Day 292: Aultbea to Greenstone Point – Wildfire & Submarine Nets

4 comments
Ross-shire - West, Scotland
Date of walk: 18/4/19

This structure in Loch Ewe is the remains of a jetty used for loading the arctic convoys in WWII, where they begun their perilous journey. A submarine net ran from this point to the opposite mouth of the loch while concrete naval gun and anti-aircraft emplacements surrounding the site remain. Mellon Charles, Wester Ross, Scotland.

“They say when the Arctic convoy was here, you could walk from one side of the loch to the other there were so many ships”, a dog walker in Aultbea tells me. Judging by his attuned bearing, I ask if he’s a fisherman “I had three boats once, sold them now. The industry’s changed. Fish farms are all big corporations today. When I started, the fish were in wooden cages, and we fed them by hand, now the fish barges feed the pellets in by machine, and each barge has one operator who controls everything by a computer onshore.”

Mellon Charles beach by loch Ewe, Wester Ross, Scotland.

Blocks used to secure an anti-submarine net across the mouth of Loch Ewe in WWII. Mellon Charles, Wester Ross, Scotland.

WWII jetty, Mellon Charles, Wester Ross, Scotland.

A bring-your-own-history info panel by Loch Ewe, Scotland.

Say cheese! Ormiscaig, Wester Ross, Scotland.

Command post with the Isle of Ewe to which a submariine net used to run, WWII anti-aircraft position I, Mellon Charles by Loch Ewe, Scotland.

Painted Tin Hats & Gas Masks? sign in a WWII anti-aircraft position, Mellon Charles by Loch Ewe, Scotland.

Ammunition lockers, WWII anti-aircraft position II, Mellon Charles by Loch Ewe, Scotland.

Painted signs from WWII indicating different grades of gun oil from an anti-aircraft position, Mellon Charles by Loch Ewe, Scotland.

The Isle of Ewe with the Torridon Hills from Mellon Charles, Scotland.

Isle of Ewe, Wester Ross, Scotland.

Peaty paths through heather become disconcerting bouncy when above sheer 100m cliffs. I look up, not quite believing my eyes, to see plumes of smoke rise from the headlands ahead as wildfire burns along the horizon. I try to dispel thoughts of being caught in the blaze while walking or, worse, while in a tent. The fire has died down by the time I reach the charred landscape. Fence posts are burnt away, leaving their wires draped exhausted across the landscape. As I walk through the burnt heather, my trousers look like a toddler has attacked them with a stick of charcoal. In places, peat still smoulders, sending up swirls of smoke. This unexpected transformation makes an interesting photographic subject as what one expects to be green is now black.

After the wildfire I. Slaggan, Wester Ross, Scotland.

After the wildfire II. Slaggan, Wester Ross, Scotland.

After the wildfire III, Greenstone Point, Wester Ross, Scotland.

Gables, Slaggan after the wildfire, Wester Ross, Scotland.

After the wildfire IV, Greenstone Point, Wester Ross, Scotland.

After the wildfire V, Greenstone Point, Wester Ross, Scotland.

Approaching Greenstone Point, Scotland.

Lochan near Greenstone Point, Wester Ross, Scotland.

I reach Greenstone Point under a full moon and enjoy the rare luxury of being able to delay putting up the tent as there’s no wind. Sleeping on the dry peat is as comfortable as a mattress at home. I get the first glimpse of Assynt, the very far north, from the tent in the morning.

Sunset from Greenstone Point, Scotland.

 

WWII anti-aircraft position, Mellon Charles by Loch Ewe, Scotland.

Single WWII anti-aircraft position, Mellon Charles by Loch Ewe, Scotland.

Hmm, I think I’ll give this B&B a miss.

Reunited with another food bag sent ahead to a B&B. 5 days of provisions to take me to Ullapool.

Camp at Greenstone Point, Wester Ross, Scotland.

These blocks were used to secure the anti-submarine net across the mouth of Loch Ewe in WW2.
WWII anti-aircraft position, Mellon Charles.
Painted sign in a WWII anti-aircraft position, Mellon Charles.
WWII anti-aircraft position, Mellon Charles.
Walking through charred heather after the wildfire at Greenstone Point.
Smoking peat after the wildfire at Greenstone Point.
Emerging from the charred ground near Greenstone Point.
Camp at Greenstone Point.
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British Architectural & Landscape Photographer.

4 thoughts on “Day 292: Aultbea to Greenstone Point – Wildfire & Submarine Nets”

  1. kevan hubbard says:

    ‘allo!allo!’was obviously popular in the west of Scotland and I’d forgotten about Herr Flick but his image shot, probably not a good choice of word,into my mind.Looks like some of those wartime fortifications could be used as a makeshift bothy too although they obviously in general are going to be open to the west as that’s where the attack would come from,the sea, and the prevailing wind direction is west so would be windy.

    • Ah is that what that was, I missed the reference and thought it was outright xenophobia! I’ve brewed up in countless of these coastal fortifications but find them much colder, dirtier and harder than the tent to sleep in.

      • kevan hubbard says:

        Probably xenophobia too!Herr Flick was a Gestapo operative in a French village in the BBC comedy ‘allo!’allo!’which must be 1980’s.But a sort of comedy Gestapo man not the type who pulls out people’s finger nails and leaves bodies hanging from trees to the west of Leningrad!

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