Saturday, 1 September 2007

The Misty Isle

Looking to the Red Cuillin

I'm just back from 5 days of instruction and guiding with Gordon Brown at Skyak adventures. Gordon is a great coach, probably one of the most experienced in the world. Three of us spent all week with him, with a view to obtaining our 4 star certificate. We learned a lot- new strokes, navigation and rescue skills, weather lore and kayak design, and even how to take better kayaking photographs.
The weather, true to Skye's reputation, was mostly misty. Winds varied from negligible up to just about force 5. This is a fine level to fine tune skills without involving too much terror. On exposed seas the wave height was around 3 feet. This is a level which isn't too unsettling- it was still possible to see other paddlers all the time- but was enough to leave me slightly sea sick in the evenings.
Most of our time was spent paddling on the west coast of the Sleat peninsula. This was suitably exposed to the mostly westerly wind.
Other trips took us round the Skye bridge looking for tidal eddies. The tides in this area have been significantly changed by the bridge construction, and our carefully worked out planning simply didn't work.

Under the Skye Bridge

The main journey of the week was from Elgol to Loch Coruisk, with a return via Soay. The weather was damp, but I enjoyed my first visit to the heart of the Cuillins for 20 years. Curiously there wasn't a lot of marine life to be seen on the trip, bit we did spot Soay sheep, grazing on the seaweed of the island.

Setting off for the Cuillins

Gordon runs Skayak adventures with his wife, Morag. It's a great setup. They have an office and gathering point in a bothy in the garden. There are lots of boats to try out, and any equipment needed can be borrowed. In the garden is a hot tub- a great way to end the paddling day. I'm pretty sure I'll be back for more!

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