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

Posts tagged ‘stained glass’

Morning Ceilidh in Arrina.

Up earlyish to catch the Lewiston car to take prawns to the Loch Ness Inn. Also took the large and extra-large ashore for the Spanish market. Managing to keep the prawns in good condition and despite keeping them for over two weeks am losing very few. Landed the prawns at Ardheslaig by 10am and decided to stop off in Arrina for a ceilidh and a cup of tea with Muirne and a catch up with what was happening round the North Coast. Some times it feels they are a little closer to Shieldaig than the South Coast, but after a couple of minutes we are all one. Planning is a bit of an issue to the north and there is a meeting in Shieldaig tonight to discuss the impression that planning applications from out with the community and not in keeping with the environment are given priority over locally based applications. Planning, always contentious and emotive, seems to have quite a few awkward questions to face this evening when the local officer fields enquiries tonight. Tempted to go but would be  a little voyeuristic.So sorted out all the crofting problems, issues on the road and who is doing what to whom. Part of the chat was about a small building just next door to the schoolhouse which is earmarked for development and is known as a half house, possibly where elderly relatives lived close to the family.


Muirne, as well as being a prawn van driver and Leiths lorry driver, works with stained glass and has a self catering chalet out the back of the schoolhouse. www.shardsstainedglass.co.uk and oldbyre@arrina.co.uk  Good to see where every one lives and whose house is where and craic was had before heading over to see Rick and Lynne at the end of Arrina. Really strange never to have been in this part of the peninsula and in this house.  Known Rick and Lynne for decades but usually see them when they are down in the south part of Applecross. Memories of a trip down Glen Pean and a climb up the south side where he discovered my head for heights disqualified me from all mountain rescue teams. Cracking views from across the loch towards Diabaig from where our broadband will eventually reach this remote part.


Leaving Rick’s noticed the technology problems wee remote places have to access any kind of service.


Passing Cuaig I noticed the shop is open as usual. Seeing sights like that it is comforting in a way that some things do not change. And back down to Camusterrach where it was blowing strong from the south.


The day ends with a bit more storing wood away for the winter. Good old fashioned day when you chat to people you like.

Applecross Visitor Advert.

Energy levels being well down just going to post the article I was asked to write for the tourist magazine suggesting a few reasons why you would want to visit Applecross. The quality of writing is far greater than the normal due to it being proof read by Sara. Be interesting to see how much the article is edited. It is impossible to capture Applecross in one photo so I’ve put this one in because I like it so much and it is just about the opposite of today’s weather and sentiment. Ruairidh took this three years ago with his Sony, the one I dropped in the Sound. Nice to have a couple of weeks like this.


Whether you come in for a day or spend a week here you will find a timeless quality about Applecross. Often people forget what time of day it is or even what day of the week. It is a place for de-stressing and finding out what is important in life.

Driving into Applecross over the spectacular Bealach na Ba, an old cattle-droving pass that crosses the mountain, you realise you are somewhere just a little different. If you stay a while you will come to know the meaning of the old Gaelic place name, A’Chomraich, The Sanctuary. In times long gone there was a six-mile circle of stones marking a safe haven for miscreants who needed to escape the unruly world outside. That is not to say that it was peaceful here, going by the mix of Gaelic and Norse place names scattered around the peninsula, there were a fair few visitors, not all of them welcome. The view-point on top of the Bealach – of the Inner Sound through the Blind Sound past the cliffs of Staffin and beyond, where you can see the hills of Harris – is a fine introduction to your stay here. Although Shore Street can be described as the “centre”, the crofting townships are spread over a thirty-mile car journey from Toscaig to Inverbain in little five- to ten-house hamlets.

Once in Applecross, you are welcomed with an array of wildlife, eating establishments, outdoor activities on land and sea that could keep you occupied for a couple of weeks. There are several establishments providing accommodation from camping and cabins to self-catering and ensuite bed-and-breakfast and hotel rooms. Through out your stay you will be struck by the warmth of the community.

The bird life is prolific: resident golden eagles and the visiting sea eagles from Raasay and Shieldaig, divers − black- and red-throated, as well as the rarer northern − cormorants, oystercatchers and curlew on the shore, mute and whooper swans on Milton Loch. The flora and fauna around the lochside and through Carnach Woodland are of particular interest; for example, 140 species of lichen have been documented from the woodland, of which four are nationally scarce. On the way out fishing I often pass twenty to thirty seals on the rocks of Culduie, and there is a healthy sea otter population from Toscaig to the Bay.

Around the Bay, a well-established path network stretches from Clachan round Applecross House, known locally as “the Big House” back to the Coal Shed. These include an archaeological trail, the “Lost Path” and a quiet stroll through Carnach Woodland, one of the oldest hazel woods in Scotland. On these walks red deer, fox, pine marten, and the occasional badger can be spotted. For those who prefer a longer walk, the old coast road to Sand has stunning sea views and the path through the Glen to Kenmore takes you over heather moorland. To the south, the walk to Airigh Drishaig from Upper Toscaig gives brings you to a different view over to the little harbour of Plockton and the Skye Bridge.

The beaches are also a feature of the area. The secluded beach of Cuaig is well worth the walk; the more popular beach of Sand – from where you can see the occasional Trident submarine! – is known for its shifting sand dune; the coral beach at Ardbain, made up of bleached maerl, is known as the “coral beach” because on a sunny day it has a hint of the Caribbean.

