Sub 2000s: Càrn Ghaltair (Sandray)
Date walked: 14/04/2023
Time taken: 9 hours
And TBH I would never have expected to be posting one as part of a much anticipated sea kayaking trip to the Outer Hebrides.
I absolutely love the Outer Hebs, and I've made a habit over recent years of visiting in the most unseemly of weathers and often in January - with ridiculously short days, frequent storms, and most importantly, very few competing visitors.
I've had some hugely memorable trips up the Harris Grahams and Corbett, fabulous coastal walks, tidal islands, breath-taking beach strolls, and an all-in-all antidote to any seasonal mood depression.
Who could not love these islands?
But this trip had an extra draw.
This was a guided trip, and we would be meeting on Barra.
Plan A would be to execute a 7 day/6 night wild camping trip from Castlebay exploring the southern islands of the Outer Hebs.
This would be a perfect practice trip for a longer and much more committing 10 day kayak camping trip I was hoping to complete in July in Greenland - a trip that has now been in the planning for over a year.
But in addition, it would allow me to finally visit Barra.
An island I have wanted to visit for so long!
My great uncle - Dr Cameron Roy Innes - was the single handed GP on the island for 11 years in the 1960s.
He was the only doctor on the island, and as a doctor myself I simply can't imagine being in such a situation.
I have wanted for years to see the island and try to imagine working there in such isolation.
And so off we set, boarding the ferry for a 5 hour journey over to Castlebay. We had met our two guides and fellow paddlers prior to boarding and spent the journey discussing potential trip plans.
Unfortunately, and also possibly predictably given our location, the weather gods were not in support of a 6 night wild camp.
The weather over our first few days was ferocious, with torrential rain and gusting winds.
Our first day was spent abandoning kayaking altogether and making a quick dash up Heabhal - the high point of Barra - before retreating to the cafe at the Eriskay ferry port for coffee and cake.
We extended our stay in the most excellent Dunard Hostel and managed a few testing kayak day trips around the island, with the hostel providing warmth and comfort in the evenings as the storms blew through.
But finally the weather seemed to break,
On day 5 we managed to paddle out to a stunning golden beach on Vattersay and set up camp.
This provided an incredible base for two fantastic day trips.
The first was an anticlockwise circuit of Sandray, through some interesting sea states with truly outstanding views of all of the small islands south of Barra - the Bishop Isles.
The second was a slightly longer trip in glorious sunshine. clockwise around firstly Pabbay - with a beautiful first lunch stop on a stunning golden beach that we shared with well over 100 seals.
We then continued around to the west of Pabbay through some huge confused waters to reach another beach on Sandray where we stopped for an extended break.
The guide looked set to relax and told us we had at least an hour.
A quick check of the map revealed that the high point of Sandray at 207m was a mere mile from the beach.
Why spend the hour relaxing when a trig point could be claimed?
And so three of us set off upwards in all of our very unbreathable kayak gear to claim the Marilyn - a rarely visited top on the list.
We stood at the summit in drysuits, spraydecks, and paddle boots, gazing out over turquoise seas and golden beaches.
What a truly privileged place to find ourselves in.
Of course, we were to live to regret our little detour and wish we had taken the directed rest.
George our guide, having been left unattended for the hour had planned an unexpected extension to our day, with a big diversion up the west side of Vatersay and a portage across the causeway, bringing the total distance for the day to over 36km.
We arrived back at camp both exhausted and satisfied; a hugely long paddle in near perfect weather, around seemingly tropical islands, and with a new hill thrown in for good measure. A top day for sure.
Later we enjoyed a huge camp meal with wine admiring a beautiful sunset, before retiring to our tents for s deep and well deserved sleep. Having to wait though several days of inclement weather for two full days of absolute heaven made the appreciation all the greater.
The following morning allowed us a relaxed paddle back to Castlebay to conclude our journey; huge smiles on our faces and minds brimming with new adventures.
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- Interests: Walking, running, swimming, cycling, triathlon, sea kayaking, skiing, baking, cooking, art, music, wildlife
- Activity: Walker
- Pub: none
- Mountain: A' Mhaighdean
- Place: Fisherfields
- Gear: Compass
- Member: none
- Ideal day out: A hugely long walk from dawn to dusk leaving me suitably exhausted
- Ambition: to never waste a moment
- Munro rounds: 1
- Corbett rounds: 1
- Wainwright rounds: 2
- Donald rounds: 1
- Munros: 282
- Tops: 103
- Corbetts: 222
- Fionas: 132
- Donalds: 89+52
- Wainwrights: 214
- Hewitts: 205
- Sub 2000: 29
- Islands: 58
- Filter reports
- Trips: 1
- Distance: 39 km
- Ascent: 207m
- Sub2000s: 1
- Joined: Oct 24, 2011
- Last visited: Dec 02, 2023
- Total posts: 496 | Search posts