Whilst I have been having an enforced rest, due to a badly broken leg, I have been researching a small island off the North Coast of the Scottish Highlands. I have photographed it from the mainland and have often wondered about the last occupants of the abandoned houses that you can see. Anyway the more I researched the island the more interesting it became. The last occupants left the island (which had been a self sufficient community) in 1938, eight years after St Kilda was evacuated.
It is about 3 miles off the mainland but is rarely visited nowadays and remains an enigmatic and beautiful place.
The more I research it the more I just know I have to visit it. I was thinking about a trip across in my SIB and a couple of nights camping, but I have the feeling that my little SIB may not be enough to carry everything I need and my (expensive) camera equipment. This made me think of getting together an expedition of SIBs and /or RIBS to undertake the mission!
So is there anyone who is interested in an adventure to an abandoned island off the North Coast of the Scottish Highlands? It could be two or three SIBs or a SIB and a RIB or whatever combination we liked.
I am happy to do all the necessary research and planning and pull the whole thing together and if there is any interest I'll reveal more details.
MacKays? Most likely as it is in the heart of MacKay territory.
Ah yes John - the leg. Will the couple of RibNet members who know the story please excuse the 'cut 'n' paste:
To sum up what happened (Monday 23rd January 2012):
Out and about with a client (74 years old and with two replacement hips - see the relevance later)
Well off the beaten track by some spectacular waterfalls (Rosehall in Sutherland - a long way from civilization)
Cold and sleet but some breaks in the cloud
I warn him to be careful as it is slippy
Immediately I turn round and...slip over
I feel a crunching and cracking in my right leg and foot as I fall heavily to the ground
My camera bag prevents me sliding into the falls
When I stop screaming (a bit whimpy I know but it REALLY hurt, I didn't swear though) I take a peek at my leg - it was at a strange angle
No mobile phone reception so I have to send my client (see description above) to look for help
Off he goes and I drag myself to a bit higher ground away from the falls
Wondering if he will make it back to the road I try to decide how long to wait before I have to drag myself to get help for both of us
Get 1/4 of a bar reception so phone for ambulance - operator says "which service do you require...", I say ambulance and then loose reception again
I have now decided that headfirst and downhill is my least painful option and begin to plan my route out
Just as I have mentally steeled myself for the escape I hear voices in the distance so I shout and wave
I am spotted and a woman with a blanket turns up - though why she was wandering through the forest with a blanket I have no idea and think that the pain is giving me delusions, I'm hoping that she is not a banshee!
No, my client got to the road and flagged her down. They drove to the nearest habitation (a hotel) telephoned for the ambulance and got the blanket for me
If this had happened in London I'd have lost all my camera equipment and wallet by then!
Now the hotelier turns up with a flask of hot coffee. I don't like coffee but decide that it is best to be polite and drink some, also I am starting to feel the effects of shock and know that I need the hot liquid to heat up my core body temperature.
The ambulance eventually arrives but of course they can't get anywhere near me so I will have to get to the ambulance. Not an easy task with the terrain and my size.
They can't give me any nitrous oxide gas as I need to by compos mentis to co-operate with the rescue (me, I'm not very compos mentis normally)
1.5 hours later I get to the ambulance but they don't have any morphine so we have to drive to Bonar Bridge, another 30 minutes to get a local GP to administer some
After that I really didn't care what was going on! Good feeling, but I don't fancy it as a lifestyle though.
Finally arrive at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness at 14.30 hours, 4 hours after I had my accident.
I submit to the bliss of more morphine and when Marjory arrives (she had to get a lift and collect my truck - which she has never driven before) I ask her which vehicle she has come in. She says she knows that I'm high on morphine as when she tells me she is in my truck and my reaction is "Great, my sandwiches are in the back - I'm starving".
I have a twisted fracture of the mid right fibula I have torn the ligaments from my foot and my ankle has burst apart (there is a medical term for this but I'm not even going to try spelling it). It was a good job I had good boots on as It kept my foot on the end of my leg!
Next morning down to theatre for setting and pinning the ankle back together.
