Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wet Week in Scotland, September 2017. Days 1 and 2.

Having had a a wet few days at the caravan in The Lakes from 5th of September, we moved up to the far north west of Scotland to Poolewe on the 8th.We had a good journey, but the time it took was a reminder of just how far north we were travelling, especially as we already had a head start, being in Cumbria.  We were certainly pleased to see Loch Maree come into sight as we breasted the pass and saw it through the murk along the length of Glen Docherty.
After a long day of driving we were well ready for a pottery day on our first day.  Weatherwise this was to be one of our best days in a wet week. After a lazy breakfast we wandered down to the village shop for some supplies and then continued on for a view of Loch Ewe.  On a previous visit we had driven out the the seaward end of the loch where there is an information board telling how it was used as a mustering point for the wartime arctic convoys to Murmansk.  I found this a very moving place and it really gave me a sense of the past and the fact that landscapes hold memories.
 Later in the day we drove around the coast visiting first a viewpoint down to Loch Maree and then back through Poolewe on the coast road to Ullapool visiting the wonderfully remote beach of Mellon Udrigle.  The last time we had been here the air ambulance was lifting out a casualty and amazingly the same thing happened on this trip.  While here we saw again devil's bit scabious and monkey flower and there was still plenty of heather in flower especially bell heather.  We had excellent views of a hunting harrier as well as more chilling ones out to Gruinard Island, where, in 1942, the government tested anthrax with a view to investigating the feasibility of using it as a bioweapon.  Eighty sheep were taken out to the island and bombs containing anthrax exploded nearby.  The sheep began to die within days.  The main purpose of our day was to reconnoitre the start of our planned backbacking trip into the Fisherfield Forest when we had a suitable break in the weather.  Following this we explored a back road up to viewpoint overlooking Ullapool hoping to see golden eagles.  In this we were successful with a family group of four of these majestic birds hunting over the hillside above us.

We had identified Monday to Wednesday as our best window for backpacking so on the Sunday we pottered into Gairloch for coffee and cake at the amazing Mountain Coffee Company.  Fantastic coffee and cakes and a wonderful bookshop.  Suitably refreshed we drove along ever narrowing roads out to the headland lighthouse at Rudha Reidah.  Here I was fascinated by the old quay which at one time was used to supply the lighthouse with it's inclined plane and old winch.  We had good sightings of shags and map lichen on the rocks as well as views up to Sutherland and the mountains of Stac Pollaidh and Suillven.  

Feeling that it was time for lunch we headed back to Gairloch and round to the other side of the bay to the fabulous Badachro Inn where we enjoyed a delicious bowl of Cullen Skink.  The tide was out and in a brief period of sun the brillantly coloured seaweeds gleamed gold against the water and we were treated to a wonderful rainbow.

Needing a walk after lunch we continued to Red Point beach in worsening weather.  Foolishly we decided to walk down to the beach and received an absolute drenching for our pains.

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