Last week the Three Peaks Yacht Race kicked off in Barmouth! It is one of the oldest and most extraordinary extreme multi-sport endurance races in the world.
We thought we would write a bit about it as we received a fugitive from the storm building up during the race last Friday. At the far right in the above picture lies Driac. As the weather was forecasted to become more challenging over the weekend and the team had experienced some problems, they decided to anchor up at our pier at Eriska. Driac is a Champer & Nicholson 1930 and has an experienced team with skipper Charles Lyster, Crew members; Mr Nick Ray & Mr Vernon Gayle and Runners; Mr Stefan Fritz and Miss Julie Shaunessey.
Each year this classic sporting event combining sailing, running and cycling, challenges intrepid teams to sail from the mid-Wales coastal resort of Barmouth, up the west coast of the UK, to finish in Fort William. Teams of four or five per yacht sailed from Barmouth to Fort William, with two from each crew climbing the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland en route, and running the equivalent of three marathons in 3 or 4 days!
The race draws competitors from a wide variety of sporting backgrounds and sailing experience, ranging from off-shore cruising to round-the-world racing. Sailing and sports clubs, military and company teams all enter the race and compete on equal terms. The Race has attracted competitors from all over the UK, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Eire, Norway, USA, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia.
How the Three Peaks race came to be
H.W. (Bill) Tilman was a famous English mountaineer and explorer and known for his adventures as a climber and sailor. Living in Barmoth the inspiration behind the idea of a race was conceived by his doctor, Rob Haworth.
The actual idea of making it into a race came from Rob Haworth’s partner, Dr Merfyn Jones. Sitting around the kitchen table on a cold winter’s evening in 1976 Rob recounted his idea for his holidays. Merfyn heard him out and then said “wouldn’t it make a marvellous race”. They set out a rough map using kitchen utensils, with bottles to represent the mountains, and worked out the logistics. Merfyn spent his spring break checking out the course, a committee was formed from local people interested in sailing and Bill Tilman was invited to be the race president.
Seven teams took part in the first race in 1977, and it took those entrants just over 5 days to sail 389 miles, climb 11,000 feet and walk or run 73 miles. Unusually monohulls and multihulls raced together without handicap for the first 11 years. This year, today it is a fierce race against time.
The Ultimate Challenge
For the sailors, the Race includes many seamanship problems not normally associated with yacht races: the crossing of Caernarfon Bar, the treacherous Swellies in the Menai Straits, the rounding of the Mull of Kintyre, the whirlpools of the notorious Gulf of Corryvreckan, and finally the narrows at Corran where the ebb will stop the boat dead in the water. Thus a well found boat is needed and much meticulous planning and preparation is required for success. Yachts are not designed for rowing and to get the best out of oars, which many boats carry, special fittings are needed.
The runners, both gentlemen and ladies, include some of the finest fell runners and marathon runners in the country. Generally marathon runners don’t much care for running up and down hills and fell runners are equally adverse to running on roads. The mountains present problems of their own; there is always snow on Ben Nevis, even in June; wind, rain and mist can make conditions atrocious. Added to which many have to do their running in the dark and for those who suffer from sea sickness they do not even start the runs feeling at their best. The faster the yacht sails the quicker the runs come round. For the leading boats the runners usually have to do the first two runs, 24 miles and 48 miles respectively during one 24-hour period.
In 2000, the port of Whitehaven replaced the port of Ravenglass as the port for Scafell Pike. This being further away than the previous port, bicycles are now being used for the first 15 miles to the mountain before the runners are again faced with an extra 2,000ft high mountain pass! The talents of the runners and the sailors must be combined – teamwork is really essential in this race.
The Race is a journey through much of the finest scenery in the UK. Barmouth itself lies at the mouth of the Mawddach estuary described by Wordsworth as “sublime”. When leaving Whitehaven to go to Fort William (approximately 227 sea miles), the teams round the Mull of Kintyre and go into the Sound of Jura, through more beautiful scenery but with many tidal gates to negotiate. The race finishes just north of Fort William at Corpach, the entrance to the Caledonian canal where the sailing is over and skippers can relax. The runners, after checking in with the marshals, set off to the summit of Ben Nevis, finishing when they return to cross the finish line.
Being the ultimate challenge in the UK, the Three Peaks Race has spawned other 3 Peaks yacht races in other part of the world, amongst some; Australia and Hong Kong which has lead 3 Peaks yacht racing to become a genre of its own.
