Going on an expedition for me is always a case of taking along the ‘kitchen sink’ and anything else I can fit in too!
So with the sunshine bursting through the windows of the farmhouse on Sunday morning, when eldest suggested we take a hike out to the north of Islay and make the most of the gorgeous Indian summer weather, I could be found fumbling about, cramming everything I possibly could manage, into two rucksacks, make that three.
Several trips up and down the stairs and the necessary extra fleeces, jackets, hats (just in case), a first aid kit for all and every eventuality and then of course the necessary flasks of tea, bottles of water, sandwiches, cakes, and fruit. Dog lead, stick, and then one final sprint back to the farmhouse, as in my haste, I almost forgot the dog herself, and we were off.
A hike out along my favourite coastline
On Sunday, with the sun beams glinting on the calming blue waters of the Sound, the islands were swathed in purples and golds, as the colours of a Hebridean autumn swept their magic across the landscape. A herd of deer high up on the hillside watched our every move.
The bay itself is tricky to reach
Once you leave the coast behind, the land becomes wild and full of tussocks, bracken, and very long grass. The deceptively smooth surface gives way to bogs that grab at your feet and suck them down, leaving your boots thick with black, gooey peat. Tussocky hillocks that are deceptively hard to balance on, with deep ditches between. However, there is also something quite cathartic about squelching through boggy, mossy ground and this is where my stick came in handy, especially with the sharp, uphill incline, and an ever so eager Bramble dog, on her lead, pulling me onwards and upwards at a rate of knots.
The beach itself, is enclosed by sheer cliffs, that are both breath-takingly high and rugged. Mountain goats skip across their peaks, circumnavigating the terrain with ease. Herds of deer shelter from the heat of the midday sun, in the huge caves far below. Reaching the shoreline involves a clamber high up the hillside, way above those sheer cliffs, before scrambling down to sea level through the steep grassy, boggy terrain of the eastern side. Clutching at the strong fronds of bracken for support on the journey down.
White sands and crystal-clear waters make the strenuous journey even more rewarding. Boots and soggy socks hastily removed, and those toes are soon getting refreshed and cooled in the soothing waves.
Mugs of hot tea never tasted so good
Sandwiches and all the trimmings of a beachside packed lunch were devoured. Our appetites were huge after the hearty morning’s hike, and then the chocolate bakes from youngest just topped it all, as we sat on the rocks enjoying our feast in the heat of the midday sun.
An hour or so of beach time. There were caves to explore, filled with buoys and ropes, carried in from the sea on high tides and in stormy weather. Dramatic rocks, next to which we paled into insignificance, such was their majestic height. With only the oyster catchers, deer and goats for company, and Sanderlings happily chasing the waves in the shallows, and then the gentle sound of sea breaking over the smooth sands.
Refreshed and revived and we were off once again. Heading home wards. High up into the hills once more and back down to the coastline of the Sound. The sun beating down made for thirsty work, and in the distance
the Happy Farmer and Ruby dog could be seen making their way across the heather clad hills
to meet us. By the time we reached them the ocean was calling. Scaling down the boggy terrain and onto the beach, boots and soggy socks were once again removed, before a reviving dip in those crystal clear waters, there really is nothing quite like it, to soothe those tired and aching muscles, after a day hiking across the hills. The Happy Farmer, of course, looked on with a grin, from the safety and comfort of a rock, as we swam in the turquoise waters below.
Home to a hot bath. Candles were lit, and a hearty roast dinner was served, topped off with youngest’s rhubarb sponge crumble with ice cream and
Island living really does not get any better
A warm welcome awaits you.
Until next time…