The countdown to Christmas seems upon us.
However it is still over 4 weeks till the shortest day and the depth of winter so it is good to see that is still quite mild although I suspect that is about to change. The majority of the leaves are off the trees and we are certainly through the worst of the leave clearance. It is also a wee window for us to start cutting back paths and trees with less foilage to clear and still reasonably firm ground to work on.
We have also had a dramatic eduction of work on the golf course with the grass now controlling itself and the winter works program underway which we have to balance progress with potentail damage to the course as the water table certainly rises and the sraisn have to work hard to keep the course playable. So will this week be a week of work on course or a week of work off the course?
Today: After a cold start to the night the cloud cover has brought up the temperature and it is now a dry and bright morning but will begin clouding over with rain tonight.
Monday: A mainly dry bright morning with some sunshine after the clearance of early fog and frost. Clouding over during the afternoon with outbreaks of light developing towards the west coast by dusk.
Tuesday: Cloudy with outbreaks of rain, this rain becoming persistent and heavy at times
Wednesday:Cold and sunny with wintry showers, these mainly across higher hills with a chance of rain or snow.
Thursday: Another cold night will give way to mostly dry and bright weather at first but with scattered showers
Friday:A cold night with dawn greeted with showers will be a wintry combination of rain, sleet and snow, maybe giving locally significant snow accumulations over higher ground, and perhaps even to lower levels at times.
Saturday: Slightly more mild with dry conditions and a light breeze ushering in a more settled period of weather for the last week of November
Every day is different, every view different, every sight different- Simply- it's the West Highlands of Scotland!
This could not be more true than this weekend - yesterday torrential rain with a modest respite in the afternoon and today wall to wall blue skies, snow crisply lying on the mountain tops sparkling in the sunshine and not a breath of wind. Anyway whilst it is one of the problems with living here it is is also the reason why we choose to be here as every morning is different, every dawn unique and every sunset- or not as the case may be- one on its own!.
So what is different about the week ahead:
Today: After a cold and frost start it will be a stunner- No more need be said!
Monday: It cant last for ever so warmer night as cloud rolls in but bringing patchy rain in the morning, becoming drier and brighter.
Tuesday: Outbreaks of rain clearing from the west in the morning to leave a drier afternoon with some sunshine.
Wednesday: Windy with blustery showers leading to even more snow on hills. More wind and rain followed by a risk of gales.
Thursday: After a wet and windy night we will awaken to blustery showers on Thursday, mainly from the west.
Friday:Cloud, rain and strong winds will continue into the weekend
Saturday:It will begin to turn colder and remain unsettled with a mix of cloudy periods and rain or showers, which may be wintry over high ground.
This week marks a stark change in the West Highalnd Seasons
Its often amazing how the climate seems to remain the same and then suddenly overnight we flip into a completely different season. So it has been this week as we started with a mild - if damp - Monday and this was soon followed by torrential rain- stories of 6 inches falling in 45 minutes do not seem implausible- and strong winds so that today when we awaken - the leaves are off the trees, the temperature is almost 10 degrees lower and the mountains of Kingairloch and Ben Cruachan have white snow caps adorning them- winter is truly here!
Strangley it seems later than usual and this woudl not be a surprise as the summer seemed to continue longer than normal and this has pushed autumn into November. The Deer Rut and stalking was certainly later and whilst I am hearing stories of a great month on the mountains with fantastic images of Rutting Stags it does play havoc with my plans for collecting leaves in October and we still have a lot of raking and burning to do now to get tideied up for Christmas
It is one of the stregnths of Scotland the ever changing weather and certainly one of te attractions compared with places that never seem to alter seasons- fortunately its one which we appreciate even if its also one we seem to continually complain about! So what is in store for this first week of winter!
Today: Bright with sunny spells and scattered showers today although be warned that the showers will be fierce!
Monday: Bright with sunny spells, but also scattered showers, mainly over higher ground at first, but developing further east during the afternoon, perhaps the odd heavy one later over Eriska. Fresh or strong west to northwesterly winds slowly easing.
