Walk 7 – Columba’s Bay to the Sea Life Centre

I am walking the shoreline of Loch Creran on the West Coast of Scotland. This is a personal challenge which I hope will also be inspiring, you can read more about it here.

This walk presented me with a transport conundrum. My husband was away on business which meant he couldn’t drop me off or pick me up as he has kindly done before. I thought about asking a friend or neighbour but decided in the end to use the bus.

From my house it is about a 5 min walk from the main road heading north to Fort William. I caught the bus just after 10am getting it to drop me at the Pottery. My walks seem to take around 2 hours so I hoped to mange that this week and get to the Sea Life Centre bus stop for the 12 bus home.

All this worked out just fine and I actually enjoyed the fact that I was able to use the bus, a service that would be running anyway, rather than burning additional petrol and increasing my carbon footprint.

It’s so flipping convenient to just jump in a car that, that is what I do most of the time, but I actually find that when I have to, or choose to use the bus I feel good about it. In fact going into Oban, about a 30min journey I find it somehow more freeing when I do not have the responsibility of the car, in addition I get to stare out of the window at our amazing views, or day dream, or read.

Hurrah! The tide was on it’s way out which meant I was able to walk out to the cairn in the middle of Columba’s Bay. Cairns like this are dotted all over this area along with standing stones. In Kilmartin Glen, a little further south there are hundreds more prehistoric and Bronze age remains including standing stone circles, chambered cairns and cup and ring marks. It is well worth a visit.

I remember as a little girl feeling thrilled to visit a cairn along the Moss Road, near Benderloch. Echoes of that thrill remain with me to this day, it’s something about connecting with these ancient people who have left their mark and who also choose to live in this place, just like me.

Striding out across the grassy edge of the bay I was looking forward to my next adventure when suddenly my foot disappeared into a hole and squelch the mud beneath encased my boot. I was lucky not to twist my ankle more. Believe it or not I had my walking stick with me I just wasn’t using it.  I did test the ground in front of me from then on and no more mishaps occurred.  They could have though because the rocks I had to clamber over were very wet and extremely slippy.  I was glad I had called my friend Jennie to tell her what I was up to, and requested that she send out a search party for me should I not text her by 2pm.

There were a few oyster catchers huddled down by the shore their beaks tucked away against the strong winds. I am so glad I don’t have to spend my whole life outside like that, and how do they manage with essentially one type of clothing all year round. I’m guessing they down-up in the winter, a bit like myself. I had many layers on which resulted in a solo sauna as I worked my way up and down all the rocks along the next section of the shore.

After leaving the bay this walk was all big boulders or rocky layers to slip and slide over. The rocks were like ice-rinks so I had to pick my way across and up and down using any footholds I could find, often bracing against my pole.

Walking Loch Creran
Slippy rocks and boulders to cross.

Something I have noticed on these walks is just how many incredible colours there are down here at ground level despite the seemingly endless grey above. Here are some photos from this walk, nature’s works of art.

Since I knew this walk would take me past the Sea Life Centre I had been phoning them since 9am  to ask if I could follow the shore in front of the centre. I got no answer so just hoped there would be no fences and no-one to shout at me to “get off their land”.  Just before reaching the Centre section of shore there was a little bay with a slipway and a timber building. According to the map this is forestry commission land, I wonder what they use it for?

As it turns out I could freely walk around the shore at the Sea life Centre and apart for an otter…….yes an otter, I didn’t meet or see anyone at all.

It was quite hard going under the pine trees and so I was delighted to stop and spend some time admiring this beautiful creature twirling around in the seaweed. You can see otters at the Sea Life Centre but honestly for me nothing compares to seeing them in their natural habitat.

Once past the Centre I checked the time and realised I had about 20 mins before the bus came. Before doing anything else I checked out how I could get to the road. It turned out which to be very easy because there was a path down from the cycle track, past a magnificent big beech tree.

I used the time left to wander along the shore a little more till I found somewhere to sit and have some more tea. As I lifted my cup lo and behold, not one but two otters! I couldn’t believe it, there just a short distance off were two otters playing around with each other. Well ok probably not playing most likely feeding but they looked like they were having fun. I ended up watching through my binoculars as they ravelled away from me along the coast.

Perhaps the path is there because people come to look for otters. If you want to try, turn into the Sea life Centre but bear right along the cycle path. A short distance before the bridge you will see a little path down to your left, head down past the beech tree with the boat tied under it and get looking.

As I waited for the bus and wondered about Tobar Choluim-chillle (Well) which lies somewhere behind the bus stop. I’m afraid it is a recently felled nightmare of stumps and brash so not somewhere I wished to investigate, perhaps another day.