Tuesday, 11th June: Tacking to Kintyre
We set off from Loch Ryan in the morning, and tacked our way up the loch, avoiding two incoming large ferries along the way. Skilful helming by Dominic was needed in the strong and varying winds. Then we set off towards Kintyre, by way of three very long tacks as the wind was against us. I can see the Mull of Kintyre far ahead, north of Ireland; I’ve had Paul McCartney’s voice in my head all day! We kept a good lookout for dolphins and whales, but to no avail. I was also disappointed not to see any mermaids on Mermaid Shoals! We did see a few shags though, and many very large formations of gannets, which was such a beautiful sight. And we could even see their nesting sites as we passed quite close to Ailsa Craig.
We arrived at Carradale Bay at 4.30pm, in time for a cup of tea on deck before showers and dinner prep. Such a gorgeous anchorage, surrounded on one side by coniferous Kintyre mountainside, beach in front, and a granite spit on the other side, with Arran as a backdrop! I was a bit annoyed that four other boats turned up and anchored soon after us. I guess I have to (unwillingly) share the beauty!
Stats: distance 49.7M, underway: 7hrs 44m, average speed: 6.4 kts, max speed: 9.3 kts
Rhododendron Ponticum, pest or beauty? I quite like a rhododendron or two, and I had a few varieties in our garden where we used to live. But they’re everywhere on the west coast. And up here they’ve taken over. Sailing towards this bay yesterday, we thought and hoped it was heather in bloom that covered the spit, but no. There’s the pink of rhododendron all over the mountainsides and hills. I think it’s too showy and it looks out of place, and I’m in no doubt that this invasive and non-indigenous plant is damaging the local flora. So I did a bit of internet research and it seems I’m not wrong:
Wednesday, 12th June: Dippen Bay and the Kintyre Way
We hopped on to our RIB this morning hoping to get off on the long and sandy beach in front of us. But we couldn’t find anywhere suitable, so went round the corner, but the northerlies made the sea rather rough, so off we went across the bay and found this rather lovely beach in Dippen Bay where we could tie up on a rock. A few oystercatchers looked for food on the beach, and the waves were gently lapping. Up on the cliffside we saw a beautiful home which drew my attention, although perhaps a bit big for us.
We couldn’t find a path to walk up the steep slope to the road, but managed to walk through the ferns without falling into any ravine. Up on the B842 we saw a sign for the Kintyre Way back where we’d come from, interesting. We walked along the road towards Carradale and just before we got to the village we found a small un-tarmacked road along Carradale Waters, so took that path instead. And what do we see there, but an obviously newly built Hebridean Homes – the type of new-build kit house we’ve been longingly googling for years. Unassuming, but perfectly formed and very energy efficient. We stared at it for probably too long, considering the owners were there, and I felt taking a photo would be going a step too far! The house on the cliffside in Dippen Bay was astounding, but this, this is actually the sort of home we’re aiming for. To top it, just beyond this marvel of a home, we saw a sign for the Kintyre Way, so we walked along it down to the beach, over the wetland path where a few apprehensive sheep moved out of our way, across and around the very rocky foreshore and eventually back to our beach. Not a very long walk (and not for the faint hearted!), but very, very lovely. We dragged the many kilos of RIB back into the water, and just missing the rain, back to Idun for lunch.
Thursday, 13th June: Walking along to Carradale Point
We saw from the weather forecast that we wanted to get out early today to catch the sun, so decided to get up to the Carradale Point, the spit that we’re anchored next to. (Just as he was getting into the RIB, Dominic managed to swipe his walking boot off the bathing platform, and it fell into the water and floated away like a little boat. He managed to retrieve it and it wasn’t even wet!) It was just coming up to high tide so we could leave the RIB lying in the bladderwrack, tied to the rocks. We had a lovely climb up and down the crags and along the marshy ground. We went out on to the Point, and although we knew there should be an Iron Age hillfort here, we couldn’t see it.
It was so peaceful, and so wonderful to see all the colourful spring flowers. We caught two cormorants spreading theirs wings on a sunny rock, and saw a pair of oystercatchers picking away in the pebbly sand. Walking along, it is easy to imagine people thousands of years ago doing much the same, and seeing much the same as what we see today.
We went over to the beach and walked there for a bit as well. It is astoundingly beautiful here. Sandy beach with sand dunes, green hills and majestic mountains lining the clear blue water and all this in warm sunshine. What more could you want?
Back on the boat we sat outside with a cup of coffee and a variety of books, listening to the water lapping on to the RIB and the whirr of the wind turbines producing energy for our hot showers this evening! Two very low-flying fighter jets thunder by. Gannets high-dive fishing.
Dominic went for a spin on the RIB over to the harbour of Carradale itself, but came back having nothing much to report. The wind is moving to southerlies overnight, so there may be a swell here, so we’ll be moving on.