Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Kerrera to Oban

My first island crossing was not planned at all.
When swimming I like to have somekind of a finish line. That's not possible in the pool, but outdoors. Of course I do like the quick dips and splashes whenever there is the oppurtunity! When you read my blog more often, you will know, that it is not about the longest swim or other superlatives. It is about spotting a nice place and going into the water.

I also like the feeling of going somewhere, even if "going" means "swimming".To swim across where other people need to walk around, is special to me. Standing at a river or at a loch I always ask my self "how far is it to the other side? is it possible?".
And that is what happend when I was standing in Oban and looked over to the small island. I hadn't planned anything. It was just a holiday with friends. I had been in some lochs along the way and was quite content with my swims and I thought I had had enough water for the holiday...
We arrived in Oban to have three relaxing days with cafes, bookshops, fresh fish and pubs. The first day my friends and I walked along the promenade and I pointed towards Kerrera, saying "you know, it is not that far... ".
They started shaking their heads before I had seriously thought about it! So I forgot about it - for the evening...
Our hostel was next to the promenade and I could see the small island from the breakfast table. The whole day I kept looking towards Kerrera. In the evening over pub dinner, I made the decision to do the swim. I think a pub is always a good place to make plans :-) 

The next day I drove with one of my friends to the small ferry landing stage. Here I changed into my wetsuit and a red swimming hat. I took excatly 2 Pound 50 change and walked barefoot to the ferry. The ferryman grinned at me when I said "one way only please".

When swimming outdoors it is important to talk to local people to get special tips or learn about risks in the water. You can argue, that talking to the ferryman is a bit late and you are right.
Nevertheless I was lucky to meet Ian the ferryman and ask him about the crossing. He normally works on the big calmac ferries and was just helping out for the day. More interesting than that was, that Ian is a lifeguard and took part in the anual Kerrara to Oban swimming event. I am looking Forward to go back and do that swim event, too!

Ian told me, that you would normally need a safety kayak to accompany the swimmer. Big ferrys enter the Sound of Kerrare from both sides on their way to the Oban harbour. It is essential to know the schedule. I was lucky, that Ian told me, if I really wanted to do the swim, he would watch out for me. Of course I took that offer and we agreed on some signs.
I went into the water next to the ferry and started swimming. The waves were only about 20 centimters high, but that is high enough, that you can't see the other side all the time. The water was salty and felt rough and I felt adventurous! There was a small current, only strong enough to drift me slightly to the north. I was happy when I reached a point which I estimated was halfway. That is the point, where turning around doesn't make sense anymore. Also I saw Ian casting off. In the water the sound of Kerrera looked bigger and I was happy, that someone with a boat was watching out for me. It was a 800m swim to the other side. Ian passed with the ferry in a wide arch around me and landed well before I came towards the shore.

The last third of the swim was the part I injoyed most. I could see the shore, could see that I would get there without any problems and so I took the time to injoy the feeling of being in the water and finishing an adventure.
Ian and my friend Alex were there to great me. I was extremly proud to climb out of the water as a Kerrera to Oban finisher!

Afterwards we met the rest of the group for a hot choclate in a very very nice cafe. We were lucky and could sit down in the big comfy sofas looking out over the Sound of Kerrera...

You never regret a swim!

A pub to make plans and a hostel with a view:
The place to have your after swim hot choclate:

Best fresh mussels:
Next to the ferry terminal there is a small hut, very busy with People coming off the Ferry. For a reason! Great mussels!

A very nice dinner:

1 comment :

  1. Hi Anne,
    I have the trip to Oban in good memory and next time will I join you on the trip to Kerrera and a swim back. :)



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