Islay - Oronsay - Colonsay - Jura - part 1

A trip that I had been planning for some time - it was postponed at Easter due to the unsettled weather and I'm glad it was - the first days of June gave cool, light northerlies and long days of blue skies and bright sun.
Arriving late, we camped above Kilbrannan Sound, to watch the moon rise above Glen Sannox and the mountains of Arran. This left just a short drive over the peninsula to catch the Kennacraig ferry. Carrying our loaded boats aboard I think we all felt a certain sense of commitment - if the weather turned bad after leaving Islay, the only escape would be a ferry from Colonsay to Oban followed by a long bus journey...
Launching from Port Askaig in the middle hours of the north going stream, we had covered the 9km to Rubh a Mhail in less than an hour...
...and turned west along the beautiful, remote and dramatic north coast of Islay.
Landing at Bagh an Da Dhorius for a quick stop before the crossing to Colonsay...
...again luck was with us, the fresh breeze had backed a little, and once half way across, we were able to turn the bows and run with the waves. As the wind hovered at around F4, the waves proved just enough to let us run obliquely across their faces...
...again the 8km were covered quickly and by mid afternoon we were approaching the sands of Oronsay.
There can be few beaches as perfect as this shell sand spit that runs out from the skerries immediately south of Oronsay - a beautiful place to rest awhile...
...before leaving to turn the south west corner of this small island outpost on the edge of the Atlantic. A mass of reefs and deep channels are marked here but at high water we passed above them, weaving between small breaks as the low swell rolled in.
A short way up the west coast another channel on the map caught our attention and unsure whether it would be dry or not, we headed in behind Duhb Eilean...
...Tim enters the channel - a remarkable, shallow and beautiful passage only possible close to high water.
Chris drifts in to follow the channel once more out onto the exposed west coast.
Paddling close in, the low swell washed over countless reefs between which we picked our route north...
...to land eventually beneath the raised beaches that form the headland of Rubh Aird Alanais.
It had been a long and beautiful day, covering 36km and by the time the tents were up the sun was low on the horizon...
Walking across the raised beaches, which sadly have been ruthlessly excavated, the skies turned through perfect pastel shades...
...until, from a look out high above the bay, we watched as the sun set across the Atlantic.

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