We left Eilean Annraidh and ists dazzling colours to head back across the Sound of Iona towards Kintra (Ceann Traigh - head of the beach). Passing Kintra we then made our way along the rocky northern coast of the Ross of Mull, looking for just one more beach.
Given the amount and quailty of the beaches we'd already visited on our way around Iona, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we would be "beached out"..............
.........but when they're as good as this, we felt we could manage one more!
Traigh na Margaidh (Market Beach) is actually two beaches divided by a rocky outcrop. The westerly of the two is slightly easier of access from land and a family was enjoying the late afternoon sunshine there; we landed on the easterly part on golden sand fringed by crystal clear water. Had we gone with our initial trip plan of wild camping on a linear journey around the Ross of Mull, Traigh na Margaidh would have been our likely camp for the first night, but it's exposed to the northerly breeze which was forecast and can be quite prone to swell and surf.
In constrast to the shell sands of Iona, the sand here is fine grained, a warm gold colour with waves of purple across it when damp - presumably the pink grains from the granite rocks. Water seepage lines from the ground above the beach formed intricate micro-river patterns.
We didn't linger too long on the beach as the wind was getting up and we still had to make our way back down the Sound of Iona to our camp at Fidden. Even the small swell which was being picked up produced clapotis along the rocky coast and there was some interesting water as we picked up the opposing tide at the north end of the Sound......
...but once we turned inside the shelter of Bull Hole we were back in calm water. Donald went out into the Sound of Iona in his F-RIB and reported conditions to be quite sporting. We'd kept an option to return to Iona and visit the Abbey during the early evening, but the prospect of a bouncy crossing there and back wasn't too appealing - especially since we had paddled 35 km and had been on the water all day..... we decided to postpone our visit and head back to cook dinner at Fidden.
Bull Hole is a sheltered anchorage and was also used for loading granite quarried locally, there are several stone piers on the mainland side close to quarried rock faces.
We paused just north of the ferry slip at Fhionnphort to speak with MV Loch Buie on VHF. She appeared ready to depart and but kindly allowed us to cross before pulling away from the slip.
The cloud which had been building through the late afternoon was beginning to break as we arrived back at Fidden camp site......
...to prepare our dinner in warm evening sunshine at the end of a glorious day's sea kayaking on the dazzling waters and beaches of Iona.