Meandering on Arran

A few days by the beach at Kildonan, known as Seal Shore.

Silver grey in the morning light and, after a few days of strong southerly winds, a tranquil sea ripples onto the shingle.

Looking to the west, long low fingers of rock reach out into the sea. These rocks are the seals’ basking platforms. From a distance it is hard to spot these Common Seals but then a crescent shaped ‘rock’ will turn and another seal will slip into the water. It is not uncommon to see a dozen seals reclining on the rocks.

The rocks themselves are geological superstars- known as the Arran Dyke Swarm, they’re possible the best exposed example of this geology in the world. Composed of basalt and dolerite, they were formed by volcanic action 60 million years ago. This tough rock forms reefs around the south of Arran. The bays between them forming as the sea and wind eroded softer sandstone between them.

(The seals just find them a convenient spot to lounge on.)

At low tide there are rock pools and sandy beaches. Oystercatchers and Curlews patrol this littoral looking for their lunch.

At high tide what remains of the beach is a tapestry of shingle, rock and seaweed.

Walking along the shore stimulates all the senses. The sounds; waves breaking on rocks and pebbles, wind tickling your ears, birds calling, sheep on the shore meadow. Touch; the feel of basalt as you scramble between the bays, grasses and wildflowers softening the surface, pebbles crunching into gritty sand, water shiveringly cold across fingers (and toes!). The scents; saltwater tang is on the air but face the wrong way and all you get is that seaweed stench. And sight; the light as sun dances off the water, colours so rich and varied,surface patterns etch detail onto the cliffs, the rocks and the sea .

So now I’m back in Newcastle remembering this beautiful beach. The long journey home gave time for reflection, ideas are noted and sketches roughed out. There is an Arran collection to develop as these ideas evolve and mature.

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