Paddles with an Anas acuta...... unashamedly biased toward the sea kayak of that name (actually the voyages of two boats, one 'traffic over gold', one 'quill')

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The driest summer since records began...

The driest summer since records began, at least in the far NW of Scotland, 9 weeks without rain under a blue sky with a constant N to NE wind. Not warm, often only 10C, but glorious weather this summer non-the-less. Alas, I could only afford 6 weeks, but 6 weeks of good weather, the hills so dry you could walk dry shod through the deepest bog, the sea mostly calm and always friendly.

 Paddling on your own poses few problems on the water, the problems arise when trying to find a landing place for the night. With a convenient tide, say around 0600 HW the only worry is the visible area of beach or rocks. However, if landing at HW and leaving with the tide down there is always the thought of what might be beneath the waves. Clambering over rocks carrying even an empty boat over rough ground on your own is asking for trouble. With the rising land, many beaches are fossils, hanging above the modern rocky coast.  LW landings are easier in the sense that boat recovery problems are obvious. Here the gulley was filled with small stones to LW but I had to wedge the boat clear of the rising tide on drift wood.
An easy camp site in a sheltered inlet, this one has a bathroom with running water and radox salts, not ensuite, but just across the water.
 Often a very handy ancient slipway cleared of large stones can be found near old villages or sheilings, I always like using these, valuing the hard work of the pre 1742 inhabitants. At this spot a disturbance attracted my attention, a heron at the foot of the slipway had caught a large eel in knee deep water and a seal was trying to steal it. The heron swinging the fish high out of reach each time the seal made a lunge at the dangling head and tail. Eventually the heron hopped back onto dryland to swallow its catch, the seal could only watch and salivate.
This surf landing was fine near LW, but with its well ordered rounded rocks, would be a handful nearer HW, ideal for the LW landing and launch.
Elsewhere the only landing to be had was amongst the fish farm rubbish. At this spot everything went into the sea, not just the industrial waste, I could tell you the favoured flavour of the workers' lunch time crisps from the rubbish. Yet it need not be like this, the farm on Tanera Mor has remarkably clean beaches all around. Loch Laxford maybe the worst example, with mussel farm debris  covering every beach and nook and cranny in the rocks. A clear-up would cost millions.
Every cloud has a silver lining, click on the image, look closely beside the boat, and you will see a convenient length of large diameter plastic piping, ideal for use as a roller to recover and launch from a stony beach. If you look carefully enough before landing, there is almost always something to hand to make life easy for yourself.
On your own, wildlife is much more confiding, I had a very close encounter with a minke, surfacing alongside to check me out and these birds don't seem very worried.

 You can take your time to explore where and how you like,
 try every crack, I expect many people will recognise this one, quite a long way to steer straight with a swell surfing you through.

Time to look at every point of interest, Stoer was flat calm, not so Coigach a few days later when  a swell from the N plus an easterly F4-5 with an 8 mile fetch led to totally confused clapotis. Not a place to be getting the camera out when you are on your own; lovely as it was.

No comments:

Post a Comment