The Islay Challenge
The Islay Challenge

On the 20th of April, 3 Irish Outdoor Adventure Students from Coláiste Dhulaigh in Dublin will attempt to circumnavigate the Island of Islay (pronounced eye-lah). Known to most sea kayakers as one of the most challenging sea paddles on the west Scottish coast, the trip will consist of strong tidal flows, possible fog banks, exposed cliff sections and unhindered swell rolling in from the north Atlantic. It will be the team's most adventurous journey to date.

Eanna Ryan Trip leader said 'We are planning to set off from the southern "port Ellen". From here we will work our way around the Mull of Oa and then the Rhinns of Islay. It is on these legs that we will face the strongest tides and most exposed weather from the North Atlantic.

We are carrying all necessary equipment with us including food and water. We will be using kayaks kindly donated to us by P and H sea kayaks. We wanted to have the right gear so it would be one less variable to have to worry about on a challenge such as this one.

The team pack their boats on a training session on Carlingford Lough.

We have been planning the trip since October; many nights have been spent huddled over tidal charts, and on training paddles with some very knowledgeable sea kayakers. We have trained on the east and west coast of Ireland, testing ourselves on mini trips to get ready for Islay. We have encountered obstacles along the planning process, be it "temperamental" homemade rudder systems, holes in pots, and who's bringing the shovel? While this was the case, we have enjoyed most of it!

Why Islay? When we saw the beautiful waters off the coast and the sheer ruggedness of the landscape, it was hard to look at different locations. Being closer than islands much further North, it was more accessible to us as a group. The island harbours a hospital and an airstrip; it seemed that if we were going to get into difficulty, that at least it would be one of the better locations for it to happen.

We decided to take on this trip as part of our college course in Dublin but It has come so much further now. We had the opportunity to do something more than just a trip and we decided that we could integrate some fundraising. The mini-marathon runners could do it, so we thought we could do it too. We are raising money for the Irish cancer society, an organisation that helps with awareness, research and helping those affected by cancer. We have a website set up for those willing to donate. All proceeds will go to the Irish Cancer Society.

We believe that this trip will be the trip of a lifetime, and that we can do some good along the way.

The Islay Challenge Team.

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