South of Ardnamurchan Point
Frequently the first or last stop on a cruise Loch Spelve is about three hours sail from Oban and gives an introduction to the wonders in store. We like to anchor in the north east corner behind a couple of islands where the Lord of the Isles used to keep his battle fleet.
Loch Spelve has a narrow and tricky entrance with fast flowing tides but offers shelter from weather from any direction.
Outside the entrance we like to monitor the progress of the Golden Eagles who breed in an enormous eyrie on the cliffs. In the loch we can see otters, deer, highland cattle, seals and goats, not necessarily in that order.
The Garvellachs - Eileach an Naoimh
The Garvellachs (Isles of the Sea) are located just west of Luing and southeast of Mull.
The Island boasts a ruined monastery and some very well preserved beehive cells. It is said that St Columba used to visit here on retreat when the pressure of life on Iona became too much for him. He is reputed to have buried his mother here as well.
When the tides are right this can be a lovely lunch stop on our way south to look into the Corryvreckan and perhaps sail on down to Jura or Oronsay.
Bagh Gleann nam Muc
A delightful and secluded anchorage just a mile from the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. A great lunch stop or overnight anchorage in preparation for venturing out into the Corryvreckan Gulf to see what we can see!
There is an ongoing project to find the Cave in which Brechan is suppose to have been buried but the shoulder high bracken hampers the search. See more of the legend of Brechan here. A cave has been found complete with stalacmites and stalactites but it is not certain that this is the one or does he still live?.
We see a good many sea eagles here and there are a large number of feral goats.
Craignish north of Crinan provides good shelter when south of the Sound of Luing. There are a number of secluded places to anchor, and of course one can not rule out a visit to Ardfern and the Galley of Lorne pub.
Carsaig is just west of Loch Buie and one of the few anchorages on the South coast of the Ross of Mull.
There is some shelter behind a low lying skerry which is a haul out spot for many seals.
Known aboard Corryvreckan as "The Garage" Ardlanish is a small and sheltered anchorage on the south coast of the Ross of Mull. We have found that we have to be first in to be sure of getting anchored comfortably. It is quite possible for smaller boats to anchor once we have done so ourselves but there is unlikley to be space for us if anyone has parked before us.
A lovely lunch stop and we often see Eagles here.
There are few decent anchorages on Colonsay but in the right conditions this beach is fantastic.
We have stopped for swimming and a good beach scramble. Normally there is not a soul in view.
St Columba is supposed to have stopped here on his way into exile but he did not stay as he could still see Ireland, his homeland. So Iona became his base.
There are some fabulous beaches here and a ruined Priory which is well worth a visit.
We see Eagles here and have heard Corncrakes.
Loch Tarbert Jura
One of Chris's favourite places, a relatively straightforward bit of rock dodging into the main anchorage which is pretty much secure from any weather.
A couple of minutes in the dinghy and you are on the Raised Beach - truly a life changing and humbling experience.
Tarbert Jura is exceptionally remote.
Craighouse - Jura
Home to the only Jura distillery, Craighouse is on the south eastern corner of the island. A useful stop if waiting for tide to go up the sound of Islay or on the way to Port Ellen.
Gigha is at the south end of the Sound of Jura and has a very pleasant climate.
There is a lovely garden on the island - well worth a visit for the horticulturists.
Port Ellen is the main port on Islay - the whisky centre of the Western Isles. There are three distilleries within easy reach including Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg.
Port Ellen is the main stopping point for the fleet for the last party of the Classic Malts Cruise.
With the Coast of Northern Ireland only 5 or so hours sail from here this is a great starting point for a visit to Rathlin Island and the Giant's Causeway.
Frequently our first or last stop on a cruise Loch Aline is a couple of hours up the Sound of Mull from Oban. A beautiful and sheltered anchorage of considerable size the Loch has a famous sand quarry producing some of the highest quality sand for making high quality glass.
It was to Loch Aline that many of the evacuees from St Kilda settled with jobs in the forestry business. It seems that the St Kildans were so skilled at cliff climbing that they planted trees in places which are inaccessible today in our "Health and Safety" conscious world.
Ardtornish House at the head of the Loch has a wonderful garden and welcomes visitors who want to look around.
Tobermory - Mull
Tobermory is the largest town on Mull and we will stop there on many of our cruises around Mull.
A pint of the local ale in one of the back rooms of the Mishnish Pub is a pleasant and very traditional way to round off an epic Corryvreckan cruise.
Tobermory with its brightly coloured houses is the setting of the TV Balamory series. Many grandparents have stocked up on the Balamory regalia while visiting on Corryvreckan.
Loch Dromah Buide (Drumbuie)
At the north end of the Sound of Mull at the entrance to Loch Sunart is the well sheltered Loch Drumbuie.
