I knew before opening my eyes this morning that we wouldn’t be watching the sea today. The wind was howling around the house and rattling the windows and the dustbin lid outside. On venturing into the lounge I could see nothing but whitecaps on the gunmetal grey sea, stretching from the beach out to the horizon. Even the navy vessel that had been patrolling outside of the entrance of Loch Ewe was no longer visible in the distant fog. There were no fishing vessels and no whale watching boats out there. Only the gannets, using the opportunity that the gale force south-westerly winds provided, were conducting their incredible dives to forage between the white horses.
Loch Ewe, to the north of our study site, has been a navy fleet base and convoy point since the second World War, when it was strategically important as it was the most northerly of the suitable west coast sea lochs. It is a big, deep, natural sea loch, making it such a suitable defence site. During the second World War an anti-submarine net was deployed across the entrance of the loch and it was further defended by the coastal defence artillery on both the northern and southern headlands at the lochs entrance. It was one of these historic and now derelict coastal defences from which we watched HMS Somerset enter the loch on Wednesday.
Today we decided to drive south to explore Red Point, a beautiful headland that no doubt gets its name from the incredible red sand that make up the tall dunes and the beach. Black-backed gulls sheltered on the near side of a rocky outcrop, and oystercatchers and turnstones scurried along the beach, battling the wind in search of food. The sand was whipping up and swirling so much that Kila often couldn’t find her stick! We had hoped to get a glimpse of the small Island of Rona, which is sandwiched between the mainland and the north-east coast of Skye, but we had trouble seeing our noses in front of us, and it was as if the western isles had completely disappeared.
The wild weather looks set to stay with us for the next couple of days so our viewing opportunities are likely to remain limited. We can only hope that the winds die down and the fair weather returns and in the mean time we will enjoy long walks on the glorious local beaches, in full wet weather gear, whilst keeping a keen eye out for any activity at sea!