During my time on Knoydart, from a 1year old to my twenties, I have grown to know the animals which live in the bay as the heart and soul of this unique location. Without the wildlife this is still a spectacular place which you will never forget for its outstanding experiences. However without the wildlife it would miss the character which these animals give to you on every walk, sail or view from the window seat.
Whether you’re keen on travelling to spot the rarer species or you just want to look through the telescope from the cottage, you will not be disturbed.
Below are some of the species to be seen just outside the house or in the surrounding bays.
On the land:Red Dear, Highland Goats, Frogs and sometimes Otters and pine martens.
In the Water:Grey or Common Seal, Crabs, Lobsters, Langoustine, Mackerel, Porpoise,Dolphins, Shrimp, Flat fish, Mussels, Minke Whales, Basking Sharks.
In the Skies:Cormorants, Black headed and common gulls, turns, guillemots, ringed plovers, oyster catchers, curlew, snipe, sand plover, kestrels, buzzards, golden and sea eagles, divers, Butterflies, Dragonflies, etc.Please see more details of Hebridean wildlife including Golden eagles, Otters, and Whales at the Doune holidays website Knoydart.
Some species are far less likely to be seen than others and if you are lucky enough to see the rarer animals please don’t forget to make a note in the house book.
Furthermore, whilst being on Knoydart my Father has had over 20,000 saplings planted on our land in an attempt to encourage the regeneration of the highland forests. With the first of these trees planted before we rebuilt the cottage (over 20 years ago) some of these plantations are now well developed woodland with tree
heights at over 25ft!! These are providing a brilliant habitat for insects, birds and mammals to thrive in the cover of fresh grasses and heathers and a great place to go for a little walk or to play games such as "fort", "forty forty" or "the tree game" as we have many times in the past. Please remember if you open any gates to shut them immediately to prevent the devastating entrance of deer. The trees are mainly oak, willows, mountain ash, alder, holly, scots pine and silver birch.
The most popular way to get around on Knoydart is by foot. With over 55 square miles of open country to walk in, you never have the same experience twice.
Spectacular views, mountain air, paddling in burns, climbing water falls, keeping fit and being at one with the hills. The benefits of walking are endless but whether its just a stroll along the beach or a day trip up a Munro or two (Knoydart having 3 of its own) there is always something new around the corner to enjoy.
There are various recommended walking routes around the peninsular which can be found in the Knoydart Foundation office.
Bringing bikes is also an option, although it is very hard work.
Swimming is "refreshing", but must be tried once if the weather allows.
For either a potter about in the bay or a short day trip in one of our own boats, it is surprising what a different perspective you can get from the water.
I learnt to sail here with my family and our dingy Nutkin. A very stable craft with sails and oars she is perfect for learning to tack and jibe in the safety of our highland bay.
We also have two larger (16 ft Cornish Coble and 19 ft Drascombe Lugger) sailing boats which are very useful for the more planned trips. These boats are however a bit more difficult to rig and manage and are thus recommended for more experienced sailors. Furthermore you are urged that any water bound exercise is conducted at your own risk and that the larger boats.
For adventurous (Careful) trips you can visit Skye, Mallaig, Inverie or the other Sandaig Bay up the coast; previously owned by occupied by Gavin Maxwell, author of "Ring of Bright Water". The possibilities are endless.
Aside from our own boats, day boat trips can also be booked in larger boats from local skippers, to visit the surrounding lochs and islnds of Eigg, Muck, Skye, Rhum and Canna.
One option is to use the locally based boat Lophelia run under the name of "sea knoydart".
Sea Knoydart provides fast, comfortable and safe transport to and from Knoydart, the surrounding islands and almost anywhere you might want to go on the west coast of Scotland. Charter the boat for an hour, a day or even a whole week. Go on one of their expeditions to explore remote and exciting destinations. Sea Knoydart also incorporates Knoydart Sea School which is a Royal Yachting Association recognized powerboat school. Visit Sea Knoydart at Sea Knoydart.co.uk.
Please seek details and availability from the the Knoydart Foundation or Road to the Isles website on alternative options.
Mackerel fishing using feathers, from a saiing boat, is the best way to catch fish in summer months.
We have some crab and lobster pots at the cottage which are a great way to catch your own langoustine, crabs or lobsters. Once again however this can be extremely dangerous if you are caught in
bad weather or you become entangled in the rope. Thus this is again at your own risk with your own common sense. A few tips and rules with the use of pots however are as follows:
Having constructed many rafts in our bay since I was born I find it to be one of the most satisfying, if wet activities during a holiday. Use any of the materials you find on the beach including drift wood and ropes and have a go. You could be lucky and find an old raft at the house on arrival.
IN august you can also take your raft to the annual Knoydart Games. The raft race is one of several activities including the hill run and a ceilidh in the evenings.
As you may have seen earlier there is no shop on Knoydart and therefore all supplies have to either be bought beforehand or shipped over.
Without going for a meal there is only really one option for drinking on Knoydart. This is The Old Forge in Inverie. "The remotest pub in mainland Britain" according to the guiness book of records this free house can become the heart of Knoydart all year round. Frequented at most hours of the day you can trust to have a good chat in there. Impromptu live music is sometime played and it is usually a lively atmosphere.
Good restaurant/bar food is also available from the Old Forge making it a good place to spend a whole evening out. With food ranging from venison pie to seafood platers you will be content and impressed by the standards in this remote place (same to be said for all locations listed below).
I am personally impressed by how well the smoking rules have been adhered to in this remote location which also has no garage, police or petrol station.
The Doune restaurant holds the "EatScotland Silver Award for 2007" and now "can announce that Doune Dining Room has been given the Destination Dining Award for 2007 for providing the very best of food in the finest of settings". Providing a fine selection of foods Doune is great for an evening out. However you will need to walk over the moor in order to get down to it.
When all is said and done however it is normally nice to spen most eveings just relaxing in Sandaig Cottage with some home made broth, fresh risen bread and (maybe!) seafood caught in the pots 10minutes before eating. All before settling down to a board game, poem reading, play on the guitar adn whaetaver booze you have brought with you. The satisfaction of providing for yourself when you are in the middle of nowhere, in your own little world is satisfying and the food usually tastes better because the fresh air gives you an appetite.