Paddle, explore, forage, taste and generally immerse (but hopefully not submerge!) yourself in the stunning edible landscape of South-West Scotland…
Wednesday 17th – Friday 19th May 2023 (3 days and 2 nights)
£575 pp, including kayak, paddling kit (waterproofs etc), camping gear (if required), all food, drinks, paddling and foraging guiding/instruction.
I’m super-excited to be teaming up with my friends at Adventure Carrick to offer this fantastic experience.
- Paddling, wild camping, coastal foraging and cookery around the remarkable coastal foodscapes of Galloway, SW Scotland.
- Beaches, forests, salt marshes, incredible flora, fauna and seaweeds.
- 3 day’s easy exploring by kayak, with shore-based foraging sessions, and 2 wild camps
- All equipment including kayaks, paddling gear, tents, sleeping mats/bags, and dry bags is included in the price
- Fully catered to a very high level using wild ingredients we will gather along the way, plus lots that have been pre-foraged/prepared and brought along, plus other hyper-local ingredients such as cheeses, smoked fish/meat etc – a chance to taste the finest food SW Scotland has to offer (all dietary requirements can be catered for).
- Identification, harvesting, medicinal/bushcraft uses and wild cookery of seaweeds and coastal plants, with Scotland’s only full-time foraging instructor.
- Instruction in safe sea kayaking from highly qualified instructors.
- Maximum group size on this trip is 8 clients, with a minimum of 1 paddle guide to every 4 clients, plus a foraging guide
- Foraged cocktails, campfire cookery and wild feasting – a chance to fully imbibe a stunning marine landscape.
- Suitable for novice paddlers with reasonable fitness and who are at ease outdoors (see below for more detail) – full sea kayaking kit, camp gear and tuition are included in the price. Also suitable for more experienced kayakers wanting to learn more about coastal foraging. The paddling guide will contact you to discuss your experience etc before your booking is confirmed.
Click to listen to a podcast by award-winning travel blogger Kathi Kamleitner about her paddle and forage trip with us in Galloway, and click here to see Kathi’s photo gallery from the trip.
Booking, Enquiries and Payment are all dealt with by Adventure Carrick – phone and email details here. Once you have made contact, paddle guide Chris will get back to you to talk you through what is involved answer any questions and discuss how your level of paddling experience and fitness will fit the format, before your booking is confirmed.
Galloway Wild Foods Gift Vouchers can be used towards this event – please quote your voucher code on booking.
Meeting Point: Galloway coast between Kirkcudbright and Isle of Whithorn. This is a large stretch of coast, offering us maximum flexibility according to sea conditions. We will give as much notice as possible as to our exact meeting point, but if you need to book accommodation in advance of that, the Newton Stewart to Gatehouse of Fleet area will be the best area to go for. For more information on visiting Galloway for Galloway WIld Foods events, including an accommodation/camping guide, see here.
Route: This will be dependant on weather (especially wind), sea and tidal conditions, as well as the paddling ability within the group. While we have preferred routes in mind, is not possible to accurately commit to an exact route more than a few days ahead. The route and itinerary will be outlined when we meet, but remains flexible throughout the trip to maximise enjoyment, and foraging opportunities, and to ensure the safety and comfort of everyone involved. Your guides know the Galloway coast intimately, are extremely experienced in looking after people in the wild, and will constantly be balancing and adapting the itinerary to account for sea conditions, weather, clients needs, and group safety. See section on “The Paddling” below for more information.
Finish Point: Conditions may mean that our paddling journey does not finish in the same location as it begins. In this eventuality, everyone will be returned to their vehicle or other connection at the end of the event.
Equipment: Adventure Carrick will provide you with sea kayaks, paddling equipment, buoyancy aids, tents, sleeping mats, and any other equipment highlighted prior to the event. You are welcome to bring your own kit if you have it, but there is no price reduction for this.
Food: The trip is fully catered to a high level from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 3, including snacks and drinks. All dietary requirements can be catered for.
Kit List: A kit list will be provided prior to the event and also what equipment we have on offer, including dry bags. We will show you how to pack your kayak.
