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

Posts tagged ‘Applecross sunsets’

Come Back Underway.

A slightly stressful morning, yesterday, but the come back is under way. Arranged with Donald to take me over to the drying pier at Camusterrach to beach the Varuna and start the gearbox repair.


The last parts are reported to be on the way and hopefully repairs will start on Wednesday. Fresh southerly on the way across made for a tense approach and due to ropes of the pier a wide berth meant we were having a bit of a sprachle getting ropes on to the north side. A wee tourist, staying in Pier Cottage, appeared but he did not have the hearing or skills to tie a rope. Eventually after jumping ashore I managed rope tied to my stern and with the help of the Michelle’s hauler pulled both boats into the pier. After tying up the Michelle made for the moorings but picked up an old rope, ending in her being beached as well to get the rope and an old tyre out. Even by my standards there was a fair bit of rope to cut out of my prop. A number of barnacles settled on the copper paint this year but very loosely and scraping them off took minutes with the spade.



The rest of the time ashore in the last week or so has been filled with wood cutting and a little bit of creel washing and landing the last of the langoustines caught the previous week. With a little time to spare I drifted over to a busy part of the moorings and congregations of resting seals




and cormorants.


Lots of hours at the Inn and although the shifts in the evenings seem to have slackened off the weekends have still been remarkably busy. This is partly due to a continuing staff shortage a twelve-hour Sunday shift does leave its mark. No wonder the Boss has to disappear for a twenty-minute break now and again. On Sunday my enjoyment of the Rugby World Cup continued, although there was a shaky first half against the USA to keep quiet. Only seen the second half of Scotland’s two games and surprisingly pleasant they have been. It has been a joy to be surrounded by South Africans, English and even Aussies for bit of tennis ribbing in the last couple of weeks. Got to make the most of it as it does not come round very often.

A week last Sunday we had two tables of Californians, two from Alness and two from Isreal. Small but varied world. So the Inn is still attracting many many tourists from around the world. There are some concerns being expressed as to whether our roads can take all this traffic especially as we have seen a new promotion selling the area as part of the Coast500. And this campaign has been successful seeing the number of maps out on bar tables. Difficult to balance the overselling of an area to getting customers to come to and stay in remote places. Can the services cope with every increasing amounts of usage. The money does not seem to be around as evidenced by the half finished improvements on the north coast road.

Chatting about coming towards the end of the season and the moods and how a bit of tiredness creeps in. Occasionally a customer can be on the receiving end of a little shortness through no fault of their own. When the Boss admits to this then you know it has been a busy, long season. Coupled with all the other activities a nice spell of dry windy weather would be nice and a wander with Dougal and Eilidh up a quiet glen in the middle of the Highlands with no one else in sight for miles around. This does appeal. mind you when chopping logs with a background

9Q7Q1155 like we have here there are little complaints.


Because the weather has been mixed the light shows have been many and varied.


Also as I am still on the bike a lot some cycles to work with the mix of dark clouds and bright sunshine create lovely contrasts.



Couple of signs of age creeping in, the first being the older you get the bigger the wood store seems to be. Taking an awful lot of effort to fill it this year. And the other sign I had this week was leaving my bike elsewhere, forgetting it, and thinking that some one had nicked it from outside the house. Luckily there is still a doubt in the far recesses of the mind that leaving it somewhere was the case, in this instance it was at Uisdean’s when I went out to catch the evening sky last night.


Walked back forgetting I had cycled up the road. I went back out after the sun had dropped as that was when it was in its full glory.


And across most of the country going by the social media reports.


Some Applecross Skies.

Over the last few days the weather has been as good here as any time over the summer and some of the skies over to the west have been pleasant to watch.



Some have been eye-catching and would have loved to have had more time to enjoy the changes which happen every few minutes.


Always something happening.



Yesterday morning there was thought of a rainbow.


Must go and try for a few more langoustine.


Applecross Light Shows

Not able to find much time to post much as it has been fishing and Inn, sleep, eat and Inn again. Once this weekend is done and dusted it should settle down for a little while. English schools go back soon and that will relieve pressure plus there are rumours of more staff coming north. Although we have not had a good summer weather wise there have been many compensations. Beginning on Wdednesday,




some of the light shows at the end of the day


have been fairly described as spectacular.




