by Gianni Filippi ably assisted on Day 1 by Danny

This trip, Plan E, was organised at short notice to take advantage of a favourable weather window after a strong winds forecast delayed our start by a few days.

The location was Skye, the great playground for sea kayakers.
The launch point was the working harbour at Meanish Pier and ended at Elgol, a focal point for tourists taking advantage of the varied boat trips on offer.

This trip involved setting up a shuttle between Elgol and Meanish Pier.

Day 1 – Spar Cave

With great anticipation we met at 12.00 noon at Elgol. Before setting up the shuttle, we took advantage of the time allowed to have a short paddle from Elgol which was of course all carefully planned.
The aim of the day’s paddle was to discover and investigate Spar Cave. The tide was high which meant we would not be sharing our experience with walkers who can reach the cave by foot at low tide.
The cave initially proved to be elusive but once discovered it was a memorable experience of a mystical chamber.
The calcium rock creates wondrous curved features on the roof, walls and floor and after clambering over a large flowstone formation, which some of us did on all fours, the cave ended in a waist deep pool.
The cave was a popular attraction in Victorian times and in Walter Scott’s poem “Lord of the Isles” he wrote of a mermaid bathing in a pool concealed deep within the enchanted cell.
With no mermaids to be seen, Bev and Geoff served as surrogate mermaids and took a dip in the pool (in their dry suits)

Spar Cave

Upon our return to Elgol, the Shuttle was organised and we made our way to Meanish Pier stopping enroute at Broadford for fish suppers.
The light was fading by the time we reached our planned wild camping spot near Meanish Pier and after some “discussions” with two local Crofters, we eventually found a suitable alternative spot to pitch our tents.
After a bit of a debate over a quick beer, it was agreed to set the alarms for 5.30AM.

Day 2 – Thursday 19 August

Meanish Pier, Neist Point Lighthouse, Moonen Bay, Hoe Rape, Hoe Point, Lorgill Bay, Macleod’s Maiden, IdrigillPoint, Loch Bracadale, Wiay Island

A great welcome to the pier from a local fisherman, who confirmed that cars could be left there.

The group was now complete: Alan, Angus, Bev, Danny, Geoff, Gianni, Graham, Janice, Leigh, Misha and Pat. We paddled 37km in total today: an easy launch from MeanishPier and an easy paddle with a south going tide.

The team

We initially went past Neist Point with its impressive lighthouse and rock buttress. We continued to Moonen Bay and were privileged to see 2 golden eagles on the way, above the enormous sea stacks. We explored the caves, arches and waterfalls around Hoe Rape, Hoe Point, and Lorgill Bay and reached the 3Macleod’s Maidens. These beautiful pillar shaped sea stackswere named in memory of 3 female members of the Macleod family who drowned at sea many years ago. Next we paddled past Idrigill Point and went into Loch Bracadale with a view to Wiay, Harlosh and Tarner Islands with the outstanding Cuillins in the background. We stopped at Wiay Island, landing in Church Bay (the only landing spot) for the night and set camp in a lovely grassy area. The midges were pretty ferocious so some of our party (me) didn’t want to get out of their dry suit! But despite the midges, it was well worth it to experience this breathtaking stretch of coast line. The night time bonfire was enhanced by the clear moon, stars and special effects supplied by Geoff & Danny’s magic powder thrown in the fire.

Day 3 – Friday 20 August

Loch Bracadale: Wiay Island, Harlosh Point, ColbostPoint, Oronsay Island and back to Wiay Island

An easy start today as no need to move camp. Amazing scenery with the Cullins in the background as we paddled through Loch Bracadale with Macleod’s Tables on the other side. The day was grey but dry. The wind picked up a bit as the day continued to make the crossing back towards Wiay Island entertaining. We travelled 24km and returned to a second night on Wiay Island.

Day 4 – Saturday 21 August

Wiay Island to Rubh’ An Dunain (Viking Village & Canal)

Time to pack up and move on. Overnight there had been what felt like a monsoon, so a few of us were feeling a little damp, and there were midges everywhere! But as soon as we were on the water all the discomfort was forgotten. We stopped for lunch at Talisker Bay where there was a bit of surf, and carried on to the Viking Village for a tricky landing with huge boulders. All that remained of the Viking Village was some rubble and a well preserved wall (they built their houses with wood so obviously nothing left of that). Some of the group went for a walk to find more Viking remains: a very well preserved canal/boatyard and fort. The canal was basically a narrow channel dug out to connect a lochan to the sea in order for the characteristically narrow Viking boats to get out unseen and pillage the coastal villages. For more info on this site Graham shared this useful link:

Day 5 – Sunday 22 August

Rubh’ An Dunain (Viking Village) to Soay Island & Loch Na Culice; night paddle at Loch Coruisk

A glorious sunny day with the Cuillins as a backdrop. At this point some of us had to go home so we split into 2 groups: one with Alan, Angus, Bev, Graham, Leigh & Pat paddled to Elgol to then go home and the other with Danny, Geoff, Gianni, Janice and Misha carrying on.
Our luck continued as we spotted a majestic sea eagle! We had a lovely break and lunch in the sunshine at Soay Island. Then we had hoped to visit the shark fishing station by foot but couldn’t find a way to easily reach it, despite it being in our sights! But on the upside we discovered a tranquil freshwater loch with lily pads in an attempt to get there! We continued paddling north via Loch Scavaig and camped at the foot of the Cuillins at Loch Na Culice. In the evening we carried the boats uphill to the fresh water lake of Loch Coruisk for a fantastic night paddle. The view into the head of the Cuillins with the stars was absolutely spectacular.


