Published 13:03 on 20 Aug 2023
Who needs the Med with the Sun, Dolphins, Seafood and Whisky of the Scottish Western Isles?
Our 130 NM'ish trip around some of the Western isles began at Craobh Haven, a beautiful isolated harbour, just 2-3 hours from Glasgow airport. There were 27 of us divied up between four questionable vessels (skippered by Nigel, Rachel, Stuart and Neil) with some endearing idiosyncrasies that added a touch of uncertainty and whiff of danger at various points. However, the weather, wildlife and food were so amazing, small matters of non-functioning engines and anchors were soon forgotten...
Some of the locals we met on the way commented they'd seen more good weather that week than in the last 30 years. Being hot, with no rain at all (honest) the visibility was great, with far reaching views of many isles, mountains and even (allegedly) Ben Nevis. The downside of the great weather was variable wind, so some motoring at times, but with the splendour of the passing scenery this didn't seem to matter. Visibility was particularly useful in being able to see a wide range of wildlife, from pods of 30-40 dolphins accompanying us several times for half an hour or more to some whale sightings, seal heads bobbing up and down, barrel jellyfish (huge and scary looking, clue is in the name). Loads of birds, can't remember their names, all looked the same to me apart from the ones with orange beaks. We motored around an imposing island (what was it called?), comprised of tall cliffs of basalt columns, with so many puffings. To gain some respite from the intense beauty of the scenery and wildlife we ate out most nights in a variety of restaurants with great sea views, sampling a wide range of local fresh seafood and chilled Lambrusco (possibly better than the Tenants).
Neil Cox planned a great route, usually mooring buoys or anchorages in remote, unspoilt bays. Of particular note was the anchorage at Tinkers Hole (off of Iona), seemingly a remote basin like pool surrounded by nearly 360 degrees of rock faces, an idyllic location for our single self-catering evening and high stakes cards night. When we departed Tinkers Hole the next morning, you could see just up from the anchorage around 50 motor homes parked! Another notable evening was dinner on the Isle of Colonsay at the Colonsay Hotel, not as straight forward as some of the other dinners: after a longish motor from the mooring buoys to the beach, it became clear we had to climb a steep headland to get to the hotel. Whilst LANCOM (the LCSC landing committee) deliberated the best route, impatient others set off to find the hotel, taking a myriad of different routes, climbing fences, wading thru streams, and all eventually arriving for dinner by nightfall... The way back was considerably easier, just a 15min stroll following the direct track back to the beach that the hotel manager pointed out to us.
The combination of all these factors made it more than just a sailing trip, it was a great all round holiday. Perfectly organised, thanks to all the skippers and Berenice backoffice, and to Neil for planning such a great itinerary, wildlife and weather. And how could we have managed without Cassie managing us, remembering all our food choices and managing the challenges with the charterco.
Did I mention we saw loads of puffings? And a Sea Eagle! And the whisky and card games...?
Written by: Stuart Baker
Photo Credit: Cassie Gleeson
Last updated 13:48 on 21 August 2023