Every year Cumbria Canoeists organise two trips to a set of different Hebridean Islands - one over a long weekend aimed at all comers and one longer wild camping usually circumnavigating an Island.
This year was no exception with Mull chosen as the long weekend and Islay for the circumnavigation - either full or partial due to its size and the tidal currents and exposure of its west coast.
The weather was good for Mull and a number of inexperienced and new sea kayakers were supported to paddle the coasts of Ulva and Gometra, wildlife spotting otters and sea eagles, guided out to the famous Isle of Staffa, with its amazing basalt caves and to circumnavigate the Isle of Iona, another iconic Island off the coast of Mull. Both sea and weather gods were with us for all three days and our aspirant leaders had the opportunity to manage the groups and take a lead with the management and decision making for the trip.
As if this was not enough, we returned to Oban, re-stocked with supplies for the next six days and arrived as a fresh team of 11 experienced paddlers at the CalMac ferry terminal, trying to board the very busy and full Kennacraig ferry to Port Askaig - fortunately the load Master squeezed us all on the car deck - leaving us to get a hot meal before we arrived on Islay in the late afternoon.
The weather was not good, it was MYTHICAL, and to cut a long story short we circumnavigated Islay - a first for all in the group - in 5/6 days, paddled approximately 30Km per day, camping out in some remote and amazing coastal areas, away from the madding crowd. Each night the single malt was flowing freely and after the traditional campfire we slept “like logs”.
The only tale to tell was the foggy morning, off the west coast, with a northerly wind against tide, when we wanted to keep in touch with the coast but there was breaking and confused seas in the poor visibility - a rude awakening to the exposure of this coast after the calm and settled waters of the previous days. We all managed well and gave further opportunities of live sea kayak leading to a different set of aspIrant sea kayak leaders.
A trip to cherish, remember and tell your grandchildren about, the Hebridean summer of 2018.
If you are interested in sea kayak trips for 2019 or some coaching workshops check out the Cumbria Canoeists website - www.cumbriacanoeists.org.uk and speak to our sea-kayak rep Alan Ashby
Mull - 23-25 June 2018
Circumnavigation of Islay - 26 June - 1 July 2018