About Your Guides
This event is a collaboration between Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods and Chris Saunders of Adventure Carrick. It is born of friendship, a shared love of the outdoors and eagerness to offer an amazing experience in an accessible location that showcases all the wonders of the Galloway coast through an immersive experience.
You are in good hands: Chris is a true waterman with a strong affinity for the ocean: a surfer, stand-up paddle boarder, yoga practioner, holistic adventurer, and river/sea paddler. When he’s not out surfing, he’s planning an epic river trip. Chris has over 30 years industry experience in teaching watersports and an abundance of qualifications which allows him lead, guide and teach in various crafts and environments. Chris also trains instructors, nurtures apprentices into the industry and is a respected technical advisor on outdoor adventure. When he isn’t on the water, Chris runs a mobile Gin Bar!
Another paddle guide from Chris’s experienced team will also join the trip, making the client to paddle guide ratio for this trip 4 clients to 1 paddle guide. This allows maximum support, tuition and safety.
Mark has been teaching about foraging and wild food for over 30 years, and has taught and nurtured many of the new wave of foraging guides and enthusiasts. Based in Galloway, Mark is deeply entwined with the coastal foodscapes of SW Scotland, and this adventure will be a journey through some of his favourite foraging locations, meeting many of the plants and seaweeds featured on this website. Mark has taught on paddling and foraging trips for the many years and loves guiding these trips in the rich foraging grounds around his home in Galloway. You can hear Mark discussing his love of foraging on podcasts and in films here.
Mark will provide the foraging tuition and lead the wild catering, while Chris and his fellow paddling guide will be responsible for keeping everyone safe and comfortable on the water. Both will enjoy telling you about the geography, folklore, smuggling stories and natural history of the Galloway coast, keeping you comfortable in camp, and sharing their passion for foraged cocktails! 🙂
What To Expect
After introductions you will be equipped and allocated a kayak and guided as to how to best pack it for stability. After a safety briefing we will disembark in a calm, sheltered area of water where everyone will have a chance to get a feel for their kayak, how it handles, and practice their paddle strokes. Two paddle guides will be on hand at all times to support you and provide bespoke tips and tuition on paddle technique if and when you need it. Kayaking is simple and intuitive so we’ll soon be underway, exploring the sea conditions, and rugged coast, and popping ashore to connect with remarkable plants and to eat lunch as we journey towards our first night’s camp spot.
Upon arrival at our first night’s destination – a beautiful secluded beach, inaccessible by car – we will make camp and explore. This is a chance for wild swimming, shellfish hunting, more foraging, relaxing, gathering firewood and generally enjoying camp life. We will prepare and enjoy a foraged meal together, light a fire and enjoy the sunset with some wild tipples.
The next morning after breakfast we will decamp and head off on the next day’s adventure – more paddling, guided foraging, nature watching, lunch, exploring uninhabited tidal islands, smuggler’s caves, and catching low tides to learn about seaweeds.
The second nights’ camp will also consist of an foraged meal, time for socialising and enjoying the natural environment with a wild sunset cocktail or two.
There is a possibility (sea condition-dependent) that we will use one camp spot for both nights, which minimises packing/unpacking time, and maximises foraging/paddling time.
The final day will consist of more foraging, exploration and lunch as we head to our final destination and the end of our expedition.
The Galloway coast is an amazing natural environment, with a multitude of habitats and coastal foodscapes, including rocky shores, shingle beaches, sandy bays, salt marshes, maritime hedgerows and coastal woodlands. This is the richest coastal foraging environment in Scotland, with a diverse array of nourishing, succulent and delicious wild coastal herbs, vegetables and seaweeds, and this trip is timed to maximise encounters with them at the peak of their succulence. Mark’s intimate knowledge of the area will allow us to dive deep into the area’s extraordinary foodscapes. During the course of the trip we could encounter every coastal plant and seaweed on this website’s wild food guide.
