Friday, 22 March 2013

A short walk on Canna

We woke to a grey and blustery morning, grateful that we didn't have to attempt a launch off the boulder beach at Guirdil, which would be exposed to the southwesterly swell. 

Our original plan had been to have paddled from Guirdil, circumnavigated Canna and camped in this spot on the second night.  The plan had already altered to camping here the first night, and it was clear that we'd have to alter our plans further. 

A glance towards Rum showed low cloud moving quickly, a glance from the tent door showed large breakers beyoond the bay we were camped in.  Paddling around Canna was quickly discounted, as was bringing forward the intention to paddle the west coast of Rum by a day.  Both these are long paddles with no landing places on a shore fully exposed to the Atlantic swell.

Our flexible approach to planning was put into place and we decided to paddle back to the sheltered east coast of Rum, and to return to Kinloch and spend the night in the hostel there.

This wasn't altogether a simple plan - there were a couple of complications.  Firstly, there was a big spring tide running and if we launched straight away we'd be paddling against a tidal stream of up to four knots, with wind against tide to further enliven conditions.  We decided to wait until an hour and a half before slack water before setting off, which would mean less tidal movement and wind effect.  This led to a further slight complication - the channel we'd paddled in through would have long dried out, so we'd need to go around the west and south coasts of Sanday to reach  the open water of the Sound of Canna.

We felt that this would work, and if conditions were too bad, we would have the option to return to Canna via either end of Sanday, giving a "bail out" option or two.  An advantage to the revised plan ws that we had plenty of time to explore a bit of Canna on foot.

We set out across the bridge linking Sanday with Canna, and found these pieces of whale vertebra near to the bridge.  The south coast of Canna beyond was dashed with surf - we were now sure we we were making a good decision!

We passed the single storey vehicle park.......

To reach the National Trust for Scotland building, housed in a farm.  The island has been held by the Trust since it was gifted in 1981 by the then owners, John and Fay Lorne Campell.  The terms of the gift ensure that a viable community should remain on the island and that it shouldn't just become an empty, if beautiful place.  The poulation varies, but is generally between 12 and 20 people.

A small museum is housed in the former dairy building at the farm and has interesting displays about life on Canna in times past

Featuring implements and tools used in fishing....

And also farming; Canna has rich soil and good grazing; butter and milk were prime produce.  There are still cattle grazing on both Canna and Sanday, we saw Galloway Belties, Highland cattle and a fine Aberdeen Angus bull on our short walk.

If visiting by kayak, it's useful to know that there is also a toilet and a shower (£2 coin required for the shower) in an outbuilding of the farm, and a tap for water.

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