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Late June 2018 - Harris, Canna, Rum

On our last active day in Harris we walked the "Coffin Road" (right). This was the route taken by the east coast islanders to the grave yards on the west coast, the east being too rocky for burials. The track is now part of the Hebridean Way so is well maintained making walking a pleasure. It winds up the valley through a typical Harris landscape of rocks, heather and rough grass before descending to the beautiful bay at Seilebost with it's white sand and turquoise sea.

After two weeks in Tarbert (which included four days of gales) we were impatient to move on. Though we had not run out of things to do, and would have liked to visit the Eagle Hide and cycle to road to Huisinis so will have to return another year.

With the winds still strong but by now from the north-west, we opted to go south, which gave us our best sailing of the year. In conditions ideal for Vancouvers we raced along at 6-7knots with all sail set (Main, Yankee and Staysail) and had 7 hours really exhilarating sailing, arriving in Loch Harport on Skye well ahead of schedule. This meant we did not miss a ball of the England beating Australia in the cricket - always an important consideration.

The following morning a star fish tried to hitch a ride, being hauled up caught in the anchor chain (left). We often get jelly fish on the chain so always pull it in using gloves, but never before have we hooked a star fish. This is when it is an advantage hauling in the chain by hand rather than having a windlass as this spiky fellow would not improve the mechanism.

With the wind still favourable though much lighter we continued on sailing south and returned to Canna. This was still fun but at a much more typical speed of 4knots.

This time we only stayed three nights, and walked around Sanday the first day and then eastern side of Canna, the next day. There are several small herds of Highland Cattle on the island. These look intimidating with their long pointed horns, but they are quite small cattle and calmly continue chewing as you walk on by. They are not at all camera shy and always seem to strike a pose for the photographer.

There is no phone signal on Canna, so this gave us a perfect excuse to visit the cafe for their wifi. It was a bit early in the day for a beer, but it is never too early for a bacon roll, and as they only do filter coffee we decided to go for the hot chocolate. This was very impressive, arriving with a thick dollop of cream and covered in marshmallows - yum.

The entertainment of the visit was when a yacht ran aground on the reef (see more pictures). They did not do any serious damage except to their pride. It was on a falling tide so they were stuck there for 5 hours and had to endure not only all us yachties rowing past as we went ashore, but also the CalMac ferry docked not 15yds from where they were held fast. The ferry came in very gingerly so as not to create a wash that would bounce them on the rocks.

After all the gales we now have a calm. A short motor brought us to Rum. We were disappointed not to find any bread in the shop, in previous years there has always been at least frozen bread. So we just had more hot chocolate and cake in the cafe. There is a new hostel between the ferry slip and the village and they kindly did a load of washing for us for a donation.

The island has a large population of Red deer (right), we have only seen them in the distance up on the hills before but this buck was down in the village and took no notice of us as we strolled within 10yds of him. Clearly the tasty grass was much of much more interested. Rum is also well known for the voracious midges, and so with calm conditions forecast we only stayed one night before heading off to Mallaig.