Saturday, 17 July 2010
Machir Bay,Saligo Bay and Cnoc Uamh Nam Fear.
Islay Day Three.
This was another great day.The wind was stronger,the waves much bigger and we visited three contrasting and dramatic areas of scenery.
First stop was the ramshackle but picturesque old church and cemetery at Kilchoman then the military cemetery nearby with its lines of sombre formal gravestones to lives lost at sea.
Next we travelled the short distance to Machir bay for a walk along the windswept sands to the cliffs.
A solitary gannet sat on the beach.It looked badly hurt,either through injury, diving for fish,sickness, old age or a storm out at sea.One minute a flashing spear of power and grace the next a huddled lonely form waiting for death.
Just as well you never know what life has in store for you round the corner.There was not much we could do so we left it in peace.A few sand wrapped bundles further on mute witness to other seabirds demise on this beautiful but wild coastline.
A short distance in the car took us up to Saligo bay.The big draw here was the natural arches on the map but as we hadn't explored this area before we didn't really know what to expect.
In reality the arches were submerged in a deep cleft as the tide was in.
The sloping cliffs around here were the real delight however.With no pinnacles to climb up king monkey Alex and fellow good climber Gavin were restless and discovered that the inclined bedding plane around here suited an exposed traverse above the crashing waves.
I held Millie and took the pictures while they went off for a storm tossed scramble.Even taking the photos was exciting stuff!Best cliff for this I think I`ve encountered.
I mentioned to Alex the fact that he couldn't swim very well.
"I don't think that`ll make any difference here" he laughed.
A place well worth a visit but remember health and safety guidelines at all times of course.
Our last destination was the peninsula to the west of Sanaigmore outside the popular tearoom where we walked from the lovely beach and coves here to Ton Mhor.Here we stumbled on another amazing find. A faint sheep or goat trail snaked around halfway up the grassy cliff,leading us to a spot on the edge of the escarpment right above the waves.Next, grass ledges and small walls of rock led us sportingly or in my case slightly disconcertingly upwards at an ever steepening angle. Millie took this easily in her stride.What a dug!
A couple of folk sitting at the top of what looked like a steep cliff were surprised to see three relieved guys and a Jack Russell pop out literally at their feet.You can see their shoes in this picture.An unexpected adventure suitable for people with a good head for heights that like a scramble far above the waves.Wouldn't like to reverse it though.Now that would be mad.
All that was left was to plod along the cliffs to Cnoc Uamh Nam Fear so Alex could bag his all important trig.Mind you we would probably not have found this best and last days entertainment without a bagger in our midst.
On the way back we smuggled Millie past the unsuspecting highland cattle which we had to pass at close range.Just as well they are more placid than they look.Having said that I`ve read they are popular in modern Russia due to their ability to fend off wolves with these formidable horns.
Note the smuggled goods in Gavin`s rucksack.
As the tents had been packed into the car this morning we drove to the ferry terminal at Port Ellen for the last ferry home.We had an hour or so to kill in the town spending it looking round the harbour and taking in the end of a local raft race in an adjoining bay.
Its a busy wee place when the ferry docks.
We jumped aboard and set off around 8.45PM enjoying a long smoldering sunset over both Islay and Jura.
Driving back in the dark was slightly surreal passing through these normally quiet Highland towns at 11.50 pm and see them buzzing with activity ,colour and young folk out for fun and games in their Cruise mobiles.It`s not just the big cities that can put on a show it seems.
A great trip and an epic post.Off to rest my finger.
When I got back into the house,even though it was now four in the morning I had a deep, very salty bath.My poor soft body chewed pulpy by clegs ,midges and an unknown collection of other small wonders of nature.Now I remember why I prefer spring to summer in Scotland apart from the better weather.I chucked all my clothes in the washing machine for drowning the next day.Enjoyment aways has its price.
The last time I looked like this I had chicken pox.Not believe me?
Still it was worth it though.What a trip.
A wee bit from Alex.This day out deserves a few extra pics.!
Bob at Machir Bay....
Zoomed shot of the poor gannet...a lovely bird.
Geological arch at Saligo Bay....
Don`t let Bob fool you about his climbing prowess.he used to climb quite steady at a good grade.!
The headland at Ton Mhor near Sanaigmore...
Bob approaching the top....
While Millie keeps an eye open for him....
Kamikaze sheep on the headland....
A Golden Eagle flies past the summit of Cnoc Uamh nam Fear.Almost as exciting as bagging the trig point :)
The memorial at Sanaigmore to the 241 Irish emigrants who were drowned off the headland on the Exmouth of Newcastle
A piggyback back to the car Jeeves if you don`t mind.....
The journey homewards.
A rich man tucks into an expensive slap up three course meal photographed through the window.Face blurred to protect Gavin....oops...I mean the guilty party.....
....while outside in steerage class two paupers with a haunted look and sunken eyes wonder whether death will be by exposure or starvation....
We had the sunset as consolation though....
The surf pounding Saligo Bay....
As Bob said before this is a brilliant island and we shall return,hopefully soon..!