Date & Time: Sat 26th to Mon 28th Sept 2009.
Location : Kilchoan and western Ardnamurchan ( NM 486 638 )
Places visited : Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan, Portuiark, Sanna Bay, Fascadale Bay and Kilmory Village.
Walk details : All short ones due to the weather.Highest point : The top of the Lighthouse naturally.
With : Ann and the dogs, Harry and Bethan.
Weather : Inclement !
We allowed ourselves three nights at the end of the western end of mainland UK which would give us chance to explore Ardnamurchan in detail.
To get there we boarded the ferry at Tobermory on the short ferry trip back to the mainland.
The morning sunshine we had at Croig Harbour this morning was holding well as we got to the ferry.
We join one other car and a number of cyclists on one of Cal Mac's smaller ferries.
It runs from Tobermory harbour north to Ardnamurchan and the mainland during the summer only . . . winter service is a small "passenger only" boat.
That light looks familiar . . . it's the one we walked to a day or so ago.
Mull is on the left, Ardnamurchan on the right . . . and a large Cal Mac boat ( probably the Hebridean Ferry ) steaming down mid channel straight at us !
No problem, we're well out of the way as we make the short crossing to Kilchoan well ahead of her.
Oh well . . . can't win them all . . . out here it's blowing a gale and the visibility is so low that the islands are non-existent.
Safely through the traffic lights we parked at the old stable block
which has now been refurbished as a rather nice cafe and shop.
Still we had travelled out to see the lighthouse so here it was, perched on the most westerly point of the UK mainland.
This is even further west on the map than Lands End, much to the disappointment of the Cornish Tourist Board.
For those that collect "geographical extremes" . . . here's the most westerly picnic tables on the UK mainland !
A short drive around the headland is the village of Portuiark and we stop to stretch our legs again.
The bay has several old buildings at the back of the beach.
New housing on the hill behind the bay looks as if it is a holiday development
as the nice design of sloping windows and balcony is repeated in several other houses locally.
A grey day, a grey sky and a grey sea . . . crashing on the foreshore.
Despite the large fences and dogs-on-leads notice we manage to explore the small headland
even finding this rather artistic plaque fixed to a sea facing rock.
An old storeroom at the back of the beach complete with black faced locals.
Due to it's size the previous building was probably built as a storeroom
but this one would have been built as old living accommodation, even possibly an old thatched "Black House".
It was Saturday and we were running low on fuel. The petrol pump and the post office would be shut on the Sunday so we drove back in time for some fuel.
Check out the price of fuel . . . the old pump couldn't cope so the post master had drawn up a ready reckoner for everyone's convenience.
He also added a service charge of a pound for sales under £20 to make it worth his while leaving the shop and crossing the road to the pump.
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Sunday we motored the short distance over to Kilmory some five miles away, which turned out to be ten miles or more on these narrow twisting roads.
This is the old and lovingly cared for graveyard at the back of the village.
We parked near the end of the road and took the path signposted to the beach passing this old stables.
Take a second look at the horse by the way !
Another old conversion, the small windows and curved outer walls showing the age of the original building.
Water on the lens is indicative of the weather and there wasn't a lot of point of going further . . . as I hadn't brought my swimming costume (or thermal underwear !)
Click here for an old photo of the village (similar to this cottage)
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Back at our accommodation . . .
Undaunted we ventured out again to explore the rest of the area . . .
This is the jetty that we had rushed away from rather quickly yesterday.
Over the way we spotted Mingary Castle, an important stronghold in the days of the Lord of the Isles.
The castle dates from the 13th Century. The white building is the much more modern Mingary Farm.
Unfortunately you're not allowed in it due to it's dilapidated state.
It was built on an imposing rocky headland, the main entrance facing the sea,
and the landward entrance seen here was protected by a moat dug out of the solid rock.
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We drove out across the peninsular, through the dramatic landscape of the volcanic caldera of Achnaha.
The large, round, flat moorland
was surrounded by a circle of volcanic hills.
Sanna beach was not quite the same summer blue as in the picture we had seen earlier.
Rough weather has it's own drama however
and we enjoyed standing on the rocks and walking the beach, taking in the atmosphere.
This end of the beach was littered with small pink jellyfish, brought in on the rough weather.
Across the bay is Portuiark village that we visited Saturday.
A surprising political poster in such a quiet place . . . were they expecting the Prime Minister or President of America to visit and read it ?
The weather wasn't going to improve so we went to see the exhibition and have a trip up to light.
When the tower is open to visitors, or when the main light is being serviced, the minor light is operated in it's place.
Hold your cursor over the picture above twice every twenty seconds to get the idea !
The main light has been automated and modernised and is now powered by a bank of halogen (car style) headlamps.
It rotates slowly, the two angled banks of lights giving the characteristic flash sequence once every twenty seconds of rotation.
The first is one of Alan Stevenson's internal decorations for the lamp house ironwork,
the other is the modern electric motor that rotates the lamp unit.
Ardnamurchan is the central light for the area and gathers radio information from other lighthouses through a series of radio aerials.
All the automated lights are continually monitored via this radio network.
In the lighthouse buildings there is now a very interesting exhibition
highlighting the building of the light, royal visitors, the local geology of the region and a new kid's exhibition.
All UK foghorns ceased to be maintained in about 1996 as it was felt they were not needed for shipping
which is now using Gps as a major navigational system in bad weather.
However the light house and lamp still have a vitally important role in navigation and safety at sea.
With all visitors safely away from the lamp room
the main light is switched back on and resumed it's work guiding shipping up and down this part of the west coast of Scotland.
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Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon 75 or my Canon G10 digital camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . . a good guide book to know what islands we should have seen.
A previous time up here - 13th to 23rd May 2006 A Scottish Island Holiday