Thursday, 29 January 2015

Always Summer

Na h-Eileanan Samhraidh; The Summer Isles.

Located within the Coigach and Assynt national scenic park, this group of Islands offer a truly incredible location for sea kayaking.

This group of islands (17 in total) are home to a huge variety of nesting sea birds and water dwelling wildlife. Porpoise and seals are regularly spotted in their the waters, as well as Minky whale, dolphin and basking shark patrolling the crossings between islands, in search of food. I've been incredibly lucky to work with both Wilderness Scotland and Norwest sea kayaking in this beautiful area and in only one day this year whilst working, i sighted two sea eagle, a pod of porpoise and two minky, not too mention a huge amount of arctic tern, guillemot, razorbills and other sea birds.

The largest of the islands, Tanera Mor and Tanera Beg, translate from the Norrsk meaning "harbour", Mor and Beg meaning big and small respectively. Whilst once being home to around 120 permanent residents, (and even having it's own stamp,which has been in production since 1970) the numbers of permanent residents on Tanera Mor rapidly dropped after the first world war with the decline of the herring fishing industry and the great depression. As of 2014, there are no longer any people who call Tanera Mor their home, with the final two permanent residents, moving off the island this year. The islands future is currently unknown with no current buyers for the land.

The sandstone cliffs of the summer isles offer a stunning array of caves, arches and skerries for the sea kayaker to explore and crystal clear waters give beautiful views down to a sub-aquatic jungle, no less stunning than surrounding the mountain ranges and coastline.


The island furthest from shore, Priest Island, is one of the reserves managed by the RSPB and is host to an array of species of coastal birds; but it is also home to rare non-avian life, such as a rare species of pygmy shrew.
Often over looked for its further flung neighbors, Isle Ristol, the island closest to civilization (or at least a harbour) hides some of the best caves and rock hopping potential of the island group on its northern and north-west flank, with the neighboring Eilean Mullagrach having some incredible caverns and rocky amphitheaters to explore.


A crossing out to Eilean Dubh (The black isle) is a must, with a rocky beach that serves as a excellent viewing platform back across to the rest of the isles, and stunning rugged cliff faces guarding the rest of the island as you make your circumnavigation.

If you've not visited this area then i'd highly recommend it, with the above companies both offering trips and holidays in the area, and of course private guiding offered by myself!