Explore with us
Our journeys by kayak or foot can be short but our journeys of the mind go far and wide.
We want you to go away inspired – and to come back again.
Our explorations are a fantastic way to enjoy freedom, fun and fantastic views. We focus on natural and cultural history. Let us know what you are interested in and we will do our best to accommodate this. We can also explore by car.
Here is a short film of a Wild Argyll sea kayak trip for BBC The Adventure Show.
Examples from below can be combined into a day or half day's exploring....
By kayak or on foot:
Views of Power and War - Iron age Duns
© Aaron Watson with thanks to Dalriada Project
1 - 4 km. Some rough ground.
The hilltops are scattered with the remains of these imposing forts, some of which were used until recently. So we have lots of choice on which to visit depending on what else you want to do on the way. Recent archaeological digs have uncovered fascinating new insights and beautiful ornaments. These high vantages are also good places from which to watch out for the gannets wheeling and plunging into the Sound.
1 - 5 km. Easy walking or rough terrain.
Water mills, washing stones, weavers cottages, boat nousts, peat banks, kale yards, wells, byres, lazy beds, fires, cooking pots and broken china. As we pause for a time you will probably even smell the peat smoke and hear the children playing. And we will almost certainly see the deer that goes dizzily, sniffing at the grass grown ruined homes.
Collisions of cultures and continents - Keills to the Sound of Jura
Easy walking with the option of some rough walking. 2 km.
This is holy ground. This is where Irish and Atlantic waters meet and Saint Cormaig had a monastery. There are still beautiful carved stone crosses here, survivors of the Viking raids, dating back to these early missions. It is also hallowed ground for geologists. Here the great Victorian geologist B.N. Peach discovered pillow lavas, contributing to his monumental work on the complex geology of the West Highlands which has shaped the understanding of geology worldwide. With every other step the story of continents colliding and oceans opening and closing is revealed under our feet. It is a good place to look for great northern divers, seals and otters too.
Gateway of Migrants and Magnates - Crinan
© Dalriada Project
2 km. Walking on towpath and rough woodland paths.
The views from the Crinan Woods nature reserve are enough reward in themselves. But we look around at what is moving. And we begin to notice migrants from the Arctic in the estuary or from Africa in the trees. And we find clues of the people that have used these routes for millennia, especially the route of the Crinan Canal, linking the Firth of Clyde to the Atlantic. We look through the Gulf of Corryvreckan towards Iona and to Dunadd - the landscapes known to Saint Columba. And when we look at the lichens we won't see them move but we will know that some of them may have been waging very slow chemical warfare with their neighbours for hundreds of years.
Taynish - Lives in the Ancient Atlantic Oak Woods
© Dalriada Project
Paths and some rough ground. Up to 7 km.
Explore the National Nature Reserve and the waters surrounding it. Sometimes we go off and follow the deer tracks and open glades to explore the lives of people, plants and animals. We look at the archaeology and discover how people have lived in and from this place. We absorb the wonders of the globally important lower plants. In spring this is utterly enchanting with the song of newly arrived willow warblers filling the air. If we are lucky we may find the elusive and very rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly.
Just on foot:
Engineering, Forestry and Fishing - Close Ups with Philip Price
© Philip Price
From all ability access to rough terrain. 0 - 4 km.
Photography as you have always wanted. You will be expertly guided to get up close to those elusive otters or beavers as they go about thier fishing or woodland enterprises. Philip will also give you all the tools and develop your skills to capture fantastic images. Whether it is otters crunching up crabs, beavers grooming or mists rising from the loch - you will be amazed at how good your photos are.
Wildlife Art through the Microscope
© Jane Smith
From all ability to possible wet walking.
Jane Smith will take you into the wilds to the land of orchids, eagles and dragon flies. Continue along the shore with the ringed plovers, otters and the ospreys. She will show you the things you may usually miss and with paint, charcoal, printing or your chosen medium lead you through her world of transforming life into art. Lose all sense of time. Forget to even eat your picnic. Wander back in a daze clutching your masterpiece.
Favourite Places of a Wildlife Film Maker
Options from all ability access to a deep into the jungle scramble. Please discuss with Mark beforehand.
