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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.

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