When I was younger a friend and I walked from Cape Wrath to Ullapool over about two weeks. My pack weighed 12kg and my companion’s about 18kg. Even then our tent was a tiny “pea-pod”. On wet days we would take off our clothes put them in a bin bag and crawl into the tent trying not to touch the sides as we got into our sleeping bags. Our damp clothes would be waiting for us in the morning. The midges were sometimes unbearable – we had never heard of midge nets – and we wouldn’t want to stop to put up the tent in case we got ravaged! Nevertheless, it was a truly fantastic trip. We had some glorious weather at Sandwood bay, the puffins were nearly close enough to touch on the cliffs at Cape Wrath and we climbed Quinag and later Suilven in our t-shirts swimming in a lochan on the way down. Being out in the wilderness with only ourselves to rely on is the kind of adventure that is hard to beat. We were lucky that things mostly went according to plan. A few unanticipated blisters and some weather that made us not want to get out of the tent. But it was mid summer, almost permanent day light and we weren’t really in a hurry. We had two utterly luxurious B and B nights at Kylesku and Elphin where I still remember the taste of the broccoli we had at dinner. Days on dried food, digestive biscuits and primula spread was probably the hardest part for me.
Could I do that now? I very much doubt it. I’ve become softer in my 50s; I’m still fit enough to climb a hill but carrying a heavy pack is probably beyond me. But anyway now I have discovered sailing boats- you know the ones that you can sleep, eat and shower in!
Sailing, like mountaineering takes you to fabulous remote places in a way that respects the environment. You have to rely on your skill, technique and judgement to get you there safely. It can be exhilarating and challenging and you have only yourself, your experience and your companions to rely on. At other times it can be entirely benign, and you float about on the sea watching the birds fly by, spotting wildlife and lazing in the sunshine.
Photography Credit: Fraser Mackie
For me – and its why I am a complete convert despite my mountaineering roots – one of the joys of sailing is that the minute you sail into a sheltered bay, your sails are stowed and your anchor is down, you can relax. You don’t need to find your bothy or pitch your tent or walk that extra mile or two to your bed and breakfast. You can change, have a shower, sit in the saloon or the deckhouse planning the next day’s adventure. On a big 20 metre boat like Provident, there is heating and a modern galley from which tasty fresh food is prepared. Everyone has their own bunk in a twin cabin – much bigger than a mountain tent! I like to call it adventure in comfort.
On our trips with Mike Pescod and his team at Abacus Mountaineering we use our beautiful traditional ex-sailing trawler Provident to get us close to some of the more inaccessible mountains. We have a few mountains in our sights, especially those on the Knoydart peninsula - Sgurr na Ciche, Beinn Sgritheall, Ladhar Bheinn and Askival & the Rum Cuillin to name but a few. The weather and the tides will have a big say in which ones we choose – we don’t use the engine on Provident unless we have to.
Photography Credit: Mike Pescod
Its not all about the high mountains either. Our trips with Antje and the guides at Walk Wild Scotland involve journeys through the hills and along the coasts. Provident can drop you off in one bay and be waiting for you in another. What about Kilmory Glen on Rum or Glen Batrick on Jura? Or we can sail into Loch Scavaig, go ashore and walk round the iconic fresh water, Loch Coruisk in the heart of the Skye Cullin – only accessible by boat or a long, and some would say treacherous, walk in!
Photography Credit: Antje Peters
Steve and I love to take people sailing and immerse ourselves in the beautiful Scottish wilderness. Approaching the mountains and islands from the sea is a very special treat. We chose Provident because we think she is the perfect boat for adventuring in. Come with us and see if you agree!
View a short Provident Sailing video here.
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