Friday, 24 June 2016

Gairloch with Ian, Helen and Monty dog

Sunday morning breakfast on the deck in Gairloch

The last blog entry finished with us sitting in the car in the rain on our campsite. Well, it continued to rain through the night and the next morning, thoroughly soaking our tent which was then packed up in the rain and shoved into the car. The result was a very wet carpet in the back of the car which, so far has taken two weeks to get anywhere near dry and has left a bit of a damp smell inside. We’re hoping the good weather now, coupled with leaving the car doors open will dry it off properly.

Monty dog in a stream with his Scotland mini rugby ball
Yes, the midges were biting!
While there is something snuggly lying in a warm bed in a small tent with the noise of the rain outside (fortunately managed to last the night without having to get out for the loo!), it does wear thin when it just doesn’t stop and is made even worse when it doesn’t put the midges off. On unzipping the flysheet they are in and buzzing around in no time, making it very unpleasant! How glad we were to drive off to Gairloch, but we were feeling rather damp.

Jackie, Brian, Ian and Helen enjoying an after walk outdoor beer
The house we rented in Gairloch was fabulous, a three bedroomed quite large house in the town with a bit of a sea and mountain view just back on a side road, within a short walk to the beach and several pubs and shops and just a short drive to the fabulous and spectacular Torridon mountains with their jagged faces of red sandstone. Just ideal and not too crowded at this time of year. The added advantage was the more settled weather to be had on the west coast, the clouds passing overhead to deposit their rain on the mountains beyond, so it was fairly bright and sunny for most of the week and we managed to get the tent erected in the back garden and dried off.

Oh Monty, what happened to your ball?
Beinn Eighe and Liathach across Loch Gairloch
We got to Gairloch before 3pm even taking our time and stopping off on the way, and managed to get a meal prepared and cake baked before the arrival of Ian, Helen and Monty dog., who had the best part of a ten hour journey up from The Midlands.

They arrived, Monty was walked, the G&T’s were out, dinner eaten, wine drunk and we were on holiday!! Sunday morning breakfast and newspapers on the deck in the sunshine and the week was in full swing and immense fun!

Ian, Jackie, Brian and Helen at a viewpoint with Skye in the distance
Gairloch, with a population of 950, sits high up in the North West of Scotland at the neck of a peninsular of hilly and remote land on the shores of Loch Gairloch with a few minor settlements on the peninsular and a narrow road that ends in a track that leads to a lighthouse on the remote headland.

The very beautiful drive down Glen Docherty
There is only one road that leads there and to the far north beyond, the A832, which is a single track road with passing places. To get there we drove west from Inverness, dropping down the spectacular and beautiful Glen Docherty with expansive and fabulous views out to Kinlochewe and the awe inspiring Torridon mountains beyond. We drove through the little settlement of Kinlochewe nestling around the base of the massive Beinn Eighe and Slioch mountains and then alongside the beautiful Loch Maree, before arriving at little Gairloch with its small, very pretty harbour, stone buildings and rocky shoreline. What a lovely place and such a fabulous journey, it is worth coming here just to enjoy the views on the way!

Helen, Ian, Jackie and Monty dog on our walk to Loch na h-Oidhche
On the banks of remote Loch na h-Oidhche
Although we didn’t climb any big mountains (Brian has done them all before in years gone by) and go rock climbing, we nevertheless were out every day, walking a total of 50km in this remote and relative wilderness.

We had a day further north in Ullapool, passing through Poolewe on the banks of Loch Ewe, where we called in at an inn Ian and Helen knew after visiting their on their first ever holiday together 18 years ago. We saw the cottage they rented, but the Inn was not as they remembered and Donald, the owner had moved on.

Here's an interesting thing. This is a Sundew plant, one of two native carnivorous plants that inhabit Britain
Monty dog does like to get himself wet!
A day on the Applecross peninsular was another day out and gave us another spectacular drive. It lies just south of Gairloch and overlooks Raasay and the Isle of Skye across the sea and is a remote wilderness with just one narrow road giving one of the most spectacular journeys in Scotland and rising up to 2053ft, one of the highest in Scotland and, at the Applecross Pass, spectacular views across to Skye.

At the Poca Buidhe bunkhouse on the loch, now closed to public use
Brian on a summit! Sadly only about 300m!
It’s also a place that has some bad memories for Brian: back in 1993 I was up there climbing with my friends Richard and Sue when I had a fall at 40ft up. My gear ripped out of the sandstone and I hit the ground, bouncing down the hillside, dislocating my shoulder and badly cutting the back of my head. Sue stayed with me while Richard ran the mile or so back to the viewpoint carpark where my car was parked to find he didn’t have the key. He hitched a ride into Applecross village to raise Mountain Rescue and an hour later I had a helicopter hovering above me, got winched up and taken to Inverness hospital to be stitched up and reset. The concussion I got last more than six weeks and was a most unpleasant experience! Standing in the same carpark with my back to the fabulous views of Skye and looking at the little track leading off to the summit and the crag beyond brought back those horrible memories from 23 years ago.

Careful crossing of a river!
At Camas Mor on the Gairloch peninsular in strong wind
However, the day was lovely, Applecross just as Jackie and I remembered it from our visit there 14 years ago on one of our first holidays together and we had a lovely walk on the beach.

We can also recommend the waterfall walk in Gairloch which leads up through the trees to a very pretty waterfall, another 20km hike we did to remote Loch na h-Oidhche nestling beneath huge Torridon mountains and another 13km hike to the wild and remote Rua Reidh lighthouse and Camas Mor from the village of Melvaig. The last one was a bit wild as the wind was pretty strong on the exposed headland and the walk down from the hill summit on unmarked paths through heather and bog!

Arriving at the now private B&B Rua Reidh lighthouse
Beers outside at the Myrtle Bank Inn
Couple all that with several pub visits (the Myrtle Bank serves excellent real ale and had superb seaviews from its terrace out front, which we enjoyed as the sun was shining, or sun porch inside if it’s not) and we had a really nice, relaxing time, full of fun, laughter and lots of fresh air and exercise in spectacular scenery. What more could we ask for? This is definitely a place to visit and we fully recommend it.

Gairloch from the other side of Loch Gairloch
Ian gets his hands dirty cleaning the oven (we didn't dirty it, but it was so bad we had to!)
In no time it was Saturday and Ian was so disappointed one day when he realised we were a day ahead of where he thought we were. ‘Surely it can’t be Wednesday’ he said, ‘I thought it was only Tuesday’. That’s what happens when you are enjoying yourself so much!

We packed the car and headed east past Inverness and Elgin and onto Clochan to see Tony and Nicky, so enough from me as Jackie I know has written an entry on our visit there, so over to her….
Helen, Jackie (in a very silly head warmer) and Monty survey the scenery while Brian consults the map

On the coastal path from Redpoint, another longish walk we did south of Gairloch

Now here's a strange thing, it was positioned at the roadside outside a remote house in an isolated area. We'd passed it several times and just had to stop to take a look....

Its an old broken freezer stacked full of cakes with an honesty box. How good is that?

1 comment:

  1. It was a lovely week. Sorry we didn't contribute to the blog. Monty said he would guest edit next time xxx