With the dramatic Mull of Cara behind us, Douglas and I paddled up the east coast of Cara past Aird Fhada (Long Point) with a view up the ahead to Cara House. The conditions were very still, flat calm water and without a breath of wind. We knew however that this would be the last day of calm; the afternoon and evening were set to bring strengthening winds and rain as an Atlantic low pressure system approached to displace the high pressure which had given us such great paddling conditions.
We bid the Brownie a good day as we passed Cara House and headed north to pass Gigalum Island and enjoy another exploration.....
..of the skerries and channels near to Port an Sgiathain (Port of the Wing).
The water here is crystal clear - the sensation of gliding over the sea bed is one which never fails to delight.
We turned in to land at the small white sand beach of Port an Sgiathain to take second breakfast, and also to check the ferry timetable between Gigha and Tayinloan.
We didn't intend to take the ferry, but to coordinate our arrival at Tayinloan with the departure of the ferry on one of her crossings to Gigha - that way we'd have plenty of time to use the ferry slip in order to land and clear our boats away from the slipway.
As it happened, the best way to achieve this was to slow down our crossing of the Sound of Gigha - which suited the mood of the day perfectly. We paddled slowly, just chatting and savouring the relaxed rhythm. Over our right shoulder, the island of Cara gradually grew smaller, but this small island has a big place in our memory-bank of sea kayaking adventures. It was my first time visiting Gigha and Cara - it won't be my last.
Meanwhile, over our left shoulder MV Loch Ranza was rapidly overhauling us on her way to Tayinloan. We were crossing well to the south of her track in the shallowest part of the Sound of Gigha, so we were sure we'd not inconvenience her in any way. Beyond again, a hint of brightness was speckling the Jura hills - a destination discussed for future trips!
We arrived off the ferry slipway as MV Loch Ranza completed loading for her return journey to Gigha. We'd met with her several times during our journey, and once again there was a cheery wave from the wheelhouse as she departed. Ferries are such a big part of the fabric of the marginal places around Scotland's west coast, Western and Northern Isles - the service they provide crucial to sustaining communities and supporting both business and tourism; they and their crews are a genuine national treasure.
With a full hour to move our boats off the slipway we could afford to relax and stroll up to the car park to retrieve our trollies. It was nearly the end of another small adventure, but not quite.
We both had a long drive ahead of us and so decided to refuel and refresh at Big Jessie's Tearoom. We can both heartily recommend the Wild Boar & Chorizo Burgers; a tasty and locally sourced treat! Douglas was driving almost to Scotland's south westerly point (but not in a direct line due to the hugely indented nature of the coast) while my journey home would take me to the north east of the country. We arrived at our respective destinations some hours later, but within ten minutes of each other.
Now, where next?!