Welcome To My World of Pedals and Paddles

An account of my Sea Kayaking and Mountain Biking exploits

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Summer Isles Overnight

The Summer Isles
The Summer Isles is a group of about 20 islands, rocks and skerries that sit off the Coigach peninsula. You can walk to the closest, Isle Ristol, with its long white sandy beach, on the lower tides; the furthest, Eilean a Chleirich (Priest Island), lies some 6 miles from shore. Home to seals, otters and seabirds, the islands also offer fresh grazing for local crofters to summer their sheep. The largest, Tanera Mhor is some 800 acres (300 ha) and is the only one of the islands permanently inhabited. Tanera Mhor was the centre of a thriving herring fishing industry in the 18th century, and many centuries before that its sheltered harbour was home to Vikings. It was the Vikings who named the island Tanera, a name later given the Gaelic addition of Mhor ('big') to distinguish it from its neighbour Tanera Beag ('small' Tanera). A trip to the Summer Isles is a popular excursion for visitors to Achiltibuie, and a local cruise boat takes passengers on a magnificent trip around them, landing on both Tanera Mhor and Tanera Beag, during the summer months. Self-catering cottages are also available on Tanera Mhor. The islands are great too if you have a canoe or wind surfer - within easy reach, incredible rock formations, caves and beaches.

Taken form the Achiltibue and Summer Isles Tourist website.

The perfect place for a sea kayak trip.

We passed through Ullapool on our way to The Summer Isles.

Ullapool is a fishing port and also the terminal for the Cal mac ferry to Harris.

The 45 min drive north from Ullapool is the gateway to the Northwest Highlands Geopark an area of geological importance which starts at the Summer Isles and continues north through Sutherland and all the way to the North Coast.

We passed many impressive mountains such as Suilven (731m) this makes it a Graham and a Marilyn.

We launched from a new campsite at Altandhu.

The site was not yet open for business but the owners kindly let us park the vehicles overnight for no charge. After completing the usual sea kayakers faff we headed off the to the nearby beach.

It was a bit of an effort to get the loaded boats to the beach.

We eventually completed the task and were soon ready for the off.

The next problem we had was that because were at low water springs the channel to Old Dornie had dried so it was either an extra 4km paddle or a short portage which meant getting up close and personal with some sea weed.

We headed south out of Old Dornie and crossed to Tanera Mor.

The weather was perfect.

Tanera Mor is the largest of the Summer Isles and the only one which is inhabited.

We had decided on exploring the islands in a clock wise direction so we turned east along the shore.

On the east shore of Tanera Mor is an Anchorage which is where the majority of the population live. There is also a fish farm and even a post office.

The light around the south side of the island was just right for some really good photos.

The water was crystal clear.

We completed a figure of eight paddle between Tanera Mor and Tanera Beag and set up camp on the southern end of Tanera Beag. It is worth noting that we did not see many suitable campsites on either of these two islands.

A landing on the beach with a swell running would be tricky.
We were on springs so we carried the boats up off the beach just in case. 

The campsite

After our evening meal we went for an explore.

Looking East to Tanera Mor

Looking south to Eilean Dubh and tomorrows intended paddle.

The next day dawned grey and overcast but thankfully little wind.

A fishing boat with last nights campsite behind

We paddled south exploring the many smaller islands and skerries.

We had a few opportunities to go rock hopping.

We completed the days paddle travelling up the east side of Eilean Dubh crossing back to Tanera Mor and Beag and then heading out towards Isle Martin before entering the loch where the campsite is situated.

On the east side of Eilean Dubh we came across thousands of shoaling fish which were making the water boil.

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