Solo sea kayaking round Raasay and Rona

Monday 12th Sept  -  Wed 14th

Day 1:  Launched from Sconser on Skye at 14:30 in persistent rain as the w/e storms hadn’t completely died off. Pretty soon saw a rainbow though and thought of chasing it (but it was going the other way from my course). Had a good westerly and a following swell to help me get out to Raasay with Scalpay on my right;  the first 45 mins saw an average of 8.2 kph and a maximum on the GPS of 12.5 kph - pretty nuts with a loaded boat

Passing Scalpay

Round Eyre Point and then up east side of Raasay now with improving weather but Applecross and Beinn Bhan remained covered in a dank grey veil. Paddling 200m or so off the cliffs meant I had a funny west going chop (which presumably comes from downdraughts at the cliffs?).  

North of Rubha na Leac

On up to the ruined Brochel castle and spotted a sea eagle cruising past.  Not much left of the castle so I took some pics from the boat and moved on.  The coastline is a bit more interesting on the top of Raasay and being in close shows you the many twists and deformaties in the rock strata.  
Brochel castle

Arrived at the northerly beach to find seven kayaks already above the high water line; but 28 kms was enough for the afternoon so pulled up too.  The guys from the Devon area proved to be good company and we had a few drams and a laugh for the evening.

Day 2:  Set off about 09:30 on flat calm and with the promise of sunshine to go anti-clockwise round Rona.  By 10:30 it was fully sunny and extremely easy paddling. There was a dive boat working in the middle of the sound but no sign of submarines.  Rona again is an interesting rocky / broken coastline with different muted colours in the rock. 

Looking towards Torridon

By midday I had paddled on to Cow Rock and did a bit of seal watching.  I guess they were just common seals but they seem to have small heads (pardon my ignorance).  Wind was F2 southerly, and there are great views of the Trotternish peninsula of Skye given the clear visibility.  

Rona north light

Black Cuillins on the horizon

By 1330 I had completed rounding Rona and was back at the big lump of land that is Eilean Tigh where I spied an otter – but he’d already seen me and was on his way back into the water.

Storr rock features across the channel

Heading south now down the west coast of Raasay I chose to chance my luck by going down the inside channel of Eilean Fladday.  I was about 45mins too early for the channel to connect north-to-south so had a long lunch and enjoyed the view.  The returning tide duly obliged and I set off again with a detour in to Loch Arnish to assess the camp site possibilities for future trips;  there are some but it’s not great.  

Cuillin ridge

Dry channel inboard of Eilean Fladday

Continued on to the beach at Inver where I had the whole place to myself after a 37 kms day – reward was a beer, dinner and a malt.

Inver beach

Day 3:  Had a reasonably tardy start and set off in a F3 with some choppy water.  The Old Man of Storr and adjacent hills wore their own hat of fluffy white cloud which hadn’t been there the previous evening so the weather was indeed set to turn again.  

Morning view of Storr from Inver

Sure enough the early morning sun turned to “mizzle” – this is my new word (I learnt it from the Devon lads), we would normally just say dreich !  As I neared Oskaig I spotted porpoise fins but despite me paddling out nearer to the centre of the channel, they didn’t stay and play, the group just cruised northwards.

Glamaig looming out of the mist

Wind was now F3/4 S and turbulent with a northerly chop /swell to go with it.  I hung around the new harbour at Churchton till the ferry was out of the way (docked) and then paddled straight across the Narrows in the rain.  From the motion of the big bouy in the channel centre it didn’t look like there was much stream at all. 

Hugging the bank now on the Skye side I got back into Sconser by midday to complete the 77 kms trip.  Given the 40-50 kt winds blasting over the Skye bridge on the Monday morning as I had driven across, I have to say that Tuesday had simply been superb.  Rona in the sunshine solo was fun.

Dam paddling

Aug 26th - Sept 11th

A few outings in the WW boat which didn't all go to plan.

There's not been much rain in Scotland this summer (??!) so firstly we needed water in rivers hence me looking simply at Dam release sites /dates.  Thus the Upper Tummel was completed, the Lower Tummel twice, and the Moriston.  And I sneaked in a trip down the Findhorn Gorge with Terry even though it was low.

On the Tummels, the highlights are always McLaren's Falls and the Linn.  Did a bit of supporting rescue cover for Cults CC along the way.  The Moriston was with Mike and the first run was just sweet;  then the drag back to the top and a not so good second run (got my hair wet !).  In similar fashion I got my hair wet on the Findhorn too... (must be rusty).

Pictures here of the Moriston.

Mountain Biking Bonanza

August 29th  -  September 3rd

Six days of mountain biking spread out across Scotland and with two good mates to share the fun.  Weather was varied but the bad stuff didn't last too long.

Monday - Did the big Torridon Circuit.  From Loch Claire head south over Coulin Pass, Drochaid Coire Lair and down to Achnashellach Sation, then back from Coulags over Bealach na Lice and into Annat.  Some of this is where the Steve Peat Solo vid was fimed.  38 kms in 7.5 hours.  Fantastic loop with real exposure, bare rock to ride, and astounding sceneary  (but some hike-a-bike as well).  Just magical.  

Mike & the spooky tree

Steve Peat's bothy

Completed back at Annat looking across at Ben Alligan

Wednesday - The black loop at the Highland Wildcat trails (Golspie, east coast) which takes you up to the Duke of Sutherland monument overlooking the north sea.  Things like the Lactic Ladder climb and the swoopy Lawson's Run have long been favourites of mine.

Thursday - Glen Feshie western loop.  So from the glen head carpark, going south along the river's east bank to Carnachuin, then ford the river and head up the big fire road climb to be able to loop north and east on sweet forest single track to the metal river bridge and back to the car park.  Just 16.5 kms but good exercise with no pushing-up.  The damage caused during last year's floods is still very visible with 2 sections of trail completely washed away and the original bridge was washed away in 2009.  Were welcomed back to the van by a midge fest.

Friday - The "Glen Feshie Challenge" loop up.  This goes up two munros...  So from the glen head carpark – Carnachuin – then head east up Mullach Clach a Bhlair across to Moine Mhor  and then  Carn Ban Mor.  Finally its pay-bacvk time and the path down to Auchlean is very fast, stoney, man-made in places but a real hoot.  The day was 23 kms of which quite a few are stiff uphill granny ring or just a protracted push.

Saturday - Still with Mike & Lynn but today was just a simple tour above Deeside.  Did Ballfour woods and up Carnferg, then across to Baudy Meg and the long cruise back through Glen Tanar.

Maybe more photos to follow.....