Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Sunday 12 July

Today dawned grey and wet. A steady drizzle was coming down. Breakfast was between 8 and 10, so I showed up around 9 am. The staff were friendly, the breakfast good. As I was getting my tea and toast, the lady was a bit too sharp off the mark clearing my cutlery, but she apologised and replaced said items. After breakfast, I lugged my case down and left it in the dining room, as previously arranged. Then I went into town. The drizzle was heavier than I thought, so I quickly put on my waterproof trousers. Walked along the seafront as far as Dunollie Castle, past Columba’s Cathedral (which began ringing its bells as I passed) and the War Memorial. I then turned back in order not to miss the parade of yachts. A very large private vessel steamed out of port at a rate of knots, and a plethora of smaller ones followed in its wake. The old Oosterschelde remained stately at anchor. She later relocated to an anchorage further south. As the morning progressed, the drizzle slowly eased off. I went for a cuppa in a restaurant on North Pier, then went up to McCaig’s Tower. This is a folly; Mr McCaig wanted to give local stonemasons some work at a time of unemployment around 1900. Returning to town, I had lunch at the Regent Hotel, then went back to the Kelvin to collect my luggage and go to the ferry terminal.

After a longish wait, we were allowed on board the Clansman at 3.20, twenty minutes before departure. It is full of kids, youngsters and holidaymakers. We leave exactly on time, and quickly steam out of Oban Bay, into the Sound of Mull. The weather remains grey; to my horror, the battery on my camera is nearly depleted, so I have to cut back on the number of pics I take. Duart Castle at Craignure, Lismore Lighthouse and Ardnamurchan. A few others sneak in as well. I have a Calmac curry before we hit the swells off Ardnamurchan, by which time the sun has come out. Eigg and Rum are barely visible, just over 10 miles to the north, hidden under a blanket of cloud. Muck is slightly clearer. Coll bathes in sunlight to the south. All are left well behind as the Clansman starts the long crossing to Barra, across the Sea of the Hebrides. Finally, after 8pm, we see the shapes of Barra and the Bishops Isles looming up, as well as that of South Uist. We dock at Castlebay at 8.30, and I espy familiar faces on the quayside. The crossing to Barra was characterised by a lot of swell, and not everybody was coping to well. A few green faces appeared on deck to get some fresh air. The continuation to Lochboisdale was swell-free. Arrived there at 10.20, and Mr Murray collected me by car to take me to his wife’s B&B.

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