Figure 3: A Trip to the North End of Olkhon
On a wet July day we set of through the dunes. In the novel ‘To the lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf the family travel to Skye. Godvrey lighthouse is the actual lighthouse, that and the cafe at the were our destinations. On the way we wandered through the dunes, stumbeling through the ruins of an ordinance factory.
Mid May took us to Muck visiting.
Follow the road from the pier, as you approach the prow of the hill – slowly ambling past darkly ploughed fields – the rest of the Small Isles open before you, smudged hills clasped to the sea.
With kids, charcoal, beers, salad and catch of the day we set to finding fire wood and building a BBQ in the sand.
The beach was surprisingly free of fishing plastics and sea bleached wood. Perhaps I am too used to the fishfarm detritus. As we widened the search the low fast upright stride of a ringed plover caught our attention. We left them in peace.
We dug a pit, ringed it with stones. Using grass, seaweed, dried manure and the odd twig, we lit the fire. Fresh Mackerel, small but fine. When I was growing up it was always with oatmeal. Hauling them into the boat, off the darrows, gut them on the shore, and then round the houses. Things change.
The path in from Acharn takes you along the southern shore of the Loch. I first walked it in Winter. Brown and damp. It leads to Arienas Point. A closely grazed green finger that stretches out from the heaps of ordered stones. Here the Oak peters out and gives way to Ash. Here the signs of a once inhabited village.
Crossed the ferry at Lochaline, turned of at Salen, and over to West Coast of Mull. Rounding headlands, with views of Coll, we arrived at a reasonably deserted Calgary Bay. My first time.
The sea was clear and cold. Little flatfish dashed away from underfeet. Fronds of kelp broken,and in places stirred like a black porridge, the sand hard from the sea. The kids had a great time.
Lunch at the Calgary Hotel – okay. The adjacent gallery – vertical clad in timber with a tin roof – attracted my attention. Light, cheap, local, and part of the Highland vernacular – what have the planners got against timber and tin.
My grandfather lived here briefly in the 1930’s- before returning to Skye. His stepfather worked at the sawmill. The ruined remains are within the galleries woodland walk. When he was growing up the laird didnt allow anyone on the beach or dunes. Occasionally in summer the boys were allowed to play football. Perhaps that might have limited the erosion. The dunes are worn and slipping, fences and brash lines coves, a foothold for the sand. Telltale holes of sandmartins, quickly flight.
‘Coffee and Books’ in Dervaig, chips on the pier in Tobermoray, home.
The boat crunched on the gravel. Telescope, binoculars, flask. The birch is just opening its leaves, in the light rain they glow pale green. Through the trees we settle on a small rise and unpack lunch, pore a coffee, and wait.
A dark wet hill rises from and surrounds the bay. It is thick with rain and visibility is low. Eventually the rain drifts down to us. I watch it run down the sides of my empty overturned mug. Sun. Eyes turn to the hill and we catch site of the two birds coming of a potential nest site. I follow the male with the binoculars, my companion follows the female. ‘If they are up to anything, then they will only leave the nest for about 20 minutes’. Up to anything means chicks.
My arms ache. I dare not lower the binoculars, they are so high, so faint I would never find them. The male hovers, then drop behind a ridge – lost. The female drops into the hill to roost. It begins to rain. A low hum tumbles down the loch. I turn to see what looks like a WWII plane come round the point doing a barrel role. It disappears then, then we hear it come back, it skims low, rolling over our heads. ‘She was watching it you know’.
3rdApri’08- – Just completed a self guided walks leaflet for the Sunart Oakwoods. Its been interesting. The best bit is having an excuse to get out walking.
6thApri’08- – Sitting enjoying the sun about to go out on a village clean up
6th of May’08 – – Making sure the stove works and heading of camping in Morvern with Dugald
16th of May’08 – – Back from Muck