Thursday, 26 June 2008

Isle of Mull 2008

The Scotland trip is now an annual event well it’s our second one so it gets classified now within the annual category.
It was only last minute that Ga had managed to sort out Adel re child care etc and he was away with us providing he could return Wednesday in order for Adel to return to work on the Thursday.
For the rest of the gang we had planned to stay and return on the Saturday.
I was working the week before at Whitehaven so Ga and I planned to meet at Penrith and I had arranged to park my car only a few minutes away from the M6.
We travelled up on the Friday and we met at around midday.
A shared drive and fairly quiet, it was a sunny day and our spirits were high.
We approached Oban and about 11 miles away our attention was drawn to some direction signs for Loch Etive, we ended up by the Loch and found an idyllic pitch.
There were even two sets of Porta loos there.
It was just a car parking area but known to a few for the fishing trips and a place for Motor homes.
Cracked a beer and found a suitable pitch for the tent.
Had a go with our rods although with no success and a disaster as the last section of mine bloomin snapped!
Tea well the Cadac was out and we had a Risotto, talk about roughing it, never.
A few more beers and bed.
Hardly any darkness and up and awake just after six with the sun shining in.
A couple in a motor home who were very friendly and we started to chat.
She was a character and her husband having been a miner for 30 years did hand stitched designs all from his head and no patterns.
Amazing skills and we had a preview of some of his stuff; the basic piece would take him a minimum nonstop of three months.
He sold mainly to family and friends although he had supplied some to shops.
He gave me his details and we left him contemplating having a web page, although there were the warnings that he could be inundated with customers, hobby or stressful part time occupation?
If you want further information on the products contact Dave Miller 01592 758083
We got ready and were on the water for 0745, up and along the Loch we went, what amazing scenery and very similar to Norway.
Ga tried fishing but again with no success.
We saw about 8 ribs approach us they were obviously having some fun and all of the same type, the flag became visible as they got nearer and it was the Royal Navy possibly sea cadets not too sure.
Off they went out of sight.
Saw some seals and a sea otter which was stunning.
A slog to the end which was just over 10 miles, a bite to eat and then back on the water.
Some distance up the Loch we saw a guy in a K1 going well, he never gave us a nod or wink so we verbally assassinated him only to feel slightly silly as the rest of the gang approached accompanied by the ribs, yes a race so he was not likely to stop and have a chat ha!
Loads of boats some racing ones although mainly sea kayaks the all the same type so again an organised group, must have been at least 40of them.
Back in and after 21 miles a tad tired.
Some calls from the guys as they had landed in Oban and were in the process of getting some additional supplies as Ga had obtained the majority.
We packed up and as we sorted out the kit two couples arrived fairly young as everyone is theses days, they had a walk on the grassed areas and were just about to pitch when we pointed out that come high tide they would be a bit wet.
Gave them our spot and the good deed of the day was done.
Met the guys I went as with Ade and bought the new Palm Kaikoura PFD, off for a quick pint and on the Ferry for Mull.
We landed and then went to the West side of the Island, the winds were starting to pick up and we felt we might have a bit of protection.
We ended up just off the road near Ballygown, a struggle with the pegs due to the rocky ground but just about managed it.
Pasta and a spag ball sauce went down very well.
Wet, and windy and off we set, launched from the ferry point for Ulva and set off North to circumnavigate anti clockwise, we would hopefully have the wind on the way back.
A dull day with rain and wind and of course a beam sea, which was choppy at times.
Around Gometra for some cover and then after a quick bite as we started to get cold back on and around Little Colonsay.
Wind now picking up and a paddle face into it so low blades and head down.
Ade became tired and it was felt that a rest by towing would assist and charge his batteries, a minute after Mike is attached and off like a rocket.
Ga and I then took out turn and did the in line tow far more efficient although still hard work as stated not only towing but into the wind.
