I've only been to Mallaig a couple of times and it was brief both times too. When we decided to head back up to Scotland for 2 weeks of annual leave adventures, Mallaig was high on both of our lists. We booked a gorgeous cabin, tucked just behind the sand dunes for a week. Knowing the weather could be so changeable in late October, a week gave us flexility to hunker down if we needed to as well as get out and explore on days weather would hopefully allow.
We'd driven up from Kent and spent the weekend with Mark's family celebrating his birthday. This included jaw-droppingly beautiful beach walks on the silvery sands at Arisaig and Camusdarach Beach in the afternoon and through to sunset. I mean, if we weren't in big coats it would be hard to work out if we were in the UK or the Caribbean with coastline like this.
The next day everyone hit the road home...
It was just the two of us for the rest of our trip. I'd been following Western Isle Cruises on insta and they'd had some Minke Whale sightings on their wildlife experience. So we hopped onto the boat and headed out onto the sea across the mouth of Loch Nevis. In the distance I could see so many seabirds. A sure sign there is fish about and likely marine mammals too! Within a few moments, a minke surfaced and the gulls took off, seals were darting around in the chaos too! We watched the minke surface a few more times before heading back into Mallaig. A short one hour tour that was absolutely brilliant and I'd totally recommend - more info here!
With the sea looking mirror like, we darted back to our cabin.
We loaded up with all of our paddle board stuff and set off down to get in at Traig Beach. We paddled south and paused on a couple of the beaches to soak in the view and tuck into our cups of tea and biscuits ferried along in a dry bag. I'd was loaded with my underwater camera, drone and new GoPro to capture some images on the move too. I didn't take any images underwater on this trip. I was too blown away by the scenes above water and as we were paddling quite a distance, we didn't want to get wet and feel cold for the paddle back.
The GoPro is an awesome bit of kit. I've got the Hero11 and it was so lush to capture some images on the move while we were paddling in landscapes like this! When we came to shore, I used the FujiFilm XT2 that I have in my underwater housing, which is a great little camera. I love the tones that it captures!
Our absolute favourite moment was finding an island.
As we turned a corner, we realised that it had a white sand beach on it! We paused here and spent some time exploring all of the rock pools and letting our gaze capture the view. I so wish we had landscapes like this to paddle around down south. They are just so amazing. You really feel like you're paddling on a massive adventure!
We got back to shore for sunset and while we were unpacking at dusk, we both realised the sky was completely clear and that the moon wouldn't rise until nearly midnight. We got showered, fed and watered and packed up blankets, all the layers, fire wood and headed a few moments down the road back to the beach we had paddled from earlier in the day. It was SO dark, the sky felt heavy with stars. The Milky Way banding across the while sky, like a cosmic rainbow, the longer you looked the more you could see, making out dust lanes within it! We decided not to light a fire as we didn't want to lose the darkness we were in that was showing us so much of the night sky.
And then an alert dropped on my phone, the aurora substorm had started. Whhhaaaaa-eeeeeek!! I started to shoot north and sure enough that familiar glow was showing on camera. I realised I could see the glow very gently above the horizon. Then, in a moment where we both shrieked, a ray pushed out from the glow, flicking up into the sky. This was the first time I'd truly seen the aurora with my eye in the UK! It was such a lush moment. The low tide turning and the shallow bay starting to fill with water again. We headed home for the night, hearts full and finding it hard to compute all that had happened in one day!
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