I took up sea kayaking 12 years ago after moving to the Shetland Islands. I regularly get out to explore the coast and one of my favorite places to paddle is around St Ninian’s Isle. It’s a 3 mile trip in total and can be completed in about an hour, but I much prefer to take my time, my fishing rod and my lunch and spend several hours along this magnificent piece of coastline.
I usually set off from the north side of St Ninian’s Isle beach and head around the high headland at the north end of the isle. I then head south beneath the tall and exposed west facing cliffs to the south-west corner, often stopping or drifting in order to fish for mackerel on the way. I particularly enjoy the trip on a calm or less windy day, when the swell is minimal and I can get nearer to the base of the cliffs. On such days, it is not unusual to get close views of the local wildlife, seeing the likes of gannets, puffins, fulmars, otters, seals, porpoise and often much more.
The route then takes you through a long passage between the isle and neighbouring rock formations to the south side of the isle. This is where the coastline really breaks up with an abundance of skerries, submerged rocks and stacks of all shapes and sizes. Landlocked shingle beaches along this stretch offer excellent places to land for a break or a picnic.
Sometimes, on closer inspection, rocks shaded from the sun reveal more than the shadow cast by adjacent outcrops or overhangs. It might actually be an easily missed entrance to a sea cave.
On my last trip I found a cave which was about 40 meters deep with shingle at the inner most point. Beyond the shingle I could see faint daylight indicating another entrance. I did not dare leave the kayak to investigate further on that occasion, but will have to take rope and a torch and get out for a closer look next time.
I do a lot of Exploratory Testing in my job with Kildrummy. Exploratory Testing has direction and purpose and helps us improve our understanding of the application and find more defects. Exploring the coast in a kayak, with similar direction and purpose, is also a revealing experience… and every bit as exciting!
Kildrummy Corporation Limited