Around Ardnamurchan by Bike and Boat

This was a trip I'd been planning for some time and had originally intended as a complete tour of the peninsula, starting deep within Loch Sunart and finishing at Glenuig. In the event, I didn't trust the forecast and started at Kilchoan, completing a two day trip to round the point and explore the northern coast before returning by bike across the peninsula.
Arriving late and camping on the shores of Loch Ailort, I woke to a strong wind gusting out of the bay...
...but by mid morning all was calm and with the immediate forecast calling for light winds, I decided that despite the intense low pressure system in place, the trip was on.
In fact the weather reports were a mass of conflicting information with winds predicted at anything from F0 to NW F5 which gave rise to no small amount of debate and ultimately the decision to go for a simple overnighter, meaning I was less committed if the weather really did crap out. Paddling alone focuses the mind on such things!
Looking down the Sound of Mull; dull skies and glassy seas...
...the conditions much the same when I landed a little later at An Acairseid, only the very gentlest of swell reaching the rugged shore.
Once past Eilean nan Seachd Seisrichan, the wind did pick up a little, reaching F4 for a short while but by the time the lighthouse came into view, it was fairly steady at F3. A gentle swell of around 2ft slopped around the cliffs and provided a little bounce as I paddled on, waving to the tourists on the point. No one returned my wave. Miserable buggers.
I landed briefly at Eilean Carrach, elated to have rounded the point and wondering where I would obtain a sprig of white heather for the bow, such is the tradition of rounding Ardnamurchan Point.
Cooling rapidly in the breeze now freshening once more I paddled on through a low chop, passing Sanna Point to land beyond Rubha an Duin Bhain.
Frustrated by a wide band of rock in front of a perfect beach, I emptied the boat at the water's edge, ferrying the gear to a lovely little pitch above. I knew I would be launching at HW in the morning so had no qualms about leaving the next day.
Rain fell relentlessly as I cooked in the tent that evening but just as I had written the day off, the skies cleared...
...giving way to a glorious sunset beyond the Cuillin of Rhum...
...and the Isle of Muck...
...the Outer Hebrides just visible on the western horizon.
In contrast to the previous day's leaden skies, the morning dawned bright and blue and I made good use of the morning's sun, drying wet kit before loading the boat at the HW mark, waiting for the tide.
A low swell washes the reefs below Rubha Carrach...
...the fascinating rock architecture beyond keeping the interest high as I paddled on, heading for Fascadale Bay.
I spotted a golden eagle here perched on the low cliffs at the bay's entrance and after a lazy lunch decided to head off shore, returning to Portuairk by a wide semi circular route. I was hoping for an encounter with dolphins or even whales and spotting a mass of birds wheeling and diving, thought my luck was in. I paddled on but saw no sign of cetaceans, realising belatedly that the real show was already all around me.
Manx shearwaters in their hundreds repeatedly circled the boat, 'shearing' past often just a foot or so away...
...closer in to the cliffs they returned, wheeling, twisting and soaring in a wonderful display for several minutes before heading out once more.
A last break on the return journey and a view of Eigg across calm seas.
In fact I couldn't resist landing here too, enjoying the white sands of Sanna Bay...
...before landing at Portuairk and returning to Kilchoan by bike to close the loop around Ardnamurchan Point.

Comments

inishanier said…
Beautiful trip. One of those sunsets you wouldn't dare to paint for fear of being thought over-fanciful!
Will Herman said…
Thanks Inishanier - likewise, I nearly left the sunset pics out in case viewers thought them simply the product of photoshop. Which they are not! A stunning evening.
Cheers
Will
Iain said…
I camped on that very beach, landing at high tide. Getting afloat when the boulders appeared wasn't fun!