Thursday, 5 February 2015
In the bleak midwinter - blowing in the wind
We left Eilean Balnagowan heading back north, the wind from over our right shoulders. I thought I'd try the Flat Earth Kayak Sail in something a little more, well, breezy than we'd experienced in Loch Leven. Although very much a novice sea-kayak sailor I do have a good bit of dinghy sailing experience from - let's say some years ago.....
The sail deployed with a satisfying "whuff!" and immediately the boat started to accelerate.......
A quick photograph over my shoulder shows the wake of the boat beginning to increase. You will notice that Mike hadn't deployed his sail; the reason for which became rapidly apparent As I moved out of the wind-shadow of Eilean Balnagowan the wind increased almost instantaneously and what had been a pleasantly quick ride became a whole lot more involving as I was driven down the wind with a choppy quarter sea quickly building. After some minutes of trying to ride out these awkward conditions I admitted defeat and let the sail fly before turning into wind and recovering it. Douglas shot past on an impressive plane, his P & H Aries alive and surging in the strengthening wind. My ambition had markedly exceeded my skill but at least now I had a frame of reference for future sailing!
As we made progress back up Loch Linnhe the wind dropped and we enjoyed an altogether more leisurely paddle.
We'd passed by Kentallen Bay on our outward paddle but explored the extent of the inlet on our return. A narrow natural harbour, Kentallen Bay once had a railway station and pier which was used to extract slate. It also has a type of biotite rock named after the village and found almost nowhere else.
The rotting remains of another pier lie further up towards Ballachulish, the timber piles all that remain.....
....to provide some manoeuvring practice to passing paddlers!
All too soon we were paddling up towards the slipway at Ballachulish. With the flood behind us this was an effortless last few kilometres. The light was fading as we passed the Ballachulish Hotel; we could virtually see into our rooms!
It had been amost pleasant day, despite the grey skies. After restorative baths, we reconvened in the hotel bar for a round of pre-dinner frothing sports recovery drinks and planned the next day of our trip.