There doesn’t seem to have been much correspondence between the forecast and the weather recently. As I passed Lossiemouth, there was a much stronger headwind than I’d expected, and I had to shelter in the harbour for a bit before crossing Spey Bay.
I stopped at a campsite at Buckie and took a day off for much needed battery charging and laundry.
Gannets at Troup Head
Continuing along the coast I passed many inviting small beaches. As I passed Troup Head, I was surrounded by hundreds of gannets circling overhead.
After some beautiful scenery, I stopped on a small beach in Cullykhan Bay. No paddling this weekend as very strong winds are forecast – I had to weigh down the boat to stop it blowing away during some fierce gusts today.
Spot the tent!
There are some more impressive sea caves here – you can walk right through the headland when the tide is out. I’ve been told that this used to be a popular spot for smugglers.
After Latheron, I passed some of the most impressive cliffs that I’ve seen – towering overhangs with many waterfalls, arches and huge caves.
Feeling pretty tired after paddling against the tide for much of the day, I stopped on a beach between Helmsdale and Brora.
The forecast didn’t took great for a big crossing (not too bad either), so I took a couple of days off to rest. A very isolated beach – I didn’t see anyone else the whole time I was there.
Red sky in the morning ...
Yesterday, I paddled into Brora to stock up on food (I’d run out again), had a massive lunch then paddled out to Tarbet Ness. By the time I arrived there, a breeze had picked up, so I decided to carry on downwind towards Lossiemouth.
I stopped at Classach Cove just as the light was fading (the days are getting shorter) – another lovely spot with a cave that you can walk through to reach an adjacent beach.
I left Sinclair’s Bay yesterday and paddled round Noss Head. As I passed Wick, the offshore breeze became strong enough that I had to paddle quite hard (in heavy rain) to get back in the lee of the cliffs.
I stopped at Latheronwheel, near Dunbeath, pleased to have found a good place to stop after such a long run of cliffs with few landing options. I met Kevin, a friendly cycle tourist from Wisconsin who shared some beers with me. Thanks !
The forecast looks goods today, so I’m continuing southwards.
The best weather for going through the Pentland Firth was Wednesday, but the tides meant either a very early start or a very late arrival – I opted for the latter.
The calm weather and my passing through very early in the flood meant the conditions were very calm – nothing like everyone had warned me about.
I paddled under incredible looking cliffs as the sun set, and arrived at Sinclair’s Bay just add the last of the light was fading from the sky.
Dawn at Sinclair's Bay
Yesterday, I took a day of to rest after rushing across the north coast. It wasn’t totally relaxing though, as there wasn’t enough beach and the tide came within less than 6 feet of my tent. Time to start the long paddle south.
Sunrise at Durness
Yesterday, the offshore wind that had been howling through Durness finally stopped and I was able to paddle again. Despite trying to be careful, this trip seems very hard on kit, and I’d spent a lot of time at Durness sewing, soldering, glueing and tinkering with various things that had broken recently.
Conditions were calm and I enjoyed paddling past more impressive coastline, stopping at Armadale Bay – going to sleep while some a couple of surfers caught some waves at dusk.
Sunset at Armadale Bay
Today, there was a bit of swell, but light winds. I had to have quite an early start to get round Strathy Point, but the Taran was surfing down some waves nicely as I went past.
Approaching Strathy Point
Conditions were quite lively in places as I approached Thurso, and this is a calm day ! Some huge caves and stacks on this bit coast.
Just as I was coming in to land at Dunnet Bay, disaster struck – my paddle shaft broke for no particular reason (although I had noticed a crack in the ‘shrink wrap’ on the shaft yesterday, so maybe it was on the cards).
I’ve bodged a repair using gorilla tape and a piece of plastic tube found on the beach as a sleeve. It feels pretty strong, but the shaft diameter is now much too big. Emergency use only – I’ll be using my Werners until I can find a replacement. I really like the kinetic wings. If anyone knows who might still stock some of the old type of Lendal shafts, please let me know.
Thanks very much for the recent donations taking the total into four figures – including the anonymous one with the cryptic Alice in Wonderland message !
The beach at Camas Mor
It’s been hard to find a signal, so I haven’t updated this for a while.
I’ve covered some distance to try and make good use of the settled weather.
After Camas Mor beach, I paddled in more calm weather past Greenstone Point, and on past the outside of the Summer Isles.
The Summer Isles
It looked sunny on the Summer Isles, but rainy further inshore. I continued to Clachtoll where I stayed at the friendly campsite right by the beach. The next day, the wind was stronger but behind me so I pressed on northwards.
Conditions seemed choppy after so much calm weather, especially approaching the Point of Stoer and as I passed Handa Island, making it exhausting and hard to rest on the water, so I was glad to arrive in the shelter of beautiful Sandwood Bay.
Yesterday was another calm day, so I paddled round Cape Wrath. I timed it to go round near the start of the flood and it was nice and calm.
I stopped at Durness where I’m enjoying a rest today rather than battle a headwind. Looking at the forecast, I may stay here for a few days, but I can’t complain about the weather after being able to paddle every day I wanted to while on the west coast of Scotland.
I paddled into Gairloch today, stocked up with food, then out again and past Rubha Reidh, and stopped at Camas Mor beach – a perfect spot to camp.
I left Staffin Island yesterday and made a little detour to go and have a look at the waterfall by Kilt Rock – an impressive sight.
From there, I crossed directly to Redpoint. There were some patches of mist for the first few miles, but that soon cleared and I was able to aim for the red sand at Redpoint.
Once I arrived here, I felt pretty exhausted, so I camped. Today, I’m heading into Gairloch to stock up on food before continuing north.
Yesterday, I left Ardmore bay and continued up to Waternish point, from where I crossed due east, dodging the Uig ferries, before heading north to Rubha Hunish, then down to camp on Staffin Island.
It was so calm that I could see the wakes of jellyfish swimming during the crossing, and I could brush my fingers on the rock columns as the tide carried me past Skye’s most northerly point.
I continued round Skye yesterday in calm but showery weather. Very dramatic coastline with towering cliffs, huge birds of prey, and many waterfalls, caves, stacks and natural arches.
It was very calm as I passed Neist Point at low tide and I continued
to Ardmore Bay. After seeing that the beach was full of long-horned highland cattle, I decided to go back to camp on a patch of grass near Ardmore Point.