We went across the sound of Sleat at Morar on Shrove Tuesday. We do like a family adventure. It always starts with the challenge of getting all that we need for a day out into a quite large estate car without putting the roofbox on. We managed, just. We had two adults, two children and two dogs plus two camera bags and two changes of clothes for children and four sets of alternative footwear, a large cool bag with a packed lunch and some snacks, well a lot of snacks.
A top L365 tip when using a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry is to book in advance. For two reasons: the first is that you get on the ferry you want and secondly as this is the west highlands we have a lovely relaxed way of doing things. When we arrived at the ferry terminal in Armadale the Cal-Mac man who showed us where to line up for the ferry told us our tickets were in the office lying on the desk. So you wander into the building where there are lots of people patiently queuing to buy a ticket from the man who is at that point outside directing traffic. You get to walk up to the counter like a seasoned local and look through the little bundles of pre-booked and pre-printed tickets lying there for the ones with your name, pick them up turn round, smile at the people in the queue and casually walk back to your car. Remembering to look cool and like you do this all the time. You are local, you have knowledge and they should respect you.
The next part of the adventure was quite interesting. There is a relief ferry running on the Armadale to Mallaig route and it isn’t roll on, roll off. Oh no. This means you have to reverse on. Which is a bit of a challenge. I looked around to see how many hire cars there were in the queue. There were quite a few (You learn up here to keep an eye out for cars with a sticker on the petrol cap lid telling what sort of fuel has to be used, a sure give-away that the car is hired. If it is hired the chance of the tourist behind the wheel unfamiliar with driving in the western highlands doing something random and scary are considerably higher).
Everybody made it on unscathed though the car after us almost crashed into our car after ignoring the very clear instructions from the crew member guiding it on. There was lots of shouting and waving from him, horn pressing from me and breath holding from Mrs L365. The errant car stopped about two inches from the front of ours.
The journey to Malliag isn’t as interesting as you would expect. All the seats on the ferry look backwards and the view is blocked by the huge stern ramp. Though the hills had a pleasing dusting of snow on them which kept the tourists who were brave enough to venture out into the cold happy.
When we arrived at Mallaig it only took us a few minutes after disembarking – thankfully forwards – to arrive at Camusdarrach in Morar. Mrs L365 was to have a meeting with a wedding client and the rest of us were to go to the beach. Everyone happy!
As per usual we arrive on a beach and I try and capture its natural beauty and all I manage to get is the natural stupidity of The Assistants.
Our children forced into posing on the beach.
Morar is rightly famous for its amazing sandy beaches. They are silvery and beautiful and more importantly clean. I have a grading system for beaches. They can be awarded 1 to 5 blue gloves. One being the best and 5 the worst. Blue gloves are endemic on the Scottish shore. Most of the rubbish on beaches of the west coast seem to come from fishing boats and fishermen seem to loose an awful lot on blue rubber gloves overboard, along with bits of netting and the little dividers that go in the boxes they put crayfish in. There is very little on the wide open and inviting silver sands of Morar.
The famous “Local Hero” beach
A fun day of photography and jumping off huge sand dunes was had by all. There was even time to stop off in the graveyard quiet village of Mallaig – in summer it is hectic and bustling but a Tuesday afternoon in February, not so much.
The reverse back onto the ferry is easier in Mallaig or maybe experience was paying off. The journey back is just as obscured as the previous one. So we had time to sit and reflect on our day. I managed to show off my prowess at reversing onto car ferries. Mrs L365 found out that the bride she is to photograph is lovely and has a highly photogenic family. Our children managed to exhaust themselves, use all the spare clothes we brought and got to go to a toy shop as well. A grand day out.