An autumn break on Islay and while the Missus is off scaring geese with her hi-vis cycling attire, Jazz and I are off for a wander around Ardnave Point in the north-west of the island. It is one of those walks where the expression “Why on Earth haven’t we been here before?” keeps being uttered because this walk is an absolute beauty.
We park beside Ardnave Loch and immediately things start well with a sign from the landowner welcoming us 1. The loch is a bit noisy with family groups of Whooper Swans and Wigeon all comparing notes on their flight in from Iceland and other points north. The track heads north-east over the huge sand-dunes and down to the shore of Loch Gruinart. This is a stunning spot with a gorgeous beach without a trace of a footprint. The views over to Colonsay, Mull and Jura are wonderful on this calm, warm autumn day. Idyllic.
As we pass the Point itself we start hearing a spine-tingling screaming noise: it sounds like a maternity ward when the anaesthetic runs out. It turns out that this is exactly what it is as the maternity ward is on Nave Island and the patients are Grey Seals. Through binoculars I could see the pups on the beaches like giant larvae. Great to see but it didn’t add to the tranquillity of the place.
After the Point we are now on the Atlantic side and this is rockier with lovely bays. We were sitting enjoying the solitude when a flock of roughly 50 Choughs fly overhead and close enough for me to take a picture with an ordinary lens. This group must constitute a significant fraction of the Islay population. I was pretty pleased with this when a pair of Snow Buntings dropped down about 10m away. Does this place get any better?
We complete our walk by following the track past the farm to the loch. The sign said to expect the walk to take a couple of hours: we took four because when a place and time is this good why would you want to rush? We give it 5 stars only because we can’t give it 6.
As if this wasn’t good enough we spent a while at the old church and graveyard at Cill Rathan on the shore of Loch Gruinart. The church is covered in lichen and has a lovely stone cross which is my sort of place, but when combined with a stunning location, it would be high on my list of places to spend eternity,
- Everyone, not just Jazz and I ↩
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