What a mess we are leaving in the wild places and seas. Camusunary bay and bothy a piece from a special place on Skye. What can we do?

Many will know of my love of Skye not just the great Cuillin peaks but also the lesser known areas of this wonderful Island. Over the years I have built a love for not one of the classic peaks but possibly the best viewpoint on Skye Sgurr Na Stri ( The hill of Strife) Many years ago in 1982 I was the leader of a Mountain Rescue Team from RAF Kinloss in Morayshire it was mid December. We had an epic in awful weather trying to find an aircraft an American F111 that crashed on Sgurr Na Stri sadly killing both crew.I have written a lot on that epic night in my blog.  I was on the mountain with the Board of Enquiry for a week and got to love this place. On many occasions before I stayed in the Camasunary Bothy on traverses of the mountains and long walks from West to East of Scotland. The bothy and its situation were unique with the sea and the great mountains so close. It was a place to enjoy even after the hardest of hill days and place to in later years recharge the batteries and enjoy the views and solitude.

2017 May Sgurr Na Stri One of the best hills in Scotland.

I believe the bothy  it was originally built as a salmon-watcher’s house, and featured in one of Lillian Beckwith’s books, when a family lived there. During the Second World War it was the billet for air crew who flew Catalina Flying Boats out over the Minch and Western Approaches, fighting the German  U-boats

2012 the old bothy

Camasunary is a small bay on the  Strathaird peninsula of the Isle of Skye Camasunary is the Scots form of the Gaelic name Camas Fhionnairigh, and means “Bay of the White Shieling”. The Camasunary Fault is a geological subsurface feature underlying a portion of the Isle of Skye extending under the Sea of the Hebrides.

Is this heaven?

I also walked in many times, nowadays when possible I take the boat in the summer and enjoy the mystery and fun of not just the mountain but scrambling round the coast. Over the years I have noticed the huge rise in plastics in the many Geos that are round the coast and the rubbish left by walkers near the bothy.

2017 May Skye the Bad Step lots of the coast now full of litter at low tide.

 

The old bothy was taken back by its owners from the MBA and a new one is now a mile away.  The MBA are very grateful to the owner, Alan Johnson, without whose generosity there would now have been no basic accommodation available in the area, and to 59 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers who constructed the building as a community project. The bothy was fitted out in memory of Neil (Bell) Mackenzie who lost his life in 2015 on Joffre Peak in Canada. They also thank all the MBA volunteers who turned out, sometimes in horrendous weather conditions, to prepare the site and fit out the building.

 

Beauty And The Beast or Camasunary R.I.P.

I have been given permission to copy this piece from” All things Cuillin” on Facebook it is a wonderful insight into the Magic Of Skye Adrian thanks.

From Facebook “All things Cuillin” by Adrian Trendall thanks for the use of the words and photos.

“Bridgette Blackmore and I have a long connection with and love of Camasunary, the bay, the bothy, the wildlife but our visit yesterday was a mix of stunning beauty and sadness at man’s despoilation of the environment.

On a positive note, we had a fantastic day, some quality time together and saw a wealth of wildlife including a pair of Golden Plovers and a herd of 27 deer peacefully grazing near the old bothy.

Sadly though the old bothy is falling seriously into a state of disrepair with nothing seeming to have been done to it for years. True, the roof has been partially replaced but the windows are mostly boarded up, the slates falling off above the bay window, downpipes falling off and not connected to gutters.

Not only is it falling apart but passing visitors are using the entrance porch area as a dumping ground for rubbish. Thus there is a rapidly growing pile of empty gas cylinders, dehydrated meal packets, tins, plastic bottles and the like.

Rubbish at door bothy Photo All things Cuillin A Trednall

From afar the bothy and environment still looks beautiful but close up it’s a microcosm for the wider world we inhabit and should be responsible for.

