Saturday, 21 March 2015

A quiet corner in Kentra Bay

Unfortunately Douglas still felt too unwell to paddle on the final day of our winter trip in the Glenuig area.  Allan and I decided on a short trip at Kentra Bay, from where we could return to meet Alison and Douglas for coffee and cake at the Glenuig Inn.  We chose the location to get some shelter from the F4-5 westerly wind, starting from the small car park at Ardtoe (at which there's a very modest 50p per day charge utilising an honesty box).

Kentra Bay is a shallow enclosed bay backed by saltmarsh at the head with woods along the western side and a rocky channel at the entrance. There are a couple of small islands with narrow channels through which the tide runs. The bay almost completely dries at low water to reveal a huge expanse of sand rich in molluscs, so it's also very rich in birdlife particularly waders and wildfowl and Otters are often seen.  The general topography of the sand is almost flat, so the tide goes out very quickly; when paddling here the timing needs to be good to avoid a long wait for the water to return.....

We paddled clockwise around the bay, our pace slow and relaxed as we absorbed the atmosphere of this quiet corner.  Overhead the clouds racing past indicated the wind out in the open but in the bay there was almost no wind.  Work was going on to fell a birch tree near the shore and at first there was the sound of a chainsaw echoing around, but after a short while it stopped and there was just the sound of waders and ducks calling as the tide began to recede and uncover feeding ground.

In the far west corner of the bay we came across this shingle beach - a quiet corner in a quiet place.  It seemed the perfect spot to take lunch.....

The continuing fall of the tide meant we didn't linger too long after lunch, setting out to enter the channel and paddle out to the western side of the entrance, Sgeir a'Chaolais (skerry of the channel).

We'd decided on a quick visit to the beaches below Torr Beithe before returning to Ardtoe.

This short stretch of coast consists of a dune system fronted by two sandy crescents.  Allan has camped here and I've seen an Otter on the sand on a previous visit.  There were none to be seen this time......

...but there are definitely still Otters here.  A short crossing back to Ardtoe completed our trip and we loaded up and headed back to Glenuig.  This is a great half day paddle if tidal conditions are right ,best done an hour or so either side of high water and can be particularly good when other locations are too windy.  We paddled around 11 km in a little over two hours but it had been a very relaxing morning in a quiet corner.

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