Monday, 25 January 2016

Bay McNeill

We're promised a week of gales, rain and very little hope of sunshine, with today offering us a selection of what is to come, so we chose to walk somewhere fairly sheltered from the strong south-southeasterly - Bay McNeill. One access to the bay is by a track from a small car park along the lighthouse road, where there's a gate which leads to a reception committee of two friendly (except to dogs) highland cows. The landowner has been replacing his fences and has improved the access - there used to be a rather precarious style nearer the bay, but this is now a small and easily worked pedestrian gate.

We less walked to the bay than were blown there, with a stinging rain goading us along, but once one begins to approach the beach the weather really doesn't matter: it's a typical Ardnamurchan beach, white sands, dark rocks, utter solitude and....

....unpredictable weather for, as soon as we reached the beach, the sky began to clear though the wind remained as vicious as ever.

This view looks from a hill at the back of the beach southwest towards Ardnamurchan Point lighthouse. The beach has formed between an offshore island, Eilean Carrach, and the mainland, and it's one of those beaches which comes and goes. Today there was more sand than ever.

Looking northwestwards, there's a small entrance to the bay proper, and it's from this sheltered anchorage that it gets its name. The McNeills of Barra used to bring their cattle in to this cove before driving them to market along the old drove road that runs the length of Ardnamurchan.

We crossed the beach to the island, with blown sand stinging our legs instead of rain, stopping at one of the salt water pools amongst the rocks on its protected side. It was filled with this greenish growth, possibly formed by algae.

Finding a large rock on the top of the island behind which to shelter from the gale, we watched the waves break on one of the offshore skerries which make rounding Ardnamurchan Point such a nightmare for sailors. As always, the gulls seemed to be enjoying the wind.

As we set off back to the car the weather did the unexpected: for a few precious moments the sun came out.

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