Saturday, 9 November 2013

A Fifth Ardnamurchan Holiday - 2

From Marc Gerard:                                        Marc's previous post is here.

Tuesday was another glorious day. The visit to Achateny and Kilmory beaches last year was a bit of a washout, but today would put that right. Back along the lane which leads to Fascadale, over a stile and down to Achateny beach, then follow the shoreline all the way to the closely-cropped grass which leads to the rock pillar at the western entrance to Kilmory beach, all made simpler by the fact that Achateny water was easily crossed without any need for a detour to the bridge upstream.

The calls of oyster catchers and curlews filled the air, along with stags roaring in the distance. Apart from a couple walking on Kilmory beach the coast was deserted. Lunch on a rocky promontory with a view back to Fascadale, a view which highlighted a patch of bright white sand west of Achateny beach - this must be investigated, but not today - a good ale and the roof terrace were calling whence binoculars were barely needed to watch a large flock of gannets spearing into the sea not far offshore.

Wednesday, and things were less bright - it was overcast and windy. Nonetheless, Lochan an Dobhrain was on the menu, a place which has had some mentions in The Diary and which lies just a couple of miles west of Fascadale. Over the still gentle-flowing Allt Fascadale and follow the Glendrian path, a path highlighted by strategically placed wooden posts. It was easy going on ground which actually crunched underfoot. I turned south off the path slightly too early, but decided to hold the higher ground on the shoulder of Mèall an Fhìr-eoin assuming it would be impossible to miss the lochan. Sure enough, suddenly there it was below me, the only fly in the ointment was the way the wind was whipping over the lochan. A sheltered spot was found and it was easy to appreciate how this could be a wonderful place to while away some time, it was just that that day wasn't really the ideal one. However, the sound and fury of the wind was almost certainly the reason why, during the walk back to base, I turned a corner only to find myself remarkably close to a herd of red deer, although quick-draw McGraw here didn't have time to get to the camera before they finally spotted me and ran off.

Thursday was a day which the forecasters had been warning was going to be bad. However, it appeared that the worst of the weather went elsewhere. It was certainly murky, but still mild, so a lazy day was spent at the house reading a book and staring out of the wide-open French doors and the windows. A brief foray down to Fascadale bay at low tide turned into about an hour of meticulously selecting interesting souvenir pebbles (using such essential geological criteria as "interesting colour" and "weird stripes"), skimming stones and generally getting busy doing nothing.

Friday: the last full day. The best of the weather seemed to have gone, but it was still fine enough for a gentle wander - nothing too strenuous before the next day's eleven hour drive back to the East Sussex coast. The target was the bright white patch of sand to the west of Achateny beach seen on the previous walk to Kilmory. Did I say nothing too strenuous? The first attempt followed the tide line from Achateny beach, which was difficult enough until a rocky outcrop upgraded it to impossible. I wasn't keen on risking my ankles by walking over beds of seaweed, so I made a tactical withdrawal, clambered back up onto the fields behind, and tried a different approach. Eventually that patch of bright sand was reached, but somehow seemed rather insignificant now I was actually standing on it. Oh well. Heading back onto the fields, which The Diary has identified as ice-pans associated with the fish store at Fascadale, I found myself quite close to a group a female red deer who immediately started making a barking sound which I took to be an alarm or warning call. They did not move, in fact they just watched as I made my way back to the track and stile behind Achateny beach, and continued to monitor me as I walked along the lane to the house.

And that was it - another visit to Ardnamurchan which fully lived up to expectations was sadly over. The place had scored highly once more. Saturday's pre-dawn start was made memorable by a parting shot of the almost scary sound of stags roaring loudly out of the darkness very close to the house, and sheep which seemed to have the attitude that at that hour the roads were for them and definitely not cars.

The return to work (aaarrgh!) had me facing some tedious "welcome back to the real world" comments. As far as I'm concerned they plainly have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

So, will it be a return in September 2014? Yes, God willing. Yet again it looks like it will be Skye followed by Ardnamurchan, but this time it will be back on the Loch Sunart side of the peninsula. Start the countdown.

Many thanks to Marc for pictures and story.
It's always a great pleasure to publish memories of people's holidays on Ardnamurchan.
If you have something you'd like published, the email address is in the right-hand column.

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