Saturday, 23 June 2012

Boreray and Stac Iain

We are by now settling into our morning routine, Anne rearranging her bags, me continually losing my glasses, Murty eventually emerging from down below and Iain always getting the corner seat . The three non paddling passengers sit tucked in the other corner, possibly worried incase Anne packs them away, but more than likely still shell shocked at the organised chaos that is a group of paddlers getting ready for the day. They only went ashore once during their trip. I think after we left, they sat back with relief and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Pick up a Puffin!
Hubby dear with Hirta
Murdo took us over to Boreray, where we launched next to a mass of Puffins, the most I'd ever seen together. We set off up towards Stac Lee with thousands of Gannets swirling overhead.
Iain claiming Stac Iain
As we approached the stac, Iain jumps into the water and makes a general request for someone to look after his boat. A few jaws dropped at him doing this and stayed dropped when neither Hubby dear nor I batted an eyelid, this being the sort of thing Iain enjoys doing, we're quite used to it. As Iain clung to some slimy bits of seaweed and possibly needed a manicure after scrambling at the rocks, he has claimed Stac Lee as Stac Iain as probably no-one has set foot on the island for a while.



Back in the boat, we carry on north and round Stac an Armin, then down the east side of Boreray, where the waves were getting interesting bouncing back off the island. We certainly weren't exploring any nooks and crannies on this side. As we rounded the bottom, everything settled down again and we headed back to the Cuma via some caves after more island claiming from Iain and Hubby dear.


More island claiming!
After more nosh, with the boats tied down, it was time to leave St Kilda. It amazes me how it has managed to survive thousands of years constantly getting battered by huge storms (not while we were there!) with having so many arches, caves and tunnels, it must be like a giant Aero. It truly is a magical place.
That evening we stayed in the beautiful bay at Taransay. Another evening of serious discussions ensued, such as whisky or Bailey's? or what about both!
Beautiful Taransay bay

Friday, 15 June 2012

Over, under, through and round St Kilda

Next morning after Anne had arranged her bags, then rearranged her bags, then rearranged them again and I had lost my glasses for about the 3rd time that morning we were ready for paddling.

The gap from the outside
Mike at the gap on the inside
It was a busy bay we launched into as a cruise ship had arrived during the night and was busy ferrying passengers over to St Kilda. We started off towards the point to see what the conditions would be like, but found that they were a bit bumpy, so we made our way over to Dun again, this time staying on the bayside. Murty took us over to what looked like a solid cliff. Tucked into it was the other side of the passage we had been in the previous evening. Hubby dear disappeared into it, closely followed by Iain. I went to have a wee look and ended up going through as well. This gap was a bit narrow to say the least and at quite a jaunty angle. TG had been adamant she was not going in and I have to say I was a bit concerned at the thought of coming back out of that gap, so it was a relief to see her emerging through the gap as well. We were by now all in the cave. We headed on through the cave and out the other side to be greeted by loads of young, nosey seals. We carried on up the coast, in, out and under lots of caves and arches. The colour and clarity of the water was wonderful. Just about every rock we passed had its own resident seal sunning itself (yes, we had sunshine!).

Going through the Soay arch
We carried on up the coast to the Soay arches. Looking through them it was easy to see how bumpy the water was, so I wasn't too surprised to see Hubby dear  disappear through, quickly followed by Iain. Murty was happily bobbing around halfway encouraging me through. Off I went, past the point of what seemed like no return! Once out, my next concern was whether I would manage to turn round to go back through or would I have to paddle all the way round Soay to get back to the Cuma which had now arrived. The fact that the Cuma had lunch on it and I was starving was the prompt I needed. Once TG and Mike had a run through, we all about turned and headed back.

After lunch, we headed back to Village bay where it was decided we could have time ashore. Once ashore we all traipsed up to the PO. We had to get postcards with the Puffin stamp on it. Writing the cards caused a bit of a problem. No glasses with me, so I haven't a clue what I wrote, that and the fact after being on moving water so much, I couldn't stand still. I was still bouncing up and down and swaying.
Looking over to the flat calm looking Soay arch from up high

Hubby dear, TG, Ian and myself decided to follow the road up the hill, over the ridge then back down to the village.  After numerous muggings by the Bonxies, we were treated to a fantastic view from the top. Back down in the village, we went to school and church (see, we really are good) and watched a gang of young Soay sheep playing around. They really are quite cute, unlike their rather manky looking parents.
Back on board, a huge roast dinner followed by ice cream , hm mm. Then there was some serious discussions going on, such as, which whisky should be opened first.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Murty's Mob

Bit of swoosh
Last Friday it was time to start off on our wee Hebridean jaunt. Up nice and early, when we got a message through from Iain, who we were meeting in Ullapool, to say the A9 was closed due to an accident. After a shift of plans we were now heading up via Glenshee, Tomintoul then Granton along with every Sunday driver possible. Thankfully we still arrived in time to swap boats around onto 1 car, get an icecream and still get the ferry over to Stornoway. This was where we met the first of Murty's mob, Tilly-less Mike.
Next day we headed over to Loch Maibhaig to catch the Cuma and meet everyone else. TG, or should that be G & T, Carl and his amazing helmet and Baggy Annie. Along with Murty, that's my seat in the corner Iain, Hubby dear and myself made up the paddlers. There were also a family of three, our wonderful skipper/ cook Murdo and Michaella who kept everything ship shape!
That afternoon, we made our way round past a bumpy Gallan Head to Loch Tamnabhaigh. It was a very blowey evening when we put the kayaks in the water for a very quick paddle down the loch, a blustery paddle across, then a very slow paddle back up, not far, but long enough to build up a bit of an appetite for some lovely nosh and a wee drink.

Launching the kayak
Next day we found out about Murty time. This is about 30 mins after Hebridean time. He eventually emerged for brekkie once we'd all nearly finished. 
It wasn't long before the kayaks were strapped down, the anchor hauled up and we were off, heading out to St Kilda. We were delighted to be getting out so early on in the trip, knowing the whole week was very weather dependant on what we did.

Still a healthy colour
 The journey out was a bit bumpy and a few of the passengers began to feel a bit iffy, with Hubby dear turning an amazing shade of green.
After a few hours of rocking and rolling St Kilda was very clear to see. It really is a hard place to describe, such a massive lump of rock stuck so far out to sea with so many Gannets and my favourite Puffins.

Village Bay
Carl and Mike
In the caves
We stopped in Village Bay, where the kettle was put on before some of us got ready for an evening paddle. Although in the bay, there was still a bit of a swell. We started out towards the shore, before passing through the cut between Hirta and Dun islands. The other side was nicely sheltered allowing us to have a great paddle in and out of caves.
Having a keek through the Dun arch.
We stuck our noses through the arch at the bottom of Dun which reminded us how bumpy the other side still was. This was where we about turned and headed back for tea. What a great introduction to St Kilda.