Colin and I launched our Drascombe Lugger – a 19 foot open boat, with main and mizzen masts – at Carsaig Bay, south of Crinan. It was 8 a.m. on a warm, still, misty Saturday morning in July, as we motored west to the Sound of Jura, keeping south of Eilean na h-Eairne and Eilean na Cille. Porpoises broke the surface of the calm water and guillemots and razorbills dived under our bows. By 10.30 we were tied up alongside the jetty in the sheltered inlet below Kilmory Lodge on the island of Scarba. Coffee was enjoyed and with the mist clearing and sun breaking through, I donned boots and shorts and set out for Cruach Scarba, the island’s summit. A good track took me past the lodge to the sheep fank and a right fork, from where I headed south west up the hill; the going was rough through a mix of heather, bracken and mire. The strata runs north-east to south-west and on gaining the first ridge, a slight drop was necessary before a climb to the next. Eventually the island’s rocky spine came into sight as numerous delightful lochans were negotiated. The view from the elusive trig point, with its sheltering walls, rewarded the effort; Mull and the Garvellachs to the west, Easdale and Seil Islands to the north, and to the east Cruachan and the mainland hills beyond. To the south lay the Gulf of Corryvreckan, leading the eye beyond to the wild and deserted western shores of Jura.
A quick descent, thanks to the clegs, and a welcome cup of tea before we were off, a short distance northwards to Lunga. A southerly breeze at last, but we had missed the tide and the ebb was against us; sails were regretfully lowered and the engine re-started before we crept into the anchorage between Lunga and the islets of Fiola an Droma and Fiola Meadhonach. We erected the tent then sat and savoured the lovely evening whilst the rice cooked. Sunday morning, having packed up we headed south past the ‘Grey Dogs’, with its hazardous eddies, but the wind and tide were against us making things unpleasant, so it was back to the shelter of Scarba. We walked along the track south to the bothy at Baigh Gleann a Mhaoil; lunch finished we watched yellow and black striped caterpillars devouring the yellow ragwort! Research identified them to be cinnebar moth caterpillars – just the thing for control of this ubiquitous plant!
We headed south, with the turn of the tide, past the Corryvreckan, to anchor in the bay ‘Port an Tiobart’ on the east coast of Jura. The sun shone and a colony of seals watched us with interest as their young dived around the boat; not a peaceful place though, as the roar of water from the ebbing tide accompanied the bellowing of the seals.
Monday dawned grey and overcast with a forecast of rain as we walked the track north to view the Corryvrechan; a yacht went through with the tide, and ribs were giving their customers thrills in the eddies. The forecast was wrong and the evening sun shone as we motored down the coast accompanied by porpoise, and with a glimpse of the ‘Paps’. A perfect evening and a perfect place – a dream on those dark winter nights! The anchorage for the night Lussa Bay with its appealing white sands.
Tuesday again dawned warm and sunny as tent and anchor stowed, we headed across the Sound of Jura to Eilean Mor, one of the MacCormaig Isles. We visited the chapel and cave then returned for lunch as a noisy speed boat arrived with youngsters on jet skiis – it was time to leave! We headed past Danna Island and on up Loch Sween to anchor behind Taynish Island. No hurry to erect the tent so we enjoyed the sun, wine and scenery.
Wednesday morning there was a nice breeze at last, so sails up and back to Tayvallich for lunch, then a short walk over to Carsaig for the landrover and trailer, an unforgetable few days!
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