Coll and Tiree - Soa to Arinagour

Determined to sleep in on this, the last day of our trip around Coll and Tiree, I woke early with the sun burning through the tent walls - I had slept with the door wide open on this and the previous night and simply shuffled out of the tent a little into the cool morning air and dozed again. The CalMac ferry from Coll to Oban sails at irregular times - and on a Thursday it has come from the Outer Hebrides and consequently does not depart Coll until 7.30pm. Given we had less than 15km to paddle, on what was clearly going to be a perfect day, there was simply no point in rushing anything.
Launching, eventually, from the sheltered bay on the east of Soa whose seals followed us for several km along the coast before tiring of the game. 
Hugging this wild and empty section of Coll's coastline we passed through a series of skerries and tiny islands, following narrow channels into beautiful, deserted bays backed by yet more perfect beaches, while out on open water the Treshnish Isles appeared closer than ever across a deep blue sea. The Ardnamurchan peninsular meanwhile seemed tantalisingly close and I felt a pang of regret that we had chosen to arrive on Coll, and must therefore leave by ferry - a better day for the crossing could not have been had.
But then, cutting between Eilean Ornsay and Coll as the pier came into sight and we paddled the last yards to complete the round trip, there was the undeniable satisfaction that such a journey in places like these brings.
And ashore in the sun, having washed off the salt and sat in fresh clothes waiting for the kettle to boil, that was more than enough. Coll and Tiree was a trip we had talked of many times, the weather window required never opening when needed - it had been worth the wait and fulfilled a long held desire to paddle in such close proximity to the sharks.
A strong evening sun beyond Coll and our last view of the islands as the Ardnamurchan peninsula slipped past to the north and we turned south into the Sound of Mull. After paddling the length of the sound and then crossing to Easedale in one long day on last year's trip around Mull, I found I was suddenly very happy to aboard CalMac.


Douglas Wilcox said…
Hi Will great trip and stunning photos :o). I have been lucky enough to get out there twice. It was on a sand dune on Gunna that I dislocated my knee. We had left the car at Portuairk on Ardnamurchan. I suppose I could have called in a helicopter from Prestwick or Stornoway but we were enjoying the trip so much I decided to carry on for a further two nights and two days until we crossed back to Ardnamurchan.

Will Herman said…
Hi and thanks Douglas - credit to you that you did - too many are too quick to call things in I think, self reliance being a fundamental principle of sea kayaking, climbing etc, etc. Anyway, I remember thinking at the time, that our camp on Gunna (actually, on Soy Gunna at Gunna's northern tip) was possibly one of the best yet - remote, sheltered, easy landings, stunning views...but then every camp on the trip was equally good for many reasons. Looking back on the Treshnish Isles and Mull provided a new perspective on so many previous trips and we enjoyed the fact that the Coll / Tiree seem to be a less frequented destination for sea kayakers...wonderful trip all round.