Tuesday: Showers will become more isolated and confined to coastal areas , with long clear spells inland, leading to fairly widespread frost over rural parts as the winds fall light.
Wednesday: A few showers continuing , otherwise a dry and bright day with lengthy spells of sunshine for most parts. Light west to northwesterly winds.
Thursday: Rain clearing to showers then bright with sunny spells and showers in the evening.
Friday:After a dry night some heavy and prolonged periods of rain. Windy, risk of gales
Saturday:Rain will soon clear leaving clearer but showery weather for most of the weekend. It is likely to stay largely unsettled thereafter with showers or longer spells of rain, locally heavy.
With most of the leaves now off the trees and the wind starting to bring in colder breezes its not hard to believe that winter is just around the corner. However the change of clocks last night at least makes the mornings seem easier even if the down side is that the evenings will start closing in and definately - for us - that will mean that the curtains will be closed even earlier but thats even more of an excuse to snuggle down beside a log fire with a nice book and kind malt to enjoy!
In reality we can look back at tis autumn having been quite kind with a late fall of leaves and then some stronger winds to help them off the trees and make the teams job easier to clear them up and prepare for winter. When I checked my mothers sun machine for the last month it showed that many days had as much sunshine as peak summer and even though it was cooler it was at least dry and bright.
So whats ahead for next week:
Today: Rain at first but soon dying out to clear skies and light winds. Winds then freshen with blustery showers spreading from west,
Monday: Frequent showers, turning squally with heavy rain, or hail and thunder. South becoming southwest winds will reach gale force in showers with surface water and spray making travel difficult.
Tuesday: Bright at first but showers developing, turning cooler and breezier
Wednesday: Fairly repetitive but more persistent rain due in through the afternoon.
Thursday:The end of the week looks unsettled with showers or longer spells of rain, and generally windy so Thursday provides a lull before the storm!
Friday: Probably strong winds possibly gale force and potentially a very wet and windy day.
Saturday: Not much better but the wind will begin to die down later in the day and lead to a period of calm.
Last week we were pleasantly surprised with dry and sunny, yet cold weather on the west coast. The weather gave us with the camera at hand many opportunities to catch the 'unreliable' weather and the many unique forms and shapes it creates - to be fair my camera could not do the view above any justice!
This week's West Coast Weather looks to continue the nice and dry days, with sunny spells and a continuing 'cold' breeze before a mildy wet weekend takes form on Friday.
Today: it is dry with sunny spells today, however it may become slightly cloudier during the afternoon with brisk north easterly winds developing. Tonight looks to be mainly cloudy but the cloud will thin at times to give a few clear interludes, otherwise a chilly evening.
Monday: looks to be mostly dry but rather cloudy with chance of sunshine across Argyll and the Isles.
Tuesday: is projected to be dry with sunny intervals.
Wednesday: looks to be dry at first but may becoming wet and windy later in the evening
Thursday: is projected to become drier again and slightly brighter
Friday: with easterly winds Friday looks to set the scene for the weekend with patches of rain and cloudy intervals.
Saturday: looks to continue Friday's patches of clouds and rain, yet with sunny spells throughout the day.
A sunny start coming to work this morning. Although a bit chilly, nothing beats walking out in the cold sunshine with the right clothes! Bring your autumn jacket, your base layer and a little scarf to Eriska and you are sorted for walking across the island taking pictures of the beautiful and scenic landscape the west coast of Scotland has to offer! Click the button below for more walks!
Last week's West Coast Weather was surprisingly sunny and offered many of us an opportunity to spend our afternoons and early evenings outside without a worry. Other evenings again almost looked a bit threatening - like the picture above - but nothing! It was staying humid and mild throughout the week before the colder wind caught up with us at Eriska at the beginning of the weekend! The coming week looks much the same with some patches of rain, cloudy and a few rays of sun with milder temperatures.
