Sunday was a truly awful weather day…. strong winds and bucketfuls of torrential rain all day…. as five weather fronts crossed over North West Scotland…. and then later, much of the rest of the UK. Bank Holiday Sunday ( no bank holiday in Scotland ) was truly a washout. Bad weather warnings by the dozen…. so Poli Poli remained on her berth in Mallaig Harbour.
Mike and Christine took the opportunity of visiting Fort William in the rain ( T did not go as he had visited said town four times in the rain previously whilst on the Caledonian Canal ).
Mike and Christine set off from the boat about 1.45pm and by some stroke of luck, two seats ( single one way ) were amazingly available on the famous steam train the Jacobite… crossing the well known ( to railway enthusiasts like Len and Clem )…. Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Jacobite steam train was used in the Harry Potter films… so Mike and Christine had a real treat on a wet Sunday afternoon…. sitting in wizard seats!
On arrival in Fort William they then had seven hours to ‘kill’ before their return train ( ordinary blue Scotsrail at 10.20pm). Now 7 hours in a very wet Fort William is a long, long time. The latter part was spent at the Moorings Hotel at Banavie, by the side of the famous Neptune’s Staircase of eight locks… returning to Mallaig at 11.30pm.
What a different day today, Monday was. We woke to ….. no rain and no wind. Calm and peaceful …. and were even blessed with some blue sky and sunshine. However, we were unable to depart until gone 12 noon as our route…. north up the Sound of Sleat… took us through a tidal gate ( narrows ) called Kyle Rhea. This could only be negotiated with a northbound tide behind us… which did not start flowing until at least 2pm.
So we departed Mallaig at 12.30pm…. well we thought we had! It is protocol to call up the harbour master or port authority to get clearance to leave any port. This we did …. first we were told it was ok to go…. then the three red lights at the exit came on… so we were told not to depart as a huge CalMac ferry was arriving. Thus we had to hold station ( easy as it was extremely calm )…. for about 20 minutes… in which time we drank our take away coffees that Christine had kindly purchased from the Bakehouse…. next door to the laundrette where she had been completing her washing.
The rather large CalMac ferry entering Mallaig …we had to wait and drink coffee!
Coffee whilst we hold Station for the CalMac!
What a difference 12 hours makes… the Sound of Sleat was calm…. a slight sea…. tiny wavelets, no rain, no white horses and …. of course…. no wind. So we motored the 15 or so n.miles to the tidal gate narrows known as Kyle Rhea. However… every mile we made north… the sun slowly disappeared and the greyness plus some drizzle re-appeared. Mike helmed us through the narrows which in the end, proved not very difficult…. having read in the pilot book for the area… about whirlpools, eddies, and severe overfalls. Our timing was just right as we passed through Kyle Rhea at 2.15pm ….so a slackish turn of the tide situation.
Approaching the “narrows” known as Kyle Rhea…note the greyness!!
We then crossed over Loch Alsh from the south to the north side, and soon made the very small marina pontoons at the little town of Kyle of Lochalsh. Poli Poli was safely moored up next to a huge 28 metre yacht owned by the Gordonstoun public school ( Elgin near Inverness )….. the school the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles attended.
Poli Poli in the very small marina at Kyle of Lochalsh…note big white ketch to the left.
Apart from the drizzle at the top end of the Sound of Sleat… we have largely had a dry day. Sad that the depressing greyness, mists and gloom returned before Kyle Rhea. but that’s Scotland for you.
Distance travelled …. 22.6 n.miles.
Distance travelled since leaving Eastbourne…. 1,640.7 n.miles.
Note: Poli Poli is now at the furthest point north in the Circumnavigation at Kyle of Lochalsh. In terms of lattitude this is further north than Fort Augustus on the Caledonian Canal… reached on 11th August.
Kyle Lochalsh…Poli Poli centre right.