That and the fishing not being too shabby has made for an interesting year. All I need now is to see a few porpoises,dolphins and a couple of whales in the Sound. Not too much to ask?


Introspection before a Farewell.

The best thing about working on your own is working on your own. So when I get up on time on Wednesday morning, just a little less concentration and energy than usual, a wee snooze on the couch before heading out at ten. No crew man to phone up five times between seven and ten when you change your mind about whether you go out or not. So made it out for ten and as my shift had been changed to the previous evening at the Inn there was no pressure on coming in. The northerly breeze did that for me but not before hauling 300 creels for a few small prawns. The weather for the last couple of days has been fantastic,


bright blue skies and only an afternoon breeze to cope with. Fairly routine time going through the fleets of fifty creels, with only the company of gulls


and at most two bonxies along side waiting for their feed of bait.


As always, good to get to sea where although the work is hard the mind can be elsewhere, like four decades ago. The very day humdrum of grabbing the stopper, opening the creel, emptying it, rebating and stacking before turning the Varuna round and finding a space to reshoot the creels happens to a rythym that is so natural you do not notice it. It is only broken by an interruption, a tangle or something unusual in the creel like an electric blue wrasse,


a change of engine note that alerts you of a problem. The radio can take you across the world or close to home. Whether it is Peruvian endangered rare animals or floaters voters, voting conservative, scared of the new wave of marauding Scots descending from the North today it mostly is of my teenage years playing football every night on Douglas Park, one of my claims to fame is that I have played football with and against Bertie, still playing at a young 62. It used to be golf with Jimmy Beaton and Andrew “Plumber”, often accused of “gardening” while playing a ball out of the bracken on the wee golf course at the back of the Plock, now sadly no longer there. My hole in one at the 3rd made it to the WHFP. Being part of the victorious Balmore team that won their only trophy, the Macleod Cup, meant a very hazy end to that evening. By this time I was getting adept at climbing in and out of my bedroom window, luckily on the ground floor. The life of sport and attending weekend dances was combined with going to series of communions in the locale stretching from Portree and Broadford in Skye to over here in Applecross, taking in Plockton and Lochcarron on the way. Although at the time disliking these attendances looking back I have little regret and they all form part of one’s make up. The right-off of a mini van on the back road to Balmacara has its balance in spending three and a half hours on a church pew on a sabbath communion morning watching two “tables” taking place, the second in gaelic. Many of these participants are no longer with us. The travelling communicants such as Lachie Mackinnon, Donald Mackay or John Mackenzie, men of huge presence, and even some of my football friends such as Ian Munro, sadly passed away too young all make me smile and appreciate the age I have lived through. Over the years it has become more and more apparent that the reasons I smile or feel uplifted are to do with people, actions to help and nothing at all to do with possessions or money. That is to say I do think I am extremely fortunate in everything we have but it is not the driving force in my life. The other night at the Inn hearing a couple from Quebec say how welcome they felt, almost like being in their own front room, is what it is about. They were chatting to Austrian, Flemish and Dutch on their neighbouring tables. That is what under lies the success of the Inn not turnover or increasing business or cutting costs. Catching ten stone of langoustine is not the buzz anymore but being able to be on the water and catch them while appreciating everything around you is far more important. Maybe this is why I hardly notice if the fishing is “good” but the weather and general well being is more important. If a table is not ready to sit at there will be one and that really is all that matters. Possibly this all relates back to the formative years of my parents and although I have not gone down the route of absolute faith but carry a certain spiritual optimism in a in a world that is full of pessimistic outcomes, the biggest being that of environmental abuses that may well come back to bite us.

