Thursday, 3 July 2014

Light and texture at Slaggan Bay

Having rested, there would be plenty of time to explore Slaggan Bay. I'd already decided to stay off the water for the remainder of the afternoon and to camp above the beach. The tide was still rising so I needed to empty the boat and carry all my kit up, then return for the boat. This was a slow process as the wind would blow away anything lightweight, and the carry had to be to the very top of the beach rather than the high water mark due to the amount of blowing sand. Eventually all was done, the boat re-stowed to prevent any risk of it blowing away and it was time to get to know the place.

                                                It was clearly a busy beach, just not busy with people!

Walking around allowed a slow absorption of the place and all sorts of interest became apparent.  A feature of this beach is a strong cross-current which forms parallel curving ridges below the high water line.  It also makes it a dangerous beach from which to swim, despite the idyllic appearance.

On the sloping sand ridges the wind had carved scalloped shapes, the grains below sorted by size and colour.

Lower down the beach were the usual ripples in the sand, but after sitting and just looking for a period of time the patterns emerged not as random but as an intricate map of the receding tide.

The lateral margins of the beach are formed of sandstone boulders, part of the raw material which will in turn become a beach.  Some of the larger boulders have striking interlocked patterns which closer inspection revealed to be lichens, each small segment a pattern of life made up of a fungus and an algae in a stable symbiotic state.   The requirements of these lichens must be quite specific as only boulders of a certain size in a particular zone of the beach had such patterns, though there were other types of lichens in other places. 

I really must take a magnifying glass next time I'm on a sandstone shore to look more closely; although as it was I spent what most folk might consider an inordinate amount of time staring at a rock!

But having examined the smaller elements of the beach, to look up was to be assaulted by the light.....

The contrast of colours in the bright northern light was breathtaking.  There's a special qaulity in the combination of blue, turqoise and pale shades.  On the horizon I could see the hills of Harris - a place famed for its quality of light.

If Ewe are going to be wind-bound, it's surely no hardship to be in such a place as Slaggan Bay on a bright day.  Ewe just need to look around!  I'd spent nearly three hours exploring, and as yet hadn't left the beach itself....


  1. Thanks Iain,

    Ewe're clearly on the same wavelength as me :-)

    Kind regards

  2. There are big stories to be told if you're looking carefully at small things, as you've shown by these pictures and words.
    What a reward to have that view from the beach after some tough paddling! Hope you'll find more interesting stuff later...

  3. Thanks Leif, failing to reach my intended destination was actually the best outcome, I got to spend time in a very special place! :-)

    Kind regards