Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Scotland journey 1: Mull West Coast, Treshnish Isles, Staffa, Iona

Staffa, picture Govert Plugge

Updated: The first part of our holiday in Scotland was a four day journey on the west side of Mull. From Oban we took the car-ferry to Craignure on Mull and set up our tents on the Killiechronan campsite. We met a friendly seakayaking couple at the campsite, which turned out to be Mike Nelson (the man behind North Shore Sea kayaks) with his partner. The next morning we packed our kayaks and left the car behind at the Campsite. The journey began! A journey in a fantastic region with dramatic landscapes, bursting of marine and bird wildlife and a fascinating history. Also a remote place far away from civilisation. It must be one of the last places without mobile phone coverage!
There are to many highlights to mention. The scenery of Ulva, the birdlife near the Tresnish Isles (I've never seen so many Puffins), the spectacular basalt cliffs and caves at Staffa, the sandy Beaches and turquoise waters on Iona, the close encounter with a basking shark north of Soa Island... The pictures in the Picasa-Album (click here or on the miniature at the bottom of this post) only give a little impression.

Update 19-7-08: Today I discovered some awesome pictures of the basking shark in a post in the UK-riversguidebook-forum (click on the link for the post with pictures). I love the picture of the kayaker with the tail, dorsal fin, head of the shark visible - fantastic. It must be the same shark we had the close encounter with -we met the lady in the white-green Greenlander-PRO at the beach in Baile Mor - she tipped us about the shark that she had just seen south of Iona.

Tidal streams at the west coast of Mull are very moderate. Only between the Treshnish Isles we noticed some stronger currents, on the north-western tips Lunga and Fladda we even enjoyed tide races. The stream in the sound of Iona can reach up to 2,5 knots, but not at neap tides. The lack off noticable currents made trip planning very easy and comfortable: it's a holiday! we took time to enjoy the isles and the coastlines and didn't bother much about tides...
Sun 25. May - Marine Forecast N-NE 5 occ. 6 Bft, sea state slight - 20 km
Campsite Killiechronan - Ulva Ferry - North of Ulva - Gometra.
Mon 26. May - N-NE 5 occ. 6 Bft. sea state slight to moderate - 32 km
Gometra - Treshnish Isles - a stop at Cairn na Burgh More and Dutchman's Cap - Staffa
Tue 27. May - N-NE 4-5 occ. 6 Bft. sea state slight to moderate - 26 km
Staffa - circumnavigating Iona, stop at Baile Mor - Eilean Annraidh
Wed 28. May - NE 3-4 backing SW - Rain and showers - sea state slight to moderate - 33 km
Eilean Annraidh - stop at West Coast Armeanach - stop at Kenneth Isle - Campsite Killiechronan

Btw: After the first two days the actual wind was far less than the forecast had promised...

West Coast Mull, Tresnish Isles, Staffa, Iona


Axel said...

Welcome back! Looks like you had a great time. When I was in Jersey I heard that the best weather was in Scotland. Hope the weather will (still) be OK mid July when we go to the Small Isles.

Paul was already trying to schedule another NKB sea comittee meeting. Ready for that?

Hans said...

Hi Axel!
We really had a good time. Jersey looks good too!
Ready for the committee meeting: OK. Ready for work in the Den Hague-office was a harder job, after two weeks living outdoors ;-)
See you!

Douglas Wilcox said...

This is a favourite area of mine, I am glad you had fair weather. Did you find the Fossil Tree and McKinnon's Cave?

Hans Heupink said...

Hi Douglas!
Alas we missed the Fossil Tree. I saw the indication on the map, and read about it in the Rough Guide, but I didn't know what exactly to look for... We landed on a beach on just a 100 meters north of the indicated location of the Fossil tree. On the beach we were plagued by midges, it was very drizzling and foggy at that point. So we didn't feel like a walking quest.
Now I have seen the picture of the Fossil tree on your blog, I am quit sure I have seen the contours of the tree when we were approaching the Armeanach Peninsula...
The caves were fantastic - I especially liked the caves you can paddle in and out!