Posts Tagged ‘Sea Kayaking’


When I talk to people about the Western Isles (or Outer Hebrides) most will identify Lewis and Harris as constituent Island and a smaller number will then go on to mention ‘the Uists’, Benbecula and Barra. There are however about 60 significant Islands that make up the Western Isles with about 15 of them inhabited year round. This weekend saw a visit to several of the smaller Islands as part of a trip across the Sound of Harris.


The trip left from the Harbour at Leverburgh following a night in am bothan bunkhouse.



The route weaved through the skerries between Leverburgh and the first Island of note- Killegray.


At this point we stopped for lunch and met up with two paddlers who had joined us from North Lewis.



By this point in the trip we had seen a fish eagle perched on a rock on Ensay as well as porpoises playing in the bay that Killegray overlooked. The crossing from Killegray to Berneray was made all the more enjoyable by a chance to play about on the surf.

This was the first time I had visited Berneray and arriving at the bunkhouse was incredible. It lies at the tail end of a beautiful sandy beach and looks just like you would imagine a Hebridean bunkhouse would…with thatched otter embellishment!



I think my love of the outdoors can be explained almost entirely by the shared interest in eating extremely well which appears to be a common characteristic of lovers of the outdoors. Even by the high standards I have come to expect after my time with the PMC and CCCC the meal we had in the bunkhouse at Berneray was really special with everyone contributing something delicious- baked ham and pickled oranges, chili-blackened salmon, trifle, sticky toffee pudding, sangria, dhal…yum! My own contribution? The butternut bulgar wheat salad…




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My mum is a tremendous cook and so when a request for baking came round for Breast Cancer Awareness month she was my first port of call.

“They are complicated!” mum warned when I asked for her famed Mallow Fridge Cake recipe.

“But there’s only four ingredients and no baking?” I urged.

I am still cleaning up after putting a batch together!


Much less hassle was the caramel coconut slice…


Both were gratefully received and sold alongside other donated goodies to raise money for a great cause.

I was also able to get a day’s fishing on the Garynahine Estate waters. The river was stunning with great pools holding a large number of wonderfully conditioned Salmon. I went with Mike Sullivan who basically does everything I love doing only exponentially better! Not only does he like canoe and kayaking but has written the definitive guide to the Outer Hebrides along with two friends. Like me Mike also climbs, unlike me his first accents can be found in national climbing guides. While in the tackle shop hopefully searching for a fly to help pull in a good-sized trout from the lochs I have visited I noticed a picture of Mike holding a cracking fish of several pounds that won him ‘fish of the month’.. What makes it worse is that he is also a really nice guy who has helped keep me right since arriving on the Island and managed to sort the fishing at Garynahine Estate for us. I’m sure you can imagine how the day turned out for Mike and I!


The weekend itself has been fantastic…certainly one of the best since arriving on the Island. I met a writer on Friday night who had recently moved from England which led to an opportunity to explore some of his work on the Saturday morning. The writing was very good and was interspersed with small Polaroids from his travels, great stuff!

After that I met up with a few other members of the Canoe club and paddled out towards the mouth of the Creed from Cuddy point.


Fortunately we had been practicing assisted rescue earlier in the week as a wave caught me off balance and before I knew it I was swimming.



I also managed to do a bit more cooking outdoors which is something I’ve been able to do a lot more of since arriving here (see langoustines on the beach and the hammock trip for example)

My love for the outdoors is matched only by my love for food. Although I am happy to do the austere outdoor trips where I survive on thin shavings of leather from my hiking boots in order to stay light (well almost), I like where possible to dine just as well as I would indoors. And because this is the setting…


…you end up eating meals which can’t be beat!

What made it more special was the opportunity to use the most beautiful bothy as a base.


The starter was vegetable pakora with a light raita. I was aware that hot oil might not be an aroma to everyone’s taste and so these were prepared on the cliff just below the bothy.


The main event was a butternut squash risotto with sage and pine nuts. Unfortunately the camera’s battery died before I could plate it up but the preparation was almost as wonderful as the finished dish.




I’m not sure if you’ve seen the original Total Recall (I haven’t yet seen the remake)? Well I feel a little bit like Arnie in the sense that this life I am currently living is one I dreamt about for so long and a few extremely specific elements of ‘the dream’ may still come to pass (things that I have yearned for since a wee boy) and it does make me wonder if it is really happening or just something I may wake up from at any time.

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I am currently carrying out a bit of psychological research on myself. I am interested to see how long I can sustain a level of utter excitement and anticipation before I pass out. This week I came pretty close…


On Thursday I meet with a guy called Mike Sullivan for lunch. Mike is one of the authors of The Outer Hebrides: Sea Kayaking Around the Isles & St Kilda which I have poured over for hours in preparation for the move up here.

Over lunch Mike spoke at length about the Sea Kayaking up here and I was beside myself with excitement hearing about the multitude of trips and opportunities for all types of Canoe/Kayak related escapades. I harbour a dream of getting in my kayak here and arriving at Culzean beach (the beach of my childhood) a few days latter…watch this space.

Conversation then turned to other outdoor pursuits and Mike seemed just as passionate about the climbing the Islands have to offer, the fishing and also the diving. I left lunch a jibbering wreck, not sure how I was going to fill the sun drenched afternoon and evening.

After racing home from work I looked through Mike’s book to focus me on something more specific than I want to do everything now. Closest trip to home:

Trip # 9 Stornoway Harbour…looked perfect, close, took in a few small islands, great scenery looking onto Lews Castle grounds.

Just a bit further was Trip # 10 ‘Loch Ăˆireasort’ which seemed to be that bit more remote and also more likely to produce a couple of fish for dinner.


Crosbost itself was well setup, with a large car park right next to the gangway where I could inflate the canoe and get everything ready.


I’m still getting used to the car and keep coming across little bits that make life so much easier…the electrical point being the latest find.


I started the trip about 6:00 and got back to Crosbost at about 22:30. I really could have stayed out all night as the moon provided plenty of light and it was so mild…


The trip was superb and once again exceeded what I had hoped for. I think the thing I loved the most was the feeling of having a moonlight powered Canoe as I made my way back to Crosbost…


Unfortunately, as the end of the video below demonstrates, it was actually Callum-powered!

I also think I’ve found the ideal cabin to rest and recuperate from my research…


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