Friday, 4 November 2011

The Black Cave

If you've ever read up on the Arran Coastal Way you are probably familiar with the traverse of the Black Cave between the villages of Kilomory and Kildonan.  Its the only bit of the Way that is truly tidal, and although in my view not the most challenging section, care and planning are required to avoid problems on the route.  The cave itself is in the rocky cliffs of Bennan Head, a boulder strewn beach lies before it, which is partly covered except at low tide.  In rough weather (common here) it may not be possible to pass at all.

Low tide fell today at about half past twelve, and the opportunity for a leisurely meander over the rocks between the two villages was too good to miss. This stretch of coastline is a real hotspot for wildlife, including otters.  I've been watching otters in Kildonan all summer, but I'm keen to learn more about their territories and so it was with a view to finding signs of otters that I set out.

 A moody sky greeted me in Kildonan, but I knew the forecast was for a bright day.

 It wasn't long before I found clear signs of otters- these prints were on a beach just outside the village. 

 The area is also an important haul-out site for common (harbour) seals, who love the rocky shoreline. 

 Looking towards Bennan Head. 

 I often find badger prints on the beach here, and today I located a badger latrine near the path. 

 Massive tree trunk left well above the normal high tide mark.  Must have been some storm!

 Even in death, the markings on this immature gannet are beautiful. 

 At the black cave.  I couldn't linger here as I disturbed a young otter cub amongst the rocks who ran squeaking in to the sea.  Fortunately I saw it reunited with its mother seconds later. 

 Looking back towards the cave- you can just see the opening on the left.  There is a better picture of this stunning feature here.

The beach opens out again and the going gets easier as you come round the coast to Kilmory.

The final stretch of sandy beach before the track up to Kilmory.