Exploring from Arisaig

Date published: 30 July 2019

Midnight Mirage was away on a 10-day adventure and would be arriving at Arisaig just to the south of Mallaig tomorrow. My wife Jean and I set off for Mallaig to have a night off before meeting the charterers in the morning. They had enjoyed some great sailing, some great climbing, and had managed 650nm in 10 days!

Their routing had taken them from Largs down to Dublin and to Caernarvon where they disembarked for a climb up Snowdon. This was their own “Challenge” to do the Three Peaks to their own agenda. They then routed through the Menai Straits on across Liverpool Bay to Whitehaven and spend a great day climbing Scafell before returning to Midnight Mirage for their next epic sail, Whitehaven to Fort William. The distance is 230nm and this was sailed over two nights nonstop which was quite an achievement considering the timings required to round both the Mull of Galloway and The Mull of Kintyre and then get the right tide for the Sound of Luing and the Corran narrows. I think the last 70nm from Fort William up to Arisaig was probably the most relaxing part of the trip!

The Crew were all in great spirits, but tired after their epic 10 days and we duly ferried them up to the station at Arisaig where they departed for one of the most beautiful and scenic railway journeys in the UK back to Glasgow and Largs. We relaxed, enjoyed the sunshine, checked and cleaned Midnight Mirage ready for the next weekend and returned home to Ayrshire.

Next Friday my two pals David and Ian and I took the train north to Arisaig. What a wonderful ride that is. They even stop the train at the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct for the passengers to take photos!

We arrived at Arisaig and very kindly the Arisaig Marine Staff picked us up, ran us down to the jetty and took us out to our swinging mooring. We departed the next morning once the tide had come in and had a great time negotiating the windy shallow route out to open water. It’s a combination of a wide expanse of sands with rocky spots, all quite flat and marked with poles and perches that are frequently checked and replaced. You must keep to the marked channel and must wait for the tide to be right for the shallow rocky bit. Once we were clear we had a great sail up to The Isle of Ornsay for the night. It’s a lovely anchorage sheltered from the South Westerly winds and has a Whisky Shop, an Art Gallery, and a great Pub and Hotel. We had an excellent afternoon. We selected a fine locally blended scotch whisky, enjoyed the art gallery and had a splendid meal in the pub before returning to the boat for the night. We pottered down to Mallaig the next day, pure sailing and checking out all the tiny attractive bays and went ashore to do our shopping.

There’s plenty of choice of places to eat in Mallaig, with huge locally caught Langoustines at pretty good prices. We departed Mallaig in the morning sunshine to explore the southern coastline of Skye.

It wasn’t long before it clouded over, and the rain started but we still had a good sail and worked our way through the gloomy weather towards Scavaig. As we got closer we dropped the sails and carefully navigated our way in to Loch na Cuile which is the inner pool and very dramatic too! The entrance to the inner pool is a bit tricky. Worth having two of you on the navigation to confirm which rocks you are looking at. Once in we nosed around at about ¼kn as it was very shallow albeit on a rising tide. There’s a part of the pool where there’s a waterfall that comes down off the mountain and it has produced a bit of an underwater silty delta. We found it and came to an unsusceptible stop and then reversed off before setting the anchor.

It is quite awe-inspiring. It is a dark and foreboding pool at the foot of the Cuillins that rise almost sheer from the anchorage. We were fortunate to see it in the mist and low cloud as it is quite spectacular in those conditions. They say that if it’s windy and there’s a North Westerly blow then don’t go there as it can be very nasty with horrible squalls coming down off the mountainside.

After lunch we set sail to work our way towards Canna. We had a great sail, found the wind, and had a lovely run south between the isles of Rum and Eigg before turning North West to run up close to the Rum Coast and into Canna Harbour. We anchored up in this delightfully sheltered anchorage and no sooner was the anchor set, the clouds cleared, and the sun came out. What a splendid way to end a great day.

The rest of the trip was most relaxing. The weather was good, the company was great, and the sailing was excellent!

Back in Dunstaffnage we handed Midnight Mirage over to our next charterers, waved them off, and caught the bus home. What a week.

Paul Turner

SeaSpray Scotland Yacht Charters