Monday, 30 November 2015

Lochan nan Al

Lochan nan Al and the Sound of Mull this afternoon, taken from the Ferry Stores, on a day of sunshine and showers, with snow whitening the summits of the surrounding hills.

Force 11 Gust

We thought at the time that the winds in yesterday afternoon's squalls were fairly extreme. Dominic Cooper, who lives at Swordle, has kindly written to say that he recorded a gust of 69mph at 16.32 - the pictures of the Arklow Forest were taken a few minutes earlier.

Western Ardnamurchan's Scheduled Monuments

Greadal Fhinn, Ormsaigmore
Western Ardnamurchan has a total of seventeen scheduled national monuments, most of which were described in the mid-1990s. They are best found on Pastmap, which leads straight to their records, held on Historic Environment Scotland's Canmore site.

Scheduled monuments are given very strict legal protection: even to move a stone or scrape moss off a surface in a designated area is an offence. To carry out any work on one of these monuments requires scheduled monument consent, obtaining which, as the local archaeological society has found, is a fairly rigorous process.

Branault Standing Stone
One might question the choice of some of the local sites selected for this strict protection. For example, the fort just by Mingary Pier is in an almost totally ruinous state, with very little remaining of it. Further, there are other sites which have not been given protection which to me seem far more valuable as a record of Scotland's history.

A full list of the seventeen scheduled monuments to the west of the deer grid beyond Camas nan Geall is -

  • Cladh Chiarain, the Neolithic chambered cairn at Camas nan Geall
  • The burial ground and Bronze Age standing stone at Camas nan Geall
  • Tornamona settlement
  • Sgier Fhada, a coastal fort to the west of Camas nan Geall
  • Bourblaige settlement
  • Mingary Castle
  • The fort by Mingary Pier
  • 'Ben Hiant House' cairn to the west of Mingary Pier
  • St Comghan's church, Kilchoan
  • Greadal Fhinn Neolithic chambered cairn, Ormsaigmore
  • Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar, a 16/17th century watch tower, Ormsaigbeg
  • 'Burnbank Fort' on the coast northeast of Sanna
  • Glendrian settlement
  • Branault Bronze Age standing stone
  • Cille Mhairi burial ground, Kilmory
  • Cladh Aindreis chambered cairn, Swordle
  • Lochan an Ime dun, south of Swordle
Considering the remote location, this is a pretty impressive list, but for those of us who wander western Ardnamurchan's hills and have seen some of the archaeology lying around, it's one that will be added to. For example, there's a cist cairn near Mingary Castle, now named Erickson's Cairn (above), which is remarkably similar to Greadal Fhinn - see post about it here.

In the couple of years it has been going, the local archaeology group has now described over a hundred sites, many of them new. Most of these have now been recorded on Highland Council's Historic Environment Record - link here - and will, in due course, appear on PastMap.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

First Snow

We woke to find snow on Ben Hiant and Beinn na h-Urchrach, and a dusting on the much lower Beinn nan Losgann, and the day continued with a stiff northwesterly bringing mostly rain and hail at lower levels and....

....around lunchtime, the first flurry of snow to sea level, much to the discomfiture of the chaffinches and other birds crowding round the feeding areas.

For the first time in a long time we didn't get out for a walk, preferring to stay indoors and do useful jobs like waterproofing our walking boots. We ate lunch watching the birds and the ships moving in the Sound: here the Kingdom of Fife, on the right with the wind behind her, meets the Arklow Forest fighting into the teeth of a sudden squall.

But the weather has been changing in minutes, the hail which accompanied the squall giving way to bright sunshine - not that it made much difference to the Arklow Forest.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

St Comghan's Go-Ahead

Highland Council workmen erected a safety fence around the south and west sides of St Comghan's church on Wednesday. Since Highland Council owns the church and graveyard, it is responsible for maintenance, so this was possibly done because they have identified a crack in the door lintel which was declared dangerous.

At almost the same time Ardnamurchan Community Archaeology heard from Francis Shaw, the architect at Mingary Castle, that he had obtained Sceduled Monument Consent for the work he and structural engineer Brian Smith had identified as urgent, which includes strengthening the dangerous lintel and the tops of the three arches.

Francis also informs us that Historic Environment Scotland has allocated a Monument Management Grant of up to £4,000 for St Comghan's. The proposed work includes putting a hidden stainless steel support under the lintel to make it safe, and rebuilding the stonework above the arches so that the weight stabilises them.

