Scottish 500 – Day 3

Applecross and beyond………

The sun is pouring through our motorhome windows and it’s looking good. It’s so good that we both scare the other campers and put our shorts on!

The Dog spots more deer, but this time behind deer proof fencing. The deer are unfazed by our dog and she’s now pretty non plus about them too. We do our morning routine – we’ve got our own little jobs to do and then wander back down to the quayside for breakfast. Alas we are 15 minutes early and so loiter on the Loch edge and get our feet and paws wet. The Junction cafe opens at 9am and our plan of eating al fresco on their balcony is soon rejected as it’s rather cool here. So we go inside with The Dog and ordered bacon and sausage butties, with a sausage on the side for The Dog. Yes, we get food for our hound. It’s all very pleasant and very trendy considering we’re in a small hamlet on an isolated coast. A real little gem.

We head back and get ready to leave Applecross. Unbelievably, it has a little petrol station too. It’s basically a pump in a little purpose built lay-by opposite the Junction and you stick your credit card in and fill up! A little sign informs us that the local community got together, raised funds and got the site up and running. How amazing is that? I just loved it that everyone joined together – though I can see why they did it. I think the next station was some 20 miles away at least and not very easy to do. It was well worth it, though I pity the poor tanker driver having to deliver the stuff……..

To our delight, we realised that we didn’t have to go over Applecross Pass again and could follow the coastal road north. Phew. It was far easier along the single track road. I looked out for otters as this looked the perfect place for them to be playing on the foreshore. It was rugged, rocky and covered in heather and grass. It was a hard country to eke out a living, but we kept coming across isolated hamlets and houses huddled together. It was strangely beautiful with rocky inlets and pretty little bays as the road undulated and twisted and turned, with white buildings periodically dotted around. What did people do here? Where did they do their shopping? I had a lot of questions and no answers! One thing I knew, you obviously liked your own company here!

We finally found civilisation again in the shape of the village of Sheildaig and stopped at Nanny’s cafe, overlooking a Loch. The wind is quite cool, but the shorts have stayed on, albeit accompanied now by woolly jumpers. Here we enjoy coffee and scones and watch other tourists rock up. It seems that we’re munching our way through Scotland!The sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky. We wander along the front to walk off our snack. We spot a seal bobbing in the water. Later we’re told that there was an otter too, who had been malnourished. The local smokehouse offered him the fish scraps and fed him back to health – he got quite tame apparently, but now had headed off and not seen for 5 days. We stroll up to the smokehouse where we buy some smoked trout and cream cheese. Further along, one of the houses had a little box outside their door, with cakes and bread and a honesty box. We purchase a loaf, drop the coins in the box and wander back to the van. This is what I love about Britain – homeowners trust you to pay for homemade goods outside their homes. I for one, always support them.

We meander on, through Torridon and to Kinlochewe. We follow the edge of Loch Maree (its a proper road with two carriageways, white lines and no badly repaired potholes – we have been thoroughly shaken on this journey so far). We stop at Gairloch which has a beach which we have been promising The Dog one since Tuesday. It’s a beautiful wide beach with fantastic soft sand. The shoes come off and we walk barefoot as we watch our dog gamble across to the waters edge. She has a huge grin on her face! We just believe our luck being able to walk on a Scottish beach in full sun with just t-shirts and shorts in the middle of May!

We have a can of pop at the adjacent golf course and continue through the communities of Poolewe, Aultbea, (fascinating story involving Gruinard island, anthrax and the stupidity of governments), Laide and along Little Loch Broom, through Dundonnell and down to Braemore. Finally after miles of single track roads with passing places, we hit the main drag to Ullapool, our stop for the night. We rock up at the Broomfield campsite, right in the centre of town, but abutting Loch Broom. We choose a pitch overlooking the water, hook up the electric, get the chairs and wine out and settle down.

The Dog gets an off lead, deer free walk in the field next door before we head off into town on the hunt for fish and chips. We eat them out of the bag sitting by the harbour watching a hapless fisherman trying to get his truculent engine to start on his tiny boat. Behind us is the modern ferry terminal for the boats to Stornaway, though it is a modest building and doesn’t dominate the town. The Dog gets her second sausage of the day.

With the daylight fading, we wander around the town for a bit and head back to the motorhome. We get chatting to a fellow camper with an artificial leg which our dog took objection to and kept barking at him. He’s been on the pebble beach watching six seals playing in the Loch for the past two hours. Just typical. Earlier today, I spotted a large bird which looked like an eagle, sitting on a post. We stopped, thinking he would fly off, but hubby managed to get out with his camera and lined up the shot. Unfortunately he forgot to turn the camera on and the eagle took flight over the hill. Damn! Just not our day to spot wildlife.

The sun is setting on the horizon but it’s 10.30 at night. We have fallen asleep without seeing true darkness yet.

Tomorrow we head further north………

p.s. should of taken more photos of the landscape, but it’s so vast, you just wouldn’t catch it in a photo. Or it wouldn’t look as spectacular. It just needs a visit!

Author: apathtosomewhere

Come with me and my dog on my meanderings around northern England and further afield, encountering all walks of life and everything in between!

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