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.