To begin this journey, I aimed for perhaps the hardest of them all, Stac Mhic Aonghais. ‘Stac Angus’ is a sharp rocky outcrop, jutting from the sea like the spine of a giant mythical beast. It’s western side, a 30m high cliff, rises directly from the waves. There is no grass or green on top, except for the odd algae filled tidal pool. A legend was born here too, which is how the island reportedly gained its name. A young lad named Angus was rowed and imprisoned here, left for three days as punishment. When his captors came to find him, they discovered he had gone!
Landing upon the rock, they searched to no avail. But then, from a crack, Angus leapt, stealing their boat and rowing north 40km to Stoer Head Lighthouse and to freedom. A tall tale perhaps, but there seems to be at least some slices of truth amongst local consensus.
The day I headed for the Stac I left late from the beach, paddling hard to beat the fading light and hoping I could find an easy landing. This journey was solo and in a fibre glass kayak - my greatest concern was extracting the kayak on the steep rock slabs.
Reaching the island with just 40 minutes of light left, I paddled around searching for a sheltered spot to step ashore and scramble upward. A tiny ledge covered in barnacles was good enough. With a heave, I pulled the kayak, kit still inside, onto my shoulders and slowly, carefully, scrambled up the slab. Each step felt at the very edge of my rubber boots’ friction.