Birthday Cake by the Ocean – Lismore, Oct 18

Birthday Cake by the Ocean – Lismore, Oct 18

A biting wind met six of us at Port Appin, and after donning our fleeces we crossed the Lynn of Lorn to Lismore to sunshine and shelter from the northerly. It was so sheltered that I sweltered and Graham’s hat became a scoop to pour water over his body to cool off.

While I missed the eagle and otter sightings, I was fascinated by islands rising into air, a mirage caused by cold air over calm water, still warm from the summer.

Crossing to Eilean na Cloiche we were concerned not to scare off what looked like seals. But close up they aptly turned out to be “cloiche” (stones). Our first slices of Fiona’s 40th birthday cake kept us going to the lighthouse island off Lismore’s SW tip.

Having crossed to the promontory by Bernera island and rejecting the usual sites to the north, we chose the campsite level with Achanduin castle and had firm grass for tents and enough driftwood to create a beacon. Not satisfied, Graham was still tempted to burn David’s wooden Lendal paddle. Warmed by whisky, cake and the blaze, we all slept well, despite ground frost appearing next morning.

Though too short of space to bring drift plastic home, I managed to pack a washed up wooden canoe paddle, also spared from the pyre.  Sunday’s first stop was An Sailean’s deserted 19th century quarry and limekilns a contrast to the Glensanda Super Quarry opposite. Although closed as the weather was “too cold” for visitors, the posh bothy’s a must for future trips, despite being £50/night.

Further up the coast, a rest at Castle Coeffin, shrouded in ivy, sunshine and Norse mythology. On landing, we carefully avoided the medieval tidal fish trap. Keen to further hone our pilotage, Fiona set us navigational challenges, important when the penalty for failure was a grounding. Graham, on the other hand, found his own way to a quiet islet for a coffee break.

Having rounded Eilean Nan Caorach and the last of the breathtakingly clear views of Shuna and Ben Nevis, we returned to Port Appin’s Pierhouse Hotel via the gently moving water to the south of the lighthouse. The wood burner, scones and tea rounded off a fantastic weekend. Thanks Fiona for giving us a birthday treat.

Andrew Rigby