Choosing what to pack on expeditions can be tricky, often limited by space and weight, meaning the things you take must be multi-purpose. This has never been so much the case than on my recent trip to the Outer Hebrides. The islands are off the west coast of northern Scotland and a five hour ferry from the town of Oban. The chain of islands extends for 210 km, most of them being uninhabited. Our target was to sea kayak around the southern tip and base ourselves on the islands to do some multi-pitch sea cliff climbing. With a perfect weather window, the trip was a total success. The highlights being paddling in the 3m gap formed between the mainland and Liànamuil island in an exciting swell, a four way arch, multi-pitch abseiling and seeing lots of cool wildlife including puffins, seals, eagles and basking sharks.
The front hatches of our sea boats were filled with climbing gear leaving limited space for seven days’ worth of food, something to sleep in and on, and some spare clothes. The only shoes I had were my Palm Gradients and were used with great comfort to paddle over 30 km twice in consecutive days and on other days walk and scramble across the islands accessing the crags. I was so impressed with these in the mountainous terrain that I plan to use them again next time I head into the hills at home in North Wales. Their grip, support and comfort over long distances is as good as any mountain boot.
My Oceana jacket was comfortable over the long paddling distances, a pleasure to use but also kept the wind off me whilst cooking dinner at base camp on the cooler evenings, again multi-purpose as it was the only windproof (and waterproof) layer I had taken with me.
I can’t describe the extent to which I enjoy overnighting from a kayak. It’s hard to do within the UK in a white water context, but we have one of the best coastlines in the world so why not enjoy it!
A resident of Llangollen, but a citizen of the world, Chris’s understated, humble persona hides an ambitious adventurer who lives for exploration. Whilst maintaining his reputation as one of the UK’s leading kayaking coaches, Chris is constantly planning and scheming away, thinking up that next trip.