Saturday, 11 April 2009

Raasay, Day 1

Raasay and Rona are islands I've wanted to visit for a long time. Raasay has a sad history, including all the worst aspects of Highland land ownership from the clearances up to the 1970's. It provided 120 pipers to play for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden, a figure which is probably close to the current population.
It's also a fine destination for a short kayak trip. It is sheltered from the worst of the weather by Skye, and the tidal flows around are relatively weak.
After a comfortable night at Sligachan bunk house, I launched from the ferry slipway at Sconser. In true West Highland style, the ferry was running late, and I had to wait a bit for it to get away.
On a cold grey day I headed for the east coast, the Red Cuillin behind me.

A following wind made for easy progress up the coast. There are fine views here of Dun Caan, the highest point of Raasay. It looks remarkably like a submarine from most angles. This is rather ironic, as the area is a testing ground for the acoustic output of submarines. This creates a bit of a hazard if far out to sea, but also makes it one of the most reliable places in the world for mayday reception!

Moving north up the island the geology changes to the gneiss which makes the hard landscape of many of the outer isles. It can make for an inhospitable coastline, and the paddling was made harder by clapotis- reflected waves from the cliffs. It was with some relief that I finally turned a corner into the channel between Raasay and Rona. A short drift on calmer waters led to a quiet cove. From here it was a 5 minute walk to a fine bothy. After a 30km day I was pretty tired.

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