Saturday, June 23, 2007

Home From Our Holiday...

...and it was brilliant. We spent a week on a converted fishing boat, the Glen Tarsan, sailing from Oban around the west coast of Scotland. The boat is one of two owned by the Majestic Line, which does these cruises throughout the spring, summer and autumn.

We went with six friends, but you can book places on advertised cruises and join in with others - it takes a maximum of twelve people. Having never had the urge to cruise I was slightly trepidatious as to what it would be like, although going with friends took away my biggest fear - that of being stuck with people with whom you don't share anything in common. We arrived last Saturday in Oban having driven from the Borders, which took four hours. The only thing that marred our journey was when we stopped for a cup of coffee near Callendar the 'coffee shop' did not open for breakfast until 10 a.m. It even said 'breakfast from 10'. People want to know why we have a reputation for dodgy service in Scotland when it comes to tourism - I rest my case.

Having left Oban we anchored for the night in a bay near Port Appin. The next day we sailed past Lismore Island and on to Tobermory. On Monday we had our longest sail when we went north around Ardnamurchan Point, along past the islands of Muck and Eigg on up the Sound of Sleat and then into Loch Hourn - the loch that borders the north coast of the remote Knoydart peninsula. We anchored at Barrisdale Bay and had a lovely dinner on board (as we did every night) on what was a stunning evening. The next day Tim Richmond, the skipper, negotiated the narrows to take us further up the loch to Skiary which is where Mrs. H. and I got married a few years ago standing by the side of the loch. We went ashore and would have renewed our vows but we had the Celtic wedding vows, which neither of us could remember! We then sailed around the Knoydart and anchored near Kylesmorar in the Loch Nevis. In English, Loch Hourn is loch of Hell and Nevis is loch of Heaven, so in twenty four hours we'd been to both – although they both seemed like heaven to us. The next night we spent in Loch Sunart and the last night was in Duart Bay at the south end of Mull.

I was first up on Friday morning and was amazed when Tim shouted, "There's two Dolphins". They were right off the bow of the boat and swam by the side and when they were a few feet from the stern suddenly five of the jumped out of the water together, I was barely quick enough with the camera.

On board Tim's wife Rosie cooked and looked after us better than we could ever have imagined. Neil the engineer and Martin the Boson did sterling work and helped to make our holiday. If anyone is looking for something a little different for a holiday then check out their web site. Besides wonderful food and hospitality that couldn't be faulted we decided that what made this holiday so perfect was the pace of it. Cruising at eight knots allows the world to drift by at a perfect speed. You are very quickly into the rhythm of the thing, which enhances the enjoyment.


r morris said...

Fantastic post, Richard. What an amazing journey. I agree that the speed--slow--makes the journey so much better. We're always in such a hurry to get where we're going that we don't experience the trip itself. Thanks for sharing so that your readers can have a vicarious cruise. Great photos, too. The one of the glass-smooth water and the green isles is contest-worthy.

Many years ago, I fell in love Scotland through the books of Gavin Maxwell, who I believe lived on Skye.

Great to have you back!

Lord Nazh said...

welcome back, very nice pictures

true blue said...

What a wonderful description of your holiday Richard . We had a lovely holiday on the banks of Loch Sunart a couple of autumns ago, stayed in a log cabin for our anniversary and dined on the terrific local food, served in various holstelries. Must re-visit that region, I absolutely adore Scotland it`s a beautiful Country.