When we left the beach at Ardnish we started on the last leg of our journey from Glenfinnan to Lochailort. A fresh breeze from the southwest was welcome as we could utilise our sails to help push against the ebb tide pouring from Loch Ailort.
Our route took us past the bothy at Peanmeanach.....
...and on towards the narrow middle section of the loch. The scenery is rugged and complex here, and dominated by the Corbett of Rois-Bheinn (sometimes Anglicized as "Roshven").
As the loch narrows there's a shallow section which forces the tide up and increases the rate of the stream and was kicking up into standing waves by the wind-against tide.
We managed to keep just clear of the main tidal stream while a few metres away the race charged past us. On the day of a solar eclipse, there was one of the biggest tides of the year and it seemed that the whole loch was emptying! Even with the assistance of our sails it was a real push on this section.
We won clear of the race and passed through a group of small skerries. According to the Tide Tables we'd reached low water but actually the ebb was still running, although with less force.
As a squally shower passed overhead there was a sudden increase in the wind which hurled us forward under sail, a couple of minutes of exhilarating speed......
.....before the wind died completely and the sun lit the slopes at the head of the loch. A final couple of skerries and we reached the public slipway at Inverailort.
Our arrival point is just 17 kilometres from Glenfinnan by road, but we'd taken the long way round, paddling down Loch Shiel and the River Shiel, out to the sea on Loch Moidart and then via the Sound of Arisaig to paddle the length of Loch Ailort. Our route had been 65 kilometres and had taken in a wild camp on Loch Shiel and a night at the Glenuig Inn - and of course a solar eclipse!
The trip had one last surprise in store for us though.....
The extremely low Spring tide which coincide with the eclipse had left the end of the slipway over a metre above the water when we arrived! There was nothing for it but to land the boats and between the three of us manhandle and lift each boat up onto the slipway. We were grateful that our camping gear wasn't in them!
As we ran the shuttle to retrieve the second car we reflected on what had been a superb trip - and one we know that we'll repeat some day.