Steep creaking and brilliant sun

Story to come when I get back along with some pics from Italian alps.

NESKy goes to Assynt trailing a Buoy

May 5th - 7th 2017

To kick-off the NESKy tour of the "roof of Scotland", a significant group headed across to the campsite at Scourie (in Assynt) against a backdrop of recent superb weather.  We had a buoy with us in memory of a fellow north-east paddler, Adrian.  The buoy intends to be taken around Scotland using us all in turn as water borne pack-horses - this was the inaugural trip.

To get the story in the right order though let me mention that 3 of us got to the northwest a day early and so had the luxury of an extra paddle.  We decided on Lochinver to Clachtoll so as to have some shelter from the boisterous NE winds.  


We certainly got some sun.  however the winds were a bit of a nuisance and were F4 ish but fickle, some of it felt like down-bursts from somewhere above us.  The sea in turn was certainly swinging around the headland (Point of Stoer) and then coming at us from the northwest.  About 11kms that afternoon and we missed the opening hours of the little Tea-shack at Clachtoll and the Lochinver Pie-Shop.  Great to be out again though - the Assynt landscape is just brilliant.

That evening the full troup gathered in the new Tentipi and we looked forward to a good sociable weekend.

Saturday was a big day for logistics - two groups of 9 to be sorted with a 90 minute car shuttle (great fun of the single track road system).  Due to continuing NE winds we started at Scourie, heading round the coast south to Clashnessie beach.  Variable conditions with F4/5 on our backs.  Pretty early on I had the novel experience of a capsize in a cave/tunnel which obviously meant my torch was underwater too - rolled up in the dark !  Had to reverse out whilst the others all wondered what on earth I was up to.  There's quite a number of rocky islands along the way to explore, and indeed the inlets at Oldany island were a tad confusing at low water.

The sweep into Clashnessie beach is the final highlight in scenery terms and in the swell/surf conditions.  There were some tired bunnies in the camp on Saturday night after the 27kms.

And the winds didn't tail off for Sunday - so we opted for a sea-loch circuit rather than having so many folk out in what was threatening to be a F6.  Loch Laxford is a short drive north of Scourie and offers easy launching.  Did a good circuit including a number of inlets and a wee tidal outflow.  

Not greatly warm conditions by now but managed to see an otter feeding and some lovely pink-coral coloured sea urchins.  Ended mid afternoon after 15 kms of meandering, and did the coffee shop before heading back east and home.


Dolphins and sunshine off Glenuig

March 27th-29th 2017

Had an opportunity to paddle with new acquaintances at Glenuig and Arisaig in this recent period of glorious weather. Very relaxed time with just "day-trip" kit and great food/company each evening. Indeed I had the luxury of the 9-bed bunkhouse to myself so nobody noticed any snoring.  
Steve's Cairngorm Brewery ales probably helped things along.

The paddling group evolved day to day but everyone was welcoming and pretty well-matched for the trips.   Cheers to Douglas, Ian, Donald, Mike, Phil, David, Allan and Lorna.

Day 1: Sound of Arisaig

Glenuig north across the sound spending loads of time watching a dolphin pod playing with our boats.  Up to the skerries at Arisaig for another lunch on the empty sands (it was a spring low tide) and a toast to each other for being so fortunate with the dolphins.  The return leg wasn't too much different from the way out.  And the dolphins were still around.  Altogether 30 kms and no more than a Force 2/negligible swell.

They seemed attracted to Donald's phut-phut


another lunch stop

On the last leg south, the sails appeared...

Day 2:  Loch nan Uamh

Another day and another paddle,...  this time a party of 6 boats set out due north in another fine settled weather window. We stooged around the north coast of nan Uamh checked on Carlotta's Bothy, and headed in a steady loop to the east just casually exploring things.  Then along the coastline of Ardnish before a quick foray into Loch Ailort and back to the Glenuig Inn.  27kms for the day.  Benign conditions at all times.

Meant to mention my new Epic Touring paddles - first trip using them and they were excellent.  I have the hybrid shaft with the carbon blades so still pretty light weight but enough of a spring in the shaft to add a comfort factor.  Adjustable in length & feather so suits all conditions.  A great buy (thanks to Ivan Lawler for these).

Setting off after a Glenuig breakfast

Allan & Lorna

Day 3:   Round to the North Passage

Just half a day available so a shorter aim, and a reduced team - just 4 of us left. Weather had started to deteriorate with some substantial gusts from the south that tried to take our paddles away, still no swell to worry about.  Hugged the shoreline and did some simple rock-hopping.  Landed to see the fantastic little grass site opposite An Glas-eileen, then went round to the North Channel entrance (of Loch Moidart).  The tide was racing out by this stage and stranded poor Allan on a sand bar whilst those at the front had sneaked through in 2" of water.  Retraced our path up towards Glenuig for the cars.  Also lucky enough this time to see an otter just seabord of us on the way back.



Composite GPS track of the 3 days

A great convivial break with some pleasant paddling, cheers to all.  Great to see the Spring arrive and we can look forward to the season.  I managed 2 days whitewater boating, a walk, and 3 days seakayaking one after the other - just brilliant.