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.