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Sea Kayaking: The Shetland Isles

Posted on Aug 27, 2012 by Myles Farnbank

Led by our Head Guide, Myles Farnbank, we recently piloted a very unique and exclusive sea kayaking trip to The Shetland Isles.  By invite-only, a selection of our previous sea kayaking clients, with the skills and experience to enjoy paddling in these wild islands, were approached and invited to join us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Myles rates sea kayaking in Shetland as some of the best wilderness paddling, and reported this particular trip as one of the best places he has ever paddled – and having paddled in remote locations the world over, you can believe this statement not one to have been made lightly!

The six-day trip ran a flexible itinerary with the potential for wild camping or to return to comfortable accommodation each evening, depending on the weather – allowing the paddlers the freedom to explore further and take advantage of good conditions.  As luck would have it, the weather pattern followed that of what we have experienced for most of the summer in the Highlands and Islands, and our group of four select sea kayakers were treated to a spell of exceptional calm, which Myles described as; “…very untypical.”

Highlights from the Trip:

  • The Broch, Mousa – it wasn’t all about paddling, the group were keen on a bit of culture as well.  The Broch settlement at Mousa is one of the most intact, and finest examples of Iron Age settlements in the UK and Europe.  Thought to have been constructed circa. 100BC, it has been uninhabited since the 19th century and could potentially be named as a UNESCO World Heritage Programme site in the near future.  The site is also home to the world’s largest colony of storm petrels.
  • Boardie Tunnel, Papa Stour – at 400m long, the Boardie Tunnel  is allegedly the fourth biggest subterranean marine passage in the world.  It is extremely rare to get conditions good enough to pass through it – Myles has tried it twice previously, but it was a first attempt for all the clients – although more than a little nervous, they all loved it!
  • Lyra Skerry, off Papa Stour – the group paddled through the enormous stack that is the Lyra Skerry with four knots of tide tunnel through the passage – like river kayaking, in a cave!
  • Christie’s Hole, west of Papa Stour – one of the most spectacular caves in Europe.

Myles said; “Shetland had everything and is a world class sea kayak destination.  I’ve paddled in a lot of places, and the cliffs and caves here are the best I’ve ever seen.”

The group also paddled the Eshaness coast including the huge arch of Door Holm, South Havra, St. Ninians Isle, Mousa, and Papa Stour – an amazing trip of an extraordinary variety of caves, stacks, arches, blowholes and cliffs, not to mention the diverse population of wildlife.

Although Sea Kayaking in The Shetland Isles isn’t available to book just yet, we hope that following such a successful and enjoyable pilot trip it will be available for everyone with the necessary experience to enjoy in the not-too-distant future.

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