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Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more


Postby DonnyW » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:33 pm

Route description: Peanmeanach village and beach

Date walked: 04/06/2010

Distance: 11 km

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I have not posted any walk reports lately, simply because I over heat with the exertion of climbing munro’s in the summer. The atmosphere is more often than not too hazy for my photos and I get eaten alive by midges and ticks. I still look forward to getting out for my weekly exercise in the fresh air, so head for the coast instead of the mountains. Im not sure if there is much interest in a row report here so I don’t write about my adventures, however I thought I would test the water to see if there is any interest in this report as it covers some of the areas mentioned by the excellent walk report Paul has on this site to the deserted village of Peanmeanach on the edge of Loch Ailort.

Although I only walked around a mile, in total I rowed about 10 miles. I only carry the outboard motor for emergency situations. Example, if the wind gets up too much to row or I get caught in strong tidal flows, it will help get me out of trouble.

Disclaimer. People who have no experience of the sea should not go out in inflatable or small boats. The sea is possibly more dangerous than the mountains for the inexperienced. However once you know its capabilities, you can enjoy the last great wilderness of Scotland .. its deserted coasts and small islands

As soon as the hectic week at work is finished, I head for the sea to see what I can see. This report starts on the evening of Friday 4th June when I drove to Loch Ailort with my inflatable dinghy in the back seat of the car I arrived in time to see the most magnificent sunset that I have witnessed this year. The whole of the land, sea and sky was tinged with orange. The stresses of my work week disappeared as I too became touched by the orange glow.

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Although the sun had set.. the afterglow lasted till midnight, in fact it never really got dark during the night. You have to love these long warm days and short nights of June.

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I slept in the car until the sun started to rise and was dressed and ready to go at 4am. That’s when I took this photo of the islands of Eilean nan Gobhar and Sger Ghlas which are at the mouth of Loch Ailort. I was planning on exploring the larger of the two as the OS map shows it once had two forts built on it. More on that later.


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I drove a couple of miles back to Alisary on the shores of Loch Ailort. I wanted to explore the internal loch first and there was a reasonable park place with a launch point for the boat. Half an hour later it was inflated and in the water ready to go. There was not a breath of wind and the tide was almost full out so there would be little in the way of tidal currents. I had a happy heart as I set off to see places that I had never seen before.

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I rowed across to the northern shores as there is no road there and I though it would have little sign habitation. I was hoping to see an otter or two and some seals. As I drifted behind the island of Eilean Buide I discovered this abandoned fishing boat. With the Scottish fishing industry declining, many have been abandoned round our shores. I guess it a sign of our times, just like the old crofts were abandoned a few decades before.

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As the boats declined, more and more fish and seafood farms appeared. I guess the locals have to earn a pound or two some way. I rowed down the line of buoys which support the ropes where the mussels grow. There were quite a few farms in the loch and little sign of seals. I wonder if there is a connection ?

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Continuing west along the coast, I passed through the narrows between the mainland and Eilean nam Bairneach. I ate my breakfast as the boat drifed slowly through. When the tide turns, the current here will be as strong as a river. If its in the opposite direction from the way I want to go, I will have to use the outboard to made headway. Its one of the reasons inexperienced people can get into trouble and swept to open sea.

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As I went, I took note of where the rocks were that may be semi submerged on my return journey. These two gulls look at home here than scrabbling on the rubbish tips of the mainland.

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I have reached the deserted village of Peanmeanach. The remaining croft is now a bothy. The village was last inhabited around the 1940’s so it is not from the clearances. I guess it was just too isolated and hard to make a living. There were a couple of tents outside the village so I decided to continue to the next bay to land. I didn’t want to disturb their wilderness experience.

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The waters around the coast are crystal clear..not like the Firth of Forth or the Clyde which always look murky to me. There is a lovely sandy beach in front of the ruined croft

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The cement stone walls prove its quite a recent croft

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The view from the croft is something to die for..who would want to leave that view behind ? I guess it’s a different story come winter ?

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Next I set my sights on the Island of Eilean nan Gobhar, There was no tidal flow so it was an easy row on the flat calm water.

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As I approached the island I had an sneeky feeling I was being watched.
Yup.. it was not a watch dog ..but this large gray seal was keeping a close eye on me.

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I landed on the Island and climbed to the top. Its only 40meter high but what a view. I found the remains of the fort walls. I had read that it was a vitrified fort and wondered what that meant. When I say the remaining walls I saw that it looked as though the stones were cemented together with lava ? Turns out that around 2000 years ago..the fort builders built huge fires around the stone walls to melt the rocks together. So I learned something new :-D

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This is a view of the smaller island of Sger Ghlas. The only interest on it was a few seabirds

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As I clambered over the rocks I heard the distressed cried of this Oyster catcher.

