Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Scourie Bay, Sutherland

29 June 2014

One of the first places we visited on our recent holiday to the far north west of Scotland, was Scourie Bay. A beautiful inlet of turquoise water, surrounded by a rocky coastline. A stunning sandy beach lines the head of the inlet, and there is also a hide filled with useful information on the area and its wildlife.

Scourie Bay
Ringed Plovers scurried across the white sands, their little legs seemingly moving at warp speed!

Ringed Plovers 
Ringed Plover
We walked to the headland, overlooking Eilean a' Bhuic, a small island inhabited by various seabirds, including Great Skua (Bonxies), Great Black-Back Gulls, and lots of Cormorants bobbing in the nearby water.
Eilean a' Bhuic
There was a good view across the water to the Point of Stoer and the Old Man.
Old Man of Stoer
The 'Bonxies' were putting on a good show, often seen standing on top of the nearby rocks and summit cairn.  At one point one flew just a few feet above our heads.  Thankfully they weren't nesting around this area, otherwise we would've ended up with a headache: having experienced diving bombing Arctic Terns on the Isle of May, I really didn't fancy the same with a much larger Bonxie!

Great Skua, aka 'Bonxie'
A lovely walk out to the headland gave good views of the distant Assynt hills including Suilven, and nearby Handa Island, with scores of sea birds swirling around the cliffs.

View towards the Assynt Hills
© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

NW Sutherland: Journey To The Top of Scotland (almost!)

Saturday, 28th June 2014

Imagine planning a holiday to the far north west of Scotland in June!  I had never been north of the Kylesku Bridge before - and that was just a quick photo stop. There was still so much more to explore northwards. All I could think was that we would probably be in for a week of rain, wind and midges!  I was to be proved wrong.

As we travelled further north, leaving the joys of the A9 road far behind us, we came upon a familiar peak rising up: Stac Pollaidh, a hill we had hiked a few years ago on a glorious summer's day.

Stac Pollaidh
After our lunch stop at Knockan Crag - a walk worth doing - we continued north. Next appeared the familiar outline of Scotland's 'sugar loaf' mountain, Suilven.

The Assynt scenery is incredible, boasting some of the oldest rocks on the planet, remnants of a once vast plateau, shaped and moulded by millions of years of exposure, ice ages and volcanic activity.  Anyone interested in geology should make an effort to visit this part of Scotland.

Differing layers in the rock strata
Ruins of Ardvrack Castle, Loch Assynt
Looking to the mass of Quinag
Looking across Loch Glencoul to the geological wonder, the Moine Thrust
As we neared the Kylesku Bridge, we stopped in a parking area with information boards detailing the discovery that was the Moine Thrust - where older rocks had thrust themselves above newer rocks. The Lewisian Gneiss visible is Britain's oldest rock type, formed 3 billion years ago!

Kylesku Bridge
Next stop was the Kylesku Bridge. Opened in 1984, it spans Loch a' Chàirn Bhàin.

We continued our way north, enjoying the scenery, to our destination, Sheigra.  Sheigra is situated at the end of the road, literally.  There is a beautiful beach, which was enjoyed by our Labrador, one of many he tried and tested during the week!

Corbie enjoying the beach at Sheigra 
Black sand patterns visible
Well, it certainly looked a beautiful spot to spend the week!  Day Two to follow...

© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way.