I have visited Camasunary for well over a decade and can honestly say that I have never seen the beach in a worse state. It looks like there has been a recent beach clearance with great piles of rubbish on the grass but unfortunately this needs collecting as the elements are rapidly redistributing the debris.

Trash on beach Adrian Trendall

Despite the clean up, the beach is littered with plastic rubbish. This looks to be mostly associated with fishing and marine items so loads of nets, cord, buoys but also some more general waste, plastic bottles, shoe, general litter. This is all tangled up with seaweed, buried amongst the gravel and presumably being gradually broken down into micro particles soon to be digested by a variety of sea life and so enter the food chain.

Normally we will pick up some litter but yesterday the whole scale of the task was too daunting to contemplate and it’s hard to imagine the amount of energy that would be needed to clean up this wonderful bay.

We rounded off the day with fish and chips in Broadford but at the back of our mind was what had the fish actually ingested before arriving on our plate.

From Adrian / Of course you can use the photos, David Whalley. Feel free to share the whole post if you want or I can send you photos if that’s better. We walked along to the Bad Step and all the geos were full of rubbish, not just plastic but fridges, large gas cylinders, boat and fish farm parts. As to the old bothy..desecration is the right word. Not just standing there and being left to fall apart but the entrance stuffed with rubbish obviously largely left by walkers/hill goers.

Any comments welcome but lots on” All things Cuillin” on Facebook.

There is a good book about aircraft crashes on the Islands that feature the F111 crash.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Enviroment, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Recomended books and Guides, Sailing trips, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Ticks please be aware we are now in Tick season – Wake up to Lyme ? Wild fires ?

Ticks

The last weekend I was out in the hills the last thing I was thinking about was ticks after a long winter ! Despite a thorough search I found another sheep tick again after the hill walk when I got home as did another one of the group who was out at the weekend, it was still tiny but I had missed it, they are hard to locate. Despite being covered up they get in and both were near my waist so please be aware as we all should know now they can cause huge problems. I make no apology for repeating the warnings regularly and please do not forget your pets. I have had several pals one seriously ill for a few years after a tick bite. One that serious he was off work for a couple of years, Do you know what to check for?

Ticks /

With the arrival of spring, now is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of ticks; what they are, where they live, the diseases they can carry, and how to minimise your risk of infection.

Being out in the countryside or even town parks and gardens where wildlife is present may put you and your pets at risk from tick bites?

Around 3,000 people in the UK contract Lyme disease (Borreliosis) from a tick bite each year?Recent research suggests that the prevalence of Lyme disease bacteria in the UK tick population is considerably higher than previously thought?

The most important tick prevention behaviour is regular checking of your body, particularly the skin folds, and prompt removal of any ticks found. It is important to try and remove ticks within 24 hours of attaching.

The following measure can also help to prevent tick bites.

Use of repellent on skin (DEET) and/or permethrin on clothing

Avoiding contact with tall vegetation where ticks are likely to be questing

Walk on the paths or centre of tracks where possible rather than in the long grass or verges

Wearing light coloured clothing to easily see ticks and brush them off before they attach to skin. Tuck trousers into socks or shoes to minimise ticks under clothing.Regular checks for ticks on clothing

Regular use of tick treatment on companion animals and regular checking and removal of ticks from pets. Different tick species are found in different habitats, but the ticks most commonly found on humans or their pets are found in woodland, heathland, upland or moorland pastures and grassland. Ticks are particularly abundant in ecotones, the transition zone between two vegetation communities, such as woodland and meadow or shrub communities, which permit a wider range of potential hosts.

Removing a tick safely

If you are bitten, follow these simple steps to safely remove ticks

Remove the tick as soon as possible using fine tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool.

Grasp the tick head parts as close to the skin as possible,

Pull upwards firmly and steadily, without jerking or twisting (twisting is not recommended as this increases the chance of the mouthparts breaking off, thereby remaining in the skin and increasing the chance of a secondary localised infection).

