When the wind blows!

Its been a busy season so far with lots of sea kayaking adventures that we haven’t had the chance to write in detail about (but we will), including a skip across the sound of Mull for a week with a great bunch of people and in some challenging weather.  We have also been gallivanting around Argyll lots too – to some of our usual places, and places less visited. With all of these trips it is the people that join us that make it!  With a summer that has been full of the windy stuff and not so much of the sunny stuff we have been completely and literally blown away by folks’ determination and enthusiasm to still come out with us and make the best of the weather.  This summer is the first in quite a few years now where the weather has not spoiled us too much on the west coast of Scotland.  Somehow when you paddle a sea kayak most days for 8 or 9 months a year you become quite blasé about the weather, and so it is easy as a guide and coach to forget what it must feel like, especially for beginners, to voluntarily accept what the weather gods decide to throw your way.  But it has struck us once more just how amazing, resilient and truly inspiring it is that everyone still wears big grins at the end of the day when we step foot on-shore to once again become landlubbers –  windswept and slightly tousled, perhaps a little damp but thoroughly satisfied!  A huge thank-you to you all.

One winters day in the middle of sumer!

Assynt and the Summer Isles – One winters day in the middle of summer!

Argyll - exploring the lovley island of Lismore on a one night sea kayak and photography expedition

Argyll – exploring the lovely island of Lismore on a one night sea kayak and photography expedition

A well earned supper on a one night expedition around Kerrera in Argyll

A well earned supper on a one night expedition around Kerrera in Argyll

A sky full of drama

The Isle of Seil, Argyll – A sky full of drama

A swell time paddling on Orkney

A swell time paddling on Orkney

The sun shines in Orkney

The sun shines in beautiful Orkney

Sea stack on Orkney

Orkney Sea stack

Fun in the sun, or is it wind?

The Isle of Mull – Fun in the sun, or is it wind?

 

Jura by sea kayak – and trolley!

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Robert and his group wanted to do a sea kayak tour of Jura but didn’t have time to go right round. So we took three trolleys and crossed the isthmus at Tarbert. We were rewarded with four stunning days of other worldly scenery (one of the group likened the raised beaches to a Dr Who set) and some great wildlife. Not all of the trolleys made it back!

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We launched from Crinan with a forecast for NW force 3-4 and that’s exactly what we got. Taking a direct line to the tiny Ruadh Sgeir, despite the swirling currents, we ate lunch and moved off quickly to minimise any disturbance to the seals. The tide was ebbing now and even though it was close to neaps we had the bizarre experience of paddling straight at Jura and watching the shore slide past rather faster than we were moving forward! All to the good though as we needed to go that way.

Our wild campsite was just short of Tarbert and the following morning we paddled about 1200 meters and then landed and loaded the boats onto the trolleys for the  portage to the West Loch. Passing a standing stone, negotiating cattle grids and a distinctly rough track we managed to transfer six loaded kayaks over the 1.9km route (height gain 22 meters)  in two journeys, taking just over two and a half hours. Might have been less but the tubular frame of one of the trolleys broke.IMGP2313 Just as Norman and I realised that we would have to do a double shuttle, Robert magically appeared with one of the other trolleys having guessed that something had happened to ours. To be fair, Eckla never intended their trolleys to be used for serious off road work with a full kayak.IMGP2308

Over the next three days we had a blissful and unhurried cruise along the stunning west coast of Jura. White beaches, gnarly cliffs, dramatic volcanic rock formations and eery raised beaches. It’s a wild and unique place. IMGP2320IMGP2425The weather, for the first time this year, was gentle, enabling open air eating and evening walks, yet the breeze was just enough to keep the midges to a minimum. Some of the group even went for evening swims! Pretty much idyllic apart from the ticks that resulted in frequent resort to the tweezers. But other wildlife was more welcome. Three Otters (one no more than paddle length away) a Sea Eagle, wild goats and groups distant curious but furtive Red Deer.IMGP2438

