Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Small Isles at Easter

On the Thursday before Easter, Chris, Sam and I surfed the wave of holidaymakers and thrill-seekers bound for coast, countryside and mountain leisure destinations. We travelled through the night and arrived at the Silver Sands campsite near Arisaig shortly after 2am. 
Later in the morning Stephanie arrived and having packed our kayaks, we set off on a 5 day tour of 'the small isles'. Our first challenge was to cross 10 kilometres to the north end of the Isle of Eigg with a strengthening south-westerly wind.

On the following morning we left the Bay of Laig on the west of Eigg to continue to the Island of Rum landing in a small bay with a bothy called Dibidil. The east shores of Rum provided us with constant entertainment with cliffs, caves and kelp infested rock-gardens. From the north end of Rum, we intended to make the short hop west to Canna on the next day. However, with strong easterly winds forecast, we decided to scale our plans down a little. 
The Island of Soay was our next destination. The southern shores were less dramatic than those on Rum, but still intriguing and entertaining all the way into Camas nan Gall. We stopped in this inlet for snacks before crossing to the small port of Elgol on the Isle of Skye.

From Elgol we passed the cave of Bonnie Prince Charlie and made it to Taskarvaig Bay where we would be sheltered from any easterly winds. We settled down for the night knowing full well that we would have a challenging crossing to the mainland the next day. 
The first 10 kilometres of our final day were straight forward as we benefited from the shelter of the west facing cliffs. Upon arriving at the Point of Sleat we realised the strength of the easterly wind. Not only was there a force 4 wind blowing against us, we could barely make out the port of Mallaig through the haze. We scratched our way along the coast to Aird of Sleat. From here we would be exposed to the full force of the wind on the final leg of our trip.

The crossing was mentally taxing as well as physically challenging. We eventually landed at Morar Sands just to the south of Mallaig. After we had rested and eaten, we had just 3 kilometres to paddle to reach the Silver Sands campsite from where we had started.

It didn't seem to matter that we had cut our trip short by a day. Sometimes you just have to bow to the whims of mother nature. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Chris, Sam and Stephanie for their company on this exceptional journey around the small isles.

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