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Just about bordering on odd, I see things through different eyes.The heading says it all - I live, I love, I craft, I am me...

25/08/2016

Bhalaigh Island - island hopping micro-adventure

The day had a certain crispness about it - a blue sky with silky clouds and clear clear views. We'd timed our walk with the receding tide so we could have maximum time to walk over the sands to the tiny flat island of Bhalaigh (pron Vallay).
Our 'pathway' was only in our heads and on the map as each day the previous footprints were washed away by the sea leaving a pristine silvery grey landscape and a small green slash on the horizon. This was our destination. Along the way we had to watch out for the deeper channels in the sands and harder ridges that stubbed the toes.
In places the sea lingered, leaving twinkling salty mirrors which Moss and Youngest ran through splashing and laughing along our 2 mile tidal reach. The distant island growing ever closer. The only land mark being a small grassy rock halfway which guided us towards Bhalaigh.
Then, growing out of the sands - the reason I wanted to visit - Vallay House, an abandon mansion with it's subordinate estate house and cottages which in it's glory days housed up to 60 people.. We stopped at the gates to put our boots back on and took in the view.
We walked up the stony flower lined track towards the ruin which grew more impressive with every step. Hidden by the machair was the erstwhile stately now rusty fence and gates. We were lead directly to the front door. Now too dangerous to enter we peeped inside trying to imagine it's previous splendour.
 
My heart felt a pang when we discovered the main room's fireplace. Still a verdant jade green with the once brilliant red walls now peeling and fading. I could only imagine the parties and celebrations that may have occurred in this former grand room.
Once we'd seen what we could of the main house, we turned our attentions to the adjacent farm house and buildings. Looking as ruinous as the main house, once we'd explored we discovered they seemed to have weathered a little better than the mansion. One of the cottages with a bit of love and attention could be modestly lived in.


After we'd filled our eyes and our conversations with the houses, we dropped off the small island on to an even tinier one. No bigger than a large rock, we sat, opened the flask and the shortbread biscuits and revelled in the sunshine. Ever conscious on the returning tide we explored just a little more before removing boots and heading for the sands for the return journey. The sea following our every step.
And, when we finally reached the car and off-loaded our bags and boots, the sky turned dark and ended our beautiful day with a short but dramatic sharp shower. Through the rain streaked window I could just make out another group of walkers plodding through the rain, I thanked our timings we'd missed that drenching.

I have already put in a request that we return to this little island - and if you can't get there to explore it for yourself - these links will certainly help ...
Vallay (Bhalaigh)Island walk
Vallay House - photos (these must have been taken when it was still possible to enter the house)
'Nothing to see here'




23/08/2016

You want me to do what?!!?

Himself knows only too well my limitations with my duff knee (damaged out walking in Scotland in 2011) and is wise enough to know what I can and can't do. He also knows that I am also overprotective about re-hurting it or damaging my other.

So when he suggested I climb down then back up this ... understandably I had a bit of a wobble (read as melt down) ... please note the distant view between the rock cleft there is evidence of farming (lines on the ground) and on them are sheep ... no I can't see them either - that is how far down they are ...
Let me start from the beginning. 

The skies were grey and the threat of rain was very real, but we were camping on Skye and so far, despite the heavy cloud we'd managed to avoid getting wet. Himself had planned a 6km round walk to the end the Trottinish Peninsula and back, where the final ness - Rubha Hunish was 90 - 100 metres below the cliffs. He reassured me that we would stop at the top and only attempt the descent if I thought I could do it. (No pressure then).






We followed the stony track towards the deserted village of Erisco - a visible reminder of Highland clearances. The path traversed the high ground avoiding the wet and boggy sections and we made brilliant progress with wonderful views of the coast and the sea all around us.

We found the old coastguard look-out, now converted to a delightful bothy. The view from the old command window was outstanding and I sat perched on the high seat for a moment or two and took in the vast horizon. The sea and the sky seemed to melt into each other while the clouds continue to roll and turn menacingly. Inside the bothy it was warm, dry and out of the biting wind. We found ourselves a quiet corner outside the building and sheltered from the breeze as we sipped tea and nibbled biscuits. Himself suggested (in an offhand casual sort of way) that he'd like to look at the access route off the steep section down to the ness. I (in a guardedly sort of way) agreed. This was the view I was greeted by at the top of the path ... it just drops off the edge!
No, I don't know why I agreed to go down. It was steep, very very steep. 

If you squint very closely behind Eldest and his red rucksack, at the top of the path just below the col (dip) you will see a family of four on their way up. We'd met them earlier near the bothy and their young daughters had made a fuss of Miss Moss. Himself then saw them later down on the ness and reasoned that if the girls had gone down and back up and lived to tell the tale ... then so could I.

Once on the ness and my heart had calmed and my knee had survived - a magical world began to reveal itself. Stone archways with feet plunged deeply into the inky waters and high rock monoliths towered up behind us. Sea stacks stood like solemn sentinels with startling evidence that they had been once climbed.




Suddenly on the horizon, speeding towards us, a squally shower had us scurrying for shelter in a tumbling jagged rocky cleft. We'd brought two large umbrellas that, once up and with our backs to the stone wall, gave us a wonderful refuge where we drank tea and watched the sea merge with the clouds.




The rain faded and we emerged from our shelter and continued walking around the ness. Moss played and played, running running running and splashing in the lochans and tarns. Her tail and beaming smile highlighting how happy she was. I kept looking at our return route - the cliffs were there waiting for me ...

I climbed back up, I climbed so much better that I had ever dreamed or hoped. At the top, puffing for breath and mentally giving my shaky duff knee a silent thank you, I caught Himself smiling at me proudly :)



Once home back at the camp site, the rain returned but it didn't matter, my knee and I were feeling suitably chuffed with ourselves. We were drinking huge mugs of steaming tea and munching shortbread - so we didn't care that it was raining - it had been a brilliant day :)


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