After a few days of bad weather Wednesday dawned fine and reasonably clear! The Cuillin mountains were “up” – we say they’re either up or down depending on the mist cover! – and it promised to be a grand day. The young couple staying in one of the guest rooms, as opposed to the lodge where we all muck in, decided to do a long walk from the top of Loch Nevis, back to Inverie where they would be picked up again, so Morag and I decided to join them on the boat up the loch and back.
It being Steve’s day off, it was Martin who skippered Gripper as we set off not long after breakfast. The isles of Eigg and Rum were still misty on the western horizon but the sun shining from the east across the water was beautiful. There were no seals to be seen on the rocks as we turned into the mouth of Loch Nevis, only a flock of cormorants drying their wings after some serious diving.
We passed the statue of the virgin Mary, hands held out towards the water – the Dounies irreverently call her Plastic Mary, as from a distance she looks like the kind of plastic model sold as souvenirs – and on into the widening loch, the small village of Inverie, on our left.
Zooming on, we left a churned up trail behind us, and the Cuillins on the far away horizon. On our right is the stretch of land separating Loch Nevis from Loch Morar, and somewhere on the Morar side of the loch the evidence of an old pre-Clearance settlement could be seen very clearly, although maybe it won’t be so clear in the photos. There are lots of old cultivation strips clearly visible up the hillside,
obviously massively overgrown now after 150 years, but the rows and rows of them would seem to indicate the presence of quite a big settlement there once. This is called the runrig system and where the band Runrig got their name! Wikipedia says “The name refers to the ridge and furrow pattern characteristic of this system….., with alternating "runs" (furrows) and "rigs" (ridges).” They are also known as lazybeds – again from Wikipedia “parallel banks of ridge and furrow are dug by spade although lazy beds have banks that are bigger, up to 2.5m in width, with narrow drainage channels between them.” I was surprised at how far up the steep slope the strips went!
Down on the shore near Sourlies we saw the strangest boat I have ever seen. I seem to remember from a previous trip up the loch that the owner of it planned to take it on a world tour, but Martin says it has always just been there. It is meant to look like a whale!
At this end of the narrow strip of land between the lochs is Tarbet where recently this large grey house was built to replace an older house that was burned down some years ago. The owner of the big house is Sir Cameron Mackintosh, producer of such famous theatre stage shows as Cats, Les Misérables, and The Phantom of the Opera. He is apparently a very popular and generous landowner. The house looks rather empty and boarded up, but maybe it was just the way the light was that made it look this way. From these windows the view is pretty much the same as my photo four above, of the Cuillins through the loch entrance.
The day just could not have been better. Views were stunning, the loch so calm that the reflections were incredible.
We approached the narrows at Kyles-knoydart on the left
and Kylesmorar on the right. Kyle comes from the Gaelic word Caol, for a narrow piece of water.
As we entered the kyle this was our view ahead! (left)
while we set off back to Doune, with a wee stop at Mallaig for Martin to pick up some stores.
I do like Mallaig. It’s bustling and busy with boats, and reminds me of some of the Norwegian fjord settlements!
and when we reached the Bay, there was Eda Frandsen, Doune’s tall ship. I wonder where she’s been off to this week. She actually didn’t stay long and we didn’t see her again till the end of the week. She is usually chartered by the week for a sail round the islands, generally with some diving thrown in! Perhaps skipper Toby forgot something vital and returned to fetch it!
Talk again soon.
PS. I’m sorry about the layout not doing what it should. I have no idea why sometimes I have such big problems with it! I have spent far too long playing with it tonight that I refuse to do it yet again. I’m sure you’ll manage to read it – eventually!