Coll and Tiree - Arinagour to Gunna

For the previous week I had been watching a weather window opening, closing and finally settling sufficiently that a trip around both Coll and Tiree seemed viable. I had also been watching the swell and wind forecasts for the Outer Hebrides and Islay but for whatever reason, Coll and Tiree appeared to occupy a sweet spot between the two, at least for a couple of days. But that would be enough, with a camp situated close to the Tiree ferry, a short paddle to the pier should be possible even if things turned bad. Alternatively, if the weather held we could paddle on to complete the round trip. I had dismissed the idea of crossing from Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, wary of having to wait for another window to make the return trip. In the event, the weather remained calm and our last day's paddling saw perfect conditions for the crossing, though by that stage I think we were both happy simply to sit in the sun and wait for our ride back to Oban.
Leaving Arinagour, looking south across a flat sea to the Treshnish Isles and Mull - after a 5am start and the rush to load boats, carry them aboard the ferry and then an awkward launch, there being no slip at Arinagour (we made use of a concrete covered pipe running through a slight channel in the rocks to the left of the pier), the transition to the quiet and calm waters off the north-east coast of Coll was a little surreal.
Our route with the start and finish marked by the red push-pin, the other markers our camps which proved among the best I have enjoyed on any trip.
Rounding the top of Coll against the tide, and heading for the more exposed west coast - a three to four foot swell was forecast from the north and once we had turned on a south-westerly heading, the clapotis was a constant though relatively benign companion.
Among the many skerries and small islands that litter the west cost of Coll are endless beaches offering sheltered landings...
...it wasn't long before we followed a narrow channel into a broad bay, backed by the sort of beach people travel around the globe to enjoy...
...though we didn't stay too long. There was another 50 yards away anyway, and I had my sights on Gunna, the small island between Coll and Tiree for our first camp.
Among the outer skerries we picked up the swell once more...
....working our way south, the low lying headland in the distance our objective for the following day. By the time we reached Calgary Point, the tide was flooding, the north going stream running strongly through Gunna Sound. Surfing into the narrow channel between Calgary Point and Soy Gunna provided a few moments of excitement before entering the idyllic Caolas Bán and pulling ashore on one of many beaches among the skerries.
A perfect camp on a low headland at the southern end of Soy Gunna...
...with long views back to The Treshnish Isles, the Dutchman's Cap and Mull. So far so good and with both wind and swell due to drop the next day, we were well placed for the push around the exposed west coast of Tiree. It would prove to be a memorable day.

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