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Ready for launch

The bottom scraping is now complete and fresh antifouling paint applied. (In reality all that has occurred is an exchange of layers of costly, but old paint for more expensive new ones but we boat-owners do this sort of thing, willingly, year after year.) Ready-for-the-water4Once Cirrus’ sails are bent on she takes on that fresh, ready-for-the-water look again, but regrettably not before Kate climbs on board over the stern and falls foul of the boom as she stands up on the deck, cracking her head on a sharp edge protruding beneath it. This is an embarrassing thing to do at the best of times but whilst the boat is still on dry land it takes some explaining to understand how this could happen. The boom was lashed up for winter, not in its normal position, and Kate’s momentary lack of attention, whilst not damaging the boom Just kidding, has left her with a nasty cut and mild concussion. All my fault, of course.

All is now ready for when, over Easter, Cirrus will be lifted gently back into her natural element and we can go sailing again. We are both (Kate included despite her altercation with the boom), keen to explore further the fabulous area we live in and we can only hope that the weather will be kind enough to us so we can make a start.

Kate’s poorly head prevents her from joining me and friends David and Hilary on a long walk along the sea cliffs down at the Mull, the headland at the southern tip of the Kintyre peninsula. Sanda and Ailsa CraigTo get to the start we drive along the scary bit of single-track that leads to the Mull until we reach a point where we can cut across rough country towards the sea. From this angle the volcanic plug of Ailsa Craig appears to be just behind Sanda Island although in reality they are separated by many miles across the Firth of Clyde. It is a ‘too bright, too soon’ day and by 10.30 in the morning the sun has retreated south to a thin strip on the horizon but the three of us launch ourselves across Borgadale Water, traversing around the hillside until we find the ruins of the dun, an ancient fortified settlement standing on a high point which still today affords good visibility across the Channel to Ireland. While the sky is overcast and the view is predominantly grey, the greys come in so many shades that there is an ethereal feel to the place, haunted as it is by its past.Sron Uamha fort

We now traverse west on difficult terrain following the line of the cliff as best we can, past another ancient monument, the fort at Sròn Uamha (try saying it like ‘uva’), the southernmost point of the Mull, where we stop to eat our lunch within the 2000 year-old walls of what must once have been an imposing stronghold. No less than three defensive walls once protected this place on the landward side and vertical sea cliffs running along the seaward edge still form a natural barrier second to none.

Walking on we arrive at a point where the inland crags of An Gobhann descend to meet the sea cliffs. There is only one passing point here, a grassy slope beneath a sheer rock face with another steep drop to the sea on the left. With no alternative apart from retracing our footsteps across miles of open country, we tread cautiously onwards to reach the relative safety of slightly more level ground just around the corner. Hilary on An GoghannStrictly for the goats, this one.

What I find most intriguing about this whole area is that there is evidence on the ground, even to our untrained eyes, that a considerable settlement existed here, amongst the cliffs along the shore, on terrain which most of us would regard as totally inhospitable. These people cultivated crops on the few reasonably flat patches, they kept livestock, built fortified dwellings; the marks of all of this are still evident on the landscape today. There must have been better, easier places to live but they chose this spot, for very good reasons, no doubt. We just can’t imagine what they were.

Over five hours after we started we are back at the car resting our weary legs. Somehow the forecast rain has held off although we were in cloud for a time on the top of the Mull above the lighthouse. This place attracts cloud like a moth to a flame so we consider ourselves very fortunate to come away dry. The ground is surprisingly dry just now after several weeks with no substantial rainfall at all. The air is still cool but spring is definitely coming now.

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