Ulva and Gometra

Romeo

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I am a lucky fella who is going to be staying on the shores of Loch na Keal for a week, and will have a dinghy at my disposal. Looks like some great water for exploring in a small boat.

Has anyone taken a tender through the tidal gut between Ulva and Gometra? Just wondering if it is something that might be possible. Anyone got any photos they could share?
 

Quandary

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Can't see why not, the Antares Chart shows the gut drying for about 2/3 of the passage , it is narrow, and the North bay is rock strewn and not safe as an anchorage but it is just the sort of exploration for a small boat, tides are very strong in Ulva Sound so worth sorting out the best time, if you plan to circumnavigate.
There was a short episode of 'Coast' on the box last week ( can't remember which Channel) featuring Gometra and Inch Kenneth, Little Colonsay looks interesting too.
 

NormanS

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A great area for exploring with a small boat. There are some really remarkable inlets, particularly along the south shores of both Gometra and Ulva. Cragaig Bay etc. Go and enjoy. Been through Ulva Sound with a 60 footer, but I've never been through between the passage between Ulva and Gometra. There is a bridge between the two, with very restricted headroom, so you won't get through with a mast.
 

JumbleDuck

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I am a lucky fella who is going to be staying on the shores of Loch na Keal for a week, and will have a dinghy at my disposal. Looks like some great water for exploring in a small boat.

Has anyone taken a tender through the tidal gut between Ulva and Gometra? Just wondering if it is something that might be possible. Anyone got any photos they could share?

It's a lovely area. As NormanS says, there is a low bridge across the sound. It used to be a set of planks but seems to have a more bespoke solution now:

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Pace Quandary, I haven't anchored at the north end, but the older CCC books list it as an anchorage, although possible some distance from the entry.

While you are there, do try to eat at Ballygown (www.ballygown.co.uk) if you possibly can. It's outrageously wonderful. At this time of year they are open for parties of six only, but if they have been booked I expect they would fit in more. You can anchor or beach a dinghy right in front of the restaurant.
 

Romeo

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It's a lovely area. As NormanS says, there is a low bridge across the sound. It used to be a set of planks but seems to have a more bespoke solution now:

482787_742d411e.jpg


3d2f47bb-9884-488e-a8c6-60914627ba33_l.jpg


Pace Quandary, I haven't anchored at the north end, but the older CCC books list it as an anchorage, although possible some distance from the entry.

While you are there, do try to eat at Ballygown (www.ballygown.co.uk) if you possibly can. It's outrageously wonderful. At this time of year they are open for parties of six only, but if they have been booked I expect they would fit in more. You can anchor or beach a dinghy right in front of the restaurant.

That is very helpful thank you. It confirms that circumnavigation is possible but challenging......... Goldilocks tides needed.... not too much, not to little, and the mast needs to be lowered and raised again! All good fun for a challenge. And if you can get a 60 footer through the sound of Ulva, I should not be worrying so much as I am about getting a 14 footer through the sound to complete the circumnavigation!

Think the website for the restuarant is http://ballygownmull.co.uk/ . Looks fantastic!
 
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JumbleDuck

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That is very helpful thank you. It confirms that circumnavigation is possible but challenging......... Goldilocks tides needed.... not too much, not to little, and the mast needs to be lowered and raised again! All good fun for a challenge. And if you can get a 60 footer through the sound of Ulva, I should not be worrying so much as I am about getting a 14 footer through the sound to complete the circumnavigation!

The Sound of Ulva is a doddle heading north and fine heading south as long as you identify the entrance, which means identifying the right one of several very similar islets. I prefer to go through using the old (hardback) CCC book chartlet, which I find the clearest. In a 14-foot dinghy, trivial.

Think the website for the restuarant is http://ballygownmull.co.uk/ . Looks fantastic!

You are quite right. Oops. The Boathouse on Ulva is excellent too (lunches only) but appears to be closed for now. If you need transport, there is a community run bus and electric car service from Ulva Ferry to the Salen (bus) and anywhere (car) - you need to book the day before.

It's a truly lovely area. We have spent two years playing round there and will be back, weather permitting, this summer. If you haven't read it already, Dr Johnson's account of his highland journey is worth reading - he stayed at Ulva House and on Inch Kenneth. The book is available in various formats (HTML, ePub, Kindle) from Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2064

Taster:

Inquiring after the reliques of former manners, I found that in Ulva, and, I think, no where else, is continued the payment of the Mercheta Mulierum; a fine in old times due to the Laird at the marriage of a virgin. The original of this claim, as of our tenure of Borough English, is variously delivered. It is pleasant to find ancient customs in old families. This payment, like others, was, for want of money, made anciently in the produce of the land. Macquarry was used to demand a sheep, for which he now takes a crown, by that inattention to the uncertain proportion between the value and the denomination of money, which has brought much disorder into Europe. A sheep has always the same power of supplying human wants, but a crown will bring at one time more, at another less.
 

