Thursday, 23 September 2010

Isle of Skye - Part 4

DAY 7 - Thursday 9th September 2010

It is our last day on Skye before we commence our long trip back home. It sounded like it poured down last night and the mountains are capped with black clouds.

I wanted to get out from Portree harbour seeing as we have stayed here most of the week. The water was glassy and smooth inside the harbour walls.

The forecast for today was force 3 to 5 south westerly backing 5 to 7 southerly.

The aim was to head out to the end of the headland enclosing the harbour and paddle over to Rassay Island.

I was just about to make the crossing when I saw these three caves side by side at the end of the headland. Paddling toward the cliff I hear a very distinctive bird call and spot something big perched on the cliff top.

It was a sea eagle otherwise known as a white tailed eagle. This was taken at full zoom and when he flew off over the top out of sight I missed the picture. The sea eagle is Britain's largest bird of prey. It was made extinct from the UK in the early 19th century due to illegal hunting. It has since been re-introduced and there are currently 42 breeding pairs. I was hoping I would see one here as there are lots of 'sea eagle boat trips' at the harbour.

After staring into the empty sky and scouring the cliffs for the next 10mins I went in to explore the caves.

Looking down the sound to the cloud capped Cullin mountains
Leaving the mainland I headed out into the Sound of Rassay for the 3.5km crossing to a bay which I made out on my huge 1:155 000 nautical chart.

After a quick half hour I land on a nice pebbled beach on the Island of Rassay. Rassay is approximately only 4.8km at it's widest point but 23km long topped off at the end like a letter 'i' by the island of Rona.

After a photo opportunity with a dead sheep I studied my chat to decide whether to go north or south. It's a three day trip to circumnavigate the both islands so I will just be exploring a snippet of it today.

If I went north the sound widens to about 7kms and with a possible wind force 7 on the books I decide to take the safer option. If it does get choppy the sound at the south narrows to a much shorter 1km crossing back.

A small shower breaks overhead which gives me the chance to try out my hood on my cag for the first time.

There is a spit of land ahead which I later find out is in fact a small island but because of the spring tides it is joined to the mainland.

Inside this island the water is very still and a few seals pop up. On taking this photo of a seal above I notice a hereon in the background on the beach. I have been trying all week to get a shot of one but they always seem to see me before I see them and fly off.

A bit further down the coast is another landing point and some small cottages.

I make a very awkward landing through a load of sea weed which deceptively looks shallow!

Looking out across the sound there are two small rocky islands just ahead.

I found a very neat circle of pebbles completed with table and chairs including backrests.

I sit in my boat trying to work out where to cross back over. There is a little bay almost opposite where I was now which looked like a good place to head for. Peering over the map I notice the tide I gone out a fair bit.

Crossing back over the sound

View to the south of the sound
View to the north

About half way across the wind whips up again slowing my progress to about 2kts. It takes my a very shattering 1 hour to cross back over.

I crash out on this muddy beach only to be spat at by a razor fish/clam right in the face. There were jets of water shooting up from the beach in all directions. I take a seat up on a rock to have my lunch and work out my next leg of the trip.

A jelly fish (was)

I return to my boat covered in sand from the trigger happy razor fish and head further south.

I reach an area of low cliffs where the sea and air is completely still. You can make out the glistening white sand on the sea bed and fish jump out of the water up ahead. A few seal heads pop up for a look and splash back down again. There is nothing for miles apart from a few fishing boats further out getting mobbed by gulls and the mountains in the distance. It was absolutely stunning, life is good.

A few more cave but with the tide being so low there was no chance of exploring them today.
I noticed I was being followed by a grumpy large bull seal all the way down these cliffs.
View over my shoulder

Up ahead is a huge rounded bay sheltered inside a spit of land. This marks the point of the Narrows of Rassay. Here is one of the very few places where there is tidal flow. It runs through these narrows at 3 knots at springs. It was springs and I had no idea of the tide times.

So I took this opportunity to make my way back. I took a direct line toward the headland at Portree up the middle of the sound.

I had the wind behind me giving me a little push but there was also clouds gathering.

Before I knew it I was donning my hood again.

I was quite refreshing paddling in the rain, I haven't done it much before.

Up ahead is an amazing boulder field, just like at the bottom of a mountain, but this one had water at the bottom. The boulders were huge and I had fun finding my way through the maze. I must have been having fun I didn't take any pictures.

There was just enough room to pass through these two.

Past the boulder field the shore line went straight up. Cliffs, overhanging trees I thought to myself this is perfect eagle territory. And just as I said it....

I followed him with my eyes to a ledge on the cliff, to far to see with the eye.

I paddled up still fixed on it's location and there he was. I have about 20 or so of these pictures and picked the best ones. At full zoom the quialtiy isn't great. Whilst gazing at this one notice another just a few hundered feet accross another.

They just sat there gazzing around. When they did finally take to the air I missed them everytime!! Further along I spotted another pair doing pretty much the same.

This was the last one of the day. You can just make him out in the tree. He was plucking what looked like a rabbit until he noticed me and took to the skys. His dinner was quickly mopped up by the crows.

I mannaged to catch this blurry shot. This size of this bird is amazing. This one flew quite high over my head but all I got was a shot of blurry sky. I have latter learned that I can turn my cammer onto digital zoom and fine zoom and get a lot closer shots, damn it!!
Paddling back with a huge grin on my face I landed back at Portree. My dad was already off the hill after a very disapointing day because of the low cloud and I found him in our local pub.

I have no idea how far I traveled because I turned my GPS off to save the battery. Probably about 30km or more looking at the map, I'm just glad to get this post done.
DAY 8 - Friday 10th September 2010
Well as far as weather we were extremly lucky. Even though we had gale force winds not recomended for kayaking or walking at least we were able to see the mountain tops, which is a rearaty on the Isle of Skye otherwise known as the Misty Isle.

And that is exactly what it was today. We paked up out tents in the rain and made our way south.

Duart Castle, as seen in the film Entrapment with Sean Connery
We took our time, a bit of shopping on the way back and taking in some more sights.
We stopped off at a camp site at the foot of Loch Lommond, which had it's own pub.

But a short walk down the road was a better one, the famous Drovers Inn, which was apperntly visited by Rob Roy.

After a few pints my dad was anybodys!
Inside it was more like a museum, with stuffed animals and swords ect...We had a nice meal and nice pint (or more) and the entertainment was about the only thing that wasn't traditional. A guitarist sporting an ACDC t-shirt takes the stage playing the like of Santa, Hendrix, Pink Floyd etc etc, a perfect end to a great holiday. Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read these last few posts, they have been a bit on the long side. I have a back log now so more posts to follow shortly.


stoney (Martyn) said...

Inspiring stuff Stuart, I will definately have to pay a visit North one day!

GRP Lining Services Ltd. said...

A great read that!