Stacks & Seabirds Tour
Easing gently out of the Kylesku slipway we have a brief glimpse of the view down Loch Glendhu before a surge of power from Integrity takes us under the Kylesku Bridge and its trade mark triangular concrete supports and into the greater expanse of Loch A Chairn Bhain. Continuing down the loch at speed the imposing Quinag range of corbetts to the south recedes slowly into the distance as we are gifted with an increasingly panoramic view of the ruggedly beautiful Sutherland coastline. Oldany Island and its idyllic little beach slips past us with the distinctive bulge of Suilven clearly visible beyond it as we head out to sea. There is quite a distance be to be covered before arriving at our first stack, the Old Man of Stoer. However, this is no occasion for boredom. Integrity, is a modern vessel and powers comfortably and speedily along the ocean surface. Additionally, the knowledgeable Nicola is on hand constantly supplying snippets of information on matters natural, historical, geographical, geological…the list is nearly endless! The first glimpse we have of the “Old Man” is in distant silhouette. But soon Derek is navigating us around to its south west side affording us a better view of this structure separated from the mainland aeons ago by the relentless activity of the sea and the elements. Standing 60 metres tall it provides nesting for several species of bird and a challenge for that unique breed of human beings known as “climbers”. These people, with an abundance of courage, (but perhaps with an equal deficiency of common sense) can regularly be seen scaling this rocky edifice despite it having the outward form and apparent stability of a game of Jenga in its final stages. We then head off to see the next sight on our agenda – The Great Stack of Handa, located on the north side of the island. Closing in on the stack, almost to within touching distance, the afternoon sun is blocked out and its raw, stark, almost unnerving, gloomy majesty towers 70 metres immediately above. Every guano-drizzled layer of the sedimentary rock is richly populated with myriad birds of almost myriad varieties – puffins, great skua, shags, razorbills, fulmars and others all engaged in a cacophonic jostling for living and breeding space. But do not worry if you do not know a puffin from a penguin, or a fulmar from a finch for Nicola, with her aforementioned encyclopaedic knowledge, will confidently identify all the species within this teeming display of avian diversity. Reluctantly leaving this fascinating metropolis of bustling birds we make our way to the more sheltered and formerly inhabited south side of the island, before commencing our leisurely return to Kylesku with our minds full of memories and our eyes soaking up the sight of the North West coastline basking in the mid-afternoon sun. A wonderful end to a wonderful day. June 2018
Ultimate Uninhabited Islands Trip
In recent years we have run a 4 day/
Cape Wrath Explorer Landing Tour
One of the best wildlife trips I have done. I loved every minute. I live locally and have visited Cape Wrath from the landward side which was quite an adventure, however, this trip approaching by sea totally exceeded expectations. The Red Bay RIB boat, expertly handled by the experienced skipper, powers its way past the rugged and remote Scottish north-west coastline and can also take you up close to the dramatic cliffs covered with seabirds roosting, swooping and crying in the air above us and swirling in the waves around the boat. Our friendly wildlife guide Nicola pointed out gannets, guillemots, puffins, and skuas. We passed miles of empty sandy beaches, cliffs, jagged rock stacks, it is an entirely uninhabited landscape for most of the thrilling ride. Landing at Cape Wrath on the historic jetty that was once used for the construction of the lighthouse was a real adventure. At the light house we appreciated the lunch of delicious home made soup, sandwiches at what must be the most remote cafe on the UK mainland – all supplies, including water, have to be brought in by boat. A dream expedition for any keen bird, sea and landscape photographers. The views are astonishing, the boat ride is exhilarating!’ SJ June 2018 June 2018
Cape Wrath Explorer Landing Tour
The first amazing view came as we passed underneath the Kylesku road bridge. This is an impressive bridge over Loch Glendu which curves to suit the topography and is supported by just four struts. Its structure can only be truly appreciated from a boat going underneath it…….After passing under the bridge we headed towards several small (mostly uninhabited) islands until we reached the island of Handa – well known amongst ornithologists for its varied population of seabirds…..At Handa, we saw numerous sea-birds, but few puffins, which was unexpected. A great moment for us “twitchers” was when Niki spotted a “bridled guillemot”, a relatively rare cousin of the more common guillemot of which there were hundreds if not thousands, both in the water and on the cliffs. I got several good pictures of this rarity. Note the white band and “spectacles” around its eyes:
After a bumpy journey we reached a jetty at Cape Wrath, originally used by the military and to load barrels of diesel fuel for the lighthouse, and we used the dingy to transfer ashore. We were driven by the awaiting minibus to a building by the lighthouse and offered soup and sandwiches. Excellent!
We arrived back to our hotel safely and very pleased with our excursion.
S&T StJ. June 2018