Tuesday, 11 May 2010

At The Water's Edge

Kayaking Round the Isle of Gigha

In the face of a another dramatic forecast of wind and rain over a typical Bank Holiday, we headed out to the Isle of Gigha. This rutted, linear scrap of land is shaped by the great tidal slew between the Mull of Kintyre, Islay and Jura. It had been languishing on our 'must go' list for quite some time, but had always been the casualty of raging winds or some other factor of a show-stopping nature.

Casting the serious and imposing forecast to the four winds, we went anyway. And good job too. In amongst the occasional Force fours, we picked our way round most of the coast, including the enchanting Isle of Cara.

A procession of wild goats on the Isle of Cara

Amongst these long, stunning paddling days, the coastal fringe changed with every passing bay: always interesting, diverting. Otters, herons, seals, and a pod of large porpoises. The porpoises came out of the blue as we were paddling over the last juttings from the sea of the Russian ship, Kartli.

Taking the adage of "women and children first" somewhat literally, Stu placed me and my kayak between himself and these large, mildly inquisitive superior beings. From their jet- fast transit across the bay, they effortlessly arced towards the kayaks, considered us for a moment, then carried on their amazing journey. They'd be at St. Kilda in time for tea, probably.

Most sources tell you that Cara is uninhabited. But there, next to a ruined chapel is an old Tacksman's house turned smugglers' den, which to some, would be a dream home.
Surrounded by no more than an impressively large herd of totally wild goats, all shaggy cream and brown, this island and its lonely house, all leather and white, parched maps, are wonderful.

Cormorants in the stillness

Sometimes it's sad to leave the unique quality that exists on these many Scottish islands, but it won't be forever. Standing at the water's edge, I was sure of one thing: that one day, we'd be back for more.

Leaving Gigha