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Old 31 May 2016, 15:24   #1
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Over the Sea to Skye ...

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that's gone!



There is something magical about the Island of Skye. You feel it as soon as you cross the bridge..which long ago.. replaced the ferry I used to use.. when I first visited the island .. well over forty years ago.



The people and culture have unquestionably changed from those days .. some things for the better and some things for the worse.

But the landscape is still very much the same ..with rugged mountains reaching for the sky...



And tumbling waterfalls dropping for the sea..



Where strange rock formations pierce the horizon..



And massive stacks grow from watery seas



Where sunrises can turn a brooding sky blood red... and the dark land black



And subtle summer sunsets sink slowly behind mountainous scenery.



It is an island that I once called home .. and last week it was calling me back. There was a settled weather window over the area.. and assisted by The Guppy... my small F-Rib boat .. I had another adventure in mind.



In two days I covered almost 150 miles exploring the smaller islands off Skye’s east coast. The 6HP outboard used around 20 litres for this amazing journey .. yup..that is no mis print or exaggeration .. cost £25... I love that setup.

This map shows my route. At first glance..it may look like I was on a drunken stagger ..but there was a reason for all the intertwined and crossing GPS tracks.



To find out why.. (I wasn't looking for Willk) ...do return for another look... too be continued
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Old 31 May 2016, 16:33   #2
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To find out why.. (I wasn't looking for Willk) ...do return for another look... too be continued
"They seek him here, they seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That demned elusive Pimpernel "

Nice pics BTW - keep it coming.

I probably shoulda mentioned that the Factor on Rona isn't best fond of kayakers on account of how they "wouldn't spend Christmas"...

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Old 31 May 2016, 16:41   #3
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I was fishing the Port Napier on Sunday Gurnard, I was keeping an eye out incase you appeared round a headland somewhere...

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Old 31 May 2016, 16:54   #4
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That could explain why I though him a funny bugger Willk (He obviously though I was one too)

When I landed .. He made a snide comment about coming to Rona in such a small boat..and how dangerous it was. I told him that monks of old visited places like the Garvellaches in tiny coracles .. following their belief in their ability to cross the seas.

He drew me another funny look and said some probably died trying. So ...I told him that I was dying anyway ..and so was he..whether he liked it or not.

I didn’t pay him landing dues for his lip ..but untied the guppy..and sat in her eating my sandwiches. So I thought it best not to ask him about sassages.

I should have known..he came from Dingwall ..(ayrshire before that) and was in my mates class at school lol..he aint no landowner...just a common punter like you or I

Aww.. almost met again Alan..Sat afternoon below..I was heading for home on Sunday

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Old 31 May 2016, 17:08   #5
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That could explain why I though him a funny bugger Willk (He obviously though I was one too)

When I landed .. He made a snide comment about coming to Rona in such a small boat..and how dangerous it was...
There you go - he suspected me of being a Rozzer in me nice grey reflective threads. I tend to give folk a bit of slack at the beginning until I know what they're really like (that takes a while in my experience). After a bit of circling and growling we got on famously. We even got a wee bit o' tea and local delicacies up at the House...
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Old 31 May 2016, 17:26   #6
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Thats what you get for paying his Xmas Willk

I only got the sassage bones .. but I cant complain..they didn’t cost me a penny..although I guess they cost the whale its life.

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Old 31 May 2016, 17:42   #7
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Thats what you get for paying his Xmas Willk
I have no idea what you mean? I didn't "pay" him anything other than common courtesy...
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Old 31 May 2016, 18:12   #8
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I was referring to the landing dues Willk...I presume you paid them ?

I guessed he doesn’t like kayakers as they know they can land and camp anywhere in Scotland they want..assuming they follow the access code..He cant stop them landing and camping of Rona without paying .. and if he thinks they should pay..he is breaking the access code.

But perhaps that not what you were meaning about his best fondness for kayakers as they “wont spend xmas. “ ?

I was very pleasant with him too..thats how we swapped conversation about folks we knew..I was born in Dingwall too. I did offer a landing fee..but he said only if I was intending staying on the island for a while.

I left as I wanted to get back to safer waters before the wind rose..he had other things on his mind too..as he was waiting the boat coming from the mainland. I do think he was a bit of a jobs worth.. but as you say.. you cant really judge on short conversations...so I could be wrong

Hope that clears any confusion ?
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Old 31 May 2016, 18:17   #9
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Hope that clears any confusion ?
Oh aye. We paid our landing dues "in kind" rather than cash as we had an abundance of what he needed at that particular moment.

