Chapter 14: Aug 18/19 Port Ramsay to Dunstaffnage Bay and Loch Craignish
August 18th - Port Ramsay. We hove up at 11 and proceeded down the Lynn of Lorn, but it rained and it blew and there was no longer a view to delight and tire the eyes, but near at hand there were objects of interest. There were seals, so graceful in the water, so ungainly on land. They kept flopping off their skerries into the sea and the near view of Lismore was wild and pleasing as we headed south ambling more or less gently against the swell. When we came to Airds Bay we were more exposed and we wallowed in the cross seas. In fact it was rough and we rolled like a barrel. The milk slopped over from the larder into the boudoir. Tomatoes left their moorings in the engine room and played bowls on the bilge planking. Various heavy items took what is called 'charge' and dunted noisily on the deck. Charts and papers descended in showers from the potting shed into the companion. Someone enquired who was supposed to have done the stowing and made things secure. We all felt guilty, but Smab said she had stowed for a 'half roll' and some of us are still wondering what exactly that might mean.
In due course we anchored in the quiet of Dunstaffnage Bay, just opposite the castle.
It rained or drizzled all day and all night. After tea Mate, Maureen and I donned oilskins and went to Connel Ferry in the outboard. As soon as we landed Maureen met a very charming and handsome youth who was carrying a milk pail. When Maureen wants anything, she goes the nearest way to it. This time she wanted to find out some friends who were supposed to live there. The young Adonis was helpful but had no reliable information, he told us however where we could get the milk. As we walked along the road which fronts Loch Etive, Maureen observed a smart bungalow. She said "That looks the sort of place they'd be in", Maureen has Irish blood in her. She went up and knocked at the door. No answer. She prowled round the house looking in at the windows. Presently she returned, "That's not them". "How do you know?" says I. "Oh I looked in the window and saw a pot of face cream with Miss M - y on it, it's evidently not the Potters".
We went on to the Inn, the 'Dunstaffnage Arms' very old and delightfully highland. The very obliging young landlord supplied us with milk in a Jamaica Rum bottle. We wandered on to look at the famous Falls of Lora. They were not there, it being the wrong time of day. Next she called at the Police Station, but they, she supposed, were away at the kirk it being Sunday evening. After that I lost sight of her. She flew on and I understand raided the post office, got past its Sunday defences and actually verified that the 'P's' had lived at Connel but were there no longer.
Meanwhile I had cached the 'rum' and pottered around looking at gardens, mostly very well kept and radiant with flowers. I picked thistles and pink convolvulus. I nearly missed the cache as we returned chattering about this and that. Eventually we got back to the boat and a somewhat rueful Mate, who had waited an hour in the rain and had been considered a suspicious character by the inhabitants.
August 19th - Dunstaffnage Bay. Rising at seven I sculled over to look at the famous castle, which Sir Walter Scott in the 'Legend of Montrose' had restored to life and activity. I looked for but could not identify the nearby eminence which Dugald Dalgetty proposed to fortify and anent which he had a great argument with the Campbell 'Captain of Dunstaffnage' of that day. The Castle is a fine old four square ruin and is now surrounded by trees. The policies and surroundings of the castle had been used as a seaplane base during the war and the pier and all around it was littered with junk and scrap.
We got the anchor and were away again at 9 and going down by Oban and the Sound of Kerrera we came into a rolling whitecapped Firth of Lorn. Gylen castle at the south end of Kerrera is like another Neidpeth perched on the edge of the sea on a high rook, just large enough to support it. Many of the rocks on the Lorn coast look like castles and the old chieftains when building took care to imitate nature as far as possible. The Skipper made out a source over towards Mull to avoid the rollers coming beam on and soon we turned towards Fladda and made across the firth with a very pleasing sort of corkscrew dandle. Sliding as usual down Scarba Sound we went through the Dorus Mhor and up into Loch Craignish where we found our snug little anchorage behind Eilean More. The afternoon and evening were spent in dashing about our lagoon in the outboard. It is a wild spot inhabited only by a lonely farm and the clachan of Ardfern, a couple of miles away.