I have now walked the shoreline of Loch Creran on the West Coast of Scotland. This was a personal challenge which I hope will also have been interesting and inspiring for others. You can read more about why I did it here and find all the previous walk blog posts here.
Wow, it’s done and I don’t know how I feel about it. Of course I am delighted that I have achieved what I set out to do, more of that later I’m sure, but I am also a little bereft. I will miss these walks, they have meant much more to me than I think I have ever been able to express on the page.
Being able to walk any distance at all is a wonderful thing, only a few years ago I could barely walk from my bedroom to the living room. Later walking anywhere meant constantly having to stop to catch my breath, my hips ached like mad and I honestly could not have imagined I would ever be hiking across rocks sweating like a pig with a pack on my back.
This final walk was the longest I have done. This blog is probably the longest I’ve written. Once I got near the end I decided to push on and complete it despite the pouring rain. The length was increased by having to walk out to the point and then back again to reach the lane for my lift home.
I must say a big thanks to my husband who has driven me to, and collected me from, many of these walks, This last one involved a half hour drive to take me there, then he drove back home to go to the gym and do his normal stuff and then he came all the way back to get me. That’s 2 hours out of his day just to support me and my dreams, not bad hu?
I began by going down beside the pointy house’s mega shed at the far end of their garden. I would have liked to have walked the shore-line along the front of their house but the tide was in and lapping their sea defences so no chance of that.
With the tide right in I walked along the grassy edges of the shore till I reached the rocks at the far end of Shian Bay. Once again I found myself climbing and scrambling along. I have been so glad of my walking stick on these trips.
Round these rocks I reached the ferry slip for the Shian ferry. I passed the ferry slip on the south side at the end of Walk 3. Apparently this ferry ran right up until 1948 which is pretty amazing. You can read a little more about this and the other old ferries on this loch in Terry Donovan’s booklet, Loch Creran, A Scrapbook Journey.
Just past the old ferry house there is a little grassy island, but alas I couldn’t reach. Although the tide was going out it was far too deep to wade and too long till it would be low enough. I sat instead and watched the water speeding along like a river between the shore and the island.
More rocks peeps, lots more rocks. Honestly rocks are extraordinary, and until these walks I had paid very little attention to them apart from a brief period in my childhood. I remember my Mum getting a geological hammer. She took us to find fossils at Barns Ness in East Lothian, and on holidays she was always disappearing off to chip bits out of rock some of which she polished in a tumbler machine which lived in our dining room.
I did a double take, no triple, or even quadruple take when I saw this. What an amazing bit of rock just sticking out of the grass. Is it not magnificent and also totally intriguing? What is it’s story? It looks like a twisted bit of lava, like something I’d expect to see on Lanzarote or some other obviously volcanic place.
Sailing in and out of the Loch over the years I have noticed a big house set back from the shore. I think it is called Woodhall and is marked on the map. It’s garden is all fenced off from the shore but it has it’s own little jetty and boat house which I passed by.
On from Woodhall I came across more amazing rocks. There were masses of different colours and textures all pretty close together. Maybe this was the big mish-mash-up place where all the different rocks around here collided together…..or something like that.
Whatever happened it has left these beautiful, stunning, breath-taking wonders of the world right here in Argyll.
As I walked the next rocky bay my heart quickened and I could feel excitement bubbling up, the end truly was in sight, I couldn’t quite believe it. The entrance to the loch was opening up, and there on the opposite shore was the Isle of Eriska with it’s sign stating that Loch Creran is a Marine Area of Special Conservation, I past this on Walk 2. The loch is special because of the Serpulid reefs in the loch and it means anchoring is restricted so as not to distrub or damage them. Remember the divers in Walk 15 they were trying to find these reefs.
Near the bench I followed a little path into the woods, just being nosey to see where it led. It became obvious it goes to someone’s house so I didn’t venture further but I did discover some lichen. I had no idea what it was or whether it would be suitable for further dyeing experiments but I decided to take a little to try. I have since found out, thanks to Carl, a super knowledgable friend in all matters pertaining to nature, that it is,
“Common Dog Lichen, Peltigera membranacea. So-called because from the side you can see the dog’s white fangs hanging down (the root-like things on the underside).”
I am just so delighted when I see things like this, they are so beautiful, breath-takingly beautiful, better than any almost any man-made art I can think of. Apparently it’s not a dye plant but I will give it a go anyway.
I wonder at this complex creation all around us, why this lichen lives here in particular and others way out on exposed rocks? The abundance and diversity is extraordinary, abounding, how could we dare to threaten this wonder with our mad modern ways. We humans are beyond bonkers.
I continue my wonderment staring at some jellyfish in the tidal stream. I know some people think they just waft around in the ocean currents but I don’t believe that at all. These creatures were intent on going somewhere, which was the opposite of the way the flow of water was going. Some of them seemed to be heading for refuge in the seaweed while others determinedly whooshed their way ever onwards. You can watch a video of them here.
When we were on our sailing trip we saw spawning jellyfish which by itself was incredible but even more baffling was how within hours they had all disappeared, we don’t know where they went or how.
The next section of my walk past by several boat houses and slipway rails for bringing the boats up off the shore. One of these has it’s own little bay. One side appears to be natural and the other manmade. At the narrow section out to the sea there are these metal steps.
As I was clambering along the rocks from there I heard a splash. I was not fast enough to see the otter, for I am sure that is what I disturbed, but I did see it’s dinner!
I sat along the shore from here for what seemed like ages but it never returned, boo hoo. I have however learned an important lesson from this encounter. I will never be a wild-life photographer, nothing like enough patience.
