Tuesday 25 August 2020

Under the Eagle's gaze at Camas Mor

Continuing from Rubha nan Sasan we left Loch Ewe and began to head west towards Rubha Reidh.  A couple of low-lying skerries came into view and we just managed to squeeze between them and the mainland at quite a low tidal state.

The rock architecture began to grow again in stature as we paddled out of the loch; I remarked to Allan and Lorna that this spot was the furthest I'd previously managed in two attempts to reach Rubha Reidh from Loch Ewe (and one attempt from Gairloch when I didn't get far up the coast before it became to rough to safely continue.  So far everything was looking good.  We weren't the only ones enjoying this sunny morning either.....

I got a glimpse of a huge and unmistakable shape wheeling away above a small headland, and another huge shape atop a post.  A view of a White-Tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is always a thrill and this bird stayed obligingly on it's perch as we paddled below.  It was well aware of us as the head with its massive beak occasionally swivelled to stare at us as we passed by.  The bird had chosen its viewpoint well; as we rounded the headland on which it sat a great view into Camas Mor (big bay) opened up.....

It's an impressive place; a sweep of golden sand backed by steep grassy cliffs and in any kind of swell it has a reputation as a pretty difficult landing.  No road or easy path leads here either, to reach the place on foot is a long walk on a rough path, then a steep scramble down the 150m cliffs.  On this day conditions were about as perfect as you could wish, so we made our approach and landed on the sand among some reefs at the near end of the shore.  

First luncheon was most definitely in order, but before that I walked up the beach to explore a bit and to get a view right along the beach.

I deliberately kept my focus on the small sights, saving the wide view until I was in just the right place.  The only tracks here were animal tracks; whelks moving across the wet sand left their trails - these two forming a neat saltire shape.

A sandstone boulder had really interesting lichen patterns - I picked out the the outline of a heart shape and a turtle in the patterns....or is it just me?!

From the base of the cliffs I looked back to our landing place among the reefs, the view a layered one of green marram grass, golden sand, warm coloured rock, aquamarine water shading to deep indigo and a thin bank of sea mist below a blue sky.  It was lovely, but if the view over the beach was good.....


The view along it was superb!  We enjoyed a leisurely first luncheon, followed by a swim.  We can report that despite the warmth of the day, the sea temperature was on the bracing side of refreshing...though refreshing it certainly was.  It took no time at all to dry off in the sunshine and we ere soon ready to get back on the water; we were leaving as a double kayak and a RIB were arriving.  Camas Mor is a beautiful beach, and the fact that it's difficult of access by land or sea adds to its appeal.  But for all it's grandeur, we were to find out that it's not even the best beach on this stunning stretch of coast.

Saturday 22 August 2020

Clouds and colours - a morning on Loch Ewe

The first paddling day of our trip to Loch Ewe started with a mirror flat sea reflecting an amazing cloudscape - I think these are altocumulus clouds.  The effect built quite quickly and then the cloud began to dissipate just as rapidly.

By the time we set out from Firemore the cloud had largely broken up.  We paddled out into the loch and straight away a long view opened up to the distinctive skylines of the Torridon mountains.

It was a marvellous morning to be out on the water!  Our route took us northwards along the west shore of Loch Ewe towards the open sea, which looked to be as calm as the loch - our boats simply slid along with little effort.

We enjoyed exploring some rocky channels below Meallan Na Gamha (also named Stirkhill on the map - the meaning is the same in Gaelic and Scots, "little hill of the yearling cattle") and then across the bay came upon this arch, high and dry.  As we were here near low water, we noted the place to explore on our way back when the tide would be somewhat higher.

As the morning progressed and the sun move higher the colours were simply stunning.  Most of this area is composed of Old Red Sandstone which is a warm reddish-brown - against a deep blue sky and the vivid colours of yellow lichens and green summer growth it was a very colourful.

Allan found this tiny cave, not more than half a metre across, which was half submerged but seemed to go back a fair way into the rock.  When the gentle swell from the open sea washed in, there were all kinds of gurgles and hisses before a plume of water shot out, expelled from the back of the cave - which I totally failed to capture on camera!


We soon found ourselves at Rubha nan Sasan, which has the remains of a coastal battery and searchlight battery dating from 1941 when Loch Ewe was one of the main assembly points for the Arctic convoys which headed from here up to Murmansk and Archangel in northern Russia.  Two 6-inch guns, other lighter calibre guns and two searchlight emplacements were mounted here to protect the shipping within the loch.  In 1999 a memorial stone was erected at Rubha nan Sasan to mark the sacrifice of those from allied navies and merchant seamen lost on these perilous convoys.

Friday 21 August 2020

The view over Ewe

A period of good weather combined with some days leave isn't to be passed up!  A couple of calls later and Allan, Lorna and I had an outline plan for a sea kayaking trip in the north west.  Camping in August on the west coast brings the near inevitability of midges - but it would be worth suffering them.  Then, some terrific news - Allan and Lorna had been offered the use of a family connection's croft house above Loch Ewe - which was a huge bonus.

We left a very overcast and humid north east of Scotland, emerged into bright sunshine north of Inverness and then drove back into thick haar (sea mist) at Gairloch.  Over at Poolewe it wasn't so thick, but kept rolling in periodically through the afternoon.  We decided not to get on the water straight away and spent a leisurely afternoon sorting out kit which had been hastily packed the previous evening - we wouldn't need any camping gear after all!

Gradually the mist began to clear as late afternoon turned to evening, the outlines of the Fisherfield Munros became clearer in a pale blue sky.


Evening brought the most beautiful view over Ewe....our base faced east and the sunset light was washing the hills with warm light and showing ridges and corries in sharp relief. The forecast was for great weather the following day, and we were raring to go....