Round Britain – Loch Aline to Gometra Harbour

From Loch Aline we cruised round Lismore Island, a little way up Loch Linne from Oban. It was delightful gently sailing down the east side under jib alone. The views during this extended period of high pressure are breathtaking wherever you look – the mountains and islands at their very best.
Oban was a necessary stop, to say goodbye to Katie, who was whisked away in the early morning to Glasgow airport by a taxi driver/cricket umpire. Andy and I spent a day refuelling and revictualling, so remained on the mooring a second night. The sunset over Kerrera, the island just over the water from Oban, was truly amazing.
Next day we set off for Tobermory, the little town on Mull made eternally famous by a children’s series. Lots of brightly-painted houses and a couple of decent pubs. Showers here scored a 10 for quality but dropped a point or two for charging 2 pounds a go. Looks like a company selling pontoons and marina facilities has been doing the rounds as the facilities at so many places are outstandingly good, and similar.
The plan was to sail the next day for the Treshnish Isles and Staffa in company with Pete Scott on Avocet, but unfortunately the crab sandwich Simon bought in Oban did not agree with him, and he spent a very miserable night and was in no shape to do much at all.
Instead we pootled up Loch Sunart, a huge fjord on Arnamurchan, about 10 miles long, to pick up a mooring at a little place called Salen. A real treat and clearly a favourite holiday spot for those in the know.

Next day, all being well again, we motored out through an extremely narrow gap between islands (thank you, Navionics!) to aim for the Treshnish Isles at last. We got a little bit of sailing in, but had to motor the last few miles against the tide into the anchorage off Lunga.

There is something so special about reaching such places under your own steam, and it was all we hoped for – strange shaped rocky islands teeming with birds. Up on the cliffs you could get within a couple of feet of the puffins, who were more concerned with doing their mating rituals and getting down into their burrows. Apparently they only have the orange beaks during the mating period, something I learned, and there are about 3000 on these islands, a stable population unlike elsewhere. Their staple diet is sandeels, and these are being hoovered up to make cat food, hence the calamitous fall in numbers in places like the Farne Islands.

Thence to Staffa. Wow! And another Wow! I knew what it was supposed to look like, and was humming the Mendelssohn as we approached, but it is a truly stupendous bit of geology. Massive basalt columns topped with a sort of rocky puff pastry, and these huge caves. We motored very slowly round, Andy taking pictures all the while. Amazing!

We motored off towards Mull and put our anchor down for the night just between the islands of Gometra and Ulva.