Do you feel like challenging yourself yet? Next year's race has already been planned to start 7th June 2014 - so you have plenty of time to prepare yourself!
I had a phone call a few days ago, and they asked me if the hotel was well liked by couples looking to relax and enjoy a proper getaway. And I thought, YES absolutely!
Having talked to a few guests and their plans for their stay, we decided to list some of the things couples enjoy doing when they come for a weekend, whether it is for a few days away from the hectic life of work or celebrating an anniversary. We have listed just some of the things you can do when staying at Eriska for all year round and some tips to actually leave the ever present world behind for a weekend. You will undoubtedly find your own ways of making it worth remembering.
10 Ways to Rekindle the Romance in Eriska.
Enjoy long meals together, spend time in the morning and just chat over a long breakfast.
Curl up together by the fireplace in the hall/lounge in the hotel with a good book. The hotel has many books to borrow away and can be found throughout the hotel.
Take some time off the iPhone and iPad when you are here and enjoy each others company.
Book a spa treatment together, it is the ultimate relaxation. A holistic total body care massage lasts for 85 minutes and will leave both body and soul in harmony.
Enjoy a relaxing evening in the hot tub - the spa suites come with their own garden and hot tub and are strictly for couples.
Go for a picnic together! The island has many treasured spots to settle down for a bite, the food is prepared by the kitchen to take away and maps of the island are available at the reception.
Challenge each other in a mini tournament of putting, winner gets to chose next week's favourite TV show or where the next restaurant visit goes.
Go for a day-trip to the surrounding islands, Scotland's West Coast host impressive scenery with beautiful beaches, the romantic Eilean Donan Castle on the Isle of Skye, and rich history and culture to be experienced on the isles of Mull and Iona.
Spend an evening by the bar in the concervatory and wait for the badgers to come visit the steps.
10. Sit by the cairn at Eriska to watch the sunset (which is around 22:00 these days).
Coming to Eriska you will have time for at least two of these 'activities' if not more. As one of our guests said; "All in all, Eriska is a lovely spot to spend some time relaxing, eating well, and curling up by the log fires with a good book".
Eriska has so many places waiting to be explored and is the perfect escape for those in need of some pampering, sea air, delicious food and good wine.
As I stepped onto the platform this morning I wondered how many other commuters had experienced as enjoyable a Saturday as I had? On Friday night I had the good fortune to hear Jools Holland and his big band play in Perth. After the concert I drove across to Eriska. There was a thick dark blue band of light on the horizon even though it was close to midnight. The longest day is just around the corner and hopefully some better weather is on it way.
I arrived at Eriska around 2:00 am, and Beppo met me with the news that we would be leaving shortly after six. Moments after my eyelids closed it was time to get up. Our task was to pre-position Beppo's boat in the Clyde ready for racing over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Things were looking promising. Seona had arranged scrambled egg and bacon rolls and a suitably highly calorific picnic. The passage down toward the Crinan Canal was wonderful. A northerly wind pushed us down past Oban and on past Easdale and Seil. We had clear views of Ben More on Mull, and we speculated on the progess of the boats in the Scottish Islands Peak Race. The runners of the slower boats would have been on Ben More in the dark, but they all should have been well on their way to Jura to tackle the Paps.
A little later we passed Corryvreckan. I remembered that that George Orwell's brother-in-law is famed as the first man to swim the whirlpool. This is more of an achievement because he only had one leg. We arrived at the start of the lock system in relatively good time, although there was still a fair chance that we would not make it out the other end before the locks closed. Seona had come down to lend a hand and give us a lift back to Eriska. The lock system provides a critical safe passageway for boats to move between the west coast and the Clyde. As well as being a fantastic example of engineering, the canal is a very peaceful interlude between the rugged seascape of the west coast and the wide estuarial waters of the post-industrial Clyde.
In my view the west coast provides the most amazing yacht cruising of anywhere in Britain, but the Clyde is a close second. Therefore to be able to link both of these areas up in a single day trip is especially appealing. I always find the seaward approach to Eriska very dramatic. If you are ever leaving by boat and going south, take a glance over your shoulder and you will get a unique glimpse of the Baronial elegance of the main house. Using the canal makes a trip to Eriska for dinner followed by a return passage home the next day a viable, and very attractive, possibility for Clyde-based yacht owners.
