Two otters shot throughout the rocks and dived into the ocean in entrance of my board. They emerged moments afterward a close-by islet, with an inquisitive look and a mildly involved peep.
I powered the paddleboard in direction of the white seaside and, because it scuffed towards the sand, jumped into the clear waters. Pulling the board above the high-tide line, I took a deep breath. The solar was starting its fall behind the Small Isles of Muck, Eigg and Rùm, casting vibrant orange and purple mild towards the clouds. Further north, the foreboding Black Cuillins of Skye had been wrapped in swirling darkish cloud. To the east, over the water we’d simply paddled, the final of the daylight was easing up the snow-specked Knoydart and Moidart mountains.
Just off the seaside I used to be standing on, shags dipped into the water and younger, curious seals popped up, peering at us. The older seals saved their distance on the skerries, the tiny islets we’d simply paddled previous. A tent on this little, uninhabited island, accessed throughout a slim channel off the west coast of Scotland, could be our home tonight: our resort of 1,000,000 stars.
I climbed as much as the excessive level of the island, my fingers wrapped round a carved wood cup crammed with a dram of Islay whisky, and watched the solar’s dramatic remaining act. Without considering, I took my cellphone out of my pocket and tapped Instagram. “No service,” it learn. A touch of frustration briefly rose, then I turned it off. Instead, I watched the crimson clouds flip gray. We spent the night consuming, having fun with a bottle of purple and gazing on the stars. The mild splash of waves towards our island (for it felt prefer it was ours for that night time) was the lullaby.
The west coast is likely one of the finest locations within the UK to identify otters. Photograph: Alamy
In a life dominated by deadlines, updates, notifications and emails, I typically search breaks from the barrage of digital life. The hashtags I comply with on Instagram nowadays are extra #vanlife, #mountainlife, #minimalism (and no, I’m not lacking the irony of this). An easier existence is what I’m in search of, if solely I may depart my bloody iPhone alone.
Feeling fairly sure that there could be no reception in a tent on an island off the west coast of Scotland, I had jumped on the Caledonian Sleeper at Euston, sure for Fort William and a brand new two-day stand-up paddleboarding expertise known as a Digital Detox Adventure, with Wilderness SUP.
Photograph: Rachel Keenan
I fell asleep to the lights of Luton whizzing previous my window and awoke to the snow-capped summits of the Scottish Highlands. I had my breakfast because the prepare heaved as much as Corrour station, the best in Britain, earlier than descending into Fort William.
Barry Wallace, the proprietor of Wilderness SUP, greeted me with a giant smile and a hug. “Our trips are about experiencing the landscape, the culture and food of the Scottish Highlands,” he mentioned in a mellifluous Scots accent. “The slow travel of a standup paddleboard is how we access those experiences.”
Daniel heading to the water. Photograph: Rachel Keenan
We met Rachel, a pal of Barry’s and a neighborhood photographer, on a peninsula close to Arisaig (the climate and tides dictate the situation). On a earlier SUP expertise I had turn into nicely acquainted with the ocean lifetime of the Dorset coast utilizing a stable board, however at present we had been on inflatable boards. “Much more stable,” mentioned Barry.
I practised in a small tidal pool beneath the watchful eye of a heron. “Power is your friend,” Barry mentioned. On the marginally rougher sea I paddled on my knees, which felt as safe as a canoe; however after we arrived within the shelter of the islands I may stand once more, growing a rhythmic pull of the paddle.
We hopped off on a seaside plagued by spiral shells and razor clams, jumped throughout rocks like youngsters and wrote our names within the sand. I’ll have whooped.
Photograph: Rachel Keenan
“It’s like a soft reset button for the mind, body and soul,” Barry mentioned, later that night. “People arrive in a heightened state, not realizing what to anticipate. Then, after a couple of hours, you start to note the nuances of the ocean, how the wind blows, the modifications in air temperature, how the clouds transfer, the birds, the stream of nature. Even the act of paddling is meditative.
“Being close to the water brings calm to the mind. I always believe I come back better from trips like this.”
Back on dry land, we spent an evening on the cosy bunkhouse on the close by Glenuig Inn on the Sound of Arisaig. I pretended there was no wifi and loved a day wandering the bays and villages. It felt as if I’d been away for per week.
• A two-day, one-night Digital Detox SUP Adventure with Wilderness SUP prices £250pp together with wild tenting. An evening on the Glenuig Inn bunkhouse is £35pp B&B