Friday, 25 March 2016

Calm Before the Storm

The forecast hadn't led us to expect calm seas and a sunrise like this one, picture taken seconds before the sun appeared over the shoulder of Ben Hiant.

A few minutes later the first of the year's big cruise ships came into the northern end of the Sound of Mull, her destination for the day being Tobermory. She's the Portuguese Astoria. Launched in 1948 as the Stockholm, she's infamous for ramming and sinking the Andrea Doria off Nantucket in 1956. Nearly seventy years later, under her eleventh name, she's still plying the seas.

We were out early, walking down the wooded glen of the Allt Choire Mhuilinn which reaches the sea just to the east of Mingary Castle. After dropping down a series of waterfalls....

....the burn passes the site of the mill after which it is named. According to the old maps, the mill site is on the flat land just beside the little knoll at left in the picture, some ten metres above the level of the burn - so it's not at all clear how the water turned the mill wheel.

Attracted by the raucous noise of crows, we watched an aerial dogfight between three hooded crows and a buzzard (left) which had something in its talons which, obviously, the crows wanted. As far as we could see, the buzzard escaped with its meal.

Just beside the ruins of the mill we were cursed by a wren, possibly for trespassing too close to its nest site. For a bird of this size, the noise it makes is.... impressive.

After a wander along the beach we climbed into the hills at the back of the Choiremhuilinn clachan site, looking back over Mingary Castle to see the Astoria (in the distance, over the castle) leaving the Sound. She had been waiting off Tobermory but had never entered.

As can be seen from this clipping from Cameron Beccario's site, the gale we were promised for today hasn't gone away but is a little late in arriving, with gusts to gale force forecast for this evening.

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