A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Early start as a hydraulic pipe had to be changed before nipping out to set up a little string of creels for some very important guests due to arrive at 9.30am. Yet another peaceful start to the day with a little mist lingering.


Changing the pipe confirms why I am no engineer, job done in just under half an hour while I am sure it was really a five-minute issue. So it was out to the creels to make sure all was well and then in to the pier to await the kids. Six turned up with teach and a couple of parents and of out we went. Only out to east of Saint Island or to give its Gaelic name Eilean nam Naoimh. This is where it is traditionally thought that Saint Maelrubha spent his first night in Applecross.

There was a fair bit of excitement aboard but all was under control with life jackets and cautionary words. We hauled two crab pots but the crab fishing is really poor just now and only had one fairly small specimen to show them and Zoe had already caught a massive one with her Dad. Certainly fishing potential there for telling fisherman’s tales.


The prawn creels were far more interesting with a variety of crabs, shore/green, velvet, spider, and swimmer crabs. A wee cuttle fish made an appearance alongside several dog whelks of various shapes and sizes. The catfish raised the interest levels, A few star fish also found their way in, both common and thorn. Mysteriously a big prawn was in each of the creels but they did not create too much interest.


They seemed to enjoy it and back alongside the jetty I was asked a series of very intelligent questions. Afterwards I found the first question the most difficult to answer.” Why did you want to become a fisherman?”.


When I left school I joined a creel boat for 6 months before going to Edinburgh and it was a job. several of my holidays I was back on board boats and still never gave it a thought that I would be one. Coming back to Applecross with little or no useful skills it was back to sea, this during Maggie’s first big recession. Then bought my first boat still with not a lot of forethought and a mix of single-handed fishing and buying/building a bigger boat had me struggling on. It was only with the Varuna and major changes in life style saw me immersing myself in the environment of fishing and really trying to fish sustainably. I always feel that I have fallen into what I do. The one thing that has stuck in my mind, twenty-five or so years ago an elderly neighbour told me “the sea was in my blood” It took me another fifteen years to recognise her perceptive remark. Maybe she knew she was on safe ground with my Dad, grandfather and uncle all spending time at sea.

Quick trip up the road where Mike was leaving with another group and the mist slowly burning off. Dropped off the borrowed buoyancy aids.


The late morning and afternoon were spent in the garden resowing beetroot, starting off more broad beans and peas. watering and weeding. Despite all the nurturing I do I often find nature just gets on with it as this example on the wall. You would not think there was much nutrition up there.


Absolutely glorious weather all day into the evening and it was off up to the Inn after falling asleep and missing out on a Camusteel barbecue. Busy, busy evening and although must have walked miles back and fro to the Garden where the majority of people were eating felt a lack of connection with the customers. It was busy and every one enjoyed the fare on offer. It was the turn of the kitchen to get panned as there were so many more seats to feed. Strange how weather affects a shift, poor weather and front of house is spinning trying to find a seat for the customers.

Today starts with a prawn delivery and very noisy birds, followed by a full on shift. Not knowledgable on the subject so have no idea what was making the noise.


Calm still morning on the way to the Inn.


We call them relentless but enjoyable with lots of good connections. Met a guy who claimed he was conceived on St Kilda. Quite feasible going by his age and knowing the evacuation took place in 1936. Lochcarron, Germany and Inverness turned up today to get fed, well it seemed like it at five when I headed for Toscaig with Aron and the dogs to clear my croft for ploughing as a precursor to sowing the meadow. Sara and Aron live in my grandfather’s old house and he would not recognise it now. It was the other night I noticed how lovely it looks and thought the camera would have to come down next trip. The wooden end is being renovated and is going to be an ice cream parlour, possibly the first here.


So now it is some oatcake, followed by some rum and raisen and a new wonderful raspberry ice-cream courtesy of Aron.

Comments on: "Applecross Primary goes to Sea" (8)

  1. Suzanne Gillies said:

    The kids, the parents and I loved it – and Katrina and Zoe continued to chatter about the trip throughout the whole day. Katrina was still talking about it at ‘lights out’! Thanks once again – I wish we’d thought to bring a video camera for the interview. The kids came up with all the questions and they’re going to interview Robert the chef and Judy next in the sequence, but we think we’ll wait until the tourist season is over…
    I’ll make sure the children read the blog tomorrow!

  2. Keep us posted on when the ice cream parlour opens x

  3. basketbob said:

    Another good page – and such a variety of life you see. I understand about “falling into what you do”, it’s how I ended up being a basket-maker, after many and very varied jobs. Born a town boy, I feel I always had the country in my blood – it’s where my soul is at home. I’ve now lived longer in the country than the town, and consider my moving was a re-birth.

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      It is funny how it works out although I have always been fishing the enjoyment kicked in about ten years ago. But like you at no time did I ever plan to “be a fisherman”. Feel very fortunate to be one though.

  4. St Kilda evacuated in 1930 so your man must be very well preserved. Was there a lot of Health & Safety form filling to be gone through before the kids were allowed on the boat?

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      I had him down as an old 77 so he could quite easily have passed for 83…really nice guy, makes “working” at the Inn worth it when you meet guys like that. No forms because we went out on saturday and officially it was not a school trip. What I would have had to have would have been the same as Kenny and Gemma have to go to Rona and no working boat has that. So it was just a lot of trust from the parents that I would bring their kids back ok. Took the dingy as an extra.

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