Co-ordinates: 57° 04 05'N and 7° 07 29'W
Weather: wet and cold
The Expedition Staff had the best of the weather when we left the ship at 0630 filled with enthusiasm. It was glorious going into Eriskay, even clocking up a golden eagle and three seals on the way. We had just over an hour to scout about and find the places and routes for the various walks we would be guiding, so we set off at a fast pace in different directions and quickly found that we all met up again on the one and only road – no problem about the guests getting lost at any rate!
About 80 guests went ashore in what was still pleasant weather and we divvied them into groups for the history, birding and photography walks. Peter and I marched them up to the top of the hill so that they could overlook the bay where Bonnie Prince Charlie is reputed to have come ashore and … true to form, as soon as I opened my mouth to talk history, the heavens opened and it wasn’t long before everyone was soaked through and heading back to the jetty. At least I was able to talk to them about the not-so-Bonnie Prince and the Jacobite risings, albeit a little in brief as the rain cloud gained on us. That said, it was a successful trip; the guests seemed to enjoy the walk and the view for the brief period that they saw it. The birders had an amazing time as the golden eagle was performing well and so were the seals (probably employed by the Scottish National Tourist Board).
The weather wasn’t improving much, so the Captain lost no time in setting off for the next destination whilst Chris (Rocky) Edwards gave a lecture on geology during which we learned the horrible truth that Scotland is gradually rising whilst England is sinking – the thought of all those Scotsmen rolling downhill into our fair land is deeply upsetting to any true English rose.
The weather was much kinder at Rhum. Kinloch Castle is more of a red-stone Disney-style two storey house once owned by a man with more money than sense, but also a very strong-minded French wife. Their story alone was interesting and we were equally fascinated and repelled by the seemingly endless rows of stags’ heads, stuffed humming-birds, stuffed fish, ivory screens, bronze eagles and a mechanical orchestra-machine. The house is gradually falling apart through damp and lack of maintenance, but it’s still well worth seeing, not least because it’s one of the quirky things that Britain so often does so well.
The walk to and from the house was delightful, though, with stunning views across the bay including a folly built on the edge of the house’s grounds and several posh yachts coming in for the evening.