Complementing nearby Tobermory these two anchorages provide perfect shelter from any weather.
Drumbie is a favourite place to collect fresh mussels for supper. Delicious with lots of warm bread to soak up the juices.
Lunga is the largest of the Treshnish Isles to the west of Mull and is home to a busy bird colony which during the spring and early summer is packed with Puffins, Guillemots, Fulmars, Cormorants, Shags and a whole range of other seabirds.
A lovely lunch stop and worthwhile scramble ashore to see the birds close up.
Staffa is a little gem set in what Chris calls "The playground" to the west of Mull.
Home of the world famous Fingal's Cave which inspired Mendelssohn to write the Hebridean Overture.
The towering basalt coulmns are often hexagonal in shape and the whole is topped off with a vermicelli of smaller curved rods of rock.
In very settled weather we can sometimes anchor or stand off while we visit the cave and its smaller "Boat Cave". Word is that there are more caves almost as interesting as Fingals but much more difficult to get to.
A favourite stopping place for a brief visit on our way to a more sheltered anchorage.
Craigaig - Ulva
Craigaig to the south of Ulva is a super anchorage with reasonable shelter from the north and east. On a summer evening one can witness the most spectacular sunsets out over the treshnish isles to the west.
This is a place where we very likely see otters and we have even seen Dolphins playing amongst the rocks.
A lovely little anchorage just north of the Torran Rocks near Iona. Corryvreckan can anchor there if there is no one else in the anchorage.
We have to nose in turn around, head out, anchor, reverse back and get stern ropes off to the mooring rings astern. Not a reliable prospect when strong northerlies are forecast as everyone else goes there and Corryvreckan needs to be first in to be able to use the anchorage. A lively crew and some competent knots are essential.
Once secure it is great, if a little shallow at springs.
We have seen a Cuckoo, Eagles and Mink here.
Coll - Loch Earthana
A short distance to the west of Mull we find Coll. A low lying and unforested island more reminiscent of the outer hebrides than the inner islands.
The anchorage is in a sandy bay which on a good day in settled weather makes a great overnight stop.
Tiree well out to the west of Mull is the windiest and sunniest place in the British Isles. It is a paradise for windsurfers.
We visit there to enjoy the sandy beaches and weather.
We often go there when the wind is a bit light and thus far it has always provided good sailing for our return.
North of Ardnamurchan Point
One of the more tricky anchorages north of Ardnamurchan Point. You can only get in there if you have a copy of the 1885 chart. The current ones are useless. After a lot of rock dodging and a mile and a half of contour creeping one can anchor behind Riska, if there is enough water over the bar.
Castle Tioram "Dry Feet" looms over the anchorage and the sheer tree clad cliffs fall straight down into the loch.
In the early mornings otters have been seen fishing here and in the evenings one can sometimes hear a local bagpiper rehearsing.
Eigg is one of the "Small Isles" easily identified from afar because of its distinctive "Scour" a rocky ridge looking for all the world like a "Roman Nose". Purchased by the islands inhabitants in recent years Eigg is a lovely lunch stop with a community bar and well stocked shop and a thriving and very friendly local community.
We anchor in the south bay where shelter is a bit limited. There is better shelter in the north harbour but until I can get a reliable chart of the depths after the RoRo Pier was put in I will not go in there.
That said Eigg is a worthwhile stop in the right conditions.
Rum - Loch Scresort
Rum is the largest of the small isles and has a single anchorage in Loch Scresort on the east side.
Well worth a visit is Kinloch Castle - a shrine to the extravagant wealth of Victorian and Edwardian Society.
A small island northwest of Rum Canna probably provides the best anchorage in the Small Isles - if one discounts the plague of kelp on the bottom which keeps most yachts busy trying to anchor without dragging.
Once anchored, there are some great walks ashore, a Puffin Colony, a castle, a Viking burial, caves and a shop!
Sandaig at the entrance to Loch Hourn in the sound of Sleat has a delightful beach to explore.
This is where Gavin Maxwell had a cottage and based this "Ring of Bright Water" story. His cottage was destroyed on Maxwell's orders after his death - there is still a commemorative stone there to visit.
Easily one of the most dramatic anchorages in Europe. Loch Scavaig is deep inside the Cullins of Skye which tower over the anchorage. The high mountains are also the cause of fierce squalls which makes the anchorage quite uncomfortable in certain conditions.
A visit ashore involves a walk to the freshwater Loch Coruisk a short way up the glacial valley. The rocks here are all very smooth and polished and appear to flow down to the sea. One can imagine the huge forces of ice against rock that formed this dramatic landscape.
Talisker - Carbost - Loch Harport
The Talisker Distillery at Carbost on Skye is the venue for the second big party on the Classic Malts Cruise.
