A Trip on the Misty Isle

Elgol - Home to all sorts of Stunning views

Elgol – Home to all sorts of Stunning views

When I was young we went on holiday to Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde. This meant we had to get a ferry from Largs. There were two ferries on this route during the summer, one called the Largs and the other the Coruisk (ironically they used to be based at Kyle of Lochalsh on the Skye crossing). They weren’t very reliable, especially the Coruisk. So when any one says the word Coruisk my immediate mental picture is of a ferry heading back to Largs having failed to disembark any cars or passengers at the Cumbrae slipway. The next memory is of passengers being taken off while the cars remained on until the ramp, which constantly failed to work, was fixed.

A mantra was said when we arrived in Largs until we got on the ferry “Not the Coruisk, not the Coruisk, Not the Coruisk…”

So the word Coruisk has now become synonymous with it all going horribly and inconveniently wrong. You can therefore imagine the strange mixed emotions I was having when Mrs L365 told of a “Tweet-up with some friends from Twitter on a Misty Isle Boat Trip to Loch…*pause for dramatic effect* Loch Coruisk (Minor key music, slow fade with a close crop on my worried face)! I suppose the big difference is that the Misty Isle is a beautiful, well maintained boat while the Cal-Mac ferries were unreliable, ugly, rust buckets.

The Misty Isle also has a lovely, friendly, relaxed and professional crew. Let’s say the memories of the Cal-Mac crew that I have are slightly different. The Misty Isle is based in Elgol. Probably one of the most photographed places in Skye and with some justification. It is beautiful with a dramatic view across to the Cuillins and a spectacularly photogenic rocky shore. Largs had an esplanade covered in sunburned folk from Glasgow (me included) amusement arcades and ice cream vans. In my youth the water was filled with little boats you hired which had little engines that made a bap-bap –bap noise and there were lots of them. It was very noisy and busy. Elgol is not. It is picturesque and peaceful. Though being a busy little fishing port too it can have a slight aroma in warm weather.IMG_0785R

We arrived on the agreed day at almost the agreed time – pretty good considering we had our 4 year old daughter in tow and she can drive a stampeding herd of bison through any carefully planned schedule. We leapt onboard with all our photo gear and rucksacks full of picnic. We also had a tesco shopping bag with four wooden letters in it, our increasingly famous Love Letters. We were going to one of the most beautiful places in Skye, it would have been remiss not to take them there.

Misty Isle Boat trips are a family business. The skipper is Seamus MacKinnon who has been sailing the local waters for over 40 years. His crew is his son Stuart who is also our host for the trip. His knowledgeable talk during the journey is both informative and entertaining – oh, and ask him to sing the safety announcement.IMG_8564AStuart does the safety announcement. There is a running joke about him singing the instructions and far be it from us to not perpetuate it.

Loch Coruisk is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s as simple as that.  A long narrow fresh water loch surrounded by the Black Cuillin. There are three ways to it. The way we took – by boat, by foot from Elgol which is fairly easy till you encounter the “Bad Step.” It is a slab of rock with a crack or fissure in it that you have to traverse to get to the loch. One mistake and you fall into the sea. The third way it is by foot from Sligichan which is about a three and a half hour walk. I think we chose the best route, it’s the one with coffee, tea, hot chocolate and home baking.IMG_8577                                            Coire Beag from the Misty Isle

For about a week before our trip the seas around Elgol had been alive with dolphins and we were really looking forward to seeing some for ourselves. Didn’t see one! We did see, in the distance a single harbour porpoise fin break the surface twice and then nothing. We did see lots of seals though and the view of the Cuillins as you approach the landing stage in Loch Stravaig  below Loch Coruisk is pretty impressive. Between us and the loch is what must be one of the shortest rivers anywhere – Scavaig river, all of 400 metres from Loch Coruisk to the sea. It had been unusually dry when we visited so we crossed the Scavaig trickle instead of a river.IMG_8607A The local wild(ish) life. They are pretty laid back about boatloads of tourists puttering byIMG_8592AA shag. Well, two shags and a seagull. I can’t help myself becoming a sniggering wee boy when mentioning themIMG_8630A                                               Some more really relaxed seals

The rest of our party sat on a little beach and enjoyed a picnic (there was even wine!) While I wandered off with my rucksack of camera gear and shopping bag to find some nice spots to photograph the “Love Skye” letters. We only had about an hour so I didn’t get to the high points with the best views but still, it’s a stunningly beautiful place.IMG_8654A                                            Love Skye – Love Loch Coruisk

The thing that struck me the most was how there wasn’t any of the human detritus you usually find where people have been. There was no rubbish left behind by previous visitors. Having spent a great deal of time in places rarely visited I have been amazed by the amount of crap we can cover places with. I have a grading system for beaches and shores using a one to five blue glove scale for how badly humans have polluted. Fishermen wear blue marigold style gloves and they litter the coast line along with a great deal of other junk that manages to find its way overboard from boats. Loch Coruisk being an inland loch has escaped this fate. It seems that the people who visit the loch respect it’s beauty and take their rubbish with them.IMG_8663A                                              Loch Coruisk in all it’s glory. Once photos had been taken, wine drunk, food eaten and the loch paddled in it was time to return to the boat. This is when the tea, coffee, hot chocolate and home baking is served! The return journey was as bereft of cetaceans as the outward one, but the views were still spectacular. That’s the great thing about Skye there’s always a great view whichever way you look.IMG_8680A                             Kate with John and Gail from Skye CroftIMG_8582AAs a day out it was brilliant. It certainly took the stigma and hoo-doo from the word Coruisk. You say Coruisk to me now and I think of a huge and dramatic photo opportunity.  A huge bowl of every changing light and imposing mountains. It’s the sort of place you could spend a life time trying to capture the perfect picture of. It could become a compulsion.IMG_8647AEverything went smoothly, we had a great time and it didn’t even rain. A Misty Isles boat trip really is a must do for every visitor to Skye.IMG_8715    After the trip. We can’t thank Misty Isle Boat Trips enough for a great day out.

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