Seven intrepid members of the Eastwood & East Kilbride Canoe Club have just returned from a fantastic week of sea kayaking in the Inner Hebrides. Steve Bell, Stuart Clark, Brian Fox, Billy Buchanan, Derek Dougall, John Leinster and Neil Bennett are aged between 49 and 65.
Due to foul weather on the Saturday June; even the CalMac Ferry from Mallaig was cancelled; the group delayed its departure till Sunday.
Eigg was their first stop where they rough camped by the beach before heading north on Monday, for a rather bouncy crossing, battling a strong headwind, to Kinloch on Rum, again camping right on the shore, unfortunately (thankfully for the only time during the week) the midges were out in force as the guys set up camp.
On Tuesday the group paddled north around Rum to a bothy just above the beach at Guirdil Bay. Conditions for the paddle were fair, but with enough bounce to keep them alert; the paddle took them along the magnificent towering cliffs of Rum’s north shore. If the group needed any reminding of what an angry sea can do, they passed the wreckage of a large fishing vessel high up on the rocks above them.
Three of the group decided to ‘Carry on Camping’, while the other four slept in the bothy. As on each night, the fully laden 17 & 18 foot boats had to be carried over rocks above the high water line; each of the seven boats requiring a four-man lift.
Next day the group made a later than usual start to reduce the fast tidal stream running alongside Sanday, into Canna.
On Canna, which is publically owned, you can camp anywhere but the group rejected the first two possible sites and paddled round another headland to discover the magnificent Rubha Carr-Innis Bay with its ruined castle, spectacular views over Sanday (a small island just off Canna) and the cliffs of Rum and, just off to the left, the magnificent Cuillins of Skye, their peaks shrouded in low-lying cloud.
This was to be camp for the remaining three nights, and what a campsite. Apart from its natural beauty, it was just 200m from Cafe Canna, a charming cafe/restaurant which, to the group’s delight, sold beer.
The bay was so inviting, three of the hardy souls went swimming, albeit not for very long.
On Thursday the team circumnavigated Canna, about 22k, taking in more towering cliffs, stunning scenery and thousands of seabirds including the ever-enchanting puffins which allowed the guys to get very close, by drifting into them sitting on the sea.
The EEKCC group spotted sea eagles, golden eagles, otters, loads of seals, dolphins, porpoises and, best of all, a graceful Minke whale. Sadly, the unseasonal weather meant the basking sharks had not yet arrived in the area.
On Friday the team split into two groups, one on-water, paddling around Sanday exploring its coastline and very impressive black basalt caves, with the other group seeking out land-based sights.
That evening, the group paddled their boats round to the CalMac Pier ready for Saturday’s ferry back to Mallaig (Canna is about 30 miles out to sea).
After a week of dehydrated, foil-packed meals, everyone decided to have a Full Scottish onboard the ferry; the main topic of conversation . . . . . “Where will we go next?”
For more information, visit – www.eekcc
Eastwood & East Kilbride Canoe Club
Contact: Neil Bennett
Mobile: 07896 342456