Last week we were blessed with some refreshing spells of sunshine on Scotland's West Coast, however over the Friday and Saturday the wind caught up with us before calming down over night.
This week commencing looks to be starting with a bit of mist but will gradually brighten as we go, but varying temperatures, with warmer days at the start of the week.
Today: A grey, misty start with some drizzle in places before gradually turning brighter with sunny spells developing into the afternoon. Best of the sunshine and temperatures across the coast .There may also be some evening sunshine at first with some occasional drizzle during the evening and overnight.
Monday: Dull, misty, start with drizzle in places before brightening up with sunnier spells developing. Perhaps remaining misty across some coasts. A few showers developing later, with a risk of thunder.
Tuesday: Cloudy start, with early patchy mist and drizzle, turning drier and brighter.
Wednesday: It will be turning cooler and breezy with projected showers later.
Thursday: The unseasonal weather continues- a bit cool and breezy with some showers.
Friday: It continues to be a bit breezy, but with some sunshine spells.
Saturday: The stiff breezes will continue into the weekend, otherwise brighter than previous days.
What do we do when the calendar is slowly moving against summer, but the weather is not? Over the next few weeks we will post interesting things you can do if the weather doesn't allow the typical summer activities!
If you are coming to visit us at Isle of Eriska the coming week remember to bring your camera, the colours now are vibrant with the scenery slowly turning from pale orange to delicious green.
This week, we have experinced much of what Eriska and the surrounding area has to offer, but also a lot of the things guests can enjoy while staying with us at the hotel!
On wednesday, the weather allowed for some of our guests with the more atristic nerve to spend time outside capuring the main house.
Did you know, that our hotel was built in 1884 by a branch of stewarts of Appin and the architect Hippolyte Blanc? He was known for his attention to details and for the Scottish Baronial Style. Blanc's work can also be seen in Edinbugh today, where the St Cutberth's Church and the Argyll Tower are amongst some of his works.
Today we went out with a client of ours who will be coming back to stay with us later in the summer to look at all that the West Coast of Scotland can offer! We were picked up by Struan from Costal Connection who took us over by boat to Kingairloch - only a 25 minute journey accross from Eriska. Kingairloch is a 14,000 acre highland estate and is home to a wide range of animals, birds and flora throughout the year and also feature the Boat House restaurant, serving exquisit seasonal cuisine - all grown or captured on the estate.
But what is exquisite cuisine withouth Scotlands national beverage?
We got back onto the boat and set our course towards Oban to visit the Oban Distillery. Oban Distillery is one of Scotland's oldest sources of single malt scotch whisky and are proud of their Oban 14 year old Single Malt with its hints of honey,smoke, citrus orange and sea salt. Well worth a visit if you are staying with us.
What are you doing for the World Whisky Day this weekend on Saturday 18th?
Are you one of the lucky ones coming to our tutored whisky tasting session on Saturday at the Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Golf? It is open to residents of the Hotel and any residents dining with us in the evening.
The session will allow our guests and diners to nose their way through the range of exclusive bottles of Eriska malt we have had especially made for our residents - From the ten year old malt of Islay to the 10 year old Speyside, we will highlight the characteristics of each bottle and the complete trilogy with the Sherry Wood Cask of 14 year old Speyside.
Come stay with us this weekend for an exciting evening, or book a table in the restaurant. we need a 24h notice for bookings with our restaurant.You can book with us by pressing the button below.
We hope you have had a wonderful start of your week,
As you may know, we recently celebrated our 40th anniversary at Eriska, a wonderful 40 years that are worth celebrating, by putting up a bronze otter at our otter point on the west side of island! We are still looking for a suitable name for him, and you can enter the name our otter campaign before the 31st May by liking our facebook page, or by clicking at the button below.
So why do we celebrate anniversaries? There is something about anniversaries that is special. Anniversaries, by definition, commemorate important events in our lives. They are milestones of so many things; achievement, happiness, commitment, loss, and sadness but maybe most of all they are celebrated in great happiness. They may be wedding anniversaries, the day you got engaged, a special achievement or a birthday – they are all anniversaries that should be recognised and celebrated. They are ways of reliving an experience or even the very start of new ones. Anniversaries are important, not just because they celebrate an earlier event, but because they help us relive it.
