Friday, 28 June 2013



Banff to Crovie Day 81

Now i don't want to give you all the impression that this is all turned into a jolly and that we're now after a bit too much luxury. Its just been a coincidence that we stayed in a house last night, paddled a whole 5 miles and then staying in a cottage tonight. We'll get back to our roughing it ways very soon. We've been getting a bit too relaxed about the surf recently-as we've had none. so we got a bit of a shock this morning getting our through the 4 ft surf and with the forecast saying its building we decided that it may be a bit tricky getting into our intended destination. Hence our 5 mile paddle to a lovely little village where we met Dan, a great guy, who said we were welcome to stay with him. Thanks.
And thanks very much katrina for my parcel- its changed my whole paddling day!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Lossiemouth to Banff day 80

Average length day with a bit of wind behind us. Good to get away from the noisy jets.  We had a lovely evening in Banff with Matt, Leanne and Fergal. Thanks so much guys for food, laundry, showers, phone charge and great company. Are boats were kindly looked after by banff links caravan site - thanks

Lothmore to lossiemouth

Fairly average crossing apart from the pretty noisy fighter jets flying over head for most of the day - err could you keep it down please we're trying to have a discussion down here. Found a place to camp on the beach and had a bit of a wander around lossiemouth. Now, are there really lots of dolphins in the Moray firth? because i was looking out for them all day and didn't see one.

Lothmore campsite day 78 & 79

Ahhh, finally a couple of rest days to recharge our batteries. It's pretty windy so i spent most of the time reading in my tent and relaxing. Met the friendly community at the caravan site where we are treated to duck eggs and camping.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Dunbeath to Lothmore Day 77

A short late paddle. 16 kn with the wind behind us and some good following swell this turns out to be a fun paddle and takes just 4 hours.
We set up camp at lothbeg campsite and we plan to stay here for a couple of days.

Staxigoe (the inlet of the stack) to Dunbeath Day 76

A dull day but Im not complaining there a light wind to keep the miges away and its not raining.
After dealing with a very slippy slipway we get going about 1230 the tide is against us so we keep in close and enjoy the coast line. We met some local kayakers yesterday and they told us about some good caves to explore along the way.
We stop at Sarclet head for a long lunch while we wait for the tide to turn in our favour. The sun pops out and i feel like a lizard warming up on the rocks.
Back on the water and we make good time to Dunbeath where we find a perfect camping spot.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Day 75 Wick

We decided a while ago that we would stop in Wick and replenish supplies. The day started well when i was kindly invited into a local ladies house for tea, cake and a wee dram of local whisky. We then spent the rest of the day either in a cafe or shopping for food. In the last 3 or 4 weeks we have now had 3 days off the water. The problem that we're finding however, is that these days are taken up with washing and sorting kit and walking to and from shops and very little of it has been us actually resting. In the last few days we have really felt it and although they have been slightly shorter days we have been feeling pretty lethargic. The other problem (if you can call it that) is that its pretty much light all the time at the mo so it can be quite difficult to get a good nights sleep in a tent. However, it looks like sun and Mon aren't looking that good weather wise so will be a perfect time to stop and have two good days rest.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Murkle bay to Wick - day 74

We can't quite believe our luck. Going around Cape Wrath and through Pentland firth have been on my mind for a while and we assumed that we would probably have to wait a few days for good conditions to get around the north of Scotland. But here we are on our third day since Cape Wrath with perfect conditions for going through P. Firth. Today there is a 1ft swell from the north and tomorrow there is forecast 7ft swell arriving from the west so just enough time. As we go around Dunnet head (mainlands most northerly point) the swell still feels pretty big and as we go around the Men of Mey the sea was choppy. We then go through the firth at 8knots on flat water with a keen eye out for ferrys, until just before duncansby head where we get a few waves in our faces but continue to zoom around the corner until we are eventually heading south. Woohoo. Then its about 15NM with a knot of tide all the way to a little bay in Staxigoe just north of wick.
After an excellent few days where we have rounded cape Wrath, Duncansby head and passed the half way mark (not sure exactly where it was as it depends on our route from here) we thought we should have a celebratory meal. After a long walk into wick - which prob burnt half the precious calories consumed in the meal, we had a great meal before deciding we should walk back before we fall asleep in the pub.

Day 73 Armadale to Murkle bay

Not much to say about today. A midday start and we paddle towards thurso. The weather is still being good to us and with a bit of wind and tide in our favour we get to Murkle Bay by six. I met some fishermen on the beach who were interested in our trip. I think they thought we were mad for even thinking about kayaking through the pentland firth. As i left one of the lads ran after me and gave us a tenner for the pot. Im still plesantly surprised by the friendlyness and generosity of all the people we meet along the way.
We find a great camping spot on grass at the back of the beach and get a good nights sleep before tackling pentland tomorrow.

