Exploring Rona & on to Sheildaig

Trip Start May 06, 2008
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Trip End Sep 30, 2008


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We'd had a super night's sleep and started the day relatively early for us retired folks, by setting off for an exploratory walk on Rona. We were due to meet and walk with Tinga and her owners but Tinga's need for a walk had been pressing so they had set off earlier and we met them on their way back, in time to say our farewells and to get clear instructions as to how to find the Church Cave(see later). Dave & Catherine had heard the forecast, which was dire and they'd decided to head for their mooring in Gaerloch whilst we had decided to scrub the Outer Hebrides for this week, opting instead to go to Loch Torridon's inner neighbour, Loch Shieldaig, where we could shelter. All that was for later, however and in the meantime, we set off up the stony path to explore.

After a steep scramble, Paul elected to climb higher off the path and go up to a stone cairn, Mel decided to stay put and we opted to follow, what we thought was the sign's directions, to the Church Cave, thinking that Paul would follow on. At the time I recall thinking that Dave's directions seemed unnecessarily complex, as we had a perfectly easy path to follow, but I shrugged it off. We had a pleasant walk and ended up at a couple of well renovated cottages, one of which was occupied, so we stopped to ask directions. Unfortunately, the couple who had rented it for the week, having seen an advertisement in the Guardian for away from it all holidays, had not expected a knock on their door and they were somewhat dishevelled when they came to the door. I've never seen a chap so keen to get rid of unwanted visitors asking silly questions about caves and churches! It transpired that the path we should have taken was precisely where the sign was, but the sign was not pointing down the track, rather it was pointing across the bog in the direction of the church, which Paul had realised and set off to explore, hence his non-arrival with us.

The Church Cave dates to the time before the islanders on Rona had a church and they continued to have their children baptised in it long after they had a more suitable venue. Inside the cave there is a large rock that served as the pulpit and water dripped into a depression nearby, which served as a font whilst rows of stones were used as pews for the congregation. As I said, Paul found this cave but sadly his camera was set on video so I have no photo to show, apart from one of the entrance taken from the sea (see picture)

Once reunited, we returned to the boat, passing some lovely highland cattle en route and we were soon on our way to Loch Shieldaig, leaving the enchanting Rona at around mid-day.

The journey north eastwards to the entrance of Loch Torridon was fairly uneventful apart from the brief sighting of a whale - we have no idea what the species was, it was too far away but it was sizeable, judging by the length of back that was expsed as it sounded. Possibly a minke again. By the time we'd arrived and anchored in Loch Shieldaig, in the shelter of the island of Shieldaig and off the village of Shieldaig itself (not very imaginative in their use of names around here!) at 16:45, the weather was closing in so we elected to stay and eat on the boat. Julie cooked and excellent spaghetti bolognaise and we had Scottish strawberries to follow. That with lashings of wine should have meant a good night's sleep, but the thrashing about of the boat on the anchor, coupled with the howling of the wind and the drumming of the rain, meant that at least one member of the crew felt somewhat jaded and not in the mood for blogging the next day.
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