Saturday, 14 May 2011

Castaway on Taransay

I've just returned from a wonderful stay on Harris. Bill, an old hill walking friend, and his wife Agnes have built a wonderful house on their croft at Luskentyre. There are sweeping views across the sound to Taransay. Even on cloudy days the waters of Luskentyre bay are all shades of turquoise.

Agnes runs bed and breakfast, and they also have a self catering apartment in a perfect location for anyone who either loves paddling, loves Harris or loves food!
Bill was very keen on a trip to Taransay. Unfortunately the weather was not kind, and Bill is rather a novice paddler. After some initial practice in the bay, we set off across the sound with a fair breeze behind us.

We landed on a delightful beach at Paible, where there are still 3 habitable houses.

One was in use by a shepherd who was living there for several weeks for the lambing season, which is still in full swing. We walked up to a cairn above his fields, and stopped for a chat on the way back down.

Unfortunately the wind had picked up a bit while we were stravaiging about. Bill isn't really used to waves, and this proved a bit of a problem for the return. A few hundred yards out from the shore he had a bit of a mishap. This was rapidly followed by another mishap. The wind was pushing us back to Taransay, and it wasn't long before we were back on the beach, one of us rather wet. A second try at it seemed likely to fail, so we sat down to consider our options.
The island is owned by Angus Mackay, who also is the boatman. It was, however, the Sabbath, and Bill wasn't keen on calling him. We thought about revisiting the shepherd, but were also reluctant to disturb him on a Sunday. We then found that one of the guest houses was open.

I've had worse forced bivouacs!
Taransay was the island featured in the "Castaway" series. Ben Fogle, who made his name during this, had returned to this very house for his honeymoon. Another couple from the series had been married here.
We occupied ourselves with another walk in the evening light.

We had a very comfortable night, albeit a bit of a hungry one.
In the morning, the wind was up to a good force 6, gusting more. The good news was that Angus was able to come over to pick us up, the bad news was that he wasn't sure if he could take the boats back. Not being keen to abandon ship, I set off to paddle across the sound. This proved hard going- the wind was sufficient to push me backwards at times and the effort was considerable. To cap it all a big fast ship appeared to starboard, and I was worried enough to have to turn away for some time. This lost me about half an hour's hard paddling.
As I reached the beach, Bill came flying past me in a fast RIB, piloted by Angus. He was feeling quite chuffed to be in one piece, as the motorised trip had been considerably more terrifying than the swimming one. It wasn't long before Agnes's postponed breakfast restored us to normal. We spent the afternoon on top of Ceapabhal.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an adventure!

    Looks like you made all the right decisions and had a cracking couple of days; terrific light in the pictures too

    Kind regards