Castle to Castle Round Lochalsh

Topher Dawson reports on a row in company that “Ulla” took part in, amid spectacular scenery and in good company:

On 25th May Plockton Small Boat Sailing Club held their annual Lochalsh Row, which is 16 miles from Eilean Donan Castle to Duncraig Castle near Plockton. They race a local class of traditionally built clinker dinghies 15ft long, which have sailing rigs but which also can be rowed by 4 rowers with 4 oars plus a cox.

These boats seemed small compared to Ulla which we had brought with a crew of 5 women and one man, but on a gorgeous day all 7 boats set off undaunted into about 10mph of a headwind and a fine favourable tide under us. The scenery was fantastic, looking back up Loch Duich to the Five Sisters  of Kintail and forward to Skye.

As we got into Loch Alsh the Southerly wind increased and it became quite choppy with wind against tide. The leading boat snuck by us in the lee of some islands and we passed under the Skye Bridge just behind, still carried by the tide.

Following the boat with local knowledge we burrowed in between weed covered rocks heart in mouth, around the rocky shore towards Plockton with a following wind of about 20mph and sizeable waves. At one point we were in shallow sandy water wondering whether we would go aground but our luck held out and we rounded the point into the pretty bay at Plockton only 2 and a half minutes behind, having beaten the 4 hour course record by half an hour. When we met our foes at the pontoon someone said. “Look, it’s a bunch of lassies!”

The rescue cover was efficient and plentiful and the hospitality very friendly. It’s a great row and I would be up for it next year. Many people took a long look at our skiff and I think they may decide to build one before too long. Watch out if they do because those boys and girls can row!

There is a report on the event in the West Highland Free Press

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