Sunday, 8 June 2014

Summer Isles

I can't believe it has been two months since I last wrote something here! Spring is always a very busy period and when the weather is good and the days are longer, I want to be outside as much as possible.

So when the weather forecasters announced a high pressure area over Scotland for Easter holiday (weekend of 18-20 April) we set off for a little outdoor expedition at the Summer Isles together with our neighbours Lucy and Dave and their friends Kirsty and Nick.

On Friday night we arrived at our campsite in Altandhu near Achiltibuie, North West of Ullapool. It was a very cold night (just a few degrees above zero) and the distinctive and beautiful sound of snipes above our head didn't encourage a good night sleep. After a leisurely breakfast we decided to walk Cul Mor (849 m, about 5 hours) as the wind was pretty strong to make the crossing to the Summer Isles.

Walk to Cul Mor
Inverpolly Nature reserve ©David Johnson

Lucy and Dave in their ascent © Fenfolio
Lunch break in gorgeous weather ©David Johnson

Friends and neighbours on top of Cul Mor ©David Johnson

Jaap and I being happy ©David Johnson

View towards Stac Pollaidh ©David Johnson

Lucy and Jaap with Stac Pollaidh in background ©David Johnson

Impressive geology... ©David Johnson

... impressive cliffs! ©David Johnson
...and impressive views! ©David Johnson

Jaap walking along cliff  ©David Johnson

After a nice shower at the campsite we enjoyed a fantastic meal at the local pub just across our campsite. This time I slept like a baby!

The next day we packed our stuff and drove to the jetty across Isle Ristol where we launched our fully packed kayaks with sleeping gear, food and drink. We headed for the beach on the North East of the Island which was just the perfect spot to set up camp. It was lovely calm weather and about lunchtime so after we pitched our tents we had our lunch, ready for our kayak circumnavigation.

Summer Isles trip 1

Launch at Isle Ristol ©David Johnson

 Setting up camp at Isle Ristol ©David Johnson
Contemplation? © Fenfolio

After lunch it's time to chill ©Fenfolio

Initially we wanted to explore the West coast of Eilean Mullagrach but it was a bit too choppy for a few in our group so we followed the East coastline instead. Dave, Jaap and I continued our journey towards the small island Glas-Leac Mor, while Lucy, Nick and Kirsty made their way along the South side of Isle Ristol.
We then paddled in sheltered waters to Tanera Beg, around Eilean Fada Mor and back to our campsite on Isle Ristol.

Our group setting off © Fenfolio
Paddling along the East side of Glas-Leac Mor
© Fenfolio

Lucy enjoying the coastline of the Summer Isles © Fenfolio
Jaap in sheltered waters in between the islands © Fenfolio

From mountains to sea © Fenfolio

Chill time!

Beautiful reed on Isle Ristol © Fenfolio

Exploring Isle Ristol  © Fenfolio

Gorgeous beach at Isle Ristol © Fenfolio

Wild camping at its best!

The perfect finish of a perfect day © Fenfolio

The next day Jaap and I left first after a leisurely breakfast. The others had family commitments so they were not able to paddle all day. We first headed for the biggest island of the Summer Isles,Tanera Mor. Then we explored the South coastline of Tanera Beg.

Bye!  © Dave Johnson

Setting off from Isle Ristol for a new adventure © Dave Johnson

The mountains are never far away © Fenfolio

Tranquility © Fenfolio
So this is why they are called the Summer Isles! © Fenfolio

Beautiful colours and textures © Fenfolio

Geological arch on South side of Tanera Mor © Fenfolio
After another fabulous trip on the sea our mini holiday came to an end and we had to go back home.

Driving through stunning landscape © Fenfolio

The little village of Polbain © Fenfolio

The Summer Isles in evening light © Fenfolio

In the weekend of 31 May and 1 June we had another opportunity to visit the Summer Isles. This time we were just the two of us and our destination was Priest Island.

On Friday night we camped at Badluarach on the South side of Little Loch Broom. It was the first time we used our new tent which was recommended by Lucy and Dave; Jack Wolfskin Santuary III. Wow, great design and lots more space for all our stuff but small enough to fit in a kayak!

On Saturday morning we launched from the jetty just around the corner from the campsite. The weather was perfect for the 7k crossing so it was not really a challenge. The only thing we had to take into account was the ferry from Ullapool heading to the Hebrides. The travel route is shown on the map but this was definitely not the route this one was taking. Instead it was travelling to the South side of Priest Island.  We had to stop paddling and wait until it had passed us!

Our crossing to Priest Island © Fenfolio

The ferry crossing our path © Fenfolio
Arrival at Priest Island © Fenfolio
Priest Island coastline © Fenfolio

Priest Island coastline © Fenfolio

Fantastic cave at Priest Island © Fenfolio

Cave interior © Fenfolio

The other side of the cave © Fenfolio

Lunch break on beach on East side of Priest Island © Fenfolio

Always time for a pwer nap © Fenfolio

View towards one of the smaller islands of the Summer Isles © Fenfolio

After we explored Priest Island, we crossed over to Bottle Island. Then we continued our journey to the group of islets of Sgeirean Glasa from where we made another crossing (about 4k) to Carn nan Sgeir. I read on another blog that this island was really good for camping so we had to find out!

2 k crossing to Bottle Island © Fenfolio

Summer in the sky © Fenfolio
Bottle Island © Fenfolio

We launched our kayaks on the East facing beac, all the way to the left hand side to leave the nesting arctic terns in peace. Oh, what a beautiful spot it was indeed! The pictures below say enough I think. The best thing, which I couldn't capture with my waterproof compact camera, was the sighting of two otters really close by! We had already noticed poop scattered around the island (even uphill) and emptied sea urchins lying on the rocks but this was just the evidence we needed to prove our theory.

Arrival at Carn nan Sgeir © Fenfolio

Our new tent blends in really well ©Fenfolio

 View towards Annat Bay and mainland ©Fenfolio
Taking in all this beauty ©Fenfolio

Exploring the island ©Fenfolio
Wildflowers everywhere ©Fenfolio

Unfortunately we were not the only ones on this little island! ©Fenfolio

Our kitchen with a view ©Fenfolio

Our kitchen with a view ©Fenfolio

Room with a premium view ©Fenfolio


  1. Looks like you had two wonderful trips Fen and lots of inspiration for more lovely art works.

    1. Thank you, Catherine! I hope you and your husband are doing well too.