Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Defibrillator at sundown on Muck.

 We left our kayaks at the top of the Port Mor slipway and made our way past the...

 ...recently delivered wind turbines. Less than three weeks after our visit the six wind turbines were inaction helping to provide 24 hour electricity for the first time.

 We soon arrived at the Isle of  Muck Bunkhouse where...

...the warden Rosie was there to greet us. She is a real character and...

 ..font of all knowledge about Muck.

 The bedrooms were basic but comfortable.

 We brought our own sleeping bags but bedding is available.

The bunkhouse was very cosy as it was heated by an oil fired Raeburn with a back boiler for hot water. The bathroom had a power shower which worked when the electricity was on, or you could have a bath when it was off.

 Ian and I decided to walk back to the jetty to phone home. On the way we passed some interesting buildings.

 This is the gift shop with...

 ...Coastguard next door.

 Some crofts were in the process of being repaired....

....others were spick and span.

 The view over the Sound of Muck to Ardnamurchan was superb.

 We returned to the bunkhouse in the gloaming  where we made a huge meal of haggis, neeps, tatties and carrots. This was washed down with Murphys and Guinness. If we had taken unwell following such a big meal...

...the island defibrillator hung conveniently in the bunkhouse hall.... they are a self reliant lot on Muck.

We were glad we were not camping that night, as wind and rain lashed the bothy during the hours of darkness.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Port Mor, Muck, by the back door.

 Ian and I were now paddling NE and were sheltered from the swell. We passed the restored fisherman's bothy at Port an t-Seilich.

 The east of Muck is so low lying that the skyline is dominated by the distant Sgurr of Eigg.

 The mouth of Port Mor is partially obstructed by a large reef system called the Dubh Sgeir. The channels on either side are called Dorus Beg and Dorus Mor: the Little Door and the Big Door. Despite the low tide we managed to get through the gap this time (unlike the gap on the map at the north end of Muck).

 Port Mor is a delightful anchorage surrounded by whitewashed cottages and the swooping...

 ...Cuillin ridge of Rum makes a wonderful backdrop.

 We paddled past MV Wave which was the Muck flit boat for many years until the new slipway and pier were built in 2004.

 A flit boat ferries passengers and goods too and from a ferry that is unable to approach land.

The MV Lo0ch Nevis (the Small Isles ferry) was not in port so we landed on the slipway and pulled our kayaks out of the water for the last time on this trip. That morning on Eigg (it seemed a week ago at least!) we had arranged to stay the night in the Muck bunkhouse. The pierhead is one of the few places on the Small Isles with a mobile phone signal, so we were able to phone Rosie, who runs the bunkhouse, to warn her of our arrival.

Ian and I were so pleased to have got to Muck. In the middle of winter, we had managed to visit all four Small Isles and shortly we would have spent the night on each, Not only that, each night's accommodation had been very different....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Exploring the "wall of the tombstones" and "the den of the black revenge" on Muck.

At the far side of Camus Mor (on Muck's south coast) we came to the impenetrable barrier of the cliff  face of An Leachdach, which roughly translated means "wall of the tombstones".

 There are a number of caves in this otherwise sheer rock face. We chose not to explore them but due to the sheer nature of the rock it was possible to paddle very close to the cliffs....

 ...despite the size of the swell.

 At the south end of the cliffs there is a collapsed cave system, which is now an inlet called...

 ...Sloc na Dubhaich. A loose translation might be "Den of the Black Revenge" though it is currently known as  "The Witch's Cauldron" Whatever it might be called, we only took a sideways look into the foam filled gully and pressed on towards...

...the reef of Bogha na Fionn-aird. Despite the black rocks, we could see why this was called "reef of the white point". For all their poetic sounds, Gaelic names are usually pretty literal  Our paddle was nearly over and as Ian and I surfed some swells through the gap, we considered that we had just paddled one of the finest parts of coastline in the west of Scotland.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The highs and lows of life in Camas Mor, Muck.

We had now started the final stage of our Small Isles adventure. As we rounded the SW point of Muck we started to paddle east again.

 Muck is generally low lying but the ground rises in the SW towards the summit of...

...Beinn Airein. It may only be 137m high but it is a proper little mountain nonetheless. It falls steeply into the sea at the headland called Sron na Teiste. The roots of this name are both Gaelic and Norse. Sron is Gaelic for headland and Teiste is Norse for black guillemot. The Norse name is a reflection of the Viking influence in the Hebrides' past. Sadly we saw only one black Guillemot in the bay, it was just changing from winter to breeding plumage.

The swell was washing the rocks at the foot of Sron na Teiste and the shores of Camas Mor beyond, so there was no prospect of a stop.

 We set off across the great sweep of Camas Mor towards  the wall of cliffs on its far side.

In the middle of the bay, we became the focus of attention of the local fulmar colony.

 They amazed us with the skill and beauty of their flight..

 ..which we tried to capture on our cameras.

One minute they would rise high in the air with scarcely a  wing beat before swooping...

...down and skimming the swell with their wing tips. Unlike the black guillemot  the fulmar population has grown spectacularly. In the late 19th century there was only one British breeding colony on St Kilda. Now they are widespread. Perhaps Sron na Teiste should be renamed Sron na Havhest?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Breaks", "breaks heavily" and "breaks very heavily" on the west coast of Muck.

Although it was only the first of March, Fulmars were already pairing up for the breeding season on the NE cliffs of Eilean nan Each (Horse Isle) which lies off the north west coast of Muck. The calm seas and almost complete lack of wind could easily have lulled us into a false sense of security but I had in mind the Magicseaweed surf forecast for nearby Tiree...2.5m SW!

 Whoohoo we had just turned the north end of Eilean nan Each when the swell hit us. Fortunately...

 ...it passed under us and it was actually the rocks it hit! Spray was thrown high in the air and we felt a near continuous rumbling in our chests.

We needed to wait a while before we entered the gap between Eagamol and Eilean nan Each as the bigger sets surged through with some degree of vigour.

However, patience was rewarded and soon we were in the sheltered lee of Eagamol.

We now came to the exposed west coast of Muck.

We were glad there was no wind as the chart warns of...


"Breaks Heavily"

and "Breaks Very Heavily". We felt very lucky to experience the pounding surf in such a remote place but in such benign conditions. Even, so neither of us suggested putting in a little rescue practice.

There now followed a gap with no photography as the many basalt dykes that radiate out from Muck threw up many unexpected boomers. But once we approached the SW corner of Muck the swell seemed to die as the north going tide  increased.

We now enjoyed a distant view of Coll and looking back, we could see...

.... the outline of Rum through the gap between Eagamol and Eilean nan Each. Eigg, where we had spent the previous night, rose high above the low lying northern rocks of Muck.