Ade picked up and on the South East corner of Ulva on the Sound Ga had his hand line out.
A shout of excitement and I joined him.
We rafted up and he landed 2 lovely Mackerel, a quick death and whilst he sorted some storage out placed them on my deck between the spare paddles…wrong and yes away they went, as they say the ones that got away!
Back around and a reunion with the guys.
It was a 17 miler.
A bit cooler so we packed the kit and off we set.
The winds were now stronger and the previous pitch was u/s re the pegging area and we need some softer ground.
A look at the weather with Mikes i- phone and off to Fidden it was.
As with last year a fantastic spot and no doubt due to the weather or lack of it was very quiet.
Pitched up and Cadac but it was too windy.
Ga boned some pork and we had some tasty and spicy fajita sauce and tortilla wraps.
Some beers and wines with Ga and Mike doing some excellent jamming on Mikes guitar, a great night of sing along and I found that the small empty keg of beer came in handy as my bongo accompaniment.
Mike had seen a gap in the weather and it was an opportunity to bag Staffer.
Off we went with fuzzy heads and set off from Fidden.
There was a couple on the site who had 2 dogs with them.
One was a small Jack Russell cross who continually came over with a rock in its mouth and yes no matter how many times you threw the rock it would still return and want more.
Whilst waiting to launch it took an immediate interest in my tennis balls, they fit on the end of the spare paddle shafts it keeps them off the deck and affords some protection.
So we have the dog trying to mount my deck and biting at the balls taking no notice of me shouting “get off me balls” not sure how that was perceived by persons not seeing what was actually going on.
It even followed me some 100 meters out to sea!
Through the Sound of Iona and out towards Staffa.
A fair bit of swell and beam seas on our left.
A struggle or perhaps inconvenience with no skeg on such an open crossing.
The waves picked up so when I hit the crest some slight change in the direction to keep on track.
My longest open crossing and some relief to get to Staffa, and then the complete experience of entering Fingals cave, almost spiritual.
We went into both caves and saw another 4 paddlers approach, they didn’t circumnavigate the Island and we never had any contact with them, they possibly did the caves and headed off to the Treshnish Islands?
We went to the other side and landed, a short walk and a view of the hundreds of Puffins we then set off for the return journey.
Calmer seas and we took some considerable time off this section home.
A lovely afternoon and we had a stop on the lovely beaches on the tip of Staffa.
Back in and after 21 miles a relief to get in and yes more wine and beer.
It brightened up and Ga de-boned a leg of his local lamb, skilleted and a sauce to go, lamb curry rice and salad with yes wines and beers, it was gorgeous.
More entertainment from the guys, and long tails of our crossing what a fabulous day.
The open fire topped the night and we were joined by my rock retrieving and tennis ball biting swimming mate.
What a crap day, rain high winds 25-35mph it was disappointing.
Ga had a very unusual long lie in and why not.
We had some snacks and at around 4 went out around Tinkers Hole and due to the high and gusting winds only stayed out for a couple of hours.
Ga gave Ade some tips and they practised some rescues and Ga with Mikes help had a go at rolling.
Gav stayed in and on our return the veggies had been prepared so after packing the boats away as it was still lashing it down we had a traditional Lamb dinner.
Apart from the home made entertainment with the forecast we had all agreed that we would join Ga and head for home on Wednesday.
Forecast was for high winds throughout the remainder of the week.
So have I mentioned it before we finished the night off with some beers and wines and off to the tent for a night of strong winds and rain.
A disturbed night and not too much sleep.

Up for 8 to the chorus of Led Zeppelins on Mikes CD player!
Now that’s one good alarm clock.
Up and away for 0900 to more winds and rain, on the ferry but due to some electrical fault about 20 mins delay.
Back on the road and home for about 8pm.
4 days excellent paddling an average of 20 miles a day with good food, drink, company and fantastic paddling.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Sounds like a fantastic trip and some really great images. Made great reading!