Tobermory to Loch Moidart

Sitting now in the sunshine at anchor in Loch Moidart overlooking a 13th century castle, delicately poised on top of a peninsular which is cut off by the tide, it is easy to forget the days getting the boat repaired in Tobermory and the previous day battling head into wind against choppy seas in a force 5 gusting 6 round Ardnamurchan and both feeling queasy. We’d been relying on the forecast in Tobermory, which is not a good idea when travelling north – the Minch inshore forecast was far worse. So today (Friday 17th June) we had a day off from sailing , arranging to walk around Loch Moidart, but more on that later.

I returned to Milo on its mooring in Tobermory on Monday 13th June to check out the new Autopilot system that had just been fitted. Unfortunately it did not work  – as soon as you engaged the autopilot the wheel swung continuously to port and moving Milo to the pontoon I noticed the rev counter did not work either . The prospect of sailing in circles was not appealing so I contacted John Howard the local Tobermory Marine Electrician, but sadly he was away and could not get to our boat until Wednesday morning. It is frustrating to be stuck in port when the weather is fair and you want to be sailing – but there were a number of distractions. First, on my arrival I was invited by Laurie and Georgie Wilson for a drink and a meal aboard Siskin, a lovely 27ft Vancouver, beautifully shaped outside and decorous woodwork inside. Like us Laurie had sailed up from the English South coast (Newton Ferrers in his case) and had now arrived in Tobermory

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Rosamund arrived midday Tuesday after an early start from Bristol. We had a great meal at the renowned Fish Café in the evening – at least I enjoyed my smoked haddock stuffed with Queenies (miniature scallops) but Ros was not so pleased with her halibut.

John arrived the next day and very quickly sorted out the problems with the rev counter and the autopilot. The former was just a lead displaced, the latter the fact that the tiller sensor from the old system was not compatible with the new “Evolution” system. Once removed everything worked beautifully.

We set off from Tobermory on full sail, as we were expecting force 4 and were surprised that the seas were so rough and, round Ardnamurchan, so “slappy” (where the boat lifts out of the water and crashes down with a loud slap). We were healing so far to port that all the plates came crashing out of their hold and landed across the cabin on the floor.

It was not until we were in the shelter of Loch Moidart that we realised those 18 and 24 knot winds were force 5 gusting 6 — our Tobermory forecast had been a little light weight. After anchoring behind the Isle of Riska in Loch Moidart we decided to be more cautious the next day and radioed Stornaway Coastguard (we had no mobile phone connection on either of our phones), who forecast force 5 gusting 6 and sea states moderate to rough, so we decided to have a day off and walk round Loch Moidart. There was something magical about this walk. It was called the “Silver Walk” – not sure if this was a walk for the Silver Brigade, but a lot of care had gone into carving the walk into the cliff side – there were steps at appropriate places made from natural rock, there were drainage gulleys to stop the path flooding and becoming boggy, there were fallen trees that were left where they fell but had been cut to allow a path through and there were an abundance of wild flowers and mosses. The lakeside views were stunning and we had a unique view of Milo on her mooring from above.

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The Silver Walk is 5.8 km but we only did half of it, as there are two sections of the lake divided by a large promontory. It is not only that the views were stunning, but the same view at different times of the day and tide yielded such different panoramas.

The following pictures show some scenes from our walk which I hope hints at why we stayed at Loch Miodart for two nights and will one day return to stay longer.

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