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

Posts tagged ‘scallops’

Poling for Scallops

In the hurley burly of the tourists and fishing every now and again you see something that is quiet and takes you back in time. There are not many people who still do this in Applecross but the other day I passed Sandy poling for scallops. A long pole and a low tide with clear visibility, a small boat and sometimes a glass box, and you are in action. Concentrating on the seabed looking for the half moons of the feeding scallops the world can pass you by.


www.applecrosshydro .scot

http://www.applecrosshydro.scot That is the website for the share offer, now live, fine work from Emma Noble. Can’t say often enough how much work has gone into this. There is no way that it could not have gone ahead without full-time paid work funded by HIE, carried out by Alison with back up work from CES, LES, CMS. I see this as seed corn cash, tax payers money well spent. People want to visit Applecross but the regulars want to catch up with the familiar faces and meet the new residents, find out what has happened since the last time they visited. That is what all this is about, keeping a community alive and not the place becoming a beautiful but empty destination which has lost its soul. I am sure there are many who may question the direction we are heading but I know of no other way. The Shares Launch last night was successful beyond our highest hopes.


By the end of the night we had raised £101,500 in pledges and monies to buy out the Scheme and today that had risen to £126,500.


Talks from Dave, Jamie and Mick followed by lots of apple juice from Ryfield, Black Isle Berries,


led into a fine ceilidh dance by the Kyle Ceilidh Band. Although numbers at the dance were not very high, a fair number of holidays were taken, all enjoyed and the Aussies had their first Strip the Willows and Boston Two Steps. I had topped up Sean’s Yard of ale, our fund-raising “thermometer” this morning but it is well out of date by the time I get home.


This was it before the shares launch..

It has all been a bit of a swirl as the fishing has started and the Inn shifts carry on. When you stop doing a regular activity for a month or so and fire back into it, especially if it is single-handed hauling prawn creels the result is extreme tiredness. Pulled and strained muscles built up over the last wee while either chopping logs and in the Varuna engine room are just that bit more achy. Thursday was the first day back and it did not go smoothly. I was back on the moorings by eleven after going out, picking up the first end, realising straight away all was not well. Opened the hatch to see the new hydraulic pump fitted for the second time was not performing as it should, spraying oil out of the body was not in the manual. Next it was over the Hill to the Yard, pick up the old one from a puzzled engineer, quick refit and back out on the water. Still, although it was not a flat calm day, managed to get just short of 300 creels up and a day’s catch ashore and straight to the Inn for the evening shift. It has definitely dropped a notch, still busy with all the tables in circulation and a few on the two sittings, but there are no queues. We do still have that half hour to get through when we are wondering whether we are going to sit the residents when they appear. But that used to be the whole shift as now it is the half hour of the shift. Think the boss still feels or expects it to be really busy but then that is from a perspective of day after day. I am back on the boat and it feels so different.

Thinking about how relaxing this all is and although I have missed many days it matters little and the most important way to look at it is fretting does not take over. Beautiful day at sea on Friday and over 400 creels hauled with the body creaking somewhat. The fishing is still holding up although I cannot take too much from this as the first haul in a month.


But glass calm


and blue skies



give you extra energy. routines are good to keep a focused mind-set and it was good to hear Desert Island Discs again. Again a beautiful day and hauling some ropes with a heavy spat settlement gives you hope that there is lots of life in the waters yet. To the top right of the photo are some king scallops while the majority are the queens.


Saturday is Aff The Ba and Foreign Correspondents, before getting in in time for a little rugby,the Inn and The Share Launch of the Apple Juice Hydro Scheme. There is lots of interest locally, some overheard conversations a little sceptical, but it is not a one party peninsula. Although hopeful that the money will be raised it is going to be a nervous few weeks. Meanwhile the building is going on with the turbine coming through custom this week and being set into its frame in Aberdeen. The building of the Turbine House and the Pen Stock continues. Sean has made up the gauge in the Inn showing how much money is being raised. we are very grateful of the cheque from John Finnie MSP, who did not need to read the prospectus before handing over his money. It fits everything he stands for, green energy and community engagement. I am thinking the rugby will take a back seat.

