Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gaelic names and chance meetings, as one door closes and another opens on Rum.

 Ian and I paddled under Creag n h-Iolaire (Eagle's Crag) on the NE coast of Rum just as...

...a sea eagle flew off the rocks and glided effortlessly over our heads. One of the great pleasures of sea kayaking on the west coast of Scotland is knowing a little about what the Gaelic place names mean.

Shortly afterwards, we passed this sad pile of stones. It is all that remains of the ancient settlement of Tigh Bhralie. Tigh means house but I have no idea what Bhralie means. Sadly like its inhabitants, its name is lost in the mists of time.

Even on the 1877 OS 6" map it was marked as a roofless ruin. It is likely that Tigh Bhralie was abandoned about the time of the 1826 Clearance when 300 men, women and children were deported to Nova Scotia and the land put over to sheep.

 In glassy calm conditions we paddled along the east coast of Rum until...

 ...we came to the entrance of Loch Scresort.

We paddled to the head of the loch beyond which lay our chosen accommodation for the night...Kinloch Castle. We made our way round to the back where the hostel is entered through the old tradesmen's and servants' entrance. The hostel was not officially open to visitors but during a chance meeting with the warden, Rachel, the previous day she had told us there would be beds available as the  hostel was open for contractors.

 We left our wet gear in the excellent drying room. The hostel staff could not have been more helpful.  Abby checked us in and Rachel showed us to a comfortable...

 ...bedroom just down the corridor from where the contractors were staying.

I wondered whether to take my PLB* to the bath. It is seven feet long and two feet deep so quite easy to get lost in it! There was lashings of hot water, which was most welcome after the bitterly cold paddle from Canna.

*PLB: personal locator beacon

After we got cleaned up we made our way to the island shop to restock on essential post exercise supplements. These come in handy aluminium containers with ring pulls and we were well pleased to find that even in such a remote situation, the shop was well stocked. I overheard that Alastair, one of the contractors lived in Eigg. I asked if he knew anywhere good to stay on Eigg.

He said "I know just the place, Lageorna. It is the best B&B in the whole of Eigg".

"Would we be able to get dinner there?"

"Oh yes, Sue the owner is a very good cook, I enjoy eating there myself."

"You sound like a regular visitor..."

"You could say that, Sue is my wife!"

Without further ado, Ian and I asked Alastair if he could let Sue know that we would like to stay the following evening.

We could have eaten in the catered Hostel dining room but we did have supplies with us so we retired to...

 ...the self catered kitchen where we rustled up Aberdeen Angus mince, carrots, onions and tomatoes...

 ...on a bed of pasta, all washed down by our favoured dietary supplement.

After dinner we chatted long into the night with Gordon, a contractor from near where I used to live in the NE Highlands. Some considerable damage was done to Ian's The Singleton during the course of the evening.

NB. Rachel and Abby from the hostel had told us that the Kinloch Castle hostel will close at the end of May 2013 and a new hostel will open in alternative accommodation on 8th June 2013. We felt so lucky to be two of the last guests in this unique place.