Canna July 2017 – a brief weather window

Date: Saturday-Sunday 22nd-23rd July 2017
Participants: Us
Weather: Dry, mainly sunny
Distance: 14 + 9.5km
Ascent: 500 + 200m

Having been energised and enthused by our May/June holiday we’d imagined a summer of walking and camping in great conditions. The reality of the current Scottish climate put paid to that and the remainder of June had seen a succession of rather rank weekends. We’d been out on rather middling weekends through July, but quality weekends had eluded us.

The third weekend in July looked as though the Small Isles might give a good return for the trip so we headed to Mallaig for the 0730 ferry. A pleasant, sunny morning was in the offing.

A good trip – flat calm, a Calmac Bacon Buttie and a good view. Good for the soul, if not for the coronary arteries.

Saw a very large pod of Common Dolphins, quite close to the ferry, and one Minke Whale diving.

The Small Isles ferry stops at Rum first, and then on to Canna. Rum always looks tasty.

A lazy weekend on Canna. A very slow walk along the south shore. White, blue and Argus butterflies seen. The volcanic geology of Canna is eye-catching.

As we passed Tarbert and headed to the western half of the island our sun tokens ran out and it became rather more overcast.

Past the nunnery ruins we saw a Golden Eagle cruise in towards the north.

We headed round to Garrisdale Point, at the NW tip of the island and descended the easy slope direct to the fort NG 207 052. We’d camped there a few years previously – it is a rather nice pitch spot.

Had some lunch. Saw an immature Sea Eagle flying first off to the east, then back over our heads and round the west tip.

Not long after an adult flew past west to east.

Headed round to the very NW tip and scouted out a pitch. Stuck the tent up and visited Dun Channa.

Dun Channa is a little stack of columnar basalt with a fortification wall at the entry point (which still needs a bit of a scramble to get up onto). These days it is the fortress of black-backed gulls.

We went back to the tent, but our pitch was sheltered from the easterly and the midges were challenging to say the least. Decided to strike the tent and head up onto the top of Garrisdale Point to catch any breeze available.

Out to the SE we had a good view of Barra:

Nearly trod on an azure hawker:

Got the tent up quite close to the trig point – initially breezy, but unfortunately dropping out to our disappointment and the midges delight.

Nice view down to Dun Channa:

Scarp on Garrisdale Point:

Got tea cooked but just after the Fuizions were done the wind dropped out and it got very midge. Retreated inside the bug nets and watched as the cloud eventually cleared. The sun emerged at about 2030. Wind got up and we had a good view of sunset without midge. Result!
Sun over South Uist:

The sun slid down passing over Beinn Mhor and the Hecla to hit the horizon just to the right of the South Uist hills.


A cracker of a sunset with no midges in sight – our batteries were definitely recharging.

The breeze picked up quite a bit overnight, we got up at 0100 – it was overcast so we were denied a starscape. Took a little while to identify lighthouses and the lights of coastal communities.

Up at 0520 (slept in) sun up over the Cuillin.

Breakfast of cocoa and bars as the sunlight gave us a bit of warmth.

A very slow wander from 0730 back to the ferry for 1130. The only downside of visiting the Small Isles is being a slave to the timetable. A price worth paying.

Hot and sunny return with a few clegs. Spotted one Golden Eagle soaring above Tarbert. A few butterflies too.

Tarbert Bay:

Back to A’Chill with enough time to sit on the beach to its east which is a lovely spot.

And then back past the church to the jetty.

A sunny sail back, a few porpoises only this time. Another great visit to the Small Isles – always seems to be well worth the effort.

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