A boat trip to the Isle of Muck

We set off from Stag Cottage bright and early to catch our boat, the Laurenca II, from Laga Bay about an hour's drive away. As we drove along the shoreline of Loch Sunart once more, we spotted an Otter on the water's edge. We took that as a very good sign of a great day to come!
Soon we were leaving the jetty at Laga behind, heading out into the Loch.
Glorious blue skies and sunshine with Mount Resipol in the distance.
Common Terns were busy choosing prospective nest sites amongst flower studded rocky outcrops.
Seals were lazily basking in the sunshine.
We headed over to Bloody Bay on the nearby Isle of Mull, to see if we could spot the White-tailed Eagle eyrie. This blurry shot is about as close as I could get with my camera. After watching us for a while the Eagle took off and soared nonchalantly back over to the mainland, in the direction from which we had just come. I'm sure he was laughing at us.
An hour or so later we arrived at the pretty little harbour of Port Mòr on the Isle of Muck, the smallest of the Small Isles group. Muck has a permanent population of about 40, mainly living round the harbour. The island has been owned by the MacEwen family for over 100 years.

Out of necessity the residents are self-sufficient and rely on seasonal tourism to complement their income. Recent financial ventures include driven grouse shooting and open sea salmon farming.
After sampling  some tasty home made soup and bread at the friendly tearoom, served up by the wife of the Laird, no less, we set off for a short walk across the island.
A small graveyard on an adjacent stony hillside.
Rum, with Skye in the distance.
After taking in the scenery and visiting a nearby seal colony it was time to stroll back to the harbour to board our boat again, ready for the return journey to Laga.
 The Laurenca II bobbed against the jetty in the sunshine, awaiting our return.
Back on board and heading to the mainland we had a great view of the Small Isles behind us, with Skye in the distance.
Muck, Rum, Skye and Eigg
Our boat trip had been advertised as a whale watching trip, with whales, dolphins and porpoises often being seen in the area. We had almost given up hope of seeing anything when suddenly a Minke Whale surfaced close to our boat!
The Skipper cut the engine and we drifted for several minutes while the whale swam around and under the boat several times. Talk about exciting!
After completing his inspection of the boat, the whale reappeared at a distance, heading in the direction of the Isle of Mull. We waited a few minutes longer until it disappeared from our sight and continued our journey back to Laga, feeling very lucky indeed.
Returning to Laga Bay the skipper pointed out a herd of wild goats living on a small islet.
Our final nature experience was a colony of Shags and Cormorants nesting on the rocky cliffs at the edge of the Loch.
All in all we had a fantastic day with knowledgeable crew from Ardnamurchan Charters. The weather was perfect and seeing the Minke Whale was the icing on the cake.

Thanks for visiting my blog; I hope you've enjoyed the photos.


Exploring the north shore of Loch Sunart

Bound to the north by the Sunart district of Ardnamurchan and to the south by the Morvern district, Loch Sunart is a 19 mile long sea loch, parts of which are leased for the purposes of fish farming.  
There is a local legend about a doomed love affair between a Celtic chieftain and a local girl. The Chieftan's mother opposed their marriage and turned the young girl into a swan to thwart the couple. Tragically the young man accidentally killed the swan while hunting and when he learned of her true identity  he killed himself to join her at the bottom of the loch. Since then swans have supposedly been not been resident although I can't confirm if this is true! 
Garbh Eilean
There is a multitude of other wildlife however, and a great place to observe it all from is the Garbh Eilean bird hide near the small village of Ardery.The hide overlooks the shoreline and Garbh Eilean (Rough Island) sits just offshore.
                              Common seals bask on the rocky shore at low tide.
 A large and noisy heronry has become established on an adjacent island.
We had read that this was a good place to spot Otter and we called in each time we were passing by during our week's stay. We were out of luck sadly but Garbh Eilean is a lovely place to visit all the same. It's a good idea to wear something warm though as the hide is quite exposed to the wind coming off the loch.

Dun Ghallain
Dun Ghallain -“Fort of the Storms”- is a sheltered lagoon between Laga Bay and Salen. There are the remains of an Iron Age fort nearby, and the anchorage was used by the Vikings over 1000 years ago.
A  circular walk through Scots pine and lichen covered oaks leads down to the sheltered bay, where we spent a blissful couple of hours in the sunshine just enjoying the perfect peace and quiet.
Ben Resipol in the distance
Common Terns
The arrival of a Hercules plane flying low over the loch was a surprise!

Sàilean nan Cuileag
Sàilean nan Cuileag -"The Bay of Flies"- is a natural harbour formerly used to export goods, such as charcoal, oak bark and brushwood. The Vikings are said to have used the small harbour to overwinter their boats. The short walk circles an ancient burial mound as it descends through native oak woodland to the bay. 

 Someone had been busy carving toadstools from some of the fallen trees along the shoreline.


The village of Sàilean (Salen), lives up to it's Gaelic meaning of "small inlet" as it hugs the bay of the same name on the north shore of Loch Sunart. The surrounding woodlands of birch and oak  were the basis for a thriving bobbin making industry in the 19th century. US and Canadian Commandos prepared for the D-Day landings in this area of the loch, amongst others.
Salen Bay
On our drive back to the cottage we spotted this beautiful Buzzard, perched near the roadside. Luckily the roads in Ardnamurchan are relatively traffic free, enabling us to stop and take a few photos.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you've enjoyed the photos.

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