Bridges down for #exxpeditionroundbritain

Sea Dragon has finished her traverse of the Caledonian Canal. It was (as expected) spectacularly beautiful, with the mountains reaching up around us. The route illustrates the profound language of landscape: the landskein of sillouhetted mountains, the ffird of mosaiced habitats on the edge of high upland, the scree, heather and high paths surrounding the lochs. The water itself is dark and mysterious, silk torn by our passage into smooth ruffles which might indeed hide some unseen monsters.

There are monsters in there of course: some seen and others awaiting the microscopic examination. We used the manta trawl twice yesterday: the second had visible plastic in and the first almost certainly contained smaller particles. Bottles bob at the entrances to the lochs, and many litter the crowded locks which just have room for Sea Dragon. The monster is our waste, our disregard and laziness. We ourselves are not the monsters, but some of our behaviour is monstrous.

We came into Muirtown yesterday afternoon to learn that the swing bridge at the bottom of the next five locks is bust. Its brakes are broken. I have no idea what that means but it doesn’t sound good. We had a peaceful night here and several of us found a nice bar 20 minutes walk away in Inverness. (More whisky!) It was a pleasure to stretch our legs and along the way we collected street litter to help our events in Edinburgh and make Inverness (even) cleaner.

This morning we planned to be away at 0840. Sadly, the bridge is still bust. So we are sitting here having an unaccustomed hour of relaxation. Some are science get: Deborah is teaching Jessica to put on the air pollution monitor, Cat and I are blogging, our co-mission leaders are catching up and some of us have rushed to the distant shower for a scrub up.  Given the ongoing intensity of this trip it is a welcome break.

Diane, our redoubtable skipper is less happy of course, because she needs to recalculate all our tidal gates and rethink the weather routing. We are on the edge of the high currently enjoyed by the east coast, and ahead of the low squeezing in from the Atlantic. At the moment we are (again) anticipating headwinds around the major headland on this passage – which is Cape Rattray, famous from the inshore weather forecasts. At the same time, Edinburgh is not Cardiff: it has no sills, shallows, tidal gates and locks to trap us in the wrong place.  

If you want to follow us, don’t forget to go to to find where Sea Dragon has got to. The shot shows our track through the Canal.

About Sarah Tanburn

I'm a writer, a sailor and a strategic adviser to public organisations. Visit my websites to find out more.
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