The unplanned and unexpected trips are often the most fun in my experience. This was certainly the case for my first paddle boarding and bothy adventure.
A last minute plan was hastily thrown together which involved being packed and ready early in the morning! Mornings are not my strong point, either is decison making. So deciding what to pack often becomes a mammoth task, despite having packed for plenty of trips before.
Bags packed, phone batteries charged, wetsuits dry and fuel in the car, it was time to undertake the drive north.
We arrived at our destination and with wetsuits and warm clothes donned, we grabbed the paddle boards and we were on our way (this sounds like it only took minutes, when in reality, there was lots of running around, changing, pumping up paddle boards, removing kit we didn't need, adding in kit we might and generally lots of procrastination). However the water was idylic and everyone was keen to get going.
I had no idea where we were going. All I knew was that we were headed for a unknown bothy, one which prides itself on its secrecy.
As soon as I got onto the water, the early start, the indecisiveness and the cold all but disappear into a distant memory. I swear I can actually feel the stresses of everyday life and work just fade away when I’m on a trip.
The water was so calm and mirror like which made it easy to glide through and take in the views. After a short 4k paddle we turned a corner and hidden on a rocky outcrop was our home for the night. Even from the shoreline it looked tiny, but absolutely perfect.
We dragged our boards out of the water and humphed our kit up a short scramble, assisted by a thoughtfully placed piece of rope, to be met by the most spectacular view of our home for the night.
Our bothy was perched on an amazing viewpoint, framed perfectly by a smattering of trees, with the most stunning vistas back over the water. The view from inside the bothy did not disappoint either. A large window taking up the majority of the front wall meant we had a great vantage point as the snow swept over the outlying peninsula, before landing firmly on the doorstep of our bothy.
With the door ajar, the snow blasted in, as the sky and sea turned a moody kind of blue. Thankfully we had brought plenty of kindling and wood and so we lit the fire and soon our bothy turned into a cosy little haven.
As the saying goes, "if you dont like the weather in Scotland, then wait 10 minutes and it will change". Well, it couldnt have been more accurate for this trip. Within minutes of the snow storm passing it turned into the most gorgous evening, just in time for sunset.
With the fire lit, kit unpacked and the feeling coming back into our hands, it was time to take in the views.
A lonely paddle board went back and forth across the bay as the weather swept in behind before clearing to give the most incredible light. It was the perfect backdrop for some more photos and to share some stories...
Sunset watched, paddle boards stowed away from the impending winds and the fire topped up meant it was time to relax and enjoy a wee cup of tea to keep the chill at bay.
Dinner was an interesting array of delicacies, from coq au vin, dehydrated food, chilli and the classic - Kraft Cheesy pasta, which for some reason tasted even better from my trusty Jetboil.
Time passes so quickly on these trips and before you know it, it’s nearly time for bed. But not before we all stepped out the cosy confines of the bothy to look up at the stars. Despite growing up in Shetland and seeing clear starry skies most of the time, it still always amazes me when you look up at a clear sky in Scotland and see what seems like every single star in the sky. It really is breathtaking and you almost forget the bitter cold while you stand in awe looking up.
Finally it was time to blow up the sleeping mats, unfurl the sleeping bags and throw another log on the fire before we all settled down for the night.
Safe to say I slept like a baby, and our home for the night was still remarkably cosy in the morning with the wind howling around us.
Quick cups of tea made, kit packed up and bothy cleaned it was time to head out onto the choppy sea and make our way home.
The conditions were totally different to the previous day and we were all glad when our destination came into view.
Paddle boards quickly packed up, heating on in the cars and it was time to head home.
Sometimes it can be tempting to sit on the couch if you’ve no plans, but actually making the last minute decision to do something can be more rewarding and less stressful. You have no time to overthink the weather or what to pack, and the experience if nothing else is always worth it.
It may have only been 24 hours, but what it lacked in time it made up for in memories.