Cornwall to Scotland days 44 to 46
|20/08/2011||Filled under Caledonian, Canal, Carradale, Scotland|
Day 44 – Suddenly there is a new urgency to our movement westwards through the canal. Using the internet we have access to weather forecasts for the days ahead (we can see the future) and there are some strong winds ready to impale themselves on the west coast of Scotland over the next few days, nothing spectacular but enough to cause us to react by moving forward our plans to exit the canal. We start early, motoring the length of the repetitively named Loch Lochy, then navigate the final man-made stretch of canal to the top of Neptune’s Staircase, an engineering masterpiece in the form of a flight of eight locks built back-to-back. In one swoop this transports us sixty-four feet (some nineteen metres) downhill towards the sea, all at the expense of a bit of muscle power as we tow Cirrus from one lock to the next, repeating this eight times in all until we arrive at the bottom. All along the way we are besieged by tourists whose cameras click and whirl (I know digital cameras don’t do this but I have an active imagination) as they photograph us and every movement of our strange craft – viewed from above our catamaran’s decks look like they belong on an aircraft carrier. Behind us the dark clouds build, finally dropping their load after we are safely berthed at Corpach, the sea lock exit of the canal.
Day 45 – Once again we are up early, so early that when we emerge the morning mist is still hiding everything, but at least we are able to lock out and catch our tide down Loch Linnhe.
We motor on past Fort William as the mist gradually dissipates leaving just long scarves of white through which the mountains occasionally peep.
At the Corran Narrows the sky ahead has changed from grey to blue and there are ripples on the water but not enough wind to encourage sailing so we decide to do some exploring under motor, to weave our way behind the isles of Shuna and Lismore into the Lynn of Lorne. Islands and islets are dotted everywhere here as if scattered like seeds, dark, weed-covered rocks poke above the water, some having protective pillars erected on them, others crouching low and barely visible whereas all around there are grand mountains which sweep downwards to the water’s edge then continue out of sight deep below us. We are thrilled to be back here at last, in an area which we now regard as home.
Then, still in the Lynn of Lorn just before making a turn towards Dunstaffnage Marina where we intend to stop for the night we pass Rubha Fionn-aird, a low promontory with rocks lurking out of sight beyond the land which have caught out the skipper of the yacht ‘Tenacity’, a boat which had emerged from the canal with us earlier in the day. Taking a short cut here the yacht has run aground with the tide falling around it. A lifeboat stands by but the crew are not in any danger as the weather is benign. It is a long wait for the next high tide but we later learn that they get off safely, although not without some damage.
When we are safely berthed we make a quick decision that faced with strong winds for several days ahead we will leave the boat and travel home to Carradale for a few days. This may seem a strange thing to do but free bus travel encourages such behaviour, despite the distance, and it will give us the chance to check on the post waiting for us and to make sure everything in the house is well.
Day 46 – Our bus from Dunbeg is the first of four which, with waiting for connections, takes up most of the day. It occurs to us that this is not a lot faster than the speed we travel on the boat but it is somewhat less energetic; in fact we both have difficulty staying awake on the long ride south towards Campbeltown. We can see yachts in the sea out near Islay and the conditions don’t seem too bad for them but later on comes the rain and more wind so we are happy to have made the decision to make this trip home.
On arriving at the house our front ‘lawn’ is a little hairier than usual with some interesting botanical specimens peeping through the greensward and our front door is just a little difficult to open due to the mail hiding behind it but apart from all these small irregularities, all is well and we are soon relaxing watching TV with Brahms at the Proms. There’s nothing like home. Hot water comes out of the taps without any effort on our part, the floor stays perfectly still even when it is windy, it feels spacious inside and everything outside is green green green.