Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A day in the wild west part 3 - Evening at Ardtoe

Once we left Ockle we had the headland of Rubha Aird Druimnich (point of the high ridges) in our sights, and after rounding this point we looked along the bay towards our finishing point at Ardtoe.  The late afternoon sun was lighting the higher ground, but we were now in shade and a small breeze felt fairly chilly.

Douglas and I had hoped to reach the fine beaches near Ardtoe while the sun was still on the dunes behind them, but it was clear that we would be too late for this.  Nevertheless, we hoped to catch the afterglow of the sunset from the beach. While Mike angled straight across for Ardtoe, Douglas and I put our heads down and paddled hard into a cool headwind for the last few kilometres.

Our efforts were to be rewarded;we landed on the beach whilst there was still a beautiful quality of light available.

To the west, the afterglow was a thing of delicate shades, the island of Rum sharp on the horizon.

But it was at our feet where the really gorgeous light was to be found; the water near the shore combining with the red-gold sand to reflect the sunset to perfection. We were entranced.....

But there was more to come.  We got back on the water to paddle the kilometre over to Ardtoe as the light faded and the colours became more primary.....

To reach a purple finale.  It was a spectacular end to a great paddle.  The journey along Ardnamurchan's north coast had given superb scenery and commitment on a remote and wild western coast; now it gave us a colourful crescendo.  I'm so grateful to that I was able to share all this with Mike and Douglas.

Days like these; they stay with you forever.

This was a 26 kilometre paddle from Portuairk to Ardtoe.  The vehicle shuttle took some two hours to set up from our base at Glenuig.  There is space for a couple of considerately parked cars at Portuairk and a small car park at Ardtoe with a 50p per day honesty bocx charge.

The exposed and commiting nature of this paddle should not be underestimated.  The coast is rocky with shallow offshore reefs whcih can produce large "boomers".  There are few landing places between Sanna Bay and Ockle, and those which are feasible can be prone to swell from the west.  The ideal conditions to undertake this paddle would be a light south or south easterly wind and low swell height.

Douglas' report of this paddle can be found on his blog in posts here, here, here, here and here

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