Saturday, May 21, 2016

In the wake of the dead at dawn through Inner West Loch Tarbert, Jura

HW was at 06:41 and we needed to be in the inner part of West Loch Tarbert as close to HW as possible to avoid a muddy exit and also to be able to paddle through the narrow rocky channel of Cumnann Beag before the spring tide turned against us. There was nothing for it but to rise early and forgo breakfast. We emerged from the bothy at Cruib Lodge, packed the boats in the cold blue predawn light and were...

 ...on the water before sunrise.

 The entrance to the inner loch is very inconspicuous and the flash of low light as the sun broke the horizon...

 ...helped us locate it. We entered the narrows at 06:28 and the tide was still flowing gently in. Although you will hardly see a soul in these waters today, this route (through West Loch Tarbert and across the narrow portage to Tarbert on the east coast of Jura) was once a busy highway from Argyll to Colonsay and Oronsay.

It was used by both pilgrims and by the bereaved carrying their dead for burial on the islands. The route avoided the strong tides of the Corryvreckan to the north and the Sound of Islay to the south.

 It was eerily silent as we paddled through the maze of the inner loch's...

 ...narrow channels and shallow waters.

 Gradually the inner loch...

 ...opened up and as the...

 ...sun rose and... truly broke, we arrived at the head of the loch at 06:56. It was near spring HW and fortunately we stepped out onto grass. As we prepared our trolleys for the portage I noted that the tide continued to rise and did not start to fall until 07:20, almost 40 minutes after HW Oban at 06:41.


  1. You have such amazing adventures and fabulous photos :)

    1. Thank you Allison and yes, there is more to come :o)

  2. It's a real treat to read and to view your blog, and mostly I'll get it in stereovision too... ;-)
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you Leif, You get the whole story with stereovision!! :o)

  3. Douglas
    Brilliant photos and great trip report - makes you really look forward to your own trips this summer! On a separate topic I am looking at a new gps and would welcome your recommendation.. I had my eye on the Garmin 78s but it has very poor reviews by disgruntled customers.....

    1. Thank you Roger, I had a 72s which was pretty good for many years but the usb connector failed. I replaced it with the 64s which is really excellent.