Thursday, 3 September 2015

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.

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