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Monday, 26 May 2014

Loch Sween & Sound of Jura

May in Scotland is the month for being outdoors. And that's what Ana and I do. Last weekend we met with Gerrardo, Gordon and Robbie in Tayvallich which is a small village in Kintyre, a peninsula to the West of Glasgow. After endless single track roads we met in the Tayvallich Inn for a pint and for Ana, who had organised the trip, outlined the plan. After a night on the campsite only disturbed by certain characters giving a speech to the nation at 1 am and again at 4.30 am, we launched our kayaks from Tayvallich bay. Here are Gordon, Ana and Gerrardo. 
 We first paddled North to explore the vegetated upper arms of the loch. It is a beautiful forrested area with much wildlife. We saw geese and an osprey. 
 We then paddled southwards...
 ... to reach Castle Sween after 16 km which overlooks the loch. 
 Here is Robbie launching again after our lunch break. 
 We decided to visit the McCormaig Isles southwest of Loch Sween. 
 As there are strong tidal currents in the area we paddled to the Island of Danna first, which is close to the mainland, and then crossed from there first to Corr Eilean. 
 The currents were strong but we were a good team and so had no problems. Here is Robbie with a sailing boat ahead and the Isle of Jura in the distance. 
On the way from Corr Eilean to Eilean Mor, the largest island, I caught a pretty decent pollack for tea. We reached the sheltered bay of Eilean Mor. 
 There are some wild animals on the island.
 McCormaig was an Irish monk who lived on the Island. Here is the ruin of a chapel...
 ... and here are Ana and I with a replica cross as the original had eroded away. 
 We then went back to the Eastern shore of Loch Sween...
 ... to find a campsite after more than 26 km of paddling. You can carry a lot of food & drinks on a sea kayak and so dinner was opulent. I tried to grill the haddock but there very little was not burnt or raw but Gerrardo recommended boiling it in sea water and that worked very well. Also Robbie brought a bottle of Jura whisky and with the Isle of Jura in sight we drank nearly all of it. 
 A proper camp needs a fire. Here is Gordon starting it whilst I manage the process. As a note for all fashion victims, the headgear is a combination of a pom pom hat with a mosquito net and I wear croqs from TK max. 
 We started the fire perhaps a little too early...
 ... because we watched the evening skies and the sun setting on the Isle of Jura. 
 Early in the morning it started to rain and breakfast was miserable. However, the clouds went for our launch.
 The martimime forcast stated strong winds so we were unsure whether to return up Loch Sween or through the Sound of Jura. We decided to have a look. Here is Ana...
 ... and here is Robbie with two geese above him..
 The initially force 3-4 winds dropped and we entered the Sound of Jura. 
 It turned out to be easy paddling under initially gorgeous skies. Here is Ana...
and here is the team going North...
 ... and North.
 I was trying to fish again but to no avail this time.
 After passing a few more islands we reached Carsaig bay after 18 km on day 2 and so 46 km in two days. Just a 2 km walk over to Tayvallich to fetch our cars for the return journey.
A fantastic trip, one of the best so far!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Life by the sea: Logie head, Newburgh dunes

May has come. It is the time to climb, kayak, and run. Today we went to Logie head on the Moray coast, a place where I had never climbed before. Here are Ged and Watty during the walk in.
 We started in the 'star' zone at the Northern end and climbed VS's and HVS's in the May sun. 
 Here is Watty on his climb...
 ... and here he reaches the end. 
 Higher up a view towards the West. 
 Here is Ged climbing a HVS 5b, Rising Star. 
 Perfect conditions. 
 A group of sea kayakers passed.
 When the tide came in we walked towards the Eastern end where we met other climbers. I climbed 'Dave's dilemma', a relatively straight forward E1.
 It became busy.
 Some sea birds. 
 On Thursday after work I went to the sand dunes near Newburgh. 
 All alone and long beaches.
 Beautiful views but it became chilly. 
 On the way back inland the Easter lambs were playing in the evening sun.