So, we had a rather interesting wake-up call – a helicopter passing ridiculously close by roused me enough to jump up and see what was going on out the window. However the noise didn’t die down, as expected of a vehicle passing by, and so I ventured out the van to find that it was landing right where we were parked, just a couple of metres away from us! It was still lowering so I lingered outside to watch it whirr its way down. Suddenly I noticed the arrival of several workmen – apparently they were putting up a new phone mast on the hill side nearby, I found out whilst stood amongst them in my tartan pyjama bottoms! Needless to say we took that as our cue to move on, but it was an exciting alarm clock nonetheless.
We decided to continue over the pass, as we had done earlier in the week, and spend a dry morning in the village as we were only 15-20 minutes away. Using the shower in the community centre we found that the last person had left some credit in the machine, so we got an extra-long shower – nothing better than starting the day sparkly clean! We drove up to the ferry crossing between Glenelg and Kylerhea and decided to cook some breakfast overlooking the slither of water between us and Skye. It was a grey morning, small patches of blue suddenly appearing only to vanish just as quickly as they came. The boat retraced its steps back and forth between the two jetties and a couple of seals bobbed around in the water nonchalantly as we cooked and ate out sausage and mushroom baguettes.
We got chatting to a lady who was camping with her ‘wildlife photographer’ son, she was very friendly, telling us all about the wildlife highlights of their trip and its sounds as though they had managed to witness some pretty cool things during their few days in the village. We were interrupted by a throaty, croaky bellow which I had never heard before but was apparently a seal! We enjoyed the peace of the area for a while before moving on – we knew we had to cover some ground heading south today and wanted to enjoy the tranquillity of this idyllic little fishing village as long as possible.
When it was time to leave, we were back over the pass and hitting some of the big A-roads, our first thought was to head onto the Ardnamurchan peninsula however, after the first half of the drive, I didn’t fancy spending the same amount of time in the car again heading west. We consulted a map and the forecast and decided to head back to where we had started our trip a week prior. There was some decent sunshine apparently on the way, and I couldn’t resist another swim – it also meant we could enjoy the drive back a bit more rather than having to bomb it down the motorway to get home.
As promised, the weather had made a turn for the better. Driving south through Glencoe was amazing, the light bounced off the mountain sides, highlighting every detail of their ragged demeanour. One of the hanging valleys was particularly beautiful. The sun was shining directly into it, turning the streams into silver. The air glittered as the light shone through it, accentuating the craggy exterior of this valley, which sat half way up the steep, impenetrable mountainside. By the time we were turning into the glen the sun sat high in the blue sky, fluffy white clouds rolled across, wisping and dissipating into the clear blue expanse above us. It was delightfully warm, with just enough of a breeze, the perfect temperature to sit out and enjoy it… or go for a dip!
We parked up near our swimming spot again and got the blanket out to soak up some sunshine. After a little minor coercion, Callum agreed to come for a swim so we got changed and headed down to the water’s edge. After some rainfall the river was colder than it had been previously, and with little hesitation we plunged straight in.
Being more accustomed to our surroundings we headed a little further up the river, the pool we were in was fed by a narrow, high sided gorge-like section; it was about 2m wide and zigzagged for about 100m before reaching some scrambly rocks and a small cascade. We didn’t head all the way up, put off by the sheer sides of the gorge, but we explored the first stretch of it – the water here was deep and black, with only a couple of small rocks to perch on.
Callum got out earlier than I did and left me swimming around the large sun-lit pool of warm water, reflected the deep blues and greens of its surroundings. I headed over to the gravel bank on the far side, making my way up the steep incline of the shore I noticed two smaller pools of water, cut off from the main body due to the dry weather and subsequent lower water levels. I was just about to sink myself in, thinking this water would be impressively warm, when I noticed the eel! About a foot long dark grey/black with a rounded face and two small wing shaped fins protruding from just below where you would imagine his head to stop and his neck to start. There was an orange tinge to his tail which was visible as we wriggled slowly in the water, catching the light, obviously sunning himself. As I climbed over the rocks to get a better look, he took off like a shot (too fast for my eyes to follow) and buried himself deep into a dark crevice. He was very cool… but also kind of creepy!
I swam around, climbing up some of the larger rocks on the other side until decided to quit while I was ahead and get out whilst there was still plenty of sunshine to dry off and warm up in. A car had pulled up to the nearest bit of road (which was still a fair distance away) whilst I was swimming back and was obviously watching me out of the window; it was still there as I walked back up to the road and the driver gave me a massive grin and a thumbs up before driving off – her enthusiasm made me smile! Back at the van and dressed again we enjoyed a couple of local beers and a couple of chapters before cooking some dinner.
As the evening drew in we decided to go for a walk through the valley bottom, following the windy road. By this time the sun was dipping behind the mountains, casting long, hazy shadows. The wind rustled through the trees further down the valley, and the long grass around us. There was a constant babble and trickle of the water running its rocky course, the odd bird chirping merrily as its dipped across our path. It was a lovely evening which we stayed out to enjoy as long as possible.
The crescent moon shone brightly in the darkening sky but there was just enough light to make out the undulating hillside of the peaks in front of us. Around 2am I came to and notice the subtle twinkling of stars through the tinted van window. Opening to door, the sky was not dark but dark enough to see the smattering of star littered across it. When I stopped trying to focus I would notice the glittering of hundreds more, un-observable moments before. There was a subtle glow behind the hills and an abnormally bright (and therefore I assume close) satellite moved across the sky. We didn’t stay out for long but the stars are worth making an effort for, and before too long we were tucked back into our sleeping bags and sound asleep.