Raasay Sea Kayak - Hallaig to Eilean Tigh

Our Easter Journey Continues
Saturday 23rd April

After playing in our outdoor 'shower' at Hallaig we continued on our journey.

Out of the shelter of the bay the wind had increased to the top end of a force 3.
Nothing but a gentle breeze, but it was creating a swell that was hitting our rear quarter. This made control of a laden kayak interesting!
Sometimes it was as well you couldn't see the waves behind you.....

Most of the coast we were travelling along is remote and inaccessible, the section between Hallaig and Brochel being particularly spectacular. The towering cliffs and massive rocks of Torridonian sandstone rise straight from the shore with the distinctive summit of Dun Caan always in view.
Landing places on this stretch of shoreline are small, bouldery and tricky. Bill and Andy can vouch for this...
Brochel castle was our next way point, a dramatic ruin dating from the late 15th/early 16th century. 
It is in a fantastic position, rising sheer from a stack-like volcanic plug some 15 m high.
Most visitors to Raasay view Brochel ruins from Raasay's 'main' road, it was good to approach from the sea and visualise what an impregnable fortress it must have been in the time of the pirate MacLeods. 
We required another feeding/comfort/adjust clothing break (its an age thing) - unfortunately the landing spots on this side of Raasay are pebbly. Difficult to land and leave, never mind coping with a wee surf.
After the castle, the scenery changes to a 'bare bones' landscape, as the Gneiss rocks of the North West Highlands form the top end of Raasay.
Each minor headland was eagerly anticipated as we hoped to turn into Caol Rona and our chosen camp spot.
The bright sunshine of the morning had given way to a duller hazy afternoon, noticeably cooler due to the increasing breeze, we were glad to have  put on extra layers.
We were soon at the slender, tiny tidal passage between Raasay and Eilean Tigh.
It was difficult to find an easy way to our landing as it was almost low tide and there was extensive weed and rocks to weave through. Very slippy underfoot, not good when carrying heavy boats at the end of the day.
Our wild campsite was excellent, only fresh running water was missing.
Out of the wind we basked in the sun, the rocks behind radiating a fair heat.
Life was good. We sat with a cuppa and reflected on our good luck. Right place, right time.
After setting up camp we still had energy to explore our surroundings. We knew from previous research that there was a good bothy a short 10 minute walk from our landing spot. It's a 'superior' bothy, very clean and not overused, probably as it's about a two hour walk from the road end. Too far for the weekend hoards!
It is the only complete building left at An Caol, there are lots of sad remains of the extensive community that lived here.
Of course we had to take in a hill, just to check the sea conditions of course.
The view to Rona was magical.
Back at camp Ian produced a wee drink as we were all thirsty, it was lovely and warm, the sun that is, the beer was nice and cool...
Remember this is April, 7.50pm in the north west of Scotland!
After restocking on calories, we scoured the shoreline for wood (none), so set about collecting dead bracken, dry seaweed and high water heather twigs.
We managed a respectable fire for an hour of so.
Bill opened a bottle of red, Ian produced a Jura, a spirit with 'a whisper of smoke' very appropriate - and then Andy produced an Old Pulteney, salty and tangy, very moreish....quite possibly the best whisky in the world.
We really didn't need a fire as the evening was so warm and balmy, and no midges......but it was great just swapping daft stories before turning in for the night.
We would soon learn if the coastguard forecast of strong winds and weak fronts passing through were accurate.

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