Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Wind and rain? Try coffee and cake!
The late afternoon sky above Moidart had shown plenty of signs of an impending change in the weather. The forecast was still for southerly F4 winds at the last update we listened to before turning in for the night.
In the morning a look out to open water revealed a mass of whitecaps and squalls racing along. As we had breakfast the maritime weather information broadcast came over the VHF - forecasting south to southeasterly F5 to 6 winds, increasing F7 later. A quick planning session took place - we could use the topography to hop across the mouth of the two sea lochs which lay between us and Glenuig. If the headland between them proved too difficult, a retreat up to the head of Loch nan Uamh would get us to a road were it would be possible to hitch a lift around to Glenuig to collect a car.
When we got on the water we had a period of relative calm and pushed across Loch nan Uamh to the shelter of its southern side, where we enjoyed calm water and a blink of sunshine. This craggy stretch of shore offers only marginal landing places so we headed on up to just before Rubha Chaolais, the headland separating Loch nan Uamh from Loch Ailort. We'd hoped to land for a break at Port an-t Sluichd (port of the gut or gullet) but a heavy swell wrapping around the headland prevented that.
As soon as we rounded the headland the fun started. The wind was strong, but coming in rushing gusts and we could continue to make headway toward Loch Ailort. As we got to the mouth of the loch, the wind increased slightly and could now be seen to be firmly south easterly. Our hoped for shelter behind the islands was not to be! The flood tide was just beginning; we'd pushed on early to avoid crossing this stretch in wind-against-tide rough water but still the odd wave broke onto us as we inched forward into the wind.
It took nearly two hours of solid effort to cover the 2.5km to the south shore of Loch Ailort near Roshven House. The wind weemed to be pouring down from the corries of Rois-Bheinn in great gusts which at times stopped progress. The wind strength was a solid F5, the gusts were certainly F6 and we were glad to have made our decision early - if the wind strength had increased "later" as forecast we wouldn't have been able to make progress against it.
At last into shelter from the wind, we stopped for a break and to wash the salt from our faces and then paddled on towards Glenuig. Above us the trees were roaring in the wind but it was calm along the shore. It did seem to be getting very dark overhead though.....
The sky continued to darken as we approached our end point, then an absolute cloudburst drenched us as we were putting the boats back on the cars. This seemed the perfect excuse to go along to the Glenuig Inn to enjoy excellent coffee and warm fruit cake! The proprietor, Steve, is a sea kayaker and wildlife guide, the food great and the surroundings cosy - the perfect end to our trip (and we'll be back to sample the selection of real ales very soon!)