Chapter 9: Aug 13 - Totaig to Loch Nevis
August 13th - Totaig. When we came in last night the ketch with the blue sail was moored in shore, there were also two or three launches and a cutter by the ferry house and even then there was room for us. This little bay of Totaig, at the corner of Loch Alsh and Loch Duich is utterly charming and the prospect from it one of the most romantic in all Scotland. The tall grey pile of Eilean Donan Castle against its background of mountain. The Dornie and Ardelve Ferry with Loch Long running deep into the mysterious recesses of the hills. The variegated forest bank that rises from the rocks and sea foliage with the grassy brakes between the trees - and such beautiful trees - two most graceful dryads of birch with their slender boles rising from a grassy sward look as though they were dainty debutantes making their bow at a ball, but no amount of tosh such as this can convey the sense of almost intoxicating beauty. That is how it affects me.
There were passing showers, but a proper sunset with pink streaks, (which did not belie this morning's very gentle weather) and after that a golden yellow glow in a clear sky, setting off the deep velvet darkness of the hills from their skyline down to the steely waters of the loch. Such occasional journals as we perused bewailed in their Scottish Notes the absence of dance halls and picture houses in the highlands. I am dead certain that no true Highlander regrets their lack in the slightest degree, when he has such infinitely superior attractions to enjoy.
We spent an hilariously reminiscent evening below. I wish I could retail the Skipper's racy yarns, how he scooped his crew out of the drink when they went out over the foredeck and returned by the mainsheet or if quick enough by the lee rigging. Many of the inimitable tales are extant in "Amateurs Afloat" but there are still more that have not seen the light of day. It was nearly seven bells before the Mate and I laid forward.
This morning Smab, the Mate, Mollie and I went up Loch Duich in the outboard to Letterfearn (a new one to add to my collection) to send wires and search for milk and eggs and fail to get the latter or petrol. It was a lovely morning spin with the Five Sisters of Kintail shyly covering their heads in mist. Off Dornie we saw a huge fish jump perpendicularly clear of the water - not a herring-whale - its body being white and silver; not unlike the tuna I saw leaping high somewhere off the coast of Costa Rica; certainly not a basker, but without exaggeration from twelve to fifteen foot in length. I saw it once, but Smab saw it two or three times and neither of us would tell a lie.
The shore line from Totaig all along the western side of Loch Duich is covered with trees and indented with rooky inlets. On a boulder at the point of one of these a heron of unusual size and height posed or rather poised for us before he flap flopped up and off. The cottages in Letterfearn were surrounded by gay coloured flowers which indicated that summer still held sway and bore witness to the mildness of the climate. There was fuchsia in profusion, red honeysuckle, tropaeoleum speciosum, roses and sweet william. Of wild flowers there were pink campion, meadowsweet, marguerites, foxglove and wild forget-me-not. We left Totaig at 10 and after a pleasant summery passage reached Glas Choille in Loch Nevis at 1.30