A bothy weekend with SSKeG buddies at Coruisk

January 18-20th 2019

Not much snow so far this winter but it is certainly still lying on the east side of the Cairngorms.  Frozen white stuff on the roads.  Anyway I needed to be over on Skye for a sea kayak meet so I took it easy over the top and a bit slower than normal overall.  Worked out ok and arrived for a night in Broadford just as it got dark.

Saturday was an 0930 gathering at Elgol and the crew of 9 started packing sea kayaks on the beach there.  All bar Mick & Rosie were new colleagues to me but SSKeG seems a pretty laid back network of paddlers and everyone just seemed to get on smoothly.  We launched off a dull strip of sand, and set off under the snow covered peaks of the Cuillins – bright sun though chilly.

Photo credit to Chris Gordon

Course was set across to Soay (about a 4km open crossing) in a little chop and with the wind mainly on our backs.  Along the south of the island and then up the west side before heading across to the Skye cliffs.  We managed to spot the saltire cast into the rockface along here, and at one point “lost” Ali and became a party of 8.  By the lunch stop at the Viking canal/harbour we had resolved that.  Looks like the Vikings only had quite narrow longships in these parts though as the remaining drydock /haul-out areas aren’t that big.  Leaving Rubha an Dunain for another trip we cruised eastwards through the afternoon (about 11 kms) to enter the bay at Coruisk and the landing for the bothy.  About 31 kms for the day.

It was dark pretty quickly so from 5 pm onwards was a simple social evening (lots and lots of food – a small amount of liquid refreshment).  My vague plan of walking across to see Loch Coruisk went out the window.  Overnight was stormy but Sunday soon cleared and despite being cold (nippy fingers, keep moving kind of cold) we got organised and on the water without too much faff.

Photo credit to Chris Gordon

Half the group were heading straight back to Elgol but as the remaining 5 we set off south round Rubha a Gheodha Bhuidhe and then west.  Rounding the corner exposed us to squally blasts from the open sea and a painful headwind as we made the ferry glide across to Soay.  Not much conversation was had for nearly an hour before things settled down.  Rock faces here had lots of good sized sea urchins clinging to them at the water line which I thinks proves the sea is pretty clean & healthy there.  Moved along the north side of Soay and into the old shark station that’s accessible as the tide fills in.  An interesting spot for lunch and a poke around the industrial archaeology left by Gavin Maxwell and cohorts.  The filthy brown Soay sheep watched from a distance.  Somewhere in here we spotted an eagle soaring above.  Kate had a close encounter with an otter as we pulled out of the bay.

That just left us with a downwind cruise back east to Elgol -  great to have some extra free speed as some of the rollers headed the right way.   My GPS was saying our normal 6/7 kph cruising became 10 or 12 at times.  The sun was still shining for us but clearly there were squally rain/snow showers passing over the big mountains.  I wouldn’t want to have been out hillwalking.  Just 17 kms on day 2 but very pleasant.

Gear packed up, farewells said and another paddle was complete.  Great fun amid stunning scenery with new friends.  Brill.

Photo credit to Chris Gordon


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