In spite of a sudden heavy shower to start the day, and a forecast of low cloud, in fact the day was a beautiful one. I'd opted for a coastal explore rather than hills, based on the forecast, and in truth I was a bit sorry not to be on the hills. But I really wasn't feeling well, with a horribly sore back, so quite contendedly made the most of an easy day instead.
Somehow, until this particular day, I hadn't realised this was the home of Hutton's Unconformity, he of the arse (https://booksfromscotland.com/2019/06/huttons-arse-extraordinary-geology/ and later, I found the Arran geopark site with this pdf link, for them as are interested. http://www.arrangeopark.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Walk_Leaflets/1.%20Huttons%20Unconformity%20Walk.pdf
Lochranza, after Goatfell, was quiet, calm and didn't look like the sort of place that gets covered in litter - though I didn't go too close to the castle!
020 Lochranza Castle by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
If I come back to Arran, I thought, I'd probably like to come in to Lochranza from Kintyre rather than Brodick from Ardrossan. The castle is the model for Tintin's 'The Black Island' one, and Robert the Bruce is thought to have landed here to claim the throne on his 1306 return from Ireland. Cromwell too fetched up here, apparently, to use the castle in the 1650s.
Before I headed off round the coast to Fairy Dell, I met this oystercatcher with its two chicks.
023 Two chicks by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Next was a barking house, now derelict along with the herring trade here, and what looked like an ageing hind grazing not far away.
026 Lochranza ruined house and hind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
028 Hind - is she elderly by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
The church service was just finishing and the congregation heading home.
031 Church under Meall Mhor by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
032 Church goers heading towards Torr Nead an Eoin and Mell Mhor by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
The church is St Bride's, or Brigid's. She's quite fun. She kept giving away her family's things to the poor, so her dad took her to the king to sell her. While they were negotiating she gave her dad's jewelled sword to a beggar. The king 'recognised her holiness and convinced [dad] to grant his daughter her freedom' - or more likely didn't want her in the palace I reckon.
Anyway, this coastal walk.
I thought I'd walk to the Cock of Arran (a now headless chicken of a rock, I believe), and maybe back over the top. But that would take me between hills and lose me views of the sea. So we'd see. As I walked I ran into a couple of people coming towards me with Swarovski bins so I asked them if they'd seen any surprises. They lady said they'd seen otters at Fairy Dell. Having been thwarted at Lochinver in May, I wondered if I'd have any joy at Lochranza. (Spoiler alert - no, too many people by the time I was heading out.)
I did see sandpipers, more oystercatchers, cormorant and pipits and a pair of grey wagtails (always a delight), chiffchaff and a fair few butterflies.
038 Lochranza boats and sandpiper by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
039 Sandpiper by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
040 Female grey wagtail by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
041 Two grey wagtails by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
055 Chiffchaff in the bracken by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Just before Newton Point, I glanced back to see the views that the locals get as the road turns into track.
045 Torr Nead an Eoin - Witchs Step and Caisteal Abhail by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Not too shabby!
046 Caisteal Abhail and Meall Mor by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
047 Newton Point viewpoint indicator by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
048 Looking out to Kintyre by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
051 Sailing under lenticular clouds by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
And here were some of Hutton's Unconformity bits with steeply dipping schists..
052 Huttons Unconformity bits maybe by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
056 Sailing by geology by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
But, though I scoured the rocks, no otters.
057 Rocks and water by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
By the time I got to Fairy Dell I was hurrying up because there was a family with a dog behind me, sure to put paid to any otters there. At Fairy Dell I sat, like Hutton, and scoured the shore and seaweed.
061 Fairy Dell close-up by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
No otters, but an eider.
059 Snoozing eider by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
It was serene, and I really didn't want to be anywhere else. I cracked open my coffee flask and watched a snoozy 7-spot.
062 Seven spot ladybird instead of otter by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
063 People - so forget the otters by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
This was siesta time, and it was boiling hot.
065 Watchful really by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Or maybe not siesta time for everyone. Sandpipers nipped past the snoozing oystercatchers.
067 And a sandpiper by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
As I walked on, I saw something gleaming white, went to investigate and found this poor ol' gannet. Conditioned as I now am, I felt an urge to cut it open and see if it had 'died of plastic' but didn't have a sharp knife on me, which is probably just as well!
072 Washed up gannet by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
073 Sandstone dollops by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
As I was about to head upwards towards Ossian's Cave,over the An Scriodan rockfall, I realised I'd left my bins at my coffee stop . So back I went, past the gannet, past the oystercatchers, to collect them, and then back again to the rockfall. By this time two other groups of folk had arrived at Fairy Dell with their kids for a delightful play on the beach.
076 Back for the bins by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
... and onwards again.
In came a black guillemot.
080 BG running on water by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Here was a warning of dragons, in Latin.
082 Hic sunt dracones by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
And a sandstone body on the beach.
083 Sandstone torso by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
084 Coastal path rises above rockfall by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
088 Dragonfly lunch by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
089 Cinnabar moth by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
091 Cliffs above by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
In came another oystercatcher with a mussel in its bill. Or was it a frog, wrapped up in the seaweed?
092 Extracting the mussel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
094 Its a crab by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
097 Prising apart the shell by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
103 Crabmeat morsel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Ahead was the weirdly named Fionn Bhealach.
107 Fionn Bhealach by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
And over the water, Bute and the Largs hills.
108 Bute and Largs hills zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
I started hunting for Ossian's cave, but heck if I could see it. According to the map it should be here, but I found out later that the map's wrong.
110 Found out later its wrong on OS map by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Thwarted, and running out of water, I decided to head back, meeting a lovely dor beetle on my way. Must have been hungry though. All the sheep were pooing where the cars were parked back in Lochranza.
115 Dor beetle head by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
116 Weird pimply sandstones by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
120 Peppery furrow and Oyster shells by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
I also found this little fella, presumably not where he wanted to be and helped him out on to a rock.
122 Common cuckoo wasp in water by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
123 Cant get itself out - I will by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
124 Deposited on a rock by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
I watched it for a bit and it looked a bit frazzled, exhausted and unsettled (as far as I could tell), so I popped it into some sedum for a bit of better cover and more chance to burrow if it needed.
127 Interesting antennae by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Back at Lochranza, there was a grey seal in the bay...
130 Oystercatchers and seal at Lochranza by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
131 Grey seal by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
132 Grey seal head up by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
...stags on the golf course...
134 Lochranza golf stag by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
... and herons on the seaweed.
136 Herons and mallards at Lochranza by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Refilling my water bottle in Lochranza, I took myself off for a tour of the island by road, back still painful and still feeling rough and made mental hill plans for my next visit to Arran.
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