Tap water is free in a pub. Doesn't mean you can sit by the fireside and drink it all day...

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Old 31 May 2016, 18:28   #10
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quote... Tap water is free in a pub. Doesn't mean you can sit by the fireside and drink it all day...


Wild camping in Scotland is free ..as is the right to roam the countryside ..as long as the access code is followed. I wasn't following the access code though..as I was standing on his landing stage. I did land round the corner a bit.. in another bay .. where I know I dont need to spend a penny..and was rewarded by my find of the whale bones.

Rona is a very special place. and well worth the visit
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Old 01 June 2016, 03:18   #11
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..and was rewarded by my find of the whale bones.

Rona is a very special place. and well worth the visit
Ironically, it was Bill who towed that whale in there (it washed up in "his" bay so he moved it)
.
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So you still owe him one...
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Old 01 June 2016, 05:14   #12
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Are the MOD (or their contractors) still operating from the north of Rona Gurnard? Any restrictions due to the Sonar/Torpedo range between Rona and Applecross?

I've previously investigated the three holiday cottages on Rona but it's a bit of a faff getting the private ferry from Portree at each end of the holiday... and needing to remember every single thing for the whole 1/2 weeks. Also we enjoy our own company/freedom on holiday and are wary of being "trapped" on a small island with others who we may/may not be compatible with.

But for folks of the right mindset I should think it makes for a pretty exciting stay.
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Old 01 June 2016, 05:29   #13
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Hi again Willk

I enjoy researching the places I visit.. so I know what to see and also know what I may be up against. I wild camp a lot during the summer months and I do come across folks who think they can refuse reasonable access to their land..so I am always prepared.

For info..as far as Im aware ..Bill..is a worker for an employee .. “his” part of the island is owned by a wealthy Danish family who bought it from the British government in 1992. It is still a part of Scotland and covered by Scottish Access Laws.. regardless of who the land owner is.

The northern end of the island (approx 150 acres) is owned by the MOD and was never sold by the government. The whale bones I found were on MOD land.. on a small stone beach off Loch a Ehraige .. so I would question his right to dump it there in the first place?

But if we both honest .. we are making suppositions Willk .. Im sure “ his” whale is not the only one that has died on the shores of Rona..and having met Bill .. Im sure that any that die on his employer’s shore would be disposed of in a proper manner

I rest my case M’lud.. I owe no one nuthin ..

But I did thank the “Lord” for giving me calm seas to see such a place with my own eyes. I felt very small.. very humble.. very vulnerable .. very alone .. yet extremely privileged .. rounding the tip of Rona.. in a 9 foot inflatable ... knowing the next stop is the North Pole...and possible death by drowning.



I imagined that must have been how the Monks of old felt when they visited such places in their tiny coracles. Yup.. an ancient monk built a small chapel on Rona too...I felt I knew a little more about his dangerous journey to Rona in my own journey. Money ..can’t buy such feelings.

That is why I enjoy small boating so much ... to be continued

Hey..just saw your post Fenlander ..yup..the MOD still own the North part. Bill is as well known in kayak circles as he is of them..I will say no more
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Old 01 June 2016, 05:44   #14
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>>>Bill is as well known in kayak circles as he is of them..I will say no more


Ahh so the holiday cottage experience including a meal during the week hosted and cooked by Bill at his place would either be the highlight of your stay... or....

We're all different eh!

Not saying Bill is anything like this but it reminds me....

We usually overnight if going further into Scotland than the borders and in the distant past would stop at a B&B. We got to realise that part of the B& B experience can so often be an overbearing male host who will give you the benefit of his life experiences and views while hovering at the evening meal (if taken) or breakfast... where you are effectively trapped. So we now drive on past the charming cottages and head for a soulless Travelodge type place where all we need is the bed/shower and a 6/7am departure that doesn't cause any issues.
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Old 01 June 2016, 05:54   #15
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The Laird of Rona is a very welcoming gentleman Fenlander ..so dont let that put you off.

I know kayakers that have been treated as well as Willk .. but they stayed in the bunkhouse. Follow your right to roam or camp in Scotland as per Scottish law .. and he is a royal pain... as he is king on his island
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Old 01 June 2016, 10:54   #16
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Before crossing to Skye..I had already spent almost a week wild camping around the Ullapool area. I follow the access code to the letter. I set up my chosen spot in the evening..and leave early morning.. with not a single trace of my overnight stay.

