Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Gnarly North Coast

In October, Ken and Zoe had organised a North Coast meet up at Tongue hostel for SSKEG. I keep thinking as we are passing through Inverness that we are almost there, forgetting the fact we are really only about half way there! After driving over bleak moors dotted with magnificent stags, we did eventually arrive at the hostel, with a very welcome roaring fire!
On Rabbit Island

Next morning minus Zoe, 6 of us, Lori, Antje, Alan, Fiona, Ken and myself, set off from the slipway, picked our way between sand banks and big swells before eventually making it out to Rabbit Islands. We landed here for a bit of a clamber around the lovely golden sand dunes, couldn't find any rabbits, but we did find lots of otter footprints. We carried on clockwise  round the island before picking our way through the next group of islands with the crashing waves, then headed out to Eilean Nan Ron. On the sheltered side, it was great getting into caves, round we stacks, through arches, out from the shelter, it was just lumpy, bumpy, swooshy! Coming back into Tongue Bay, there was a huge white wall which looked like it ran the full width of the bay! Yikes! We kept quite far to the right, however, as we got nearer, we could see that it wasn't quite as bad as it had first looked!

Big bubble bath

Not quite the paddling we thought of!

We did manage to pick our way through, eventually making it back to the slipway, back to the hostel - and back to that roaring fire and a beer!

Next day David, Alice and Ansgar joined us, though Alan had a day off. This time we set off from Ard Neackie in Loch Eriboll to the sound of large BOOMS! from the firing range nearer Cape Wrath. Weather again was a bit breezy and dreich! We cut across the loch, paddled up the west side, then pulled into a lovely little sheltered harbour at Rispond for a breather. We were hoping to carry onto Durness, however the conditions had other ideas so we headed out to Eilean Hoan for lunch, then back into Loch Eriboll and down the east side.
Heading back into Loch Eriboll
Back to the roaring fire and another wee beer!

Day 3, we were all out, Zoe and Mark had arrived early. We left Fiona's car at Talmine, then headed back over to Ard Neackie, sticking to the east side, we followed the coast round past Whiten Head. Magnificient cliffs and caves round here and wonderful entertainment from a frothy whirly tornado.
I have to say, it was quite nice getting back into slightly more sheltered waters!

Collected Fiona's car,went back over to Ard Neackie to collect everyone else's cars then back to the roaring fire and another wee beer!
Day 4, Alice and Ansgar have abandoned us today (back to work!) everyone else headed over to Dwarwick pier to head out round  Dunnet Head.

Once again the weather was somewhat breezy! After some time David did mention we were going at some rate and it was about time to turn back, which we did, then there was the hard battle back, at times feeling as though we were paddling hard and getting no where!. A wee bit more oomph and we did make headway before thankfully turning back into Dunnet Bay. There was the choice of heading further in to play in the surf, but by then most of us were a bit knackered and what with the talk of ice cream in Wick, it was a no brainer - Wick, here we come!
It was a really good, committing, few days hard paddling with good company, but boy was I glad of that icecream!

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