South Coast of Mull - Loch Spelve to Iona: Day 1

From the very start, this was a trip that I knew would be special. On previous visits to the Isle of Mull, I had paid little attention to the north east corner of Loch Spelve, registering only a rather bleak looking spot, hurrying on to the white sands and pink granite further west, yet the Bank Holiday weekend saw us loading the boats and launching from Loch Spelve Mussel Farm near Strathcoil: it did not take long to realise how wrong I had been...
The team: Tim, Chris & myself (L to R)
Dramatic skies as we head for the narrows and the Firth of Lorn.
The quickening tide carried us quickly south and just an hour after launching a dolphin surfaces beside Tim...
...quickly followed by several others...
...making their way north up the firth.
In the lee of the low hills and dramatic cliffs of this south western outpost of Mull, we made quick progress along a continually interesting shore, stopping occasionally to watch several otters amongst the kelp, although only briefly before heading into the freshening winds once more.
On leaving Port Ohirnie and passing north of Frank Lockwood's Island we were met by heaving swells and a F5 north westerly; we had anticipated this and crashed over these great lumps of water grinning manically, but what was to follow proved rather less enjoyable. 
Less than a km from the Frank Lockwood's Island, the regular swells turned to chaotic clapotis. Waves broke from above in all directions whilst the boats pitched wildly far beneath the dark cliffs of An Garradh. With 3km before the point, Rubha na Faolin, where we would turn in to Loch Buie and where I knew the confused water would ease, there was nothing for it but to grit our teeth and plow on. Yet the waves and wind combined to reduce our speed to approximately 1 knot: those 3km were hard won with the roughest water, the sea breaking heavily all around, right off the point itself.
The last few km's to our camp beneath Cnoc a Chronain passed in a blur, it had been a long and tiring day; the dolphins of that morning seemed a distant memory as we pitched the tents above the wind whipped bay of Loch Buie.

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