Friday, 23 March 2012

Our Rocky Foreshore

A five minute walk from our house takes us to a rocky foreshore overlooking the point where the Sound of Mull meets the Firth of Lorne. It is an ever changing vista both on land and on the sea. Out of the tourist season we have it to ourselves except, of course, for the wildlife that abounds. On a sunny day it is a perfect place to wander, exploring the rock pools and observing the bird life. To the north up the Sound of Mull we can see the light beacons on Eileann Glas and the Morven shore at Ardtornish. To the East we see Lismore lighthouse, Lady Rock beacon and in the far distance on a clear day the metropolis of Oban. Duart Castle is on the point just across the bay beyond Torosay. It is the ancestral home of the Clan MacLean and now opens to visitors. The Torosay estate extending inland from the foreshore was a major island tourist attraction. The Castle, a mock Victorian edifice, with its own railway link to Craignure is no longer open to the public though the grounds are. The railway has been sold to Balloch on Loch Lomond though the unused track still has to be dismantled. It is the end of a successful enterprise as the railway carried 18,000 visitors every holiday season. To seaward the view towards the highlands is spectacular with a storm over Glencoe well in progress. There are always ships sailing past. Large 50,000 dwt sand carriers moving majestically to and from the super quarry at Glensanda up the Firth of Lorne, inevitable Calmac ferries are passing, either our own MV Isle of Mull or MV Lord of the Isles returning from the Barra or Colonsay run. On recent visits we have found wildflowers such as primroses starting to bloom and the bog irises emerging from their winter dormancy. Birds are busily nesting whilst the Oystercatchers are easily disturbed from their nests taking off and calling to distract possible nest predators, the gulls just sit tight and watch you pass by. There is evidence of other creatures’ presence, deer prints, rabbit droppings and otter spraints all tell a story. A fallen Scots pine has been well and truly “drilled” for grubs by the woodpecker but like the otters conspicuous by their absence.

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