Sound of Mull - Mayday weekend

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2003-05-05

This would be my first venture into sea kayaking and I borrowed Johnny's 5.3m Buccaneer. It only just fitted in my garage when trial packing, but with huge hatch covers it takes pretty much all you would need - but did I have the right stuff?

On Saturday morning we put on the water near the east end of Loch Sunart and paddled west toward the Sound of Mull. It was dry when we packed on the beach and four to a boat lifted them down to the water.

Packing boats on the shore at Loch Sunart. Photo: Andy Waddington
Packing boats on the shore at Loch Sunart

Skirting round the first of many fish farms we were greeted by the dancing fins of a pair of porpoise. I wasn't that close but Wendy and Cath seemed to be right next to them. It felt cooler after our lunch stop with heavy showers.

Lunch south of Loch Sunart. Photo: Andy Waddington
A rocky and seaweedy lunch stop on the south side of Loch Sunart

As the loch became narrower the tide pulled us along more quickly and then we headed against the current round an island to look for a campsite. That's a little piece of ground that's not rock or bog and is above high water - easy you think? Andy's GPS pinpointed us on the little island between Oronsay and Carna.

It started to rain again as we put our tents up. Pete's shelter gave us some respite from the weather but soon after dusk we gave up the social scene and scurried off to our tents. See the route via OS OpenSpace.

Camp between Oronsay and Carna. Photo: Andy Waddington
Camp in the rain between Oronsay and Carna

A bright and breezy Sunday had more challenging conditions with squalls arriving every few minutes. Anna had already decided that we would now paddle down the east shore of the Sound. The planned crossing to Tobermory would be too risky. Clive lit a fire on the shingle beach at Auliston Point, firstly you get warm by looking for wood..…

Into the Sound of Mull and suddenly Claire was pointing madly at something in the water, an Otter crunching on a fish, right in front of her boat. Later we all watched a pair of Otters playing and feeding only feet away from us.

Camp fire by the Sound of Mull as the weather cleared. Photo: Andy WaddingtonOur second night's camp site had an awkward landing but a raised grassy site with bluebells and primroses, a wood not far away and it wasn't raining. Nick lit a fire after we had eaten, the flames warming us through and now all my gear was dry, if a little smoky. The stars were worth a special look before bedding down for a great night's kip. See the route via OS OpenSpace.

On Bank holiday Monday, the wind was from the West and a choppy swell running almost with us made it tricky to keep on our Southerly course but I could see Pete catching a wave to surf - hey these boats can really move. The sun bouncing off the water ahead and the clouds, rain and dark hills made a dramatic scene for us to paddle in. In no time we were at the ferry terminal at Lochaline. See the route via OS OpenSpace.

Civilisation is a very special burger van, home made buns, lamb and mint, full breakfast in a bun, haggis......man!

Thanks to Anna for a great trip and to Claire, Kay, Andy, Mary, Pete, Wendy, Cath, Nick and Clive for great company. I'll be back for more!

Pete Ball

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