Lochmaddy and Over the Sea to Skye

A Lesser-black-backed Gull takes a ride on the Kylebhan as we cross the Minch

A little hazy today, but the sea state was good and made for a calm crossing over the Minch to the north west coast of Skye. We made a course to Dunvegan Head and then closely followed the coast past Neist Point towards Macleod’s Maidens, an impressive group of three stacks off Idrigill head. A bit of fishing here, which bought us a good supper of Pollock and Mackerel.

Macleod’s Maidens and a dramatic coast

Cliffs on the north west coast of Skye
Neist Lighthouse, built in in the early twentieth century by David Alan Stevenson, one of the family of famous lighthouse engineers.
Basalt columns on one of the skerries off the coast
Mike with a decent sized Pollock off the Macleod’s Maidens
Steve follows suit

This is a very dramatic coastline and a real thrill to see from the sea on a day when the Minch had been calmed. It was just a little hard to think what St.Kilda might have looked like on a day like this but in all honesty we had genuinely put it behind us. How could you not when the cliffs were yielding some of their grandeur and hidden gems?

Macleod’s Maidens looking south. It’s a ten mile round trip to walk to this remote part of Skye.The ‘Mother’ stands 70 metres in height

A Good Selection of Birds

A Golden Eagle was patrolling the tops of the cliffs before settling down to be occasionally mobbed by the local gulls. Auks drilled past us and again we were joined by rafts of Shags. We were now getting a little blasé about the Bonxies, which stayed with us most of the way from North Uist. We also had the opportunity to really appreciate the beauty of one of our smallest gulls, the Common Gull, being a little bigger than the Black-headed Gull and smaller than the Herring Gull. It is a dainty bird and more closely resembles the Kittiwake than its other cousins and is much over-looked.

Golden Eagle cruising the sea cliffs. There are about 30 pairs of Golden eagle on Skye, but with an annual breeding success of only 0.5 per breeding pair and declining
The elegant and not so common Common Gull
Blasé about Bonxies
Macleod’s Maidens looking north

The Best View of the Cuillins?

The Black Cuillin range from Loch Harport; a little hazy but lucky to get them free of cloud

From the ‘Maidens’ we headed east over Loch Bracadale and into Loch Harport, mooring up at the once ‘Whisky pier’ in Carbost.

‘If there is a better way to approach the Cuillins than heading up Loch Harport towards Carbost, then I’d love to be taken there.’

That was a quote from my diary of that night. I would perhaps be taken there tomorrow!

Talisker was the favourite malt of Robert Louis Stevenson, cousin to David Alan Stevenson, engineer of the Neist lighthouse

Carbost is the home to a favourite whisky of mine, Talisker, but we’d arrived too late to go and grab a bottle or two. A couple of Black Guillemots played around the boat; we hadn’t seen many of these on our travels and they are now on the amber list with regard to their conservation status, along with the Guillemot and the Razorbill. Worryingly the Puffin is now on the red list.

Black Guillemots are often fairly confiding, this one stayed around the Kylebhan for most of the evening

The Black Cuillin Turns Mauve

Charlie with the fillets he prepared, there is simply nothing quite like fresh, really fresh, fish!
The breathtaking Cuillin range

Upper reaches of Loch Harport with Carbost church
The obelisk war memorial with Loch Harport and Carbost

With it being such a beautiful evening after our caught tea Mike, Gwenda and I walked to the granite war memorial above the village, thus getting uninterrupted views of the Cuillin range. The light was subtle as the sun set and the moon showed itself. We got back well past 10.30pm; still just enough light to photograph a Great-northern Diver in the bay, in summer plumage too. With the lights of Carbost reflecting in the still calm waters talk turned towards our time on the Kylebhan and what we would do next year. Still a couple of days left yet though and tomorrow looked promising with winds stiffening a little but the sun still likely to be with us.

Negotiating both the gap and often seaweed encrusted ladders could, at times, be a tad interesting!
Returning to the Kylebhan late in the evening
Past 10.30pm and still light enough to photograph a Great-northern Diver.
With a population of about 140, Carbost is the principal local centre for the area of Minginish, here photographed at midnight!


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