A spell of warm and sunny Spring weather is always so welcome here in Scotland - so when a run of fine days was forecast in the second half of April we made plans for a kayak trip. Our starting point was to be Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye; and we met up on a sparkling morning. Allan and I travelled from Aberdeenshire, Douglas from the Solway coast via Glasgow and Taynuilt, where he teamed up with Donny for the journey to Skye. Our plan was very flexible....simply to spend some time kayaking around the southern part of the Inner Sound.
While we rigged our kayaks Donny got his F-RIB "Guppy" afloat and set off to do a little filming. You'll be able to see the video of our trip on Donny's Youtube channel here.
After the usual routine of boat packing and trying to make sure everything fitted in, we got underway and immediately put up our sails to catch a push from the north easterly breeze. This stretch of water, Kyle of Lochalsh or more properly Caol Loch Ailse (Strait of the Foaming Lake) has strong tidal streams, particularly at the narrow western entrance which is named separately as Kyle Akin (Haakon's Strait) - named for a Norse king who brought a huge force of longships through here and beached at Kyleakin on his way south where he would be engaged and beaten by a Scots army under King Alexander III on 2nd October 1263.
The building of the Skye Bridge altered the flows somewhat at Kyleakin and the strongest of the stream can be avoided by passing close under the eastern side between Eiean Ban and the mainland shore - that said it's still an energetic paddle against the tide!
We started on Skye and apart from a brief call back at Kyleakin didn't plan to paddle any of the island's coast on this trip - not so much "Over the Sea to Skye" as over the sea from Skye!
We headed north after exiting Kyleakin and stopped at Eilean a' Mhal for first luncheon. Sheltered from the breeze we sat in warm sunshine with a wonderful view across the Inner Sound to the hills of Beinn na Cailleach and Glamaig on Skye. The colour in the water was marvellous and was the standout feature of this day.
Back underway and we continued north through the maze of the Black Islands, which today were anything but black - indeed there was a riot of colour. This group of islands usually provides sheltered paddling in a compact area which changes from hour to hour according to the state of the tide.
Conditions were pretty good for early Spring - dry and bright with a north easterly breeze, and we observed this effect of cloud capping some, but not all, of the higher hills several times during our trip.
As we left the Black Islands we paddled into the breeze and so dropped our sails. After an energetic couple of kilometres of paddling we came into a lagoon with the most wonderful colour of water as the sun lit the white sand below our boats. Really - could a day get any better than this?!