Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Turquoise, pink, white and blue - a summer morning in Assynt

The morning lived up to the promise of the sunset and was gloriously sunny. We ate breakfast outdoors and then headed just north of Lochinver, to the beautiful Achmelvich beach. There's good parking, public toilets and a small campsite here.  A trolley is handy for moving boats the 200 metres or so from the carpark to the white sand beach.

It would be easy to mistake some of the bays hereabouts for tropical beaches.  Normally the temperature is more, well, bracing!  Not today though, even at mid morning the temperature was climbing quickly.  The thorny question was what to wear when the air temperature was forecast to be in the high 20's Celsius but the sea temperature is around 11 degrees.

Conditions were very calm and settled, and this was something of a decider.  We planned a conservative route with plenty of get-out options and opted for shorts and single layer tops.

Paddling crystal clear water over white shell sand on a glorious early sumer day - what could be better? Hidden bays appear between headlands of pink and grey Lewisian Gneiss.  We envied the folk in the small cottage their view today, but we know the power of winter storms on this exposed and wild coast where the bones of the land lie so close to the surface; in the winter life here is a whole lot different.

Lewisian Gneiss is some of the oldest rock on the planet, coming in at around 3000 million years old - a staggering age and perhaps summed up by the fact that no fossils are found in it because it predates all life on earth.

Named after Lewis in the Hebrides, the rock is found along the Hebridean islands and in the north west of Scotland. It is extremely hard rock which doesn't break down readily, part of the reason why the Hebrides and the north west mainland consist of bedrock with a thin skin of peat, interspersed with innumerable small lochans. 

This outcrop at Rubha Leumair (? Point of the leap) shows the attractive pink, grey and black banding typical of Gneiss.

As the temperature continued to rise, the view behind us showed the unmistakable shape of Suilven (Norse - Pillar Mountain) in the haze across a glittering sea.


  1. And all this time, Ian, we thought you were paddling and writing from Scotland. And here you've are in the South Pacific. Lucky you! ;) D.

  2. Hi Duncan and Joan,

    You'd really have believed it on the day! The colours are stunning when the sun shines, but the temperatures rarely match up - we were incredibly lucky with the weather (although we did see it coming and made plans accordingly.....) :o)

    Kind Regards

  3. See this is the stuff you don't find in brochures or touristy stuff. BRILLIANT spot!!

    Our ideals of what Scotland is or anywhere quite easily
    changed when we explore our back yards (or watch you explore yours!

    Thanks fer sharing really enjoyed!

  4. Thanks Lee,

    Assynt is an truly unique place. When the sun shines it's transformed but under greyskies it has a very different feel. The effort to get there is always rewarded though :o)

    Kind Regards

  5. My Work colleagues think that it always rains in Scotland. These prove otherwise ... now you tell me in secret where you really went for your holidays :-)

  6. Ha Ha! Thanks Jay, but it really does always rain in Scotland, that's why it wouldn't be worth loads of folk visiting! ;O)

    Kind Regards