2021 Scottish Sea Kayaking Trip to the Summer Isles
Day 09 Monday Càrn Nan Sgeir (island) to Camas a’ Chruthcach via small village with wind generators and solar panels (Scraig) then across little loch Broome to Anthrax island by Catriona Hare
Having enjoyed yesterday’s long car shuttle (Sunshine and scenery make all the difference.) and the fantastic sunset on last night’s beach camp I was looking forward to today’s paddle. Today I would complete an unexpected two-day bonus extension to the first week. Keith found somewhere I could pick up my car at the end of the day.
We set off promptly at 8:45, 15 minutes before we had agreed to leave, at the start of week two the packing was getting quicker even without midges. The midges were kept at bay by the wind which also meant it was definitely a cag day from the outset, only my second of the trip. We started off by paddling round the small island we had camped on the night before, seeing the now infamous wind turbine from day 1 ! After the circumnavigation we paddled across to the mainland near Cailleach Head. There was a reasonably strong northerly wind so for this part of the trip we had a following sea. We rounded Caillach Head and entered the mouth of Little Loch Broom and headed down the northern coast to Scoriag, where we were sheltered from the wind for a time. Scoriag is an isolated off grid community with no road access, I wondered if it was a suitable working from home location. We stopped by the jetty at Scoriag for second breakfast or first lunch at about 11:00.
We headed off from Scoriag across the mouth of Little Loch Broom towards the cliffs on the opposite side near Leac an Ime. From here we headed up the coast to the headland and round into Gruinard Bay, with impressive view of the hills on the mainland. By now Keith was mentioning Anthrax at frequent intervals and explaining that Gruinard (Anthrax) Island had been declared safe. Gruinard Island was requisitioned as a remote site for biological warfare experiments in WWII. (I am not sure of their definition of remote, it’s only a Km from the mainland.) The island was declared safe in 1990 by the Government, well sheep were no longer dying after the island had been decontaminated by spraying it with formaldehyde diluted with seawater. This was obviously reassuring.
We continue round the headland to a bay near Miotag, where we stopped to decide together if we went to Gruinard Island and for lunch. The tide was going out and the beach was muddy, so a quick decision was made to go round the island but not camp on it, and to leave without lunch.
The circumnavigation of the island was fun, and I was pleased I didn’t bail out to my car sooner (I wasn’t looking forward to the long drive to Edinburgh following a day’s paddle.). We paddled up the east side into a northerly wind, which was quite hard going followed by a cross wind with side on waves on the north and the following sea down the west side, which gave us good conditions for rock hopping. Keith was the only person who opted to land on the island on the tip of the sand spit at Sròn a’ Mhoill. I may have been tempted, but by then I had seen how” stylishly” Keith had landed and there were likely to be a few more people with cameras out for anyone else having a go at landing. If Keith doesn’t get anthrax, does that make him a sheep?
We paddled across to the jetty on the mainland near my car. Thankfully Ian shouted at us to paddle due east, so we were not pushed south of the jetty by the northerly wind. We landed near the jetty, and I went to get my car from a nearby layby while Keith, Ian and Andy emptied my boat and moved it and my stuff next to the road from the landing place. I am not entirely sure how my boat got passed the deer gate, I know Ian “shimmied” under the gate to help me load the boat on the car etc.; this made me feel guilty briefly. The rest of the group had a late lunch near the jetty. I wanted to join them, but I didn’t want to stay where I was parked for longer than necessary, so I drove back to civilisation, first layby cleaner clothes, second stop a lovely cup of coffee at the Gale centre in Gairloch.
The rest of the group paddled on to a small bay, Camas a’ Chruthcach, for their evening camp. I was sad to be going but pleased that I had an extra couple of days paddling, and even more pleased when the rock concert I needed to leave early for was excellent. Maybe I don’t want to live in an isolated off grid community after all.
To see more pages from the whole trip go to the Major trips and Expedition reports tab on the club website or click here…….