Quandary

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It's a truly lovely area. We have spent two years playing round there and will be back, weather permitting, this summer. If you haven't read it already, Dr Johnson's account of his highland journey is worth reading - he stayed at Ulva House and on Inch Kenneth. The book is available in various formats (HTML, ePub, Kindle) from Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2064

Taster:

Inquiring after the reliques of former manners, I found that in Ulva, and, I think, no where else, is continued the payment of the Mercheta Mulierum; a fine in old times due to the Laird at the marriage of a virgin. The original of this claim, as of our tenure of Borough English, is variously delivered. It is pleasant to find ancient customs in old families. This payment, like others, was, for want of money, made anciently in the produce of the land. Macquarry was used to demand a sheep, for which he now takes a crown, by that inattention to the uncertain proportion between the value and the denomination of money, which has brought much disorder into Europe. A sheep has always the same power of supplying human wants, but a crown will bring at one time more, at another less.

And we think some of the taxes we have to pay are unreasonable. I presume that every bridegroom paid the virgin tax whether he had had her or not? Still it was probably better than the alternative arrangement.
 

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Having been away from this forum for years with illness, family issues etc., and returning today, my eye was instantly drawn to 'Ulva and Gometra' so thought I'd share a little anecdote which is etched into my memory forever.
It was early/mid 70s, and an old school pal wrote to invite me on a 'lads sailing holiday' in the summer. Jumped at the chance, and duly met in Glasgow, before heading to Loch Melfort where 'Skipper' had chartered a Tomahawk 25 for 2 weeks from what was Arden Yachts. My first ever keelboat experience, weather was amazingly brilliant for W Scotland, and having pootled around close to Oban and Loch Etive for a day or two, waiting for the 4th member to join us by train, we headed over to Iona. then Staffa, then 'lets find an anchorage for tonight'?
We entered the inlet between the islands from the South, and guided by the old CCC SDs, the navy hardback, all-in-one edition, dropped the hook over on the East side. Glorious sunny evening, and 'Skip' was on galley duty = 'About an hour then we'll eat!' - so into the tender on my ownsome and off to explore the Gometra shore. After struggling to row through a forest of kelp, I reached terra firma, dragged the inflatable out of the water, and began to climb the small hill ahead.
Within a minute or two, I was joined by an energetic Jack Russell, dancing around me, clearly wanting me to follow, which, as he seemed to going in my direction, I did. And there, sitting atop the knoll (it was hardly a hill after all) was his mistress, a weather-beaten lady of about 50-ish, I suppose, sitting with an old wooden shepherd's crook, watching the yachts (we'd been joined by a second boat) in the inlet below. Exchanging 'Good Evenings' I sat down with her, and her conversation went like this, in that wonderful musical Highland and Islands lilt, 'You're from the white yacht, then?'
'I am indeed. On holiday with some old school pals!'
'It's not your yacht though?'
'No, we've chartered it for a fortnight!'
Long pause - a couple of minutes, so I prompted 'It's a lovely evening, isn't it?' - Another long pause!
She then came out with 'It's the therty-second yacht that's been in here this year!' (I spelled it that way to reflect her speech, which I could have listened to for hours!)
'It was also the twenty-fourth, and the seventh!'
Pause again.
'And the blue yacht is the therty-fifth, and it's been here too, before, the nineteenth! So it's on hire, too!'
'Oh really? We've said Hello to them and are going to join them later for a beer or two!' I said. 'Our chart shows a bridge at the top of the inlet, is that correct?'
'Aye, but it's away!' Maybe it had chartered a small sailboat too? I waited for the explanation, which in Highland fashion, was in no paricular hurry!
'It went away with the big storm last year!'
'Ah, I see!'
Then the longest pause of all, before,
'Are ye Scottish yersel, or are ye foreign?' Couldn't have put it better myself!
'Oh I'm fae Glasgow!' I answered proudly, and asked 'How about yourself?'
'Oh, I'm from the island. I live with my man, and we look after the sheep for the man in the Big House!' We'd taken an OS map along with us, and were unaware of any 'big house' on Gometra, but I could detect a wisp of smoke rising from the hollow to our west!
Probably sat with the lady for over half an hour, taking in the beauty of the place, before wishing her a pleasant evening and heading back for my Chilli and Rice, out of a double-ended tin! At least the cold beers were good though!
 

