Sunday, 16 September 2012
Fifty shades, but not all grey
The weather continued to be mostly grey and cloudy - but not without interest and drama. Occasional breaks in the cloud backlit by the sun produced interesting effects of light and shade.
The coastline we were journeying along gave plenty of interest with islands, inlets and small beaches dotted along the way. Our plan was to arrive at the small bothy where we'd spend the night, offload most of our kit then explore the surrounding area by kayak whilst collecting firewood and fresh water.
Along the shoreline there was plenty of rich colour to offset the grey of sky and sea. The heather was still in luxuriant flower, set off by the intense greens of wet grasses and ferns. Against the subdued light conditions of the wider view the splashes of colour in the smaller environment were all the more noticeable.
This is Bell Heather (Erica cinerea), one of two common species found across Scotland. The drier moors of the eastern side of the country are coloured vibrant purple in late summer as Erica and the more widespread Ling species flower.
Close to the bothy a small group of oak trees were hosting this lichen which seemed to be thriving in the Atlantic temperate rainforest environment.
Close up, the lichen resembled miniature lettuce leaves. Certainly we wouldn't need to experiment by trying some to see if it tasted like lettuce - we were well provisioned with fresh cooked food and wine to accompany our evening meal; one of the small luxuries of travelling by kayak!
We set out our sleeping stuff, made a cup of tea and then set out again to explore and collect firewood and fresh water. Our small journey was only to be two nights but even in this short space of time, securing the simple requirements of shelter, food, water and warmth provided a pleasant order and structure to the day.
Twards evening the sky to the south showed signs of a change in the weather; still grey but with a steely appearance lowering towards the horizon. The Inshore Waters forecast from the Met Office predicted south or southwest Force 4 winds for the morning. We'd be paddling against any wind on the way back to our starting point, but Force 4 would be OK.
We got the bothy very cosy with the firewood we'd collected - in fact so cosy that we slept with the door open all night.... During the early hours the wind got up a bit, but a glance out through the window showed nothing but more shades of grey in the pre-dawn light.