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Bushcraft Canoe Expedition Scotland

"Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature" - Pierre Trudeau

The Inverpolly-Assynt wilderness area of north-west Scotland is one of the most stunning and truly wild British landscapes and open canoeing is arguably the most inspiring way to traverse it.

In May we will return to explore this dramatic landscape moving between a number of bases, learning about wilderness bushcraft and no doubt seeing some west coast wildlife along the way. If you are more interested in wildlife then please see our Wildlife Canoe Expedition.

Some portaging will be required (i.e. carrying the canoes overland between lochs).

Course leader

The course will be led by our chief instructor, Leon Durbin. He is an experienced bushcraft instructor and wildlife ecologist who lived in Scotland for 10 years. We will also have a qualified canoe coach with us.


You will spend six full days in the heart of the wilderness learning a range of bushcraft skills:

  • basic paddling and portaging (carrying canoe overland)
  • coastal foraging
  • primitive firelighting (sparks and friction with reference to local tinders e.g. horse's hoof fungus)
  • local plants and their uses
  • shelter building (such as rock and crevice shelters - known in Scotland as "howffs")
  • fishing with lines
  • navigation and safe traversing of wild terrain (e.g. river crossing, hill and mountain walking)


1-7 May 2010.


A detailed itinerary will be supplied with the course specific Joining instructions but the following will give a you an idea this years itinerary.

We will meet at Ullapool Youth Hostel on the first evening. The next day we will begin the expedition in Loch Sionnascaig (see photo top right) - spending 3 days there in some idyllic camps, including the site of last year's course. We will also visit a coastal site with plenty of shellfish and edible seaweed. We will then undertake a long portage (about 1 mile though we will be taking our time!) across to Loch Veyatie where we will spend a couple of days exploring the dramatic terrain and bushcraft resources over that side before leaving at Elphin. We will then return by road to the bright lights of Ullapool for a meal, shower, and some well earned beers!


The course is open to novice canoeists and bushcrafters, though the some experience is a definite advantage. You will be given basic canoe instruction on the first day - there will be two people paddling and carrying each canoe and we will aim to pair up experienced with non-experienced canoeists where possible (unless you prefer to canoe with a companion).

You must:

  • be over 18 years old;
  • have some outdoor experience (e.g. hill walking, camping, adventure sports, bushcraft etc.)
  • have a reasonable level of physical fitness (you will have to portage your canoe for about a mile at one point)
  • be able to swim 200 metres and
  • have a sense of humour!

This location is wild and isolated so you need to be good at adapting to local conditions both good and bad!


We will have some truly stunning wild campsites including a wooded glade next to a cascading waterfall and a small wooded island. You will need to bring a small tent, or a hammock and tarp (midge net is essential, though midges are not usually too bad at this time of year). A kit list will be detailed in the joining instructions.


The price £620 includes instruction, canoe usage, and all food while on the expedition plus meals and hostel accomodation while in Ullapool. During the trip we aim to prepare meals which include locally produced or foraged ingredients, and which are free range and/or organic wherever possible - you should not go hungry!

To reserve a place now you need to pay a deposit of £100 - the balance is due two calendar months in advance of the course.

Client quotes:

"The course was the best so far, the scenes were amazing and it was lovely to paddle the lochs with a sense of freedom everywhere you went. The only thing I would have improved would have been to make it longer! Overall I thought the course excellent and would recommend to anyone who wants to see Scotland at its best - I would go again!" - D. Bates

"An excellent run course with an instructor that is both knowledgeble and passionate about bushcraft, in some of the wildest and most beautiful settings this country has to offer". C. Lang

Here are some pics from an earlier expedition in the same area...



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