Thursday, 16 May 2013

Macleod's Maidens

Yesterdays disaster ended in the pub musing over '50 Great Scottish Sea Kayaking Voyages' with a pint of Black Cullin.  The forecast promised a southerly force 3.  A circumnavigation of Rassay was discussed over a few pints with a couple of local sea men but I decided on a shorter trip from Portree to Staffin.

After a very cold night we woke to a cold, wet and windy morning.  The motivation to get out in the boat instantly gone.  Something I've struggled with this year so far.  We discussed a coastal walk to Macleods Maidens, three sea stack on the south west coast.    
It is a 5 mile walk to the end of the headland from the nearest road through forestry and moorland.  As we set of it continued to rain.  The waters around Loch Bracadle looked gusty and uninviting, I think I made the right decision.
The showers quickly passed but the coat remained on, anticipating another down pour.  We made our way along a forestry road beneath Macleods table south, one of two flat topped mountains.
Flora and fauna was in abundance.  Willow catkins blowing on the wind. 
Tadpoles in the puddles.
And a cheeky highland cattle.
White Tailed Eagles soured high above.
A Smooth Newt.
The path climbed and fell through wild landscape with great sea views over the islands of Loch Bracadle.
Along the path is a memorial plaque to Joe Strummer, front man of the legendary band The Clash.  Strummer was a keen environmentalist and helped set up the Future Forests Charity.  He decided he would have his own forest planted to offset the carbon emissions from his CD's and became the first carbon neutral artist.
Remains of old croft buildings.
Mid walk there was a welcoming bench with a fantastic view over the islands of Wiay, Harlosh and Tarner.
Harlosh and Tarner Islands.  The path seemed to go on forever but finally we arrived at Idrigill Point which fell steeply toward the sea and there they were...
Macleods Maidens are impressive sea stacks, the taller rising over 200ft out of the sea.  Legend has it that the three stacks were so named when the wife and two daughters of the fourth chief of the Macleod Clan were shipwrecked and drowned at the stacks on their return to Dunvegan from Harris, where the chief had been mortally wounded in battle.
We sat at the edge of the cliff for our lunch taking in the views of the Maidens and the Outer Hebrides on the horizon.
Views to the east.
Macleods Maidens.
We retraced our steps back along the path avoiding troding on the local wildlife.  My dad randomly pointed out to sea, apparently spotting whales, dolphins and seals, which more often than not turned out to be rocks. BUT on one occasion he was finally right.  Sure enough a Mink whale was spotted on numerous occasions seeming to be hunting up and down the sea loch.  Unfortunately we failed to get any decent shots. 
As late afternoon dawned the weather became settled and warm.  Clear views of the Cullins we seen over now calm seas.  It was too late in the day but I finally had the urge to get out on the water.  Our final treat of the 10 mile walk was a seal wrestling with a huge fish or eel near the shore of the bay as we returned to the van.
We had a quick shower at the camp site and walked into Portree for the first time without the umbrella.  

The waters within the harbour were tempting me to go back up and get my boat as they reflected the coloured houses on the waterfront.  The town was busy and everyone seemed happy to be out enjoying the afternoon sun.
We sat alongside the harbour risking loosing our fish and chips to the gathering gulls.
Moods were on a high, yesterday I wanted to go home, today I wanted to stay forever.  What a difference the sun makes.  We spent the night chatting to a friendly chap from Glasgow until the barmaid finally hurried us out of the door just after last orders.  

Tomorrows forecast promised a hot sunny day but strong winds once more.  This would be my last day on Skye and I was going to make the most of it... 

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