The approach to our final campsite in Baigh Glean nam Muc was entertaining, situated as it is within the western entrance of the gulf of Corryvreckan. We got into “battle formation”, that is: paired up and with a “sweeper” at the the back. Everyone followed my line as I picked a route through the  swirls and eddy lines. Quite a tricky manoeuvre this. If anyone swam it would have been very difficult in the 5 knot current to keep the group together and  avoid being swept past the entrance of the bay. When you are leading a sea kayak group in something like this you have to remember that you are effectively driving a long vehicle. The people following tend to cut the corners so you have to take changes of direction wider than normal or you end up with some of your group tangled up in the eddies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the evening we were able to walk to the headland and look out over Corryvreckan to the  Scarba shore. The Hag (the whirlpool) was working well considering that it was neap tide. In the evening light everything was silhouettes and golden glow. We watched in delight as an otter swam and dived in the eddies below us.

On our last day the tide was flooding all morning so we had time to explore some more before forming our ballet one for the run through Corryvreckan on the start of the ebb tide. After some turbulence in the exit from the bay it was straight forward enough and the following breeze and tide shot us across to the Dorus Mor and the island of Reisa Garbh for a break. The wildlife show produced a thrilling finale  here when a male Perigrine returned to the nest with a rodent of some sort. We got an excellent view as it landed, changed it’s grip on the rodent and then disappeared into a crevice in the cliff face. We could clearly hear the exciteIMGP2460d chicks.

And so to Crinan and the cars.

Thank you O Weather Gods!

The Magic of Mull

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The Magic of Mull

I first explored the Isle of Mull by sea kayak in 2007 when, with a couple of friends, we set out to paddle around the island.  It was a great trip and there are many moments and memories that float to the surface and make me smile.  Ever since,  no matter how many times i take my sea kayak there, it never fails to surprise or amaze me by its beauty and diversity.  Being one of Scotland’s largest Hebridean Islands it is a place of stunning beauty and well worth exploring by sea kayak.

DSC_8823It’s mountains, white sandy beaches, thousand foot high sea cliffs, fascinating geology, and bird and marine life make this island a complete treasure for sea kayaking.  But the real beauty is not just in what serves as a visual feast, but the fact that when you step onto Mull’s shores, and particularly her western shores, you cant help but feel the history of an island whose story began over 8000 yrs ago.  There are many myths and legends that permeate Mull’s cultural past, including that of Fingal’s cave on Staffa, St Columba, the Spanish Armada’s Florencia and her sunken gold treasure, illegal whisky stills, stone circles, caves and rock carvings, David Livingstone, Sir Walter Scott, the great potato famine, the highland clearances, fairies, water horses, bean-nighe and headless horsemen and perhaps more recently the inspiration for Balamory!DSC_8647 (2)

Mull is an Island full of surprises.  It never fails to impress.  A rugged wild mountain landscape that mysteriously floats above crystal clear seas.  It cannot be recommend it enough.

Our next trip to Mull starts on 30th May to 5th June 2015 and is located in beautiful accommodation right in the heart of the islands west coast.  See here for more details.

 

Welcome to the Seafreedom Blog

Hi folks, welcome to our new website and our new blog. We’ll be using this to keep you up to date with our trips, courses and stories.

It’s been a bit cold and blowy this year so far and Carol has had the good sense to head off to sunny South America for a few months. She’ll be back on the 4th of March with lots of stories and probably a good sun tan.

Meanwhile, despite the flu and a sudden influx of industrial coaching work, Tony has been out for some winter padding with a few clients. There is something particularly magical to be paddling in sight of snow covered mountains.

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Kaitlin’s first sea trip (She’s an experienced ww paddler) Looks like she’s enjoying it!

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Steph and Cam at Connel. You have to admire anyone who would sign up for moving water training when the hills are that white!

We have a big weekend planned for the 20th to 22nd of February when the “Seafreedom Ladies Team” are gathering for Alexis’s Birthday bash. If you hear a lot of laughter, it’s us.