Friday, 21 April 2017

A change out of the blue

Stuart, Allan, Lorna and I continued up into Loch nan Uamh, it was just about low water and approaching spring tide exposing forests of laminaria weed.

As the head of the loch approaches, there's a view to the viaduct which carries the Fort William to Mallaig railway track - the road actually passes under one of the arches of the viaduct.  From this angle the left hand end seems to disappear into solid rock where the railway builders blasted a way through a boss of tough Gneiss rock.  The whole section from Mallaig to about Glenfinnan traverses some really unlikely railway terrain, it's rugged country with steep slopes which had to be overcome and is a real monument to Victorian engineering and perserverance.

The Loch nan Uamh viaduct is one of the earliest concrete constructions, and earned it's designer, Robert McAlpine the nickname "Concrete Bob" - the viaducts on this rail line also built his reputation and became the basis for a successful and enduring business.

During construction of the central pier there was an accident which resulted in a cart falling down into the pier, dragging a horse with it.  A 2001 survey using state of the art techniques showed the skeleton of the unfortunate animal standing on top of the cart in the base of the pier.

We continued our circuit of the loch by paddling back out along the Ardnish peninsula shore which is steep and rocky with few landing opportunities.  In winter this shore gets almost no direct sunlight and it can be a cold and gloomy place.  On this day the sun was streaming over the cliffs above and making for some nice lighting effects.

We'd planned to land at Sloch for a look at the abandoned settlement but at this very low tide the landing would have been straight onto barnacle encrusted boulders so we paddled on.....

......along the seaward face of Ardnish with its sloping slabs and gullies.....

....and into the outer part of Loch Ailort where we knew there would be a landing on one or other of  the small tidal beaches just inside the entrance.

It was still warm and sunny as we approached the beach, but the sunshine was becoming a little hazy.  Any thoughts of relaxing in the sun were soon dispelled.....a sudden and dramatic change in the weather was happening.  In the space of ten minutes, the blue sky was replaced with something quite different........ a sheet of cloud formed rapidly across the entire sky and the temperature dropped markedly to something more in keeping with late March.

It seemed that the spell of exceptionally good weather was over.  Strangely enough, we've experienced weather dominated by shifting clouds here on more than one occasion

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