Quandary

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The four cottages in a row on Gometra, near the sound, were built for MacBraynes Staffa boatmen who used to row passengers ashore from the steamers that stopped there.
This thread has whetted my interest too, I must make an effort to call there again soon, much better than Bunessan, an anchorage we have grown to hate.
 

NormanS

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The four cottages in a row on Gometra, near the sound, were built for MacBraynes Staffa boatmen who used to row passengers ashore from the steamers that stopped there.
This thread has whetted my interest too, I must make an effort to call there again soon, much better than Bunessan, an anchorage we have grown to hate.

You're kind of spoiled for choice for good anchorages around Ulva and Gometra. There are so many. :D
 

Romeo

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Lots of wee nooks and crannies to explore. That is what I love in a week of mini-adventures on a wee boat. Excited :encouragement:.
 
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JumbleDuck

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My first visit to Ulva was in 1990, I think, while circumnavigating Mull in my Jouster. We'd been to Bunessan - a dreary place, as I recall, and a long walk from the anchorage to the village, where we went to a village hall concert. We had hoped to have a look at Staffa, but the weather forecast was getting worse and worse so I decided to ride it out at Ulva ferry. By the time we got there the forecast was F11 for Malin and F12 for further west. A little nerve-wracking. We anchored directed off the café in about 3m of water and let out all 35m of chain I had.

It blew a hoolie. Nothing near F11 where we were, but my logbook says it was F8/9. I went out once to check the anchor; the chain was bar-taut and entered the water 10m in front of the boat. Knickers to catenaries. Because of the contorted shape of the passage, there was very little fetch, so for all the screaming of the wind there were little more than ripples. It's the only time to date that I have ever kept an anchor watch, and my dominant memory is sitting by the light of a hurricane lamp, listening to the radio and the howling outside and looking out of the window to see the café rock steady to the side. It was a very strange and surreal night. Ulva and Gometra are like that.

It's much - well, a bit - more developed as a boating place now, with nice pontoons and a new shore building due to go up, which has taken some of the remote charm. However, as NormanS says there are plenty of places to go and it's very good to see the buy-out begin to have an effect. I hope to go sailing long enough to visit Ulva as a thriving community of dozens or scores of people. The island once supported 800, and what Gigha has done I am sure Ulva can do as well.

Golly, Romeo, but I'm jealous. Let us know how you get on, please.
 

Romeo

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I knew that if I dug deep enough in my father's attic I would find a suitable chart. :encouragement:

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Romeo

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Tides, daylight and wind condition did not align sufficiently to allow us to get all the way round Ulva. Had a cracking few days of rock dodging in Loch na Keal. Climbing Ben Mor the day before gave us a chance to plan the best ways through the sound of Ulva........ we slipped through the narrow East passage on the way back. Had a great lunch at the Boathouse and Dinner at Ballygowan. Thank you all for your advice. What a stunning cruising area.

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JumbleDuck

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Tides, daylight and wind condition did not align sufficiently to allow us to get all the way round Ulva. Had a cracking few days of rock dodging in Loch na Keal. Climbing Ben Mor the day before gave us a chance to plan the best ways through the sound of Ulva........ we slipped through the narrow East passage on the way back. Had a great lunch at the Boathouse and Dinner at Ballygowan. Thank you all for your advice. What a stunning cruising area.

56994041_2321497251234766_3906054489768984576_o.jpg

That is a fantastic picture, and has renewed my determination to get back to the area in the summer. I'm glad you liked it, in a vaguely and quite unjustifiably proprietorial way. With the steadily improving facilities at Ulva I suspect that the west of Mull is going to get a lot more popular in the future. So far it's been mainly somewhere that a few people scoot past on their way between Iona and Tobermory.

This summer I hope to do the Treshnish Isles.
 

NormanS

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Spent most of last week circumnavigating Mull, with a lot of sailing and anchoring in some of the lovely wee places in and around the Ross of Mull. With the settled easterly conditions, was able to spend time at and around Calgary. Unfortunately, the ice cream shop was closed.
 

Romeo

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Spent most of last week circumnavigating Mull, with a lot of sailing and anchoring in some of the lovely wee places in and around the Ross of Mull. With the settled easterly conditions, was able to spend time at and around Calgary. Unfortunately, the ice cream shop was closed.

Yup, we shared your disappointment. Mind you, with the slight cut to the wind it was maybe more hot chocolate weather than ice cream weather.

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