Sunday, 22 March 2009

Messing about in boats!

What a wonderful week it has been here on Arran. The sun shone for most of it and it really felt like the new season had arrived. On Thursday evening I rushed home from work for the first paddle of the season. A quick sploosh around a very tranquil Lamlash Bay at sunset was the perfect end to a busy day. We attracted the obligatory curious seal and were treated to great views of wading birds including curlew, ringed plover and oystercatcher flocking on an exposed sandbar at Cordon that was not quite covered by the high tide.
This brief paddle was not enough for me and on Friday we took the boats over to the west coast of the island and put in at Imachar. The day was a breezy one and a rolling swell was coming up from the Irish Sea. Getting out on to the water was my first challenge as I am really a novice paddler. With aching arms and lots of heavy breathing I managed to control my kayak sufficiently to paddle beyond the breaking waves and in to flatter water to turn north and paddle up the coast. Surfing a gentle swell, we were quickly swept along, and arrived in Lochranza exhausted but happy after a brilliant afternoon. Along the way we had spotted pairs of mergansers, shelduck, shags and flotillas of male and female eider ducks.
On the downside, we saw a lot of plastic and other rubbish in the water which is very dangerous to wildlife. We collected some of the larger stuff including this balloon. Balloons are easily mistaken for jelly fish by leatherback turtles and dolphins. If they eat it, they will almost certainly die. The balloon cannot be digested, and the creature, thinking it is not hungry, starves to death. Balloons can travel long distances, so even balloons released hundreds of miles inland can be incredibly dangerous to marine life. For more information visit the MCS website:

Saturday, 14 March 2009

A Perfect Day

Bit of a late update this due to all sorts of exciting craziness happening with the Wildlife Festival taking up my time. The booking lines, website and leaflet all went live this week. Woohoo.
I still managed to snatch a fantastic day on climbing on the mainland on Tuesday. Heavy snow and strong westerlies limited our venue and route choice but as it turned out it couldn't have been better. We took the gondola up to Aonach Mor and traversed in to the West Face, where we spent a fabulous sunny day climbing Golden Oldie (II). There was still plenty of fresh snow and some ice was in evidence. The warm temperatures meant that the thinnest ice became a little sketchy higher up, but the routes was easy enough. A narrow knife edge with little fragile cornices near the top also made us pause for thought!
The beauty of the day was, with the cable car up and down, it was possible to do a 500m route and still have a little spring in our step when we got down. A beer and dinner with Max, who I haven't seen for ages rounded off a perfect day in the hills.