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Thread: Crowlin Islands

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    Cool Crowlin Islands

    Crowlin Islands

    Singing to seals and dicing with dolphins...

    September 2010



    Looking across past the Crowlin Islands to the Cuillins of Skye from top of the Bealach na Ba pass

    (Mrs Crow would like me to point out that she was eaten alive by beasties for the sake of taking this panoramic view...)



    Being a follow on from this blog: http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...-Loch-Torridon



    On the last day of our week in Applecross, Mrs Crow and I decided to paddle across to the Crowlin Islands. (Which is to say - I decided I quite fancied it and neither of the boys could be bothered to go, so it fell on poor exploited long suffering Mrs. C to fill that bow seat in the boat!). The Crowlin Isles are a group of 3 small islands in the Inner Sound between the Applecross peninsula and Skye, about a mile or so offshore. They consist of the imaginatively named Big Island, Middle Island and Small Island and are now uninhabited.


    I have acquired a taste for paddling round islands, and with a name like Crowlin, how could I resist these?




    We put in at the small harbour in Toscaig at the south of the Applecross peninsula and paddled down sheltered Loch Toscaig towards the sea....





    At the mouth of the loch with the islands in the distance:



    The weather was perfect and the sea was amazingly calm. I was a bit wary beforehand of crossing a mile of open sea, but conditions couldn't have been better. Halfway across, we heard some barking and snorting noises. Janet denied it was her, so I assumed it was seals. But when we got closer, it turned out to be a school of dolphins, with black shiny beaks and fins glistening in the sunlight. They swam around quite happily until I got my camera out, at which point it was dive, dive, dive! - never to be seen again. A first for me, I've never paddled with dolphins before - quite made my day.


    Approaching the big island.





    There is a narrow channel between the big island and the middle island (see map above) so of course we had to paddle down it:



    About halfway down the channel we spotted a seal basking on the seaweed:





    As we got closer it belly flopped into the water, but a few yards further on there were several more basking on the rocks...







    Most of them seal-launched into the water when we arrived and began swimming around us, appearing then disappearing under the waves:






    We sat watching the seals for a while. Janet sang one of her seal calling songs to them and claimed it worked, as they did seem curious about the noise. However I maintain that my snorting back at them worked equally well.

    [It was not a noise!! It was my Hebridean seal calling song and it did work as they turned their heads towards us and looked quite interested. - Mrs. C]

    We could have stayed there all day singing to them but it was a bit unfair, they had seal business to attend to, so eventually we pushed on.

    Down at the bottom end of the channel was a gap which can be paddled through if the tide isn't too low, but you do have to fight through the seaweed:


    Seaweed fronds underwater:



    Rocks on the south coast. The sea was pretty shallow here and the boat's nether regions suffered severe barnacle scratches on several occasions.



    Coming back out into the sea, we saw a strange brightly coloured mass to the east. It turned out to be a group of sea kayaks rafted together. I waited to say hello but they never moved (must have been some sort of training exercise), so we paddled on round to the west coast of Middle Island. After passing numerous reefs and rocky shelves we found a beach of pink rocks to land on and eat our sandwiches:







    Pressing on round the west shore:






    At the top of Middle Island. These are shags, I believe..



    Looking across to Small Island. I wanted to visit the lighthouse, but J said the dog would be getting hungry so we pressed on...



    We passed through the straits between the three islands and then continued south along the eastern shore of Big Island:



    Halfway down, we landed to look at some ruined cottages. No humans live on the islands any more, but there is a population of sheep. We found a sheep pen where a farmer from the mainland must come from time to time to round them up.





    Looking back to the mainland. Janet thinking - "I want to get back before the dog starves, the wind picks up, that pesky speedboat we saw earlier returns, and the village shop shuts!"



    So after that we headed back to the mainland across the Caolas Mor.


    Is the boat lurching in this picture or was it just the photographer?



    Heading back along Loch Toscaig where we met some more seals (unfortunately camera shy). Caves along the shore:





    Back at the put in:



    Where Janet made some new friends (with better manners than her stern paddler!)