Don’t squeeze or crush the tick’s body as this could increase the risk of infection by prompting the tick to regurgitate saliva into the bite wound.

After removal of the tick, apply an antiseptic to the bite site.

Don’t use petroleum jelly, liquid solutions, freeze or burn the tick.

After the tick has been removed, continue to check the bite site over the subsequent month, looking for signs of increased redness or rash.

Consult your doctor if any symptoms develop.


How small – Yet they can cause real problems.

Hill Fires

I also noticed how dry the hills were especially on the West Coast the braken and heather is so dry ! It is worth remembering that Wild fires are the hills are so dry just now another wild fire in Rum last week. Please be careful and be aware of the dangers of naked flames just now, they cause so much damage and danger.

 

 

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Nan Shepherd – The Living Mountains – A true love story of the Cairngorms

I wrote about John Muir yesterday as I missed the John Muir day but was only recently introduced to another fantastic writer Nan Shepherd about 10 years ago.  There was a short piece on the TV last night and a great insight into this free spirit.  She loved the Cairngorms and the mountains and wrote so passionately and in a unique style about the land nature and days, nights and weeks,  out alone in the hills. She wrote her book the “Living Mountain” and it was not accepted by publishers for many years. It lay in drawer and was re found. Why was it refused was it due to the male domination of that time of mountaineering books and this was a softer approach and a feel of the wild places in very page. The book is to me a masterpiece one to read again and again, underline the words that flow like the music of nature. There are so many gems in it and I love it when I read that a friend was having a relaxing day with a glass of wine reading this book. I give a copy to many that take up a love of the mountains and the wild and looking forward to Lexi and Ellie Skye my Grand kids reading and enjoying this book.

How many are on our £5 note well done who ever thought of that.

“The image of Nan Shepherd which now graces a £5 bank note is a curious one. She looks as if she is in fancy-dress as a Native American, or a flapper more concerned with the Charleston than the Cairngorms. The photo has the strange band around her head and it is a piece of photographic film she hastily wrapped around her brow on a whim, before placing a broach in the middle. It is an image which seems to blur the technological and the primitive, the futuristic and the chthonic, the avant-garde and the elemental. To that extent, it is the perfect image for this strange, inspiring writer. It is magic like the lady!”

£5 note
The reverse of the £5 note features two mackerel, the Scottish fishing industry’s single most valuable stock, as well as an excerpt from Sorley MacLean’s poem The Choice.
Behind the portrait sits a picture of the Cairngorms, which she celebrated in her writing, as well as a quote from her book The Living Mountain.
The £10 note shows two otters at play on the reverse and an excerpt from the poem ‘Moorings’ by Norman MacCaig.
Burntisland Beach, where Mary Somerville lived as a child, features behind the portrait, along with a quote from her work The Connection of the Physical Sciences.

Anna (Nan) Shepherd was born in 1893 and died in 1981. Closely attached to Aberdeen and her native Deeside, she graduated from her home university in 1915 and for the next forty-one years worked as a lecturer in English. An enthusiastic gardener and hill-walker, she made many visits to the Cairngorms with students and friends. She also travelled further afield – to Norway, France, Italy, Greece and South Africa – but always returned to the house where she was raised and where she lived almost all of her adult life, in the village of West Cults, three miles from Aberdeen on North Deeside.
In this masterpiece of nature writing, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.
Shepherd spent a lifetime in search of the ‘essential nature’ of the Cairngorms; her quest led her to write this classic meditation on the magnificence of mountains, and on our imaginative relationship with the wild world around us. Composed during the Second World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay untouched for more than thirty years before it was finally published.
“Yet often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination, when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend with no intention but to be with him.”
 Nan ShepherdThe Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland
“The Cairngorm water is all clear. Flowing from granite, with no peat to darken it, it has never the golden amber, the ‘horse-back brown’ so often praised in Highland burns. When it has any colour at all, it is green, as in the Quoich near its linn. It is a green like the green of winter skies, but lucent, clear like aquamarines, without the vivid brilliance of glacier water. Sometimes the Quoich waterfalls have violet playing through the green, and the pouring water spouts and bubbles in a violet froth.”
― Nan ShepherdThe Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland

