Wednesday 31 January 2024

Winter colours - Wester Ross

On the second paddling day of our trip in Wester Ross Allan and I launched from the jetty at Laide in Gruinard Bay.  This is a handy launch spot but there's virtually no parking at the jetty itself so we parked back up the road a way so as not to block things for any other users.  There's also an honesty box, ingeniously adapted from an old fire extinguisher, for donations towards the jetty's upkeep.

It was another very cold, clear and calm morning - "frost smoke" was rising from the sea as the sun climbed a bit higher.

We paddled around the inner part of Gruinard Bay and landed at the northern end of the big beach which is so popular in summer.  Today we had it to ourselves for a leisurely coffee break.

Heading north we had a view to Priest Island and the Summer Isles, we've had some great paddling ventures there!  Conditions were near perfect and we landed at Mungasdale Bay for a second stop - not sure whether that was third breakfast or first luncheon though.....

From Mungasdale we paddled over to land on the boulder spit at the south of Gruinard Island, infamous for the experiment that was carried out here to test the efficacy of a biological weapon.  The desparate measures under consideration during WW2 are understandable, but not the indifference of the UK government for decades afterward - they were eventually forced to properly (hopefully!) decontaminate the whole island in 1990.  The disconnect between a remote UK government and the north of Scotland is neatly illustrated in the staged image at the end of the BBC news article linked above with a Defence Minister pulling down the "Landing Prohibited" sign....dressed in a pinstripe city suit and immaculate dress shoes.

We stopped but briefly on the bouldery spit - it's hard on the feet in paddling footwear.  Interestingly the island has been recently and intensively planted with forestry, so clearly there is confidence that disturbing the soil won't release any dormant anthrax spores.  Behind Allan in this image, the brilliant white summits of  An Teallach rose into a blue sky .

The view across to Torridon when we arrived back in Laide was glorious - winter can sometimes throw up the most stunning conditions.

Back at our base on Loch Ewe the last of the sun lit the Fisherfield hills s we enjoyed a post-paddle cup of tea, but the best of the colour was reserved for well after the sun had set..... the sky and sea suffused with the most intense and beautiful lilac pink light.  Some winter days are just so perfect!

1 comment:

  1. Looks perfect conditions for paddling as choppy conditions brings the speed and the miles you can cover right down. Bob. BSS.