    And then we loaded up the boat on the car and headed back to the cottage at Arrina.

    A very enjoyable paddle, in perfect conditions. I can imagine it's often much rougher there a lot of the time. The Crowlin Islands were a great place to explore by canoe and somewhere a bit off the beaten track. So a grand day out all round and a great way to finish our holiday in Applecross.

    I'd definitely recommend that part of the world for canoeing, when the weather's decent at least. Lots of wildlife - we saw dolphins, seals, a sea eagle, red deer, more jellyfish than you could shake a bent paddle at, ditto regarding shags and er... various other creatures I'm not knowledgeable enough to name. And of course, great mountain scenery plus some nice pubs. I will return!

    Thanks for reading.

    Gordon



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    That does look like a great paddle and as you say ideal conditions.
    John

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    Worth waiting for.

    You got the weather too, I can never get my timing that good.

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    nice blog crow , will have to check it out next time we go to skye.
    myles

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    Looks like an interesting place, good blog and some great photos.
    Obzi

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    Nice. Kudos to Mrs. Crow - 1) for going with you; and 2) for letting you steer & navigate

    No crows on Crow(lin) Island, then??

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    Brilliant! Lovely place to explore. How great to have conditions like that!

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    Great blog with photos to match. That one gets a seal of approval.

    (Buttoning coat as you read.)

    TGB
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    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TGB View Post
    Great blog with photos to match. That one gets a seal of approval.

    (Buttoning coat as you read.)

    TGB
    Thanks, TG.

    Yes you should be buttoning that coat!

    BTW the big seal was called Ron, but he didn't do exactly what it said on the tin...


    (OK, I'll get my hat ... )

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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8r View Post
    Nice. Kudos to Mrs. Crow - 1) for going with you; and 2) for letting you steer & navigate

    No crows on Crow(lin) Island, then??
    She says thanks!

    But I say - she didn't let me navigate, she told me where to go!!


    No crows. Many shags (and sheep) but no crows. Apart from this one.

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    Lovely photos of a great paddling area & great conditions too.
    well done!


    Crofty
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    Looks a great place for a paddle,top blogging.
    Andy.

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    Another cracking blogg - really must get up there next year -the underwater pic is brilliant - thanks for sharing.

    Neil

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    Hi Crow,

    You need to be careful, this Sea stuff is addictive...............

    excellent paddling by the way.

    Alan L.

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    Default Great stuff.

    What a day! I am green with envy!

    Super blogg, Crow.

    Cheers,

    Charlie.
    It's turned out nice again!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pappa smurf View Post
    nice blog crow , will have to check it out next time we go to skye.
    myles
    Thanks, Myles.

    It's not exactly on the way to Skye, but it could be I suppose.

    If conditions were right, you could do a paddle across to Crowlin then carry on via Longay and Scalpay islands to Skye. Then continue round by Raasay and Rona islands back to the northwest corner of Applecross.

    Wild camping on the islands along the way.

    Would be quite an epic and would take about a week I reckon. And would need really good sea conditions like we had recently. And you'd have to be reasonably fit.

    But that would be my dream trip!!

    Anybody else fancy it?

    Or am I just getting carried away here??

    Sigh. I can but dream on...

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    I envy you the weather. Looks like a great paddle.

    I also suspect that you like saying shag as often as possible.

    I paddled over some oysters on the first outing of my first canoe. Those molluscs really do tear up the vinyl skin of an RX hull, don't they?

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    Excellent blogging (probably need to thank Mrs Crow for that). Nice weather too!
    It alwasy amazes me how crystal clear the water is up there!
    Did the mutt get fed?

    "Pedal five hundred miles on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature" - Pierre Trudeau

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    Default Great Blog thank you for shareing

    What a brilliant trip. Love the pics and the map! Good idea.

    I'd be up for a pootle over that way but would have to be before or after the midge season!

