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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

May 2017 & A Week In The Wild West...................

of Scotland. THE ARDNAMURCHAN PENINSULA to be correct and what a wild, remote and stunning part of Scotland it is. We had a cottage booked in the small village of KILCHOAN and although being nearly at the end of the single track road, it isn't the furthest point on the Peninsula, that goes to the ARDNAMURCHAN LIGHTHOUSE. If a weak mobile and internet signal is for you, then this is the place :-)
After setting off late Thursday afternoon, we stopped off in Dunbarton to break the journey so leaving us a bit more refreshed for the morning journey of about 4-5 hours as this part of the journey is where you start to hit the true wilder part of Scotland as you start to venture more and more into the highlands. The road trip through RANNOCH MOOR and GLENCOE is one done at a leisurely pace and in good conditions, which we had plenty of on the fine Friday morning. We got to the CORRAN FERRY which only take a matter of minutes to cross LOCH LINNHE where you feel you are on a separate island from mainland Scotland, when in truth its just the start of the journey into the Wild West. You soon get to feel your going somewhere a bit off the beaten track when about 30 minutes into the journey you hit the single track road for about 25 miles taking in the shoreline of LOCH SUNART and some spectacular scenery.
Mountains of Glencoe
The road through Glencoe
The Corran ferry
Pitstop on Loch Sunart
We eventually arrived at our base in the small village of Kilchoan and was immediately taken in by the views from the garden, then the windowed front porch area that looked over the sound of Mull to the Isle of Mull, fantastic. It was such a calm day that the only sounds were that of the birds, bees on the flowered trees and the sheep in the fields, a big change from the sound of cars and planes back home, bliss :-) We got unpacked, checked all things were OK in the cottage and then set about having a wander up the lane and back along the beach hoping to spot a bit of wildlife. This part of the world is known for quite a lot of wildlife from Whales, Dolphins, Seals, Deer, Wildcats, Pine Martens, Golden & Sea Eagles, Mink, Badgers, Otters and plenty more. We of course were hoping to see plenty but they proved to be a bit more elusive than we were hoping!!
We couldn't quite believe it when we got to the beach and within five minutes, we were being watched by a couple of inquisitive seals who kept a close eye on us as we did on them. Was this going to be a sign of things to come?
Home for the week
View from the front door over the Sound Of Mull with Ben Hiant looming large
Seals in the bay
Watching us watching you
Watching the seals with the Isle of Mull in the background
As it doesn't get dark here for a bit at this time of year, about 9.45pm, we decided to go for drive out to the ARDNAMURCHAN LIGHTHOUSE for a bit more nature watching. Unfortunately we didn't see anything apart from sea birds but an interesting place all the same and another very quiet and exciting drive along the single track roads. Before we headed back to base, we had a quick stop at the tiny village of PORTUAIRK to see if we could spot anything from there and a quick look round before we settled down for tea and drinks sat outside the cottage where we had an encounter with what we hoped was a SCOTTISH WILD CAT! We couldn't quite believe our luck but at first I just thought it was an ordinary Tabby but a closer look, as it walked up the driveway, saw us get a bit excited and reaching for the camera trying to be as still and quiet as possible. It did of course see/hear us and turned and casually walked back to the lane. I did manage to get a couple of photo's but just like the Lochness Monster and all the Alien/UFO'S out there, it's not completely clear. I have sent the photo's off to the Wild Cat Conservation site and had a reply not confirming or unconfirming but we know what we saw so for now we'll live with the hope :-) A great first day in this great place.
View from the Lighthouse
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse
The Lighthouse Bay
Settling down for the nite :-)
Getting ready to watch the best live TV :-)
Scottish Wild Cat or not???
Watching the sun go down
The Saturday saw us catch the KILCHOAN FERRY to visit the ISLE OF MULL, which is straight across the Sound Of Mull and takes about 40 minutes. As we were only foot passengers we had a wander around the colouful port of TOBERMORY which was the place set in the childrens TV seris, BALAMORY  We had a good walk round the port and coulourful shops before heading out on a walk up to the Loch near to the AROS PARK. It was quite damp with drizzley rain here and there but warm when the sun came out. We took our time and went down to the old fishing pier that offered some fine views but no wild life. It was a good leisurely day and as we headed home on the ferry the weather turned more misty and rainy.
