Tighnabruaich and Arran

Wednesday 29th, my birthday, Chris had thoughtfully organised family to send cards to the Crinan Hotel, so I was slightly overwhelmed to have a little bundle of cards to open, and balloons (thank you Joe).
A busy canal day, two locks up and six down, mostly we did them on our own, occasionally we had a bit of help and towards the end of the day I started recruiting passers-by to help, people are generally really keen to have a go! No further calamities and having stopped for a food shop in Lochgilphead, we reached lock two, and moored up for the night, ready to drop into the Ardrishaig basin and leave the calm shelter of the canal tomorrow. We enjoyed a bottle of champagne and crashed out.
Thursday 30th. Out of the canal into Loch Fyne, rain and wind; southerly, we motor-sailed round to the West Kyle of Bute and Tighnabruaich to visit David and Eva Shrewsbury, great friends of Chris's parents. 28 years ago Ian and Mary sailed with the Shrewsbury's in their 26 foot yacht 'Scapha' from the River Orwell, up the east coast, through the Caledonian Canal to Tighnabruaich, almost non-stop, each couple taking 4 hourly watches, navigating by dead-reckoning and sextant, no GPS. How much easier our adventure is, GPS, 36 feet of boat and a fridge!

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This is red squirrel country

We picked up a visitor's mooring close to their house, quite a choppy sea and the boat was a bit roly-poly had a cup of tea, looked at some charts and books, planning the next leg. We were just preparing to go ashore when Chris yelled, in that urgent tone of voice you respond to immediately.....the dinghy, which we'd dropped into the water when we moored, had broken free and was making it's own way ashore! Action stations, engine on, and echo- sounder, if there was enough water we could retrieve it from Bliss, otherwise one of us was going for a swim.... I'm so glad it was Chris who had tied that knot, and not me. We caught it, phew, not the most appealing conditions for swimming.

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Kyles of Bute

We spent 24 hours in Tighnabruaich, such a beautiful village, two visits to Eva and David, where we did some washing and used their shower, as well as being well fed and watered. We had a lovely walk through the village and up the hillside to see some waterfalls. After lunch on Friday we set off for the island of Arran and picked up a visitor's mooring in Lochranza, ventured ashore to the local hotel and watched the Wales v Belgium match. We got chatting to another boating couple, they had set off from near Exeter a month ago, as well as having an adventure, they were due to meet up with other family members in order to scatter the ashes of his mother. We were talking sport, it turns out that he played hockey for Wales, he had been a Royal Marine, and knew the Askins, particulately Stephen; good friends of ours who live in Suffolk. What a small world!
Typically, our plans for the weekend, changed dramatically. We thought it would be nice to do some walking/climbing on Arran, maybe catch a bus to Brodick and climb Goat Fell, then sail on to Campbeltown on Kintyre in the afternoon. The morning brought heavy showers, low cloud and a fresh westerly wind, not very pleasant walking conditions, but as it happens, good sailing weather. We are heading south and then east, if we stuck with our original plan we would miss this brisk westerly, and potentially have to motor 120 miles to Whitehaven where we plan to be by about Wednesday to gate-crash the annual Cook get-together in Wasdale Head, and, complete stage two of our 'three peaks challenge'; Scafell Pike. By heading straight to Portpatrick on Saturday, we would, hopefully, get half way to Whitehaven under sail.

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Lochranza on Arran