That Kennacraig foreshore is bogging!

To reach his perch Lawrence had to cross the boggy shore in front of the Kennacraig terminal, where Glen Sannox is pictured on 24 January 1981

In the latest episode of Lawrence Macduff’s ‘Confessions of a cameraman’, our intrepid photographer sets his sights on a rocky outcrop to the south of Kennacraig ferry terminal, and almost comes to grief as he strides across the foreshore.

Flushed with the success of my first sortie to the top of Dunskeig, it was easy to see that there might be other photography sites worth investigating along the shores of West Loch Tarbert.

One such was a low rocky outcrop jutting into the loch just south of the ferry terminal. Here was an ideal location, clear of obstructions and properly sunlit: you could take pictures of ferries coming up the West Loch, passing this location and then berthing, backing out, turning and heading out again.

Having left the car at the terminal and taken the short walk back down the causeway to the shoreline, I thought that, to reach this perch, I’d simply walk along the top edge of the grass border in front of the tree-line — or, at low tide, navigate across the beach and carefully cross the muddy ground leading to the rock itself. But in my keenness to get there, I hadn’t appreciated that there were in fact several hidden obstacles.

View from the perch: Glen Sannox berths at Kennacraig on 24 January 1981, with the upper reaches of West Loch Tarbert beyond

On a fine, calm day in 1981, I made for the site knowing that Glen Sannox was on her way. Here was a great chance to film her from this seemingly highly desirable site. I abandoned the car in the rudimentary, muddy ground that, at that time, passed for parking space, and hoofed it back to the shoreline.

Having clambered down the bouldered causeway and begun to make my way across the sand- and seaweed-strewn beach, I found my feet beginning to sink in places.

I persevered till I found myself faced with another quick flowing water course, too broad to jump and too deep to wade through. And of course, who hadn’t given a moment’s thought to bringing the right footwear? What a struggle it was to find a way round this barrier. The fresh water simply disseminated into a broad fan once it reached the flat sandy bay, but eventually I found the least risky course and plowtered on for a further 200 yards.

My feet were already in a deplorable state, when finally I reached a rickety barbed wire fence, whose rotted fence posts still managed to remain approximately vertical and set in what looked like tufts of weed. Time was passing, sweat was pouring off me, and when I finally managed to land on terra firma, there just had to be a climb up a bramble-strewn tumble of rough ground to gain that desired height and view.

The ‘Sannox’ was by now a bit too close for comfort but, still breathing fiercely, I just managed to get the gear out in time, hurriedly mounted my telephoto, and then, as the ship approached, passed and turned to berth, I knew I’d done the right thing. The sun was just about out, and what a smashing vantage point this was.

Once the ship was away again, I faced the same agonies to get back to the car. Some hours later, back in Ardrishaig, I discovered that my wallet was missing. No sign of it in the car, so I headed back the next day to the beach in an effort to retrace my course. I searched for an hour in vain.

Idly traipsing over this same beach several months later, imagine my surprise when I came across the wallet quite by chance, near the high tide mark. It was not particularly damaged — but the contents were missing…..

The ‘Sannox’ had an easier job manoeuvring into the berth at Kennacraig than Lawrence had negotiating the beach in front of the ferry terminal

‘CONFESSIONS OF A CAMERAMAN’ — the series so far:
Boating with a Box Brownie
Remembering Jim Aikman Smith
Three Lochs Tour: Loch Shiel, Loch Boisdale and Loch Snizort
Kerrera, bank keys and the ‘King George’
A fitting introduction to the Kingdom of MacBrayne
Golden memories of the Inner Islands mail
‘Hielan Mary gets all the best steamer views!’
A brand new ferry to pursue (MV Pioneer)
What one does for the love of a steamer photo
The delights of Dunskeig
Hiking up to Hutcheson
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Published on 24 March 2019