Scotland 07/18 |Castles in the Sea, Swimming in the Sound

We awoke to a grey morning, the clouds hung low over the peaks and there were a few inversions whisping between the crags. It was fairly dull and there was a lot of moisture hanging in the air so it wasn’t too long before we were heading off for our next destination and the next part of our adventure.

Our journey took us through Glencoe – one of my favourite stretches of road that winds through the mountains, this time was as wonderful as ever. Dramatic, foreboding and wonderful! The cloud, still low, filled the gaps between the imposing mountains and the gloomy light seemed to accentuate the various greens of the land as we made our way through the pass. Driving through, we spied the start of the walk to The Lost Valley, this is something that is on our to do list but not on a miserable rainy day like we had, ticking it off will have to wait until next time!

Heading out of the other side of the pass, the clouds seemed to lift immediately, the sky was bright and the rain stopped, there were even patches of blue sky. Living in a mountainous area means we are used to microclimates, but I still find it amusing that you can be have a completely different day, weather wise, just a few miles away. We hopped onto the Corran Ferry onto the Ardnamurchan peninsular, opting for a 5 minute ferry ride opposed to driving up to and through Fort William… and who doesn’t love an impromptu ferry ride!


Heading west we stopped at an old haunt, a little Forestry Commission site, where we would always stop and stretch Quinn’s legs when in the area. We got out for old time’s sake and had a wander – our first proper Scottish holiday without our Puppa was always going to be tough, especially when covering old ground, but it was lovely to be somewhere that she enjoyed and we spent the whole walk talking about her! It’s a nice little woodland walk offering trees, mosses, lichens, mushrooms, berries and views – perfect for a short stop.


Back in the van, we continued, our route meandering through mountains and forests, at times skirting the edge of the bright blue sea lochs. We knew of a small castle, just a small detour off our current road, and promptly headed that way. We had visited previously on a rainy, misty day and we were looking forward to seeing this tucked away little ruin in a completely different light. Castle Tioram was built out on the rocks situated in the middle of Loch Moidart, a sea loch leading into the Sound of Arisaig. Connected to the mainland by a stretch of sand, it is not possible to reach the castle during high tide, having noticed the tide was on its way back in we hoped we were not too late to have an explore.

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The detour lead us down a long windy road, until reaching a dead end and a small car parking area tucked away in the trees. Luckily the tide was a long way off being completely in and we were able to head across what was still a vast expanse of sand, bright and yellow in the sunshine. There were big fluffy clouds rolling behind the castle ruin, perched high upon its rocky mound, the sun beating down cast one side of the rugged stonework into deep shadow.

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We sat up on the higher ground, right outside the castle walls, looking down on the water which was a rich turquoise-blue, gently lapping the sand on one side of us and tumbling over the rocks directly below the castle on the other. Looking down the loch, the shimmering water slowly encroached on the flat sand, and in the other direction forested shores and distant mountains were drenched in sunshine.

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We ambled back across the sand slowly, watching our feet sink in a little with every footstep, looking at the piles of sand created by lugworms and a couple of small beached jellyfish, completely clear apart from their purple innards. Back at the van I decided the weather and scenery was perfect to warrant playing with my new instant camera and ended up running back across the sand and up to the castle to take some pictures!

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Photos developing nicely we headed back up the windy road, on track to continue north along the west coast. Our road followed the water, the sea on our left and mountains on our right – we will never tire of the Scottish mountains! We found a wee spot to park the van, and after quick explore of the surrounding area we decided this would be the perfect spot for night 2! A small trodden track ventured away from the van and down onto a small pebbly bay, looking out over the blue expanse of water, completely isolated. What more could we possibly ask for from a camping spot than our own private beach!

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We got to enjoy another sunny evening relaxing on the blanket, reading and writing, with the sea (although this section of water is actually named a sound) stretched out before us. Rolling in on our rocky bay, the water was perfectly clear with an inviting aqua tint… I couldn’t resist and in I went for a swim, Callum decided to sit this one out and watched me from the shore as I splashed around gaily. The water was significantly colder than the previous night, as expected from the sea, but still perfectly suitable for swimming. Small fish darted around as the water was rolling in and pulling me out again. Across the water Skye sat on the horizon, a couple of kayaks passed by waving cheerfully in my direction.

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I got out to a freshly prepared dinner, went back in for another swim and then got out once and for all ready for another evening of reading and writing in the sun, with a cracking view, to commence. The evening drew in with wispy clouds appearing in the sky, glowing in the evening light and reflecting, in patches, on the blue water. The peaks behind us were still in full sunshine, with clouds building around their tops, pouring down the sides and dissipating into nothing. There is nothing nicer than being happy doing nothing, in a beautiful place, with not a care in the world… Scotland has that effect on us. Suddenly the breeze (which we had barely noticed) died down and in no time at all those delightful little midges were back!

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As it was reaching dusk we decided to give in and pack our stuff away, on doing so we noticed that the tide, which had come in and was now going out again, was leaving masses of those clear jellyfish stranded on the pebbles. I couldn’t help myself and ran to get a bucket, scooping them up and throwing them back in the water. However, no sooner than I had thrown a couple back in, the water retreated leaving several more in its wake. Callum had joined in and it became a race to try and get them back in the water, eventually we could see no more on the beach and there seemed to be none left behind with each withdrawing wave – we felt happy that we had succeeded in our task. I know that we were technically interfering in a natural process but I struggle to walk away and just let things die when it is so easy to help.

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During the jelly commotion the midgies had become unbearable and so it was time to retreat for good! Just before getting back to the van I managed to nearly kick a toad, spotting him just in time in the failing light. I picked him up to plonk him back in the bushes and he had a delightfully grumpy look about him. Getting tucked up; the sun had dipped behind the clouds creating a subdued yet beautiful sunset over the sound, a lovely end to another fantastic day!

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