Iain and I headed off for a much-needed Loch Awe weekend.
Iain could not find the camp site he went to earlier in the year as the shoreline all looks the same and the vegetation had grown! We found a great spot, sheltered from the road and not to far from it. With a few islands just off the bay, one of which also held a castle ruin. The weather forecast was for a clear start and clouding over with rain on Sunday. Instead of a tent, we pitched a tarp to keep the gear dry and set up some airbeds on the beach with a bivvy bag.
I wanted to show Iain how easy it was to light a fire with a flint and steel and some petroleum jelly covered cotton balls. I had attempted to light a fire with a flint & steel on the Machrihanish fishing trip and failed. This time, I had a total lack of coordination and could not make the flint even spark! I gave up when I scraped the skin off my knuckles instead and used the flint & steel from Iain's lighter to light the cotton balls and up it went. Iain said that attempt did not count as I had not used the correct flint & steel. :) I'll crack it yet.
The night was beautiful. The sky was so clear and dark it was FULL of stars which reflected in the near mirror surface of Loch Awe. There may have even been some Northern lights, but that may have been wishful thinking on our part. A few beers and several mystic fires later and it was the small hours of the morning and time for some sleep. And the best night's sleep I have had in a long time.
I awoke quite early and was a bit hot so I put my arms out of the bivvy bag to cool down. Only to retreat back to the safety of the bivvy bag a few moments later as there was an army of midges looking for their breakfast!
Got up about mid-morning, made some tea and drank it while enjoying the splendour of the location. After tea I collected some firewood for the night's fire and got a chance to use my new splitting axe - it did an amazing job!
Relaxed for the remainder of the afternoon, snacking and building the fire. Made some noodles on the tripod grill for dinner and settled in for the night. There were a few spots of rain but not enough to dampen spirits. The cloud cover meant the sky was nowhere near as clear as last night. Singing drifted over the water from the lodges on the opposite shore and in the next bay there were some campers who had a boat and were exploring the ruins on the island. A bit disconcerting to see a torch high above ground level in the dark!
Tonight was for the mighty fine Nikka Taketsuru Japanese whisky. I kept the promise I made in Schiphol Airport Duty Free to drink it in fine company in the Scottish countryside.
In the small hours of the morning while Iain and I were talking we both heard a sound by the water edge. It was something large, alive and silenced us both. In the small torchlight beams it looked like a hedgehog. Until it moved and there was a lot more to it than a hedgehog and there was a long tail! It was an otter and not alone! They had found the fish sticks we had left over from the noodles. A fantastic experience of wild otters playing just a few meters away from us!
We were both up bright and early, packed away and was on the road for in time for an excellent fish supper at Inverary.