Famous Five & The Sea Kayak Portage Mystery

Where was the enigmatic and chuckling Roddy with his smart pick-up? anytime after 8:30 was the plan but nothing doing! But who is driving the 2 Land-Rovers heading for the old boat house? and will the Famous five sea kayakers (Stephanie, Tess, Elizabeth, Dave & Steve) ever make it across the Viking tarbert from the inner Loch to the Sound of Jura? Well, yes we did, one of the Land-Rovers was driven by Peter a great exponent of Highland hospitality who was only too happy to take our kit across to the Sound of Jura. So in this respect much like other aspects of this trip the plans had to be changed but also like the rest of the tripthe changed plans worked well.

We met up at Tayvallich campsite (on the mainland west of LochGilphead) in ‘phew what a scorcher’ weather …… which did not last! and made our plans, continuing in the splendid Tayvallich Inn just by the camp-siteentrance. Not surprisingly with a great pub andits location near the Sound of Jura and Loch Sween,Tayvallich camp-site seems to be very popular with sea kayakers and when we left Kari-Tech were hosting a sea kayak symposium at the site.

We left on Sunday morning and headed down Loch Sween in glorious weather, stopped to watch an enormous Otterandthen had lunchon Eilean Mor, one of the historicMcCormaig Isles.

Then it was across to Jura and our first nights camp on the beach.

The wind was starting to pick up from the North and the temperature cooling but not too bad and we headed across to the South coast of Islay with it’s attractive coastline of islands and distilleries.

So 2 good days paddlingand 2 good camps but the wind was strengthening from the North and if we had carried on round Islay we would have had a long paddle into a strong northerly headwind. So we decided to re-trace our steps and then head up the Sound Of Islay. However the wind was not our friend that day and we did not manage to get round McArthur’s head and sopulled into the coast for another good camping spot.

Dave consoled himself with a spot of fishing but no luck;

The northerly windscaused a sharp dip inthe temperature and we reallyneeded this bonfire to warm up;

The winds abated a little overnight and it was second time lucky round McArthur’s Head;

We managed to time the tides OK as can be seen in this photo ofElizabeth and Stephanie cruising the tide flow North up the Sound Of Islay with the Paps of Jura in the background.

We then caught the rough seas that a North wind against a northerly tide flow creates at the top of the Sound of Islay, everyone seemed to be concentrating quite hard on paddling and watching the seas for a while.

We then came round into Jura’s Lock Tarbert, paddled down and camped by the Bothy, the weather next morning was squally and we were glad of the Bothy for shelter and cooking.

Thesqually weather died down and itbrightened in the afternoon, the energetic in the group climbedCruib Hill to the North of the Bothy to get some grand views of the area.

I tried out the panorama setting on my new camera, this shows a view of Mull, Colonsay, N Islay and S Jura.

And this one shows the extent of the Loch Tarbert which very nearly splits Jura in two;

Coming down the hill you can clearly see the gap through to the inner loch;-

And it was through this gap that we paddled the next day to start on the portage mysterymentioned at thestart ofthis report;

Having made the portage it was a case of loading up and heading for the paddle home;

We then had the wind, the tide and the swell all pushing us home albeit with some confused seas, which got us back to Carsaig Bay in good time;

So in true Famous Five fashion it was clean up and head to the Tayvallich Inn for lashings of something …… well a little stronger than Ginger Beer to celebrate a great trip.

I have attempted to sketch a map to show the trip;

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