall.  Managed
to negotiate room and breakfast for
£30 in the wide Mouthed Frog
In the cold, heavy rain, this seemed a
bargain. Alan and Mike went back to
Torran Bay by taxi to retrieve the
cars. Drove briefly back to the north
side of Connel Bridge to look at the
Falls, very impressive as the water
flooded into the loch. Back to the
Frog for beer and dinner. An
excellent trip.

Wildlife seen: Numerous seals, at
least five Sea Eagles, two Otters, a
stag, several Herons, one Robin and
one Fox.