Sea Kayaking Articles from P&H Staff, Team Paddlers, and Friends

Author: Robert Moffatt

The Summer Isles

Having spent much of lockdown reminiscing on past adventures and planning exciting new adventures (the shelf of guidebooks has had to bear the burden of a few new additions since March), we were ready to make the most of the easing of restrictions. One of the new additions to our guidebook collection was Doug Cooper’s Skye and North West Highlands Sea Kayaking. In hindsight, it seems remarkable that it wasn’t already an established and well-thumbed favourite.

With kayaking, adventures, and overnight stays more than 5 miles from home all back on the cards, a plan was forming. It seemed that high pressure was going to dominate the North Coast for at least a few days, and after our enforced time away from the water we wanted a series of day trips with the option of an overnight camp or two.

“A week could easily be spent exploring this area, let alone the islands further south.”
– Doug Cooper on the northern-most of the Summer Isles.

Our plan for a few day trips around the Summer Isles and an overnight camp now formed, the P&H Virgo seemed like the perfect choice: In CoreLite X it would be light for daily lifting on/off the roof of the van; rugged for lots of rocky landings and if the swell picked up some rock hopping; big enough to accommodate our camping kit; maneuverable to allow us to explore the tightest of gaps.

The first few days were spent making day trips in Loch Ewe and around the Summer Isles. Rocky coastlines with imposing cliffs, white sandy beaches, small bays and inlets, crossings up to 8km all with a beautiful mountainous backdrop, crystal clear water and wildlife aplenty. Midway through the afternoon on our second day, as we emerged from the mist and confirmed that we had followed our bearing correctly, found a sheltered cove for a rest and bite to eat, it became clear that our lives were to become richer in two ways. Firstly the Virgo, and secondly the North West coastline that we had been exploring.

Having covered nearly 100km in the first 3 days, it was time for a slower pace for a few days. Boats loaded with overnight gear we set out from Achnahaird beach to explore the coast of Enard Bay, following the rugged coastline as far north as the Bay of Stoer. With a brisk wind blowing offshore we slowly made our way north, in and out of the countless smaller bays and between the smaller islands. Our Virgos continued to impress us, never feeling as cumbersome as some larger boats do when carrying enough chocolate spread, cheese, and biscuits to see us through. Having spent time getting up close and personal with the many seals on Soyea Island on the outward journey we took a break on islands of Fraochlan and Eilean Mor, the perfect vantage point to watch the large pod of dolphins leaping in the middle of the bay.

Local knowledge and advice often provides for the most memorable experiences and with Oldany Island coming highly recommended by Will Copestake of Kayak Summer Isles, it was the natural way to spend our last day in the area. Paddling out from the pristine beach at Clashnessie to the exposed outside of Oldany Island, with views back towards the Point of Stoer, we were soon rising and falling on the powerful swell with the crashing of the sea against the rocks adding a sense of exposure. As we rounded the island we again found ourselves engulfed in mist, adding to the atmosphere and creating a sense of isolation. With the disorientating mist and distraction of dozens of curious seals, we were soon lost in the maze of small islands, finding ourselves paddling into several dead ends before regaining the narrow channel separating Oldany Island from the mainland. The final few km along the coastline to Clashnessie provided plenty of interest and a magnificent archway to paddle under.

After a week of good fortune our weather window was closing and it was time for us to return home, our need for adventure sated for now, but with plans already forming for a return to explore more of this beautiful and dramatic coastline.

Day One: Loch Ewe
Day Two: Southern Summer Isles
Day Three: Northern Summer Isles
Days Four & Five: Achnahaird to Bay of Stoer and return
Day Six: Clashnessie & Oldany Island

Exploring Holy Island

As a whitewater paddler I don’t know very much about sea kayaking. But I have heard of Holy Island/Anglesey and their popularity with sea paddlers.

With 3 days of good weather forecast we jumped at the opportunity to borrow a couple of Hammers to explore and play on the coast of Holy Island. (Click on the pictures for bigger images)



Our first outing was an afternoon jaunt from Trearddur Bay south before reaching Roscolyn bay and following the coast line up to Four Mile Bridge. With the wind behind us and tide flowing from Roscolyn to Four Mile Bridge I was soon running the 3km back to get the van.



The Hammers performed well, the skeg helping us to handle the choppy conditions and put some distance under our belts.



Unsure what we should do with our second day (and having timed our visit completely wrong to paddle through all the tide races north around the Stacks to Holyhead) we headed out for some rock hopping before venturing further from the coast to cross from Roscolyn to Rhosneigr.



With the skegs up the Hammers proved themselves to be very maneuverable, allowing us to skirt through the rocks and play on the small swell among the rocky outcrops.



Returning to Roscolyn bay with the aim of playing around the beacons on the rising tide we had our first encounter with a seal. This seal wasn’t bothered by our passing, unlike the next pair that we stumbled upon. With a young pup to protect they quickly chased us off and we moved around the beacon.





On our final morning the weather was beginning to turn slightly. A change in wind direction caused the swell to pick up, so after a quick play in the heavy water around the cliffs we headed into the bay for a surf. The head wind and heavy swell could have caused us some trouble but once again the Hammers rose to the challenge and coped admirably.




Our verdict on the Hammer: A great boat that can provide a lot of fun in a variety of situations in the sea and around the coast! We’ll definitely try to return to Holy Island (and time the tides) so that we can explore the races around the Stacks.




Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén