Saturday, 10 July 2010

Isle of Islay 30-2 to 2-7-2010 (Final Posting)

The Final Instalment (thank goodness).
30/06/2010 to 02/07/2010.

Due to the 24 hour weather forecast it was decided we would stay off the water. From Ardnave Point to Portnahaven is a pretty exposed coast line with few roads to get the kayaks of the water and back to the ferry if we were caught out. The forecast for evening was: increasing winds 5-7, with gale force 8 expected. It was essential that we got the ferry back on Friday 2nd July as it was my wife’s (Jayne) Birthday on 3rd July. However, this would give me plenty of time to explored Ardnave Point. It was another beautiful morning as I explored Ardnave’s dunes, machair and coastline round to the westside of the point at Eilean Nostaig. Loch Gruinart is noted for the diversity of birdlife due to the estuary and machair.The westcoast of Ardnave Point

The walk round the point as well as revealing that it is a fantastic area also demonstrated that it is a haven for birds, wildlife and butterflies. During the walk I spotted a flock of about 20 Coughs feeding on the machair, an assortment of Terns fishing many coming from Nave Island , Skylark song filled the air, Curlews, Snipe, Corncrakes rasping, Hen Harrier, Sparrow Hawk and the list could go on and on.Early afternoon it was again time to fish the estuary channels of Loch Gruinart for Sea Trout or Sea Bass. I had been watching the seals fishing the estuary since we had arrived. It was an exciting event: Seals crashing, twisting and rolling on the surface of the water before diving with explosive speed in pursuit of their meal.
It’s a tuff life but someone has to do it.

Sea Trout, one of a brace caught.
As the day went on the clouds built up and the wind steadily increased. I walked across the dunes and machair down a track then road to check the estuary channels out and visit Kilnave Chapel and the 5th Century Cross.

Later in the evening we prepared for the coming gale: only the essentials were kept in the tent, just encase it came down or it had to be moved, kayaks were moved to try to deflect some of the wind, paddles were lashed down and a few extra guy-ropes were attached to the tent. The winds started to build but nothing to worry about and I feel asleep about 11pm. At 2am I was wakened with torrential rain and increasing winds. The inner tent was dry but was leaning slightly with the wind, it was reassuring that everything was ok, and again I fell asleep. At 5am I was again wakened by the tent poles hitting me on my back. The tent was lying at 45 degrees, on occasions lower. I didn’t fall back asleep this time!!!!!However, the tent and I made it through (unhurt/damaged) the worst weather we had camped in.
In the morning Loch Gruinart had changed its character from a tropical looking lagoon into a grey caldron of anger. The open sea must still have been hellish because for the first time Gannets were fishing in Loch Gruinart. However, no matter what the weather was like it was a special day: It was Jim’s 60th Birthday. Yes he does look only 57!!!!! The rest of the day: Jim hitched to Port Ellen to get the car (during this time the winds fell the skies cleared and the sun returned), a short paddle and the boats were unloaded for the last time. We headed to the Port Askaig area to look for a camping spot.
The Paps of Jura from Islay on our last night.
The fine weather had returned as we waited at Port Askaig for the ferry. For me the saddest moment of any kayaking trips to the Islands is watching the ferry sailing into the Port to take you to the mainland (reality awaits).
The End.
David A

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