Hebridean Adventure, Part 1
It’s pretty shameful that, for someone who loves the great outdoors, I’ve been travelling to Scotland and back home again since 2017 without setting foot outside the hotels, harbours and airports.
Covid-19 forced many of us from the south west to ditch the 1 hour flight and take on the long haul to Aberdeen by road.
During one, long stint at sea I made an impulsive ebay purchase of two sea kayaks. Plus some blades and spray decks - and some roof bars…
You see, my kayak marathon days were long over. In 2009, whilst training for a sub 24 hour Devizes Westminster race over 125 miles, I wrecked my lower back and had two bulging discs in my spine. It almost cost me my career and halted a lot of heavy physical exercise for almost a decade. Cave diving apart, of course…
So, I sold all of my racing boats and never got into a kayak again apart from the odd splash on holiday.
Training for the Devizes Westminster 125 mile marathon in 2007-09
I’d been losing a tonne of weight and doing lots of cycling and my back was holding up. I took the plunge and spent weeks offshore planning my next adventure.
I had hoped a friend could join me but her van wasn’t ready. My car-come-camper Agnetha the spacetourer was all kitted out and ready to go. I set off to the outer Hebrides with promises of white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and seals and basking sharks a plenty.
If Covid-19 has taught us anything it is that life is too short - and we only get one go at it. I decided not to waste a moment and headed down to Somerset, picked up my kayak and the mountain of Amazon purchases to go with it, did a quick cycling sportive (Great Weston Ride) and drove straight back up to Scotland.
To the amusement of my work colleagues, I had quite an itinerary! It was necessary to maximise how much I could see and do and juggle the ferry times and crossings.
My first stop was Oban where I stayed in a lovely B&B called Dana Villa and I found a great little place, Puffin divers, who not only let me park by the waters edge and launch my boat but took a lot of time and good humour to recommend a good paddle.
I did a lap of the island Kerrera which was about 13 miles and I hadn’t been on the water long before I was surrounded by seals!
I just about had enough time to finish my paddle, get the kayak back on the roof and head down to Oban to catch the evening ferry to Mull.
Paddling around Karrera
About the Author
Christine Grosart is a Paramedic, working offshore mainly on diving vessels.
She started beach cleans around 2011 and has gone on to be a trustee, secretary, instructor and underwater photographer for the charity Ghost Fishing UK.
She wrote the first training course for scuba divers to remove lost ghost nets, in the world.
In 2009 she visited the far reaches of Wookey Hole cave and still holds the British female cave diving depth record.
In 2020 she became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society for her work with Ghost Fishing UK as well as her cave diving exploration. In the same year she was included in the BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour Power List.