Otter Lodge Blog:
In the Northwest of Skye there is an area called Loch Bracadale, a large sea loch with lots of islands, cliffs and caves to explore. The most well-known features are Macleod’s Maidens; a group of large, pointed sea stacks at the mouth of the Loch.
It’s a great location for kayaking, but being on the exposed side of Skye, it was definitely an expedition to take on in more settled weather. However, as often in the winter, an East wind had settled in and it seemed a good time to go. It was great to drive up to Harlosh watching the sun rise over the Cuillins in the rear view mirror after dropping the boys off at school.
We launched in the quiet harbour of Camus Ban and headed out into the big swells of Loch Bracadale. No wind, blue sea, blue sky – what could be better? After half an hour we paddling west across the loch we reached a magnificent sea cave, the surf roaring in its depths. We kept a safe distance. Onwards down the coast towards Idrigill point and some amazing stone arches. Plenty of foam around here to warn us to keep steady, Martin on the lookout for swells and breakers as I took pictures (camera getting covered in spray).
Despite the blue sky and gentle wind there was still that swell, getting worse as we ventured into the mouth of the Loch. The famous maidens were still out of sight. They’re really quite shy. They must have been just around the corner but to push on may have turned our little expedition into an epic. And what’s the use in giving them a visit if it’s too choppy to take pictures?
Turning back, we spotted sea eagles soaring above the impressive cliffs and what we were pretty sure was a puffin bobbing about in the Loch (funny time of year, though). There was nowhere safe to land at all, so we paired up in Brandarsaig Bay and I dived into Martin’s hold for rock buns to keep us going. Then we paddled back across the swell towards our car, passing Harlosh Island which gave some impressive booming noises as the surf pounded into blow holes along the cliffs. We had some fun around the large skerry between the Harlosh point and the island. There was a slightly hair raising moment when a wave came shooting through a cleft in the skerry, rolled along its length and nearly wiped out Martin. Luckily he had got himself ready for the hit when he saw me raise a few metres in the air with the swell and did an impressive surfing manoeuvre.
Time was pushing on; with two boys still at school and blissfully unaware of their parents exploits we thought it best to quit while we were ahead. We paddled past the site of Dun Nèill; as usual, Vanessa has to be steered well away from the archaeology (give that lady a pile of rocks and she’ll be there all day). Historic monument averted, we glided into the wonderfully peaceful Camus Ban for a late lunch.
Back at the school gate, the boys were none-the-wiser.
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