Foraging on a kayak journey is not the same as foraging on a guided walk. While, on occasion, we may be able to connect with and learn about seaweeds at sea, generally we will set ashore and explore on foot to forage. So the foraging elements become opportunistic sorties as part of a wider experience of journeying and observing the land from the sea. Times spent paddling are also a chance to mentally (and sometimes physically!) digest what we explored at the last stop.
In general, the foraging element of the trip will focus on teaching rather than harvesting, though there will be opportunities to gather elements of our meals as we go.
The trip is suitable for all levels of paddling experience including novices, though we recommend you to have had some experience and tuition in sea kayaking first. During the trip we adapt to the comfort level of all attendees, which usually means short stretches of paddling (maximum of 1.5 hoursat a time, usually a good bit less) at low speeds. This is a gentle, explorative imbibing of the landscape, not a race or endurance event, so if you are a fit, experienced paddler, looking to clock up miles and miles, this may not be the trip for you.
Its unlikely that all three days of the trip will have flat, calm, windless conditions, so you should expect to be paddling on a more or less “bumpy” sea at some point during the trip. Coping with – and enjoying – paddling in waves is what makes sea kayaking fun and adventurous, but all individuals have different comfort zones about how much “bumpiness” they enjoy! You guides will ensure that nobody goes beyond their comfort zone, but inexperienced paddlers may, at times, come close to it. These moments – near, but not beyond, one’s comfort zone – usually become the cherished highlights of the paddling experience.
The coast of SW Scotland consists of three large, open bays/estuaries – Luce Bay, Wigtown Bay and Kirkcudbright Bay (you can view a map here). Each of these present particular challenges and opportunities in terms of tides, currents and exposure to wind and wave. There is a saying among sea kayakers: “Plan the paddle, don’t paddle the plan”. What this means is that, while research, weather forecasts, local knowledge, and a hoped-for route are all elements of planning a paddling journey, it is often not sensible to try to stick rigidly to that plan. Any journey must constantly adapt to sea conditions, weather and the skills and comfort levels of paddlers, and that is what we do on these trips. So, for example, strong sustained westerly winds might mean sticking to the leeward side of a peninsula for a whole trip, while calmer conditions may allow a circumnavigation of a whole large bay (such as Wigtown Bay), timed to take advantage of currents and tides. Rest assured that the coast of Galloway offers safe options for almost all sea and weather conditions, and the dual focus of the trip – paddling and foraging – allows us plenty of flexibility to get the most out of the trip if sea conditions are challenging.
Sea kayaks are stable in the water, especially when loaded for multi-day trips, so novices should feel comfortable and able to enjoy the journey throughout. You will be fully briefed on capsize drills before going on the water (but won’t be asked to do capsize drills). Capsizes are rare, but if they do happen your paddle guides are highly trained and will have you back in your kayak in minutes, with water pumped out. Gear is stored in dry bags in watertight holds, so won’t get wet.
In terms of effort required, paddling a sea kayak is comparable to walking, only you are predominantly using upper torso and arm muscles. You do not need to be muscle-bound to paddle, but you do need a moderate level of fitness, reasonable upper-body strength, and the ability to sustain a steady effort over an hour or more. This combination will mean you can fully enjoy the experience. At times you will have to help carry the kayaks to and from the water’s edge. If you do not enjoy physical exercise or have a low level of fitness, you are likely to find sea kayaking challenging. All clients will be contacted directly by paddle guide Chris before confirmation of booking to discuss your levels of experience and fitness for the trip.
Paddling Gear: High quality kayaks, paddles, spray decks, paddling waterproofs and dry bags for gear are included in the price. Sorry, 2 person kayaks are not available for this trip.
Camping Gear: Tents, sleeping mats and sleeping bags are also available should you require them – see below under “Wild Camping”.
The Food and Drink
The trip is fully catered to a high level and we can accommodate most dietary requirements, which will be requested on booking.
Clients on previous trips have consistently raved about the quality of the food, which couldn’t be further from the “noodles & spam” vibe of many non food-focussed paddling trips! 90% of what we eat – whether foraged or bought – will be from Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere, so this is a true immersion in the culinary heritage of the region.
