2021 Scottish Sea Kayaking Trip to the Summer Isles
Day 04 Wednesday Port Allan na Bradhan to Oldany Island camp at Cnoc a Mhoil Bhain via the point of Stoer and old man by Debbie Hughes
Setting off from Port Allan na Bradhan it was quite overcast but good paddling conditions again. As we left Achmelvich Bay we could see Stoer Head Lighthouse in the distance. It had been visible for several days, far, far away but today was the day we would actually reach it. The tidal planning committee had to be spot on today with tidal direction and timing to get us round Stoer Head and Point of Stoer, the crux of today’s paddle.
The first point of interest was the split rock near Clachtoll…A’Chlach Thuill in Gaelic, created by the slippage of a massive section of rock down the Torridonian sandstone base – spectacular seen from the sea.
We continued on across small Clachtoll Bay’s sandy beaches where we think we saw the black rib belonging to the guy we met at Lochinver pie shop who had directed us to the previous night’s excellent tucked away campsite. Next across the bigger Bay of Stoer and then about four and a half kilometres further on to Geodh Gainmhich, and a tiny beach where we stopped to refuel before tackling the committing part of our day’s paddle. Keith shouting “don’t get swept round the point” made us all concentrate on staying close in to reach the landing point. It felt like a very remote spot, but the road was only a short distance from the top of the cliff.
Back on the water after second breakfast we were out and round the point with the lighthouse high above us in no time. The water was gently bouncy for the next section up towards the Old Man of Stoer, with dramatic cliffs all the way along until the spectacular 60m high sea stack appeared…no one climbing there today but a popular challenge with climbers. Keith organised a group photo right in front of it which took some manoeuvring to get us all in position.
There were lots of rock hopping opportunities for those who dared, and we soon reached Point of Stoer and started heading south easterly towards our lunch spot at the jetty at Culkein where it was rush hour for the local cattle who took priority wandering along the only road holding up the traffic, such as it was.
We set off again to cross to Eilian Chrona, and next to Oldany Island where we were camping that night. I was really looking forward to this as I had camped here once before a long time back and it was definitely one of my all-time favourite camping spots.
We rounded the northern point of Oldany then played “find the beach” amongst all the rocky outcrops exposed at low tide. Even at low tide the white sand of the tombolo beach (Sand either side of an isthmus) did not disappoint – just as I remembered. Plenty of flat grass for camping and the big plus – a midge free night.
What a way to celebrate my birthday, the third I have spent on a LCC paddling trip. Great company, amazing coastal scenery on a piece of coast I have long wanted to paddle. The blondies I had made to bring as a birthday treat had survived long enough to be still edible and were shared round. (One thing less to stuff in my hatches tomorrow morning – and a wee dram (or several) of whisky to finish the day off. What more could you want from a birthday…..
I had chosen to keep my phone turned off throughout the trip except from taking the odd photo. BUT, seeing as it was my birthday, I turned it on to get birthday messages from my friends and family. Several pinged their way through including one from my daughter Anna. Happy Birthday Mommy – I’ve been trying to call you – I’m in hospital. News you never want to hear. Poor Anna was in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and had emergency surgery on her lower back. As updates on her recovery came through it became apparent that she would be unable to look after herself for some time when she was discharged so I made the decision to abandon my plans to paddle a second week and leave the group on Sunday after returning to the campsite near Ullapool to go and look after her in Musselburgh…The Gairloch section would be another stretch of coastline to look forward to another time.
To see more pages from the whole trip go to the Major trips and Expedition reports tab on the club website or click here…….