My sabbatical has finally started and first on the agenda was a trip up to the West Coast of Scotland for my friend’s 30th Birthday.
A two day drive up from Bristol and the loch side on the road side was looking pretty grey and gloomy but the further west we went away from Glasgow, the more beautiful it became.Having arrived at Loch Sween House (which is not at the postcode location but does have a google pin in the right place) I set myself up in one of the bunk beds before we headed out to check out the beach and play a little frisbee before dusk.
The next day was Easter Sunday and was absolutely glorious weather. 5 of us headed out on a morning run on the assumption that it would take a while for everyone else to get up. Liv is in training for an ultramarathon so was keen for a much longer run with Meg and Jon, while Anna and I were feeling a bit stiff so headed back to the house for Pilates and stretching.
Once we were all back together again, all thoughts of fitness were obliterated by the obligatory Easter Egg hunt. Between 14 of us we had 180 eggs to hide and find so it took a little while to do. Unfortunately we forgot where we hid some of them so there are still some there somewhere (unless someone sneakily stole some)!
For lunch we packed everything up and headed down to the beach to set up a fire for a BBQ. As it was the 1st of April this was definitely the first BBQ of the year.
I am determined to get into open water swimming, so I persuaded about 5 others to join in running into the sea. The others got out pretty fast, or stayed in knee deep water playing frisbee while I went for a little swim. I didn’t get quite as far as I had hoped though, because my hands and feet were throbbing with the cold. At least I was prepared for the temperature though, with a swimming hat and neoprene rash vest, unlike the others who were in a variety of underwear/bikinis.
Coming out of such cold water though made standing on the beach in the glorious sunshine feel really pleasantly warm, so I was able to drip dry prior to trying to put my clothes back on, and the hat had kept my hair dry so I wasn’t continuing to lose too much heat.
Once fully dressed we went off exploring the rocks and pools around the bay while the food was cooking. The puppies haven’t entirely learnt to swim, so there was a lot of stick throwing to try and get their paws wet, with differing levels of success. I loved the different colours of lichen that could be found on the rocks and how clear the water was.
The food we had was really local, with beef from the Isle of Jura, which was just across the water from the bay. The definition of local is very different in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, given that the house to the end of the road was a 40 minute drive and the nearest supermarket was an hour away.
In the evening the weather was still good so we went for a sunset walk which was stunning as you can see below!
On Monday we went for a walk up the loch to where there is beaver activity. While we didn’t see the creatures themselves, we did see their lodge, dam and some good examples of trees they had felled, which really had been gnawed down to a point like in cartoons.
The next day the weather was significantly worse, but we had booked in to go on a canoe tour around the loch. While we were setting up there was a highland cow on the bank bank that kept getting closer while I wasn’t looking, so every time I turned around it was like it had transported similar to the weeping angels in Dr Who!
The tour guide – Kayak Dave- showed us some neon orange sponges that were really surprisingly bright, and just after lunch (sheltering between a couple of rocks on a little island) we were visited by a seal who was really inquisitive as it did come quite close while it was checking us out.
This was a fantastic start to my year out and a lovely weekend to catch up with my closest friends before I head out for the year. It is a stunning area that I only wish was closer, but if it were closer it wouldn’t be the same. Part of the charm is having absolutely no phone signal for 4 days!