Went out to the Hall on Friday evening, after catching a peaceful sunset over the western isles,




to hear a fascinating talk from Roddy about Folk lore connecting people to place names. Times when maybe learning a bit of gaelic may not be too far into the future. The mix of tales of fights, burial sites, dead boars and tying stones for dogs reminded me of a walk up the head of Glen Lyon where we visited the small house where a pagan ritual still takes place connected to the seasons. Roddy, of course, knew what I was talking about and told a wee story of the stones, borrowed, ill-health, put back and recovery. lovely to drop out of the stresses of today into the folklore tales of ancient times. Only just made it as falling asleep was the preferred option at 7.30pm.

Now on a Sunday evening a quiet hour before retiring, I think Netflix, cannot bear to watch the rugby. Least said about the game the better.

Calm before the Busy.

Amusing aside to the bike slide on Saturday evening was Steve nipped down stairs to make sure no one was breaking into 6/7 not knowing it was me clattering to the floor outside. South Africans for you, always think the worst. Up nice and early with only a couple of sore bits, me off to the Inn and No3 off to Airidh Drisheag on the south coast of the peninsula,


those endorphins again but Dougal


and Eilidh could not get out the door fast enough. Eilidh, a bit wiser than Dougal taking the choice of not having a dip in Loch Kishorn.


Lovely morning





and a necessary stop off at Milton. No3 took the south photos and they look a lot colder and a bleaker than the stillness of Milton and the Bay.





The light is always changing at this time of year and looking north a little light appears on the lower slopes.


Arrived in plenty of time and by 12.30pm five staff hanging about doing very little. By 2.30pm running about serving a three-quarter full Inn. Easy to work today though as everyone very pleasant, easy-going and appreciative of what they got. Lobster, Seafood Platters, Langoustine and Scallops along with fine Rumps of Lamb all seemed to go down a treat and the time shot by. In particular the All Blacks were out in force and one to look out for was one who did play rugby in Edinburgh and who was aiming for the Edinburgh side. Have his name and will look out for him to see if he makes it. Great group from Leeds/London who alerted the Inn to the sunset taking place to the South West. An empty Inn for ten minutes.


The evening continued with the arrival of the Dundee entourage and I was handed the youngest for a while. Impressed he did not crack up but then he did n’t all evening. Even with The Boss out gallivanting again there was little need for me to stay much longer and was home by sevenish, taking care as there was a glisten on the road again.

Had hoped to be on the water today but the forecast of a couple of days ago had deteriorated and a fresh growing to strong breeze was predicted and had arrived by the middle of the day. Watched one of the south boats punching her way south by early afternoon and was glad not to be out. Made it up the road today on the bike with the pooches, they have never been fitter and Dougal never been dirtier. It is going to be a busy week as there are large numbers of people arriving for Ne’er day festivities. The Hall will be open as usual and a brief dalliance on the way home from the Inn will be in order. The Roads situation is causing certain amount of concern locally. May not say too much until I get the official word back from the East but needless to say our service is not improving.

Post Bertha and Roads.

Still unsettled on the weather front and as a result there will be no langoustines on the menu tonight. First shift for quite a while having taken my last box ashore yesterday. By the end of last night’s shift there were one main and one starter portions left. Part of this post is to do with getting photos to the Highland Council after bringing up the roads condition south of Camusterrach at the Community Council meeting on Tuesday evening.


Good way to bring the poor condition of the wall to the Roads Dept attention and other than sending in a memory stick technology is failing on my computer.




While I would not like to be in Broadford and Strath’s shoes, read in the WHFP that they had dissolved this week, usually if you are doing something then some one somewhere is objecting to it. Take the same opinion with the Company. If we do not have people saying they do not want to work with us then it usually means inertia or we are doing anodyne stuff. At the moment it is all quiet with only very few negative comments.. Getting the road fixed before the winter kicks in is a priority however. A strong North westerly and a high tide will work its way under the road and cost a lot more to repair than if it was done now.

Just one day of rain in the dingy to bail out,


head over to wash a fleet of creels at the Pier,


in fairly miserable weather


and take a box of prawns up to the Inn.

