My Mallaig Milestone
My Mallaig Milestone
I do feel that every birthday now is just another year passing but justifies some fun all the same; however, this year I did consider that the biblical achievement of three score years and ten should be marked with much communication with family and friends, and a nice meal somewhere different, after all, according to Lorna and Allan, I am now a member of the over 70 gang!
We motored out on windless 13th August past a flock of elegant eider ducks who are resident on Canna (there is a closer picture of a trio of them on my last photo entry ‘Canna and back to Zoonie’) and into blues of the happy kind, blues of every hue and everywhere, the deep enticing blue of distant mountains, the rare and generous blue of the sky, and the gentle reflected blue of the water around us. The inviting blue of the Outer Hebrides visible behind us had me thinking, couldn’t we just turn around and cover those 24 miles today please? But ‘no’, the plan was set and Zoonie’s bow stayed pointing eastwards.
We had booked (‘booked’ for the first time this season) two nights of luxury in the marina at Mallaig and just after a chat with Charly we turned in towards the harbour channel. It still amazes me that we can chat on the phone to people while we are at sea, thanks to the phone signal reaching a few miles offshore. The three red vertical lights mounted on the harbour wall were not illuminated, to tell us to let the ferry negotiate the narrow channel first, so we were clear to proceed.
An early afternoon look around this buzzing village, checking the pubs for menus and beer quality, we settled on a 5.30pm booking at the Cornerstone Restaurant overlooking the harbour.
Mallaig is a real hub and there is almost more infrastructure around the harbour than further onshore. There is a rail link to Glasgow and ferries to Canna, The Outer Hebrides and Armadale on Skye. Fishing is still carried out in the nearby waters and of course cruising yachts enjoy the security of the marina and moorings in good and bad weather.
As the kind young gentleman in the restaurant had slotted us in before the main evening bookings, he was able to give us a table right by a window overlooking all the activity around the harbour one might expect on a sunny holiday, ice-creams being eaten, soggy dogs leaning against the white hairy legs of their owners, locals trying to make their way around the visitors, camper vans slowly moving through to find a good spot for the night and so on. All great to watch while one is eating, chatting and becoming 70.
The food was top notch. I had a mushroom with truffle risotto with shards of parmesan and Rob tucked into a slice of venison with neaps and tatties and roasted seasonal veg. The Muscadet was fruity and the chocolate dessert with raspberry sorbet rounded the meal off perfectly.
Next morning, on my birthday, he surprised me with a beautiful pair of earrings in silver and copper gold stems with a tiny diamond between them and I had two birthday cards. After breakfast we took advantage of having a Co op walking distance away and, on our return, laden with bulging bags, a thunder storm and veils of rain reminded me of the damaging storm that raged on the night of my birth, causing the Lynton, Lynmouth disaster in north Devon when a dam overflowed forcing the river back to its original shape, taking everything in its path out to sea. The fishing fleet returned to what they hoped would be shelter only to find cars and wardrobes floating out to sea to meet them.
Lots more chats and messaging were done in the afternoon and with bubbly and chocolate cake at tea time I felt thoroughly initiated into my 7th decade.
The weather forecast was telling us of more strong winds and rain for the next few days so we moved onto a mooring buoy in the harbour for two nights at half the price of the marina. The barometer was dropping rapidly and the harbour was totally exposed to the wind blowing from the north directly onto the bow of the moored vessels. Yet again we trusted the buoy would hold us. There was no room for anchoring with all the ferry traffic and little space.
walk took us up a small glen behind the town, into complete
silence behind the
headland and as we followed the path on around the promontory
Loch Nevis came
into view, bathed in sunshine. Pretty little crofts with the
typical Gaelic two
apex windows in the roof were mostly busy with residents
enjoying the short
weather reprieve. Can you spot the deer lying down in the photo
before the ferry?
We sat out the discomfort the next day and watched yachts struggle in to an available berth, crew leaping on to the pontoon to tie down their craft and relax, relieved to have made it safely in. Two were singlehanded but the harbour master was there to help them.
We sat in Zoonie’s snug saloon and planned our next destination, Isle Ornsay, on Skye a mere ten miles away.