Monday, 23 June 2014

The perfect warm down...



Pabay  (Priest or hermit island)
As is so often is the case the identity of first occupant of this tiny island off the coast of Skye is lost in the mists of time but the presence of an ancient ruined chapel gives it away that Pabay had some significance in early Christianity.
Kayaking around Pabay
Heading for the beach on Pabay
 According to Hamish Haswell Smith’s wonderful book of the Scottish Islands, by the 16th Century peaceful hermits had given way to cut throats and thieves but by the 1700s these outlaws had vacated the island leaving fine pasture for grazing. Pabay is now privately owned and its owner spends little time there leaving the impressive house standing empty and the island occupied only by wildlife and we had a lot of fun exploring the coastline as the curious seals swam around us bobbing up and down and amazingly some were seen jumping clear of the water. At one point my kayak seemed to be completely surrounded by seals.
Now you see me....now you don't!
Hello!
What have they seen??
On the south side of Pabay the water was calm but as we moved out of the lee of the island the waves became rougher and I began to wish it hadn’t been a year since my last kayaking trip. Simon, confident as ever, powered ahead while i wobbled about in his wake desperately hoping not to have to suffer the indignity of being rescued in relatively calm water. At my request we headed back into the calmer water to search for a place for lunch which we found on the south east side of the island, a lovely beach with 360 degree panoramic view taking in Raasay, the Cullin mountains, the Skye Bridge, to Plockton, Torridon and beyond. We combed the beach for interesting finds and ate lunch sat among the basalt rocks covered in mussels. Although it was peaceful it was not still, the waves lapped at the shore while little sandpiper birds scurried this way and that in search of food in the sand.
A sea creature (not sure what)
Parked up for lunch
Lunchtime gave me a chance to make a few wee adjustments to my kayak as I was suffering badly due to my incredibly poor core body strength  – so much so Simon has even invested in a book called “strength training for kayakers”….watch this space….. After adjustments were made particularly to support my lower back I was much more comfortable tackling the bumpy water and so made a beeline for our destination for the day, Kyleakin and the Skye Bridge which made a spectacular end to the trip. I think we made reasonably good time but the waves were coming from the side and this gave a really weird feeling like you were not actually going anywhere no matter how hard you paddled however it must have been an illusion as it seemed like no time at all before we were under the sweeping arches of the elegant concrete structure spanning the water. Talk about getting a new perspective on something!
The tide had turned and so at that point it was a case of staying as close as possible to the shore line as we made our way to our destination at Kyleakin out of the drag of the flow of water. I was interested to visit this village again as I had not been there since the Skye bridge had been built and I was quite surprised that I couldn’t remember it at all. 
The downside of kayaking the day after a half marathon soon became apparent as I tried to get out of the kayak and walk  - my legs had seized up completely and I was reduced to a funny penguin like waddle until the blood flow had returned to all of my muscles. My muscles soon felt better after a quick dip in the fantastic hot tub back at Gordon’s house but I’m yet to be convinced that kayaking, although the perfect way to spend a day, could be called the perfect race warm down…
Now thats what i call a relaxing spa break!
 For anyone interested this adventure was booked through the Kayaking Company "Skyak" based in Lower Breakish on Skye and it was my second trip with Gordon. This trip was over all too soon and I am so glad that I have my next trip with Gordon planned.