Friday, 29 July 2011

Party time on the Isle of May

Heading out from anstruther

Trevor nearing the May
Trevor, Ken and Kevin
On Saturday 16th July we had a wee jaunt across to the May Isle. We had quite a late start due to me having to go in and do some work first. Trevor, Kevin, Ken and myself all met up in Anstruther at 3.30 and headed out to the island. There was a nice gentle swell going over and loads of puffins and gannets to be seen. It wasn't long before we arrived and started to explore the caves and arches that are dotted around the island.

Kevin and Sarah
Sarah and Kevin

The last time we were over we never got near to the cliffs due to the waves crashing, so this was great fun. Coming round to Pilgrim's Haven, we heard lots of singing coming from one of the caves. I went over to have a nosey. As my eyes adjusted to the dark of the cave, I saw seals swimming around me. At the very back of the cave was a rocky beach with masses of seals all having the time of their lives, singing, until they decided to take the plunge all together. All I can say is, my reverse paddling is good enough for me! They all came out bobbing around the boat, being nosey back.

Cormorants or Shags?

Whose going to run the gauntlet first?
We carried on round watching various gulls perched on the tiniest ledges with fluffy babies. How they survive, I'll never know. Some of them were quite low and close to the water. If there was a slightly larger swell a lot must be washed away.

We stopped off at Kirkhaven, where the jetty and visitor's centre is. We had arrived after the last boat trip had left. The other island inhabitants must have realised this and had also come out to play. There were hundreds of rabbits bobbing all over the place. With no predators out there, they must be breeding like, well, rabbits! Back in the boats, we carried on past the Middens. This must be the Puffin section. Although we had seen Puffins all round the island, this is the section where they were flying round in large clouds, a bit like starlings in the evenings. Before we left the island, we were followed again by more playful seals. It's great just sitting still watching them glide under the boats in the clear water.

Kevin's forgotten his boat
Young Trevor back on dry land
Heading back to Anstruther, the sky darkened and the thunder started crashing over towards Edinburgh. All very well if the lightening stayed over there as well, I didn't fancy being out on the open sea with no shelter in the middle of a storm. We arrived back with thankfully no lightening strikes. By now it was raining heavy. As we turned into the harbour, we saw we had a long walk over mud and seaweed. By the time we slithered up to the cars, the rain was coming down in bucket loads. We tied the boats on and got changed quickly before heading back along to the chippy, then into the pub next door for a quick pint, well, we'd earned it.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Inchcolm evening paddle 13/7/11

Peters first FCAG trip

Heading out from Silver Sands
Sarah M
A short paddle was arranged for a lovely sunny Wednesday evening. We met up at Silver sands, where the tide was very low, so a long walk down the beach was needed, and headed out to Inchcolm, being escorted as we went by the most seals I've seen out there for a long time. All very inquisitive, but friendly all the same.

Iain pretending to watch the seals, but really eyeing up yet another boat
The abbey
Sarah M & Sarah T
Niall, Sandy and Trevor
Ken taking it easy
This was Peters first trip out with the club and hopefully he enjoyed it. After a quick stop on the island for a wee coffee, we headed back via Car Craig where Niall came to the rescue of a poor seagull with his foot caught up in a polybag. In his hurry to cut the bag off, he didn't realise he was holding the poor gull's head underwater thereby nearly drowning it. His thanks will probably be some well aimed splats to his car.

Seagull for tea?

Group starting back
Not there yet
Sarah T being escorted off
 We had a short paddle back, where I had hoped the tide would be fairly far in, but no, we really were on a low tide and we had even further to walk. A nice refreshing way to spend a glorious evening.

Mull and beyond - ice cream at last

Starting day 5

Ken forgetting his paddle comes in 2 bits

We woke the next morning to more soggy weather, so after a quick breakfast we cleared the camp site and trundled back down to the boats. Due to the tide and the rocky shoreline, we had to pack our boats and get launched really speedily. We then headed round the coast to have a wee look at Calgary bay, Mull's most photographed beach. So many photos and none of the group took our photo of it, oh well, it did look quite nice.
Kevin trying out another cave
The next stretch was rocky again with more caves. We were then heading round Caliach point, the most north westerly point on Mull, where the waters started to get a bit bumpier with waves coming from all directions. As we were coming into Langamull beach (another beautiful, white sandy one), I'm sure we passed the palm tree Iain kept promising us, no sign of a soothing hot tub though.

Is that a palm tree up there?
Langamull, lunch No umpteen
Iain eyeing up Rhum and Eigg
We carried on along this top stretch with views across to Rhum and Eigg,  hoping Iain didn't suggest a wee detour round them. This part seemed to go on forever. We passed the rather splendid looking Glengorm castle and crossed Ardmore Bay.

