Monday, 13 May 2013

Where Eagles Dare

The forecast for the beginning of the week had never promised nice weather.  South westerly force 5 gusting gale force 9 with wintry showers.  I had no plans to get out in the boat until conditions improved.  
We woke to a chilly morning, a fresh covering of snow capped the distant Cullin mountains.  Hail stones clanged off the corrugated tin roof sheltering the wash basins as we scrubbed  at the burnt porridge at the bottom of the cooking pans in vain.  After forking out £100 for a new tyre we decided on an easy climb up the local 'hill' Ben Tianavaig....  
Ben Tianavaig, a mixture of Gaelic and Norse meaning 'harbour at the foot of the hill', is an impressive looking hill at the head of the Portree harbour which only stands at 413m (1,355ft) .  (picture above from Google)
The climb starts from the Tianavaig Bay, a bay I washed up upon in 2010 for lunch.
We leave Tianavaig Bay and head up a small sheep track.  The Black Cullin ridge remains in hidden in the clag but specular views of the Red Cullins come and go between showers.

The higher we get the better the views.  Bellow are the narrows of Raasay, the limit at which my paddle in 2010 got to.

It's hard going in the wind, strong enough at times to make you lose your footing.  We shelter at rocky outcrops between hail showers.
We follow the ridge to the summit, careful not to stray to close to the edge in the strong winds.


The views from the summit were great...
The Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr to the north.
Portree bellow and the west coast of Skye on the horizon.
The Isle of Raasay to the east and the Cullin mountains to the south.
Dad on the summit.
Bellow us tower steep sided cliffs where White Tailed Sea Eagles nest and where I have seen sightings of them many times before.  We sat sheltered from the wind in a dip in the cliff edge and sure enough a pair of eagles showed up, souring high above the cliff tops.
Far bellow the wind gust across the sound of Raasay.  White plumes of spray seemed to glide over the waters surface like the souls of sailors lost at sea.
From out walk we travelled north up the coast in search of another short coastal walk to fill our afternoon in the dismal conditions.  We stumbled upon a waterfall so took to the path leading down the cliff side.
Remains of the kiln
Further down the valley where the river Lealt meets the sea is the Inver Tote Diatomite works.  Diatomite is a white clay like earth formed from the deposits of microscopic organisms.  Diatomite is used in the production of face powder, fire proofing, insulation, filtration of beers, but the Skye Diatomite was mainly used in the production of dynamite in the 1880s.  The Diatomite was quarried further up the valley and transported by tram way and carried by hand down the cliff path where it would be stored before being transported by boat.

A room with a view.
The wind strengthens considerably gusting over the water, on more than one occasion I was pushed to the floor, definitely not kayaking weather.  With a westerly wind this was the sheltered east side of the island, I can only imagine what the west coast looked like.  We call it a day and head into town and warm ourselves up with some locally distilled Talisker whiskey and I try out some local venison burgers, my new favourite.  Unfortunately at the time I wasn't aware I was in for a very long night.....   

1 comment:

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