Clear, calm weather on the west and a phone call from my pal, Tom Tindale saw us catching up for a paddle together. We settled on a plan which took us from Kyle of Lochalsh, northwards to Plockton, exploring the coastline and the many skerries along the way.
Leaving a very dark and misty Black Isle, as the day dawned, the weather on the west certainly seemed to be a good deal better. We shuttled cars and boats and decided that Kyle to Plockton would be the better option, given tide, wind and light. The light was crystal clear and the views to the surrounding hills, coast and islands were stunning. 17km later and having had a great day out, we pulled into Plockton just as the sun was now setting below the surrounding hills.
Over the course of the summer, Tania and I were long term students for Giles Trussell of Glenmore Lodge, in his bid to gain his Level 5 sea kayaking qualification. We had been involved over the summer in a series of really useful coaching sessions with Giles and now, a few weeks away from his assessment, we decided we would have three days in the Oban area.
On the agenda were rough water handling and rescues, moving water and general refinement of all the skills which Giles had passed on to us in the preceding months. On day two of the trip, we decided to go on a journey. The wind was a good Force 5 to 6 from the south and it gave us an oportunity to kayak in some decent conditions and have some fun. Setting off from the head of Loch Feochan (just south of Oban), we intended to paddle down the loch, across the 2km stretch of open water to Glyen at the south end of Kerrera, up the Sound of Kerrera to Oban and from there, round to Connel via Ganavan.
A great Autumn paddle with the Scottish Sea Kayaking E-Group, joining the development weekend on Skye. Launching from Elgol, we paddled along the shores of Loch Scavaig, enjoying the spectacular views into the majestic Cuillin Hills.
Heading initially for Camasunary, we then turned towards Coruisk and Loch na Cuilce. From there we paddled along the western shores of Loch Scavaig, heading for Soay, the setting for Gavin Maxwell's basking shark fishery of the 1940's. Stopping to explore Soay harbour and the site of the shark fishery, we then set off back along the Soay Sound and, leaving the shelter of Soay itself, had a 5km open water crossing back to Elgol and a well deserved meal at Cafe Sia in Broadford later on that evening.
This was an area of the coast I had long wanted to explore by sea kayak. The day, the conditions and the company all combined to make this a classic day out and a journey to remember.
Saturday 14th September saw a very successful Open Day for the Inverness Canoe Club. Held at Loch Achilty, this was an opportunity for club members and prospective members to find out more about paddling and the wide ranging activities of the Canoe Club.
Sea kayaks, river kayaks and open canoes were arranged along the banks of the loch and there was lots of opportunity to "come and try". A barbeque, demonstrations of "how to pack a sea kayak" and bushcraft activities for children were all supporting activities to some great paddling and new experiences under the watchful eyes of the Inverness Canoe Club coaches.
Mounting a tiny point of view camera in a tree overlooking the launch site and setting it to trigger every 10 seconds provided a great timelapse sequence. Several hours and some 1500 images later, the result can be seen below.
View in high resolution by selecting the appropriate Quality in the Settings menu. Full screen viewing is also possible.
Tania and I had the opportunity in July to join one of the Skyak Adventures sea kayaking trips to St Kilda. Led by Gordon Brown, this is a must on any sea kayaker's "to do" list. I have been to St Kilda several times before, but this trip had the promise and all the ingredients of being somewhat special!
Based on board the MV Cuma for a week, we kayaked every day exploring firstly the island of Scarp and then, for the highlight of the week, four great days out on St Kilda. Our other fellow explorers were a great bunch and, to top it all, the weather went from wild, wet and windy, almost overnight to being sunny, warm and glorious.
The essential ingredients all combined to provide us with an amazing trip, fantastic company, great conditions when we needed them, awesome sea kayaking, and stunning scenery on the archipelago of superlatives. The views of the islands and the wildlife are unique from a sea kayak and whilst on any visit to St Kilda, the weather plays a large part in determining just how accessible the islands are, we were genuinely lucky to be able to kayak every day, exploring every island, every stac and almost every cave during our four days on St Kilda.
With so many photographs to share, I have divided the trip into the respective days and posted these as separate pages and I hope you enjoy them.
360° aerial panoramas have now come together very nicely. They have taken a while to figure out but the first examples are now posted and I'm very pleased with the results. The cold weather has reduced the useful battery life in the quadcopter down to around 5 minutes and so getting the photographs was a bit of a race against the clock!! Consequently I wasn't hovering as high as I might but I estimate that the quadopter was around 30m up in the air. Hopefully the warmer weather in the summer and better light will enable me to compile a number of dramatic examples from a higher altitude. Watch this space....