Thursday, January 04, 2018

Two schools of seakayaking campers, a tattie howkin' stick and a Colonsay sunset.

Once we had revived ourselves with some well earned sports recovery drinks we set about getting...

...our tents up and cooking our evening meal...

...before sunset. David had forgotten a bottle of locally distilled elixir, which  was stuffed up the side of his kayak skeg box but...

 ..a shout of glee announced its discovery and...

 ...he returned from the beach with a youthful spring in his step just before sunset.

At this point it is worth mentioning the two schools of kayak campers. The first carry their kayaks right up the beach and deposit them beside their tents. The second pull them up the beach just enough to avoid the tide carrying them away in the night. As you can see, we belong to the second school!

So just as the sun kissed...

 ...the western horizon we left the beach to the kayaks. We were pretty confident that not even the Hag of Colonsay would bother them.

While David had recovered his elixir, Ian, Maurice, Sam and myself had scoured the beach for drift wood. We set our fire on the sand below the high water spring mark so that no trace of our passing would remain. I have never understood why people drag stones from the beach to build a fire ring on the machair then leave a permanently charred hole as a mark of their passage.

Gradually we reconvened with our piles of wood round the fire where...

 ...we spent a most convivial evening recounting stories and setting the world to rights. Note the tattie howkin' stick to the right of this photo.

This is never burned until the baked potatoes (and Ian's recent introduction baked Bramley apples with clotted cream) are ready  and require howkin' from the fire. Only when all consumables have been recovered from the embers may the tattie howkin' stick be sent to its fate.

It was now 10:30 but the full moon was up and...

 ...the sky to the west still glowed red.

Gradually the sky darkened and we got on with the serious business of a comparative tasting of several Islay, Jura and Speyside malt whiskies.

I am sure we reached a consensus but for the life of me I can't remember what we decided. We will just need to reconvene, hopefully with friends who could not join us on this occasion, and repeat our deliberations. Sea kayaking really does not get much better than this.

Read Ian's account here.


  1. Now that really was one of the best camps Douglas!


    1. Hi Ian, that trip was so good that it has carried me through months of poor health. It had everything but most of all good companionship :o)

  2. stunning location and superb photos. I passed Colonsay of the ferry from Islay to Oban and vowed to return. This years mantra now has to be 'I must get my kayak to the isles'

    1. Greetings Anon, thank you and you absolutely must kayak round Colonsay!! You can take the ferry either from Oban (or Port Askaig or Kennacraig on the Wednesday sailing that you were on). Even if it is windy from the west there is plenty of sheltered paddling on the east and in the the Strand when the tide is in. Another alternative is to leave the car at the terminal and take and trolley the kayak onto the ferry from Kennacraig to Port Askaig then paddle to Oronsay/Colonsay from there. :o)

  3. Thanks Douglas, that’s exactly the ferry we were on and I remember the tidal flow at Askaig look pretty strong when we were docked. Assuming tidal assistance should make the trip to Colonsay easier if planned correctly that sounds like a great option from Askaig. Btw not intentionally anon just need to sort a gmail account out soon!. Best wishes Keith Peek

    1. Hi Keith yes it is not wise to paddle against the tide in the Sound of Islay. If it is south going when you arrive you can always take a free ride south and camp or stay in a bothy before catching the next free ride on the north going tide! :o)