A Skye Boat Trip
Normally October brings an easing in the pace for the busy B&B owner and it’s a good time to get out and about and experience some of the things that our guests enjoy during the summer. One of the most popular of these is a boat trip from Elgol. There are now three operators offering a multitude of different permutations on this theme – we chose the Bella Jane (no favoritism, only because they gave us a special, end-of-season, local B&B owners deal). The Bella Jane started running in 1992, when there were no other official operators ferrying visitors across to Loch Coruisk. Martin remembers taking this boat a long time ago to go climbing when there were only a few adventurous day trippers and parking in Elgol wasn’t a problem. It’s a bit different now, especially in summer, when Elgol turns into a busy, bustling metropolis. Well maybe not quite, but everything’s relative here on Skye.
We took our boys for their day out on a beautiful autumn day with clear mountain peaks and a glassy, turquoise sea. After clambering aboard and we headed out across the Loch Scavaig on the forty-five minute crossing to the Black Cuillin; keeping a sharp eye out for dolphins, whales and basking sharks. We didn’t manage to see any of these, of course, but we did see some birds. Some of them were quite big. When the boat gets close to shore it’s a great chance to make friends with the local seal colony. It seems strange that you can take a muckle great boat right close to the seals and they don’t bat an eyelid, but if you kayak anywhere near them they disappear.
The boat anchors at a jetty in a kind of salt water lagoon; it all looks fine territory for finding scallops (may have to return some day!). One thing Vanessa has only recently realised is that boat trips don’t actually go into Loch Coruisk. It’s a freshwater loch surrounded by mountains overflowing out into the sea; quite weird when you see it. Once you disembark you have the choice of either a little wander about, a walk around the loch, or a grand adventure in the mountains. Lots of people take the boat one-way. Some folk then walk back to Elgol following the shoreline, but this requires you to negotiate the infamous ‘bad step’, a section where the path runs across a big slab of rocks overhanging the sea. Doing this part of the route is made more nerve-wracking by a boat full of curious tourists watching to see if you fall in.
With young kids in tow, we stopped by the loch for a picnic and a wander about. At this point we’re not even going to try and describe the views – you’ll have to see for yourself just how amazing the scenery is. On the boat trip back, the skipper gave up the helm so the boys had a chance to have a go at steering the boat. After checking the Bella Jane for its emergency life craft, we settled back and enjoyed the views out to Rum and the Small Isles. This truly does live up to the hype as one of the most beautiful boat trips you can take. Ever.