All this is excellent news, and we are very grateful indeed to Francis, Brian and our friends at Archaeology Scotland for all the help they have given us.

'Hazard A' Tanker Passes

The Mersey Spirit passed up the Sound of Mull again this afternoon - she was last off Kilchoan on 4th October. She's a tanker, carrying bunkers for ships, and her cargo of oil is classed as 'Hazard A major'. Her deadweigth tonnage is 2,366 tonnes. Since the DWT is the sum of the weights of cargo, fuel, fresh water, ballast water, provisions, passengers, and crew, and she's down to her marks, fully loaded, one can guess there's about 2,000 tonnes of oil on board.  The Lysblink Seaways spilled 25 tonnes when she grounded.

I enjoy watching ships like this pass through the Sound. While I think it's probably safer for her to pass to the west of Mull, I'm happy to see her - as long as the owners know that, if the ship comes ashore and people's livelihoods are ruined, the fines they will incur will be punitive.

Currently this is not the case - all they have to do is apologise and promise to do better next time.  So, wherever you live, please write to and urge him to press the UK government to take all the steps he can to prevent a repeat of the Lysblink Seaways 'accident'.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Blackcap and Diver

We've had a brief visit from a blackcap, this one a female so she has a brown cap. She tried to have a turn on the peanut feeders, which is perhaps a little surprising as the blackcap's main food is insects and berries, but the rampant chaffinches didn't give her a chance.

So she didn't stay long - the weather was miserable anyway - and we haven't seen her again, so we hope she's now on her way south to find somewhere a little more cheerful to spend her winter.

On a grey morning I tried to get a picture of the water birds on the little lochan along from the shop - Lochan nan Al. Most of them were wigeon which spend the winter here, and there was also a pair of mallard, but the bird that caught my eye was the one at left in the picture, which is a diver of some sort.

An attempt to get closer for a better picture failed when a small group of greylag geese which had been hiding along the shore took to the air in their usual, noisy fashion, frightening the other birds into instant flight.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Lysblink Seaways - Can We Do Anything?

Following the MAIB report, and its recommendation that, since DFDS say they have taken steps to deal with all the issues raised in the report, no further action should be taken, I suppose the easiest reaction is to sit back and do nothing.

Our position isn't helped by our lack of a Community Council to take the lead. However, this shouldn't prevent us from writing to our other elected representatives, particularly to our MP, Ian Blackford, since matters such as this are reserved to Westminster.

I have written to him copying my email to local MSPs and some Highland Councillors for information. I asked that something be done to punish DFDS, mostly to deter a repeat of this sort of needless accident both by DFDS and by other ship owners. I'm pleased to say I heard back immediately from Dave Thompson, our Constituency MSP, assuring me that he and Ian Blackford MP are pursuing the case. I have also heard from Fergus Ewing, who says that he agrees with my concerns.

Since 2001, when the Lysfoss went aground on Auliston Point, we've also had the Fri Ocean go ashore 2.5km south of Tobermory in 2012. Both grounded for very similar reasons - an inadequate watch was being kept in the early hours of the morning. That's three ocean-going ships colliding with rocks within ten miles us in the last 15 years! How much longer can our luck hold - because if the worst happens, our creel fishing, our fish farms, and our tourist industry will be dead.

Please write to All you need to say is that you support him in any action he can take to prevent a repeat of this sort of accident. It helps if you copy the email to  And you don't have to live here to be concerned - something needs to be done about this nationwide.

'Skog' in Trouble

The palletised cargo ship Skog, a frequent visitor to the Sound of Mull, suffered engine failure to the east of the Orkneys on Tuesday following a cooling water problem. She was taking on water in the engine room at a rate of 500 litres per hour and had only emergency power but no propulsion.

The Stromness lifeboat attended, pumps were put on board, Skog was taken in tow by the tug Herakles and is now safely anchored off Kirkwall. There are pictures on the BBC website here.

The Coastguard tug Herakles is stationed in northern waters for just this sort of emergency. Along the west coast of Scotland, we have no such emergency tug.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Cairns - More Thoughts

A recent email from Dave King, with a couple of pictures, has set me thinking again about the many cairns that are scattered around Ardnamurchan's landscape.  Dave writes, "To the east of Port Min, there is a low ridge, made up of a series of parallel rock outcrops, around about GR NM418663. On this small ridge, I came across seven, possibly eight, small cairns.

