Today it was Mackayak’s first trip out in the sea boat on the sea since she broke her leg in mid September. After yesterday’s adventures, I gaffer taped up my blisters in anticipation (once an archaeologist…). The forecast was OK with a bit of NW wind so when we met at the car park we all said very loudly ‘NOT SCAPA’ and we agreed on Stromness to Houton which meant a shuttle.
Off we set. After a bit of a navigational error (OK we started driving to entirely the wrong place!), Mackayak and I found ourselves on fairly icy roads but made it to Houton without incident. We then set off to Stromness by the back road. We came over a hill and hit what can only be described as a huge sheet of 2 inch thick black ice. The car started to fishtail across the road (thank god no one was coming) and we spun on the ice and ended up on the verge on the wrong side of the road, pointing back up the hill. People OK, car OK and boats OK. But what to do? We tried knocking at a house but no answer, so we flagged down a tractor. The nice farmer drove the car out for us and managed to turn us round so we were at least pointing in the right direction. Off we set VERY SLOWLY towards Stromness. Suddenly a phone rings and I discover it at the bottom of a drybag. It’s one of the other members of the group – ‘Where are you?’ says he ‘we just came off the road’ says I. Then he precedes to tell me that the fourth member of the party also came off the road elsewhere and had to be dug out. ‘Turn round’ he says, ‘let’s go to Scapa.’ So we ring round and ascertain that everyone is OK and slowly start the journey back to Kirkwall. It was treacherous all the way to Finstown.
We had a choice of left or right when we launched so we decided to head for Deepdale (left). We have paddled this bit of coast a thousand times (well maybe 10s of times) but today the spring tide was so high that we were able to get much closer to the shore than usual. This gave us a new perspective on the place and the ability to paddle in and around rocks which are usually high and dry. Even though the weather had looked a bit grey earlier, the sun began to shine as soon as we headed off. Sun on sandstone
After a nautical mile or so, we reached Hemp Stack. Normally this is high and dry of the sea, with a pebble beach on three sides. Today, we could paddle between it and the land which provided an excellent photo opportunity. Mackayak, Hemp Stack with Wideford Hill behind (photo – Jackie)
Further along the coast we were able to get right into geos that are normally beaches, pausing again at a lovely waterfall. We carried on like this until we got to Deepdale, the end of the interesting bit, where we stopped for a bite to eat and a good old chinwag. Waterfall Mackayak heads to Deepdale with Flotta on the horizonBoats at DeepdaleThe Isel and the snow covered hills of Hoy Chin-wagging at Deepdale (photo – Jackie)
Despite the earlier traumas of the day, it turned into a lovely afternoon. We headed back towards Scapa into a light F3 to 4 headwind noticing the tide going out all the time. By the time we reached Hemp Stack, it was high and dry again. Before – Jackie and Mackayak pose at Hemp Stack having come through on the inside. After - Jackie has to head round the outside.
We headed back to the pier as storm clouds gathered over Kirkwall, landing and getting sorted just as it began to rain. As we left Scapa, the spring tide was already right out, the shallow sand now stretching right into the bay.
A lovely wee paddle, as Johnny would say, and GREAT to see Mackayak back on the water. I’ve missed her! The trip – my e-trex packed up at Hemp Stack on way back, but you get the point. (Mr Mackayak, I have edited this just for you!)