Hebridean Adventure, Part 3
In the morning I headed back to Oban to grab the Barra ferry and rocked up at the very delightful Wavecrest campsite. Right on the beach, it promised good paddling but it was time for the bike again.
The campsite boasted showers so I treated myself - and couldn’t even get that right!
The £1 shower started as soon as the money dropped and I stupidly hadn’t even got undressed. In my haste, I plunged my hand into my wash bag and felt the blade of my eco razor slice off the top of my index finger.
Without even looking, I knew what I had done.
Blood poured everywhere.
Determined not to waste my £1 coin - I only had one - I wrapped the sliced finger in loo roll and held it up above my head which slowed the bleeding a bit, whilst I tried to shower and wash my hair in the allotted time.
This is awkward anyway, but in my eco-friendliness I was using shampoo and conditioner bars which made things even harder, trying to get the lids off the pots and I kept dropping the bars. I was sure someone would find my body sliced in half through the glass door of the shower where I’d slipped on my eco-friendly conditioner bar.
What a way to go.
The shower stopped without warning at the conditioner phase - could have been worse - and I tried to get dressed without getting blood on any of my clothes, before mopping away the blood splats on the shower floor. FFS.
Back to the car, arm in the air, I single-handedly fished out my first aid kit which had enough to patch things up for the night.
Fortunately, a diver friend of mine who knew the area well, with the assistance of Facebook, pointed out the local A&E which I could visit on my bike ride the next day.
In the morning, having spent a relatively comfy night with my arm hooked over the headrests of my car, I re-patched my finger and set off round Barra for a stunning ride. As I headed north towards Barra airport, the sea became more turquoise and sparkly, the sun tried to come out and the sands got whiter and longer.
When I say airport, it is actually a sandy strip of beach and the tiny twin props were in and out all day.
I spied a good launch spot for my kayak and continued the ride around the island, stopping off in Castlebay to chat the the local (only) friendly paramedic in his ambo, before locating the A&E. The nurse was lovely and we had a good chin wag before she stuffed all sorts of fancy finger dressings in my bag and sent me on my way. 26 miles with only one evil hill.
News travels fast on Barra. By the time I got back to the campsite, the owner and his wife enquired as to if I was the lady paramedic who had sliced her finger off - and was there anything they could do. Bless them. I expect they felt terrible but I assured them it was all my own doing and I had cleared up the mess. They couldn’t have been nicer.
Despite being on the beach, the weather wasn’t ideal on the west side of the island the following day, so I drove my kayak up to the launching spot I had found and with a bit of effort, got myself and boat down to the beach. The tide was going out which made for a bit of shuffling to find deeper water. I was just getting afloat when a twin prop zoomed right over my head - right at the point I noticed a sign saying: “Stay off the beach when the wind sock is flying and the airport is active”. Oops.
I made a hasty exit across the bay and imagined the pilot shaking his fist at me.
I had a cracking 11 mile paddle and the white sand made the colour of the water just unreal. It could have been Greece were it not for the 8 degree water temperature.
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.