Explorer and Independent Biologist

Friday, 29 October 2010

Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne is the largest of the Argyll sea lochs, being several miles wide in places, and I left until last to explore. Loch Fyne is famous for its kippers and its oysters.

Loch Fyne looking seaward on an Autumn afternoon, 
just as the sun is starting to burn off the hill mist

I decided to launch at the little village of Otter Ferry, near the mouth of the loch. The location is indicated by the green arrow in the map in the post below this.

At Otter Ferry: can you see the distant structure on the horizon, 
just to the right of my boat's flag?

That is a navigation mark which indicates the start of the inner section of Loch Fyne. 
It lies 1.2 miles (2km) out from the shore and to reach it would represent the furthest I have ever paddled out from the shore...

Should I attempt the voyage?

I set off and look over my shoulder at the the village of Otter Ferry. 
The larger building is The Oystercatcher pub and oyster bar, 
renowned for serving the freshest oysters straight out of the loch

After half an hour's steady paddling, I round the mark. 
You can just make out the white houses of Otter Ferry on the shore.

Back on shore, I visit The Oystercatcher pub

A challenging environment, a 4x4 car, a tent, a boat, a fishing rod, 
a pub, pint of good ale  and a plate of oysters.

What more could a man possibly want!

Monday, 25 October 2010

The sea lochs of Argyll

I reported the first part of my kayaking adventure on the lochs of Argyll, Scotland, on Loch Lomond, here. From there,  I continued to the west coast to explore the sea lochs, in particular Loch Long, Loch Goil and Loch Fyne. The sea lochs are valleys ground out by glaciation in the last Ice Age and where the glaciers flowed into the sea, long deep tidal inlets (rather like the Norwegian fjords) were created.

The sea lochs of Argyll: 
Black arrow Loch Long; Red arrow Loch Goil; Green arrow Loch Fyne

Loch Long
Loch Long. I like to paddle my kayak quietly along the shore at the edge of the 
kelp beds - who know what secrets may lurk there

A curious passer by - maybe it is the Seal of Approval

I was able to use the current to drift to within six feet of this winter-plumaged Guillemot

A Shag hauls out to dry on a disused herring wharf

Loch Goil
I launch at the head of Loch Goil on a calm but murky morning, at the point of the red arrow in the map above. Five miles south-east (almost where it joins Loch Long) is the settlement of Castle Carrick. To aim for this castle would be the longest kayak trip I had ever undertaken. Should I dare go for it?

Carrick Castle looms out of the mist - nearly there!

I pull ashore and take a picture to prove I made it!
(There is some history of the castle here)

Although late in the season, there were still some mackerel 
to be caught in the sea lochs.
These fish made me a fine supper, filleted and fried on my Trangia camping stove.

Then it was on to Loch Fyne - and that story is for the  next post!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Mists and mellow fruitfullness...

October in Cumbria

Streets paved with gold.
My research site at Roudsea Woods and Mosses National Nature Reserve




Bracket fungi