After passing through Caol Charna the arcing narrow entrance to Loch Teacuis is reached. It was by now an hour after low water and the flood was firmly underway so I knew that I'd have to paddle back against both the tidal stream and the northerly breeze to get back out of the loch. The contrast between the narrow confines of the approach to Loch Teacuis and the open head of the loch is quite marked, giving a sense of space as the narrows open out.
Ahead is Benn na-h Uamh (Mountain of the Caves) which is part of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to the plant communities which thrive on the calcereous basalt rock of the hill. The whole area is volcanic in origin with some spectacular cliffs formed by ancient lava flows.
The interest continues underwater too; in 2006 small communities of Serpulid Worms were found in 3 metres of water near to the head of Loch Teacuis. These reefs are pretty uncommon, the only other Scottish location is at Loch Creran, which is reckoned to be the largest such community worldwide. As a result, Lochs Creran and Teacuis have been designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) and in Loch Creran, fishing activity and yacht anchoring are restricted to certain areas. Restrictions are under consideration for Loch Teacuis too, including one option to ban yachts from anchoring throughout the loch. The Yachtsman's pilot guides describe the approach to Loch Teacuis as "very tricky" so the number of yachts will not be great; hopefully a balance can be arrived at to protect the emerging Serpulid reefs whilst allowing fishing and yacht anchorage in areas of the loch which don't contain the reefs.
My own departure from Loch Teacuis was likely to prove "very tricky" as the flood tide was now at it's strongest. Flow rates in the pilot guides indicate 2.5 knots at Springs, but particularly in Caol Charna around some of the rocky features this rate is exceeded by a margin. In this image I'm in relatively quiet flow behind a rock outcrop in mid channel. The distance to the shore of Carna ahead is not great, but it required a steep ferry angle and a brief session of PLF to reach......
Once on the shore I climbed up a little to check out the movement in the channel. I intended to use the western channel to pass Carna rather than try here, particularly given the fact that I couldn't see much in the way of eddies to help in this narrows. It was acually possible to detect a slight slope to the water as it poured from Loch Sunart through Caol Charna - a good hint to try elsewhere!
The place where I'd landed on Carna would have made a good wild camp, having a decent area to pitch a tent, nice views and being exposed to a breeze to deter midges. I did consider stopping early and camping here, but decided to press on - a decision I would come to regret later!
In the meantime the tide was rising quickly so it was back to the boat and out to try........
...the western channel past Eilean nan Eildean ((Deer) Hind Island). I paused in an eddy to check out the flow then pushed out, finding a few more eddies to assist on the way up against the flood. Actually it was possible to make progress against the full flow in the channel here, the rate indicated in the yachtsman's pilot seems pretty accurate.
Looking back past Eilean nan Eildean on the right towards Loch Teacuis - it's a beautiful loch to explore and can be hard to leave in more ways than one!