Monday, 28 July 2008 19:24

Eilean nan Ron

Written by  Kim Bridle
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Kym Bridle describes a June trip to Eilean nan Ron.

Saturday morning started out nice and bright with a slight breeze and as we were obviously all eager as we managed to leave Talmine Beach earlier than anticipated, I believe this was a first for a club trip.

As we headed east across the bay towards the sandy beach at the SW end of the Rabbit Islands we could see small white crested waves between the islands and the far side of the mainland and as we continued over to the far mainland these became steadily larger as the wind continued to increase. We then headed northwards up the coast and then east to Port an t-Strathain which was to be our lunch stop that day. As we left one of the smaller bays before lunch and paddled into the first two waves, I remember thinking ‘my, they were big’ but this was then followed by a great few minutes as we rounded the corner and headed in through large rollers to land on the beach for lunch.

As lunch leisurely progressed, we watched the white crested waves increase in size outside the bay in Caol Raineach. As they continued to increase Neil G decided the planned trip round Neave Island was to be aborted and we would paddle straight out into the waves and head directly for the small harbour and cove at Mol na Colnnie, our landing place for the night. An exciting 15 or so minutes followed as we made our way through the waves and up the southern side of the island to the small harbour and pier. On discussing this paddle over to the Island I was pleased to hear that I wasn’t the only kayaker out that day who had been apprehensive on seeing the size of the waves as we had headed out of the bay. On landing most of us headed up to the derelict houses and set up camp whilst a few stalwarts paddled back out and round Neave Island in now much calmer seas. 

A walk round the island, involving much photographing of the stunning views was followed by a camp fire and a glass or two of red wine before heading off to bed where I’m sure our heads didn’t touch the pillows before we were both sound asleep. In the morning we were surprised to hear that others had been kept awake by music coming from a party at Port an t-Strathain on the mainland, as we hadn’t heard a thing.

Sunday dawned grey, misty and very breezy so a quick getaway was made to try and make the best of the morning as the wind was set to further increase later in the day. As we headed out from the cove to make our way round the northern edge of the island, the paddling became increasingly interesting, in a mixture of large swell and clapotis which involved me having one or two minutes of being ‘quietly apprehensive!’. We then headed for the north western end of the island to a gap which takes you through to the southern side of the island. The majority of the group were strangely quiet as we headed in towards the gap, the only noise being the thunder of the water crashing against the island, or was that just the sound of all our hearts pounding! On reaching calmer waters inside the gap much jollity ensued including the mandatory game of ‘Pass the Sweetie Jar’. We then headed out into a calmer, gently rolling swell over to the northern end of the Rabbit Island where a last minute change of plan was taken as the outer side of the Islands was deemed to be calmer than the inner side. 

Lunch was taken on a sandy beach on Rabbit Islands and Margaret decided to make the trip a bit longer by paddling out through the islands and across to the mainland at Eilean a Chaoil. As we headed out into, what was to me, a big rough sea, Margaret did ask if anybody wasn’t happy to continue and I clearly remember thinking ‘why would anybody NOT want to be out in this!’ A great time was had as we headed over between the two skerries of Dubh-Sgeir Mhor, one of which was almost submerged and so the sea crashing against this was a sight to behold. I did wonder at one point how I could possibly be enjoying myself as I saw the kayakers in front on me become totally invisible as they disappeared down the other side of a wave, but I certainly was and all too soon we were heading back to Talmine and a much needed and well earnt cup of tea.

Fantastic trip, thanks to Neil and Margaret for organising it and everybody for their company and the odd much needed bit of encouragement. I think I’m not the only one whose paddling skills and confidence were greatly improved by this trip, so thanks again.

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