We promised ourselves we would completely slow down once we were back to just the two of us. Well, I can say that as I write this, some three weeks have passed, and we have slowed down, but only a very little. We have changed anchorages almost daily but the distance to the next spot has drastically been reduced, 20 mile days are the outlier and we are more prone to sail 6 to 10. The weather has been fantastic, for Scotland that is. We have had very little to no rain, the temps have been in the 60’s for the most part, with occasional 70’s when the sun is out and little wind, on land. We have put two dates in our calendar and that has been the motivator as to where we are going and need to end up. July 15th is our last day with the bow pointed to the north, and is our first calendar entry. The second date is Jess is going to return to the states for an art show leaving from Belfast on August 5th.
So this blog will take Cadence, Bill and Jess from Plockton Harbor, around Skye, out to the Outer Hebrides from South Uist up to Harris and some of the outside anchorages on the West coast of Lewis and then we finally say no more North, only Southbound on the compass and that will be the next blog entry.
We excitedly left Plockton after exploring all it had to offer and made our way to a tiny little spot only accessible at 3/4 tide and landlocked when the tide fell in the Crowlin Islands. Once inside there was complete protection from wind and swell. I hiked around the desolated little islands which provide fantastic views.
From the Crowlins we made our way through the Sound of Raasay and into the town of Portree on Skye. A very touristy town but a good stopping place where would rent a car for a few days to do some inland touring. We had a fantastic hike up the Cuillan Hills and were treated to stunning views on a perfect day overlooking Skye. We toured by car the entire Trotternish Peninsula saving ourselves a lot of boat miles visiting some very beautiful spots.
Leaving Plockton we sailed 8 miles north to the island of Rona to stay the night and then off around the top of Skye and South to Loch Dunvegan. It was a long way in all the way to the castle but as my family are direct descendants of the MacLoud family, the owners still living on the grounds, it was a destination I did not want to miss. Very interesting history and a great spot to spend a couple of nights. We chose an anchorage right in front of the castle with a small seal population taking care of their pups. Each night we were treated to a cacophony of different animal noises from gannets to oyster catchers and sandpipers, the seals teaching their pups to swim and hunt, and a variety of duck families with their babies and blue herons. Watching the shoreline in the evening was an absolute pleasure.
From Dunvegan we leave and cross the Minch channel to the outer Hebrides with a fast sail and great porpoise show. Starting in South Uist, our first anchorage being in Loch Skipport where we anchored in the Kettle Pool. We were the only boat in the protected anchorage and spent two nights here before going a little further south to Loch Boisdale where we planned to see some live music that unfortunately did not happen.
This little marina was tucked inside a loch that was not very scenic and had nothing to offer so we skiddadled this joint and sailed our way north to a fantastic anchorage in between the island of Ronay and North Uist. The admirals favorite anchorage thus far. We had splendid views of mountains with little islets around us and the area was teaming with wild life. We saw some very large eagles, red deer in the hills including some large stags and a lot of bird life.
From Ronay we made a short hop north to Loch Maddy where we anchored off the town, pulled out the folding brompton bikes and cycled some 14 miles or so to see a standing stone circle and some ancient stone tomb, but the more interesting part being the ride through the country side of bleakness.
Leaving Loch Maddy we made our way north again and through the sound of Harris to reach the western side of the these magnificent islands. We were looking to spend some time visiting the white sand beaches of the outer Hebrides. The coastline being amazing, yet open to the Atlantic and the swell it brings from the long fetch all the way to Canada, meant hunting for anchorages that were protected from wind and swell. Our first stop was West Loch Tarbert which was of little interest but just north of there we were treated to two lovely spots around the island of Scarp. Here we would sit for two days while hoping for the window to head west and to the Island of St. Kilda.
Well, Kilda didnt happen and being that we had no sleep due to wind against tide in our anchorage (awful way to spend a night and we have promised ourselves never to do this again, pick up the anchor and move!!!). We got up at 4:30 am and decided that we were not cowards, and therefore not afraid to tuck tail and run. So that we did like a couple of sheep running to the shelter of the east coast of Lewis.
Here we hunkered down in East Tarbert, rented a car and toured the island the easy way, by car. It was actually a real treat to have motorized wheels again and cover ground quickly. We didn't miss much here in Harris and Lewis, and after a few days in East Tarbert We have decided we have endured enough and again are going to tuck tail and make tracks for warmer climes.