Today: it is quite cloudy at first with a little rain, but it looks to be dying out, becoming brighter later this morning with some sunshine this afternoon, best across Lanarkshire. Breezy with fresh south-westerly winds. Tonight: Most places will be dry at first. Patchy light rain will edge in from northwest to most places later tonight, but becomes heavy over north Argyll. Otherwise mild and breezy.
Monday: looks to be cloudy with further outbreaks of rain, heavy at times up towards Oban and Mull. Rain will be patchy elsewhere with drier, interludes, especially across Ayrshire and Lanarkshire. Fresh south-westerly winds.
Tuesday: is projected to be mainly dry and bright
Wednesday: looks to be turning colder with sunny spells and blustery showers. Strong north-westerly winds.
Thursday: looks to be mainly dry with sunny spells and winds becoming lighter, but clouding over in the evening.
Friday: Thursday's weather seems to linger leaving another mainly dry day with a few rays of sun otherwise cloudy.
Saturday: continues to stay dry, cloudy otherwise it looks to be a bit colder than earlier in the week.
Our West Coast Weather really offered Eriska's guests a beautiful and warm weekend! Surprising temperatures, sunny and bright evenings - what a way to end September when it started so cold and wet! The good weather looks to stay with us for tomorrow but is becoming slightly cloudy before we again get outbreaks of rain. Nevertheless we seem to have mild temperatures staying throughout the week.
This Evening: it is staying dry and fine this evening with some pleasant late sunshine. Tonight: continues o stay dry with long clear periods although some patchy hill fog forming. Breezy with quite strong easterly winds persisting across coasts and upland areas.
Monday: looks to become dry and bright with sunny intervals but cloud will tend to increase with the best of the sun over north Argyll. Brisk southeasterly wind, strong across many coasts and hills.
Tuesday: is projected to turn rather cloudy with some showery rain, mainly near the west coast.
Wednesday: looks to be cloudy and there will be some showers developing over the next few days.
Thursday: the rain looks to continue, but it looks to be staying mild and windy.
Friday: looks to be cloudy with a few showers but will have some sunny intervals. In the evening the showers will ease.
Saturday: the weather from Friday continues with some sunny spells during the day otherwise cloudy with small showers.
What do you have planned for October? Next week our October rates are running and we look forward to guests enjoying the log fire, reading books in our library bar and going for the afternoon stroll on the island before the evening is too dark and we welcome Bertie and the other badgers for milk and other goodies!
As we do have a considerable wealth in terms of nature and scenic landscapes we wanted to share some of our walking routes with you, perfect for the full day trip, the holiday challenge, and some of the smaller ones near and around our beautiful island!
For the leisurely strolls there are plentiful walks within a short distance of Eriska whether it be the circular walk round the Island of Kerrera or the energetic climb up Ben Cruachan, the office at the hotel can offer guidance, maps and even a Garmin Handheld GPS to insure you are fully equipped.
Ben Cruachan - 14km /8.5 miles - 7 hours - 9 hours
Ben Cruachan is one of the finest Munro's in the southern Highlands, its pointed peak towering above its rocky satellites giving great views. Ranging 1376m above sea level it is quite a challenge. The ridge walk to Stob Daimh makes a great circuit around the Cruachan reservoir. It consists of steep and rocky paths with a small section of easy scrambling. The descent is a grassy slope which can be boggy in the final sections.
The video above shows off some of the incredible views and the challenge of getting to the top and back down the Stob Daihm route.
Only a 30 Min drive from Isle of Eriska, following the A85. Should you wish to use public transport, Ben Cruachan is available by train and bus. Get the train from Connel Ferry to Falls of Cruachan Station (summer only) or the bus service to Ben Cruachan Power Station Visitor Centre.
What to bring...
This one of the more challenging hikes and would be in need of some planning depending on the season, navigation skills and much more! Some of the basics are as follows;
Food & Drink
The actual amount of energy needed depends on a number of factors: your body weight, age, gender plus the distance and total height gain of the walk. In hill walking, your muscles need both carbohydrate and fatty acids. If the available carbohydrate is reduced too much, then you will have to slow down. Good food also provides the motivation to complete - and enjoy - your expedition.
The most important requirement is water. When we exercise, our body temperature is controlled by the evaporation of sweat from the body surface. If your body is dehydrated, then heat can't be dissipated in this way. This can result in the rapid onset of heat exhaustion.
There is definately more planning in these long walk and some essentials are needed;
- Suitable clothing and footwear
- Suitable map, compass and a route plan
- Basic first aid kit
- A watch
Remember that the essentials may vary depending on season! There is much difference between getting heat struck and snow and ice!
Walking on Isle of Lismore (Achnacroish and Salen Circuit) - 9.5km / 5.75 miles - 2.5 hours - 3.5 hours
Lismore, long, narrow, low-lying and fertile, sits neatly in Loch Linnhe in the south-western end of the Great Glen. The island is tranquil and unspoiled, and surrounded on all sides by stunning mountain scenery, from Ben Nevis in the north (snow-covered in winter) and the Glencoe hills, round, in a clockwise direction, to Ben Cruachan, the hills of Mull to the south and Morvern to the west.
There is a network of little-used old footpaths which criss-cross the island and make possible a variety of different routes. All could be done in a day from the mainland.
This fine circuit starts at Achnacroish, the 'capital' of the beautiful island of Lismore and landing point for the Oban car ferry. It follows sections of both the southeast and northwest coastline of the island and offers wonderful views as well as a cafe at the half way point.
First section of path can be boggy but the rest of the walk follows tracks and minor roads. A short section of track at Salen can be impassable at very high tides. For detailed walk descriptions follow this link
Only a 20 minute drive from Isle of Eriska is Port Appin where the ferry takes you over to Lismore. Leave the car on the main land and the ferry takes you across for £1.60 per person every full hour and leaves back every half hour.
What to bring...
Good shoes although it may be mainly flat, good shoes are a walker's best friend! A small rucksack with an extra dry layer is always recommended. Halfway through the circuit you will reach the Lismore Heritage Centre and cafe where you can enjoy tea and cakes. If you are more of the packed lunch kind of person the hotel can provide packed lunches with fruit and sandwiches.
Beinn Lora - 5.5km / 3.4 Miles or 15.5KM / 9.6 Miles - 2.5 hours - 4.5 hours
Beinn Lora may only be 308 metres high but its position means that the magnificent views from its summit match those from many a Munro. The approach uses way marked forestry walks but the section before the final pull up to the top is a swamp. If you have four legged friends bring them with you, they are good help on the steepest parts and excellent walking company.
The walk can be started from the hotel or from the Beinn Lora car park in Beinn Lora which is part of Barcaldine. Benderloch is the nearest town or village. The car park is situated next to Ledaig Motors filling station or 'Pink Shop' in the centre of Benderloch on the A828 Oban to Fort William road and the sign for Beinn Lora is visible from the road. This is the start of two woodland walks with steep climbs but fantastic views over the Lynn of Lorne.
Only 4 miles from the hotel, following the A828, one can be at the foot of Beinn Lora within a swift 10 minutes by car or approximately 1 hour if one decides to walk from the hotel.
When starting from the car park one can start by walking left or right (both taking you up to the same point), the only difference is that the path to the right will be steeper t first before it becomes flatter midway, the path leading left will start off slightly easier but become steep at the top. Personally we believe the best views are from the path to the right! If you follow this link, it will take you through the walk step by step. On a sunny day you look straight onto Lismore in the background.
What to bring...
Good shoes, some areas of this walk is quite rocky and a solid thick sole in your shoes will help a lot. A small rucksack for a packed lunch is essential, and should you have a sweet tooth the 'pink shop' is conveniently placed at the bottom for those who like to bring that little extra treat. Your camera! This 'little' hill has some stunning views not to be missed! Also do you have four legged friends bring them too, they are great for pulling you up the hills!
Walking on Isle of Kerrera - 9.65km / 6 miles - 2.5 hours - 3.5 hours
Take a trip to Kerrera to hike around the circular 6 mile route cutting across to the other side of the island to enjoy views of Mull and Lismore. Kerrera is the island which is visible directly from Oban Bay. Kerrera is quite a large island and can be compared with Scarba, Seil and Luing, it is however scarcely populated and provides excellent shelter for the Oban harbour. The current population is around 35 people.
Starting from the ferry terminal, this route heads south along the east coast of the island. The bay on your left-hand side here is called Horseshoe Bay. It was here in 1249 that King Alexander II died while attempting to re-take western Scotland from the Norwegians.
On reaching the south of the island the route passes a tea shop, the only source of refreshments and public toilets on the walk, then leaves the main track to visit Gylen Castle and the southern shore of the island, with good views out to sea.
Gylen Castle (the name means 'Castle of Fountains') has a shorter history than most Scottish castles: built in 1582 by MacDougalls of Dunollie (just north of Oban), destroyed by the Covenanters under General Leslie in 1647 and restored in 2006, the work being financed by Historic Scotland and the worldwide MacDougall clan.
The return route, still with plenty of interest and good views, starts parallel to the western shore of the island, but a little higher on an old drovers' road, before cutting across the hilly interior of the island to return to the ferry terminal
It takes only 20 minutes by car from Eriska following the A828 to Oban. The Kerrera Ferry Time Table can be found here or you can get the small shuttle from Oban to Kerrera.
What to bring...
If you are out for the day, a packed lunch is good to have - if you let us know in advance we can provide some lovely packed lunches for the whole family. If you check in advance, Kerrera Tea Garden may be open and can offer traditional and home cooked foods, including their own baked bread and cakes - the perfect place for a treat after a walk.
Walking on Isle of Eriska - From 30 mins to 1.5 hours
Eriska itself is a 300 acre paradise. The Island sits at the mouth of Loch Creran, a Marine Site designated Special Area Conservation. Part of the charm of Eriska is the ability it offers to explore the estate and enjoy the island as if it were your own. From the formal ground to the western seaboard to the rugged hill side, the whole estate has a charm and is genuinely interesting and exciting to explore whether you are a nature and wildlife devotee or simply keen to walk and wander the many paths and trails in search of peace and tranquillity.
It is easy to do simply walk till you meet the sea, turn left or right and when you reach the bridge or the Pier simply head back to the main house. Alternatively pick up a map of the island and guide yourself around using the white posts which mark the trails and stop off at the information points to learn about the flora, fauna and wildlife as you explore Eriska.
A map of the island is available from reception but also through this link.
The Easy Walk
Mainly flat, and will not require much preparation. You can walk down to the pier, across the golf course, or past the driving range, walking towards the west side of the island. Terrain is mainly flat with accessible paths.
The Moderate Walk
The moderate option would take you down to the heronry, back up to the cairn and down the path above the hotel. In this loop the paths are easily recognisable with some hills and uneven surfaces as you go along.
The Scrambly Walk
Takes you along the shoreline on the west side of the island and down towards Mrs B's house. You can start by walking down to the pier and along the shoreline, or walk through the putting range and down the path following the white signs (this one is slightly easier to walk). Further down you will see Wache, he sits on the stone watching over the island and its guests. For this walk, keep an eye on the tides!
Hill Skills Summary
For the shorter walks on the island
Like most walks in the countryside always let people know where you go, dress for the weather and, bring a camera, borrow a pair of wellies from the main entrance if you were so unlucky to forget shoes or misinterpret the weather for your stay (nearly impossible if you follow our West Coast Weather blog each week). Is the weather warm, remember to bring a bottle of water with you! Follow these simple 'rules' and you will, without a doubt, enjoy your walk!
For the longer walks
Food & Drink
In hill walking, your muscles need both carbohydrate and fatty acids. If the available carbohydrate is reduced too much, then you will have to slow down. Good food also provides the motivation to complete - and enjoy - your expedition. If you in advance are planning to go for hill walks while you are here let us know and we can provide packed lunches with delicious sandwiches, fruit and a bottle of water. The most important requirement is water! When we exercise, our body temperature is controlled by the evaporation of sweat from the body surface.
Footwear & Clothing
Walking boots should be like a good friend - supportive without being irritating. Your shoes for the longer walk should therefore be;
- Water proof
- High enough to support your ankle.
- Padded - the insole and upper lining should give a firm but comfortable support to the whole foot.
Always bring the appropriate layers depending on season and destination! Having extra dry layers can make such a difference.
Some of the Essentials
- Suitable map, compass and a route plan
- Basic first aid kit
- A watch
- A torch
For more information on hill skills visit the British Mountaineering Council!
The Equinox - days get shorter and nights get longer!
If only it was a simple as this but in reality it is the end of summer and the official start of Autumn. All the schools are back, the daily basket of apples from the orchard is regular and the leaves are starting to fall added to this the nights are closing in and Autumn is most definitely here. my mother would agree with this as he maintains no central heating for the summer and that Autumn is here when heating is needed- and to think 5 years ago central heating would have been a luxury only required when the snow was on the ground!
Anyway I always think of this weekend as being wet and windy due to the expected equinox gales and the rush in the boat yard to get all the boats out of the water for winter before the winds start to roar. At least this prediction was right yesterday as sitting by a roaring log fire enjoying the comforts of the library was very tempting but as usual today bucked the trend and calm tranquil weather purveyed leaving me a little foolish in my weather forecast but maybe I can do better for this week's west highland weather!
Today: Mainly dry with some clear intervals during this evening and overnight, but generally a good deal of cloud. Some light, patchy, rain with extensive hill fog. Some mist patches developing later in places.
Monday: Mist patches clearing then bright and mainly dry with some sunny intervals developing. Cloudier with any early, light, rain dying out
Tuesday: After a dry start outbreaks of rain spreading south later on
Wednesday: A cloudy damp morning turning to heavy heavy rain for a time.
Thursday: Brighter weather today following yesterdays rain before rain returns northwards in the afternoon
Friday: Rain is likely to affect us at first on Friday but it should become mainly dry with some warm sunny spells in the afternoon.
Saturday: After a dry night rain or showers are likely to spread in from the south so deending on progress we should have a better morning although it will set in for the weekend.
Earlier this summer we wrote about the Three Peaks Race - From Barmouth to Fort William via Isle of Eriska, and Mr Gayle and his crew had to seek shelter at Eriska at the end of June 2013 as a storm was building up and the race had to be aborted. Driac was left in Eriska's care until now. Mr Gayle has been so nice to write about Driac's beautiful journey back to its permanent home to Milford Haven:
As a Edinburgh resident, it is noticable that the Edinburgh festival is over, children are back at school, and in a few weeks time the autumn breeze will blow summer leaves.
On reflection 2013 proved to be a great summer to visit the west coast. We had an almost unprecedented long spell of sunny days and very little rain. My summer ended with a memorable sailing trip departing from Eriska.
It was starting to get dark and a greyish light began to bathe Lismore. We had finished our supper and the tide had begun to go south. Visitors to the Island earlier in the summer might have noticed Driac, a pre-War wooden yacht, on one of the hotel's moorings. I was tasked with skippering the delivery passage back to her permanent home in Milford Haven.
As we let go of the mooring a thought crossed my mind. There was a chance that I could become remembered as 'that fella who ran aground in that old wooden boat'. There are a line of rocks between the shore and Airds Point that are a submerged banana skin which I could easily slip on. I knew that there was plenty of water underneath the yacht's keel and I kept a nervous eye on the depth sounder. What could possibly go wrong?