Day 6 – Monday 23 August

Short last day from Loch Na Cuilce (near Loch Coruisk) with a short stop at Camasunary Bay Bothy and ended at Elgol

Another fantastic day weather wise. We left our camping spot and paddled alongside the west flank of the mainland, landed for a brief visit at Camasunary Bay Bothy which is a relatively new construction and very impressively built.
We then had a swift glide back to Elgol on a glassy calm sea and beautiful sunshine to end yet another epic trip!

Thanks to Misha, Graham and Alan for all their work organising the trip!


More images as:

Janice’s Giant Postscript ” Skye Trip Report -Brief but Awesome?”

Can I add a BIG postscript – my take on this wonderful trip?

I loved this trip. Not all the time as you know! But there are bits that I will remember forever.

That first afternoon and Spar Cave — what a Wonder. AWESOME! It is amazing to me that I got to see it and I would never have managed it without help from others, especially Graham and Misha instructing me where to clamber on the way up and back down again. And the paddling that day, the gentle instruction from Graham was just great.

The adventure of it all. Camping, finding the camping spot that first night, then up at 5.30 to get on the water by 8am. Then round Neist Point which wasn’t scary because we were there at the right time — slack water.

The bit that was hardest for me was arriving 36 km later and climbing up a hill, Misha helping carry my stuff, to pitch a tent when it was horrendously midgie. I know I moaned – I did try not to, but I was knackered. I probably wouldn’t have eaten any tea that night if Bev hadn’t saved me, helping to read the instructions on the instant Adventure food packet — take out the desiccant and leave for 8 minutes… Missed the fire that night. No way was I going back down even for your fire, Geoff and Danny. 

Friday started gently but Misha was still instructing. We all got a shot of navigating, leading the group to a specific landmark. More caves, more wonderful views, looking back at MacLeod’s Maidens and horizons ahead of big landscapes against the greyish sky until we returned, back across to Wiay. One last cave and those of us last out were slow so the others made their way back round to the campsite, leaving Graham, Pat, Geoff, Leigh and I to follow on. Geoff and Leigh spotted a tree washed up on the shore. It wouldn’t budge. Oh yes it would! Graham was out his kayak, scrambling over rocks, pushing this huge tree, while Geoff was pulling it free off the rocks. Then Geoff, Leigh and Pat had to tow it – not an easy task – while Graham and I held it over our kayaks out the water to make it easier. The fire that night was AWESOME.

Danny even had a saw – yes a saw – with him and this huge tree was sawn into chunks for the fire. We even found a discarded basket for our cut up logs. Honestly, what a fire. Did we even take some of that firewood with us to our next campfire?

Saturday was drizzly and misty. Hard to see any view at all but there were still caves to explore. We were stopping at Talisker Beach for lunch, and I was paddling, blethering to Gianni, to be stopped by Graham, saying “leave Gianni to play in his element” – the surf – while he guided me safely on to the beach, paddling backwards to let the waves break under me until I got to shore, and Misha was there to help me land.

 We camped that night at Rubh’a An Dunain near the Viking boatyard. As soon as my tent was pitched I slept for 3 hours, nearly missing the campfire that night. So I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted.

Though the next day, Sunday, Graham was telling me to go and see the chambered cairn while he carried my kayak and my bags down to the water. And we all got to see the entrance to the Viking Canal from the sea round the corner in our kayaks.

It was a glorious, sunny, calm trip into Soay Sound. We had to split up here. Graham, Leigh, Bev, Angus, Pat and Alan had to get home that day so they went to Loch Coruisk , then back to Elgol, and a long drive to Meanish Pier, and an even longer drive back to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, the rest of us — Misha, Gianni, Danny, Geoff and I –paddled round Soay to land at Camas nan Gall, a lovely beach, a leisurely lunch and then a wee explore. We didn’t make it to the harbour and the old shark fish factory although we did try. It is a lovely wee island, one house at the beach and hard to believe that before the clearances that wee village of Camas nan Gall once housed 158 people.

After a gentle paddle we arrived at the top of Loch Scavaig, camped at Loch na Cuilce not far from the landing stage for the tourist boats from Elgol. As we were going to do a night paddle on Loch Coruisk we emptied our boats completely and carried them round the path to the loch — well I didn’t — I got looked after yet again. We were on the water at 9.15 to paddle the length of the loch. And it was AWESOME! A darkening grey sky and huge black cardboard cut-out Cuillin mountains all around us. Just beautiful. Not scary. Misha had given us all a number and every so often he would shout his number and we all had to follow with ours. Gradually the sky got darker and by the end of our trip we were in darkness. As we got back to our tents a full moon was coming up from behind the mountains.

I will never forget that night paddle.

Thank You to everyone. To Graham, Misha and Alan for organising it, and especially to Graham and Misha for their support throughout. A great team.