Monday, 16 July 2012
Once my friends had set off back across the Channel, I paddled on my own into Knoydart, up Loch Hourn and Loch Nevis. Maybe in search of my youth as well as the sea.. There were a lot of porpoises around, it is difficult to tell if they come up beside you by chance or design.
The weather was threatening at times,
but still mostly sunny.
The glaciers collected stones from all over Scotland for this raised beach on the Sound of Sleat, a beautiful if windswept spot, heaven for any rock collector . The top beaches have nicely sorted frost polygons, a seasonally frozen sea was lapping at the permafrost in those days.
A walk up Ladhar Beinn, it all looked very familiar,
even the islets where Loch Hourn narrows.
Back home, I rummaged through the dusty boxes; here it was, a faded slide taken from my loch-side campsite in Spring 1977. Ladhar Beinn is the highest point on the skyline.
Together with my younger self; standing stiffly for the clockwork and unreliable, especially in the frost, self timer; already a solitary wanderer. Wool from head to toe in those days. I never imagined that 35 years later I would still be wild camping along the loch shores, or pacing the hills.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Making use of the viking shipyard. It takes a coast hugging mariner to appreciate this place. Despite the complete absence of trees a pine marten had made this its home. Super inquisitive, any change, maybe only opening a hatch that had been closed and it was straight away on the case. I'd never had the chance before to appreciate the lithe body and strangely oversize legs and paws.
The Spar cave is very different.
aerated ledges against the midge attack,
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Club meet in Oban over the royal-whatever week. The others hadn't brought the South Coast rain with them, sunshine all the way.
Liz approaches a rocky shore. A great week.
(Most pictures courtesy of John Norris and Richard Stepien)
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
The driest summer since records began, at least in the far NW of Scotland, 9 weeks without rain under a blue sky with a constant N to NE wind. Not warm, often only 10C, but glorious weather this summer non-the-less. Alas, I could only afford 6 weeks, but 6 weeks of good weather, the hills so dry you could walk dry shod through the deepest bog, the sea mostly calm and always friendly.
Paddling on your own poses few problems on the water, the problems arise when trying to find a landing place for the night. With a convenient tide, say around 0600 HW the only worry is the visible area of beach or rocks. However, if landing at HW and leaving with the tide down there is always the thought of what might be beneath the waves. Clambering over rocks carrying even an empty boat over rough ground on your own is asking for trouble. With the rising land, many beaches are fossils, hanging above the modern rocky coast. LW landings are easier in the sense that boat recovery problems are obvious. Here the gulley was filled with small stones to LW but I had to wedge the boat clear of the rising tide on drift wood.
An easy camp site in a sheltered inlet, this one has a bathroom with running water and radox salts, not ensuite, but just across the water.
Often a very handy ancient slipway cleared of large stones can be found near old villages or sheilings, I always like using these, valuing the hard work of the pre 1742 inhabitants. At this spot a disturbance attracted my attention, a heron at the foot of the slipway had caught a large eel in knee deep water and a seal was trying to steal it. The heron swinging the fish high out of reach each time the seal made a lunge at the dangling head and tail. Eventually the heron hopped back onto dryland to swallow its catch, the seal could only watch and salivate.
This surf landing was fine near LW, but with its well ordered rounded rocks, would be a handful nearer HW, ideal for the LW landing and launch.
Elsewhere the only landing to be had was amongst the fish farm rubbish. At this spot everything went into the sea, not just the industrial waste, I could tell you the favoured flavour of the workers' lunch time crisps from the rubbish. Yet it need not be like this, the farm on Tanera Mor has remarkably clean beaches all around. Loch Laxford maybe the worst example, with mussel farm debris covering every beach and nook and cranny in the rocks. A clear-up would cost millions.
On your own, wildlife is much more confiding, I had a very close encounter with a minke, surfacing alongside to check me out and these birds don't seem very worried.