Tuesday morning saw us up at the Bay going along the shore with the chainsaw and loading a half ton of wood into the van.


A silver lining from Bertha, lots of larch and the tree that was sitting in the river for a couple of months providing a good deal of fuel for the winter.

Last night busy but not silly, seafood platters being the order of the night along with scallops, prawns, monkfish and cod. The Luxemburger was so overwhelmed with his meal he had a short nap while Lena May set up for breakfast.


Not been out all week fishing and had planned today but the Filling Station is causing headaches again along with a transformer blowing up behind the Inn. We can manually supply fuel but at the moment Gilbarco seem at a lose as to what is wrong now. Weather has definitely improved today along there is a strong north wind blowing down the Sound so The Filling Station did not really keep me ashore.

Always good to chat to Audrey about bees and pick up little snippets of information. Have little moments when I think I may be doing something wrong or do not know what is going on in the hive. Have not had too close a look recently but been comforted that all is well in the new smaller hive as both sets of flying bees are taking in lots of pollen just now. They look nice strong almost black bees and seem to be surviving well.


And tonight none other than the famous Fergie Macdonald playing accordion at the Inn on his “last” Last Highland Tour. No doubt we will see him next year.


What you See

Out north today for the first time for quite a while, in fact this year and things were in a lot better shape than I expected. Started in the Bay and worked my way to the Range. Left a couple of fleets for another day but have a stack for the Lewiston and the Inn has plenty now. It is pretty busy so all good. An awkward day at time as the swell was still heading down the Sound and it saps the energy a bit but luckily I only had a couple of foul ups to sort and nothing missing. Few accompaniments of sea life and the birds as per usual. This time of year they are getting quite anxious to feed. Building up for the breeding season. The shags and cormorants all have their different characters as some come alongside the boat and take the fish from your hand and others want to but cannot quite take the risk.


Hand fed a kittiwake today for the first time.


They are feisty little birds and have a right go to get their share. Biggish thorn starfish in one of the creels on the shallow ground, when diving to pick up scallops from the scallop farm used to take them ashore as well.


One of the few management jobs that were carried out which was bad for a species. They are a particularly destructive animal and could wipe out a young scallop bed if given the chance.. The fleet, last of the day, had been left as I had promised myself the next time I lifted it I would take it ashore. As it had been lying since December it was covered in squid eggs,


lots of queenies on the rope and even had coral growing on the creel mesh.


The queenies brought back memories of the scallop farm. We grew queenies as well as a sort of side line, did not see any kings amongst the seed, maybe not an area for king settlement. Came across a prawn that had shed, way out of season but we are seeing that more and more.


May be a sign of a stock under pressure or less distinction between the seasons as there used to be. Also some remarkably quick growing coral on the mesh.


And finally an electric blue spiney, one that usually lives in shallow waters and is not so common up this way. Saved by his colours he/she went back over. So now off out for some more as the forecast after today is looking a bit grim again.


So much to Do

Yesterday was a will I won’t I day which gradually turned into a didn’t day. Plenty of fairly uninteresting things done but as the wind was a little too fresh from the North for me to go out fishing and decision was helped by my “cripple” guest who also decided not to go out.

Today, so far very different and not enough hours in the day to do everything that should be done. Off to DMK’s to get the MOT on the van sorted.


Also the hand brake cable as it had come away in my hand on Sunday. Unfortunately the wrong one delivered means another trip over, possibly Monday when a trip to Inverness beckons. Lovely dog at the garage, really friendly and playful.


Understands to get out of the way when the horn is beeped.


Dull grey but atmospheric day on the Hill and again in Lochcarron.