Back to a different ward as they have discovered C. Difficile on my ward - "Not my fault gov' someone must 'ave planted it there."
Next day new acrylic cast - I chose black to match my truck
Next day get to go to the toilet with much difficulty (not with the bowels with the mechanics of it all - sorry too much information there, anyway better than a bed pan)
Next day practice on crutches
That just about sums it up.
The good news - I didn't damage any camera equipment. : ) Also it didn't happen at the start of the cruise liner season.
The bad news - at least 8-10 weeks off my feet and unable to work.
The update is that I've another appointment at Raigmore in just less than two weeks to see how it is all going.
So here I am planning an adventure in my enforced spare time.
So who fancies a trip by SIB and RIB to magical Scottish Island?
Your adventure has some appeal (the one in the boat not the one where you broke your leg!). However it would be 6 hrs+ of towing each way to get up there and my boat is not much bigger than yours so would still be reasonably weather limited. It would also mean leaving Mrs Poly without the car for probably 4 days which always required careful negotiation...
However I'd be interested in hearing how your plans develop. If I can get everything together I could probably have space for one other comfortably on my boat, if anyone doesn't fancy towing even further or thinks their full size boat might ruin the adventure).
I assume you mean either the islands off Thurso between Orkney and the mainland or the Rabbit islands further west off Kyle of Tongue?
Been to the Rabbit islands but not the others, not sure I would fancy them in a SIB anyway as it gets a bit rough out there.
I am moving to Inverness next week and should have the RIB there by the summer, may be interested in something as they won't be far away when this happens.
Thought you were going to have to crawl on your stomach... like a 'scene from Flight of the Phoenix!' Hope you're on the mend Keith, and everything heals as it should.
Firstly, i'm not going to pi$$ on your chips so to speak, because any adventure is worth doing if you prepare properly and do the homework. Going with a convoy of other SIBs and RIBs makes sense, although, the weakest link will be the slowest boat, and the weather window is key.
My family are on the west coast of Lewis and I've grown up (during holidays there) looking at St Kilda and contemplated a similar scenario.
On a clear day from Brenish, Uig, you can clearly see St Kilda and to the NW the Flannans. St Kilda is a good 45 miles offshore, so your first problem will be fuel, especially there and back and contingency if the weather is rough as you'll burn more if you're in the thick of it.
Secondly, it's open water. If you miss St Kilda... the next stop is Nova Scotia! We had a Minke whale come next to the boat last year. It was getting dark, the sea was inky black, and the only noise was the occasional gull or the water lapping on the hull. I nearly had a heart attack when the whale surfaced, took a breath, then dived again. Makes you appreciate how small you are in the scheme of things.
Seatrek, a local company do the trip (weather dependent) during the summer months. Might be worth contacting the owner Murray McLeod for advice, as he knows the waters well, the restrictions on St Kilda, etc. seatrek.co.uk - seatrek.co.uk
Ah! St.Kilda,yes that is on my list of 'to dos' but not in MY boat, the Seatrek option is though.
Yes, Eilean nan Roan it is. I'm not sure that Rabbit Islands or Eilean nan Gaill to give them their Gaelic name were ever inhabited. There is also Neave Island which is just out from Skerray pier.
The trip from Srerray pier to Mol na Coinnie (Candle-lit Beach) is just over 2.5 miles.
There are many reasons for safety that this would need at least a couple of small SIBs, but having crossed the Pentland Firth in mine I'm sure that the trip is not out-with the realms of practicality.
BTW John the leg incident was not much fun, but it is funny! Well now it is.
Anyway back to the proposed expedition. I am in touch with someone local who has been to Eilean nan Ron a couple of years ago so I'm looking at the current condition of the pier there as the steps up from it are in a bad condition. This may mean that the best way to get up onto the island is to send someone up the rocks and then use ropes to get up from the beach. Anyway this all depends on getting a few people interested in making the trip.
The island is steeped in history and it would be good to get a photographic record before the physical remains deteriorate too much. There is also an abundance of wildlife and the island is used by a large colony of breeding seals.