If you want a taste of wilderness, Michael Marshall recommends visiting this beautiful anchorage in Loch Tarbert, Jura
Loch Tarbert, on the west side of Jura just north of the Sound of Islay, has one of the most beautiful, remote, yet sheltered anchorages of the Inner
Hebrides. Once at anchor there is a freshwater loch separated by a shingle beach to visit, beautiful sandy beaches from which to bathe, a seal colony and, best of all, miles of inner lochs and little gorges to explore by dinghy or, for the brave, by small yacht.
The loch is about four miles long and almost cuts Jura in half. There are relatively exposed anchorages on its north and south shores but the place we seek is about two miles in. If you’re approaching Loch Tarbert from the south you need to work the tides because at springs in the Sound of Islay they run at five knots.
On the way up, pass the conspicuous Bunnahabhainn distillery and keep a good mile off the Jura coast to avoid the foul ground – especially the rocky clusters of Sgeir Traigh and Clach na Gile – and then, at about a mile north of Rubha Lang- aoinidh, turn almost due east to make your approach. If you’re coming from the north, go for the same position off Rubha Lang- aoinidh but make sure that you are well clear, and to the west of, the unmarked and isolated Bo Mor rock before turning east.
Keep on this easterly course until you are about a cable and a half south of the headland of Aird Rheamhar. You will pass Eileanan Gleann Righ on the north shore, which has an anchorage in the bay in mud (exposed to the SW), and on the southern shore the rocky spit, Sgeir Agleann, which runs into the loch for about half a mile, behind which there is an anchorage (exposed to westerly winds) in sandy Glenbatrick Bay.
There is enough room for a couple of yachts in the bay’
Off Aird Rheamhar the fun starts as Boghachan Baite, a patch of exposed rocks, is seriously in the way. You can go either north or south: north is easier as there are some useful, but difficult to see, white painted beacons that act as leading marks. Head about ENE for two cables (there is another anchorage in this bay behind Aird Rheamhar) and pick up the beacons. Keep slightly north of the beacon transit, pass north of rocky Sgeirean Bhudragain, where there is a seal colony, south of Rubha Gille nan Ordag and head up to pass a little island into the wonderful sheltered anchorage in Cumhann Mor Bay.
The best spot is on the north side, where you can drop anchor between the two small islands. The depth in the bay goes from about 20 to 8 metres and the holding is good in firm mud. The passage appears much worse than it actually is and British Admiralty chart 2481 shows the hard-to-see beacons, but remember to go just north of the transit.
There is enough room for a couple of yachts in the bay and in the unlikely event of it being full you can travel through the narrow gap south of Rubha a Chumhainn Mhoir into the inner loch where there is an anchorage about half a mile in, but beware, as there is an unmarked sub-surface rock. I recommend a recce by dinghy before you attempt the passage into the inner loch.
Once safely at anchor, take the dinghy and travel through the narrows into the inner loch, pass through a gap in the rocks at Cumhann Beag at the inner loch head and follow a series of beacons through wild scenery until you are into a final secluded bay where there are a few anchored yachts and workboats. Take a picnic and enjoy a stunning trip – you’ll experience gorges, mountains, deer, wild goats and maybe a sea eagle. This anchorage is truly wild.