Friday, April 29, 2016

Exceeding expectations on the NW coat of Jura.

We had a big day ahead of us so we rose before dawn at Glengarrisdale in NW Jura. The dawn light spread through the Gulf of Corryvreckan which separates Jura from the dark brooding cliffs of its northern neighbour, Scarba.

 After cleaning up the bothy fire and having our breakfast we had carried our things to the shore and...

 ...were on the water by eight am. The tide was rapidly emptying the bay so there was a bit of catch up involved as we carried each loaded bout to the water's edge.

 It was great to be floating and weightless again after the heavy work on land. It was a perfect day with a blue sky, light breeze and a dropping swell.

 We waved goodbye to our new friends, Tom and Frances, who were watching the sunrise from the rocks at the entrance to the bay.

 On a last look through the Corryvreckan, we spotted the still snow streaked...

 ...summit of Ben Cruachan some 54km away to the NE.

 Ahead the NW coast of Jura stretched away in a series of bold headlands to distant Islay on the horizon. The series of cliffs, headlands and deep rocky bays gives no landing for 10km until they are breached at Corpach Bay.

 Above our heads we spotted the first of many mimetoliths on Jura..Iguana Rock.

The island of Jura has always been one of the least populated in the Hebrides. This is due to it being formed mostly of metamorphic quartzite interspersed with igneous basalt dykes. It produces a thin acidic soil, which is not conducive to agriculture.

 As we travelled SW we left the stronger tides of the Corryvreckan area behind and it was a pleasure to...

 ...take our time enjoying the views of the bold headlands... the early morning light.

 Sometimes we entered the deep shade below the cliffs and were surprised to see...

 ...goats scrambling along ledges above precipitous drops.

To our right, the low outline of Colonsay beckoned. It was within reach being just 15km away. We would have had time to explore Oronsay then catch the 18:15 ferry down to Port Askaig in the Sound of Islay. Both Ian and Mike had expressed an interest in visiting Colonsay during pre-trip planning. But as I expected, they had both already been captivated by Jura and had decided to spend time exploring this wonderful coastline instead.

We soon came to the first raised beach of quartzite cobbles. Ian and Mike started snapping away with their cameras but I told them they would see plenty more!

 We passed a wreck of a dinghy which had been tossed high above the beach by winter storms.

 We were so glad to be here in such benign conditions, just two days previously the ferries had been storm bound!

The coast is riddled with caves. This now dry sea cave has a waterfall running down its back, The burn enters it through an ancient blow hole in its roof.

We had an exciting moment when a white tailed sea eagle rose from a skerry just a few metres beyond us then perched on the clifftop after just a few lazy beats of its wings.

Low tide reveals many offshore skerries with long passages running parallel to the shore. Some were blind and we had to retrace our wakes but fortunately this one lead through a tight gap to open water beyond. My goodness we needed a break to take it all in!