Monday, October 10, 2011

Islay retrospective #2.

Yet another weekend has passed without being able to go sea kayaking. I had hoped that my worsening knee problems would still allow me to continue sea kayaking but, worryingly, this is not proving to be the case. My "good" knee suffered a minor dislocation on Friday, fortunately it went back itself, just by hyper-extending my knee, but it gave me a real shock; a reminder of my accident on Gunna. The good news (I hope) for visitors to sea is that I have a huge back catalogue of trips going all the way back to 2002!

I am now going to return to a summer past when Tony and I visited the magnificent isle of Islay...

...we awoke on the shores of lonely Loch Gruinart to find a fresh north wind, which was forecast to increase to force 6 to 7 by midday. The seals on the sand bank had been singing all night but now we only caught snatches of their mournful song on an increasing wind. Our original plans to either nip across to Colonsay or continue round the incredible north coast of Islay were put on hold. The staff of are known to operate at the "gentleperson" (no sexism here!) end of the sea kayaking spectrum. This amount of wind caused us to run off with our tails between our legs... the sheltered south cost of Islay. It was a different world down here, with delightful wooded lanes radiating  out from the south's main town, Port Ellen. The people of Islay are remarkably friendly, they still wave a greeting to visitors as they pass (and I don't just mean the wave of acknowledgement at passing places on the single track roads).

In those days ferries still used both of Islay's main harbours; Port Ellen and Port Askaig. Currently, only Port Askaig is being used. On this morning, the CalMac ferry, MV Hebridean Isles, was just arriving as the small luxury cruise liner, MV Hebridean Princess, lay at anchor in Kilnaughton Bay. Just a few days before, the Queen had chartered the whole ship for a 10 day family cruise round the Hebrides and Northern Isles.

Tony drove from Port Ellen past three, yes three, distilleries without stopping, until we arrived at the delightful sweep of Claggain Bay on the sheltered SE cost of Islay.

We wasted no time getting the kayaks ready...

...and getting afloat. We were off on another adventure!