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Friday 2 December 2011

Come Hell Or High Water...

Having recently got back from a rather long road trip I took the time to look through my blog & can't believe just how much I've done in the last couple of months let alone the year.
Without doubt the highlight for me has to be completing my solo navigation of the beautiful Welsh coastline.

So this brings me to the question of what to do next year?
I've been here before, the nervous anticipation of announcing a paddle that's going to set my nerves on edge though ultimately bring wonderful memories.

Back in 2010 I set myself the challenge of paddling out to & around Flat Holm Island whilst wearing a wedding dress. Not a huge challenge but I was much less experienced back then & I was very nervous of the challenge.
This year I challenged myself again with what seemed a crazy dream to paddle right around the Welsh Coast. I remember sitting at the computer grinning & thinking 'shit, now you've done it' as I clicked the 'make live' button on my charity web page.

So here I am again, apprehensive & wondering if I'm biting off more than I can chew?
But isn't that the point of life, to live by our memories & learn from our experiences. Better to live with a little fear than stagnate though life never experiencing it wonders. Live life for the moment & run like hell from the bailiffs when the time comes.

So what is it I got in mind? Well if you haven't recognised the image above then its the outer Herbrides. I'm thinking of circumnavigating the main chunk running from the Butt of lewis in the North down as far South as Berneray, around 300 miles.
Its still very much in the planning stage at the moment but the idea seems sound enough. I'm hoping to have a paddling partner or two on this expedition & have asked a couple of friends if they fancy it, so I'll see how that pans out. They were interested but agreeing dates is an interesting challenge & I know that not everyone has such a flexible work-life as me. I'll keep my fingers crossed as it'll be wonderful to share such an experience with friends not to mention having someone to tell me to get out of the tent & go paddle when its a bit choppy :)

I now need to look at the access & exit points & do some research into the tidal flows around the Islands. As always the weather is likely to be an issue & I'm concerned about surf landings on the west coast, especially as I'm planning on doing the trip around mid March. The tidal flows in the Sound of harris look interesting too & will need some thought.

So here we go again, that dreaded moment when I click the 'make live' button :)


  1. oooooh you done it now, cant back out! If someone wants to pay my bills for a month I'll be there in a flash. Self employment sucks!!

    That book I was on about I think was Hebridean Waves Ewan Gillespie, not 100% certain though. Anyway may be worth a look. Also Sleepybubble aka Mark on the forum lives on Lewis may be worth picking his brains.


  2. Cheers for the info Stu, definitely worth looking for that book.

    Looking forward to sunday, its gonna be a cracker :D

  3. Argonauts of the Western Isles might be worth a look too :)

  4. Hi Taran

    The Pesda book is the obvious source of info - Most of what you need is in there. Some useful snippets in Hebrdean Waves - likewise Argonauts but they are of limited practical use for planning.

    Are you sure about March? You might get lucky...we certainly did in April this year but that was pretty exceptional. You've probably seen my blog posts on that trip - if not, again some useful snippets in there.

    It's not a trip to underestimate, and is in a different league (in every respect) to much of the paddling on the mainland in my opinion - whether that's Wales, England or Scotland.

    The only time I have felt as exposed as on the West coast of Lewis, was paddling around Hermaness / Muckle Flugga and Out Stack off Shetland.

    Whether you make it all the way round or not, it will be some of the most adventurous and inspiring paddling you will ever do.

    I wish you luck!


  5. Cheers Will, some interesting comments ther & I'm very jelous that you've been to Muckle Flugga, (one day I hope).

    I chose March partly for conveiniance as I'd like to fit a second exped into next year. Nothings fixed yet though, if March is stormy I'll change it to another Month, its certainly not a location to be paddling big sea's.

    Will have another look at your Skye post & mag artice for inspiration :)

  6. Hi Taran,

    The Skye trip was fantastic (part 2 in forthcoming CKUK issue) and we were even luckier with the weather on that one - planning and a degree of flexibility helped as always.

    For Outer Herbidean inspiration see the posts in May.

    The circumnav. of Scarp was perhaps the highlight of the year:


    On that day, the winds were very light and the swell was down as much as you could expect - there were still some interesting moments - which puts the prospect of paddling that coastline on a rough day, into perspective.

    My thoughts would be to plan your other trip for March and aim to head to the Outer Heb' sometime between end of May and August. In theory, all things in balance, the ideal month is June, but always a gamble as you know. This year, April was probably the best month of the year.

    As for Shetland - hopefully 2012 will be my third paddling trip there - when you go, you will not be disappointed.


  7. I was searching for something related to my email address and it brought me here! I will FB friend you. March is not unfeasible paddling but not the best month for weather certainty.
    I would say april/may is best for stable weather. We (locals) paddle all year round, but its not everybodies cup of tea.

    The Pesda guidebook is 'The' book for here. I would say that though as three of my friends wrote it....