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 :

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Glen Astle to Soldier's Rock

Golden Eagle at Glen Astle
I took advantage of the dry spell we have been enjoying and set out on my last stretch of coastline, having arranged with james Macaulay for a lift back to Glen Astle. What would I find today? The weather was glorious as I walked along the track past the two lochs. I heard (and saw) Grasshopper Warbler - such a welcome and joyous sign of spring. There are a few ruined buildings here - poignant evidence of a community in times past and I paused to reflect on this as I wandered round the old mill.
This is a glorious walk with hills, loch and history - and then THE CLIFFS. Those wonderful cliffs which make up the tortured coastline of The Oa. This time they were even more wonderful than usual because as I approached the north side of Glenastle, the massive form of a Golden Eagle swooped beneath me. It looked even larger than usual. I watched in awe as it joined its mate and they both soared effortlessly round the Bay before one flew off and the other perched for at least 3 minutes on the opposite side of the bay. Laying low and peering over the precipitous cliffs, i cursed myself for not bringing my zoom lens - what's an extra bit of weight when faced with views like this! Finally it lifed those heavy wings and flew towards me as I clicked away, breathless with excitement. I had never had such close views of this magnificent bird before and felt truly privileged.
Elated, I continued my walk and looked for somewhere to eat lunch. At times I was only a few feet away from the edge of the cliffs and then without moving inland, I would be a hundred foot or so, such is the nature of this indented coastline. I settled at Bun an Easa and looked through my binoculars at some deep caves and listened to the incessant song of the Skylark as I munched my sandwiches.
A few Razorbills flew off at my approach as I continued further north and east. I don't recall having seen Razorbills perched on Islay's cliffs before, but maybe I'm just getting forgetful! As the unmistakeable form of Soldier's Rock came into view, so did the rain, quite surprisingly. I had been enjoying T-shirt weather all along. The silhouetted form of a young couple peering over the edge of the cliffs also came into view. Having donned waterproofs, I approached them and we walked together for a while. They were from Brussels and had never been to Islay before - or even Scotland! Before bidding them farewell, I complimented them on having found such an exquisite part of our coastline.
By the time I reached Kintra, I was still elated, but ever such a little soaked to the skin with the heavy showers and even hail which apparently had fallen on The Oa and nowhere else! James arrived at the gate at the same time as I did and I clambered into the car with many a tale to tell. Many thanks for the lift. This is definitely a section of the walk I would like to repeat. Did I save the best till last? It certainly seemed like it today!


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