The history is present in the landscape, starting at the Mezzolithic midden above Sand beach. You can visit the Broch, an Iron Age fortification at the campsite, which was worked on as part of a Time Team dig. Behind the Broch, a Round House is being constructed by locals using Iron Age building techniques, and the Hebridean Barns are being renovated. Further up the path, there are the ruins of the townships at Torgarve, cleared to make way for the sheep farmers.

The Heritage Centre, just past Applecross Bay, by Clachan Church, covers the history of the peninsula in detail. There is a comprehensive genealogical archive at the Heritage Centre of particular interest to anyone with connections to the area. Next door is Clachan Church, where St Maelrubha, the Irish saint who landed here in 673 AD established a monastery, second only to Iona as an early Christian centre. The remains of a ruined cross stand at the entrance to the graveyard and the ancient chapel ruin is behind the main building. In the burial ground are skull-and-crossbones gravestones; one theory is that these are connected to the Knights Templars of the Wars of Independence.

For those looking for more strenuous activities, kayaking around the islands and mountain guiding in both summer and winter are available as is shore fishing for mackerel and pollock. The area is very popular for both pedal and motor bikes, there being the Bealach Beag and Mor cycle challenges which take place in May and September.

As for food, you are spoilt for choice. Enjoy the stone-baked pizzas at the campsite in the unique Flower Tunnel; or sample the local produce grown at the Walled Garden, a tranquil and idyllic place to wander; or the Applecross Inn, described in the Observer Magazine as “the ultimate wilderness inn in the Highlands”, with its stunning views across the bay. You can sample venison direct from the hill or the best, fresh shellfish from the Inner Sound, including langoustine, crab, scallops, lobster and squat lobsters. The Applecross Inn in particular is famous for its langoustine, known as Applecross Bay Prawns, which are creel-fished daily – I should know, I’m one of the fishermen! – and any “berried” prawns (those with eggs) go back into the sea, so it’s environmentally sustainable. You can finish your meal with a home-made ice cream, flavours ranging from golden syrup or apple & bramble to whisky & honey.

Annual events include the Applecross Games (generally on the third weekend in July), a raft race/barbecue and music night in August, and the new Applestock Festival on the 18th of May 2013. Also a Bardic School and Maelrubha Festival take place in the summer. Information about all these events can be found locally.

Applecross still supports a well-stocked village shop and post office in Camusteel, and a medical service as well as a community-owned filling station – visitors are encouraged to fill up with petrol, because all proceeds go into the community. If you would like to go on a shopping spree, that can be arranged as well – framed photography at the Applecross Inn; soaps and perfumes at the Visitor Centre; locally made jewellery, crafts and textiles at the Coal Shed; and along the coast road, woven goods, yarn and woolcrafts at Croft Wools in Cuaig; stained glass at Arrina; and yarns and knitwear at Angora Ecosse at Doire Aonar.

When you leave you will take a little of Applecross with you and you will want to come back again and again, as many people do.

Waterskiing cow and hay making.

450 creels hauled and a shift at the Inn meant tired bones this evening but it went well both on board the Varuna and the Inn despite managing to shoot a fleet of creels over another one of my own. After 30 years you would think I would learn. Fishing is still easing back and most of the prawns are going to the Inn. There are very few large ones being caught and on the shallower ground there are increasing numbers of berried prawns. Today was the first day for a while when they were waiting for me to come in with the catch, both prawns and squats sold out. Having a really busy day is ok as I had a fairly easy day yesterday and tomorrow is over the Hill to see my Mum and get the bees under way. The plan is to take the hive over and for Audrey to split one of her hives and set up my hive where they should settle in and I go back for them next week.Yesterday I headed off to Shieldaig to have another Thai massage and drop prawns off at Ardeslaig for the Spanish market. It’s good to chat to Sarah to catch up on the Sheildaig news. Their Fete seemed to go well last weekend and there were plenty people around. These ‘village games/fetes’ are important as they raise a fair bit of money for the communities to be spent over the year. One does wonder how the Spanish market will hold up as the economic news from Spain is bad and getting worse. On the way back I called in at Muirnie’s stained glass studio and spent a pleasant hour in the sun with a cup of tea and a brownie. Kaley came along and had a good natter. Talking about this and that and the Kenmore cow story came up. Seems Stuart had one of his cows go missing and over the next few days went over the ground and eventually found her down on the shore at Kenmore. Unfortunately she had fallen down a narrow gorge and landed close to the shore with a broken neck. The next problem was how to get her out and back to Kenmore where she could get disposed of safely. This was where the local salmon farmers came to the rescue with one of their boats. Coming into the shore they tied a rope round the unfortunate cow, which was now bloated with gas, to pull her across the bay. Off they went but Daisy was stuck, so the revs were increased and more until suddenly she shot out the gorge and boat and waterskiing Daisy were seen racing across Kenmore bay. I would have loved to have seen the expressions on the two slightly well to do holiday makers who were having their lunch in Derek’s holiday cottage as they looked across the bay and saw this apparition come racing over the water.

Before I went over to Shieldaig I saw my neighbour, Sandy, was cutting his hay with his scythe and drying it on a fence on his croft. This method of drying hay is derived from Norse times and is seldom seen in Scotland now. Again we have this conundrum of what Sandy is doing is really good environmentally in that what he is cutting is rich meadow grass and the way he cuts and dries it , according to the naturalist Fraser Darling is the best way to keep most of the nutrients in the hay. The downside is in todays terms it is not economic, maybe todays terms are wrong.

The first signs of autumn are appearing with the cuttle fish laying her eggs on some of the creels. this creel is coming ashore for a wash next week and as well as the eggs you can see a young queen scallop off to the right attached to the mesh.

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