Paddleboarding Loch Long to Eilean Donan Castle

If you have a paddleboard and live in Scotland there is a pretty high chance that Paddleboarding to the famous and beautiful castle of Eilean Donan is on your SUP-it List.  The thought of getting to see a side of the castle not many others do and to view it from the water is hard to beat.  Plus there’s the undeniable lure of the promise of an awesome SUP Selfie to add to your social media.  A bit self indulgent maybe but I know one day when I am back in Australia I will look back on these Scottish SUP adventures and be so glad I succumbed!

A stunning image of Eilean Donan captured by the talented SUP Bloke

The Main Points

  • Location – Dornie, Loch Long, Scotland
  • Cost – Access from carpark
  • Conditions – Salt Water Loch
  • Other users – Occasional paddlers
  • Entry Point – Boat Ramp (can be slippy)
  • Surrounding amenities/Bathrooms- Village of Dornie

Location

Weather

The paddleboards ready to paddle down past Eilean Donan castle (seen in the upper left of frame)

Water Access for Paddleboarding to Eilean Donan Castle

First and foremost I want to address the fact that paddlboarding to Eilean Donan can be a bit of a tricky business.  Each time we have driven past I have tried to work out the best place to access the water.  From my observations there were a potential of 3 options.

  1. The Eilean Donan car park – this is a car park for visitors to the Castle and I would recommend that you clear it with Eilean Donan first. If you are not also visiting the Castle I imagine that their answer would be ‘no’ as this is one very busy place. If you get the go ahead I think that navigating the rocky bank from the car park to the water could be problematic from what I have seen.
  2. Dornie Community Hall – this is just over the bridge on the A87 going north towards Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye. There is some parking, bathroom fascilities and a boat ramp. I think this is a common place to access the water but on the day we were there the currents looked quite strong so we opted for…
  3. The town of Dornie which is just up Loch Long a little before you get to the bridge driving north. From here there is parking behind the village and a boat ramp, and we were able to watch for the turn of the tide and paddle down close to the shore where the water wasn’t flowing so fast. This is the one we chose on the day.
Map of the area around Eilean Donan to access water for paddleboarding

Paddleboarding to Eilean Donan

It is really important in locations like this one to have some knowledge and experience of water and tides. A good idea is to spend some time looking at how the water is behaving. It might even be better to go with a group or local company who knows the area well.

We found that the water was flowing out of Loch Long quite quickly. We decided to wait for the change of the tide. As we paddled down Loch Long we stayed close to the shore line as the water wasn’t moving so quickly. Where Loch Long meets Loch Alsh and Loch Duich we noticed a cross current. This location has a complex interaction of the three bodies of water. These situations could be alarming for the inexperienced paddleboarder.

We paddled up Loch Duich around Eilean Donan and found a spot out of the current to admire the castle. There was a handy spot of seaweed that we anchored ourselves in to pose for the all important SUP Selfie!

I think that there can be such a huge change in weather conditions in Scotland (and in fact anywhere).  And the difference between an ok SUP and a great one can certainly come down to the situation on the day.  I am so glad that we went paddleboarding at Eilean Donan but I would recommend going under better conditions than we had to get maximum enjoyment out of your paddle.

Paddleboarding at Eilean Donan Castle Scotland

Watch our Paddleboarding at Eilean Donan Adventure Film here

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