Planning my 14 for 2014

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As the evenings get lighter after a dark and particularly wet Winter I’ve started to plan how I’m going to achieve my 14 for 2014.  Here’s an update on where I’m up to – and also some requests for suggestions and tips you might have for me.

If you haven’t figured this out by now, I’m a planner.  (Not only do I love to plan things but I have a professional qualification to prove it !).  So if there’s one thing I like almost as much as actually taking part in various activities it’s planning them.

So far I have two of my 14 for 2014 booked: an indoor climbing session with my son to become a certified climber, and getting tickets for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.  Most of the others I have some idea about and can organise nearer the time but the one that’s concerning me most right now is seeing the northern lights from Scotland.  We’ve had two months of low pressure weather systems bringing wave after wave of rain and so I can only hope that clear, settled winter conditions come during February and March.  Oh, that and some active sunspots pointed our way would also be nice …

The two ’14 for 2014′ challenges I’ve been investigating recently are going on a kayak/camping trip and trying sea kayaking.  I’ve done a little kayaking around Scotland and would like to do much more.  I have an inflatable (a 2-person Sevylor Pointer K2) which is good for flatter water and sheltered sea lochs and would certainly be suitable for a camping trip, but I know that it definitely has its limitations in terms of sea kayaking.  I’m therefore keen to hear if anyone has any recommendations for short sea kayaking introductory courses – probably one or possibly two days – on the West coast of Scotland (perhaps Skye, Plockton, Arisaig, Oban?).  I’d like to try out sea kayaking in a proper boat and compare the differencew with my own.  I’ve come across a couple of companies who provide short courses but most seem to focus on holidays and longer courses.  Have you got any recommendations for me ?

In terms of the kayak/camping trip, since this is most likely going to be a solo trip I’m looking at sheltered lochs rather than rivers (ie a circular route).  I like the idea of wild camping on an island or remote headland and have so far identified Loch Morar and Loch Moidart as two promising candidates.  Loch Morar has some great islands and is in a fabulously remote part of the world.  Loch Moidart, just to the south seems relatively sheltered, with lovely white sand beaches, although would perhaps involve some slightly more exposed water around the Ardtoe headland.  The third location is Loch Sween, near Tayvallich in Argyll, which has some sheltered sea lochs but competition from the yachting fraternity and perhaps not so many wild camping spots ?  Again, do you have any advice or recommendations for me on these or other options ?

Luskentyre Beach, Harris

Luskentyre Beach, Harris

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve decided to use my 14 for 2014 as a way of raising money for charity – specifically the Naomi House Children’s Hospice in Hampshire, which has cared for the young daughter of a friend and ex-work colleague diagnosed with incurable brain tumour last October.  Very sadly, four year old Chiara passed away on the 21st January and her funeral took place on Friday.  There’s a very touching tribute – and link to Chiara’s fund raising site – in this article in the Salisbury Journal.  Naomi House clearly made a real difference to the last few months of Chiara’s life, and that of her family, and so this is why I want to use my 14 for 2014 to raise awareness and additional funds for the great work that they do.