Summit of Corrie Etchachan – Poem

“But in the climbing ecstasy of thought,
Ere consummation, ere the final peak,
Come hours like this. Behind, the long defile,
The steep rock-path, alongside which, from under
Snow-caves, sharp-corniced, tumble the ice-cold waters.
And now, here, at the corrie’s summit, no peak,
No vision of the blue world, far, unattainable,
But this grey plateau, rock-strewn, vast, silent,
The dark loch, the toiling crags, the snow;
A mountain shut within itself, yet a world,
Immensity. So may the mind achieve,
Toiling, no vision of the infinite,
But a vast, dark and inscrutable sense
Of its own terror, its own glory and power.
Nan Shepherd
from In the Cairngorms (Edinburgh: The Moray Press, 1934)
Reproduced by permission of the Estate of Nan Shepherd.”
 
Posted in Books, Friends, People, Poems, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Views Political? | Leave a comment

Sorry for missing John Muir Day – what a man. Tomorrow – Nan Shepherd

As I stopped the wind was wisping across the loch and the spray was soaking me at times. It was surreal with the light times but magical as well. The tree roots are amazing down by the loch worn,bent, open to the elements and yet the trees were huge towering above and swaying in the wind. Trees things we take for granted and for years I never appreciated them. I only discovered John Muir about 20 years ago and on a trip to Yosemite I was amazed how much the Americans hold him in respect.  Seeing the great trees in the park was humbling and you can see why he fought so hard to save them from being cut down.
In the Yosemite theatre I watched a few plays on John Muir and his work and it was incredible being in the park where he walked and got so much inspiration. Lee Stetson who plays John Muir was wonderful and I watched every show he did in my 6 weeks visit.