It may all sound straightforward, but in today’s fast phased work and family life, we tend to forget these very important dates. You may find yourself in the position where you realise just in time or you find your self in the position of making up for the forgotten anniversary, for those reasons have a look at our two easy tips to remember the important day;
Create the 'dates really worth remembering' calendar on your smart phone or in your diary
Set an alarm for it! – In this digital age almost anything is possible, maybe more importantly, set that alarm a month ahead so that you can start to plan for that unforgettable anniversary celebration.
Why not come to us at Eriska for that special anniversary getaway to celebrate? If you have been with us before you can book to relive that special moment, or if you are thinking of coming for the first time, we would love to make it truly unforgettable. At Isle of Eriska you can celebrate in beautiful surroundings and make new memories worth sharing.
There is more to life than increasing its speed, and at Eriska you can truly relax and enjoy time with your family and loved ones. Walks around the island is a brilliant way to relax and also explore as the weather is slowly getting better.
Some fashionable wellies and sunglasses may be the way to start the week!
Its hard to beleive we are actually in May and that the longest day is just over a montha way, however thats what British weather is all about! The weather again this week looks typical for the west coast of Scotland- Changeable with a wet influence!
Although there are some heavy clouds, a few rays of sun will be peeking through during the week. The birds are still singing, which makes you forget about the weather. Indeed this morning we were woken by the first cukoo of the year - nice to hear and reminds us of the changing seasons but by tomorrow morning we will no doubt have already heard enough!
So whats ahead this week on the weather front?
Today: A mainly dry start but cloudy with outbreaks of rain spreading east this morning, this mainly light. Brighter but showery conditions then spread east from late afternoon with some sunshine at times and bringing in a freshening southwest breeze which will stregnthen and become westerly.
Monday: A bright day with some sunny spells and blustery showers these occasionally wintry on higher ground with snow on the hills- hard to beleive it is mid May!.
Tuesday : Another day of Sunshine and showers although it will hopefully be mor eorf teh former and less of the latter!
Wedenesday : It will start cold for this tiem of year but as teh sun peaks thrugh so teh temperatuyre will rise- although bewarned that showers are styill a possibility
Thursday: A mainly dry day but some thundery showers possible in the afternoons with light winds making it seem warmer than earlier in the week.
Friday: The rather unsettled conditions are set to continue with showers and longer periods of rain.
Saturday: At last we can start to look forward to brighter and drier spells with a good deal of sunshine for teh weekends whilst condistions sdown south will remains decideley unseasonal.
This week I have been in London working with our sales team helping to - or at least hoping to - spread the word about Eriska to potential visitors. Its amazing the even after 40 years how many people who have been in the travel trade still have never heard of Eriska, been to the west coast of Scotland or even been north of Hadrians Wall so I have been trying to do my wee bit for us all.
However I am often confronted by the question about who our typical guest is and what they normally do and whilst this is an easy answer to reach as I am never short of suggestions for guests it is also very difficult as we have no "typical" Guest as every one is different and each market place is so different. However in truth - whilst each visitor to Eriska may be here for a different reason and they partake in a huge variety of activities or even inactivities the majority do come for relaxation and recuperation, hoping to leave us less tired, stressed and harassed than when they arrived.
However when I got back I had a brief look round the dining room- if only to satisfy myself that my answer earlier about the ecclectic clientele was correct- but it soon became clearly that a trend is emerging which I was previously unaware of- Eriska is the Perfect Scottish Honeymoon Destination. However given it was a English Bank Holiday and the fact that just over two years ago there was a Royal Wedding- I should maybe not have been surprised to see the number of honeymoon couples in the dining room- almost half.
However whilst this shows a new trend, and on the face of it it should make our lives simple it is far from simple as the age groups vary- the level of activities enjoyed varies and this simply enures that we need to treat each couple individually and tailor their breaks to ther needs or simply insure that they have nothing arranged and are simply free to enjoy the island and their first few days of married life- and recuoperate for what may have been the most stressful day of their life so far!
It is our role at Eriska to create an atmosphere in which couples enjoy a unique private celebration marking the start of your marriage the most distinctive experience that will stay a treasured memory forever. Honeymoons should be unique- most only ever have one and therefore most people have no first hand experiece of what to expect but probably also have lots of expectation!