Duress to armadale day 72

A nice late start, due to tides, and a plan to paddle just over 20 NM, as we are due a few relaxing days. After a few hours of paddling i was thinking it'd been quite an uneventful day. We had been paddling a couple of miles from the shore so although the views were good we hadn't seen much stuff. A few miles from the end of our day we came in and were paddling a couple of hundred metres from the shore when i heard, what sounded like a very large porpoise and out of the corner of my eye saw, what looked like, a very large dolphin about 10-20metres away. So we stopped and then saw a Minke whale in front of us. (pic on my camera so you'll have to wait for that one) It was pretty exciting and i suddenly felt pretty small. Didn't see it again so off we paddled to a good although sandy beach (grrrr, i hate camping on sand), feeling pretty chuffed on our sighting.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Day 71 Durness

Up at 0345 today ready to take on Cape Wrath. We need to get round today as the firing rang will be in use all next week.
Its a gray day low clouds and mist. As we get past sandwood bay the tide starts pushing us along and we make good time.
I'm thinking we must be nearly at the cape and I'm gearing myself up for the big seas when i glance at my compass to see we are paddling east? And then realise we have past it. We carry on along the north coast with its big cliffs disappearing into the clouds and puffins everywhere until we get to Durness where we stop for the night.
Will add some photos later if i can.

Day 70 nr lock an roin

Another windy day but its back on our noises. We set of to Scourie for some supplys. The wind is blowing offshore but seems to get stronger the closer we get to the shore at some points it felt like we were going backwards. Finely about ten meters from shore we get some shelter for five min until we turn into Scourie bay, then back into the wind for another half mile. Lunch and shopping in Scourie then back in to the wind.
We don't get as far as we wanted as the head wind slows us down to less than two knots. Rach picks out a great little bay were we camp for the night.

Day 69? Culkein bay

It's windy this morning but its on our backs for a change so much so i do the first half mile with out paddling and still manage to do about two and a half knots. When we do start paddling its great fun surfing the swell and letting the sea do some of the hard work for a change. We get to the point of stoer just as the tide turns so we pull in to Culkein bay and sleep in our bivi bags on the slip way.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Mellon Udrigle

Windy, but another beautiful beach

Gairloch to Mellon Udrigle Day 67 and 68

Planned a shortish paddle today as still pretty tired but aware that we will have another rest day tomorrow due to windy weather. Was really not up for paddling this morning but after an hour or so of listening to Stephen fry's autobiography and the wind behind us, i felt a bit better. After a respectable 20NM we arrived at a basic campsite where i will be spending tomorrow mostly asleep.

Day 65 and 66

We could have quite easily stayed at uags bothy. But another good weather day, so off we paddle. After a long day yesterday and a good few days of paddling now with no rest days, today turned into pretty hardwork. We fell asleep on a beach at lunch and paddled to a campsite near Gairloch at about 6ish. The last couple of weeks have been amazing with the views of islands and mountains all around us and the near perfect weather- i felt a bit today with the change in scenery and weather we were leaving the best part behind us now. However, my mood changed when we stopped at a campsite which was perfect for kayakers who haven't seen a shower in a while. It even had an inside area for cooking away from midges with a sofa! After realising we were both pretty exhausted we decided to stay a day, charged vhfs, cameras etc and sorted any minor probs with kit.

Day 64 bothy nr Toscaig

Yet another amazing day. The first part of todays paddle is past Lock nan Ceall and on a day like today it feels like we are in the Caribbean. There are loads of seals around and some of them jump out of the water acting more like a dolphins than a seal. We then head on up the sound of sleat. Where the channel narrows we get pushed though at 10kn in to Lock alsh. Then with a bit of a head wind its back to a slow 3.5kn for the rest of the day. Rach has a Bothy marked on her map so we plan to stop there if we can get to it from the sea. When we get to the bothy its an easy landing and the bothy is fantastic.

Day 63 nr Arisaig

After a good nights sleep in woods nr tobamoray its time to see if the Kayaks will float now they are full of food. I stupidly put my fully loaded boat down on some sharp stones and i have to do my first repair. Not a great start for me today. The boats float and my repair is good for now. its another sunny day and with flat water we paddle in close around to port ban and then cut across to Eilean a Ghaill wear we find a great camping spot. (Thanks to Ben for that one) A great sun set ends the day.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Port Patrick




Day 62 Tobermoray

After an unscheduled lie in we set of to balamory. Its another hot and sunny day but we still have a head wind slowing us down. We paddle for 7Nm then stop for lunch by a ruined castle then back on the water for another 8 Nm. As ws approach calve island we get a great view of a sea eagle.
At tobermoray i pick up a new Spot that bev has sent to the post office. This is to replace the one i lost. We also stock up our food and get ten days of supplys. We pack the boats to make sure it fits and it does, just. But will they float? i guess we will find out in the morning. Just had fish and chips and now enjoying a pint.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Scarba to Scallastle bay - Day 61(I think)

Some of the most stunning views I've seen this morning paddling through the islands. If we didn't have quite a few more hundred miles still to paddle we defiantly would have wanted to spend some more time there. The wind picked up again in the afternoon and as the tide was running out we thought we'd stop, eat, have a sleep and have an evening paddle when the wind dies down. However its 9 now and the wind is only just starting to go, so we're in our bivis ready for an early start -joy! Although it is becoming increasingly harder to fall asleep as we've still got a few hours of light.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Gigha to scarba Day 60

Any moaning i have done on this trip about the weather - i take it all back now. We're pretty chuffed to have such good weather in west Scotland. We are trying to balance making the most of the days, with out feeling like we're missing out on the scenery so that hopefully we can get up to north Scotland before it changes. Glassy water with stunning views and lots of wildlife all up until about 2 hours from the end of the paddle today. I noticed what looked like a line of fairly rough water approaching. Within a few mins we were paddling into a force four headwind, as a result we didn't quite make it too our intended destination before we ran out of tide. We came in a couple of miles early and have found a camp on scarba. Lovely camp apart from rob looking like he's going to rob a bank - he's pretty scary in his black head net.

Sanda island to Gigha. Day 59

We had been recommend to visit gigha by many people, but we had been warned about the tidal race off the mull of kintyre. On such a still day and reaching the mull just after slack the water was actually pretty calm. However our speed went over 7knots and then stayed about 4 - 5 knots for the rest of the trip. (our average speed over a day with no tide or wind is about 3 1/2 knots). So we managed to paddle the 31 NM to gigha before the tide changed. We were welcomed by some sea kayakers who knew the local area well, many friendly sailors, advice and donations. After showers and ice creams we slept well.

Dounan bay to sanda island. Day 58 - 3rd June

More good weather so we decided to make the crossing to mull of kintyre in one. There couldn't be much hanging around to make the 24NM crossing before the tide changed. However, we had to radio a rather large ferry to make sure they'd seen us and then zig zag about six fishing trawlers. After about 5 hours sanda island (just off the mull of kintyre) finally came into view. The crossing was horrible with all the boats, but sanda island was well worth it. Seals and bird life everywhere , we had our first swim of the trip and then bivied on the beach.

East Tarbet to Dounan bay- day 57 - 2nd of June

Calm paddle around the mull of Galloway. Pulled into port Patrick for a belated birthday pub lunch ( thanks Andy and Jane.) we also stocked up on food and had a doze on the beach for a couple  of hours. Port Patrick has to be one of the most chatty, friendly places we've been . We even had a twenty min chat with one guy about tidal streams around the mull of kintyre before we'd actually got into the harbour. After meeting loads of other friendly people we caught the evening tide up to Dounan bay with our boats a few inches lower in the water with the ridiculous amount of oats and rice we are now carrying.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Day 56 (but more importantly rach's birthday)

Another crossing so not the most interesting of paddles - apart from a few thousand gannets on scares island half way into the paddle. Arrived at a lovely sheltered bay where we were greeted with a cup of tea, biscuits and a great chat from a couple we coincidently met yesterday - thanks very much, just what we needed. Winds pretty strong this pm so couldn't get the afternoon tide around mull of galloway, meaning we've had to spend most of the day eating, chilling and chatting to other people camping on the beach - been a tough day!

Day 55 rascarrel bay to port castle bay

Woke up at 4. Aaarrrgh. To be on the water for 5:30. Once on the water it was beautiful, still, tide helping to push us along, lovely scenery. ....until near burrow head when we started paddling into one of the strongest head winds I've ever been out in. At one point rob wasn't sure if i was actually moving. We decided to push on though and we got to a lovely bay in time for lunch. After a short walk (10km!) to buy some oats (we hadn't realised we were running low - lesson learnt) we were in our bivis by 8.

Day 54 st bees to rascarrel bay

Nice easy start of about 10ish. Good day which started off seeing loads of guillemots, black guillemots and puffins. Made use of my new waterproof headphones so had a bit of a Spanish lesson and Ben Howard to keep me entertained when conversation with me and rob lulled (we have been paddling together for two months now!). Arrived in Scotland to be greeted by a few thousand midges. But very excited to be here.