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.
I felt excited about this week’s walk, but why? I have walked many times in my life so what is different about this?
- I am walking to enjoy the walking, not to achieve something like fitness or better health.
- I am exploring, I don’t know what I will find, see or experience; there is mystery and magic involved.
- I am spending time with myself, out in nature, away from my normal environment.
- I am honouring myself, giving myself the time to do something I want to do.
My husband dropped me off at the now familiar bridge to the Isle of Eriska. This time I had to climb a barbed wire fence and wrestle my way past gorse bushes to reach the shore.
As I stepped out I felt myself connect with being there, in the moment and I noticed how incredibly quiet and peaceful it was, and I absolutely LOVED it. After a busy morning seeing children off to school a walk in nature instantly soothes.
The tide was so high it covered the grass but there was enough left for me and I saw a path. I had not expected this at all. Who made it? It was very narrow, could it be a well worn deer path? Curiously after following it for some time it disappeared into the water and that was when I realised, it must be a path the cocklers walk. Where it meets the water is about where the mud bank they collect from would be at low tide.
Two further things caught my attention on the first part of this walk. One was a corrugated iron lean-to at the edge of a field. I’m guessing it’s an animal shelter, the other was a big stone with a huge metal ring. From the broken shells lying round it I could deduce that some clever birds have sussed out they can use it to break shells. However it looks like something you would surely tether a boat to, but it’s location does not immediately seem a likely place to secure a boat, so what on earth is it doing here?
Around the corner another oddity. Twirling on the electricity lines are lots of orange and white somethings. I don’t know what you call them but I am guessing they are to warn aircraft about the wires. The only aircraft I imagine come this way are the low flying airforce planes we get zooming up and down the lochs. It looks like they might use this route because the could come very low over the hill where there are no trees in the way, fly over South Shian and bank right to head up the rest of the loch. I bet the cows in that field get an awful fright when that happens.
The field is wonderfully green and free of reeds and I think I know why. There is a drainage ditch dug along the length of the field and at regular intervals an opening is cut through to allow water to drain into the loch, clever.
The next corner takes me into an area full of reeds which was not surprisingly very boggy. I had to work my way around the edge, which was no mean feat as there was very little firm ground. Once I had reached the head of the inlet I decided to go into a field to the right and by-pass the tall reed bed. Years ago when my children were small we went on an adventure which involved walking through that reed bed. It turned into a saga as our wellies got horribly stuck and we all got caked in mud, not to be repeated.
Delightfully this slight detour surprised me with a stile; I didn’t have to climb another fence. Having now checked the reserve map I can see that the stile is in fact marked as it allows access to the Salt Marsh; so there you are, not only can you visit the woods you can also check out the Salt March I squelched around, which is no doubt a great place to spot birds, though I didn’t see anything today except a heron and two ducks.
Once over the stile I followed the edge of the loch with South Shian bay and the Isle of Eriska to my left and Shian Wood Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve to my right. The reserve is a beautiful place to walk at almost any time of year and if you are very lucky you may meet magic folk at An Sidhean (The Fairy Hummock).
Wild Lochaber has some lovely photos of the wood and Salt Marsh here.
I only found one big boulder on this walk, which served as great place to stop for tea and contemplation. This became my morning mediation spot where I got lost in the mesmerising ripples in the reeds.
As I sat enjoying the peace and quiet, I noticed a gravel patch had appeared a little way out. Another 5 mins past and a little more appeared along with the top of a rock nearby. Another 5 mins revealed seaweed too short to float on the surface till the tide went out.
As I sat and watched this slow progression I wondered what it would be like to sit for longer and watch the tide go out completely. My thoughts then wandered and I found myself thinking about all those people already affected by rising sea levels whose islands will eventually disappear and never reappear. Here is link to a short film about Tuvalu, one of these islands.
What must it feel like to know your island home is disappearing and there is nothing you can do about it?
Climate change is a world wide issue, we need to take action and we can.
You can join the worldwide movement marching for a better future. Over the weekend of 28/29th November people across the world will march for climate action, from Melbourne to Tokyo and from Mumbai to Buenos Aires. In the build up to the UN climate change negotiations in Paris, we can standing up for people affected by rising global temperatures and demand that world leaders agree an ambitious deal. Bolivia has made a particularly interesting submission you can read more about here.
In Scotland you can join the March in Edinburgh, and for those of you in and around Oban we have our own gathering in Station Square at noon on the 28th, come along, join in, show your support and make a promise to the planet.
Ah, a little unexpected diversion from my walk; thoughts, that is what they do, distract us from the here and now!
The last leg of my walk saw the grassy waters edge give way to gravel and eventually to sand as I walked beneath the trees close to the waters edge. Finally as I stood on the old ferry slipway I admired the autumn colours on Sgeir Callich island that runs out to the green starboard buoy safely marking a ships way into the loch and I wondered; could I perhaps walk around the shore of this island as well?