Towards the north end of Skye is Loch Dunvegan and at the head of the loch lies the village of Dunvegan from which the loch takes its name. The village provides the focal point for the north west of Skye. It has shops hotels and an excellent campsite situated right on the shore of the loch. This was our base for the night.
This trip is another from the classic book 'Scottish Sea Kayaking' by Doug Cooper and George Reid.
We were treated to a typical Skye sunset.
The time to launch from the campsite is at high water. At low water the beach comprises rocks and sea weed.
We decided to launch from small beach just north of the castle.
This gave us fine views across to Macleods Tables (see previous blog post)
We were paddling one way so we had to run the shuttle first.
The castle is the ancestoral home of the Chiefs of the Clan Macleods and parts of the castle pre date the 12 century.
We launched in sight of the seal boats who run day trips from the castle. We gave them a wide berth because they have a fearsome reputation for harassing sea kayakers which is rather sad.
There was plenty of other wild life about and this gave lots of opportunities for photos.
We headed south around Gairbh Eilein, first into the strong southerly wind before turning north and surfing downwind.
We made good progress running with the wind.
We crossed Camalaig Bay and handrailed the coast north and very soon the coral beach at Claigan came into view.
The beach provided an excellent location for a lunch break. There were a large number of tourists on the beach which was a strange feeling because normally we do not see another soul.
The flat to hill Cnoc Mor Grobain was providing the tourists with a good view point across to Waternish and Stein.
The beach is not really coral, it is made up of calcified sea weed known as Maerl. It crunches beneath your feet as you walk on it. We landed on one last year when we paddled out of Loch Moidart.
There were plenty of seals congregating on the rocks on the island of Lampay just across the stretch of water known as An Dornell.
The island of Isay or Iosaigh looked impressive to the north. This was our next destination.
Iosaigh translates form the Norse into Porpoise Island. There are three islands to the north of Dunvegan, Iosaigh, Mingay and Clett and they sit side by side West to East.
There is the remains of a settlement on the east side of the Iosaigh. There were 90 people living there in the 1800s. Today it is unihabitated. It was also the scene of two massacres. One involved the Macdonalds who invaded the island and slew a group of Macleods in the church. The Macleods caught up with them on the beach near Sconser where they were marooned by the outgoing tide. In the ensuing battle non of the Macdonalds survived. The other massacre occurred when one Roderick Macleod had two families murdered so that his grandson could inherit the island.
The wind began to pick up so we paddled between Mingay and Clett and headed south towards Stein. Then it began to rain. I had been over optimistic and I was not wearing a cag so we stopped on the skerries at Sgeir nam Biast before completing the crossing and rejoining the mainland at Rubha Maol. We sheltered briefly before paddling cross wind to Stein.
There is a pub in Stein which comes highly recommended. Unfortunately we had along drive in front of us so we loaded up the kayaks and headed south towards home.