Everything is transported inside the car.. which is the reason I chose the small F-Rib in the first place. It is put outside ..under the tarp when I retire on my bunk to sleep in the back of the car. I bother no one..and no one bothers me.

I enjoy camping like this ..its not because Im a stingy barsteward .. its because I enjoy the freedom ..the silence .. the isolation ..and the views. I shared this spot with a small adder. Unfortunately..it was photo shy..and wriggled into the flowering broom before I got my camera ready.



Arriving on Skye..my initial plan was to camp on the edge of Loch Ainort ..ready to launch the Guppy there in the morning. However to reach Loch Ainort..I passed the boat centre at Strollamus ..and noticed they now have a small campsite.

It was in a perfect location for my adventure..easy launch facilities.. showers and toilet.. security for parked car ... so I stopped to investigate.
Its run by a lovely friendly couple . It small with meagre facilities..but very clean. I had no problem booking in for three nights ..at £6 per night. I was happy to put up with other snoring campers not far from my tent.. for the facilities on offer...and I though it excellent value for my meager pension money.



I was up at 7am to get the Guppy ready for its journey. My plan was to circumnavigate the Islands of Raasay and Rona before returning to the campsite in the evening. A journey of approx 50 miles round trip. Forecast was for light winds from the South East ..veering to northerly in the afternoon ..sun all day ..and a calm sea state. Perfect conditions.



I was on the water half an hour after getting out of bed..and happily speeding up the Sound of Rassay at around 13 mph. Wind and tide was assisting my passage. The only thing that troubled me slightly.. was the small white clouds beginning to appear above the Cuillin hills. I know from experience of the area.. they normally indicate a change in weather.



Sure enough.. as I was passing the end of Scalpay and start of Raasay.. a wave began to form.. I initially put it down to tidal flow from the gap between the two islands.



As i headed north .. along the west coast of Raasay..I could feel the wind beginning to freshen. I cursed those small clouds again.



Half way along Raasay .. I began to realise the sea was beginning to move around more than expected. I was now in the middle of a force 4 squall.. on a coastline with very few places to land..and one that I was not familiar with.



The Guppy was not complaining..she was happily surfing with the tide..wind ... and wave flow. However as it was another 12 miles to my destination .. and the sea state was definitely deteriorating quickly.. I knew I had to make a decision... and soon.

Carrying on to Rona could mean a 25 mile return battle into the sea..which would get worse when the tide turned and flowed in opposition to this wind .. I ruled that option out.

Turn round and go back ..that would shorten my day..and I would still have to fight the sea as it was.. I ruled that option out.

Try to land on Raasay and wait to see the outcome of this un forecasted wind .. I liked that option..but could only see white waves breaking on a rocky coast line ..so that option was ruled out for me.

Cut across the sound of Raasay to mainland Skye..and find shelter in Portree bay. Its approx 2 miles across. I knew from my trip in Mull that the Guppy easily planes parallel to wave ..so that is the option I chose



All I had to do was dodge the waves that were breaking ..as one could fill the Guppy if it emptied into her. Mid channel the waves were around four foot high and heaving in all direction.. nothing for a larger vessel to worry about..but requires a certain degree of seamanship in a boat only twice as long as their height. The waves started to diminish as I approached the Skye headland.



And by the time I reached Portree bay.. the sea was calm again.

Again .. I cursed those small clouds .. as they grew closer ..before disappearing all together.



I have taken time to write this out..as I think its important to know when to change plans using small boat in remote areas. I know Rona will still be there.. but I was uncertain what would happen to me if I continued.. and the squall didn’t pass as quickly. I didn’t push the boat or myself to anywhere near limits..I prefer to play safe.

Call me a whimp if you like..but Im a surviving whimp.

To be continued...
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Old 01 June 2016, 14:09   #17
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A wise man can make a decision and need answer to no one, only a fool would press on in dought.
Great pics gurnard that little craft certantly fits the bill.

Cheers
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Old 01 June 2016, 15:03   #18
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I just love these posts. It makes me realise how much of a conformist I am.

I hope in later life without the constraints of family, work and materialism I can spend some time "wandering" or "exploring" around the UK by water or land.

Keep going and posting, it lightens my day. I didn't know there were more eccentric than Willk hahaha
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Old 01 June 2016, 17:45   #19
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I hope in later life without the constraints of family, work and materialism I can spend some time "wandering" or "exploring"...
I'm reaching a little - but I'm seeing a sort of wee Buddhist Yoda?

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Old 01 June 2016, 17:48   #20
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Force you will feel leprechaun. ;-)
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