Thursday, 11 August 2011

Loch Ewe to Torridon

I awoke in the bay at Aultbea, Loch Ewe, to a strange muffled silence. I looked out to see, ...well, not a lot really. It was foggy. The first I had encountered on this trip. There were just a few grey outlines around the edge of the bay. So in true seaman fashion I turned over and had another snooze.
Come mid morning the sun had burned off the mist and replaced it with a fine drizzle. But as I had some distance to cover I donned waterproof jacket made a start. I had made plans to meet someone the following day, so wanted to get to a location that would be reasonably easy for him to get to. This was strange for me on this trip, having deadlines to meet! the beauty of this trip so far as been no deadlines. Sail when I see fit, when the wind and the weather allow, rather than having to go whatever.

I made my way tacking out of the loch passing the island mentioned previously, the gloriously named Isle of Ewe. (Did you say it out loud to someone? Go on, I dare you). There was a large coastguard vessel moored in the loch. It can be difficult to ascertain if these guys are actually at anchor or not because they tend to anchor by the stern (back) rather than the bows (pointy bit) and they keep their huge engines running 24x7. However he was stationary so I was able to tack quite close under his bows.
Coastguard at anchor in Loch Ewe

To keep to time I needed to use my engine to assist the sailing as the winds were light and I needed to make the headland at Rubha Reidh before the tide turned.

Rubha Reidh Light

With it's usual form as soon as I had rounded the point the wind died away completely and I was left to motor for quite a while before the wind returned as I passed Loch Gairloch. On rounding Rubha Reidh I got my first sight of Skye, grey in the distance.
A first glimpse of Skye

I was tempted to call it a night by the time I reached Gairloch, but with the returned wind I pressed on to my intended destination in Loch Torridon, well actually in Loch Shieldaig which is inside Loch Torridon. Strangely Upper Loch Torridon lies off of Loch Shieldaig.
Somewhere between Loch Gairloch and Loch Torridon the sun set. This was going to be a late finish for me! I finally wound up anchoring close to the village of Sheildaig, tucked away behind it and an island covered densely with Scots pines. It was so quiet here the silence almost hurt your ears. But the downside of this windless peace was my first encounter with the Scottish midge. Just a minor skermish, but maybe a warning of battles to come!

Todays Factoid

Rubha Reidh means Smooth Headland in Gaelic. It is a prominent point jutting out into The Minch about halfway between Stoer Head and the Isle of Skye.
The building of a lighthouse was first proposed by David Stevenson, a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson in 1853 but, with familiar emphasis on economy, the Board of Trade refused to approve the proposed expenditure of £5,000.
Finally, in May 1908, the Board of Trade sanctioned the expenditure of £14,900 It opened in 1912, but until the road was built in 1962 the only access to the lighthouse was by sea.

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David H.