Lee Stetson who plays John Muir

Yet I was never taught about this great man at school, of his writings and his environmental views. He took on the establishment and the industrialisation of many specail places in the USA. I love these tales and when I watch my grand kids climbing trees I think of him. What would he make of the Wind – Farms all over Scotland, the rubbish in the seas and wild places and the Freedom of Access we have in Scotland nowadays? John Muir is now respected in his own land and the young folk are taught about his great work at school. His  views  and writing through education and work of  the John Muir Trust.   https://www.johnmuirtrust.org/
The John Muir Trust is a conservation charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing wild places in the UK
John Muir
John Muir (1838 – 1914) was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. One of the best-known hiking trails in the U.S., the 211-mile (340 km) John Muir Trail, was named in his honor. Other such places include Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, John Muir College, Mount Muir, Camp Muir and Muir Glacier.
A true Renaissance man, Muir was: inventor, mountaineer, explorer, botanist, geologist, nature-writer and environmental campaigner; many would add: Christian-mystic, visionary and wilderness-sage. His writings are the fountain-head from which the American conservation movement erupted, setting the agenda, the ethos and the argument for the creation of a vast National Park system. Muir did more than simply describe the grizzly bears, the giant redwoods and luminous landscapes of California’s High Sierra; as the founder of the Sierra Club, his endless campaigns saved them for all posterity. This new selection includes Muir’s finest autobiographical books: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth and My First Summer in the Sierra along with the best of his climbing and conservation essays from: The Mountains of California, Our National Parks, The Yosemite and Steep Trails. It offers a rounded portrait of Muir as a giant of American letters; of a visionary, whose passionate defence of ‘everything that is Wild’, still reverberates through today’s environmental movement, inspiring new generations of activists and all who love the natural world.
In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. He is today referred to as the “Father of the National Parks” and the National Park Service has produced a short documentary about his life.
Muir’s biographer, Steven J. Holmes, believes that Muir has become “one of the patron saints of twentieth-century American environmental activity,” both political and recreational. As a result, his writings are commonly discussed in books and journals, and he is often quoted by nature photographers such as Ansel Adams. “Muir has profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans understand and envision their relationships with the natural world,” writes Holmes. Muir was noted for being an ecological thinker, political spokesman, and religious prophet, whose writings became a personal guide into nature for countless individuals, making his name “almost ubiquitous” in the modern environmental consciousness. According to author William Anderson, Muir exemplified “the archetype of our oneness with the earth”.
Muir was extremely fond of Henry David Thoreau and was probably influenced more by him than even Ralph Waldo Emerson. Muir often referred to himself as a “disciple” of Thoreau. He was also heavily influenced by fellow naturalist John Burroughs.
During his lifetime John Muir published over 300 articles and 12 books. He co-founded the Sierra Club, which helped establish a number of national parks after he died and today has over 1.3 million members. Author Gretel Ehrlich states that as a “dreamer and activist, his eloquent words changed the way Americans saw their mountains, forests, seashores, and deserts.” He not only led the efforts to protect forest areas and have some designated as national parks, but his writings gave readers a conception of the relationship between “human culture and wild nature as one of humility and respect for all life,” writes author Thurman Wilkins.
His philosophy exalted wild nature over human culture and civilization. Turner describes him as “a man who in his singular way rediscovered America. . . . an American pioneer, an American hero.” Wilkins adds that a primary aim of Muir’s nature philosophy was to challenge mankind’s “enormous conceit,” and in so doing, he moved beyond the Transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau to a “biocentric perspective on the world.”
John Muir what a man please spread the word! He was a man who loved nature and fought for it taking on politicians and Industry we need men and women like John Muir nowadays. Never take what we have for granted there are many who will sadly take it all away bit by bit.
Comments welcome.
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Over the Bridge to Skye on the bike and seeing the Wind – Farm Blades being transported. No hills but a lovely day of seeing the sea the hills and the lighthouse getting painted! All from the bike.

It was away early as we had to be out of our incredible accommodation in Plockton early and Judy and Lyle were heading home to the Borders. I decided to have a short cycle I had not been out on the bike all week due to a foot injury. It was sad saying by to my two pals we had a great chilled out few days in Plockton after the long winter. We had met so many lovely folk and every day was special, the sea the light and the mountains made this a wild place yet so peaceful and fun.

I drove the van to Kyle of Lochalsh and parked the wind – farm blades were getting taken off the ship still ( the wind had delayed it) I spoke to some of the contractors and they explained that the huge blades 55 metres would be taken over the bridge to Skye. They would turn at the Airport at Broadford on Skye 6 miles away (they are to big to turn on the road) and head back over to the Bridge and then the long journey to the Wind-farm near Fort Augustus.

The Police had closed the bridge but my bike was okay following the cycle path over the bridge a great experience and steep from the Kyle side! I had the bridge to myself and great weather and views with the huge bridge empty and what views of the sea! I had sailed under the bridge before on a sailing trip and what an adventure. The hills were clear and the bridge was quite it was surreal. How often have I driven over the bridge and taken it for granted? What a viewpoint!

Empty Bridge

I watched the huge wagons move over the Bridge and then headed over to Skye past the airfield that I knew well from Mountain Rescue days and then to Broadford for a short refuel. I passed the new Skye Base Camp Bunkhouse a great asset and the village hall in Broadford that I stayed in so many times in my Rescue days.

Broadford Skye

It was only to be a leg stretch and then head back be Kyleakin under the bridge a place few stop at and the great views of the Bridge. No hills again what is going on? I saw so much wildlife today on the sea and on my travels all at a leisurely speed it was wonderful to see things from a different aspect and how much I enjoy it.

It is well worth the detour under the bridge and I had not been here for a while the sun was out and the views were great. The small harbour was gleaming and the tourists were out in force in their huge buses.

