Sunday, 12 July 2009

Salt Island: July 2009

We met at Killyleagh Yacht Club, County Down, yesterday morning, where Craig ferried us all over to Salt Island. Salt Island is in Strangford Lough and is owned by the National Trust. Craig was using one of the smaller boats, so he ferried us over in two sailings.

We anchored off the north-west shore of the island, the opposite side to where the jetty is, and our tasks were both close to this spot. This low-lying part of the island is a designated camp-site and our task was to construct a basic latrine nearby. We found a suitable spot and dug a ten foot trench about one foot in depth; then erected pre-prepared wattle-screens (from branches at Anne's Point) around the trench. This, basically, was the latrine. I suggested that we placed a notice - Squatters Only - on a tree beside it!

Later on, we worked at the small pond close by. There is evidence that otters have been here. We enlarged the pond and tried to remove as much weed and undergrowth as possible.

The bothy, at the other side of the island, was being used by a group of scouts this weekend. Their tents were all standing in the enclosed ground at the front.

We had a relatively good turn-out yesterday, numbering about a dozen. Anna had brought some of her delicious home-made ginger-cake. I was delighted to learn that Natalie and Hannah shall be on Rathlin Island at the same time as myself in ten days' time. That will be a great excuse for a drink or two. They'll be staying at a hostel.

Salt was looking wonderful; we heard skylarks and watched swallows feeding. I didn't get an opportunity to have a walk round the island because we always seem to be pre-occupied doing the day's tasks. Ideally I'd like to stay on Salt for a few days with the others, in the bothy. It's good to see the bothy so popular with youth groups, canoeing clubs and organizations now. Of course anyone can book the bothy and enjoy the island life of peace, tranquillity, nature and wildlife.

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