Sunday, 22 December 2013

Solstice Sunset

It being the solstice yesterday, it seemed a good idea to the Raptor to visit a stone circle, so we walked along the coast to the west of the Calmac pier, to a cairn which is marked on the OS map and which, according to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, is both large and well-preserved.

Shortly after leaving the pier car park we put up a flock of greylag geese which flew away westwards.

The cairn, arrowed, is about 600m from the pier, and was easy to find, sitting on top of a low hill just inland from a small bay.  It's about 16m across and over 2m high, built almost entirely of cobbles taken from the beach.  Part of the top and northern sides have been dug away, suggesting that, at some point, robbers have tried to see what treasures they could find within.

The cairn is probably Neolithic, so it's likely to be a good 4,000 years old.

The cairn stands just back from this small bay, Port na Luinge, the port of the ship.  One wonders whether there's any connection between the name and the cairn.

On the other side of the bay is a small island which is cut off at low tide but, the tide being out, we decided to investigate it.  It's called Glas Eilean, the grey island, an appropriate name on a day which was becoming darker and stormier by the moment.  It's easily accessed, across a narrow, shingle-bottomed channel through which we have often kayaked at high tide.

From the island there are views back around the bay to the ferry terminal at Rubha Aird an Iasgaich, with Ben Hiant in the distance to the right, the houses of Pier Road at centre, and Glas Bheinn to the left.

The view westwards is across Kilchoan Bay to Sron Beag, with the ridge of Druim na Gearr Leacainn running behind the houses of Ormsaigbeg.  By this time we had endured a couple of fairly fierce hail showers so, with what little light there had been dying, we decided to head back.  But the day hadn't finished with us.

As we passed the cairn the clouds cleared along the horizon and we had a brief glimpse of the solstice sun setting over Mull.

1 comment:

  1. Ref. Glas Eilean, I believe glas can also be green in the sense of the colour of grass so that a "glas eilean" is typically a small emeral green one where the soil has been enriched by guano and not been cropped by animals.