Working Chums come to Tanera

30 June 2010

The chums en route to clean a beachWhat a June it’s been! Hard to believe that it’s a month since the arrival of our gang of Working Chums. Seven willing friends hand selected for their knowledge of fauna and flora, love of hard graft, cutting-edge conversation and general resilience to challenging conditions, arrived on Tanera over the late May Bank Holiday for what promised to be a week of achievement, and quite a lot of fun.

And what a start they got off to. Sunday saw the laying out of the first section of a 'Round-the-Island-Path' coupled with a comprehensive clean-up of Tanera's largest beach, Mol Mòr. As the week went on paths were given special attention with drainage channels cleared and improved, halved tree trunks laid as 'duck-boards' in some of the wettest areas and large stones strategically placed to improve the general experience of the main Ard-na-Goine to Rosslyn path.

Bags of rubbish, and a tired chum, being removed from TaneraSeveral more beaches were relieved of their smothering rubbish: a curiously satisfying and addictive activity. Some of the beaches are a long rough walk from the nearest pier, so the many many bin bags were collected on a calm day, using Patricia and a rowing dinghy for access. The vast majority of the rubbish was plastic, which of course does not biodegrade but just breaks down into smaller pieces. Apparently, in parts of the sea there are now six times more plastic particles than plankton. Marine creatures are eating these fragments, which can’t be good for them or for anyone further up the food-chain. So it was nice to remove a small amount from our own patch.

In between these physical (hot, and sometimes midge-ridden) activities, the chums were on hand in the café to assist with some large half term visits from the Summer Queen, Hectoria and the cruise boat MS Expedition. We were in heaven: seven extra pairs of hands to lighten the load and expedite even the most time consuming jobs. And some of these chums even declared they’d unearthed an unexpected love of washing up. They can certainly come back. Soon.

Three seal pups enjoying a morning paddleThere was even time for some non-graft activities. We found some excellent snorkelling spots, and discovered that a dry suit is an essential part of any May visitor's swimming wardrobe. Warm rocks, cold seas. Beach fires, fresh scallops and sizzling sausages. Early morning kayak forays and high-adrenalin dare-devil cliff jumping.

By the end of the week exhausted but (we think) happy chums left the Island for the South, with a considerable list of achievements to their name, including:

Five chums making light work of a heavy load- Marking out a round-Island path, which now just requires some walking in.... any takers?
- Improvement works to the existing east coast cliff path
- Shifting some large timbers from the wood for pier restoration
- Slick and professional café service to big numbers of May visitors
- The beginnings of a lovely bird guide to give our visitors (initiated by a one-time Young Ornithologist of the Year)
- Collecting approximately one tonne of rubbish from Tanera's beaches
- Eating approximately one tonne of biscuits


But we didn’t have time to miss them too much, because the following day Jules of NorWest Sea Kayaking arrived for our first ever kayaking course, and it’s been non-stop ever since!
Massive thanks to the chums (chumps?) for their tireless endeavour, smiling faces, scintillating conversation and general joy that they brought to Tanera. We’re looking forward to next year already. Are you...?

Tanera Mòr, Summer Isles, Achiltibuie, by Ullapool, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV26 2YN

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