"These ranged in condition from partly peat covered, through no peat but well lichened, to one which looked fairly recent as it didn’t even have any lichen. Although mostly positioned on bare rock outcrops, they did not mark the highest points, and nor did they seem to have any positional relationship with each other.

"They're a real puzzle. The only guess I can come up with is that they were created by a youngster who was bored with their job of keeping an eye on the livestock."

In previous posts, I have suggested several reasons for a cairn being raised, such as to make boundary markers, way markers, summit markers and as grave markers, burial places and memorials. But the habit many have, of adding a stone to any cairn they see such as to this large cairn on the summit of Beinn na Seilg, suggests they have other, more difficult to explain roles. For example, is the act, "an attempt to fix the memory of our brief triumph, and of our passing?"

Following the last post about cairns, George Inglis wrote with this interesting information, for which I am very grateful. He said, "The tradition behind some cairns was that, as clansmen gathered to go to battle, each would place a stone on a local hilltop. On return from battle they would remove a stone. Thus, after each returning clansman had removed a stone, the stones left were those of the men who died, in turn becoming a monument to those lost in battle."

There's obviously some deep significance to most of us in placing a rock on a pile in a high place - in the sense that I don't think we'd add to a pile of rocks in the middle of a meadow or by the wayside - which is why the examples Dave found are so intriguing.

This little cairn contains twelve stones. It's on a remote hilltop near the middle of the peninsula, and it contains one stone for each member of our close family. Apparently, this habit of building personal cairns is becoming so prevalent in some national parks that the rangers go around pulling them down.

Many thanks to Dave King for pictures and story, and to George Inglis.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

'Lysblink Seaways' Report - a Summary

The following is very largely taken, with some editing, from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch report, published on 20th November 2015 link here.


The MAIB report states that the prime cause of the accident was that the chief officer, as Officer of the Watch (OOW) at the time of the accident, was drunk.  At 0520, some three hours after the ship grounded, his breath alcohol reading was 2.71mg/l, the UK limit for mariners being 0.35mg/l. The reason for the OOW's state was that, before going on watch, he had, "made a private telephone call which caused him anxiety, after which he consumed about 0.5 litre of rum."

DFDL's employees are not allowed to consume or possess alcohol while at work. The company says it has a Zero Tolerance alcohol policy in place. Yet the MAIB investigation found that the owner’s policy was often flouted by crew members. Further, the inventory of the vessel’s bonded store records that it was regularly replenished with spirits, wine and beer. This evidence of significant alcohol consumption by the crew should have alerted the owner to the likelihood that its alcohol policy was not being observed.

The MAIB report says, "Had the company’s zero alcohol policy been effectively administered and monitored, it might have prevented the development of a culture in which the chief officer considered it acceptable to consume alcohol before his bridge watch."

Alone on the Bridge:

Before going on watch, the chief officer informed the AB who was scheduled to keep the 0000-0600 watch with him that he should remain in the deck office for his watch, as the 1800-2400 duty AB had also done. The UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Marine Guidance Notes state that it considers it dangerous and irresponsible for the OOW to act as sole look-out during periods of darkness. The owner’s Safety Management System includes a requirement that a lookout should be on the bridge when a vessel is navigating in close waterways with reduced visibility under two nautical miles, though there is no definition of a 'close waterway'.

Navigation Systems Switched Off:

The bridge navigational watch alarm system (BNWAS), which could have alerted the crew to the officer’s incapacity, had not been switched on, and an off-track alarm on the Electronic Chart System (ECS) had been silenced. Although a radar watch alarm had sounded every 6 minutes, the OOW was able to reset the alarm without leaving his chair. Although it was company policy to do so, no positions were plotted onto the vessel’s charts after midnight.

Events Leading to the Grounding:

At 0211 the Lysblink Seaways’ track, for the second time that night, passed outside the 0.2nm cross track limit set on the ECS. Had the ECS been on, this would have triggered an alarm. At 0212 the radar watch alarm sounded and was reset, but an alteration of course onto a new heading of 315°, which should have been made at that time, was not executed. At 0222 the Lysblink Seaways, still heading 324°, passed the wrong side of the New Rocks buoy, narrowly missing the rocks.  At 0231, shortly after the radar watch alarm had again sounded and been reset, the steering mode was changed from autopilot to manual and the helm placed hard-a-port. By that time the vessel was 0.1nm (about 200m) from the shoreline and making a speed of 13.3 knots. The ship hit the rocks by Mingary Pier at 0232.

Events After the Grounding:

At 0234 the master arrived on the bridge and put the propeller pitch to zero. He asked the chief officer if he had been asleep or drinking, and if the AB had been on watch. He also suggested that someone should “check for leakage”. The emergency checklist for grounding was not consulted.

At 0240 the chief engineer reported that a double bottom sludge tank in the engine room had been breached and was filling with water. At 0241 the master attempted to call the owner’s Designated Person Ashore by telephone, with no response.

At 0253 - 20 minutes after grounding - the master informed the coastguard at the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Stornoway via VHF radio that the vessel was aground, and gave its position. At 0259 MRCC Stornoway contacted the vessel to obtain the number of persons and quantity of fuel on board, and asked if the vessel had been damaged. The master advised that the vessel was not damaged and that there was no pollution or injuries.

At 0400 - over an hour after it was informed of the grounding - MRCC Stornoway requested the Tobermory lifeboat to launch and standby the Lysblink Seaways. At 0512 - nearly three hours after it was known that a tank had been breached - an owner’s representative contacted MRCC Stornoway and advised that two of the vessel’s fuel oil tanks had been breached and that the vessel had 273 tonnes of marine gas oil fuel on board at the time of the accident. In the hours after the accident, 25 tonnes leaked into the Sound of Mull.

The Report:

“The sole objective of the investigation of an accident under the Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2012 shall be the prevention of future accidents through the ascertainment of its causes and circumstances. It shall not be the purpose of such an investigation
to determine liability nor, except so far as is necessary to achieve its objective, to apportion blame.”


The MAIB report says that DFDS has since carried out a full inspection and audit of Lysblink Seaways’ sister vessels resulting in the removal of the bonded stores, a verification of the owner’s random alcohol testing regime, the issuing of instructions regarding the posting of lookouts, a verification of Electronic Chart Display and Information System training for officers, a revision of the management structure of the sister vessels, and a review of, and new training in Bridge Resource Management in narrow navigational waters for its vessels.

As a result, the MAIB report says that it has no recommendations to make.

Much of this is extracted from Crown Copyright Marine Accident Investigation Branch publication, 20th November 2015, 'Grounding of Lysblink Seaways Kilchoan, West Scotland, 18 February 2015' - link here.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Pigs Gone!

That's a smiling Hughie on the right having just brought the good news that, helped by Kenneth Cameron, he's moved the pigs from below our house, their work on clearing the field of bracken being done.

This is certainly good news, but then he informed us that two of his sows had had piglets, a total of eighteen in all. From the glint in his eyes and the knowing smile on Kenneth's face, we suspect the piglets will shortly be moved into the field instead.

Creag an Airgid

In yesterday;s glorious weather, while some people surfed at Sanna we walked up into one of our favourite areas, the wild land along the crest of the ring dykes to the east of Creag an Airgid. Being almost in the centre of the peninsula, it gives one great views both south towards the Sound of Mull and....

....north across the Minches. While the snow line didn't come down to Eigg, the distant mountains of Skye had had a heavy fall.

This picture, taken from beside the carefully-constructed cairn at the summit of Creag an Airgid, looks northwestwards across the tiny crofting community of Achnaha to the opposite side of the ring dykes, with Meall Sanna the highest peak. The air was so clear that the summits of the hills on the Outer Hebrides were clearly visible along the horizon.

As we walked along the ridge we looked down onto the abandoned crofting community of Glendrian, now a scheduled national monument, with the grass of the once-worked inbye land now cropped by Ardnamurchan Estate sheep.

In such fine weather, the Raptor was also out and about. He walked from Kilchoan along the Portuairk road, then turned off on the track to the old Achosnich school house before following the schoolchildren's track through Bealach Ruadh to Achnaha. His first picture shows the snow on the hills to the east of Ardnamurchan.

Like us, he noticed how little there was in the way of wildlife. We saw nothing more than a couple of hoodies and a woodcock, but he did snap this male grey wagtail. Of it, he says, "It's not entirely unusual to see them late in the year but they do tend to leave their upland summer habitats and move south for the winter. This one obviously missed his flight and decided to hang on for a few days longer."

Which was definitely a mistake if the wagtail thought that the fine weather was going to continue. Since eight this morning we've had some 18mm of truly miserable rain. The Ormsaigbeg road was flooded in three places - picture shows it by Craigard Croft.

Many thanks to the Raptor for his pictures.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Surf Paradise Sanna

This was the sunrise this morning at the start of a truly beautiful November day in the Scottish Highlands, the sort of day that brings everyone out to enjoy the sunshine, most to take a walk but someone....

....has to be different. There's no need to look for the big surf of Maui when it can be found at neighbouring Sanna beach.

The best sets are to be found in the bay below Sanna Bheag, where world-class waves....

....come rolling in to the shore - along with a fair bit of seaweed.

Our surfer was out honing skills learnt in exotic places like Portugal, though occasionally....

....Sanna's waves did get the better of her.

Appropriately, the post-surf snack included a mango.

Many thanks to Ben at the Big Blue Tree for the photos.

More on the 'Le Boreal' Fire

From Trevor Potts in Port Stanley
Trevor is on L'Austral, which went to the aid of sister ship Le Boreal following an engine room fire to the north of the Falkland Islands.

Trevor writes, "I have read the Royal Navy press release which was on the Telegraph website which implies that the Navy rescued everyone. There is no denying that they did a great job winching about 60 from the ship and life-rafts with help from other helicopters associated with the oil rig support vessel in port. We picked up about 250 people that were crammed into two large lifeboats. Our ship had double the number of passengers we can accommodate and an extra 50 crew. There were people trying to sleep on any available floor space. There was also the small matter of an extra 250 for dinner and breakfast. I slept on a thin cushion on the top landing of the stairs with one blanket over me.

"Last night we off loaded all the passengers to a community hall in Port Stanley from where they were dispatched to local families to house and feed. They will not be on a flight until Saturday night and will land in Paris on Sunday. The people in the Falklands could not have done more to help.

"Just when we thought things were getting better and we were about to leave, a Chinese passenger announced that he was out of insulin as most of his supplies were in his checked in baggage which never arrived at Ushuaia and he had not told anyone that most of his insulin was lost. They did not have the right stuff for him here in Stanley so our ship's doctor wanted him off the ship. There was a stand off for three hours in reception with the Captain as he refused to leave. It did not appear to bother him that he would be dead in a couple of days time. The whole port was held up with another passenger ship anchored off waiting for its pre-booked berth. Had we not had the Le Boreal incident we would have just arrived in South Georgia today and would have had to turn around and come straight back to save his life."

Many thanks to Trevor for pictures and story.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Ardnamurchan, Magnificent Seven - 2

From Marc Gerard:

Even before the sun had gone down our diligently set blackcurrant jam bait paid dividends. Did we need to spend hours huddled in a flimsy hide? - Did we have to dress with all available layers of clothing? - Did we end up crippled through having to be perfectly still in uncomfortable positions? - Was silence maintained through fear of spooking anything? - Were we hunched over terrifyingly expensive camera equipment? No, no, no, no and no. Here we were, comfortably sat on a sofa placed across the open french doors, drinking beer and using only glorified point-and-shoot cameras whilst the pine martens did their thing barely six feet away. A wild animal so clearly used to human interaction (and easy food) could be mistaken for being tame and friendly, although any such mistake and one false move could well leave you no longer being able to count to ten on your fingers! Having said that, the more inquisitive of the pine martens which visited did end up taking a morsel of jam-smeared bread direct from the hand. With the pine martens moving on, the roaring stags came in to close the show. Brilliant!

Wednesday: early fog, no doubt brought on by the previous day's warmth. However, the forecast suggested this would lift to give another sunny day. Time for another beach. Off to the singing sands of Camas an Lighe.

The drive along Loch Sunart to Salen produced some fantastic views as the fog lifted with thin wisps over the water being the last to shift. The walk from Arivegaig saw the last of any murk burnt away and the rising temperature drew the heady smells of autumn from soil and undergrowth. Arrival at the beach turned out to be well timed.

Rather like at Sanna the colours were glorious, but whilst Sanna was relatively busy with about a dozen (!) people making the most of the place, less convenient access here meant there were only two other visitors to the increasing expanse of pristine sand left by the ebb tide, and even they moved on not long after our arrival. 

Out towards Eigg and Rum, across an almost mirror-flat sea, the mist was slowly dispersing.

A sheltered spot provided a genuinely warm place for the obligatory feast of sausage and Daddies sandwiches and Jaffa Cakes. The temptation to shout Wilson!...WILSON!! was only just resisted. There was a hope that the calm conditions would present a sighting of something unusual out to sea, but apart from a lone seal and the usual sea birds there was nothing. We were so wrapped up in the place that we forgot to have a try at making the sand sing - although two years' previous visits suggested we would have failed miserably anyway.

Another evening's entertainment was provided by the pine martens, and roaring stags were again plainly very close to the cottage.

Thursday dawned even more foggy than the day before, but it was still due to be dry. Outing options were tricky, hills were off the menu due to the thick clag. One possibility was to revisit Sanna, but we opted to go round to Achateny and maybe Kilmory beaches. This involved another negotiation of the unruly gang of layabout cows near the Fascadale turning.

At Achateny things were just as murky as they had been on the south side with the fog resolutely slumped over the hills behind. What struck us was the spooky stillness and the silence was profound with not even the sound of waves lapping the shore. Whilst making our way out to a suitable perch on rocks as far out as possible our attention was caught by something scurrying about - a brown, furry animal with a pale patch on its chin. Initially it was thought to maybe be a young pine marten, but we couldn't imagine why one would be way out here. A stoat, maybe? Attempts to get close for a photo were frustrating as the thing would repeatedly pop its head up to see what was going on, only for it to duck down just as the shot was framed. It now turns out we were almost certainly watching a mink.

Following a graceful, low flypast by an eagle which briefly had some gulls rather agitated, the time spent on our rocky perch brought nothing more than a solitary seal making its way along the shoreline, and numb bums. However, it was wonderfully atmospheric with the fuzzy outline of Eigg eerily drifting in and out of sight and the calls of oyster catchers and curlews occasionally breaking the silence.

Usual lunchtime feast taken with the sun only just getting to work on the murk, it was decided to return to base.

Things were much brighter back on the southern side with the fog rapidly lifting off Leac an Tuairneir behind the cottage and the late afternoon saw the sky turn clear blue. Dappled sunlight streaming through autumn leaves; the sinking sun slowly bathing Carna in an increasingly golden light; the gentle lapping of waves on the shore below; and the song of finches, tits and robins - I'll simply use the word tranquil again. However, preparing the evening's animal lures we had no idea just how bonkers things would soon get.

We just about managed to rearrange the furniture and grab a drink in time to sit back and watch another evening of pine martens-a-go-go. Even I will admit that this photo looks like it is of two stuffed animals - they were really putting on a show and at one point we feared that the tamer of the two would actually step indoors. However, as darkness started to fall things really kicked off. The pine martens just kept coming back, but they eventually became much more twitchy. Some female red deer and at least one calf had turned up. The fog was now starting to come in again quite quickly so we had these animals stealthily looming out of the darkness sniffing out the carrots and broccoli stalks which we had put out. Then a fox wandered onto the scene and an owl was heard and then seen drifting ghost-like from tree to tree, both just being caught in the outside light's glare despite the ever-thickening fog. Our descent into some sort of weird mash-up of Autumnwatch and Disney film was capped off by the arrival of two stags roaring at each other somewhere on the shoreline just below - although they were so loud it sometimes sounded like they had sneaked in to join us in the sitting room. We were nearly stuck in a rut. Strewth!

And so to Friday: the last full day. The weather was slightly gloomy, but that did not really matter as today was to be a rest day in preparation for tomorrow's long journey home.

One final lap of the bay below the cottage at low tide would be enough, then back to slowly pack up. Another evening of wildlife visits, though not as manic as the previous evening's, had us hoping to round things off with a sighting of otter and wildcat as both had mentions in the cottage's visitors' book, but it was not to be. And that was it, yet another great week on Ardnamurchan was sadly over. All that was left was for a very early start on Saturday, followed by an almost immediate need to brake to a halt as some deer decided to trot across the road right in front of us and provide a pretty effective wake-up call - as did the kamikaze sheep on the approach to the ferry at Ardgour.

After two weeks of travelling around the Highlands, especially Ardnamurchan, the 600 mile drive home is always rather depressing as each hour takes you further into a frantic madness, with the dreaded M25 and the run to East Sussex's coast rounding things off.... badly.

Notwithstanding the powerful draw which Skye and Ardnamurchan have on us, we have decided to take a break from both for 2016's autumn holiday in the Highlands. However, there is very little doubt that, all things being equal, we will not be able to stay away for too long. And the Kilchoan Diary will almost certainly continue to give reasons to make that return sooner rather than later.

Many thanks indeed to Marc for the superb pictures, and for giving so much of his time to describe his holiday on Ardnamurchan.