Saturday 13 June 2009

The Final Leg

We were woken early by the rain pounding off the tent and the wind whipping at the guy llines and mentally resigned ourselves to a wet start later in the morning before going back to sleep for a while longer. However when 7am came things had eased and gradually as we prepared to leave the skies cleared and the wind dropped.

We were on the water by 9am and heading NNW across the Sound of Arisaig on a calm sea with light winds. Eigg and Rum behind were capped with cloud left behind by the front that had obviously passed through.

We rounded the point and crossed the South Channel into Arisaig Bay. As high water had just passed we were able to thread our way North through the skerries over a golden carpet of sand hidden just below the surface. The fishing must be good in this area as the islands were heavily populated with seals hauled out to bask in the sun. Crossing the North Channel there was enough water to pass through the channel between Eilean Ighe and the main land so we made our way through this before taking a breather and an early lunch on the islands North shore.

Then it was time for the final run up the coast to Morar. As we did so we met a couple of other boaters who asked where we were headed. Morar we replied. Where have you come from they asked. Morar we replied. This drew a puzzled look that turned to disbelief when we explained where we had been. Not sure that they believed us but then we were finding it hard ourselves to believe that we were on the verge of completing this amazing trip.

Finally we swung into Morar Bay and gently paddled up to the spot we had launched from just 3 weeks and 1 day before in one of the most scenic and spectacular paddling venues in Scotland. As we did so it started to rain.

Distance travelled today: 22km
Total distance travelled: 829km
Midgee ferrocity: don't care any more!

Friday 12 June 2009

Penultimate day

XC weather said that it would be light variable winds and sunny, which in anyones book is great paddling weather. So sure enough the day dawned with clear skies and as a result temperatures down at 5 deg.

We were up early, primarily to catch the flood tide up the Sound of Mull but also to take advantage of the fact that the winged fiends don't operate at low temperatures. We were on the water and away by 6.45am having logged in with Clyde Coastguard for the final time.. As we left we smiled hello to the resident otter floating on his back while consuming breakfast.

The sound was like a mill pond and with the help of the tide an hour an a half later we were pulling in at Calve Island in Tobermory bay to shed layers and refuel. As we landed a fight broke out among a small group of oyster catchers. Noisy birds at the best of times the racket was incredible. So intense was the exchange that they seemed oblivious to us.

Back out in the sound we made good progress using the last of the flood and by 10.30am were on the Ardnamurchan coast taking another breather and refueling.

We had originally planned to wait for the start of the afternoon flood tide before heading around the point, but with such favourable conditions we decided to go through against the head.

It worked well and the trip around the barren rocky promontary that is Ardnamurchan was fine and required little more than an increase in effort at the point.

Approaching the point first Canna, then Rum, then Muck and finally Eigg came into view with the Skye Cullin behind.

Finally we rounded the Point of Ardnamurchan, the final Turning Point on our journey and the start ofthe home run to Morar..

As we did so we spotted another group of paddlers and headed over to see them. It was Douglas, Jen, Dave and Jim on their way to Coll for some whale spotting who we thought we had missed but were running late. They were the first boaters we had spoken to in 3 weeks and the fact that they were friends was an added bonus. It was good to see them and we chatted for half an hour before going our seperate ways.

We headed into the bay behind Eilean Carrach for some serious refuelling and a siesta in the sun.

Refreshed we headed NE and then E along the N coast of Ardnamurchan passing along the edge of an ancient volcanic caldera. Don't believe us? Have a look at Google earth. Travelling along the coast we saw our first Shearwaters skimming low over the sea on hunting forays from their underground homes high in the hills of Rum.

After an hour or so we reached Port Ban and pulled in for break to obtain fresh water and to consider our next move. It had been a long day but the weather was superb and it would be a shame to waste it.

Fortified with chewy bars we continued on to the NE corner of Ardnamurchan. After a brief chat with a couple of local fishermen we decided to push on and make the crossing to Loch Moidart. An hour later we were ashore at the perfect campsite with a white sand beach and views out to Ardnamurchan, Eigg, Rum and the Skye Cullin. The sunset was to prove fabulous.

Distance travelled today: 62km
Total distance travelled: 807km
Midgee ferrocity: nil am. 4/5 pm.