August 2014, Ardinamir and lift out
After a few days hiding from the rain in Lochaline we returned to Luing. They say the in Scotland, if you do not like the weather wait an hour or so and it will be completely different. This was certainly the case for the final week of our cruise. We set off from Lochaline with low murky grey cloud, and anchored a couple of hours later at Ardinamir (right) in bright sunshine. Over the next few days it alternated between the two, with winds coming from North, South and West.
That first afternoon of sunshine was too good an opportunity to miss, and we quickly rowed ashore for a walk around the north end of the island. This is dominated by ridges of basalt forming steep sided hills and narrow grassy valleys from which there are fine 360° views, (see banner and more pictures). In common with the adjacent islands, Luing has large slate quarries, though here the quality is not as good due to pretty cubes of iron pyrites. These fall out leaving neat holes in the slate which is not good for keeping out water from your roof.
The main village on Luing is Cullipool (below). This has rows of old mine workers cottages lining the narrow streets and sandwiched between deep pits left from the slate workings.
The south end of the island has a very different feel, here the basalt ridges are shallower and there are rich pastures for the prize Luing beef cattle, a cross between highlands and shorthorns that are hardy enough to thrive in the adverse weather (see Aug/Sept 2007).
The southern village of Toberonochy (see more pictures) also used to be a slate mining village and is close to the ruined chapel of Kilchattan built around the twelfth century using local slate slabs and boulders. Carved into the walls is graffiti (left) that is thought to be pre-reformation, and depicts hebridean galleys (or Birlinns). These vessels that ruled the waves in the Celtic Seas for over 400 years. They were similar to the Norse boats, but modified to have straight stern posts allowing for a hung rudder, so making them highly manoeuvrable.
Our friend the otter (right and also Late May) made another appearance during our stay in Ardinamir. This time we spotted it munching on at the water's edge. It is quite obvious close up, but from a distance is very hard to spot as the shiny brown coat is almost the same colour as the brown of seaweed which is constantly in motion as the waves lap against the shore.
With the tail end of Hurricane Bertha heading our way, and a week of wet weather forecast, we decided to cut our losses and head home to the sunny south. Unfortunately the boat hoist was out of action with no wheels. It turns out that the puncture that delayed our launch at the start of the season was not an isolated incident, as the wheel rims were beginning to rust, causing flakes to detach and puncture the inner tubes. So we have had to leave Innisfree on a mooring until the new wheels arrive, which we hope should not be too far away.