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24 Hawk's Nib (2.6.20)

Posted 2/6/2020

Hawk's NibHawk's Nib


The southern end of the West Island Way is by the bus turning-circle beyond Kilchattan Bay (GR NS 108545); its first section, along the raised beach, was the subject of Walk 5.  The present walk covers the next section, from the cave at Creag a’ Mhara to Glencallum Bay.  Although well marked, this stretch is rather precipitous in parts and requires greater agility than any of  the walks so far described in this series.


There's a very uneven, rocky section immediately after passing through the gate by the cave, but soon the ‘Hawk’s Nib’ will come into view, a large sandstone overhang named after its supposed resemblance to a hawk’s neb (beak). 


Below the rock and for a short distance afterwards, the path is once again back on the raised beach.  Note how the vegetation changes according to the ground conditions;  on the wetter parts, you can find a good display of Ragged-robin and Yellow Flag Iris, as well as patches of Marsh Marigold and the occasional Northern Marsh Orchid.

Ragged-robin, Marsh-marigold and Common CottongrassRagged-robin, Marsh-marigold and Common Cottongrass

Northern Marsh-orchidNorthern Marsh-orchid


Drier areas, on the other hand, afford a habitat for a different range of plants, such as Wild Thyme, English Stonecrop and Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil (‘bacon and eggs’).  Heath Bedstraw (white) is here in abundance; soon also will be the wonderfully fragrant, yellow flowers of its close relative, Lady’s Bedstraw.

Heath Bedstraw and Common Bird's-foot TrefoilHeath Bedstraw and Common Bird's-foot Trefoil

Cat's-ear, Thrift and English StonecropCat's-ear, Thrift and English Stonecrop


Now the path climbs over a short rocky stretch before descending to level ground again. Here is the Rubh’ an Eun lighthouse.  The path then turns back inland towards the shingle beach of beautiful Glencallum Bay.

Looking back to the Hawk's NibLooking back to the Hawk's Nib

Glencallum BayGlencallum Bay







Usually on these walks I try to concentrate on the more common species, but Glencallum beach has a rarity that merits a mention.  Despite its exposure to the winter storms, a small colony of Hound’s-tongue has been established here for many years.  Although the species is by no means uncommon in the UK as a whole, its rarity lies in the fact that not merely is this its only site on Bute, it is its only known site within a radius of more than 50 miles!


Also on the shingle you can find Sea Campion, Stork’s-bill and Skullcap.

Sea CampionSea Campion

















If you wish, you can make a circular walk by continuing on the West Island Way so as to return to Kilchattan Bay via St Blane’s Church (see the WIW website for a detailed itinerary).  Alternatively retrace your steps and look for the flowers you didn’t see on the outward journey (I invariably find at least a few and wonder how I could possibly have missed them!).


Species in flower include:


Blackthorn Prunus spinosa
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Bush Vetch Vicia sepium
Cat's-ear Hypochaeris radicata
Common Bird's-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Common Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris
Common Cotton-grass Eriophorum angustifolium
Common Dog-violet Viola riviana
Common Nettle Urtica dioica
Common Stork's-bill Erodium cicutarium
Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens
Creeping Forget-me-not Myosotis secunda
Daisy Bellis perennis
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale agg.
English stonecrop Sedum anglicum
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Germander Speedwell Veronica chamaedrys
Greater Plantain Plantago major
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
Heath Bedstraw Galium saxatile
Heath Milkwort Polygala serpyllifolia
Hemlock Water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata
Herb Robert Geranium robertianum
Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale
Lady's Bedstraw Galium verum
Lady's-smock Cardamine pratensis
Lesser Yellow-trefoil Trifolium dubium
Lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica
Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre
Marsh-marigold Caltha palustris
Meadow Buttercup Ranunculus acris
Mouse-ear-hawkweed Pilosella officinarum
Northern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza purpurella
Pignut Conopodium majus
Prickly Sowthistle Sonchus asper
Primrose Primula vulgaris
Ragged-robin Silene flos-cuculi
Red  Dead-nettle Lamium purpureum
Red Campion Silene dioica
Red Rattle Pedicularis palustris
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata
Sea Campion Silene uniflora
Sea Mayweed Tripleurospermum maritimum
Sea Radish Raphanus raphanistrum ssp maritimus
Silverweed Potentilla anserina
Skullcap Scutelleria galericulata
Thrift Armeria maritima
Tormentil Potentilla erecta
White Clover Trifolium repens
Wild Thyme Thymus polytrichus
Yellow Flag Iris pseudacorus
Yellow Pimpernel Lysimachia nemorum