We left the Shiant Isles in fog and rain. The basalt cliffs felt even more mysterious and eerie than they had the previous day. We had to return to Mallaig by the end of the week so sailed around the far side of Skye. We had seen the island on and off for several days. The skilful skipper goose winged the sails so they were on either side of the mast, the main sail on one side and the jib on another. When the sails were no longer goose wing, and there were two reefs in the main sail, I was asked to take the helm. There was a strong wind and a little turbulence from side to side and I was steering, rather badly, using a combination of a compass bearing and trying to find a dark grey shape on the horizon which was land instead of the lighter grey shapes on the horizon which were cloud formations. Did I take the boat off course a little? I think I might have done. This was only my second time on the helm, soon after my first attempt, several days earlier, we had spotted dolphins swimming across the bow of the boat and someone had kindly taken the helm from me so I could kneel down near the bow and watch the dolphins. The water was so clear that I could see them swimming under water. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me that day.
We had a long sail to Loch Torridon. The skipper’s wife is a talented cook and made apple cake for everyone while we were sailing. It was delicious. On other days she had made bread and soup while we were sailing. On one of those days the boat was heeling over a lot so the bread hadn’t fully risen, but it was still very delicious! After a long sail in oil skins we saw a change of scenery. Instead of the angular edges of the basalt cliffs of the Shiant Isles, the Torridonian rocks created a much gentler, more rounded landscape. I was delighted to see that we were anchoring close to a village with a pub, but because of being sea sick on my first long sail, decided not to drink while I was on holiday. We anchored near a small island, and there was a wonderful sound of birdsong. I spent a lot of time on deck looking through my binoculars for sea eagles and otters as I was told that they lived near the island, but didn’t see any. I went ashore in the dinghy to the pub instead! On shore a tiny canon was pointing at the boat. I tried to take a photo but the camera on my phone didn’t work. After several days on the boat I was used to the rocking motion of the sea. The land felt as if it was moving slightly.
The following morning was hot and sunny.
There was very little wind and we used the engine. It was hot and we didn’t need to wear oilskins to protect ourselves from cold wind. We anchored near the Knoydart peninsular agreeing that in the sunshine Scotland is the most beautiful place in the world. We went ashore by dinghy, up a vertical ladder on a small jetty, divided ourselves into groups of runners and walkers. I joined the walking group. I was surprised how much effort I seemed to need to walk up the road, but after a few minutes of walking turned behind to look around and realised how high we were. My camera battery was flat. We walked on the very quiet road for three hours, walking slowly because it was so hot, and the views were stunning. A woman driving a post van passed us twice but we only saw a handful of other vehicles. Around every corner were more stunning views. What a gorgeous place the Knoydart peninsular is. There were small streams which my companions drank from, the water looked clear. We walked past white houses, passing a jetty to which the boat was moored, and to the busy pub. The holiday was coming to an end, this was to be our last night on the boat and I had had a wonderful walk.