210 degrees to Tobermory by Andy Evans. A circuit of Mull.

210° to Tobermory

by Andy Evans

 

The ultimate icing on the cake had to be the deck mounted compass. I’d not used one of these before and being someone who works better with a bit of direction this shiny piece of kit was the favourite additional housed in the beautiful lines of the Quest I had borrowed for a jaunt around Mull with the boys.

It was reading 210° as we headed into Tobermory I’d noticed it was a common reading on this circumnavigation. Faintly reassuring, 210° seemed to be the bearing to fun and enjoyment. However following our stop in Tobes the compass was still reading 210° and we were definitely headed in a different direction...

Day 1 looked like it was going to cause trouble. It seemed that the world and its dog were making the trip to Mull and the ferry to Craignure was fully booked. A quick and efficient rethink, these sea kayakers can’t faff like river paddlers can, saw us heading south of Oban to find a suitable departure point. The Quest swallowed a tonne of kit; we hauled our boats down to the sea and pushed off. Along the east coast of Kerrera on 210° we floated round the south end and started our crossing to Mull. The side seas made for a fun crossing and the showers held off. We headed along the coast on 210° and took in the impressive coastline. Truly awesome. Our first wild camp was a classic scottish looking valley complete with cliffs, pebble beach, comfy looking grass and bracken, midges and rain, a lot of rain.

Day 2, well the rain held off after breakfast, morning was broken by the pleasant sound of one of our party revisiting his breakfast. It seems something from Friday hadn’t liked its new location and wanted out. We carried on 210° , more coastline and rain swelled waterfalls, still truly awesome. The boat was cruising, this was good. We took in lunch at Rubberdub, but it was a nice venue, following the crossing of a bay. Our campsite for the night was another scenic cliff, with a natural harbour to ease landing. We all hoped that the wind wouldn’t blow straight into the entrance the next day. After landing the wind increased, and it rained. A lot. We got a fire going, and attempted to rig a windbreak which caused the smoke to eddy nicely into our faces. Later it dried enough to allow some vodka and whiskey drinking, a lot of whiskey and vodka drinking…

Day 3, Blimey, rather more spirits were consumed than intended. However the weather was smiling with us and decided not to punish our jaded heads. More coastline, not as steep as previous days, but just as impressive in it’s own right. We stopped off for a three-hour lunch break saw a mink and warmed up in the sun. This lazy approach to lunch meant that we bumped into another group of kayakers as we bimbled along the coast. Interesting that on talking to these guys, although we were obviously paddling comrades it was clear that a beach share was out of the question, we certainly didn’t want to share our beach with a bunch of muppets, the muppets probably thought exactly the same. Seeing we were a group of four men away from home the lead kayaker duped us with tales of the Sirius girls who dominated our thoughts for the rest of the week. What would we say on meeting? In the style of Sean Connery we came up with "So, you must be the Sirius Girls, we’ve been looking forward to seeing you!". We managed to catch the Shopping Forecast this evening which sounded promising for our wonderful bay, 3-4 gusting 5 NE. Slightly wrong I’m sure that my tent only bends and hits me on the head in anything bigger than a 7. We had to abort the evening’s fire and at some time near dark o’clock I decided to move tent to a more sheltered site. A good move for one of our lads who joined me after escaping his tent which appeared to be attempting to eat him.

Day 4, a reasonable day saw us cruise into Fionnphort, to meet a friend at 1. He didn’t arrive so we headed south and did a quick jaunt round Iona. Some great swell pushing through after the storm. Excellent rockhopping but a cold lunch summarised the day. Followed by another sunbaked and showerey (only in the UK) evening in a very sheltered campsite. Wind paranoia had kicked in and we never missed a Shopping Forecast after Day 3.

Day 5 proved to be a biggy. The weather was fantastic for our crossing to Staffa we saw loads of Puffins took in Fingal's Cave and poddled round the rest of the Island before heading across to the Dutchman’s Cap and finally stopping for a break on the Treshnish Islands. A fine campsite was found on Lunga, and we even found some water. There was evidence of the Sirius Girls but they were nowhere to be seen.

Day 6, From the Treshnish Isles we headed north (not 210° ) to the mainland and round to paradise, at least it was once we scared off the holidaymakers. A bit of fishing caught us some tasty lunch boiled in seawater and drizzled in lemon juice it was the choice of champions.

Day 7, We paddled along the north coast in glorious sunshine, faces, ears and backs of hands burning as we turned the point to the north of Tobermory we listened to Beckham’s penalty. 210° to Tobermory we cruised in and landed in civilisation for a taste of Les Routiers approved fish and chips. We also stocked up on tins of Velvet, 8 of which were stowed in the front hatch just below the compass. We cruised a bit further to just south of Tobermory and made camp on yet another wonderful campsite. The Drambuie was perfect accompaniment to the velvet. The fire was a hot one capable of drying us quicker than the rain was falling.

Day 8, A slog south was made harder by the wind and tide but we eventually made our way past Craignure, saw a Sea Otter complete with freshly caught crab and wearily made our way round Dohart Point. Tiredness showed as we tried to find a suitable campsite our searching and a few extra kilometres eventually paid off. The previous nights tent footprints could have been those of the Sirius Girls.

Day 9, The forecast told of 5-6 from the SE, which was going to make the crossing back to Oban a hard one. However the predictions didn’t really come true in this part of the country and so we made a hardish but direct crossing back to Kerrera and then back towards Oban hitting our launch point at 1.30. A fine end to a great week. Never did see the Sirius girls though. Chips in Callander on the way home were a welcome break from Pitta breads and porridge.

Andy Roo Evans paddled with the KOV’s (Dave Patchett, Mikey Cartwright and Andy Clarke), and thanks P&H for the lend of his boat, and Neil for the loan of his bent shaft and wellies.

 

Day

Lunch

Camp

Highlight

1

Port Nan Crullach

Port a Ghilnne

Stream becomes torrent

2

Rubh Dubh

Aoineadh Beag

Smoky Fire Shelter

3

Port Uisken

Traigh Gheal

Windy Miller

4

Shian

Eilean Annraidh

Shelter

5

Lunga

Sniff of the Sirius

6

Port Langamull

Paradise

7

Tobermory

South of Tobermory

Monster Fire

8

Sgeir Ghlas

Port Donain

Tides

9

Oban

Nottingham

Chips

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