Loch Moidart, Ard­na­mur­chan

An­chor in the shadow of the an­cient cas­tle and en­joy the peace and tran­quil­lity of this beau­ti­ful loch, says Jonty Pearce

Yachting Monthly - - ANCHORAGE -

O ver the years I have en­joyed many land-based fam­ily vis­its to Loch Moidart. Our favourite spot is the dra­matic loom­ing ruin of Cas­tle Tio­ram, look­ing im­pos­ingly down the loch to­wards the open sea. Perched off the beach on its own ti­dal islet, the cause­way cov­ers at High Wa­ter leav­ing it ma­rooned. In­deed, we lin­gered too long on one birth­day visit and were cut off, only reach­ing the sanc­tu­ary of the car and my birth­day cake af­ter a deep wade mo­ments be­fore the cause­way be­came im­pass­able. It was the best birth­day ever, and Cas­tle Tio­ram has be­come a place of pil­grim­age for me ever since.

Imag­ine my de­light when a club cruise from Skye down to Loch Linnhe be­stowed the boon of a visit afloat. Whilst the en­trance to Loch Moidart might re­sem­ble a troll’s gar­den, care­ful at­ten­tion to pi­lotage ad­vice such as that of­fered by the Clyde Cruis­ing Club’s Sail­ing Di­rec­tions al­lows a path to be picked through the scat­ter of guard­ing islets and rocks. We chose to an­chor in the shadow of the cas­tle be­tween the is­land of Riska and the shore.

Aside from its per­fect beach, ru­ined cas­tle and the four-mile snaking Post­man’s Walk lead­ing through to the ven­er­a­ble ‘Seven Men of Moidart’ trees at Kin­lochmoidart, the area of­fers lit­tle other than truly breath­tak­ing scenery. I have of­ten spot­ted golden ea­gles soar­ing over the tow­er­ing crags that over­look the sub­stan­tial foun­da­tions of Dor­lin House, which oc­cu­pied a shore­side po­si­tion so en­vi­able that its still va­cant site re­mains an enigma. Per­haps the bloody echoes of Cas­tle Tio­ram’s trou­bled his­tory proved to be a dis­turb­ing neigh­bour – in 1715, the own­ers torched the cas­tle to pre­vent it fall­ing into the hands of the Camp­bells. Here, the iso­la­tion is the al­lure, and no fa­cil­i­ties such as shops, pubs or show­ers in­trude to spoil the am­bi­ence.

To en­ter the loch, first iden­tify Eilean Raonuil with its sum­mit perch in the cen­tre of the chan­nel to the south of Eilean Shona. Make your ap­proach to this is­land on a bear­ing of 100°, though if Cas­tle Tio­ram can be seen it can be used as a lead­ing line over Eilean Raonuil un­til that is­land can be left 0.5 ca­bles to port, when a bear­ing of 73° will clear the rocks to the south-east. When the grassy tops of Eilean Car­nagh and Eilean Cora come into line, steer 30° to port to­wards Sgeir nan Sgarbh un­til it is 0.3 ca­bles to the north, be­fore turn­ing due east un­til the small cone of Eilean Cora is well open on Sgeir na Claid­heamh. Pass Sgeir na Claid­heamh to port, tak­ing note of the rock to the south-west of it and head across to leave Ru a Bhaile one ca­ble to port be­fore cir­cling Riska clock­wise. We an­chored to the south of the is­land, tak­ing care to avoid the sub­ma­rine ca­bles sup­ply­ing Shona.

The sandy beach is just a stone’s throw away and the lure of ex­plo­ration is strong, but first breathe in the at­mos­phere of this most pre­cious place and let your life slow down to the snail’s pace that this no­ble set­ting com­mends.

Look­ing out across Cas­tle Tio­ram and Riska Is­land, Loch Moidart. There is a deep an­chor­age to the south of Riska

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