Skirza Head

Today again a suprise. One of the nicest paddles for a long time the weather and the scenery was amazing. Another contrasting day where fear was quashed and depressing expectations were over done with sheer beauty and suprise.
There was a late start to the day but we managed to get some good miles in the short space of time.
Lidl was the first port of call and I stocked up on rations and ate a healthy breakfast.
We left Scrabster harbour and paddled out to Dunnet Head. Our most northerly pass of a lighthouse. Orkney is just a small paddle from here and as a child I would look out to it on the way there thinking about paddling to it. Well maybe another day. The chat we had in the morning with a local fisherman revealed some good information and we followed his advice. Dunnet Head business as usual with the usual birds diving when we get close to them. Amazing cute things.
I can’t believe how calm the water was. This was another feared moment for me but there wasn’t a wave in sight. It was amazing and the Men of Mey were there. Paddling inbetween one of them, a funny moment was had where a Seal had flopped into the water headfirst but faceplanted as the water washed back. Sorry little fella. The car ferry came along and we had to put on some speed getting away. The Island of Stroma was there with its uninhabited dwellings another return to paddle perhaps. We landed at John O Groats where Duncans auntie lived. She runs the ferry and invited us in for food and a massive dram of whisky.
With bellies full we left to paddle around  Duncansby Head the furthest north east and turned south.
What a moment. Paddling from lands End to John o Groats, a big turn south the top had been done and paddling from the North Atlantic into the North Sea. Wow. Feelings, thoughts, sights and sounds all tumbling about like clothes in a machine.
This next piece of coast is quite simply stunning for a sea kayaker, stacks and caves, beautiful geology and an abundance of wildlife. There was such an abundance of birds in flight and floating. The stench of guano thick and fresh, staining the rocks and ledges. Guillemots lined up like porters dressed in brown suits. It was amazing. The stacks were surrounded with water and I took pleasure in paddling around. One arch opening up, roofless and a boulder beach behind with several entrances and exits, like a small maze. Our laughing breaking the bird cries. What a hidden gem.
This wasn’t a couple of places to explore, there were so many, a whole day could be spent exploring them. Just take a torch though.
We carried on till late to make up for the late start and pulled up at a small pier and slipway. A good place to launch across the bay.


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