This is a place where Gavin Maxwell wrote his wonderful tale Ring of Bright Water based on the otters in this area and it is lovely to chill out here. There’s no haste and time stands still it seems.

As for rushing ?

I only saw one cyclist blasting past in his “world of speed and distance gained” It must be some place to sit and enjoy the views and I did.

it was then back over the bridge more wind – farm blades were going taken over the Bridge was closed again and I managed to get a view as they passed huge monsters on the move – surreal.

I also watched the lighthouse getting painted from the Bridge as I stopped again things you see on a bike amazing! It was all over soon and then back to Kyle and a drive home.

Kyleakin Lighthouse is situated at the south-western end of Eilean Bàn. It was built by David and Thomas Stevenson in 1857, and is linked to a pair of keepers’ houses. The lighthouse was automated and converted to use acetylene gas in 1960. Following the start of construction of the Skye Bridge, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1993. It is a Category B listed building.

The wee sandwich shop was closed at Kyle so it was change and home via Lochcarron the hills shedding their snow and the roads quite. What a great few days and the foot a bit better and summer is here! What great company views and who needs to go abroad when we have all this on my doorstep.

Posted in Articles, Books, Bothies, Corbetts and other hills, Cycle to Syracuse Training, Cycling, Equipment, Family, Friends, Mountain Biking, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Last day in Plockton, the West at its best! A sailing trip in the bay. Some local tales, great food and company music poetry and a sunset! Just what was needed after a long winter!

The last full day of a super trip with two great friends to Plockton! I was awakened by the 0630 train we are living in the the Old Station House at Plockton. It was then a leisurely cooked breakfast and then walk down to Plockton for a short boat trip! The weather held of after a usual April shower!

As always the boat has a skipper of great West Coast character and what a grand trip we had round the bay. Even Byron Lyle and Judy’s dog came with us! Calumn regaled us with tales of Lost boys Islands and a rock on the cliffs that was like a seals face!

He told us some grand tales especially about the paint that make up the seals eyes! He asked a visiting military Helicopter crew to put some paint on the buttress so the tourists could see it better! It remains today and is a tale of another era and I am trying to chase the crew who did it!

Calumn also told us of his love of nature and especially the sea Eagles. His brother was the pilot of the Nimrod aircraft that brought them from Norway in the 80’s! I remember it well as I was at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire at the time!

What a small world we live in! Sadly there were no Sea Eagles today but it was a grand trip and thoroughly recommended.

It was then time for lunch and we found another great cafe just opened and the food was superb as was the service and ambience. There was some great books to read about the area and the sea and we spent a great time in here!

I loved the friendly lassie that ran it and we met a young lass up for the summer working locally! People speak to you and so great to young folk with ideas and vision about. The inside of the cafe is lovely with local wood recycled and looking at home here!

It was then a wander along the local walk great views all the time few folk about and just a relax after lunch. On the way back we passed the High School and the bagpipes were being played it was some place to be!

The School is right next to where we are staying at the Station Plockton High. It had a large catchment area and is also a Centre of Excellence for Traditional Music!

Since we started up in May 2000, we like to think we’ve established ourselves as a place where talented young traditional musicians can come and develop their skills to the full.

Our students learn playing and singing, both live and in the studio, composing and arranging, the history and context of traditional music, stagecraft, music technology, and all the other diverse skills which go to make up a modern professional musician. Visit the links on the right for further details.

“For others, music is just something else they do.

For us, it has taken over our lives.”

Fiona MacAskill, former student

We have met many of the students from the High School and I must admit they impressed us all. Friendly and communicative they seem a diverse bunch and yet willing to chat and discuss with the tourists and visitors. To me what a foundation for life they have and for their future!

It was then back a wee snooze then out for evening meal at the Shore Restaurant another 5 star meal and then a wander watching the sunset over the bay while listening to Leonard Cohen – magical.

