With the sun out and the promise of the first fine day for some time, we were off into the hills to one of our favourite places, the coastline between Camas nan Geall and McLean's Nose. It's beautiful country, rolling hills broken by steep cliffs, the land green with the first grass, and is easily reached from the road to Camas nan Geall.
We aren't the only ones who love this area. Almost throughout the walk across the hills to the beach, we were watched by herds of red deer, mixed hinds and stags, the latter difficult to distinguish because their antlers are only beginning to grow.
Our movements took account of the need to avoid disturbing the hinds following a recent post at Ardnamurchan's Wild Highland Tours' Facebook page, here. "At this time of year, if you are out watching red deer and you think you have heard a stag roar, then don't be surprised! The sound that you have heard is uttered by a red deer hind and is known at the 'calving bellow'. This will be a fairly common sound over the next ten days or so as our new arrivals start to appear!" We didn't hear any roaring.
As we approached the coast we looked over a hill to the entrance to Camas nan Geall, with the peninsula of Ardslighnish and Loch Sunart beyond it.
Tucked into a hollow on a rocky promontory at the beach, we found the first common spotted orchid of the year. With the weather so cold, it's surprising that any are out: they don't usually come into flower in any numbers until mid-month.
Once down on the beach, Mrs Diary walked along the tide line looking for interesting flotsam. It's a beach which is good for wandering, with plenty on it - perhaps because it's downwind of Tobermory.
It wasn't long before she was finding things of interest, including this yachtie's cap. According to the internet, it's called a Breton cap, and is, "the most stylish of hats.... in a classic French design." One has visions of its owner having it whipped off his/her head by the recent gales.
Milkwort is usually bright blue, and seems to be doing well this year, but we've found pink and white varieties before.
We walked west until we came to the ridge that runs along the eastern side of Bourblaige clachan, turning to climb up and along it. The ridge is deeply incised by this lovely little glen with a rushing burn tumbling down it in a series of waterfalls. Crossing it involved a steep scramble down and then up again.
This whole area is littered with archaeological remains. Some are easy to identify, like the little summer shieling huts associated with the clachans of Bourblaige and Tornamona, but others are much more mysterious. At first sight this looked like an elongate, barrow-like structure with a small standing stone at one end, but closer inspection suggested it might be a largish building.
As we returned to the car a small delegation of red deer were there to wish us au revoir.