I am walking the shoreline of Loch Creran on the West Coast of Scotland. This is a personal challenge and you can read more about it here.
This walk covered ground I have walked many many times before.
When we cover well worn ground in life it is very easy to do it as if blindfold, we end up on autopilot miles away in the land of the mind. I decided to try and break free from this and practice mindfulness, to pay attention to my surroundings and see if I noticed anything different.
Starting at the Scottish Sea Farms buildings I made my way down to the shore by the car park for the South Shian Moorings Association. From here there was a good view of the first bay I would walk. The lane to South Shian follows the curve of this bay.
Once I had clambered down the piles of broken concrete I set-off and very soon saw this old fender. Being a sailor I am well aware of what a fender may have to do in it’s life and wondered at the yarns it could spin if only it could tell us.
This bay is made up of pebbles, gravel and sand except for one big lone rock, another casualty of the ice-age.
There are only a couple of trees along this stretch, the first being a large alder. Both old and new cones are visible now. In the summer I have rested beneath this tree when taking the neighbours dogs for a walk. On one occasion with two black labs, one tried to lie right up against me after swimming in the sea and the other kept trying to lick my face. Needless to say I didn’t get much rest that day.
Next encounter, a blue glove. Initially I left it, that was, until I spotted another one further up the beach where a small track comes down from the lane. Curious one on the beach, one on the track. I reunited them and left them on the lane, perhaps someone will recognise them.
Dotted along this walk were several little burns to cross. They are usually there but obviously running much faster and fuller given our rather wet (understatement!) weather. Each stream makes it’s own interesting pathway towards the loch some spread out over several meters, others having ploughed a narrower course.
Next a pile of concrete, my theory is it was dumped near the track, a place to get rid of the excess from some building project. Shame people don’t realise that out of sight is does not mean gone, there is no away.
Cockles again, when the tide is out all this is a cockling area. I stopped to play with the shells. The concentration takes me away from everything else and I am lost in the creative process for a few minutes which is delightful. It’s is amazing how much joy can be gained from the seemingly simplest of things.
Above this bay are a couple of private houses and some holiday homes, The views are stunning, here is the holiday home website, I think it must be a fabulous place to stay.
Next curious pipes; first a bit of upright black drainage pipe, then a grey pipe which was very firmly attached at each end. I suspect this is actually in use but it seems odd to leave it exposed on the beach like that. Finally another pipe, blue this time, which I think is water, again firmly lodged but only at one end. Can anyone shed any light?
Along my way I had seen a few bits of rubbish not much but I still felt bad leaving them. But I came across a red net bag so I retraced my steps and collected up what I had spotted before.
At the end of this bay is another little access track. I have seen this used by campers and we use it for bringing the trailer down to collect seaweed. This marks the meeting of my well trodden track, the walk I have done many times over the years. The tides change, the weather changes and the fauna and flora change too. I love this walk and call it The Circuit since I can walk round the coast here and then along the lane to home. If I walk non-stop, not usual, I can get round in about 50 mins.
I hadn’t noticed before how the sand changes colour here. Instead of grey it’s now a rich brown colour which may have something to do with whatever causes the little streams here to be browny orange, it might indicate the presence of iron, what do you think?
Firewood! I often think this out on my walks. The locating, collecting and processing of wood takes on a whole new meaning when your hot water and heating depends on it. A washed up telegraph pole could last a while but honestly it’s in such an inaccessible place I doubt we are that desperate.
Along this section of the shore the tide comes right up to the grassy apart from a little gravel beach. I know this spot well. When I was unwell but had started walking again I could make it around the circuit but only if I stopped here for a little nap. Now I like to stop here to view the loch, to meditate and to look at the clouds.
When the tides out it’s a bit like a lunar landscape, gravel banks shift in the tide but all the boulders and rocks remain. I know some of these rocks well having often explored the shore at low tide picking my way along the gravel banks trying to avoid the clay mud which can suck a welly off with ease.
As I round the last point my home comes into view. I pass the stream my children used to damn and make my way to the track which takes me through the oak plantation back to the lane. I’m a little sad the tide is so far in because you can’t see the oyster beds managed by Caledonian Oysters. In the summer I have swum in this little bay, the photographic evidence is shown below. A couple of seals came up close one time which was slightly unnerving especially when they dived below the surface.
Before I end I must tell you a story about the pile of rocks in this bay. Apparently a tractor working on the oyster beds got stuck in the mud and was sinking. A crane was brought down to pull it out but in the process it got stuck and sucked into the down into the mud leaving leaving only part of it sticking out of the shore. The pile of rocks covers that embarrassment.
Home and I can gaze back towards the shore, the well worn walk I love.