    Last time I paddled that area was in '82 and I've wanted to go back ever since, even thought our tent blew away and we were comletely washed out. Took refuge in the local inn for the evening and found a ceilidh. Good times.
    Thank you for blogging

    Hils




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    OK, what's the trick? We just got back from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, and brief visits to the Conncecticut and Delaware coasts, and never saw canoeable conditions on the ocean. It's disgusting!

    Still, thanks for sharing.

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    Hey man, time to wite a book on "Crow´s Canoeing Adventures"!!!! Every weekend paddling now???? What´s the secret???? And good weather always??? Are you sure you live in UK?

    Hey honey, we must try this lottery thing too!!!! Gordon won there in UK I believe!!!!

    Tony BR
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    Looking forward to getting into the ocean for a paddle one day. Very jealous.
    nice one.
    Aust.canoe

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    Another one of Scotlands many gems

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    Quote Originally Posted by Juno2 View Post
    Hi Crow,

    You need to be careful, this Sea stuff is addictive...............

    excellent paddling by the way.

    Alan L.
    Cheers!!

    It is indeed a bit addictive. I especially like paddling round islands, it's kind of like the inverse of paddling round lakes, and appeals to me in a strange way...


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    i don't know why i'm still looking at your bloggs. they all just make me want to pack up and go there myself. terrible.

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    Default sea critters...

    Quote Originally Posted by sohojacques View Post
    I envy you the weather. Looks like a great paddle.

    I also suspect that you like saying shag as often as possible.
    Well it's easier than saying Phalacrocorax aristotelis as often as possible, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by sohojacques View Post
    I paddled over some oysters on the first outing of my first canoe. Those molluscs really do tear up the vinyl skin of an RX hull, don't they?
    They do! It's an unsung hazard of sea canoeing....

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    I also suspect that you like saying cormorant as often as possible

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    Default Excellent blogg...

    Brilliant pics, looked like a perfect day for a paddle...

    smurf xx
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Wallace View Post
    I also suspect that you like saying cormorant as often as possible
    And why not?

    Nothing wrong with a good cormorant, Mr.Wallace.

    (As long as I don't mention sheep in the same sentence, I should be OK...)



    Moving swiftly on....

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    You can always be sure your other half will get a picture of you that captures your 'best' features


    Brilliant Gordon.....and it's your fault I haven't done anything else on the 'East Coast' blog, because I spend so much time reading yours and looking at the pictures.

    Davy

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    Great blogs and pics (Crowlin isles and Torridon), Mr Crow. Raises some questions,though.A trip to Brazil-and a volcanic eruption keeps him there for two extra weeks...A trip to Cumbrae and not one but two nuke subs keep him under observation.... A trip to the west coast of Scotland and the wind and waves abate for his stay.... Makes one wonder....

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    Quote Originally Posted by andre View Post
    Raises some questions,though.A trip to Brazil-and a volcanic eruption keeps him there for two extra weeks...A trip to Cumbrae and not one but two nuke subs keep him under observation.... A trip to the west coast of Scotland and the wind and waves abate for his stay.... Makes one wonder....

    It does indeed raise some questions

    In one of the very rare pictures when Crow isn't wearing a hat, I noticed what I thought at first to be a birth mark on his scalp....after zooming in and then enhancing the photo the mark appeared to look like numbers!
    After even closer scrutiny they revealed themselves to be '666'.....that really would explain a lot...erupting volcanoes yes....but calming of the sea?....dabbling in the 'Other Dark Side'

    Davy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy Crockett View Post
    It does indeed raise some questions

    In one of the very rare pictures when Crow isn't wearing a hat, I noticed what I thought at first to be a birth mark on his scalp....after zooming in and then enhancing the photo the mark appeared to look like numbers!
    After even closer scrutiny they revealed themselves to be '666'.....that really would explain a lot...erupting volcanoes yes....but calming of the sea?....dabbling in the 'Other Dark Side'

    Davy

    No, no you've got it all wrong.

    You're reading the number upside down - it's actually "999".

