Sunday, 3 November 2013

Priest Island - worth the wait!

Heading over to Horse Island
It was way back in March that we (Me 'n' He) were looking forward to joining other paddlers for the SCA trip up to the Priest Island. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. The wind picked up, likely to blow hard in our face in whichever direction we were heading! Top that with the fact the white stuff was lying thick, blocking some of the main roads heading up north, so the chances are we wouldn't even have reached Ullapool to get a battering with the wind!
Thankfully Ansgar decided to postpone the trip til later in the year.
Fast forward to September, when the trip was rearranged for.

Ansgar and Maureen

Hubby dear and I made our way up to Ullapool on the Friday evening, set up the tent, then went off in search of the rest of the group in the Ceilidh Place. As often with trips, some paddlers had called off, but this left us with the perfect size of group - we all fitted round the pub table nicely, sorry, map nicely!  Plans were made to meet the next morning by the jetty in Dorney Bay. Plans set, socialising continued and what a good chat we got through, even though we didn't know each other (I'd only met Ansgar before) - it was going to be a good trip.

Next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed (?) we met at the jetty, well huddled beside Ansgar's van to get out of the wind. We decided to head down the coast a bit where we would (possibly) get a more sheltered paddle. Our new put in was next to a burial ground - Oh dear!
We set off for Horse Island, crept round the top and came across 2 otters, playing away, totally oblivious to us. They very nearly landed on Peter's boat. We carried on round the island before battling back across the bay to have lunch.
The coral beach in one direction

and the other direction.
 The forecast for the afternoon was dying winds and sunshine. Bang on 1pm the wind died and the sun came out - that's pretty good forecasting! We decided to carry on after lunch over to Tanera More before heading round to Tanera Beg, lovely islands and so glad we made it across. We had a breather on a pretty coral beach, watched by the seals. Coming back round the south of the island, the wind picked up again, of course into our face! Statement of the trip must go to Alice, who wasn't paddling this weekend. She spotted  us cutting back across  the bay, after a bit she noticed we hadn't moved much and decided - Oh it must be windy! Just slightly! It was a hard paddle back and I have to say I don't think I've ever been so pleased to see a burial ground.
Back in Ullapool after dinner, we met up again. Ansgar had checked the weather. It was due to calm down the next day, we should hopefully make it out to the Priest Island.
 Mellon Udrigle

Peter and Maureen
Keeking out

Keeking in

Fantastic rocks

That night the wind picked up, really picked up and I reckoned Asgar's forecast was a wee bit wrong. It was blowing a hooley. For a fair bit of the night, all that could be heard along with the wind was folks tent zips, then pegs being banged in, before the zips went again. Not exactly a peaceful nights sleep. About 3.30 the wind suddenly died. It was like it had been switched off.

Next morning was lovely. We met up at Mellon Udrigle with it's perfect beach in the sunshine. We soon set off for Priest Island. The views all around were breath taking. It didn't take too long to make it over to the island and we were soon exploring caves, cuts and arches. Quite a stunning place. Ansgar was on a mission here. His friend had left a throwline on the island during an earlier trip, he was going to try to find it. We landed in the bay  and straight away the throwline was found!
 After lunch, we had a wander over to the hut, a bird hide before setting off from the bay through the thickest red jellyfish "soup" I've ever seen. I'm not sure if they were all alive or not, but there were hundreds of them - yuck! Definitely a time for good supports! We carried on round the top of the island, more magnificent caves and cuts with terrific colours coming through the rocks worthy of any artist's palette.

All too soon we were heading back to the cars having had a fantastic days paddling. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend and well worth the wait.


  1. Great account and pics, Sarah. As it happens, we were in Ullapool last week, stormy weather but what a wonderful place to paddle when the seas cooperate. You all have some amazing trips, well worth waiting for! :) Duncan.

  2. Thanks Duncan. It really was worth waiting for. I can still feel another trip planned for that area again next year.

  3. Great stuff Sarah, well worth the wait rather than battling through the weather!

    Kind Regards

  4. Hi Ian,
    It was a fantastic trip, we did still have our fair share of battling the wind, but that gives us a fine excuse for chocolate!

  5. Nice to hear about your trip to Priest Island. It's a fantastic place. You might be interested in my adventure there in 1975 when I hid two criminals on the Island for almost a year; Here's my website: