Monday, 6 July 2015

Basking on Barra

I was so chuffed a couple of months back when David sent a mail round asking if we'd like to go for a wee paddle round Barra. We had tried , unsuccessfully, to get up there a couple of years back and never really quite got round to doing it since.
On the Friday evening, 5 of us, David, Jonathon, Chris, Hubby dear-AKA Ken and my good self, met up in Oban, emptied the cars, filled the boats, then Jonathon and I set off for the carpark, except we couldn't find the free long term one. Someone said there was one away along the other end of Oban. Off we zoomed only to find it wasn't, time was running out! Back we zoomed, eventually finding it with about 5 mins til the boat leaves. Jonathon started running, with me yelling that I don't do jogging, true enough, it wasn't jogging, it was sprinting. We had however timed it just nicely, the other 3 were just taking the last of the kayaks onto the ferry.
Once we arrived in Castlebay, we had a short paddle over to our first campsite on one of Vattersay's beautiful beaches.
Team work
 Next morning off we set, out round the corner and almost straight away spotted our first basking shark. We hung about while it swam around us, so close it managed to bump into Ken's boat. About another 2 paddle strokes further on and basking shark No 2 was spotted!
Bracing for shark collision!

Shark crossing No 2

We made our way over to the lovely dunes on Sandray for a breather and to watch a Golden Eagle soaring over head. David was doing really well organising all these sights - 1st morning, 2 basking sharks and a golden eagle, could he keep it up?

After our breather, we made our way down the East coast to have a look at the crossing over to Pabbay, where we decided to pull in til the flow had died down.

 We about turned to have a look at the lovely sandy beach at the other end of the dunes we had just left. The surf was a bit on the HUGE side! Ken went in to have a look and was almost wiped out with the size of the waves. It was at that point, we decided just to head back round to the first beach! On the way we passed our first Minke whale, unfortunately it was washed up on the rocks well and truly dead!

After a relaxing lunch in the sunshine surrounded by masses of wild Primroses, off we set again for the crossing over to Pabbay and yet another stunningly beautiful beach.
After pitching the tent and having a gourmet dinner - curry, Hubby dear and I set off for a wee walk up the hill. The views from the top were breathtaking.
Down at the local
We weren't the only campers on Pabbay, there were also about 10 tents with climbers tackling the sea cliffs. What was a bit disturbing was how they went about their morning "rituals!" The beach on Pabbay is a wide expanse of  pristine, white, super soft sand with rocks either end and plenty of dunes. So why would they want, in full view of everyone, to squat half way along the beach, with nothing at all to hide whatever dignity they cared to have to do "their business" then to use their shovel to ping it into the sea!!!!!
The tidal conditions weren't going to be favourable to us that morning with large white horses thundering across the sea so we opted for a late start. Instead we went for another clamber over the hills. Hill climbing and sprinting! that should mean an extra bar of chocolate!

David, dreaming up more basking sharks

Feeling on top of the world.

Why the terns were glad to sea the back of us!

Leaving Pabbay
Eventually we were ready to make the crossing down to Mingulay and thank goodness we did wait. Although the sea had died down, the swell was still quite big. The crossing wasn't far, but as we got nearer Mingulay, the waves really picked up with the way it was swooshing round the end. Our fully laden boats were fairly getting tossed around, I have to say I was more than relieved when we turned into the shelter of the bay. We were welcomed to Mingulay by a young Sea eagle and yet another beautiful beach, thankfully with no dumping climbers!

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