Friday, April 29, 2011

Knoydart Revisited

Back in 2004 Kirstine and I visited the remote Knoydart peninsula for the first time. Like last time we drove to the Silversands campsite just north of Arisaig. After relaxing for a couple of nights we paddled along the white sandy beaches and rocky shores to Mallaig and into the depths of Loch Nevis.

Loch Nevis is hemmed in by mountains, moorland and steep wooded shores. There are no roads to Knoydart and its village of Inverie so the only way to get there is by sea, or on foot from Loch Arkaig 20 miles away.

Hill walking is very popular here. There are several 'Monroes' and a handful or 'Corbetts'.  Ladhar Bheinn is the highest peak at 1010m. Last time we climbed Meall Buidhe (942m) and this time we climed a couple of lower peaks that overlook Inverie Bay and the Long Beach campsite. We set off walking along the Inverie River to Loch an Dubh-Lochan. From there we walked steeply amongst the crags to the summit of Stob an Uillt-fhearthna (661m).

The lower south-facing slopes are littered with primroses. Once on the summit we were surrounded by handsome peaks strung together by bold, craggy ridges. From there we went south-west along the ridge to Sgurr Coire Choinnichean (796m). The mountains and ridges were all behind us with Inverie Bay below and views in font of us across the sea to the islands of Skye, Eigg and Rum.

Aching from the walking, we opted for a gentle paddle up Loch Nevis the next day. We made for the narrows at Kylesknoydart looking for seals. It seemed strange to see them so far away from the open ocean. We left them to their fishing and made for the shelter of Tarbet Bay for lunch in the sun. We were greeted by Frank who lives in the old church there and runs it as a bothy. He invited us in for tea and jokes! His invitation was impossible to resist and it was even harder to leave. We must return another time and spend the night.

It was difficult to find motivation to pack up the next day and leave. Since our first visit only a few things have changed but Knoydart and Inverie have retained their remote charm and warm welcome. We said a final farewell to Inverie by visiting the cafe for pop and ice creams in the midday sun before setting off along the northern shores of Loch Nevis.

The waters here are so deep and blue with spreading forests of seaweed.

The 'Madonna' blesses the waters of Loch Nevis and all those who enter and leave this way.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Puffin Island & the Menai Strait

I recently visited the sunny and sheltered shores of eastern Anglesey. Its good to know that some things don't change much.

Puffin Island was buzzing with thousands of cliff nesting sea birds and its waters surrounded by inquisitive seals. The Arctic and sandwich Terns have arrived and their hovering and plunge diving for fish is as entertaining as ever.

Heading southwest down the Menai Strait we passed Beaumaris before the tidal stream picked up and carried us swiftly towards Menai Bridge and the Swellies.

The currents in the Swellies have a fearsome reputation amongst mariners but with the right skills and knowledge the waves and eddies can be great fun in canoes and Kayaks.

The music on the video is from the album 'Aurora' by Michael McGoldrick. The photos are by Kev Robinson.