There is a small island group known as St Kilda perched precariously in the Atlantic ocean, and located about 70 km west of Harris in the Outer Hebrides - Scotland.
Famous for its towering cliffs, giant waves, and huge bird colonies, and fabled for humans who managed to survive on this rocky outpost of the UK for 2000 years mainly living off a diet of seabirds and their eggs for food.
This year I was lucky enough to help lead an expedition out to St Kilda, which has to be one of the most spectacular places I’ve paddled yet.
Our vessel to take us to the world heritage site of St Kilda was a tall ship named ‘Lady of Avenel’, which is a 100 ft long brigantine square-rigged ship, with all the comforts you could want.
The morning of our departure to St Kilda we set off early from the isle of Barra which is located near the southern end of the outer Hebrides, on an uncharacteristically calm and windless ocean.
The mist was thick and when dolphins appeared on the bow wake it seemed to break t...
Five years ago I first came to Barra in the outer Hebrides in Scotland to guide for clear water paddling, a summer that tested my kayaking and leadership skills further than I had been pushed before, now I'm heading back.
Barra and the surrounding islands are a true adventure playground and I'm pretty excited to be once again kayaking in one of the most stunning areas I have ever paddled.
I have so many memories from the last season here, and it's really only the pictures and the videos I took that can explain why it was such a memorable summer.
So here we go for round two, let the adventures begin!
Check out the video section to see one of my best trips I filmed from Barra to Mingulay.
The sunny side of life - a kayak guides perspective.
Many have heard of New Zealand's Able Tasman national park, and for good reason.
It’s a place where seals bathe in almost constant sunshine, lagoons that are so clear kayaks seem to levitate as if held under its own magic spell.
Sting rays boldly cruise around feeding on the incoming streams of tide, and with native bush as vibrant as you will find anywhere in New Zealand, it truely is a proper kiwi treasure.
Uniquely located in arguably New Zealand’s sunniest corner, the Tasman area is safely protected from the wet low pressure systems that batter the west coast, and far enough away from the wind funnelling effect of the cook straights.
This creates a very sunny, warm and dry climate, with light winds and moderate sea breezes.
It also has beautiful beaches in almost every bay and half a dozen wonderful tidal lagoons. So although the Able Tasman national park is New Zealand’s smallest, it is easy to see why it’s one of the most vi...
Before I visited Sweden I imagined a land where everything was very well ordered and organised, the people beautiful and well styled and where the landscape was lush and green.
What I found was that everything was true apart from the lush and green bit, as I had hit the hottest and driest summer on record.
I arrived in mid June for the summer season in to work as a kayak guide for Nautopp kayak centre in Grebbestad, which seamed to be the hub of the local kayaking scene.
It seamed that every house in the area had some kind of sea fairing vessel to take advantage the picaresque and amazingly accessible archipelago that runs the entire length of the west Swedish coastline, an archipelago
which makes the Bohuslän coastline one of the best paddling locations I have visited.
Bohuslän is the name of the province which runs from the boarder of Norway to Gothenburg and almost as far inland as the midpoint of Sweden between Gothenburg and Stockholm Sweden’s capital located on the east coast. Its th...
Lobsters and blueberries are some of Nova Scotia’s best known exports outside of the world of sea kayaking, inside the world of sea kayaking Nova Scotia is best known for massive tide races in the bay of Fundy, fog, and some excellent craft beers.
Ok so these days there are plenty of places you can sink a well crafted beer after a days padding, but the fog and tides in this area are significant.
Nova Scotia is a peninsular of Canada on the east coast, a sort of anvil shaped place with Cape Breton being an island separated by a small finger of water joined by a causeway bridge at Port Hastings.
As the Europeans started settling this area they bought with them many of the place names, I guess to remind them of home and while Nova Scotia has a Truro, Halifax, New Glasgow, Liverpool and even Sydney, little could remind you of these places other than the place names themselves.
Its coastline is 7500km long and lies in what is called the ‘mid-temperate zone’ or to most people pretty dam cold zo...
Croatia is divided into 4 cultural regions, and Dalmatia has the lions share of the coastline.
The Dalmation coast which is the area where hundreds of islands dot the fragmented coastline making it the most indented coastline in the Mediterranean. It was formed by rising sea levels rising almost 100 meters after the last ice age, turning mountains into islands and valleys into channels full of sea life.
The history of Dalmatia is rich, the name “Dalmatia’ derives from an Illyrian tribe called the ‘Dalmate’, and you don't need to look far to see evidence of human activity in the area stretching right the way back to these early setters from the bronze age.
Tombs can be seen on mountain tops when the sea was many meters lower, conveniently now just a short hike above sea level!
Its also been ruled by the Romans, and many of the spectacular buildings in Zadar, Spilt and Dubrovnik are Roman.
Croats arrived in the 8th century, mixing with the existing Romans, and during the middle ages cities w...
Skin on frame is where sea kayaking first was conceived around 4000 years ago, when early semi nomadic people from various parts of the north northern hemisphere were using this deceptively simply hunting vessel to live.
The kayak was not simply a boat but a lifeline to their main food source, consisting almost exclusively of fish and seals, it was also used as transport following the changing seasonal patterns.
Today however we don't eat many seals and we have fishing trawlers far too efficiently hoovering up sea life to decorate our plates, so in a modern world what is the relevance of skin on frame now?
Anders Thygesen is a man who feels skin on frame does have a place in the modern kayaking, in fact lessons the whole world could benefit from.
He so believes in the relevance of traditional kayak design, that it was a traditional Aleut baidarka that he chose to paddle a the coast of Norway.
I caught up with Anders to find out a bit more about all things skin deep.
The Lofotens islands in the far north of Norway are inside the artic circle, a place where in summer the sun never sets and days simply blend into a hazy season of sunlight of many shades, and in winter the black sky illuminated by endless stars and the spectacular aurora borealis dancing over the horizon funnelling the solar winds.
Mountains are big and sky's and seas seam bigger still, these are the reasons the Lofted islands are often talked about amongst us sea kayakers, a place where remote islands offer both challenges and rewards in equal measure.
Its difficult to imagine a more evocative and inspiring landscape to put the art of paddling into practice, but how often are these much talked about islands actually paddled? And more importantly what is it actually like to paddle there?
Last year Jerry Webb returned to the Lofotens with a group of sea kayaking friends looking for adventure, I decided to ask Jerry if the Lofotens lived up to their spectacular reputation.