On the 25th of June I arrived on the beautiful island of Barra with the intention of circumnavigating the Oute Hebrides. As it turned out the weather & sea condition s in some parts weren't to my liking so I just enjoyed the part of the paddle that I did do & enjoyed the camping too, I was here after all to just have fun & the islands aren't going anywhere.
For some reason when planning the trip I failed to check how long the ferry took & certainly wasn't expecting to be starting the paddle at 21:00.
I was also a little nervous about the complex tides through the islands that would require some thought during the planning & also concerned about the lack of VHF signal should things go a little wrong.
I've learnt from previous camping trips that fully laden boats suck weight wise so I had brought an Ikea bag for unloading at the waters edge & carry things in stages to the tent. It works very well & better I think than bringing a trolly.
A big highlight for me on this part of the trip was an Arctic Skua that kept circling me & hovering just a few feet from my head looking down. awesome!
I was seeing lots of Puffins & Storm Petrels too.
|A calmer moment on the SW side.|
The South Western side of Mingulay was no different either & I was considering my options. I could paddle back through the sound between the islands to set camp or rest until the conditions improve or I could just continue & stay on the Western side. I evan considered paddling back along the Eastsern side but that would seem like failure & wasn't really an option.
In the end my stubbornness won over & I continued up the Western side towards Vatersay.
It was a tough decision to make not just because of the conditions but also the tiredness from the early rise that I was feeling.
|Bagh A Deas|
I wasn't planning on camping here despite being idyllic, I still had some more miles left in me, after a break at least.
|I had some locals to keep me company too :)|
I was reasonably early setting camp, about 18:00 hours but this was due mostly to the very early start to the day. I fully intended to chill & get my energy back for the coming day despite the calmer looking evening weather.
There was clearly no point me getting up early so I had a lie in & contemplated my decisions whilst checking the forecast for the week ahead, it wasn't good. Wind & rain was forecast for the next two days & the following two days after the third, my motivation ebbed away with the morning tide as I wasn't prepared to sit out the weather at such an early stage of the circumnavigation. I had some tough decisions to make & I decided to call the exped off & leave it as unfinished business.
The swells here were as I predicted, pretty big, bigger than the day before & the clapotis & shoals were creating a confused sea that focussed my attention. There were a couple of spots I noted the day before that I had to avoid, particularly a large dumping wave just offshore. It wasn't a long paddle to the shelter of Caolas Bhatarsaigh on the southern side of Barra though so I just got on with it.
This bit I was dreading, the portage!
I would either have to fully unload the boat to carry it to the other side or find some helpful locals. as it happened a couple of ladies were jogging in the area & were very kind to help with the carry though I did feel a bit mean due to the excessive weight of a fully laden kayak with a months supply of food.
So that was it, a short but rather awesome adventure.
I had failed in the expedition but came away felling content in the knowledge that I had paddled some of the most remote islands in europe & with the most stunning scenery too.
I thought the solitude of the area might make me uncomfortable with my surroundings but that certainly wasn't the case. I found the solitude peaceful but on the sea the solitude could present a real problem if an incident occurred so it kept me on my toe's.
I'll most definitely be going back to the Hebrides as I've only scratched the surface of these magical islands.