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The Skerries of Arisaig

The Skerries of Arisaig


Postby DonnyW » Mon May 10, 2010 8:03 pm

Date walked: 10/05/2010

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Those of you who have read some of my walk reports may know that I prefer the more unusual walks, far away from the crowds of people on the popular hills. You may also know I was glad to see the end of the winters snows although I do enjoy some winter scrambling. I’m in my element in the spring time when nature’s world awakens from its winter slumbers. Talking of the elements, I also love the water as much as the land and try to combine my journeys over both whenever I can.


The Skerries are a series of small islands and semi submerged rocks at the entrance of Loch nan Ceall near Arisaig. At high tide, only the highest points are visible above water but at low tide, a new landscape appears as many of the islands are interconnected by a sand bar left by the receding tide.


A boat is required to visit the skerries so I took my inflatable dingy. Although I row it for exercise I carry an outboard motor when I go on trips like this as the tidal currents and wind conditions can change very quickly and a small row boat on open sea can be a great danger for the inexperienced. The outboard can help get me out of difficult situations that I may not be able to row againt.

There was a fresh north westerly blowing as I set out in the early morning just before low tide. I decided to put the boat in the water at the old pier on the dead end road to Rhue. My idea was to use the outboard to cross the south channel to reach the island of Eilean an Fhroaich Beag. Land there and explored the skerries on foot at low water, then as the tide started coming in again, row through the skerries to the north channel. That way both the wind and tide would carry me back to the start point at the old pier without much effort rowing. The outboard made quick work of crossing the choppy south channel

I pulled the boat well up from the water as the tide cab come in quicker than you think and I didn’t want to be a castaway.

This shows the make up of the sand bar that interconnects the islands. Its made of fine sand, broken coral and thousands of shells.
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I love the way nature makes its abstract art works. This seaweed will be floating directly upwards in a six hours time
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The are a few wild plants of the larger of the skerries. This shows the lovely little sea pinks that flower at this time of the year. Although not obvious in this photo..the Cuillin of Skye are visible on the horizon.
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This photo shows the wild primrose that also grow on the larger skerries. The mountains on the horizon are on the mainland near Arisaig
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There are numerous sea birds and their nests are everywhere but it appears to be a bit early for eggs as I didn’t see any ? We saw a lone puffin paddling in the water but sadly it was gone before I could get a photo.
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You always have to be very vigilant that the tide doesn’t turn and cut you off from the boat as you walk among the islands and rock formations. Here you can see the island of Eigg on the horizon
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The distinctive hill shape of An Sgurr on Eigg is seen better in this photo. Its height is 1292 ft and can be climbed by catching the ferry from Arisaig. It returns in four hours so there is time to climb it in a day
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The water round the skerries is crystal clear. The tide has turned and its coming in fast. Time to get back to the boat … quickly

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I had already pulled the boat higher but the land around was disappearing fast. Nature was wiping all trace of my visit.
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Back in the boat we started rowing along the waterways now several feet deep. Some were hard to row in as the incoming tide made them into flowing rivers but we had no difficulty following quieter pathways in the back eddies
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This was the magic hour in the skerries. It’s the time the seals seem to appear. I never saw one while walking, but now … rowing quietly ..they soon appeared.
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Suddenly they were everywhere. They are very inquisitive and follow the boat for miles. I couldn’t make up my mind if I was watching them for entertainment or was it the other way around ? Certainly ..I was in their element. There is something very exciting seeing them splash and turn only feet from a small boat. One was close enough to soak me with his tail as he turned quickly beside the boat.
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I spent the day exploring the skerries by foot and by boat and as the sun set.

Thanks for reading my report. :D
Last edited by DonnyW on Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Skerries of Arisaig

Postby monty » Mon May 10, 2010 8:11 pm

Lovely report Donny.
I regularly Kayak in the river Forth at high tide and low tide. It seems amasing when the sandbanks appear and then dissapear a few hours later as the tide ebbs and flows. Numerous seals appear on top of the water and disappear as I paddle around. They climb out of the water and sunbathe on the marker Buoys but if you get too close they soon shove of into the water. Superb :D

I like the way you frame your pictures.
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Re: The Skerries of Arisaig

Postby FloozySuzie » Mon May 10, 2010 9:07 pm

Fantastic report. The seals smiling face makes me smile :lol:
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Re: The Skerries of Arisaig

Postby Freewheelin » Mon May 10, 2010 11:15 pm

Been up there a few times - beautiful place.

... remember having a bit of a fight with a sheep that didn't want to let me pass while on the way up Sgurr an t-Sasunnaich
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Re: The Skerries of Arisaig

Postby DonnyW » Tue May 11, 2010 5:12 pm

Thanks again for your interest in this report. Arisaig is still a quiet backwater in the Scottish landscape for those who like a little peace from the fast pace of city life and the sunsets are something to die for

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I have a walk report for climbing Sgurr an t-Sasunnaich on the Sunday and the views from the top must be some of the best for any hill of its height ..far better than Ben a’An in my opinion ..I hope to post it up in a day or two. :D
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Re: The Skerries of Arisaig

Postby mountain coward » Tue May 11, 2010 5:36 pm

It's very like the Western Isles - I have to admit to staying at Arisaig but only to catch the ferry out to Rhum - didn't actually do anything else while I was there, although I did think it was very beautiful - was long before I started walking again though...

Can you attach a small outboard motor to any of those little inflatable rowing boats? I ask as I've just got one last summer...
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Re: The Skerries of Arisaig

Postby kevsbald » Thu May 13, 2010 8:34 am

Great stuff, Donny. I love the beaches up there. Your sunset shots are fantastic.
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Re: The Skerries of Arisaig

Postby FMCKIE » Fri May 14, 2010 8:00 am

Superb! Love to see stuff like this, very different. We have a Yamaha we use to reach remote spots and with camping gear and dog still moves along fine. Very practical as well fits into a big bag I can just get into the car but normally stick in my van.

Heading home after stay at Oban bothy, Loch Morar.
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Home time.

Hope to see more of this.
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Re: The Skerries of Arisaig

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun May 16, 2010 9:21 am

A friend and I once canoed out to those skerries off Arisaig, only to find one of the islands festooned with gorgeous babes in bikinis, lounging like mermaids. It was quite a find in all those empty places. I still dream of finding "The Lost Island of the Babes" again!
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