So the introspection done and dusted life continues as does the broken weather. The first two days of the week were poor with strong winds from the south although making for the Registrar in Kyle meant I would not have been to sea anyway. Cutbacks mean it was not Lochcarron and made me think that there are serious consequences for the continuous cutting back of services. Not affecting me as I can jump into a car and head to Kyle, but imagine a eighty year old spouse who needed to register for an imminent funeral and it is a difficult and unnecessary problem. Called into the Yard and made arrangements for the cats head to be sorted, needs straightened and strengthened sometime next week and a visit to Dave and Maggie’s for a wee catch up. Shift change on Tuesday from Wednesday which suited as pots hauled over the two days meant a good break on Wednesday evening. A walk in some beautiful light


with the sun dipping down on the northern half of Raasay.


Dougal and Eildh


loving the run out to The Ardban track. On the bike as I had walked enough across the deck all day. Sunset awesome from so many different angles


and the low sunlight is everywhere.


Often looking round you catch the best. So with everything in place, I hope, tomorrow I am off to Ardelve and Balmacara to bury my mum but not her’s or my dad’s memory. She is free now.


Timber Extraction and Local Food.

Monday morning, with a fresh breeze from the south I was excused going out onto the Sound and as there were prawns hanging over the side of the Varuna the menu at the Inn was not in danger. The morning began down at the pier putting together the fleet of creels that will be shot in the next couple of days to check out the catching potential of different sizes of meshes on the creels. To be quite honest I think a 44mm would have been a better size to try as they look very similar to the mesh sizes we already have at the moment. Once into a routine it does not take long to get ropes spliced and creels tied on.


Feel it on the thumbs in the evening, RSS. Afternoon involved a little bit of gardening and the beds are slowly filling up. Decided to buy plants from the shop this year rather than cover the porch with my own seedlings. Works out the same cost as you never use all the seeds and knowing they have been raised locally helps. Evening


saw me heading up the road to attend one of the last ALPS meetings, the project drawing to a close, but still a lot to talk about as the Gateway project is causing no small controversy. As a Group we have not managed this part very well and there is still a fair bit to be settled. my views have been clearly expressed at several of the meetings so feel able to put across my points. This is relatively easy as I have no liabilities as have any of the other partners apart from the Trust. Always thought and said it was never a true partnership, better than before but a long way short of where we would want to be if working together. Shared liabilities would have helped but then the projects would have been radically different. Gateway is proving to be a bit of a headache as the option of the pier has been dropped (but now resurrected for a week) and 13,000+ tonnes are going to go out the North Coast road. Being constrained by confidences you have to accept statements as fact and go with the majority but even if the cost of the pier became prohibitive for the Trust, taking the timber out by road does not seem the right option. Local opposition to the pier was enough to have it dropped but the same will not happen if there is opposition to road transport. The actual cost will be more but that cost will be borne by bodies other than the Trust, fair enough if a Trustee or work for the Trust but other members of the Group keep pointing out the amount of tax payers money that is accessed by this project is startling. I have stated all the way through that the pier option was the best, being one of these green people, taking timber out of Applecross at four miles to the gallon on lorries that will cause disruption and will be hard on the road does not seem to be a well thought through option. Hindsight is brilliant but what the Group should have done after losing our first project officer is employ a forester consultant to take us through all the complicated hoops and politics of this project. A near million pound project run by crofters, retirees and fishermen, all good people, was probably not the best thought out idea.

On to other things, saw Marion heading into school at lunch time on Tuesday with a brood of home-bred chickens. They slept the whole of the next day, recovering from their visit to Nursery.


She is now moving on from buying in fertilised eggs to fertilising them locally and already has a local market for on growing. There has been a trend for crofts coming back into use again and they are being used in a slightly different way other than everyone growing sheep. There is far more vegetables being grown, pigs, poultry. Hard and time consuming work but so rewarding. The bees seem to be going well and working up to splitting them in the next four weeks.


Have to assemble the new hive and make some new brood frames. they are busy bringing in plenty pollen on the less rainy days. The sycamore is just about there with leaves and buds opening at the same time. They will be humming with bees very soon.


Just a trip out to  the Varuna to pick up some langoustine and take a couple of snaps of the watchers.


Very wary when you get a little close, but others reckon if you close your eyes you are not there. Bit like humans in that regard.