We are so used to the Hill that nipping over with out a hand brake does not even register. You often talk to tourists who have come over in misty conditions and they simply do not want to go back up there again. Missed out on doing a bit of creel and oil work at the pier, which means an early start tomorrow. But worth it as I was diverted to the Walled Garden to meet up with Alison and Ian basically discussing problems around the Community Company, work loads, admin and general running of it. Despite all the downs in running community projects I always find them uplifting, after getting over how much work we have to do and how we are going to spread the increasing load in making the whole venture viable. I know I do not do enough of the day-to-day running and tend to talk a good job but that has to change a bit and finding the time to do an extra half has to happen. By the afternoon I had asked some one if they wanted to become a director and some one else if they would take on some volunteer admin maybe with the intention of a paid day a week to follow. And both requests were met with a good response. More to come on that front. Involving more people and spreading the community company into the community so it feels like every one’s cannot be a bad thing. During the chat this afternoon the same problems are evidenced across the Highland small communities. Although I do not mind it the Filling Station does not run itself, admin/accounts, licence, electrical certs, wetstock and deliveries all keep having to be done and that is the day-to-day stuff on top of keeping a c**p product going. Working at this level gives you an insight into how much goes into keeping small communities going.

And so it was home after a coffee at the son’s new abode, shower and back to the Inn for a busy shift.


Stopped off above Camusterrach to take a shot out towards Ardban with the FP church in the foreground. Spent a few hours in there when I was younger coming over from Kyle to stay with my grandparents and attending the communions. When a lot younger we came over on the Mary Anne, one of the Kyle ring net boats my Dad used to fish on. Although it meant many hours in church it still was a great wee adventure for a little chappie.

The Boss and I on the floor with lots of people about. Langoustine, scallops, venison, lamb…..just the usual run of the mill top class food. Top comments and good craic with every one talking to every one else.

So much to do.

Leaving Lunch

Long day just about over still need to wind down as it was quite busy this evening, and that was after hauling 450 pots today. Early start due to a late lunch invite from Eleanor as it was her last day in Applecross. Lovely quiet morning going out and actually stayed that way despite the forecast for a southerly breeze.


Rattled through the gear trying to keep clear of the thick rafts of scalders the creels were coming through.


Had to watch the stings as there was just enough breeze to spray the tendrils about. You do get used to them with a general stinging on any exposed skin that builds up over the day.


As well as trawling and dredging another current issue and I am pretty sure it is going to become more prominent will be the establishing of MPAs which are Marine Protected Areas. It is easy for me to back these as when I first started fishing on the Sound there was one already established, the BUTEC Range. Not every time you haul creels on the edge of the Range but often the fishing is far better than anywhere else, as was the case yesterday.


Could not comment on any of the other areas but predict that local fishermen will be against them as outside bodies will try to establish these safe havens, from Gibraltar to The Sound of Barra. Had a couple of watchful passengers for most of the day.


Made it to lunch, only 10 mins late and as I was thinking about it all afternoon I ordered thai squats curry and Eleanor and Weston decided to go for it as well and the order was completed by a squats in garlic. Lovely lunch chatting away mainly about life in Applecross and Florida, learned a little about Huckins’ yachts, www.huckinsyacht.com/, one of which Weston skippers for her owner, and then it was cheerio to Eleanor for another year.

Straight from lunch to work and two or three groups booked in as well as the residents. Bit harder for us out front as it was raining and guys had to wait for tables. Even by Applecross Inn standards the compliments were flying in. We had a lot of Europeans in and they were really appreciating the food and atmosphere. Langoustines and squats got a good going over, as did the halibut and scallops. Then Josh came in looking for the Doc. Fortunately she had eaten and was having a coffee on table 2. Josh had picked up a cyclist whose bike had stopped in the Lonbain cattle grid, unfortunately she did not, result, broken collarbone. Know the pain as I managed to break my collarbone and dislocate my shoulder playing badminton in Plockton Village Hall many years ago and it was sore. It was a bit of a shame as they had done 96 miles that day, having come from the Ullapool ferry and had almost made it to their destination. So it was an ambulance call out and she heads off to Raigmore, I headed out to pickup the bikes and Crawford and Cameron staying the night at the schoolhouse, not before Judith supplies them with soup and sandwiches at the Inn. Schoolhouse is becoming a regular stopping off point for guys passing through.

Now it is Friday morning with a creel wash and evening shift on the cards. Very uninspiring feel to the day. grey and wet, just dreich. Only other thing of note is Dougal has gone to Beauly for his holidays. Be reading the Press and Journal for any incidents.

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