Mark carefully plans, forages, sources and pre-prepares a wide range of foods to keep you nourished and delighted, but also to illustrate the uses of the wild foods we will encounter on the trip.
Breakfast is usually organic porridge, with lots of trimmings, including wood avens root syrup, birch sap syrup, wild herbs, nuts and fruits, with a selection of herbal and medicinal mushroom teas and coffee.
Lunch incorporates many wild ingredients, most of which will have been pre-foraged/prepared by Mark, and others that we will forage during our journey. Expect pestos, patés, ferments, laverbread, wild sushi, wild chutneys, pickles, floral champagne, wild seed cake, hyper-local cheeses from The Ethical Dairy, smoked meat from Galloway Smokehouse and very fine local sourdough/oatcakes, and (of course!) freshly harvested wild spring salads.
Dinner is freshly prepared using wild plants, seaweed and fungi that we meet during the trip. While we will harvest some plants for cooking with during the trip, it isn’t always practical to harvest enough to nourish everyone as we explore and learn, so Mark pre-forages some of our wild ingredients. You will have the opportunity to help with the preparation and cooking should you wish.
Typical dinner dishes include a starter of stir-fried hogweed shoots with wild flowers, wild coastal sushi, seaweed and mushroom dashi broth with wild herbs, crispy seaweed snacks, or chanterelles with marsh samphire, wild leek and seaweed noodles.
Our main course may be something like wild spiced kedgeree with coastal succulents, smoked fish and mussels, wild mushroom risotto, or a ragu with with coastal vegetables and pulses (see below).
Mark and Chris (who runs a mobile gin bar in his spare time!) will also provide a well stocked wild bar for you to enjoy around the camp fire. The wild bar includes home made foraged spirits, champagnes, vermouths, cordials, and meads, hyper-local gins . We’ll make wild cocktails and enjoy them under the setting sun.
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Our journey will take us to remote beaches and coastal woods where we will make camp. We may make a different wild camp on each night of the trip, which enhances the journeying experience, but sometimes conditions make it better to camp in the same location for two nights, and this brings the advantage of less time spent setting up and taking down camp, repacking kayaks etc, allowing more time for exploration. So either arrangement feels like a win!
Unlike the Scottish highlands, midges are not generally a major issue around the coast of Galloway, and we should be able to enjoy our camps unmolested!
Weather can be less reliable, and you should bring waterproofs (other than the ones provided for paddling) and warm clothes. The trip will not be cancelled due to rain – only high winds from the wrong direction will result in cancellation, in which case you will be offered a full refund or alternate date – see below for further details of cancellation policy.
Tents, sleeping mats and dry bags in which to stow them are included in the price of the trip, though you are of course welcome to bring your own. A full kit list will be provided on booking.
If you aren’t a happy camper you might want to consider booking an on-foot foraging event with Galloway Wild Foods and/or a day/half day paddling trip with Adventure Carrick instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is your cancellation policy?
- If you cancel: You can cancel without penalty up to 4 weeks ahead of the event and receive a full refund. If you cancel within 4 weeks of the event for any reason, you will only receive a refund if your place can be refilled. We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance to cover yourself against any need you may have to cancel.
- If the trip is cancelled by us: This will only happen in the event of extreme weather that makes sea kayaking unsafe, or if we receive insufficient bookings to make the trip viable – both highly unlikely. If we cancel you will receive a full refund for the ticket price of the event. We will not refund any other costs you may have incurred, so again, we recommend you take out travel insurance if your accommodation/travel costs are significant.
I’m not sure whether I’m fit enough, or whether I’ll be comfortable in a kayak…
- When you contact Adventure Carrick to enquire about booking, you will speak to Chris who is your paddle guide for the trip, and joint event organiser. Chris will go through what to expect and discuss your level of fitness/paddling experience with you, and advise you on whether this trip is suitable for you. Please also re-read the section titled ‘The Paddling” above.
Any Other Questions..?
- Chris will be able to answer these when you have your pre-confirmation chat.