Friday, 1 July 2016

School House Path

With the forecast promising some sharp showers during the morning, we decided to keep off the hilltops and walk along the path which runs from Achosnich school house to the Portuairk-Sanna path. This path was improved some years ago and is still in excellent condition.

As Portuairk came into sight we'd had enough of path walking and turned uphill, working our way higher until we came to....

....some fine views of Sanna and the rain moving across the small isles. It may be the first day of July, but only two people were walking along these beautiful beaches, and even when we left after an hour of wandering along the beaches and across the machair, there were still only two cars in the car park.

The tide was low and the beach swept clear....

....except for the occasional moon jellyfish, the first we've seen this summer.

In one of the many small bays along the beach we were roundly cursed by a pair of dunlins, perhaps because they had a nest somewhere above the high tide mark, but we couldn't find it.

In the machair at the back of the beaches a bumblebee was working through the masses of wild thyme. That the black part of the bee lacks yellow stripes suggests that this is the red shanked carder.

As we walked back along the school house path the sun came out and, with it, the butterflies.  The fritillaries are difficult to tell apart, particularly without a picture of the underside of the wing, but I think this is a pearl-bordered fritillary.


  1. Many thanks indeed to Ken who has pointed out that the bird is a Common Sandpiper. Identification points he gives are long tail, horizontal, semi-crouched stance, white "comma" on the shoulder, white eye ring, and it "bobs" its rear frequently. Jon

  2. I think this may be a Dark Green Fritillary going by the double orange hind wing edge spots.

  3. I'm not doing very well here - but thanks for correcting me, Derryck. Jon

  4. Mary McLauchlan2 July 2016 at 19:53

    Hi Jon, I like the look of the path walk that you show at the top of these pictures. I'm sitting here in SW Scotland with your book walks around west Ardnamurchan - is the path from the Old School House mentioned in the book please? Is it past Sonachan going from Kilchoan?
    Also you mentioned the other day about walking across to Glendrian - where does the path go from to it - I can't see it on my OS map?
    Thanks Jon! I'm busy planning our visit for the end of August.

  5. Hi Mary. The school house path isn't in the booklet. It is marked on the 1:25,000 OS map, starting about .5km after Sonachan on the way to Portuairk. There's a parking space (NM448667) on the left and the path is signposted on the right, along a track. To reach Glendrian, leave your car in the parking area at NM468677 just over a km before you get to Achnaha. There's a well kept Estate track, and a gate to get through the deer fence. The Glendrian to Port Eigin-Eig path is poorly defined along most of its route and, again, is on the map. It starts at the north end of Glendrian and then passes through Bealach Mor, It's very boggy in places but, if you're strong walkers, well worth the trouble. If these paths aren't marked on your OS map, it's because you either have the 1:50,000, or the old 1:25,000. Jon

  6. Thanks Jon, it's a 1.25,000 dated 2002. I've copied your instructions to keep for when we are ready to walk! I wouldn't call us strong walkers, but enjoy trying something new!
    thank you for your help. Mary

  7. Your bumblebee is a Red-tailed, Bombus lapidarius, rather than a red-shanked carder - the latter is almost exclusively found in southern England on good-quality calcareous areas

  8. Many thanks for correcting me, Richard. Jon

  9. Nice account of your walk. We were there yesterday, but unfortunately not alone on the beach. No chance of any otter sightings although there had been a pair of otters out on the beach at Portuairk just after high tide. This is a great section of coastline with some interesting geological features.