Heading Towards Lockdown
Mull, capricious, at times turbulent and always always changeable. This is an island of light and shade, of brilliance and foreboding often shifting between these extremes within minutes. It is a place that draws you in, holds you and tugs at you as you leave.
Handa is an island that simply tugs you back. It has it all; a wonderful evocative sense of loneliness (no Skomer hoards here – although it is still possible to get a quiet spot if you walk in the opposite direction to the Wick); a chance to get close to the ‘pirates’ of the bird world; archaeology and ancient history and a landscape of low coastal reefs to seriously imposing 100 metre Torridonian sandstone cliffs.Continue reading
This was a place we found by simply driving to the end of what was possible. We’d been down all the small roads off the road north from Kinlochbervie; Oldshoremore, Droman, the wonderful Bagh a’ Phollain.
When we last visited Blairmore, hoping to do the walk to Sandwood Bay (map), we were in a spell of dreadful weather, with the wind whipping up the sea and very heavy rain. It would last for seventeen days!!
You sometimes get days when everything seems to be just right, I remember one at Firemore SandsÂ some years ago when the dramatic weather played back drop to ten Black-throated Divers, Gannets diving in the bay, terns all around and surfing Red-breasted Mergansers. I had another one recently on our journeys around Scotland.
A Star Speicies
One of the star species on any trip up to the north of Scotland must be the Divers. The small lochans around Lochinver can be productive for the Black-throated, whist the Red-throated can be virtually relied upon to be in Scourie Bay. It’s not uncommon to encounter up to four at the same time here.Continue reading
Colour, age and weathering
A last post on the Kylebhan series and a one unashamedly celebrating colour’s relationship with age and weathering. The next series of posts will not be necessarily chronological, but will all be related to the five weeks we spent in the high north after the Kylebhan experience.
A Trawler with Character
Our home for the week was MV Kylebhan. It had a character all of its own and one that will stay with us all for many a year. It was built as a trawler in the 60’s but converted to carry 12 passengers soon after.
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.
Again the weather was fine and we could cross the Minch to Lochmaddy and the Outer Hebrides, easily. It was flat calm all the way, but too late for a push to St.Kilda. We headed up the north east coast of Skye, past the impressive Mealt falls and Kilt Rock before heading west across the Minch.
Today was our last chance for St.Kilda. If we were going to make it we would need to be at Lochmaddy tonight. The Kylebhan would need eight hours from there to reach the archipelago, an overnight stop and eight hours back. We had wanted time on the island as well, at the very least a day. The weather had cleared but the wind was still south easterly, we could get pinned in Village Bay or worse pushed onto the shore. It wasn’t going to happen.
Our third day and not much progress towards St.Kilda but all enjoying the Inner Hebrides and the uncertainty of where we would be mooring the next night. This evening we found ourselves in one of the remotest places in Scotland, Inverie on Knoydart, only accessible by foot or boat.
Woke up to a very wet day on Rum. Wind speeds were up too out of the shelter of Kinloch Bay. No chance to make a push to Lochmaddy where we would be in a position to make an attempt to reach St. Kilda. If we were going to be sea sick this was the day. Winds pushing towards 5/6 on the Beaufort scale, we were rolled and buffeted but out on deck it was exhilarating.
Just recently returned from five weeks up in the north of Scotland and experienced rain on only 5 days! Whilst we didn’t get anywhere near the contestedÂ 33 C recorded in Motherwell on the 28th June (thank goodness) we certainly struck lucky.Continue reading
My brother Phil had just come back from Mull and had told of a golden eagle eyrie very close to the single road that runs through Glen More. He’d also been lucky enough to see it takeÂ a liveÂ lamb off the hillside in front of the eyrie and return it to the then small eaglet sitting tight and out of sight in what had become known as the â€˜smiling rockâ€™, due to the shape of the crag under which the eyrie lay.
Itâ€™s been a good while since I last posted a blog but a recent trip to Mull, and devouring â€˜The Eagles Wayâ€™ by a favourite nature writer of mine, Jim Crumley, has made me think about getting â€˜something out thereâ€™(funnily enough another title of one of Crumleyâ€™s twenty five or so books!)