Isles of Raasay & Rona sea kayak expedition 20-24 Sep 2020
As one of the most natural expedition venues in Scotland this expedition is always popular and never fails to the meet expectations of those energetic enough to take part. We met the group at our base on Applecross bay in bright sunshine and dry, light wind conditions. I'd paddled many times with Paul, Andrea, Willie and Davie and briefly with Ian and Chris in the past so the trip felt like a gathering of old friends from the outset. Judging by the wine and whisky being loaded into the kayaks there would be some good craic around the campfire on the subsequent evenings.
As with all pack and paddle expeditions the mound of food and supplies was soon packed away into kayak holds. No matter how many trips I've been on over the years it never ceases to amaze me how it all packs away. Soon we were heading south to the Crowlin Islands in calm conditions ready for the crossing of the south Inner Sound to our overnight camp on north Scalpay. Day one was a good 20km in easy conditions and camp was soon set up on the edge Camas na Geadaig. Tonight's offering was pasta and tomato passata sauce, olives and parmesan. A wee bit of wine and a dram around the campfire sent us all off to our tents sleepy eyed and ready for day 2.
And what a day. The short crossing to SE Raasay brought us around the corner into Rubha na Leac and into a shoreline that hasn't altered since the ice pack receded 10, 000 years ago. The volcanic scenery and steep eastern cliffs of Raasay are a sight to behold. We were in Sea Eagle territory now and, as ever, they never fail to show up. In fact, over the whole day we sighted eagles no fewer than 8 times. Some otters on the way added to the spectacle of the Druim an Aonaich cliffs.
After a lunch at Brochel castle we continued north on a strengthening SW wind which pushed us up the island on a north flowing tide too. Having set up camp on the northern tip of Raasay we braced ourselves for the overnight storm that was expected by midnight. We awoke to strong winds and rain and resigned ourselves to a day ashore exploring the area around a nearby bothy while we waited out the storm on day 3. Lots of coffee, a fire and some good chat saw us through to a departure on day 4 under blue skies and a light breeze. An easy paddle up the east coast of the Isle of Rona took us around the top of the island and into magical skerries inhabited by hundreds of seals. The previous days storm had left a residual swell which meant some careful navigation through the NW Rona reefs prior to camping at one of my favourite wild camps.
After a peaceful, relaxing camp we began our 5th and final day in great weather heading south to the Caolas Rona and a chance meeting with a school of common Dolphins helping to top off a superb few days out. The 8km crossing over to the mainland via Sand to Applecross bay was the perfect end to a varied, wild sea kayak expedition with a great bunch of people.