The 2015 Scot-Paddle with the Sea Cadets was probably the best way in my opinion to experience the wild and beautiful nature of Scotland for the first time. Our six days paddling and camping on Loch Morar and Loch Nevis was an awesome experience. From the bug infested fields, to the harsh but forever present headwind we had to paddle through, the smoky evenings spent in the camp, to the back killing work of the portage (which we did twice for good measure) all added to this. And even with the reoccurring issues of camp fire smoke which burned our eyes and the midges which swarmed around us as soon as the wind dropped, I consider this the best trip I’ve done with the Sea Cadets.
The aim of our expedition was to learn as much as we could from living in a remote and wild place. We achieved this, including ropework, bushcraft skills, fire keeping (which was used for cooking, heat and light), where to find drinking water, and there’s more to fishing than simply throwing a line over the side of the canoe! And that’s just for starters. Our trip included staying in a mountain Bothy, exploring down a river to a remote loch in the next valley, the fun of portages, windswept lochs, large waves, camping on loch islands, plus catching, gutting and cooking our own fish caught only twenty minutes before in the Loch Nevis. The various skills and words of wisdom from our expedition leader Jed Yarnold will stay with me for the future. I hope to pass these on and put them into good use on future expeditions.
I’ve completed expeditions along the Wye with the Sea Cadets a few times now (I say this for the benefit of others who have done the Wye, but want to broaden their experience) the experience of Scot-Paddle has opened my eyes to wilderness exploring. And I want to do more. But don’t get me wrong, it was hard (very hard) and the weather challenging; but the sense of achievement, solitude, natural beauty, team spirit and endurance which comes from journeying as part of a team far away from civilisation is a life enriching experience.
It was, an amazing experience through and through, which I am incredibly happy to have done. Many thanks to the Ulysses Trust for helping to fund the expedition, Jed Yarnold for leading the trip, Bonita Best for the logistics and catering, and SLt (SCC) Monty Smedley RNR for organising the logistics.
Report Written by: LC Jacob Horner (Milton Keynes Unit)