Monday, 9 May 2011

Spirited Waters

Alice before the rain

A while ago now, just as the freeze-thaw was releasing its grip on the north, we took off on another wonderful kayak trip with the sea touring group of the Scottish Canoe Association. These trips have come to be so much more to us than meeting a bunch of kayakers for a paddle. They have become food for the kayaking soul.

Meeting old and new faces at the Isle of Glencoe hotel, the air of expectation was jamming the lobby as the briefing for the weekend took place. Soon to be sealed in dry suits, Peter Venters asked Jim Weir if there was anything he needed to lead a group the next day. 'Big flask....lots of sandwiches', was his succinct reply.
The scene was set for another great sea kayaking weekend.

In opting for the trip to Lismore from Port Appin, we found ourselves standing in a group of rather good paddlers. A bit too good, and I was wondering how it would all go. Still, conditions were good, and the pace started off gently.

Towards the northern end of Lismore where a multitude of skerries streak through the tidal waters, I saw two large birds. Geese perhaps, but geese with funny, bent beaks. A couple of us had spotted them and turned to get a little closer. The birds took off, revealing their identity. The two sea eagles whirled above us, not concerned enough to fly off.

The day panned out into one of those unforgettable times spent on an infinite sea above a panorama of unending skyscapes. The trip was made all the more poignant by developments within the SCA which stand to threaten the running of trips like these. For those who've enjoyed these trips for years, it is a sad enough thought. But for us newcomers to this truly inspirational group of people, it feels like the wave has passed beneath us before having had the time to catch it. Let's hope it isn't over.