Best weather of the year at Strathy beach
Saturday morning. Eager folk gather at the Mill to get ready for a surf weekend. Two Iains, John, Ross and George set off by car and a trailer loaded with surf kayaks. The plan is to meet Alice and Norman at Melvich bay. Although the surf forecast appeared to be tame, with an average swell in and around Thurso’s bays, enthusiasm and spirit were not affected. Surf conditions were to improve and the weather forecast promising.
After a relaxed journey, with a stop in Golspie for bacon rolls and coffee, the surfers arrived in Melvich. The weather seemed to be predicted correctly, dry and a faint breeze, not enough to keep the midges away. Some 1 to 2 foot swell with surf waited us in the bay. Alice and Norman had arrived already. The only thing that needed to happen, after enjoying Alice's coffee, was to off load the trailer and get into the kayaks. The bay turned out to have ideal surfing conditions for a warm up. Our surfing improved rapidly and we became more skillful on the waves. Iain recorded some of our runs for feedback later. Initially we had our runs towards the beach, but as the tide went out better surf appeared on the waves near the river mouth.
We were able to surf for a couple of hours. Tiredness and hunger set in. Time to go to the Corn Mill bunkhouse where the efforts of the day were reviewed over a meal.
Sunday morning, again glorious weather. The party set out to Strathy beach, after a brief sneak at Farr and Torrisdale bay, where surfing conditions were not ideal. However Strathy proved to be very good. 2-3 Foot swell with good surf and A-crests gave plenty of opportunity to make some good runs. Some folk flocked to the beach in shorts and beach gear, with towel and picnic basket. The day was described by beach goers as the best day of the year. What a timing, to be there.
Surfing was great, but it was hard work to get back to the start of a run. Kayaking back through the breakers could be tough going. A breather was needed to rest tired shoulders and fill hungry stomachs. Shortly before high tide the surf improved even more and the runs more regular. With the sun out, clear water, golden beach, white wave crests and mosaic light on the sea floor, Strathy Bay was as good as one of those exotic places elsewhere.
Later that afternoon, with the trailer loaded up, and on our way back, a last visit was paid to Thurso Pipe. Although the view of Orkney was breath taking, with its cliffs and Old Man of Hoy, the surf at the Pipe and Thurso East was flat. What a difference compared to Strathy Bay.