KAYAKING & WILD CAMPING IN LOCH KISHORN

It’s happened again – I’m the bearer of bad weather. I arrived in ‘sunny Kishorn’ – a small village in the Scottish Highlands where my mum moved to about two years ago. It’s an incredible place, surrounded by towering mountains, endless horizons, views of Skye – an ideal place for those who love to be outside. But whenever I visit… ‘sunny Kishorn’ loses its title. It’s the day before our trip and it’s dreich, windy and pretty miserable. However, that is a traditional Scottish summer and the addition of the wind means the subtraction of midges, so it’s not all bad.

The optimist in me predicted good weather for our kayaking camping trip, but nope. It’s still blowing a hoolie. With all of our kit stuffed into dry bags and stored inside our kayaks my mum and I headed off into the waves. We originally planned to paddle directly from Kishorn Bay to our destination (in a straight line) – makes sense on a calm day! But with the weather being borderline stormy we stuck to the coastline avoiding the worst of the swell.

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My mum, by the way, is of far higher ability than me in a kayak. She knows her stuff and has done heaps of rescue training. I am an amateur – but always enjoy going out and getting practice in. Thankfully today is not a good day for kayak rolling – so I’m off the hook!

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We had a good idea of where we could camp, but getting there was proving to be tricky. At this point I found paddling along to the beat of ‘another one bites the dust’ very motivational. However the further we got, the bigger the swell was… so instead of being numpties and having to call in the coast guard to be rescued we beached ourselves early and walked the rest of the route. Leaving the kayaks up high on a grassy bank.

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We clambered through thick bracken – getting mauled by ticks, and along the shoreline to a small bay with a stoney beach and large flat grassy area ideal for an overnighter… pretty certain this is the one we had in mind, and if not… it would do! Bonus, there were even two strong trees so I could try out the hammock.

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With views of the infamous Cuillin mountains on Skye and west facing (meaning sunsets) this beach should have been the perfect spot for a night under the stars. Except, when we got there the cloud cover was so thick I couldn’t even see the small island less than a km away, so no chance of a sunset OR stars… and the wind was chopping away at the sea so much my dream of a sea swim quickly went out the window. I also spotted enough large red jellyfish on our paddle to put me off a dip that day.

So – we set up camp, boiled up some water for cups of tea, changed into dry kit and had a wander around our highland residence of paradise. We found lots of small caves hidden among the vegetation that were piled with remains of old camping kit; sleeping bags, tanks of gas, glass bottles and clothing. Strange and creepy, and enough to stop me entering the caves for further investigation.

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So what happened for the rest of the night? Not very much – read books, scribbled in my sketchbook, heated up some soup for dinner… got cosy! I played with my camera for a while hoping that I would spot an otter on night watch… but that didn’t happen. My mum and I had a good catch up since we don’t get to see each other that often anymore, which was really nice because if we were in the house we would probably be watching a box set or something instead. I wrote some short stories in my notebook and eventually fell asleep (kind of).

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When I woke up, I was cold, damp and desperate to get home. My frustration with Scottish weather consumed me for about an hour until I got back into the kayak and started to paddle home; and it all disappeared. I felt so happy, grinning from ear to ear – I felt like I’d been on the biggest adventure with my mum.

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We didn’t wait for good weather, or let the depressing appearance of dark cloud put us off. I think every single time I go off to do something a little bit wild, there is always a moment when I think I’d rather be at home nice and warm. But these wild and crazy experiences are the best, they’re the days I never forget and I can tell everyone about that time I thought sleeping in a hammock in strong winds and torrential rain was a good idea. Well, I ALWAYS come home happy, and am very appreciative of a mug of tea and a good sleep. I think that speaks wonders.

Thanks for reading – keep up with all my recent adventures @ronamcmillan

Rona x

 

Sailing Jolanda

I AM HOME – phew. As many of you may know (due to an overkill of instagam stories) I have been away sailing in the English Channel for the last 10 days. I am suitably windswept and windburnt to call myself a yachty now… although I’m not sure that’s really a trend I want to keep up. But it was fun while it lasted all the same.

So, how did I become so lucky to hang around on a beauty of a yacht all week? Its nothing more glamourous than I tagged along with my Dad and step Mum while they were down there sailing – I guess they wanted a galley gal to come and make cups of tea, pour them gin and cook the occasional dinner. Which I’m happy with if I get to sail around the tropical coast of Cornwall for a few days.

When I first arrived the boat was tied up in Plymouth and with me came the rain, thunder, general horrible stormy weather. It’s a reoccurring theme, I’m the barer of bad weather. So it was lock down for the first few days of the trip, sorry fellow crew members. Time was well spent with lots of reading – I got through three books, yes THREE whole books. Which is more than I usually manage in a year. And lots of eating, cinema trips and wandering around chandleries for hours… and hours.

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Would recommend!

Anyway – once the weather unraveled a bit we hoisted the sails and set off along the Cornish coast. Regrettably I didn’t document the whole trip, because my phone and camera kept running out of battery – no power at sea, you see! But I got a few snaps along the way.

Our first voyage took us west from Plymouth to explore all the little bays along the coast line. Bit bobby for the first few hours, gusting winds of 35-40knots and 3-4m swell – annoyingly waves NEVER look big in a photograph and I’m made out to be a drama queen. But they were big, and it was exciting!

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The sun eventually made a debut at Cawsand which is situated on the Rame Peninsula – a very pretty higglety pigglety town on the rocks. And I got my first swim of the trip – water temp was an unbelievable 16°. I could’ve stayed in all day.

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We got a nice gentle breeze to take us down to Salcombe in South Devon where we moored up for a few days. Salcombe seemed to be a bit of a holiday hot spot for yachts, we had a different boat rafted up next to us every night – so a pretty good turn around on the neighbour front. This provided endless entertainment of rope faffing, fender fails and a few slip and slides. Much like when you’ve pitched your tent in a campsite and your evening is filled with *as silent as possible* giggles as you watch people trickle in and struggle with guy lines and wind direction.

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Salcombe was really beautiful – heaps of small sandy beaches to explore, lovely water to swim in and the main street was full of posh shops… Musto, Henri Lloyd, Joules, Crew, Jack Wills yada, yada, yada. But the further I walked, the more interesting the shops became… and I stumbled across this beautiful shed with a guy making custom surfboards. If only I had a spare £1500! Oh, and there was a gin distillery… tried and tested, thumbs up for Salcombe Gin.

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Welcome to the galley. Saturday night menu, seafood spaggy with local muscles and prawns.

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Sundays are for scrubbing… galley gal turned mast cleaner. I’ve been itching to climb the mast for a bird’s eye view of Jolanda – so I sweetly offered to clean the cross tree which was all green and sad-looking. Sparkly clean yacht, and insta Dad was on hand to take some snaps of me while I was up there swinging around like a monkey.

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Meet Insta Dad/Captain.

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Sails up for the last wind of the week heading back to Plymouth to tie up – via my favourite bay at Rame Head for a dip to wash away the smell of five days at sea.

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The Cornish coast was absolutely beautiful and provided some fantastic weather – heading home with rose checks and secretly excited to get back to a drizzly Scotland… and a bed that doesn’t sway all night.

Thanks for being the best home at sea Jolanda. Until next time.

Bon voyage

R x

Keep up with future adventures  @ronamcmillan