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Looking at my feet.. I saw why.
I left immediately and was happy to see the oyster catcher return to sit on its eggs.

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A couple of cormorants were watching everything that passed their way

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These two mooning heron gulls were less interested in my progress

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Although the sea was calm there is still a two foot swell. I couldn’t go too close to the rocks on the seaward side of the islands because if my inflatable was caught in it .. it could be ripped in an instant on the sharp rocks and I didn’t fancy swimming for the mainland. I kept the little outboard on tick over as I explored the seaward side..just in case I wanted to power out of the swell … fast

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A little off shore of the islands ..I drifted with the fishing line down and caught my supper .. a Pollack of edible size. No mackerel were found ..I guess they have not arrived yet ?

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I headed back for the mainland and rowed along the rocky coast. I saw every inch of the sea bed..the water was so clear.

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I landed on a lovely sandy beach for lunch. I was at my half way mark

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There was not a footprint to be seen in the sand. Not many people will visit this beach. You can just make out my boat at the end of the sands to give some scale to the beach

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As I was having lunch..I couldn’t believe the sea fog which started to engulf everything. At one point I could only see around 50 yards in front of me. I headed for the launching point by following the coast when I could see it. I also used my compass and map. Yup..even at sea you have to know how to navigate.

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Eventually, when I was well in Loch Ailort again ..the fog started to clear

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At the landing point..it was a lovely sunny day again

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But by the time I deflated the boat and packed everything away.. the fog was returning in the Sound of Arisaig ..ah well..no matter..I was heading for home now and I had a great day.

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Thanks for reading my report. If there is an interest in this type of report ..I have plenty more sea walks. For me it doesn’t matter how I get my exercise ..as long as I get it .. and its in the great outdoors
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby walk aboot » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:03 pm

Terrific. Loved it DonnyW :thumbup: .


More please :) .
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby FloozySuzie » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:30 am

Wowee. Brilliant.
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby Caberfeidh » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:52 pm

Excellent photos and brilliant trip report ~ I'm sure most of the walkhighlands website users are interested in this stuff too, not just hill-top stuff. It's years since I was at Peanmanich; a mate and I spent a couple of nights there one winter. We woke in the night to find the floor black with a seething herd of rats, and almost gassed ourselves with burning -plastic fumes when we burned nylon fishing net to get the logs going. I've heard that the village was built in the nineteenth century by people cleared off the better land, and they had to scrape a living there for a while, but after the second world war no-one wanted to live there, as a decent living could not be made. The roofed building is the former post office.
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby HighlandSC » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:40 pm

Great stuff Donny, and yes please let us see more such reports.
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby kevsbald » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:08 pm

Brilliant stuff.
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby DonnyW » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:14 pm

Thanks for the encouragement everyone and I shall put some row reports up from some of my favourite places that also have walks nearby. Thanks also for the info on the village Caberfeidh. I tried googling for info but didn’t find much.

Its truly amazing what you can see beside the sea. Its not the far off views that attract me but the closeness to nature. I feel much closer and more aware of the environment at the coast than I ever felt climbing mountains.

There are no footpaths or stone staircases to follow, you go where you want, and the sea wipes all trace of your passage as you go. You never know whats round the next headland till you get there.

These are the only other “characters” I met on my travels
I had peace.. perfect peace.. far from the madding crowds

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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby mountainstar » Sun Jun 13, 2010 11:37 am

Great pictures :D
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby headless spectre » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:05 pm

Exellent pics and a great adventure. Tempting to get an inflatable. Very well done.
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby DonnyW » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:58 pm


ailort.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Thanks again for the interest in my report mountainstar and headless spectre :D

The great thing about the inflatable boat is it fits in the boot of the car when Im through and all I need is a lay by beside the water to park in … and Im off for a paddle. It opens up a whole new world to explore including snorkelling and fishing. It also saves on the knee joints in older age. Not bad value for the price of a good pair of boots

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I have now attached a route map of the journey too :-D

My thoughts are with my friend in Louisiana, whose coast and sealife are in ruins.
We all need to do our bit to look after the environment because man can destroy it very easily. :(


“I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.”
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Re: Peanmeanach village, beach and a whole lot more

Postby Dannyboy » Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:43 pm

I agree with all the comments, great report and pics, just wonder how many people are going to go out and buy a boat now...? :lol:
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