On his return from his work making wildlife films around the world Mark Smith disappears into the hills, woods and bogs of Argyll to re-adjust. Mark will take you with him to encounter the wilds - and to chat about what it is like on a shoot on Mount Errebus or in the Hindu Kush. You may be surprised at how close you get to a pine martin - or how close you feel to a penguin. Few people have spent as long as Mark being still and watching. Mark has some terriffic insights he can impart and he will provide coffee and biscuits.
N.B. Filming schedules can change at short notice. In this case the event would be re-scheduled, re-funded or an alternative offered.
Ice Age to Modernity - Dunadd Fort and the Great Moss
© Dalriada Project
Steep but short scramble up Dunadd followed by an easy walk across the Moine Mhor. 7 km.
Dunadd is the perfect vantage from which to read the landscape and understand the huge changes that have taken place over the last ten thousand years. On our journey through time we are, at every stage, accompanied by the footprints of our ancestors. Much of what we see would be familiar to even the first people as they followed the migrating salmon and aurachs and gathered hazel nuts. Dunadd is one of the most exceptional archaeological sites in the British Isles.
© Philip Price
2 or 6 km. Paths or rough ground.
Beavers were hunted to extinction in Britain about 400 years ago. Now they are back in Knapdale and the Scottish Beaver Trial reintroduction site is fascinating. You will see their dams, canals, trails and their processing of timber. At dawn or dusk there is every chance of a close encounter.
Start with an option to look at Scottish Beaver Trial information and films. From Barnluasgan into the heart of the Knapdale woods to the lochs and head off to look for lodges, dams, canals and other beaver engineering works. Explore the wider ecology. At dusk watch for beavers emerging from prime viewing locations. Return to car park after dark.
Just by kayak:
Kayak Back to the End of the Ice Age
Slide at dug-out level into the places that our ancestors would have tucked into. Discover the things they would have known and used - the springs, the plants, the animals, the weather, sacred places and camps. Along the way we are cradled by the folded landscape and rock that makes this landscape so beautiful and discover something of the opening and closing of ancient oceans that made it so.
Sea Ways of the Saints
The High Cross of Keills - 7th / 8th Century
Instead of by currach we join up the holy sites of the "Dark Ages" by kayak. We will explore Medieval chapels, early celtic crosses, the quarry for the Iona crosses, cells, monasteries, camps, refuges, holy wells and even Columba's cave. All these places are off the beaten track by land but central to the seaways. You need a very small craft to creep in to some of them. We will follow the stories and the paddle whorls of the Saints.
Explorations are guided by weather and tides but we know some truly sheltered places so, unless there is a storm, there is always somewhere good to go.
We tend to move slowly with our eyes and ears open and prepared to go over uneven and wet terrain so distances are mostly short. Most days we cover less than 8 km. Some walks are so full of interest they are only about 2 km.
Long walks of 15 - 20 km are ideal for those who are fit and sure footed and wish to stride out over some of the more challenging wild landscapes.
Get deeper into the landscapes, wildlife and culture around you. Our trips are particularly suited to paddlers on the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail from Kintyre to the Summer Isles (we can help you portage between Tayvallich and Carsaig) and the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail. We mostly operate between Loch Caolisport and Loch Craignish. We can explore further afield - please ask. If you are after the thrills of paddling big water or are a beginner wanting to get started please ask and we will point you towards our recommended expert coaches.
Not forgetting the serendips...
This is more than the exploration of unique natural resources and cultural heritage. With our light footfall and quiet paddles we immerse ourselves in a relaxed but alert way - and the treasures quickly reveal themselves. We are endlessly surprised and drawn deeper into the wonders around us. It just takes a bit of reading the seascapes and watching the weather and flexing to the opportunities as they arise - and carrying a fishing line...
Focussed on the unique wild landscapes of Argyll...
we operate from the heart of the Knapdale National Scenic Area designated for "special qualities" which include:
- A profoundly evocative, ancient place
- Ever changing patterns of colour, sound and smell
- Long, slow journeys to the sea
- Dramatic views.
In the Sound of Jura
On the bogs
Along the ridges
Past the standing stones
Over the beaches
Round the headlands
Through the villages
And into the woods.
Photography copyright Philip Price, Dalriada Project & Will Self. With thanks to Philip Price and the Dalriada Project.