Thanks for visiting my blog which is all about my coastal walk round Islay in aid of the Marine Conservation Society.

I have now completed my walk but you can still sponsor me by visiting my online sponsor page :

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Bunnahabhain to Gortantoid 28th September 2007

Red Deer near Rubh a'Mhail

Sunset over Nave Island

Waterfall and Natural Arch south of Bolsa

View east from near Bolsa

This was the long one; the one I'd been waiting and planning for since I first arrived on Islay (well, just about). Several times my plans had been thwarted so I am delighted to have finally completed this section of the walk and want to thank Fiona MacGillivray for accompanying me (and for gallantly and successfully throwing me one welly!) and her mum for her prolonged babysitting stint.

We set off far too late (I'm embarrassed to say just how late!) In fact, I think this was the latest I have set off for any other part of the walk, which is silly because this was the longest section. The first part of the walk, up to TrĂ igh na dha dhoruis, I had done before, but it is probably my favourite walk on Islay, because you can see so much. Today, however, we had no time to stop and stare, except at a pair of Golden Eagles, many herds of Red Deer, an otter, some funghi and some Dung Beetles. So, OK, we did a fair bit of stopping and staring, but nowhere near as much as I usually do. In fact, that was the single most frustrating thing about this walk. We were passing the most spectacular of scenery; natural arch after natural arch, cave after cave, waterfall after waterfall, Colonsay and Oronsay spread out on a sparkling sea - and we just couldn't afford to stop - too often. I'm determined to come back with a tent next summer and climb Mala Bholsa, that curious lump of a hill with deer paths traversing its entire bulk. We didn't find Bolsa cave either, although we did find a huge cave earlier on. There is so much to explore here; it's probably my new Number One in Islay's Top Ten Walks. We were distressed to see a Red Deer Stag caught by the antlers on some discarded rope. It was throwing itself all over the place in an attempt to disentangle itself. To approach it to help would have been foolish so we had to leave it and vowed to phone the gamekeeper upon our return. Other stags were roaring and herds of deer galloping up the hills. We also came across a big herd of Wild goats. All that is wild inhabits this place and defies exploration by its very wildness and inaccessibility. Yet others have been before us and still others will follow, including, I hope myself. Walking back, we watched the sunset over Nave Island - a real treat for tired eyes. We swiped ticks off our legs with the little energy we had left and returned to the car just before dusk fell. I throughly recommend this walk given: 1) you can get a lift from Gortantoid (to avoid extra 2 plus miles walk to Kilinallan) 2) you can get a lift to Bunnahabhain (this minimises the time spent on driving to and fro the start and finish destinations) 3) you start A LOT earlier than we did or, even better, camp en route.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Port Ellen to Seal Bay 7th and 13th September 2007

The mystery building. Any ideas?
I have to confess I did this short stretch in two goes. But before you scoff, go and try it for yourself!! I set off to do it in a oner, but was defeated by the time I got to Lagavulin. Anyone wishing to repeat this exercise should have the following:
  1. wellies (walking through water necessary)
  2. a stick
  3. insect repellent
  4. nerves of steel.
Also, NEVER attempt it when bracken is high and best check tides before you set out. Failing possession of all of the above, this walk can be achieved if you have:
  1. a death wish
As it was, I had none of the above (no, not even a death wish!) and the bracken was very high (taller than me, which admittedly Armin, isn't saying very much as I'm only 5 foot 3) but tall enough to not see the edge of the cliffs sometimes. Perhaps the walk is achievable without bracken and at very low tide, but I for one, will not be attempting it again. This was the only time on the coastal walk that I have felt truly scared and wondered what on earth I was doing. It took me from 10.15 am to 3.15 pm to walk this distance (about 2 and a half miles) The ground was so uneven I kept falling over and the shoreline was sometimes impassable, making it necessary to wade through awful bracken. I did come across a square building which intrigued me and I've posted a picture of it on here. If anyone knows what it is, I'd be interested to hear from them, because it seemed such an inaccessible place for it to be. By the time I got to Lagavulin, I could take no more and phoned Ann for a lift back to Port Ellen. Then today I returned to Lagavulin to complete the walk. This time it was very pleasant and I was able to walk the short distance completely along the shoreline. In summary:
Four ticks, four miles
Three falls, no stiles
Two walls, too much
One walk I won't retouch!

Friday, 7 September 2007

Port Askaig to Bunnahabhain, 2nd September 2007

I had had the opportunity to check out this coastal route on a recent ferry trip to Colonsay. I wanted to make sure it was possible to walk along the shore and, apart from a couple of questionable places, it looked do-able so, having secured a lift from Bunnahabhain back to my car at Port Askaig, I set off.
A little old lady was pottering around in the last house on the shore at Port Askaig. I knocked on the door and asked her if it was possible to walk to Caol Ila from here. "I used to do it in five minutes when I was a girl," she replied, after inviting me in to her beautiful conservatory. She told me she'd seen a family of three otters the night before and I set off again, with my otter hopes high. "Be careful of the slippery rocks," were the words of warning offered on my departure.
I was glad of the advice and glad too that the tide was on the way out so that more of the shoreline was revealed. I'm not sure how accessible this route would be at high tide. As it was, it was tricky in places and as for my desire to be as close as possible to the sea, I was sometimes actually IN the sea; it was necessary at times in order to get by a particularly large rocky outcrop.
Underfoot it is pebbly all the way and concentration is required constantly to avoid slipping. Several times my walking stick prevented a nasty fall. So it is a tricky walk, but not at all unpleasant with the Sound of Islay on your right and native woodland sloping upwards on your left. I saw Speckled Wood and Small Copper butterflies.
When I saw the wreck of the Wyre Majestic, the 338 ton trawler which ran aground in 1974, I knew I was on the home run. There is some difficult scrambling still to do before you get to Bunnahabhain, however, over scree, and I was thankful to reach the final stretch and walk under the pier to the car park where a lift was awaiting me.
I was rather disappointed to discover that I'd only walked about 2 and a half miles - it had seemed much longer! This had been a difficult stretch, but compared to today's walk, it was a piece of cake! I'll write about that when I've recovered!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Laggan Point to Laggan River 27th August 2007

I had walked from Bowmore to Laggan point as part of a circular walk two years ago, but hadn't made it to the River Laggan and I had walked from Kintra to the River Laggan in July, which left this short section still to do, short though it be (it's lucky if it's quarter of a mile!) But something very exciting happened on this walk so I won't knock it anymore. Before heading off on our mammoth trek, we (my boyfriend, Cliff and I) set off in the opposite direction to bag one of Islay's trigpoints (another of my hobbies!) We bravely passed two bulls en route and then bravely passed them again on our way back. Obviously it didn't take long to walk to the River and when we got there we saw two people and a dog walking from the opposite direction. I waited for them to cross the River (so now I know the water is knee deep)and started talking to them . Paul, Wendy and Havoc the dog are walking 5000 miles round Britain's coastline to raise money for the RNLI and Guide Dogs for the Blind. So far they have walked 4000 miles. It really puts my walk into perspective! This was a wonderful chance meeting and I plied them with questions about their walk and invited them to stay the night on my living room floor - I mean, what an offer! They set off for Colonsay the next day and were then island hopping to Ullapool, from where they will walk back to John O'Groats. They hope to get there in November, exactly a year after starting their journey. What an inspiration! Even Havoc was entering into the spirit of things by helping with the carrying - he has his own dog panniers and if his paws get sore, he has some special gloves to put on. Aaaahhh! Check out their website by clicking on the link opposite.