Wednesday September 14th – a day in London for Ros – meetings followed by the theatre with Ian at the young Vic – Yerma by Lorka – a powerful and distressing play about a young woman’s despair at remaining childless. Whether it was the effects of the play or some of the stresses of work, Ros was seized by stomach cramps in the night whilst staying with Joanna in Clerkenwell. In the morning on Thursday September 15th it was a transitory pleasure to take Vyvan to school, but a relief to sleep all the way to Bristol and when home into the early evening. This left very little time to pack and prepare for the journey to Glasgow the next morning, and the onward trip to the Western Isles and our to return to Milo.
The next day on Friday September 15th we caught an early flight to Glasgow and arrived to an unexpectedly glorious day. We took a taxi to Queen’s Street Railway station where we caught a train to Oban, passing through the most spectacular scenery. By 3:45 p.m. we were on the Ferry to Craignure where the Tobermory bus met us and took us to Fishnish just in time to catch the short ferry back to the mainland again at Lochaline. We were met by Fiona from the ferry on a covered Quadbike and were transported to the marina.
The transition from Bristol to the Western Isles had been like a dream – the sun was shining, there was a seal and an otter playing off the marina and two Swans who’d been there earlier in the year had returned for the first time as we arrived. The troubles and pains of the last few days started to disappear. Fiona transported Ian to Milo in the marina rib and waited to see if she started – she did – first time. Ian had accidentally left the battery switch on in the 1+2 position and this appeared to have kept both batteries fully charged from the solar panel. Milo was brought into the marina single handed by Ian and given a free berth for the night to recharge her batteries and to be filled with water. We spent the evening discussing what to do in the next few days. Our long term plan was to travel through the Caledonian Canal and leave the boat near Inverness where we had return flights booked for Sunday 1 October.
After reading our pilot guides and the Charles Warlow “Scottish Anchorages” book that Andrew had given Ros for her birthday, we decided we would spend the first week exploring Lochs Linnhe, Etive and Lever before meeting up with Andrew and Adam + the four boys in Fort William early on Friday morning.
Our neighbour’s Yacht leaving Lochaline
Fiona had suggested that we spend the first night on a mooring in Loch a’Choire and eat at the recently re-opened Boathouse Café. We contacted the restaurant and booked a table for the following evening. The sun was still shining the next day and after motoring out of Lochaline and the Sound of Mull with the wind on Milo’s nose, we set sail on a broad reach up Loch Linnhe to our destination. We could see the sun falling on a cloud topped Ben Nevis in the distance – the whole mountain range looked magnificent in the evening sun and we hoped the weather would remain set fair for Andrew and Adam’s planned adventures for the weekend ahead.
Ros keeping warm in the weak sunshine on the way to Loch a’Choire
As we entered Loch a’Choire we were impressed by the immenseness of the surrounding mountains – Charles Warlow had said “the surrounding hills positively invite you to jump up them directly from the deck, they seem so close”. With the tender pumped up and emptied of water, we set off for the Boathouse Café. Just in time Ros suggested we put the anchor light on as it would be dark when we returned. The restaurant was a beautifully converted boathouse and the couple running it were very friendly. Unfortunately, Ros found the food very disappointing. Her leek and potato soup was very watery and her steak and kidney pie glutinous and overly salty. Ian enjoyed his bacon wrapped scallops and black pudding and also his venison pie which was tender and tasty, but even he was disappointed by the pastry which was a tiny flaky strip placed on the top when he was expecting a proper pie crust. As we left for the tender we realised we had left the torch behind and precariously, using Ros’ iPhone torch, we launched the tender which had been left high and dry by the tide. We realised that it was so dark, that even with a powerful torch (let alone the iPhone one) we would have never seen where Milo was without the anchor light on. With the anchor light, it was like sailing down a moonbeam and with relief we eventually clambered on board
The Boathouse Cafe – Loch a’Choire
A yachting theme at the Boathouse Cafe with the chef in the open kitchen in the distance
The next day, as was predicted by the weather forecast, it was overcast with a cold front with heavy rain passing over from 10am to 6pm. Ian got on with some work and Ros bunkered down and started to read “Off in a Boat” by Neil Gunn, given to her recently by Anna Edwards. As she became more deeply involved in the book she became fascinated by stories written in 1937 of the author’s travels with his wife around the west of Scotland. She started with one of the later chapters where the author writes about entering the Corran Narrows – “It was a day of tall cloud, sun and fragrance after the rain – a transformation that makes life on the west so dramatic; from glooms and drowning deeps to sky shepherd driving his white flocks down the blue fields of paradise (page 320)”
Sunrise in Loch a’Choire