Monday, 11 October 2010

St Ninian's; a family kayak

Up bright and early today and so was the sun. It was far too nice to hang around the house, so with light winds and calm seas the decision was really where to go...

Hoping to make the most of the conditions we decided to go for a kayak around St Ninian's Isle; the coast held great promise.

Arriving at the beach at Ireland near Bigton

Looking south to Bigton and St Ninian's tombolo

We set off directly west to St. Ninian's before turning north into a light breeze and low gentle swell as we passed along the steep craggy coast towards the tip of the island at Loose Head and began heading south towards Hick Holm.

Loose Head

Hick Holm with Fitful Head in the distance

Heading south was great with a light wind and following sea. The coastline is impressive but it get's really interesing once you've passed Hick Holm. We continued on to Sweyn Holm at the south west tip of the island and entered a land of stack and caves.

Turning towards Sweyn Holm and going through the channel

We had a spot of lunch on the first bit of beach we came to and then set off again to explore the area. The kayak nearly setting off with out us as the tide pushed in.

High Herbi Clett

Colsay and Fitful Head in the distance

Here's a selection of some caves and features we came across...


We made our way back north towards the tombolo that joins St Ninian's to the island and were greated by a couple of passing families from up on the island.

Time for a peerie portage

Beren seemed to think he could paddle across the sand bar

Luckily for him we dragged him and then just had the last 1km paddle back to the car. A quick change and load up then time to sit in the sun with our well earned treats outside Bigton general store and a few quick chats about our adventure.

On the way back we decided to visit Maywick, a small settlement and beach just north of Bigton. It was lovely there with a great view looking back north towards Burra and the Clift Hills.

Here's South Havra, an island with a disused windmill, visible. We hope to kayak there and camp at some point. Probably launching from Maywick.

Beren had fun on the beach and then slept most of the way home, lucky him!


  1. Brilliant post Kev.
    I did a lot of fishing in the waters from St Ninian's Isle and South to Fitful, in my younger days. So I remember a lot of that scenery well. Although I never got as far north as the Loose Head.
    Hich Holm was used for many 'meads' (bearings to fishing marks), often using the windmill on Havra for alignment.

    Another trip you might like to consider is around Colsay, from the beach of Spiggie. Start west along the north side of Fora Ness, then head north to the south side of Colsay, and the Black Skerry. If the weather is nice you can go around the outside of Colsay, or if it's not so nice just go along the inside of the island, then east to Northern Ness and south to Spiggie again. I've rowed that route many times and some of the cliffs are beautiful.

  2. Cheers

    Sounds like I might need to be picking your brains.

    We were tempted to go down to Colsay from St Ninians's but with Beren in the kayak we need to limit the time to stop him getting cold as he's just sat there.

    We were going to camp on Havra today but I'm just too tired today for the hassle of it.

    Hoping to get out on my shared sailing dinghy this weekend...

  3. I'd be glad to give any advice I can. I know most of the sea areas around the south mainland, from Cunningsburgh around to St Ninian's, and know most of the areas which should be avoided due to tidal conditions. I've played around in most of them with a 14ft speedboat, and the fact I'm still alive means I learned a little from those who knew a lot more than me. :)