Over the week of 18-22 May 2015, 5 Military Intelligence Battalion spent a week in the far north west of Scotland, based out of the MOD Adventure Training Lodge at Dundonnel.
On Wednesday 20 May, the group was afforded the opportunity to go Sea Kayaking near Lochinver, courtesy of a financial grant made by the Ulysses Trust.
The group used a local firm called Norwest Sea Kayaking, and we were taken on a wee journey around the islands and inlets near Culkein Drumbeg. Culkein Drumbeg is an extremely remote location, which takes over an hour to reach from Ullapool, down a single track road. On reaching the jetty, you think you are totally in the middle of nowhere. The nearby village is no more than a collection of cottages huddled on the lea slope out of the worst of the Atlantic weather, but very picturesque none the less.
Once the instructor arrived, all were kitted out with the very latest sea kayaks, waterproof coveralls and buoyancy aids. We then launched into the relatively calm waters, and spent time getting used to the boats. The area was very tidal, and we therefore went into various inlets that were still full of water before the tide flowed away. During the journey the group saw dozens of Common Seals, which swam along side the canoes, inquisitively toying with the group. It was quite extraordinary to see so many seals up close, a special moment.
The group took lunch on a white sandy beach, which was extraordinarily beautiful. As the sun came out, it felt there must be no better place in the world, than North West Scotland. The instructor took out his Kelly kettle, and much to our amazement managed to get a brew on for the whole group, simply using a few strands of heather. Allied to the rocky road cake on offer, this was a wee feast, prior to getting back into the kayaks for the afternoon session.
After a little more exploring, the instructor then showed us some skills. This involved how to turn more effectively and rapidly. Since the technique involved leaning over to one side, inevitable several of the group capsized. To conclude, we played a game of sea kayak water polo which turned out to be rather more difficult than we had imagined, especially since we had not yet mastered turning the boats on the spot.
Back on dry land, we said thanks to the instructor, and then went back to Dundonnel via Lochiner, stopping off at a café for some well deserved home made pies (a local speciality).
Many thanks to the Ulysses Trust for help paying for this amazing experience.