Nestled at the far end of Loch Harport there is a great view of the Cullins of Skye.
On the mainland north of Skye, Plockton is a delightful little anchorage with a few restaurants, pubs and shops.
The anchorage is a bit crowded with moorings and in many ways Plockton is a deal too civilized for a cruise on Corryvreckan. We have called in there on our way north on a longer than usual cruise.
Acairseid Mhor - Rona
The anchorage at Acairseid Mhor on Rona is very difficult to find.
It seems that for many years this was a lair for Pirates who would prey on local shipping and dissappear.
Even today it is impossible to see the way in until one spots a white arrow painted on a rock!
The Shiant Isles
To the north of Skye the Shiant Isles are often referred to as a mini St Kilda. Home to many thousands of Puffins and other seabirds these Islands are very rugged and getting ashore can be difficult. Particularly at low tide as we discovered! Once ashore the going is either very steep or very rough, but a great visit as one anchors under a cloud of seabirds inhabiting the colony.
Gairloch is on the mainland north of Skye a good stopping off or departure point to cross the north Minch or on the way to the Summer Isles.
At the north end of the Sound of Sleat, Isle Ornsay is on the coast of Skye opposite the entrance to Loch Hourn.
A good place to stop and wait for the tide if intending to go up Kyle Reah.
Loch Hourn north of Knoydart off the sound of Sleat is a serene and beautiful Loch, with a few reasonable anchorages.
Kyle of Loch Alsh
A circumnavigation of Skye involves braving the narrows at Kyle Rea and ducking under the bridge from the Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye.
While all the reference books convince you that your mast will easily get under you cant help glancing upwards at the critical moment.
Shieldaig, Gairloch is a pretty little anchorage in the south east corner of the main loch. There is a pub ashore and some visitors moorings, none big enough for Corryvreckan though.
Harris - Loch Tarbert
Loch Tarbert Harris is quite a small harbour with a Ro Ro Terminal. The pilot book advises one not to anchor south east of the "pivot point" of the pier. Much debate ensues as to exactly what this is.
Scalpay - Harris
An island to starboard on your way up East Loch Tarbert - Harris towards Tarbert itself.
There is reasonable shelter and now that Scalpay is connected to Harris by a bridge an option for a short stay and visit to the town by taxi, avoiding having to anchor at Tarbert itself where there is limited room and landing can be awkward at low tide.
A serene and remote anchorage on the east coast of north uist. Loch Skiport offers some excellent walking and good shelter.
Famed for a pioneering BBC reality show Taransay is a beautiful sandy island on the west side of Harris. Perhaps not quite as remote as the TV show made out but a great haven for Eagles.
A good site for a dip and beach picnic on the way back to the Sound of Harris.
A very cramped anchorage next to the ferry pier with uncertain depths and a fair amount of local boats crowded in.
We have visited on a Sunday when it seemed to be completely deserted!
--- Then the Hebridean Princess turned up!
Barra - Castlebay
The southernmost town of the Outer Hebrides is a stop for Clansman from Oban.
A useful place for a bit of fresh shopping or as a staging post for an attempt on St Kilda.
South of here is Vatersay, Mingulay then Bernera and then pretty much nothing until Antarctica!
One of the most Southern of the Outer Hebrides Mingulay has a big beach on the east side and Bird Colonies and Stacs on the west.
A deceptive beach which looks quite calm but landing can be quite tricky with quite fierce breakers arising out of a seemingly placid sea.
On a recent visit we were fascinated to see about 150 North Atlantic seals lying on the beach in rows.
Barra Head - Bernera
This is the southernmost Outer Hebrides with a reasonable anchorage behind the well named "Shelter Rock". Half a mile to the west is the Atlantic Ocean.
On our visit in 2009 we had very poor visibility and our exploration of the island was curtailed. We also found the true meaning of the word "Slipway" at the landing place.
--- One day we will get there when we can actually see the Barra Head Lighthouse.
An hour to the north of the Shiant Isles is Loch Shell on Lewis. This is a sheltered anchorage complete with fishfarm, a puffer wreck and some of the better lazybeds we have seen.
There is a pier and very little else. The phonebox is a mile or so from the pier and a very pleasant walk it is too.
In some ways St Kilda is a "Holy Grail" for sailors on the West Coast of Scotland. Lying some 40 miles west of the Sound of Harris this remote group of islands is well out into the Atlantic. Getting to St Kilda is a matter of careful analysis of the weather forecast, getting ashore and possibly staying overnight is a matter of luck. The weather changes quickly and getting caught out can lead to some very uncomfortable voyages.
That said, once there, the atmosphere of Village Bay, the spectacular scenery, the bustling bird colonies, together with the sense of achievement makes a trip to St Kilda an unforgettable experience.