Kilchoan Ferry Terminal with Ben Hiant as the backdrop
Kilchoan Ferry
Kilchoan from the ferry
Old fishing pier
Looking across to Tobermory from the old fishing pier
Aros House waterfalls
Lochan a Ghurrabain
The weather forecast for the next few days was a bit mixed with cloud and showers in the mornings but bright and sunny in the afternoons but the Sunday was to be a bright sunny day, if a little windy. I had put half a day aside to have a walk up the highest point on West Ardnamurchan, that being Ben Hiant, which stands tall overlooking Kilchoan. A relatively small mountain in Scotland terms, at 528m / 1732ft but on a great clear day like today it provided big mountain views all round. Just what you want on days like this. This was also the point where we saw our first Golden Eagle of this trip, as it soared overhead before disappearing over the ridge towards the wind turbine. Not enough time to get a photo but a great sight nonetheless. It's a relatively easy walk to the summit and we took the linear route that starts on the road near to the single wind turbine. There are longer routes up that can make for a good day out but we also wanted to do other things to take advantage of the good sunny day. A good straight forward path that winds up and round the East ridges offering great views across the Sound of Mull and Loch Sunart. We kept a look out for Eagles and Deer but no sign of any, which was a bit disappointing after the first sighting of the seals the day we arrived here. As luck would have it, we did see some deer when we got back to the car, perched on some rocky outcrops above the road, not quite where we expected but a bonus all the same
Looking down Loch Sunart
Looking over to a distant Kilchoan
Ben Haint Summit
Looking down on to Loch Mudle
Looking down on the car park
Overlooking Loch Sunart
Ben Hiant
Ben Hiant Summit
Three deer  and one tree
Looking up to Ben Hiant
Video of Ben Hiant
 The Monday was a bit on the damp side so we just had a drive round not getting up to much apart from having a mess about on a swing and having a walk on the beach trying unsuccessfully to spot any wild life.
Damp view from the garden
Swordle Bay
Play time
Rainbow over the Sound of Mull
The Tuesday saw the better weather return, in the afternoon, so we took advantage with a visit to Sanna Bay, one of the jewels in this area. The pictures don't really do it justice as it is a stunning beach area that wouldn't look out of place if it was in the Caribbean or some other exotic place. It did however, start off a bit on the damp side and at one point we took shelter behind some rocks while the wind blew away the last remnants of the rain. Although the sun came out, it was still windy and a bit cool but a very worthwhile area to visit, stunning.
Bit of a damp start
Starting to get brighter
The blue skies are coming............
turning Sanna into an exotic Isle
Blue sky, blue sea & white sand, beautiful
Row row row the boat....................
Video of Sanna
  After spending a few hours here we decided to go and look for the deserted village at GLENDRIAN
for a look round. By this time the sun was quite warm and we were lucky enough to see our very first British snake, the Adder, basking in the warm sun. Another bonus in this wild place.
On the approach to Glendrian
We finished off the day with a visit to MINGARY CASTLE just as the sun was going down.
See, hear, speak no evil @ Mingary Castle
Mingary Castle
Looking towards Ben Haint from Mingary Castle
Wednesday 17th May 2017, our 31st wedding anniversary was spent having a drive round to Kentra and stopped off at a small bay called Rubh a Mhurain, a lovely secluded beach with a couple of boats bobbing on the gentle water. This was quite a long drive from our base as there aren't that many roads, just a few single track lanes, but the scenery is fantastic along the way. It was just a few hours having a look round as again the weather was a bit damp in the morning but brightened up as the day went along. Another walk back at base, a meal at the KILCHOAN HOTEL and a fire and nightcap watching the night sky finished the day off nicely.
Rubh a Mhurain
Rubh a Mhurain
Rubh a Mhurain
Looking down on Kilchoan
Looking across to Ben Hiant as the sun goes down
Thursday was a day where we did our own thing for a good few hours. While Jill caught the ferry over to Tobermoray, I decided to have a walk over the hills directly at the back of the cottage, the highest being Beinn na Seilg @ 344 Metres and is the highest of the bumpy hills to the west of Kilchaon. CLICK HERE FOR BEINN na SEILG
We did have one final drive out to Sanna to watch the sunset but the clouds rolled in over the sea just at the wrong time! No matter though,we did get to see a small herd of deer moving across the hills making it a perfect end to yet another perfect week  tucked away in a remote part of Scotland. Perfect :-)
Sun going down @ Sanna Bay
Watching the sun go down @ Sanna Bay
Red Deer of Ardnamurchan
Friday came round all too soon and it was time to pack up and leave this great place. It's not too bad leaving as you do have a great drive back to the Corran Ferry and then through the Glencoe mountains and Loch Lomond National Park and as the sun was shining it was a pleasure to be driving back through the spectacular scenery. A great place that I'm sure we'll visit again in the not to distant future and hope to see a bit more of the elusive wildlife :-)