Whether the package includes all the cliched bottle of champagne awaiting their arrival, a romantic room service dinner and a relaxing couples full-body massage at our ESPA spa or simply a clear diary and no plans we can adapt and change . Honeymooners can indulge in the lavish luxury of a traditional country manor or the idyllic woodland privacy of our luxury outdoor spa suites, complete with private garden and Jacuzzi. But in short they create their perfect experience from our range of sporting activities, exceptional spa treatments and services, and award-winning culinary menus. Unwind in the comfort of our hotel and enjoy a romantic daytime stroll on our grounds taking in the breathe taking mountainous scenery, or romantic evening wander absorbing the star-bound sky.
The experiences are endless, we have however had to offer special honeymoon packages simply to give ideas to guest of what we can do although in reality most create a package having discussed it with the team at Eriska. Anyway its really rewarding to the team to be able to make a mark on couples first few days of married life and gives a real sense of purpose when we see then start to relax and unwind and then enjoy all that Eriska has to offer
I suppose it should be no surprise that another bank holiday weekend is a wash out but then again its not really a "Bank Holiday" here in Scotland and normally the first week in May brings with it the start of real summer. However there is no doubt that over the last few months there has been no real normal weather pattern with spring in full flow in Argyll while the rest of the country has shivered and drowned -- so now when we would normally see sunshine and blue skies I suppose a change is not surprising!
At least there is activity in the garden though as the grass on the golf course has turned green and is in full flourish, the geese have taken flight and headed north, the warmth in the ground has certainly kicked the seeds and plants in the gardens both in green houses and outside but along with that comes the weeds too so it is a busy time simply keeping on top of the grounds keeping it all tidy.
So will this week be a week of sun tan lotion and hard graft over the flower beds or a week of wellies and water standing in converted paddy fields?
Today: After a wonderful dawn yesterday the day simply deteriorated and turned to rain and today looks similar except the dawn will be a bit cloudier and the rain during the day less consistent!
Monday: Remaining cloudy throughout today with some rain at times. The patchy rain turning more persistent during today.
Tuesday: Another cloudy, damp, day with further outbreaks of light rain. The rain will be more persistent towards the north, but southern parts tending to turn dry later.
Wednesday:Bright start but with rain spreading in.
Thursday: Clearing early on then bright with blustery showers. Further rain for a time in the afternoon then finally drying up
Friday: Whilst the wind will be strong it should bring a the start of a change in conditions with drier weather pushing in.
Saturday: Whilst this period will start unsettled due to the strong winds it will seem warmer and drier- hopefully a sign of things to come!
Otter sightings on Eriska are not unheard of and in fact some of our guests are attracted by the thrill of the search. These sensitive and playful mammals hold an irresistible charm over our guests enjoying a relaxing walk along the island’s edge, which has made them a favourite over the years.
Eriska’s coastal environment is ideally suited to their habitation.
Our natural habitat remains untouched by urban development, water pollution or the use of pesticides. Our island location is remote from main roadways, which is one of the greatest threats to their numbers as roadkill deaths are one of their biggest threats. Our coastal and land environments offers food on tap: fish, shellfish, but also birds, small mammals, etc.
However all is now solved with the latest addition the the Eriska family. A year ago we were approached by one of our guests with aproposal to add an Otter sculpture to the beach at Eriska. Whilst at the outset this sounded a rather daft idea it was also the sort of concept which begins to attract support and is one which soon had enough traction to move from dream to reality.
So over the last year Kenneth Robertson has been working on a piece for us - not only was the actual otter sculpture important but insuring it fitted in to the environment and more importantly onto a rock at Otter Point was essential. Several visits later and much hard work from Keneth and his son have now seen the installation on the shore.
I am sure like us vsiitors will be pleased with it and will come to admire and enjoy our new constant and guaranteed resident. he now has three roles, to guard teh entrance to loch creran, to encourgae otters to teh shores and to offer a sighting spot for visitors. Howeer should this still one be to easy to spot here are some handy hints to have the best chance of spotting our eluisove creatures:
•Look for their ideal location: clean water, vegetated banks, and available prey.
•Look out for their distinctive webbed toe prints, or droppings (that may contain fish bones and scales)
•Dawn explorers will have the best chance of spotting them.
•Be still and patient, or walk quietly; keeping upwind.
Take care to avoid disturbing them or their habitat. With no guarantees of a sighting, our island setting itself is worth exploring and enjoying.