A nice little des. res.
 We stopped for a spot more lunch at the start of Bloody Bay, the site of a 15th century punch up, before turning down the Sound of Mull. This is where we saw three magnificient sea eagles.

Kevin eyeing up the Mishnish
We then carried on round to Tobermory, the one stopping place that had kept me going for the whole trip with the thought of a yummy ice cream. We landed on the beach at 4.37pm, the ice cream shop shut at 4.30pm. Not one to be down beaten by a small hiccup like that, I knew that although Tobermory may not be a massive city, there was another rather tasty ice cream shop in town. Off we set to traipse along to the other end to the posh chocolate shop where we received some quite unusual looks. We still had all our paddling kit on, which is a good way to get served quickly, before we had a chance to dribble too much. Honeycomb crunch and double chocolate was the order of the day and after the paddle I had to do to get it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. After that, it was back along to the other end of the street to the Mishnish bar where a nice refreshing beveridge (no not a cup of tea) was had. Back in the boats, we paddled across the harbour to Calve Island where we had our last night.

Calve Island
Looking over to Tobermory
Next morning, it was suggested we nip back over to Tobermory for another ice cream, like I needed to be asked twice for that one! So for breakfast No2 it was coconut and raspberry ripple, delicious!

Iain fancying another new boat
The little pink shop is THE ice cream shop
Leaving Tobermory
We had a lovely paddle down and across the Sound of Mull and for once the wind was behind us. We stopped for a quick lunch, really to tidy up any leftovers, at Fuinary before heading on down and into Lochaline and back to the slipway again.

Kevin and Iain in the Sound of Mull
I felt a great sense of achievement having paddled over 200k in a few days, but I don't think my hands would have held out much longer, by now, they really were held together with tape. It was a really good bonus to get out to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles. We saw lots, although no basking sharks (I think they are just a figment of some folks imagination) and had about as many eat stops as kilometres we paddled and the company was great. Would I do it again?, yes, but I'd leave 15 minutes earlier so as to catch the ice cream shop before it closed.
Back at Lochaline at last

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Mull and beyond, Treshnish islands

We woke to another beautiful day and after my usual early morning exercise routine (fighting my way back into damp wetsuit shorts), I was ready to head off again. I was worried after a couple of days paddling whether my old joints would seize up in the morning, but it was always good to be back in the boat.
Lovely, clear waters
Ken heading for Inch Kenneth
We started off round some of the little islands in the bay before heading over to Inch Kenneth where we got out to have a clamber over to the old chapel.
In the chapel
More food calling
 Back in our boats, we carried on round the island watching the seals watching us, before crossing back over to Ulva and round to the Boathouse, a lovely little restaurant which has extremely tasty food, large cakes and refreshing beer. By the time we returned to our boats, the weather had changed and was damp. A long paddle the length of Loch Tuath worked off a tiny amount of the calories from our cakes which Iain had suggested we should have because we didn't know when our next cake would be!
Lunch No2
 By now the dampness had turned into steady rain. We carried on to nearly the end of the Treshnish point where we had another break and some shelter from the now teaming it down rain. This was lunch spot No2. We decided that rather than setting up camp early and sitting around in all this rain, we would have another wee detour across to the Treshnish Islands. Although it was raining heavily, the sea was still fairly calm.

Treshnish Isles
More puffins
 It wasn't too long before we reached Cairn na Burgh Beg, the nothern island in the chain, before arriving at Cairn na Burgh More. Both islands have ruined castles on them, so far out to sea, but close enough to each other to almost chuck stones at each other. We then carried on to Fladda, where we stopped for lunch No3. The rain was still pouring down and it was getting chillier, so much so that the storm cag got christened.
Ken getting stuck into the sweets
 We started to head back up past the first two islands before crossing back over to Mull. There was a section of confused water that wasn't there on the way across which made you realise it's not the place you'd want to be with strong tides and wind. We were lucky to have slow tides and almost no wind and it was still a bit bumpy. We carried on round the coast where Iain checked out a cave for sleeping in that night, however he decided against it. There was running water, but underfoot was a bit soft with Doo poo!.There was a beach round the corner with a river beside it. Once we reached this point and unloaded the boats, we had a clamber up onto a little plateau to set up our tents. I'd love to say this was another stunning camp spot, but I'd be lying. The beach was very rocky with lots of smelly seaweed, the little river and camp ground had more than its fair share of coo poo!, on a positive note, the views would be wonderful if it wasn't still raining so hard and the toilets (open field) must have been the prettiest, with lots of wild orchids and primulas around. By the time we had our tea it was quite late, so it was off to bed fairly soon after.