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
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.
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.
|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.
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.