Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Ben Hiant's Southwest Shoulder - 1

Yesterday we enjoyed snow, hail, sleet and everything in between. Today dawned as it intended to continue, perfect conditions in which to climb into the hills to the southwest of Ben Hiant.

We walked down to the mouth of the Choiremhuilinn burn, crossed it by the footbridge, and then climbed up onto the grassy area in the centre of this picture, the site of the clachan of Choirehmuilinn, cleared in 1828. The snowy summit of Ben Hiant is visible and, slightly to its right, the notch which was our objective for the day.

With the air so clear, the higher we climbed the more superb the views became. This is the first time in some weeks that we've had a day like this, so it was wonderful to be high in the hills to enjoy it.

In this picture, we looked across Mingary Castle towards the hill called Maol Buidhe and the steep cliffs of Sron Bheag at the far end of Ormsaigbeg. The low outline of the island of Coll lies along the horizon.

The Ben Hiant ridge ends steeply, falling away into the sea just by....

....the Maclean's Nose fish farm, visible at bottom right of this picture. This view looks down the Sound of Mull, with Tobermory Bay on Mull at right, the entrance to Loch Sunart at left and, in the distance, the snowy peaks of Beinn Tallaidh (towards the left) and Ben More (towrds the right).

Throughout the walk we were watched by herds of red deer. This one was made up almost entirely of stags, most of which still had their antlers, though we found one antler which had already been shed.

As we climbed, the patches of snow became more extensive and deeper. Lying snow isn't a common commodity here, and this patch was up to 6" deep in places, exactly the sort of place.... expects to find common lizards. We saw four in all, and they had obviously emerged from their winter hibernation to find a sheltered spot in which to bask in the sun but, when disturbed, tried to dash away across the snow - where they suffered sudden and rather catastrophic drops in temperature.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Winter Greets First Day of Spring

With today's equinox, we move into spring. In the circumstances, it would have been good to have taken a picture of a brilliant sunrise but there was no chance of that. Since the early hours we've had wave after wave of wintery showers blown in on a steady westerly, their products ranging from snow through hail to sleet. This picture looks past the war memorial in Kilchoan to the houses of Ormsaigbeg, with the peak of Beinn na Seilg just visible.

In the few brighter moments the scenery has been spectacular. A light dusting of snow like this seems to pick out the bones of the land, exaggerating every cliff, fold and lump of rock, and muting the colours. Here we're looking across Kilchoan Bay to the houses in Pier Road, and to the peaks of Ben Hiant, right, and Beinn na h-Urchrach, left.

A sudden cold snap like this does the spring flowers no good, and isn't....

....too great for Nan MacLachlan's early lambs. Her flock has now produced seven, all of them warmly accommodated in barns or horse boxes.

The small birds have to endure whatever the weather throws at them. This is one of several robins in our garden and we were concerned that we hadn't seen the one with the broken leg....

....until lunch time today, when he turned up on the wall of the terrace to grab a hasty meal before one of the others saw him and chased him off.

A Community Action Plan

West Ardnamurchan Community Development Company and West Ardnamurchan Community Council, working together and with other local groups, are seeking to develop an Action Plan which will identify the challenges that the area faces and the ideas which will help make West Ardnamurchan an even more attractive place in which to live and work into the future. It will also help us attract new funding and ensure that developments are in tune with the needs and wishes of those affected.

The process starts with survey, available both on-line and in printed form, and the public meetings will follow - see poster above for details.

The survey is here.

Monday, 20 March 2017

A Stormy Weekend

We've been away for a long weekend and, on our return, stopped as usual at Camas nan Geall, the point where we feel we are finally 'home', to take a photograph of a sleety squall rattling in across the bay and Ben Hiant behind it.

Judging by Kilchoan Early Bird's photograph, taken earlier this morning, it's been fairly stormy during our absence. His picture shows the Lord of the Isles rounding Ardnamurchan Point. We noted on our return to the house that over 40mm of rain and other forms of precipitation had fallen since Friday morning.

Despite the weather, the RNLI have been busy over the weekend in a major training exercise. The Raptor's picture shows the Tobermory lifeboat with the Coastguard helicopter in the Sound of Mull - details on the Tobermory RNLI Facebook site here.

Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird and the Raptor for their pictures.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

A Three Lochan Walk

If you're looking for a short but interesting walk which starts from Kilchoan, this one passes three picturesque lochans and explores part of Kilchoan Township's common grazings. It starts from the bottle bank. Cross the bridge over the Millburn and turn off the road to the right beyond the green container, following the sheep track along the edge of the woodland along a small tributary burn.

The sides of the glen are steep and filled with birch and hazel, but one of western Ardnamurchan's finest waterfalls is visible from the sheep track, as is Hughie's apportionment, a section of the common grazings which he has, by agreement with the other crofters, been allowed to fence. In it, there is a good chance of seeing.... piglets.

The view opens as one approaches Lochan na Ealachan, the lochan of the swan, appropriately named as, during the annual wildfowl migrations, this lochan is often used as a resting place for large flocks of swans. Keep along the higher ground until....

 ....Lochan na Crannaig comes into view. One can stick to the higher and drier ground, and return to the road, but if you're prepared to cross a small burn and risk the boggy lower land round the lochan, one can visito the 'island' which was once used as a pulpit and or may not have been a crannog - see earlier post here.

Cross the road and head into the hills at the back of Sonachan Hotel, to find the third and last lochan, Lochan an Aodainn. Aodann means 'face' in Gaelic, and was the name of a small settlement in the area where Sonachan now stands.

The easy way back is along the road, but if you're a strong walker, head south towards Beinn na Seilg and then turn east to skirt the glassy area in Lag a' Choire - you might find the remains of the illicit whisky still that's supposed to be sited there.

Map courtesy Streetmap.