" 2. A Cruise round the Inner Hebrides ~ Day 3 ~ "
Date & Time: Monday 22nd September 2014.
Locations : The Inner Hebrides islands, north of the Great Glen, south of Ardnamurchan.
Places visited : Colonsay to Gometra Island, part of Mull.
Accommodation : The live-aboard motor yacht Zuza, of Northern Light Charters.
With : Ann and myself, fellow guests Martyn and Sian, skipper Tim and chef Steve.
Weather : Less of the sunshine as the forecast predicts poorer weather.
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Day 3 and we awake to a more watery sunrise, however there's plenty of blue skies about and the kettle is on the boil so all is well on Zuza.
The generator is on, the water's hot in the shower, the cook is awake and breakfast will be ready soon.
Our view from the stern of the boat is of the coast of Jura.
After breakfast the cloud that shrouded the Paps of Jura has metamorphosised and now sits as a sunlit inversion,
with the three peaks standing out above the cloud.
Time to be on our way as we weigh anchor and head back up the coast of Colonsay,
past the old abandoned village of Raisg Buidhe and here the sandy beaches of Balnahard at the head of the island.
A final look back at the Paps as we round the head of the island and set course for Iona.
A while later we are looking, not at Colonsay but at the coast of Mull once more,
only this time it is the Ross of Mull, the furthest western peninsular of the island.
The dramatic cliffs hinted at over the back are the Ardmeanach peninsular which includes Mull's only Munro summit, Ben More.
The weather is sufficiently calm for us to venture inside the Torran Rocks
and we can get close in passed this cormorant rock, close offshore from Knockvologan Farm.
One of the amazing sights on a voyage like this is the one of dolphins bow-riding your boat.
They show an effortless display of grace and power as they turn and follow the boat, ducking and diving around our prow.
The group includes two adults and their young dolphin swimming close by.
Our skipper hold course and speed, but they are a law to themselves and as quick as they came they are gone.
We are on our own once again . . . only the rocks for company . . . hang on . . . who said rocks !
Tim, our skipper is in full control, and with the aid of a good chart plotter (Gps) and a depth gauge
we successfully navigate the narrow passage through the sound. Hjalmar Bjorge has a deeper keel and needs to stay offshore.
A large, very contented common seal lies on the rocks and contemplates the inside of his eyelids,
opening them only to check we don't get too close.
It is nearing low tide now and he has settled on the rock, content to wait for the flood tide to re-float him without further effort.
Entering the Sound of Iona.
We are looking for somewhere to land, but also looking not to run aground on the sand bar between the island and Mull itself.
The restored Cathedral of Iona.
The island has a strong community and was a stopping off place for St Patrick on his journeys up the west coast of Scotland.
The island graveyard is also the final resting place of many Scottish Kings, Lords of the Isles.
We've arrived at dead low tide and we have barely a metre below the keel.
Tim follows a tight course to take advantage of what deep water there is. (light blue is deeper than dark blue)
Watch out for the Iona Ferry . . .
but then if it as shallow as this he probably won't be running for a while anyway.
- - - o o o - - -
Whilst the weather looks calm, the skies are looking grey to the south west and the wind is increasing.
We try for an anchorage in the channel but Tim is worried about the forecast so decides to seek shelter round the next corner.
He drops us ashore near the small village of Kintra, to be specific, in the bay called Bagh Inbhir h-Aidhne.
( I had to look that one up on the map . . . and I still can't pronounce it !)
Whatever the name, the seaweed was a riot of colour, if slightly slippery as we disembarked, lunch in hand, from our dingy.
Martyn and Sian also came ashore for a walk but they had their own plans,
so we agreed to meet back here in an hour and a half's time.
Ann and I set out to explore this headland, passing some Jacob's sheep in the field next to the small hamlet of Kintra.
These are one of the more rare-breed sheep but they are ideally suited to this more harsh environment and the poorer diet that goes with it.
Across another field and now we can look down on Kintra Bay.
This is a classic seashore crofting community with fields on one side and the sea on the other.
A combination of arable, livestock and fishing would have sustained the historic residents.
Now the houses look well kept, evidence of a more prosperous lifestyle.
The National Referendum on Scottish Independence has just ended and this household was probably disappointed at the result.
This is no place for political discussion, except to say that all the folk we met on this holiday were pleased that
Scotland voted in favour of remaining part of the United Kingdom.
The old and the new . . . this boat has seen better days.
We continue out of the village, walking a short way along the road towards Fionnphort,
but spotted a rather nice vantage point on one of the low hills where we could have lunch and view our surroundings.
Zooming in on the detail locally, this is what remains of the pink granite quarries that produced world famous granite building stone
for London Bridge, many other major London buildings and several of Stephenson's larger lighthouses on this west coast of Scotland.
Out to sea, the "Dutchman's Cap", part of the Treshnish Islands.
Across the sandy beach the view extends north to the island of Staffa.
Our time ashore draws to close and we head back to the boat.
Tim will pick us up from the same cove he dropped us at earlier.
- - - o o o - - -
One last passage now as we prepare the boat for our final journey of the day.
A local ketch is sailing around the coast, taking advantage of the steady wind to set full sail.
We think he was probably offering sailing boat days out, working out of Iona or Fionnphort.
We too set sail, as we ran north before the wind, heading for the island of Staffa.
This famous island is the location of Fingal's Cave, the classic basalt cliffs making it instantly recognisable, even through the light rain.
It is thought that the volcanic action that caused this basalt column rock strata to form
was the same as the one that gave rise to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Island.
This cave and these cliffs are world renowned and were regarded as one of the "must see" sights in Victorian times.
The composer Mendelssohn wrote his classic Hebridean Suite of music incorporating many of the sounds and rhythms of the sea.
Small local boats will take you out to the island and, if the weather is suitable, will allow you to land and explore the cave.
When we visited the area many years ago a keen American lady asked to play her tape recorder out loud on the roof of the cabin.
It seemed a bit naff at the time, but do you know what, it wasn't half atmospheric and I still remember the tune to this day.
Hopefully we'll remember our journey this holiday for many years to come too.
For now we'll just anchor up in Gometra inlet, away from the rain and the atlantic swell, and prepare for our third night on board.
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220 or my Canon 1100D Digital SLR Camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . . a copy of Mendelssohn's Hebridean Suite (Fingal's Cave).
A previous time here - 13th to 23rd May 2006 A Scottish Islands Holiday - Iona