16 May 2010

A Mini Expedition

I've just got back from a week long trip, with the university, to the west coast of Scotland. We were based in Oban and the week was split into three distinct section: two-and-a-half days climbing, two days canoeing and two days sea kayaking. This post focuses solely on the days spent sea kayaking.

Preparing the boats for the two day journey, by sea, to Oban.

The final two days of my trip to Scotland were focused on sea kayaking; a facet of paddle sport I have engaged with previously, but never on this level. This journey would be a 26 mile, multi day trip taking us near some of Scotland's iconic landmarks and past some of the finest scenery the UK has to offer.

Paddling up the west coast of Luing with Lunga in the background.

We set off late in the day from Arknish Bay, near Arduaine on the mainland, and made our way across to Shuna and it's southerly point, before making a quick crossing of the sound to Sgeir nam Figheadair off Luing's coast. This was the most southerly point of the two day trip and from here we turned north to beat our way up the Sound of Luing towards our final destination, Oban.

Taking lunch in Black Mill Bay with Scarba behind.

Obviously reaching Oban would be a long time coming and we had to return to land earlier than expected because of the poor conditions we experienced around Cuan Sound. The late start had meant that we had little in the way of tidal assistance. This ultimately meant that for the majority of the day we were paddling against the tide and when we were hit broadside by a force 4 wind, which had been unchecked since the Torran Rocks off the Isle of Mull's coast, we were forced to pitch camp beneath Barr Mor on Seil instead of at Ardfad Point, at the northern end of the same island.

Our resting place for the night with Barr Mor behind.

The sun setting behind the Isle of Mull after a long day of paddling.

Ready to launch on the second day with Cuan Point illuminated in the morning sun.

However, I don't think we could have asked for a better place to stop for the night. The ground was lovely and flat, with little in the way of uncomfortable rocks to cause an inconvenience when sleeping, there was some shelter from the wind and it also provided the perfect vantage point to watch the sun sink behind the Isle of Mull, but it did mean that the second day's paddle would be much longer than planned.

Approaching Easdale on Seil early on the second day.

This did provide some apprehension, but we managed to make an early start on the paddle north and after beating against the tide for the majority of the journey up the west coast of Seil, we were able to capitalise on the incoming tide as we made the long crossing from Rubha Garbh Airde on the northern tip of Seil to Rubha na Feundain on the south-west tip of Kerrera. The incoming tide then carried us up the west coast of Kerrera at a grand speed of 1 knot, but couple this with some half-hearted attempt at forward paddling we were soon rounding Rubha na Lice, which marked the end of our northwards journey, and the start of our westward course back to Oban and the mainland.

Nearly there; taking one final rest in Slatrach Bay on Kerrera before crossing to Oban.

After one final stop on Kerrera we made our way back to Oban, watching the Isle of Mull ferry beat its way up the Sound of Mull and past Carriag Mhicheil on its way to Oban. It had been a nice two days, but I was glad to be back at Oban; I was thoroughly exhausted after such an action packed week.

More pictures of the week can be found here.

And now I'm back in the routine, which I discussed after my previous trip to Scotland. Training of late has become extremely simple and comprises solely of climbing. It may not be as effective as structured sessions in the wall or on the fingerboard, but it is much more enjoyable and the past two days bouldering have prooved this; I was at Queens Crag, in Northumberland, yesterday and today Armathwaite was the venue of choice.

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Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...
Iain

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