Mellon Charles

I first visited Loch Ewe in 2013 and was amazed on discovering its role in World War II. An unassuming role modestly portrayed in a few information boards scattered around its coast. WW2 remains abound, anti aircraft gun emplacements, military buildings and foundations. Loch Ewe is a deep sea loch and during the war it was used to muster merchant shipping in relative safety before heading off with vital supplies to Murmansk in war torn Russia, in what has become known as the Arctic Convoys. The convoys, of up to 40 ships with Navy escorts, sailed close to the Artic pack ice in an attempt to avoid German U Boats. Many were unsuccessful.

To protect the ships while in Loch Ewe an anti submarine net or boom was laid across the loch at its narrowest point, about 3km. Barrage balloons and anti aircraft guns provided protection against airborne attack. During the war military personnel outnumbered the local population by 3:1.

Mellon Charles was the Boom Defence Depot. The most visible remains is this concrete jetty forming an island that has been adopted by a colony of terns which took to divebombing us as we paddled past.

The seas around Mellon Charles are particularly rich in marine life and have been designated by the Scottish Wildlife Trust as part of their Snorkel Trail. Yet in spite this accolade the beach was exceptionally quiet. Golden sands but marred only by a thick tide mark of drying kelp. Only one other car arrived, an ex-serviceman looking up old haunts. He was stationed here for two weeks in 1972 as part of the Royal Marines artic warfare section.

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