Gigha and the Fairy Islands

It rained heavily in the night with a persistent southerly wind.  We had berthed on the windward side on the Gigha pontoon so we had creaking and groaning noises all night including flapping from the main halyard that we’d forgotten to re-position.

After a lazy start, welcome wake-up showers and a relaxed coffee and bacon butties at the Boathouse, we hired bicycles from the shop/garage/post office at the top of the hill and set off for Ardminish House Gardens.

Ardminish House Gardens

The vast expanse of mostly wooded gardens was overgrown and unkempt, but rather wild and wonderful. We enjoyed a long meandering walk through the gardens, circumnavigating the large house (which is for sale). Ros was looking for ideas for replanting borders in the even more unkempt gardens of our family home in Branscombe. We had read that we could buy ice cream at the house, which we couldn’t quite believe as we had seen no one around. But yes, delicious ice cream, made on the island, was for sale and we sat for a while enjoying our ice creams and imagining what it might be like to live on Gigha.

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Ardminish House for sale

While Ros returned to Milo for a read, Ian cycled to Twin Beaches on the north western side of the island.  The island is about 9-mile-long north to south and a mile and a half wide.  The beauty of Twin Beaches was not just the lovely sandy beaches but the potential anchorages both north and south offered for any wind conditions.  To get to the beaches by foot or by bike was tricky as there had been heavy rain overnight and there were muddy flooded sections of the footpath.  Ian had to abandon the bike at one point in the heather and do the final bit on foot and enjoyed a secluded wild swim in the rain in turquoise waters with one yacht moored in the northern bay.

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Twin Beaches – the one on the right faces north

The next morning before bacon butties (again) at the Boathouse, Ian had determined to fill up with water and fuel.  This involved getting out the green folding luggage wheelie that he had bought over from the States more than thirty years ago and had hardly ever used until today.  Two trips to the butler’s sinks at the back of the restaurant to collect 2×25 litres of water for the fresh water tank.  Two trips up the hill to the garage to collect 25 litres of red diesel (1x15L + 2x5L).  Enough to get by with until we reach Crinan.

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Arran with his catch

Met Arran and Carra again – we’d chatted the day before. They were on holiday nearby and were living a “Swallows and Amazons” type existence sailing, exploring and fishing.  Today Arran had been out fishing and had caught several mackerel.  He offered us some for our evening meal. Then he said that he had a smoker and would smoke them and bring some back to us if we were still here later that day.  Unfortunately, we left on the noon tide with a following wind to motor sail to the Fairy Islands. There were already two yachts moored in our planned secluded anchorage, but being a bilge keel boat we could sneak into the corner in shallow water nearer the shore.  It was extremely sheltered, quiet and the peace was only disturbed by the occasional grunt from the seals on the rocks nearby.

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Anchored in the Fairy Islands with the seal rocks in the distance

Next day we had a very relaxed morning, left alone in the bay.  We had swims off the boat and the water felt warm enough to swim around it. We later took the tender to explore the islands to the north.  We passed another seal rock where the seals were of two minds whether to wobble off their rocks or not.  In the end, all bar one stayed to watch us go by.  We found a forestry track and had a short walk, passing signs of ancient harbours for logging boats to pull in.

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More seals on the rocks nearby

Returning to the boat we then raised anchor and motored round to Tayvallich, picked up their inner visitor’s mooring and took the tender in to shop and walk to the Tayvallich Inn, where we had a delightful seafood meal – their scallops were great.

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Perfect reflections in Tayvallich Harbour

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