Sunday, 27 June 2010

Loch Sween and the Faerie Isles

The next journey was to Loch Sween and it was a grey day. Not very inspiring as it rained and I get cold and damp when the wind turned the flat sea into wet waves. I didn’t take many photos that day but this one sets the scene. Loch Sween is another long narrow sea loch considered safe from strong tides and sheltered from ocean rollers.

I saw the beauty of the loch on that visit but it wasn’t until my next visit a couple of weeks later, that I fell in love with it. I launched from the rocks at the lay by just north of Talvalloch village.

I had traded my dad’s little Avon Redstart round tail inflatable with my mom and was now the proud owner of my dad’s other inflatable dingy. It is a Seago S2.7 meter wooden transom inflatable. It’s a fraction of the cost of the Avon Redstart because it is PVC instead of the more durable Hypalon of the Avon boat. However it has proved to be rugged enough for my purpose. It has a bit more room and the tubes are a larger diameter so stays a little drier in a wave. It was a lovely sunny morning with a fresh breeze but little wave. I headed into Tayvalloch harbour to get some photos for my collection.

As I rowed past Rubh an Oib point, I kept an eye open for the seal that I saw on my first visit but was disappointed it didn’t appear. However I marvelled at another one of nature’s abstract art works. The colours and shape of the sky, trees and rocks lit by the sun. I didn’t notice that view the day I saw the seal.

A mile further up the loch, I came to the opening channel for the faerie isles. There is a secret mooring in there for a yacht or three and two were at anchor. It really is a beautiful sheltered spot.

Looking down through the calm crystal clear waters I could see the millions of black starfish which I believe are unique to Loch Sween. They were everywhere and stand out quite clearly against the light coloured muddy sand bottom.

It was low tide and therefore quite shallow as I moved stealthily and rowed silently among the islands in this faerie tale landscape but I guess I was still too noisy as I never saw a single fairy.

If the image of fairy’s sounds too fishy, I did manage to sneek up on half a dozen large fish. They were around two feet in length and moved very fast without breaking the surface so I doubt if they were mullet. I suspect they were salmon or sea trout but cant be sure. You can see them in the centre of this photo, not the best proof of their presence but they were not hanging around for me.

I landed on one of the faerie isles and was the proud owner for an hour while I ate my lunch. I never saw a single person or solitary seal. I wondered if the moored yachts in this surreal landscape were ghost ships.

After lunch I decided to explore the bottom end of the loch, the easy way. I started the outboard and sailed off southwards.

I was heading for Taynish and the channel between Ulva Island and the Taynish peninsula that opens into Linne Mhuirich, another narrow sea loch. The wind was freshening but the waves didn’t come to much. I landed at a little rocky cove to stretch my legs and take this photo.

I saw an oyster catcher flying close while making its distress call and wondered why ? Looking at my feet I soon saw the reason. I left immediately and was very pleased to see the oyster catcher settle on its nest as I rowed away

The channel I was heading for wasn’t far so I continued rowing because the tide was almost out and the channel very shallow. Its entrance is marked by the boathouse for the Taynish estate. The boatman was at home although I didn’t see him

I did see this dangerous looking blob, bobbing around on the surface. I believe it would have a very nasty sting so was glad I wasn’t swimming in the channel.

I couldn’t help but notice there were hundreds of large sea urchins in the narrowest part where the tidal flow was quite strong. There were lots of black starfish around too.

I had to take a photo of this wonderful natural abstract pattern of seaweeds with a view that I might paint it myself one day.

There was a strong flow of water in the channel so I knew the tide wasn’t fully out. Rowing against it was difficult and I didn’t want stranded on the wrong side if it dried out completely so I called it a day and headed for home. This kayaker had no problem paddling in the strong current but he had a long paddle back to Tayvalloch. I started the outboard in the deeper water and was back with no effort at all.

Although I was slightly disappointed I didn’t see the seals, the day more than made up for it with the other things I saw.

1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

Takes me back to my days in the kayak.Theres nothing quite like gliding over a magical crystal clear seabed on your own.