Saturday, 22 July 2017

Isle of Jura Day 1 - Testing The Tides of the Sound of Jura

I have been spending the last few months preparing for a circumnavigation of the Isle of Jura and the day had finally arrived.  Joining me were Simon, Chris, Jules and Martin.  The trip came about simply by posting an open invitation on social media.  We allowed ourselves a week to complete the trip and the pre-trip weather forecast looked very promising however likely to change.  
The heavens opened as we crossed the border into Scotland however soon brightened up...

We stopped off on the way at Inveraray.  Here the Vital Spark, the fictional Clyde puffer.
A man down (Chris was traveling up the following day) we quickly pitched the tents at Tayvallich campsite and settled in the Tayvallich Inn on the shores of Loch Sween for an evening meal and a few pints.  

At kicking out time we stumbled up the mile long lane to Carsaig Bay, eager to get our first glimpses of Jura set against a starry sky.  We settled into our tents only to be woken by some inconsiderate campers who loudly chatted and played guitar until 3:30am.  We all agreed to a wild camp at Carsaig Bay the following night.   
We pondered over a few options for todays paddle and decided on a short paddle out from Carsaig Bay to test the power of the tides of the Sound of Jura.  We could then use the afternoon to prepare the boats and kit for the mornings expedition.
Setting out from the confines of Carsaig bay the entirety of Jura came into view with the Paps of Jura at its southern extremity.
Weaving between the small islands hugging the coast there was plenty of wildlife to see...

Approaching lunch we looked for a place to land.  Surprised by the amount of plastic and netting that littered the beach I combed the beach looking for anything that might catch my eye.  I found a large lower jaw protruding from the sand and seaweed assuming it to be a cow as is usually the case.  Levering the skull with a discarded broom handled I was quite shocked when 3ft of deer antler sprung from the sand.
Red deer outnumber people 30 to 1 on the Isle of Jura so I was hoping I might find an odd antler washed up on a beach, but to hit the jackpot on the first outing there was no way I was leaving it behind.
Heading back between the flow and the eddies a flock of Artic Turns were clearly unimpressed by our presence on the water.  Fascinating birds swarming in around our boats nattering and screeching as they went by within a few feet at times.
Back at Carsaig bay the deer skull attracted a lot of attention from passers by.
We settled for another night at the inn on the basis that it might be our last good meal for a week, Chris managed to join us after his long drive up.
We lit a small fire with what wood we could scavenge from the beach and watched the sun set over the silhouette of Jura.  It wasn't until gone 12 o'clock did we retreat to our tents, excited by the prospect of what tomorrow might bring.  Alarms set for 04:30 it was going to be an early start...

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