Midges, Packrafts & Paragliding – Lochcarron, Scotland

Having used a week off during one of the covid lockdowns to build my Iron Raft packraft I sought a couple of friends to go on a packrafting, hiking and paragliding trip to Lochcarron, Scotland. The idea was for a 5 day trip to hike and explore the ranges first to the east of Lochcarron, crossing the sea loch and paddling Loch Monar to then head to Torrdon in the north, ending with paddling and camping out on Loch Maree. I had also packed my paraglider (my bag was obviously not heavy enough already!) with the hope of some sunset flying.

The three of us set off from Lochcarron, crossing the Loch, wondering how our two DIY Iron Rafts and one pre-made (cheating?) raft would fare on a sea loch crossing of several kilometers. 

Thankfully we all made it across the Loch with no issues, the weather for the week of high pressure and sunny skies were ideal for paddling. We did, however, realise that we had forgotten half the gas! Resigned to the fact we didn’t want to do the crossing again, we pressed on to Loch Monar. 

The hike to Loch Monar included an opportunity to paddle a number of smaller lochs on the way, not seeing a soul since we had crossed Lochcarron we enjoyed an amazing sunset on the banks of Loch an Tachdaidh.

The hike to Loch Monar included an opportunity to paddle a number of smaller lochs on the way, not seeing a soul since we had crossed Lochcarron we enjoyed an amazing sunset on the banks of Loch an Tachdaidh.

On the second day we continued to Loch Monar, paddling what we could. The amazing high pressure weather comes with some cons though, horse flies and the nightly midge swam could be intense at times. Especially if you pack up your tent whilst having you back out! Poor Adam.

That night we camped next to Loch an Laoigh which gave me the opportunity to hike up Sail Riabach and enjoy an incredible sunset glide back to camp.

After a quick crossing of Lochcarron we were on to Torridon with a rough plan to camp in the mountains. We set our sights on camping high to avoid the worst of the heat and hopefully the midges and found a great spot at the summit of Mullach an Rathain with 360 views over the Torridon mountains and the sea.

With light winds I took the opportunity to paraglide down to the valley (even with the inevitable walk back up the mountain to our camp after). Well worth it!

To end our trip we opted to head for Loch Maree and try to camp on one of the shores. After paddling for 5 mins, we had the Loch to ourselves and stopped for lunch on a small beach. Paddling further north west for the afternoon we stopped on a secluded sand bank and enjoyed our last epic sunset to end our trip.

I love looking at a map and picking out remote sections of Scotland to explore. Being able to do this with the packraft this time was such a good experience. Having built it as well I got an extra sense of achievement, crossing sea lochs and battling against the wind the Iron Raft is surprisingly capable whilst carrying 15-20kg on its bow.

A great adventure with friends and a privilege to be able to explore this region with blue bird skies each day, even if it meant many bites to bring home and itch for a week after!

Words and images by Ed Day.