‘There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in’ – the best Leonard Cohen lyrics

The wee dram,the fire some poetry-music and chat made a great end to a special 5 days with two great friends. There was no rush no hills just fresh air,great food and company. I needed that break after a long winter.

The West Coast May have its problems at times it can be a hard life in a long winter. As every there are problems with drink, drugs and lack of work yet we met so many folk young and old who have time to chat and talk about this wonderful place.

I thought I knew Scotland well after nearly 50 years in the hills but I am only now seeing what I rushed past. Every day is so special live it and enjoy what we have. There is no need to travel abroad when we have this on our doorstep all we have to do is “open our eyes and let the light come in “

Now maybe get all that weight off by a cycle on the way home ! Thanks Lyle , Judy and Byron for a great few days and the West Coast a place that keeps on giving.

Posted in Cycling, Enviroment, Equipment, Family, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments

End of the line Kyle of Lochalsh the old ferry the bridge and a chilled day. Wind farms love them or hate them – Huge engineering!

I am staying with pals in Plockton and today we took the train to Kyle.Kyle of Lochalsh has always been a place for me on route to Skye in past days there was no bridge and this made the visits a bit longer. In the days it was a ferry that took you over to the mystical Island and after a 3 hour trip from Kinloss there was usually time for chips on the wait. Nowadays we have the bridge and life is so easy. On Call outs helping the Skye Mountain Rescue team we would get a ferry to come across for an early morning call! I have great fond memories of Kyle on a summers evening and the excitement of a weekend in Skye . You have no clue how lucky we were even on a wet weekend Skye has so much to offer. It is great to look round places you blast through or spend a day hiding from the weather at times in the past.

We are staying in Plockton Old Station house on the railway line ( its platform is outside) and went into Kyle by train with my two friends Lyle Judy and Byron the dog. The train pulled up outside unique and we boarded it was a great experience. I used my “Seniors railcard” and what a stunning short trip to Kyle the views incredible and the journey over to soon. The views the loch and the mountains and the overall experience is this train heaven?

Our house at Plockton at the Station a piece of heaven.

I met a cyclist from Elgin on the train and he was cycling back all the way today over 120 miles. I felt guilty but my foot is still not right and get it sorted is my mantra give it time and I am wandering about in saddles like an aged hippy. We had a good chat about bikes and arrived at Kyle to soon the end of the line.

On arriving there was a huge ship in the jetty unloading wind farm blades for Fort Augustus Wind Farm. It was a huge operation and had to be delayed due to the wind. Nature rules !

What a size they were and the crew were really interesting to chat to  and what I can only imagine the fun on the roads getting them to Fort Augustus? The huge cranes and trailer made this some operation and Kyle was bustling. Love them or hate them it is some engineering, but why oh why are they not made in Uk ?

It was then a visit to the Railway museum at the Station  a lot of information and so interesting and a wander round Kyle. It has some huge Naval tradition and histrory with Minesweepers stationed here in the war and still a presence with the Navy and its submarines.

The mine in the town one of two that show a huge history for Kyle and the area and tradition with the a Navy and the sea. It was busy today in town the weather was fine and lots of folk about! Everyone was very helpful and lots of visitors the sun helps.

We had been recommended the wee cafe by the old ferry slip way called “Buth Bheag “and had superb rolls with crab and salmon worth the visit. We sat and ate them by the sea and with a brew what an afternoon. No rush just watch the odd ship and yacht under the Skye bridge. I had a sailing trip many years ago and enjoyed a trip from Lossiemouth to Kyle round Cape Wrath and the night sail under the Skye bridge to Glenelg.

Photo – Byron waves to the train each trip! We get some smiles from the passengers.

It was then get some shopping and a wander round then home but due to the wind farm excitement unloading or not in loading the blades we missed the train. So it was a taxi trip back with Byron in the car and a chilled evening by the fire after a great meal.

Posted in Bothies, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments