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Monday, 22 July 2013

Summer & the Summer Isles

Visiting the summer isles by kayak on a summer's day is one of the hundred things to do in life. On Friday Ana and I left Dundee for the Porth a Bhaigh Campsite on the Coigach Peninsula to the West of Ullapool to join a trip organised by Karin and Vanessa of the Tayside sea kayak club. Here the view from the campsite.
 On Saturday our group, led by Ian the Admiral, was heading for Priest Island. Here is Ana passing a narrowing between the mainland and Isle Ristol just after leaving the campsite. 
 We were heading for a stop on a beach on the uninhabited Tanera Beag (I think). 
After that over the sea towards Priest island with the hills of North West Scotland in the distance. We saw a shoal of dolphins in the distance. Two are seen to the left of our group in the distance. 
At around 13 h we landed on a Priest island for lunch. 

 We paddled around the island and then went back to Tanera Beag. Here is Ana on her way...
 ... and here we are under the much photographed arch.
 The wind was up and against us and we finished our 30 km journey against strong winds at times to reach our campsite...
 ... where Karin and Vanessa had organised a beach BBQ...
 ... which went on until early Sunday under a full moon. 
 The next day the whole flotilla went North around the red sandstone climbing cliffs at Reiff
 Here some climbers in action. There is tons to do and I wished I was able to join them for a few climbs.
 Further around the peninsula Suilven appeared in the distance. A hill that I have not done and is near the top of the 'must do' list. 
 Here it is zoomed in.
 Pushed forward by the wind and held back by all the features that needed to be explored we arrived on the sandy beach on the Northern side of the Coigach peninsula. Here is my new, yellow P&H Scorpio with the rest of the kayaks behind. 
 The team split and a smaller group went back the way we came whilst others already drove back to Dundee. Here is Giulio, paddling against wind and tide. 
We reached the campsite after another 30+km paddle and Dundee at 2 am on Monday after a long drive back. Long may the Caledonian summer last!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Glen Clova, finally

Finally some trad climbing. Simon and I went to Glen Clova.
 We started with Wandered, a well protected, exposed HVS 5a.
 Here is Simon climbing the upper arete.
 After that Proud Corner, a long VS 4c.
 We then went to the upper crag and climbed Red Wall E1 5b. Here is Simon in the quartz chimney of the first pitch...
 ... and here he is on the upper wall, nearly there.
 I then had a go at Zig Zag double direct E2 5c. Here is Simon on the first pitch...
 ... and here is an old photo showing a climbing doing the exposed upper crux move. I had a very big cam which protected the crux move and managed to contort myself into the right position to easily reach  the big jug which finishes off the difficulties. The upper corner is very exposed.
 Good to climb outside on a continental summer-like day. I then went to search for the Airlie monument, which is a landmark in Glen Clova that can be seen from a long way. The monument was built in 1901 in honour of the 9th Earl of Airlie (1856-1900) who was killed during the Boer War in South Africa. Here it is...
 ... but unfortunately it was closed. Two walkers told me that it is only open once a year. So no views for me as the surrounding forest prevents views towards Kirriemuir and Dundee. Instead some wee flowers and a bug instead to finish off this entry. 
Summer time...

Monday, 8 July 2013

Isle of May

When on the Fife peninsula I have often looked over to the isle of May which lies 8 km off the Fife coast in the Firth of Forth. A ferry goes from Anstruther but I have never done it. Last Saturday was the chance to do it in style by sea kayak. We met in the Anstruther harbour in a trip organised by Joan and Gilbert. Against the odds summer weather and the trip of the season conincided. Here we are preparing the kayaks...
 ... and here we leave the harbour to make the passage with a calm sea ahead.
Tayside sea kayak club has become recently quite a diverse club in the best sense of the word with the experienced and inexperienced, Scottish and those from elsewhere, females and males and young and old members. Here are some of the females close to the Anstruther coast...  
... and here the group on their way to the Isle of May in the distance.
Gilbert instructing Ana who is happy to be instructed given the sunshine.
The closer we come the more puffins and other sea birds are around us. It is a bird sanctuary with many different species.
Here is Katie carrying her kayak onto the land...
 ... and here are our kayaks.
 Giulio and I went for a walk around the island. Two other kayakers pass us below on their way back to the mainland.
 Here is the Southern end of the island. It is white with bird droppings.
 The star of the show are the puffins. Here a wee colony with bass rock in the distance.
 Here is Stevenson's lighthouse and the mainland behind.
 Here again Stevenson's lighthouse. A good setting for an Agatha Christie crime novel.
 We walked further to near the Northern end of the island.
 On the way back to the kayak Artic terns attacked.
 Seals followed us on our way back. Here are Ana and Mike close to Anstruther harbour.
Our landing...
 ... and Ana looking magnificient in her Avocet.
 A fantastic martime adventure which is much recommended.