Thursday, 12 March 2015
Shifting mist and disappearing beaches
Allan and I left Port an t-Sluichd and headed across the mouth of Loch nan Uamh (Loch of the caves) towards the Arisaig shore and the scatter of islands and skerries known collectively as the Borrodale Islands. The mist was shifting constantly, sometimes clearing to allow a little sunshine to light up the scene, at other times drawing a grey veil over the sea.
We stopped on the Arisaig side of the loch to take first luncheon and then to explore the Borrodale Islands, each of which is different from the others in terms of vegetation. For some reason none of my photographs from this section exposed properly - perhaps due to the lighting conditions but more likely a setting I'd changed on the camera.
After exploring about half way up Loch nan Uamh we crossed back over the loch to the Ardnish side and began our return to Glenuig.
The south (Ardnish) shore is steep and rocky for almost its entire length and offers few landing places. I've seen a Sea Eagle here and on another occasion the carcass of a Red Deer stag suspended part way down a narrow rock cleft by its antlers; a perfect hanging larder for Eagles, Ravens and Gulls.
Today it was a steady paddle back past Port an-t Sluichd from where we intended to avoid the fresh breeze and bouncy conditions of the open water by island-hopping behind Eilean a Chaolais and Eilean nan Gobhar as we crossed Loch Ailort.
Passing between the point of Rubha Chaolais (point of the channel) and Eilean Chaolais was good fun with a building swell pushing us through against the ebb tide pouring out of Loch Ailort; we fairly shot through the metre high standing waves and into the calm water beyond.
Our eyes and our bows were drawn irresistably towards the small silver sand beaches between the point and Peanmenach - time for second luncheon accompanied by a dram of Allan's Highland Park, just lovely. These beaches (there are two) are sun-traps in the summer as they face south and one can spend a very pleasant hour or so soaking up the warmth with a super view out to the island of Eigg.
If you try to find these beaches for yourself (and you should!), make sure to look when the tide is in the lower half of its cycle; above half tide they simply disappear.
Eventually the cold breeze persuaded us that it was time to leave this lovely spot and we prepared to set out on the last part of our day's paddle back to Glenuig......
....passing Eilean nan Gobhar.....
.........all the time treated to a changing view as the mist shifted and the sun lit up patches of hillside.
We had to paddle against a stiff breeze to gain the shelter of Glenuig Bay where we landed at the pier and recovered our boats the short distance to the Glenuig Inn in good time for a frothing sports recovery drink prior to dinner. We hadn't had a long paddle, the conditions weren't perfect but it had been a really good day to be out on the water.