The wind up here has been getting stronger and stronger, so today I was glad that I only had a short journey to do from Staffin Pier to a wee natural harbour called Port Gobhlaig that is about as far north as I can go without dealing with either the tides around the tip of Skye or the ever strengthening winds that would scare the merino wool socks off the most seasoned of expedition paddlers.
The good thing was that aside from a spraying and edging session crossing Staffin Bay I had, in the main, a gusty following breeze interspersed with calm patches under towering cliffs. Though I will admit to experiencing some laughably unpredictable lateral effects when some gusts arrived from above my head. Oh look we’re going right, no we’re going left this time. Very funny.
My brother was still chasing me up and down the coast with his obscenely decadent zoom lens. I reckon he does a sideline for the CIA or something, that lens must be suitable for targeting bunkers.
Progress was rapid, and as the passage was short I had plenty of time to explore so please enjoy the videos I cut showing the inside of some caves I explored. The colours and the strange light were captivating.
As I approached Port Gobhlaig I got my first glimpse of the Shiants, Eilean Sianta, and Lewis or Leodhas hugging the horizon behind. Now this is a big crossing. I observed them for a moment before leaving the shelter of the land and turning into the head wind that howled out of Port Gobhlaig, there is nowhere else for me to go, for a time.
Now on to the nitty gritty. The incoming weather for tonight and Monday is beyond being a bit windy. My camping options up here are limited to exposed, sodden or covered in a variety of animal poops. I am at the North of Skye and can’t do anything or go anywhere till the weather clears a bit. I have decided, and you can make of this what you will, to stay in a hotel. When this weather passes I’ll be off into the Minch and I really want to be firing on all cylinders, not crawling bleary eyed to my doom.
Just in case there are any knockers out there, I’d like to explain; I’ve been at this for 3 weeks and so far the weather has been cold, wet, windy, foggy, snowy, hail-filled, sleety nonsense. I have become tired, I miss my girls and I want the paddling to be a success, after all, the mission was to paddle to Stornoway and a lot of you kindly donated to the charities under that context. I feel better already knowing I don’t have to fight for the next 36 hours while this gale comes through.
So as I vowed to do this warts and all I am going to be completely honest here; I am now holed up out the wind in the closest hotel to my last stop, the Flodigarry Hotel.
It is a wonderful wee place that has a decidedly Jacobean feel. Even though it is in truth a Victorian celebration of these rebellious lands. It is run by a happy Frenchman, Pascal, who has taken pitty on me and given me a favourable rate for my short stay. The owner, Robin, has even offered me the use of his EPIRB, but I assured him that I already have one permanently in my PFD pocket.
All the staff here have been very considerate of my smellyness and even let me rinse out some of my kit and leave it hanging in the basement to dry. Aside from the Dog-Whelks that Pascal tried to feed me (of which I politely ate two) I have no complaints, in fact I owe them hugely for their understanding. And their humour.
Human kindness is an amazing thing, and so much more common up here in the wilds than in the urban environment.
I think in part because they live a daily dance with the weather, which always has the lead.
I think the other part is that it is, simply, the way of things. I like that.