Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Ambition fulfilled

 My family are Lancastrians and since being a young'un I've been fascinated by the concept of the county being split in two, Furness (now part of Cumbria) lying to the north of Morecambe Bay and the rest of the county to the south of the bay, with a bit of Westmorland (also now part of Cumbria) in between.

 For many years I've wanted to walk across The Bay, having been intrigued by supposed rights of way marked on maps and stories of the Queen's Guide and the Fishermen of Flookburgh published in mum's magazines, like Cumbria. Every year there are a number of guided walks across the bay to raise funds for charities. Cumbria Wildlife Trust had a slot allocated to them for a date in August and we duly met up at Arnside and registered for the 8 mile crossing to Kent Bank. 

 Walking around the coast from Arnside to White Creek it soon became apparent just how many people were on this walk - around 300! The walking speed was also rather variable. How would they get everybody safely across the sands?

 Answer - a whistle! Line everybody up at an obstacle and wait for the stragglers, instruct everyone what to do, then do it. Simples!

 Everybody soon got the hang of what was going on and what to do and obstacles such as the channel of the River Kent were crossed safely without too much carnage! (Yes, there's always the one who does a runner and has an early bath, so to speak).

 The walk wasn't a straight line as quick sand, river channels and creeks in the saltmarsh all dictate the route. These shift position so recce's are done by the guide's team the day before and if necessary, on the day, before setting out on the main event.

The Queen's Guide to the sands Cedric Robinson (with sunglasses) and his assistant Mike Carter. Thanks guys for a splendid day out and a long held ambition fulfilled.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


 Our final day on the island was to be a walking day around Ardskenish, the south-west end of the island. This is a really beautiful and relatively remote area, blasted by the weather off the Atlantic, and made of dunes, beaches and skerries.

 Seals were all over the place in these waters and numerous waders scurried along the beaches feeding.

 The opposite coast of the peninsula backs on to the deep U shaped and sheltered bay of Traigh nam Barc.

The house at Ardskenish sits pretty well in the middle of the peninsula, surrounded by flowering machair teeming with redshank, snipe, oystercatchers,lapwing. ringed plovers, teal, mallard ..... you get the picture. One night during World War II the house was apparently clipped by a low flying plane and became something of a local attraction. It is no longer permanently occupied.

 Some serious work went in to wall building hereabouts, and while they are no longer tended they remain an attractive feature of the landscape.

 The islets and skerries offshore look like they could provide interesting rock-hopping, but that wasn't going to happen today. Next time perhaps.

We lingered a long time before leaving the peninsula behind. It was a superb day.
Roll on our next visit to Colonsay. We won't wait 30 years.

Friday, 9 September 2011


 Less than a kilometre down the coast from Lamalum is the rather splendid beach of Traig Ban at Balnahard. Approaching from the north are some skerries you can work around, depending on the state of the tide, with views back up the Firth of Lorn and to Mull.

 The remnants of the wreck on the beach are of the S.S. Wasa, a wooden steamship from Liverpool that, oddly enough, caught fire. It was under tow but grounded in the bay before being wrecked.
Most of the wreck is, apparently, still underwater a couple of hundred yards offshore.

Despite the wonderfully clear water I couldn't work it out from the surface.
Top 20 beach? Possibly.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Colonsay: Lamalum

Having reached the northern tip of Colonsay, conditions were so benign I was half inclined to continue with a semi-circumnavigation of the island and land at Traig an Tobair Fhuair. However I was paddling solo, hadn't mentioned that as a possible Plan B to the wife and mobile reception was poor, so I stuck with my original plan to return to Scalasaig.

Returning south down the north-east coast the first beach you come to is Lamalum, with views towards Mull to the north... 

... and Scalpay, the Gulf of Coryvreckan and Jura towards the east. On a day like this day it was an absolutely sublime place to be. 

 Behind the beach is a narrow isthmus, Bealach Lamalum, barely 50m across, before the land drops in to the water of the west coast at Poll Ban and views open up down the island's north-west coast.
Being an exposed placed, the beaches inevitably catch a lot of flotsam and jetsam and more than one person has been tempted to create the marine equivalent of a cairn, or maybe it's art-work. Returning to the "best beach" theme of my earlier Colonsay posts, I think this one beats Port a Chapuill on views and setting.