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Hyskeir and Rum kayak trip

By Toby Speight

I'm normally wary of using the word "remote", as it's such a subjective thing. To a Londoner, the Scottish Highlands probably seems very remote, but for those of us who live there, it's England and the south that seems remote. However, even in my book, Hyskeir qualifies as "remote", with the nearest habitation more than 10km away across often rough seas.

I'd had my eye on Hyskeir for a couple of years before I got free time and good weather co-temporally. The idea was to get out to the light and explore the island, but I knew I couldn't do it in one day from Skye or mainland Scotland. Fortunately, there are a couple of bothies on Rum in just the right places to divide the trip out and the trip back.

(For a view of this trip plotted on a map, see the Geo-trips entry: LinkExternal link )

On the Monday evening, I set off from Elgol at 5pm (I failed to leave at 3pm because I left my spraydeck at home and had to return for it - doh!) and passed Soay before heading toward the sound of Canna. About halfway between Soay and Rum, a small pod of dolphin crossed my path from right to left, heading roughly towards Eigg. I then followed the coast, passing the wreck of the Jack Abry II NG3403 : The wreck of the "Jack Abry II" by John Allan, and reaching Guirdil NG3101 : Guirdil Bothy by Calum McRoberts around 9.30pm. Smoke from the chimney told me I'd have company, and a pleasant evening was spent. Not too late, as I needed a prompt start in the morning!

I managed to pack up and leave around 9 o'clock on the Tuesday, steering a direct course for the lighthouse. This took me within sight of the tiny protruding rock of Humla (Uamola) NG1900 : Humla, a basalt outlier by George Brown. On arrival, I briefly put ashore to consult the map, and set off in search of Mill Rocks (NM12159351) but made an error entering lat/long into the GPS - 6 41.1' W instead of 6 44.1'. Once I fixed that, it was another 30 minutes to the right spot, meaning I'd missed low tide by nearly an hour, and so we still don't know whether NM1293 may have an extreme low-tide Geograph or not.

Returning to Hyskeir, I made a circuit of the island. I had planned to put ashore and explore on foot, but it was starting to rain so I just looked from the sea. Even from this disadvantaged position, there's plenty to see. Wildlife included seals, geese, guillemots and puffins. And three Geographs completed the hectad: NM1495 : Skerry south-west of Hyskeir by Toby Speight NM1595 : Seals and seaweed by Toby Speight NM1696 : East coast of Hyskeir by Toby Speight.

Circumnavigation complete, it was time to aim for Dibidil. According to the GPS, it's 25km away, so another big crossing was ahead. Rum disappeared inside a raincloud, so I had to trust the technology to take me the right way. The only evidence I saw of humans between leaving the lighthouse and seeing the bothy was a CalMac ferry about 5 miles off my starboard beam (presumably the Oban to Lochboisdale service). Truly a remote place!

Slowly Rum drew closer and the cloud lifted a little to reveal the lower slopes. I grabbed a Geograph of the Fist and Finger rocks NM3492 : Fist and Finger Stack, south Rum by Toby Speight, but it was getting a bit gloomy for photography and I was getting a bit low on energy, so I made that the last of the day. I worked my way around the rugged southern tip of Rum, and was highly relieved when I saw the bothy, which hid until the last possible moment NM3992 : Glen Dibidil on Rum by phil smith. It was occupied, and I received help in getting ashore, which was very welcome in my fatigued condition. On downloading my tracklog, it turned out that I'd paddled 57.4 km, exceeding my previous maximum LinkExternal link by 10%. I slept very well that night.

On Wednesday morning, I was able to put off getting back in my kayak, as a boat was due with building materials for the bothy NM3992 : Dibidil Bothy by ronnie leask. I helped unload it, then, out of excuses, I put in and set a direct course for Elgol. Still tired, I paddled steadily and slowly and eventually the remaining distance grew less and less. I allowed myself a couple of minutes for a food break halfway, then pushed on until I found myself fighting the waves washing up on the Strathaird coast. Nearly there!

I finally arrived back in Elgol NG5113 : Elgol Jetty by John Allan with over a hundred kilometres of sea travelled, and aches all over - but also a big smile!

Monday: 24.2 km, 4h 20
Tuesday: 57.4 km, 11h 28
Wednesday: 25.8 km, 5h 33
TOTAL: 107.4 km, 21h 22


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When
Mon, 1 Jul 2013 at 19:34
Grid Square
geotagged! NM1596
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