We motored out past the familiar outline of Glas Eilean. I breathed a sigh of relief that we had not gone aground, and then in a few moments we got the sails up and we were on our way. My plan was to get as far south in one chunk as possible. We had plenty of fuel and were relatively well victualled. Mrs B had kindly slipped us a parcel containing some homemade provisions (a large shepherd's pie, a tarte, a fruit cake, and a marmalade sponge). Aunts are definitely the Patron Saints of nephews!
We gently passaged south, soon passing Oban and then Kerrera. Before too long we were down at Insh Island, and as we passed down the coast of Seil I went below to put the kettle on. Shortly after we could make out the profile of Easdale. I remembered having dinner at the hotel with dear old Mr B one December. The next day we took the wee ferry over to Easdale along with the islander's giant Christmas tree! I understand that Easdale was once owned by a former Chairman of the philately company Stanley Gibbons, and that they produced Easdale stamps.
The lighthouse on Fladda and its slightly lower yeoman on Dubh Sgeir, stood like dutiful sentries guarding the entry to the Sound of Luing. With the lights behind us we passaged down the eastern coastlines of Lunga and Scarba, with Luing on our port side. Two flashes from the light on Reisa an t-Struith suddenly popped out over the dark horizon with the crystal clarity of a pair of diamond earrings. When the north end of Jura was on our beam we had the first thirty odd miles in the bag. I decided that it was time for me to go below and get my head down.
We were able to undertake the complete passage in three large chunks. The first leg ended when we put in at Rathlin Island (just off the Northern Irish coast). After a night alongside we went a little way down the Irish coast before crossing over to Holyhead, where wesheltered from a southerly gale for twenty four hours. We then reached Milford Haven on the third and final push, having logged a total of 432 miles.
The autumn is a good time to start planning the next year's adventures and holidays. I hope to do a little more background reading, as what little I do always uncovers something interesting. For example I have only just discovered that Eriska is the Gaelic for water-nymph island. Here are some ideas for Eriska guests with yachting and outdoor tendencies.
The Firth of Lorn is often overlooked as a cruising ground. I highly recommend visiting the Cuan Sound. The Loch Melfort area is definitely worthy of a visit, and both Loch Spelve on Mull and Loch Aline on the Morven peninsula provide picturesque anchorages. I frequently fantasise about undertaking a malt whisky cruise. After sampling the many delights of Islay, and the distilleries on Jura and Mull, the hotel and spa would make an ideal location for a spot of pampering and recovery. Ben More and the Paps of Jura provide possibilities for combining yachting and hillwalking and can easily be visited within a loop that includes a visit to the hotel. The more spiritually minded might like a trip to Iona, or even the more local site of the monastery on Lismore that was established in 564AD.
Some years ago I was on a sailing trip in the US, up in New England. A friendly group of locals told me that their buddy was planning a transatlantic trip from Portland Maine to Portland in England. Another of their friends had sailed from Yarmouth Maine to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. I knew that there are also towns called Belfast, Bangor and Portsmouth in Maine, but a quick look at my atlas revealed that there is also a coastal town called Port Clyde. They also have a North Berwick, but it is inland and therefore would be an impractical departure point. I wonder if a cacographic lager enthusiast might enjoy a passage starting in Tenants Harbour Maine, on a quest to get home for some Caledonian amber nectar?
These thoughts of transatlantic adventures aside, more realistically I fancy trying Eriskay to Eriska. I suspect that it would be about seventy miles, and in the prevailing south-westerly winds it would be ideal for an old boat like Driac that sails best with the wind on her beam.
My final idea for an adventure came to me during a vivid dream on that first night when I went below for a snooze. As I dozed I must have had a few things rumbling around my mind. The week before I had re-read Roger Oliver's book on his voyage around Britain and Eire. In the dream we had sailed around Britain, starting and ending at Eriska. We picked up the hotel's mooring and then rowed ashore. Beppo was on the beach with Dibley, his trusty labrador. As we stepped ashore Beppo said "good evening Gentlemen, I have had your dinner jackets cleaned". That would have been a most stylish end to a great voyage!
Happy adventuring in 2014, Vernon Gayle
Read more about the Three Peaks Race here