Monday, 26 June 2017

Camas nan Geall Otters

From Sue & Richard:
We were walking from Camas nan Geall towards Maclean’s Nose when we spotted an otter on some rocks in the water. We watched it for several minutes as it swam out, dived, caught its prey....

....and returned to feed, then had a good roll over on the seaweed-covered rocks before moving on.

We followed it, walking quickly along the coast whenever the otter dived, and remaining motionless as soon as it surfaced. We continued to the next headland where, in the next bay, there was a second otter. It seemed to be acting oddly, swimming quickly in to shore then moving rapidly in and out of the water and over the rocks.

Soon, the first otter arrived and it wasn’t long before they both surfaced, some distance apart, and gave each other a hard stare. After swimming around in a large circle they came in to the shore beneath us. With whistles and squeaks they warmly greeted each other, as if after a long separation. Then they began ‘romping’ around in the water and rocks at the shore’s edge.

This behaviour continued for some time before they swam off together and we eventually lost sight of them as they left the water and disappeared into the rocks further along the coast.

Many thanks to Sue & Richard for super pictures and story.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Summer Weather 2

The minute the earlier post was written, the sky began to clear and we enjoyed some beautiful late afternoon sunshine, so we took a walk up the back of Ormsaigbeg, finishing on Maol Bhuidhe where we stood for some time enjoying this view.

Summer Weather

Sometimes, Ardnamurchan's weather just has to be endured.

Achateny Beach

We headed for Achateny beach on Friday morning but left the car near where the road forks for Branault and Swordle, and walked towards it along the western slope of the wide glen formed by the Achateny Water to where....

....there are the remains of the big fank built while Achateny was a sheep farm following the clearance of its clachan. In the trees in the middle distance are the two houses associated with the farm, both now Ardnamurchan Estate letting houses, and the agricultural buildings of Ardnamurchan Estate's farming business.

The clachan of Achateny stood on the opposite side of the Achateny Water from the farm buildings; its site is marked with the arrow. For a clachan it was on the large size with, in 1737, a population of 55 grouped in ten families.

These are the remains of one of the clachan's houses. The houses are small, typically 6m x 4.5m, but each was home to a family which was cleared. I don't know the date of Achateny's clearance but the OS map of 1856 shows only the farm buildings.

Achateny beach is a white sand beach, a wide beach when the tide is out, and almost always deserted - though we were surprised yesterday to find one person already walking its sands.

That the beach is wide and a mixture of rock outcrops and sand made it ideal for a fish trap, and this wall, now almost covered by the shifting sand, is part of it. The trap is described on the Heritage Ardnamurchan website here. I would love to know how old it is.

For much of our time on the beach we sat and absorbed the stillness, the wash of the waves and the cry of the oystercatchers. We also saw sandpipers, mergansers, several types of gull, grey herons and, sadly, a mink.

Saturday, 24 June 2017


One of the useful features on the MarineTraffic app is the one that shows the forecast route for some, if not all ships. I used it this morning to see if the Vestvind, which is designed to carry large wind turbine parts, would be passing down the Sound of Mull.

As can be seen, she was, but she planned to take a short cut, which might have been quite exciting for people staying at Achateny and Fascadale, and for everyone in Kilchoan which was the point at which she would have re-launched herself.

Perhaps someone on the bridge noticed the error - this doesn't always happen - and corrected the waypoints or, as seems a little more likely, there was a glitch on the app. Anyway, in due course, she appeared off the Point of Ardnamurchan - this picture from Kilchoan Early Bird - and, in due course....

....turned into the Sound. She seen here being passed by the French cruise ship Soleal.

The Vestvind is on her way from Denmark to Belfast yet she chose to pass through the more confined waters of the Minches to the north of us, and then down the Sound of Mull, rather than to the west of the Inner Hebrides. There's more about her here.

Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird for the picture,
and to SJC for alerting me when she came into the Sound.