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" Scotland - 3 - Airde Baine and Applecross "
Date & start time: Monday, 19th September 2016
Location of Start : Roadside parking near Culduie harbour. ( NG 712 400 )
Stayed at : Cruinn-leum Roundhouse, Toscaig, Applecross. Scotland, UK.
Places visited : Coillegillie Bay, Airde Baine coral beaches and the Applecross Inn.
Walk details : 4.25 miles round trip on the Coillegillie / Airde Baine track.
With : Ann and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.
Weather : Monday was beautifully sunny.
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We've really settled in, explored the village of Toscaig small though it is, and paid our respects to Applecross yesterday.
In our cottage we read the leaflets all about the local tracks you could walk in the area
which was helpful as the open moorland is wild and really only accessible to the fittest of walkers.
This old track to the old settlements of Coillegillie and Airde Baine looked much more suitable for us today.
Sunshine and blue skies as we drove the short distance round to Culduie.
Roadside parking is a bit limited . . . but so were the numbers of people likely to walk this track today.
Ann's new camera seems to record the genuine colour of the day . . . pity about the subject matter !
Getting my own back . . . in the nicest possible way !
The track across the moorland leads to the old coastal settlements of Coillegillie and Airde Baine
the second of which can be seen just right of centre.
The high mountains to the left are the Red Cuillins on Skye but the land ahead of us is actually the island of Rassay.
Zooming in on the houses at Airde Baine.
Behind, the Trotternish Peninsular on Skye is now showing above the lower sections of Rassay.
The old village of Coillegillie . . . now reduced to one home, one self catering cottage and a series of ruined properties.
It has a magnificent view west to the Cuillins across the Inner Sound of Rassay.
The sunsets, when they occur, must be stunning.
[ If you rent the cottage, the owners will offer to bring your bags round by boat we're told.]
A lovely place to relax and get away from a busy urban life if you need to do that sort of thing.
It would superb for activities like wildlife and bird watching and canoeing.
We walk round the corner, heading up to the "coral beaches" described in the leaflet.
Across the way our eyes were drawn to the high mountains of Skye.
Rough going because we didn't take the obvious path . . . but the short diversion was worth it.
Round that corner was the first of the white beaches.
The tide is well out and there's a good stretch of sand between high water and the seaweed covered rocks.
Harry really buoyed up by the chance to run through the water.
Dylan was pretty excited too.
Harry indulging in a short swim . . . I did too, but I think I felt the cold more than he seemed to !
Harry sits at the head of the beach as we see what else is about.
This should be good otter country but we've not had a sighting all the time we've been here.
Almost time to go . . . so I go across to take a last picture of a . . . gull !
To be fair, it was a picture of a gull with the summit of Dun Caan in the background.
Changing lens and zooming in on the lesser black backed gull I notice the seaweed next to him moving . . .
In the absence of having binoculars to hand, slide your cursor over the picture to find what I saw.
(may not work with some browser systems I'm told . . . if so check out the picture below)
There on the rock was a sea otter munching away at a spot of lunch.
Presumably the gull was hoping for the chance of left-overs.
His (her ) food eaten, dips into the water in search of more to eat.
We were looking for these tell-tale bow waves in the water when we first arrived.
As it happens we saw the otter on land first.
We sat and watched him for about twenty minutes as he dived and swam,
here floating on his back while he munched at another morsel.
Off in search of more.
We couldn't see what he was eating but he was clearly hungry.
Combining two other pictures, try that 'cursor-over-the picture' trick again to watch him eat.
By cropping and enlarging another picture slightly we can get closer in.
A fine otter and a great sighting . . . our first extended period of watching otters close up.
Full marks for good zooms on both of our new cameras and a new pair of binoculars bought at the Loweswater Show this year.
Before we returned to our holiday cottage we walked round to the main coral beach at Airde Baine.
This is a beautifully white shell beach.
Rather than just sand from crushed stone, the beach is also made up of calcite from shells
and the bleached skeletons of red coraline seaweed, known locally as maerl (pronounced marl) . . . rather unusual.
It sticks everywhere . . . especially if you have a wet nose !
We sit and contemplate the hills . . . and wonder at the origins and purpose of passing boats.
After a nice chat with two other visitors it was time to leave.
Back through the small patch of woodland on this warm day.
With more salt water than fresh the dogs have not had a lot to drink so Harry is on the lookout for a pool of water.
Unfortunately he mis-judged the edge and the depth of the blue pool . . . and ended up in the peaty water up to his shoulders.
. . . I suppose you expect me to pick you up looking like that !
Fortunately the cottage had good facilities for washing dirty dogs and we had also brought our super dog-drier on holiday,
so by the time he settled in the house he was sparklingly clean and dry . . . just like magic.
- - - o o o - - -
Flushed with success at seeing our otter, we returned to the Coille Gillie beach on two other occasions that week.
The first time the tide was higher and we met the people staying at the holiday cottage round the corner.
They were enjoying a (wet suit) swim in the bay.
. . . as their lovely dogs waited patiently for their return.
Ann also waited patiently for another sighting of our otter.
The tide was lower this time, more like the first occasion we visited.
Unfortunately a rather loud group of visitors would keep most things away.
We spotted a pair of oyster catchers . . .
and had a close visit from a rather nice bumble bee
. . . but no otters swimming in the kelp today.
- - - o o o - - -
Dylan was playing on the beach with the two black dogs when I noticed him going off to play with a brown one.
Hang on . . . I hadn't seen any brown dogs on the beach today !
Our otter had returned, walking out of the woodland behind us and strolling across the rocks.
By the time I called Dylan back and fetched the camera out again he had gone.
Just goes to show that you could spot an otter anywhere . . . and the noisy folk on the beach missed it completely !
- - - o o o - - -
In the evening we returned for a meal at the Applecross Inn.
A popular establishment at this time of year it must be said.
Wonderful local prawns for a starter course
I think we were really starting to relax into this holiday.
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's new Panasonic Lumix Tz60 Compact, or my Panasonic Gx8 Compact System Camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . a pub menu of locally caught, grown or brewed produce.
Previous walk - 17/18th September 2016 - 2. Exploring Toscaig
A previous time in the area - 22nd June - 6th July 2013 - Summer visit to Skye & Trotternish
Next walk - 20/22nd September 2016 - 4. Sands and local