Sunday, 18 September 2016
The "Car" in Carradale
When we arrived back at Saddell Bay after walking up to the Abbey the view across the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran was obscured by heavy rain showers.....
...but there were signs of the weather improving with blue sky and sunlight giving an almost strobe effect as alternate light and shadow passed overhead.
We got on the water and almost as soon as we set off had a wonderful wildlife encounter. As I paddled through a gap close to the rocky shore an Otter surfaced quite cloe ahead of me. Rather than diving immediately or showing alarm, it swam quite deliberately almost to my boat, then dived and swam past to one side; I could clearly see it underwater as a silver shape with bubbles trailing from its coat. Having surfaced behind me, the Otter took a look back then just went on hunting - a great close-up view.
The weather continued to improve as we headed north and by the time we stopped for second breakfast at Torrisdale Bay we were able to enjoy our coffee in pleasant sunshine.
Across the bay is the site of a hillfort situated on the headland of Carradale Point. We paddled across and climbed up to explore the fort - little can be seen apart from the shape of the walls, now overgrown.
The place was built with a view though - right up and down Kilbrannan Sound and beyond to the Firth of Clyde.
Like many of these hillforts, there are signs of vitrification at Carradale Point, the most obvious section was just outside the main wall; we could clearly make out the joints of individual boulders had been fused by intense heat.
It's a short paddle from Torrisdale Bay to the harbour and village of Carradale, but we planned to stop again at the harbour to use the public toilets and to replenish drinking water. Douglas had warned me that Carradale might not be what I imagined, and he was right........
Approaching the harbour, we paddled below an absolute eyesore of jumbled wreckage. Old caravans, furniture, derelict Portakabins and cars were piled up at the edge of the water near a grim looking house. It was a jarring sight and we later found out by chatting to a local that all this rubbish and more had been caused by one individual who owns a property at the harbour, and that there was little the community were able to do about it. The village itself lies uphill from the harbour and is neatly kept, so it's doubly unfortunate that the harbour is such a mess.
The breakwater and pier were built in a curving sweep, originally in stonework. This became very expensive and labour-intensive to maintain so a these days the stone is encased in steel sheet-pile, less picturesque but an effective way to maintain the operation of this working harbour. Aside from Creel boats we saw a couple of modern and functional fish farm work-boats leave the harbour to service the large fish farms to the north. Carradale village has undoubted charm, if only the "car" bit could be tidied up......