Monday, 3 October 2011

A rainy day, let's go to the pub!

The rain and strong wind which had battered us overnight showed no sign of easing by mid morning.  I made a dash back out from the bothy to take down my tent and hung it to dry indoors.  A glance over towards the Crowlins and Raasay decided our itinerary for the day - we had shelter from the easterly wind along the Applecross shore.  Along the Crowlin shore we could see the sea crashing against the cliffs; it didn't look a fun place to be in a kayak.

It was still raining and blowing quite strongly when we set out.  We planned to head north to Applecross village and have lunch in the Applecross Inn.  Descriptions of various menu items had us hungry before we even set out!

At first we were in pretty wild conditions, particularly crossing the mouth of Loch Toscaig where the wind was coming in violent gusts from behind our right shoulders.  I was finding the short, quartering sea a bit of a challenge, but a piece of advice from Gordon in his usual calm and reassuring manner made all the difference and I became much more comfortable.

Soon we were sheltered by the shoreline again, the rain stopped and the wind eased dramatically.  This was to be the pattern for the whole trip; strong wind alternating with absolute calm as a really complex series of very small but deep low pressure systems passed overhead.

Arriving at Applecross, we landed right in front of the Applecross Inn.  Our chances of getting a table didn't seem great; everyone for miles around seemed to have decided that it would be the ideal place to have lunch on a wet day.  Morag went inside to ask - and we were in!

To their eternal credit, Judith and her staff didn't even bat an eyelid at our wet and windswept state.  We left wet paddling jackets and trousers under a chair near the door and sat down to a fantastic meal.  The food was superb (particularly the half pints of prawns), and though we didn't sample it on this occasion, the selection of real ale looked great.  As a sea kayaking pub, this one gets 11/10!

We left Applecross well fed and started our journey back down to the bothy.  Our plan to either head over to Raasay or further north to Loch Torridon would have been difficult in the forecast weather, so we left our kit in the bothy to await our return.  It's one of the really nice things about bothying; kit can be left in the pretty certain knowledge that nobody will steal it.

Soon after leaving Applecross Bay the centre of one of the low pressure systems arrived. The wind died to a complete calm and the rain just hammered down.  As (unusually in Scotland!) the heavy rain wasn't wind-blown it was actually quite pleasant to paddle along with the hiss of raindrops hitting the sea the only sound.

We intended to gather driftwood for the bothy fire on our way back.  Hopefully we could find some under the rocky outcrops which was out of the rain or it would be a poor fire!


  1. Looks like character-building stuff.
    It was wet where I was too but by all accounts the far north-west was completely clear on Sunday!

    Great blog. :-)
    Best Wishes,

  2. Hi Doug,

    Thanks so much for your kind comment. Unbelievably, this trip was in August! A very strange and interesting weather pattern - we got a synoptic picture and in 30 years working at sea and being familiar with weather charts I hadn't seen so many low pressure areas in one forecast.

    I was looking at your Flickr collection - there are some really stunning images there. If you haven't already, you should start a blog!

    If you ever fancy seeing the world from a sea kayak, drop me a line - I'm near Alford so not too far from you

    Kind Regards


  3. Great to find your blog, Ian. (Thanks to Lee.) We spent five wonderful weeks working in Forfar this summer. Enjoyed the summits of a couple of Munros and exploring the glens - and wished we had our sea kayaks with us. Born in Glasgow, we'll be back! Best wishes from Vancouver Island. Duncan.

  4. Hi Duncan & Joan, and welcome! I hope you enjoy some of the posts here

    Kind Regards

  5. Ah, that makes sense, Ian - thanks!

    Thanks too for the kind words re. Flickr, I do indeed have a blog, if you google "douglas griffin blog" you'll find it.

    And aye, I noticed you are based in Alford. A very interesting offer re. the sea kayaking. I've seen people doing this on a number of occasions during my travels around the north-west, and always thought it looks like an amazing thing to be doing, a feeling that is well and truly confirmed by this blog! Must have a word with my wife - I know she's interested in it too!

    Cheers once again.

  6. Quote>"in 30 years working at sea and being familiar with weather charts I hadn't seen so many low pressure areas in one forecast."

    Ian, you have been away too long this summer in Scotland has been like we are permanently under the weather plughole!

    You must have been on your best behaviour in the pub! Our crew would have tested a few liquid refreshments!

    What a great trip!

    Douglas :o)

  7. Hi Douglas, it really was a unique synoptic - I think Gordon saved it to his iPhone so you could check it out at Perth :o)

    It'd been pretty hairy crossing the mouth of Loch Toscaig in the morning and though the wind was easing I wanted to be on top form going back so yes, I resisted the lure of the real ale pumps - we had plenty of wine to go at back at Uags anyhow!