Welcome to the Scotland360° Sea Kayaking PhotoBlog
Welcome to the Scotland 360° Photoblog. Accounts of great trips out, with photography of some of Scotland's wild and scenic places are laid out below and on the linked pages. Enjoy the narrative and the images and I hope these inspire you.
The galleries on this page display the photographs of each of the days out. Either scroll through with your mouse or click on an image to enlarge it.
To see the full account, and with high resolution images of selected photography, please follow the "read the rest of this entry" link to read about and to view the full entry.
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There always seems to be one January weekend each year with clear skies and glorious sunshine, often associated with mists and inversions. For 2017, the 21st January was just such a day on such a weekend. We were itching to get out in the sea kayaks again and the forecast for the weekend was looking great.I've wanted to paddle around the Tarbat Ness peninsula for a while now and here was the opportunity for our first paddle of 2017. Tarbat Ness lighthouse is one of the Stevenson lighthouses, the second tallest in the UK and it sits on the driest place in Scotland.
Loch Gu Loch is an endurance swimrun event now in its second year.Starting from Urquhart Castle, the swimmers cross Loch Ness at first light, heading for Fort Augustus via the south side of Loch Ness. With 13 swim sections totalling 8km of swimming and 47km of running in between, this is a real feat of endurance.For the last few years I have been part of the safety team providing cover for swimmers for events such as this. Sea kayaks can provide close cover safety and this year I was stationed at Loch Duntelchaig and Loch Tarf.
The selection of photographs below were taken from my sea kayak and give a flavour of the event from the kayakers point of view!
"....Angus Mackie and Gordon Brown laid on calm reflective seas and warm sunshine as they taught us about kayaking photography. Superb days with lots of fun and learning.
My gear is all dried and put away and I have now had a chance to reflect on our 3 days. I really enjoyed our time together and I felt I learnt a lot about photographing kayaking and scenery from a kayak. Angus and Gordon were such entertaining and instructive coaches and everyone was such good company. I think I will need to renew my acquaintance with Kyle Rhea sometime soon to see if I can master a low brace turn without requiring a snorkel! I am itching to to try some of Angus's suggested editing techniques and maybe even a stitched panorama...."
Richard BottJust one of the comments from this year's Scotland360° / Skyak Adventures sea kayaking photography course. To see more of the photography, discover some of the secrets behind successful photography from a sea kayak and enjoy the highlights from the three days, please read on....
This year saw the second Scotland360° sea kayaking photography course run for SSKEG, based at Benderloch and Appin. Building on the success of last year, this course was once again designed to allow everyone to produce great results from their cameras whilst sea kayaking and to get the best out of their own photography.
Continuing with the castles theme from 2015, I chose the wonderfully scenic venue of Castle Stalker in Port Appin which provided a focal point of interest as well as a landing spot on the neighbouring island. This allowed time on shore as well as in kayaks, to cover composition, lighting, action shots, technical use of the camera as well as making time to review the output.
The Sandaig Islands have been on my kayaking bucket list for quite some time now. Situated at the southern end of the Kylerhea narrows, overlooking Skye and Glenelg, Sandaig is the setting for Gavin Maxwell's classic tale, "Ring of Bright Water", his story of living with otters on a secluded and remote corner of Wester Ross.
Tania and I had a few days on Skye and and the conditions were looking perfect for a paddle from Kylerhea to Sandaig and back again.... The forecast was settled, the tides were in our favour and we had the company of a couple of other paddlers - George from Greece and Roar from Norway.
As we were on Spring tides, the flow in Kylerhea was up to its maximum and we were fortunate to have the advantage of the south-going stream on our way down to Sandaig. Running at up to 8 knots on spring tides, this is quite a useful conveyor belt. With a leisurely stop for lunch and time to explore the islands for a while, our plan was then to pick up the north going stream which would assist us back up to Kylerhea once more.
Launching from the ferry slipway at Kylerhea, we had clear blue skies, wall to wall sunshine and no wind. The conditions were definitely in our favour.
Closer to Norway than Aberdeen, Shetland has long been on my bucket list. Tania and I had planned a week's sea kayaking trip for nine of us and there were many trips on the itinerary. With good weather and great company, we were fortunate to explore some of the classic sea kayak journeys on Shetland.
Skelda Voe, the Isle of Vaila, Mousa Island and Mousa Broch, a circumnavigation of Papa Stour, exploring the tunnels and caves of Esha Ness and finally, an evening trip out to The Drongs - all made for a great week and in good company.
In April of this year, Skyak Adventures and Scotland360° ran our first sea kayaking photography course.
Sea kayaking offers great ways of accessing and exploring some of the most scenic coastlines and photographic locations in Scotland and our course offers a unique blend of practical instruction in photography both on and off the water, as well as tailored sea kayak coaching from Gordon Brown, the UK's foremost sea kayak coach.
No technical photography skills are required; this is a course for participants to learn to produce great results from their cameras whilst sea kayaking and to get the best out of their own photography.
Our last day of the Easter holidays on Skye was to be one to remember. Having had a great day out in Loch Bracadale with Pete the day before, our conversation now turned to the subject of open crossings. We were keen to explore more of Skye and the islands of Fladda-chuin to the north were fast becoming the target.
The weather forecast was looking good with the winds dying down to around Force 1 or 2 and the conditions becoming very favourable. On the basis of such good conditions, we hatched a plan to take in the islands of Eilean Trodday, Fladda-chuain and Gaeilavore to the north of Rubha Hunish. As the furthest north headland on Skye, Rubha Hunish juts out into the Minch with the effect that the tide sweeps around the point. Sound and careful planning is therefore required to take advantage of the tides and not to be caught out in the strong tidal streams.
In 2014, we were long term students for Giles Trussell in his successful bid to attain his BCU Level 5 Coaching Award. As one of his objectives, Giles prepared Tania and me for our 4 Star Leader qualification which we successfully completed.
Pete Gwatkin, another Level 5 aspirant has now picked up the baton from Giles and we are now going through the same process with Pete.
The plan for the next couple of days was to get out with paddling with Pete using Skye as our base. This was an opportunity to get to know each other and simply to enjoy a paddle after the 4 Star preparations of the previous few months.
We were all keen to go some some biggish days and there were certainly plenty of options. Top of the list for the first day was Loch Bracadale on the north west coast of Skye. Planning to launch at Harlosh, the route took in Harlosh Island, Wiay and Tarner Island. With a start and end point at the same place, the logistics were fairly simple.
Following a week of concentration and working hard for our 4* sea kayak assessment, Tania and I still had a further week of holiday to enjoy, out on Skye. The weather had been windy and stormy at the start of the week but as it abated, we started to make some sea kayaking plans. It was time to relax and have some fun...The plan was to launch at Isle Ornsay and head over to the Sandaig Islands, the setting for Gavin Maxwell's "Ring of Bright Water". The sun was out and the day was dry, but the wind was still stronger than we would have liked.
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.
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.
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.
A few days in Arisaig and an opportunity to use our kayaks to explore the surrounding area and the wonderful coastline. With paddling trips to the Arisaig skerries, to Koydart and taking some time to chill and to enjoy time together, this was quality time. Making use of capable boats, great weather and the urge to explore, we toured the area and found our way into some beautiful nooks and crannies along the coastline.
Easter and an opportunity for the first trip away of the year. Having been attracted to kayaking over the winter, Tania and I had booked ourselves three days with Sea Kayak Oban and were looking forward to adding another string to our bow.
Hitching on the caravan for the first tow of the year, we headed to North Ledaig and one of our favourite pitches - next to the beach with cracking views across the Firth of Lorne, towards the Isle of Mull.