Fishing yesterday and wet but calm. Not much activity on the water and that is reflected in the creels. It feels like some one has turned the prawn tap off. But always the bonxie.


This is where supplying the Inn comes into its own and keeps you going out to make sure they are on the menu when you work the evening shift. Took a creel full of hermits that had come out of their shells for a feed of bait. May struggle to survive unless they find a new home pretty quick, being soft and vulnerable.


Not tremendously busy evening, people waiting for tables, but that is every night. MOD trials on just now and accommodation in the village is full. Merlin helicopter flying overhead during the day, improved since the ditching off Sand a few years ago. Stag night in progress when I left for home and not a uniform in sight.


What a setting for a stag do with the sunset as dramatic as ever.


Not for Every One.

Three days into the week and no fishing yet, must be official, I am part-time. Have to watch that I do not get caught up in any new legislation regarding limiting part timers. I have a decent recorded landing history that should stand us in good stead. Plan to haul a few pots over the next couple of days to keep the Inn going over the weekend. Vehicle complications at the moment, last week lost the oil from the steering gear. Nothing obvious from the reservoir or top pipe but turns out the pump had blown out the O ring and could not be replaced, so new pump. Got the van back that day and no fun hauling the wheel round the hair pins on the Hill with no power steering. The Inn had prawns over the three days as I had a few hanging over the side




and took some ashore each day. Organised a trip to Inverness as the car was already at the garage passing it’s MOT so the idea was to leave the van there and take the car through, first to Loch Ness Inn with more prawns, stopping to watch now resident geese grazing at the Caman,


then to Inverness to pick up boat stuff and Wholefoods. All going swimmingly until I got back to the garage where the wrong pump was sent through and now with the gear stripped down there was only the car to get back home. Things did not improve as I was told Alison was coming back up the road, well train, and needed picking up at around eight.  There is no night club open in Lochcarron on a Tuesday night there was nothing for it but to drive home , take the pooches out and head back over the Hill. At least it was the car so better steering and timing was immaculate as the car pulled in as Alison came over the bridge. And it was good viewing there


and back.


So tonight’s. little epic is getting a lift over the Hill to pick up the van. Complicated reason but I will try to explain, involves the Community Company. Monday a trip to Rona is planned to roll out the next stage of the broadband, setting up a dish in Lonbain is the plan tomorrow and the schoolhouse has been inundated with boxes, dishes, cables, poles etc, some of which I have taken down to the pier in preparation for Rona. However some of the kit may be there that is being used for Lonbain. The key to the padlock is, yes you’ve guessed it in the van in Lochcarron. So tonight’s trip is really for a key and the van is incidental. I am very happy to volunteer for the Company and Community and do not really do it for anyone else but the community as a whole, so hearing a wee story tonight about a guy casting aspersions on the Company, even suggesting dodgy practices made me smile after the initial short-lived peed off feeling passed. There are always going to be some people who do not get it and I suppose they have my sympathy.

In amongst all the running around, all the bought seed tatties have been planted with the lovely mature silage compost. The sunset over the last day or two have been pretty decent,


every one different and although tonight’s was okay it was still special in its own way and drew most customers out for a few shots so I took photos of people taking photos.


The bike up the road was not too bad either.


Although seven people waiting for tables at one stage it was an easy flowing evening of the usual great food and good banter.

As it is now Thursday morning  I got a lift over the Hill from Kenny to pick up the van and the key. May not have needed to but good to get the van back. Toilets are going well with donations box being emptied every night, after our break in. It is a shame that happens but it does, box now padlocked by Sean and only way to keep thefts to a minimum is make people aware that it is emptied every day so not worth it for a few quid. Lots of nice comments from the users, that and local power, possible housing and refurbishing our refurbished Filling Station, not to mention the broadband, there is plenty to do.

Over the weekend there were two new members of staff set up to start work on the Monday. They may have come at the wrong time, when we were running out of plates, but they seemed set up for the start of the week. That was when at 10.15am they did not appear for first shift. Emerged later in the day that they hitched out-of-town earlier in the morning getting a lift over the Hill from Ewen. Applecross it seems is not for every one.

Light in the Western sky

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