I had now entered the last section of my walk, Glaceriska Bay. It’s the big scoop opposite the entrance to the loch. Around the first half of the bay there are several boat rails leading down to the shore, one from an enormous boat shed, which I suspect belongs to the yacht moored in the bay. All these private landings stages, boat houses and rails suggest someone has or had a bit of money. I have since been told that there are several extremely wealthy people living along this part of Loch Creran.
As I rounded the head of the bay I felt tired, but the end was so close I decided to just do it. The rain was persistent by this time, not the best sort of finish but perhaps fitting given where I live. It’s the reality of life on the West Coast of Scotland, it rains, A LOT. On the up side we have the most beautiful lush greenery abounding everywhere.
Below I share three photos of things which grabbed my attention, they all stood out as I wandered along the shore. Art comes in many guises, it’s form, meaning and definition all hotly debated, but for me nature wins hands down everytime for pure unadulterated awe and beauty.
Man however can unwittingly create the most beautiful things, as the rusty rails above show and also this fence below. However in both cases nature has lent the helping hand which seals the deal on beautiful.
Momentarily I thought my chance of completing this walk was thwarted. This huge fence of stakes was attached to a high deer fence running inland. It turns out that it’s not designed to stop humans though! I took my pack off and was able to squeeze between two of the poles and so continue to the bitter end. I think this is Druimneil House land, and they obviously are trying to keep something out, deer most likely, I wonder why? Perhaps they have some regeneration project going on, does anyone know? I have since discovered, thanks to a comment below that the poles were infact put in place by Aird’s House.
A little further on I came across the remains of yet more rails from a boat slipway. These were long abandoned as was the boat shed I managed to find amongst the undergrowth and bracken; something from a bygone age.
As the end draws near I look back at the loch entrance and then again out to the Lynn of Lorn. This is such familiar ground and sea to me; the passage way to childhood sailing adventures and decisions to sail away for a year, and the place of return from these sojourns. It’s interesting to see things from a different perspective, to stand on this shore looking back at the Isle of Eriska hotel, the loch entrance, the rocks to avoid on the way in, the bay behind me.
I am trained in and currently preparing to run autumn workshops in something called The Work That Reconnects.
“Drawing from deep ecology, systems theory and spiritual traditions, the Work That Reconnects (WTR) builds motivation, creativity, courage and solidarity for the transition to a sustainable human culture.”
Engaging with the WTR has been a life changing experience for me, I love it deeply for it’s transformative process. Whenever I enter this work either as a personal practice, with my dear friend and co-facilitator Annie or as a group participant I feel it healing me. That which causes me grief either personally or at a global level is heard, honoured and soothed. I feel empowered and reinvigorated to act on behalf of all of life on earth.
As I stood, near the end I was reminded of a part of the process called Seeing With new Eyes,
“Experiencing the reality of our inter-existence helps us see with new eyes. We can sense how intimately and inextricably we are related to all that is. We can taste our own power to change, and feel the texture of our living connections with past and future generations, and with our brother/sister species.”
These walks have helped me to do this. They have engaged me in the deepness of time, from the planet’s very beginnings right through to the current day where we waste, throw away and destroy so much of what the world has offered us. The future……that is uncertain but what is clear is that we must change how we live on this planet, we must engage with what it means to live in a deeper more connected and sustainable way.
If you would like to find out more about how you might engage with this work either individually or as a group process please feel free to email me, or you could join my mailing list here to receive future details.
Despite the rain the last leg out to the point with no name, nearest Dearg Sgeir, and the rocks with the navigation post, offered up a wonderful finale. Whatever the weather, wherever I have found myself there has always been something incredible to see.
I reached the end sodden and smiling. I had done it, completed what I set out to do.
It has taken me much longer than I originally imagined, but that is just fine. I have learned that it’s not about getting there, it’s all about the journey, oh yea!
So here I am walk done, time to turn for home. No fanfare, no brass band, no………well there was a fly-by actually! Two old planes, they looked like something from the last war, flew low overhead. “Thank you”, I whispered.
And there, within, a quiet inward satisfaction, a knowing that by listening to the vision which arrived in me, and following it, I have experienced something far greater and more profound than I could ever have imagined was possible in such a seemingly simple endeavour.
So thank you to all who have followed, commented, encouraged and connected with me through the last months. I have so enjoyed your input. I am not done, more waking will ensue, I’m just waiting now for the inner nudge and then I will commence. So until then walk, walk where you are, walk where you’ve never been before, walk with an open mind, heart and eye, the world will meet and greet you.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Francis of Assis.
Fantastic Mairi, this project was such a mix of old and new for you. The part about knowing this area so well and the leaving of it and returning to it by see was very moving. And too your thoughts on walking and how we humans live in the world. I am sure many people will walk in your footsteps.
Thank you Seana. I am a little bereft without it, hopefully something equalling amazing and enlightening will present itse;f soon. X
Our house (just completed last Christmas) is the one with the bench and the lichen – feel free to help yourself if you come this way again! Also I grew up in the former North Shian ferry house. You’re right in what you say throughout (although we’re the non-wealthy ones bringing the tone down) but I should point out that the wall of telegraph poles you encountered is the work of Airds House, not Druimneil. The lady in Druimneil House would be aghast if she thought she was getting the blame for those – she’s very much in favour of letting people & animals roam freely. When we do that walk we’re just about able to squeeze between the poles!
Thanks for this information Alasdair. I will correct my blog post. I may be back walking that way sometime so will take up your offer and enjoy the bench, thank you.
No problem. Great blog, by the way, very interesting.
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