Monday, 28 September 2015

Macclesfield Canal - 27th September 2015

Training paddle from the boathouse to Higher Poynton Marina and back. Lots of barges out, so a number of delays at bridges. Out in 47:40, back in just over 52, but had at least 5 boat delays on the return, one of which was a bit close for comfort as I over-estimated the size of a gap between two barges!

Macclesfield Canal Hare and Hounds - 13th September 2015

September club handicap "Hare and Hounds" race over 4 miles. Finished with a time of 41.14, exactly the same as the last time I did the race in March, 7th position.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Loch Bracadale and Wiay Island followed by Colbost in Loch Dunvegan - 31st August 2015

The wind had now swung around to a N 4-5, so I thought the SW facing Loch Bracadale would be a good location.

We launched from the pebble beach at Balmore and headed out to cross to the sandy beach on the N end of Harlosh Island.

Unfortunately my theory on Loch Bracadale being sheltered didn't hold out, and the wind was blowing off the land causing choppy conditions with short swell and whitecaps, So we agreed I'd go around Wiay by myself.

Looking S from the E side of Harlosh
The N'erly wind quickly blew me the 4 kilometres down to the W side of Wiay and the headland of Rubha Garbh. Once around the headland, I was in the lee of the island and the calm water allowed me to admire the cliff scenery and explore the large cave on the S end of the island.

Looking from Wiay to Macleod's Maidens in the distance
Approaching the large cave on Wiay

After taking a few photos I made may way round the island and headed back towards Harlosh. With the wind now pretty much on my face, this turned out to be a bit of a slog with water splashing up off the deck. A fishing boat passed by quite close - initially a bit scary because I was worried he hadn't seen me, but once I knew he was going to pass behind me it was re-assuring to see someone else out on the water.

I headed back for a short stop and to meet back up on the beach on Harlosh and then after a brief exploration of the loch near our launch spot we headed back to Balmore and drove back to Dunvegan. About 16km paddled.

Back near Dunvegan, the small islands and skerries on the Colbost side of Loch Dunvegan looked inviting in the afternoon sunshine, so we went back on the water for a short paddle in amongst the various groups of seals. Definitely more nervous than the seals on Anglesey, the seals would enter the water if they saw us getting too close and then follow us around keeping a safe distance. At one point there must have been at least 20-25 seals bobbing around behind us!

Chilling out!
Looking across Loch Dunvegan with our rental house in the distance

Loch Dunvegan and Iosaigh - 30th August 2015

After our first night in the rented house (we had plumped for decadence rather than battling the rain and midges) we made plans for our first full day on Skye.

Conditions were still a bit blustery with a SW 4-5 wind and occasional showers. We couldn't decide whether to paddle or walk. Neither of us wanted to spend any more time in the car after the long journey north, so in the end we split up and I paddled from near Dunvegan Castle down and around the island of Iosaigh (Isay).

Looking across Loch Dunvegan
The launch spot was ideal, but it did put me right in amongst the seal colony around Gairgh Eilein. Not wanting to disturb the seals nor incur the wrath of the boatmen running seal watching trips from the castle, I gave the seals a wide berth and doubled back into the main loch before heading NW.

Sunshine alternated with the odd shower, but it was nice to be on the sea again with the magnificent gannets fishing around me.

I passed the fish farm, and the house we were staying in. and made my way down to the tidal island of Lampay and the Coral beaches. Conditions were a bit choppy, but around the NW side of the beach that connects Lampay to the mainland I found shelter and was followed by an inquisitive seal.

After a quick stop, I headed back out and started my clockwise loop around Iosaigh. The island has a rather gruesome history, and here is the story according to Wikipedia:

In the 16th century the main house on the island was inhabited by the MacLeods of Lewis, and it was here that Roderick Macleod of Lewis ('Nimheach' - the venomous) implemented his plan to ensure that his grandson would inherit Raasay and the lands of Gairloch. He convened the two powerful families (names do not appear to have been recorded) of the time at Isay house for a banquet which he suggested was to inform them of good news. During the feast he invited each person present to accompany him outside of the banquet hall in order to inform them of this news. Upon leaving the hall the victim was promptly stabbed to death. In this way both families were wiped out

Uninhabitated now, there are only ruined blackhouses and the more substantial main house remaining.

Looking S with Iosaigh on my right
Lunch stop on Iosaigh looking E
After a short lunch on the E side of the island, I headed back up Loch Dunvegan and was lucky enough to encounter an otter swimming just off Lampay. I took the shortest route back into the pebbly beach were I had launched from. With the low tide, the narrow channels took me very close to some of the seals hauled up on the rocks. Surprisingly, the closer I passed to the seals, the less jumpy they seemed to be. Perhaps from a distance I looked more of a threatening shape and more of the seals entered the water - or maybe they were just inquisitive?

The view from the house with Lampay and Iosaigh in the near distance and the hills of Harris on the horizon
Err... not quite the original tent that we first planned!
About 4 hours paddling, 22km distance. First significant paddle using my greenland stick.

Loch Moidart - 29th August 2015

We'd travelled up from Macclesfield the night before and found an excellent B&B near Roshven on Loch Ailort. We were en route to Skye via the Mallaig ferry, originally planning to stop over in Fort William, but sunshine on the Corran lighthouse tempted us to take the ferry and the scenic route around Ardgour/Moidart/Sunart. We stopped off in the Glenuig Inn for something to eat, and sought advice for a sheltered place for a paddle in the morning hoping to get out of the blustery SW wind.

Glen Coe in dramatic light on the drive up
Corran lighthouse
So based on the info received, we launched into the outgoing tide at the small roadside jetty on Loch Moidart. Paddling leisurely, we made our way down the loch admiring the wooded banks and the numerous herons. We didn't particularly have any objectives apart from visiting the ruins of Castle Tioram. Once we had passed the castle we decided to have a look up the River Shiel estuary towards the rapid that marks the end of the tidal section.

Castle Tioram
Conditions were overcast and not that warm when caught in the wind, so we called it a day and started making our way back to the jetty. The tide was still going out, so now we were trying to avoid the main flow, but this was complicated by the fact that large parts of the loch were now drying out, and a few times we thought we might be walking. Luckily we managed to pick a route with just enough water and packed up to head on up to the Mallaig ferry and our accommodation on Skye.

Macclesfield Canal - 23rd August 2015

K1 session from the boathouse to Higher Poynton Marina and back again. About 53 minutes each way at a steady pace.

Brereton Rolling Sessions - August 2015

Spent another couple of thursday nights greenland rolling (13th & 20th). Made some progress on the left hand rolls, slowing them down and improving the technique. Right hand side pry roll becoming more reliable, but still not making much progress on any form of forward finishing sweep roll.