No seals, but plenty of rusting, old farm machinery.
Flodda (Flodaigh) is a small island attached to the north coast of Benbecula by means of a short causeway. I drove over the causeway and parked at the end of the road in the bus turning circle. A sign asks people not to park during the hours of 8.00 – 8.45am and 3.30 – 4.30pm as this is when the space is needed by the bus. An abandoned brown 3-wheeled car is perched at the side of the space rotting away.
Two tracks lead off side-by-side. The right-hand one leads down to the small peninsula where a resident seal colony can be found. Part way along this track is another abandoned car. This one has been put to use as a display board for the ‘Flodaigh Seal News’. An A4 map of the area showing the best walking routes and the best points to see seals (noted as Point A and Point B) is stuck to the inside of the driver’s window. On the dashboard is another A4 sheet giving information about the routes and the seals. It reported that the seals often beach themselves on the rocks during low tide, sliding back into the sea to go fishing at high tide. So low tide is the best time to see them. I had no idea what the state of the tide was, but as I’ve seen plenty of seals before and I fancied an evening stroll, I set off anyway.
As I was leaving the car to continue down the track a man came striding purposefully across the moor and over the wire fence. I said hello but I don’t think he even registered my presence. He strode past the car and down to the croft house from where a few minutes later I could hear him shouting ‘hello’. On my return I saw him striding out back across the moor. It made me think of times of old when people would have visited each others houses in this way. Now most people use a car, but maybe the old ways still continue for some.
A little further on the track splits, but a hand painted sign on the ground points the way to ‘seals’. A little further still another sign on the ground shows the paths leading to Point A or Point B. The information in the car had said that Point A was rougher going, so I decided to go that way first. Although it wasn’t particularly difficult going I was glad of my poles to sweep all the bracken away. A faint but definite path led the way through to the end of the point past several pieces of abandoned and well-rusted farm machinery.
There were no seals to be seen. I continued round the small headland and came to what must be Point B – I could see the path leading back. No seals here either. There weren’t many exposed rocks for them to sit on so I guess it was high tide and they were all out fishing. I walked back along the second path, which was much easier going, past more abandoned and rusted farm machinery, back to my van.
The walk was just over a mile in length so quite a good one to fit into a day spent doing other things. Although it was a shame not to have seen any seals, I have seen them before, and the walk was a nice way of getting to see a bit of yet another Hebridean island.