    My mother had it tattooed on my head when I was young. The full text reads: "If lost please return to .... [our old house address, which is pretty useless nowadays]..... In case of emergency stand well back, avoid naked flames, do not feed and call 999 for further assistance."

    All quite innocent really...


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    Quote Originally Posted by Sundowner View Post
    Excellent blogging (probably need to thank Mrs Crow for that). Nice weather too!
    It alwasy amazes me how crystal clear the water is up there!
    Did the mutt get fed?
    Yes. She seems to have a calming influence on the sea. Going to have to bring her along more often.

    Yes the dog was fed (and so were the pigs) and we even got to the wee shop before it closed.

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    What a beautiful blog of a great trip... stunning weather and location... i know it's all been said, but it's worth repeating!!
    Heading that way in a month, just hope we have as good weather as that
    "the river flows, flows to the sea, wherever that river goes, that's where i want to be"- the Byrds

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    Quote Originally Posted by River Rat Jimmy View Post
    What a beautiful blog of a great trip... stunning weather and location... i know it's all been said, but it's worth repeating!!
    What he said.

    It's always nice when people share lots of photos like this for us office types. Browsing through your blog was a nice way to end a hectic day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hils View Post
    What a brilliant trip. Love the pics and the map! Good idea.

    I'd be up for a pootle over that way but would have to be before or after the midge season!

    Last time I paddled that area was in '82 and I've wanted to go back ever since, even thought our tent blew away and we were comletely washed out. Took refuge in the local inn for the evening and found a ceilidh. Good times.
    Thank you for blogging

    Hils



    Ta, Hils!

    The midges weren't too bad, most of the time. The worst place for them was right on top of the Bealach na Ba pass, 2,000 feet up, strangely enough.

    And of course the only place for miles with a mobile phone signal was popular with the beasties too. As I found out when I rang NHS Direct to ask if jellyfish stings were fatal....

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    Quote Originally Posted by ezwater View Post
    OK, what's the trick? We just got back from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, and brief visits to the Conncecticut and Delaware coasts, and never saw canoeable conditions on the ocean. It's disgusting!

    Still, thanks for sharing.
    Wrong side of the Atlantic, my friend.

    It's always nice and sunny and calm over here in Scotland.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyBR View Post
    Hey man, time to wite a book on "Crow´s Canoeing Adventures"!!!! Every weekend paddling now???? What´s the secret???? And good weather always??? Are you sure you live in UK?

    Hey honey, we must try this lottery thing too!!!! Gordon won there in UK I believe!!!!


    Not true! I didn't go paddling on the weekend of 7th August.

    And the weather isn't always fine. Only when I'm in Scotland. In England I got rained upon (at the BIG MEET). And that was inside my tent!!

    Hey paddling is cheap. I wouldn't have taken it up if it wasn't!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy Crockett View Post
    You can always be sure your other half will get a picture of you that captures your 'best' features


    Brilliant Gordon.....and it's your fault I haven't done anything else on the 'East Coast' blog, because I spend so much time reading yours and looking at the pictures.

    Davy
    Whaddya mean??

    That's one of my better pictures!

    Anyway I was eating a starfish at the time.

    Get on with your blog!! I'm reduced to replying to my own blog because you have gone AWOL from yours yet again....

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    loved that, inspiring bloggage. There something special about places that dont see a lot of traffic. Was there good camping on the islands?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thelongcarabine View Post
    loved that, inspiring bloggage. There something special about places that dont see a lot of traffic. Was there good camping on the islands?
    Thank you. It's nice going somewhere different.

    Yes, there were plenty of places we could have camped on the islands.

    My only worry though would be if the weather changed overnight while we were camped there and we got stranded. I wouldn't fancy paddling back to the mainland in rough conditions.

    So a good place for a day trip I would say...

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    Excellent, well documented blog. I kayaked around there many years ago and wild camped on many of the small islands. We were always amazed that each island seemed to have little freshwater pools (rain, I suppose!) with a population of newts - even the tiny islands! Time for me to get back up there - thanks for the inspiration!

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