Ullapool and upwards!
What is that grey stuff in the sky? It’s cloud and there’s a lot of it – practically a blanket of it. And it’s quite cool. The shorts, sadly get stuffed back into the bag, to be replaced by jeans, a couple of jumpers and alarmingly a jacket. Hells Bells!
The little motorhome has a small, no a very small bathroom, which has a shower. Usually hubby prefers the campsite facilities but today’s enters the box. Calamity! The water isn’t draining away and I can’t shower! Time for the motorhome’s ablutions and the less glamorous side of travelling. We empty the grey dirty water, fill up with fresh water and deal with the chemical toilet, which isn’t that gruesome, but isn’t on my list of favourite things to do. The emptying of the grey water solves the blocked shower (pheew) but we are baffled that it’s was full so quickly.
But you are talking to two people who last year, filled up the fresh water tank brim full, and then went to the grey water disposal area to get rid of our waste water. We stood and watched for whole minutes – actually hubby went to the loo and back – and it poured and poured. Finally it stopped and we headed off into deepest Cornwall. Pulling up for a cuppa, the water coughed and spluttered out of the taps and we couldn’t solve it. It was early evening when it finally dawned on hubby (I will give him the credit here) that we had mistakenly emptied the fresh water tank instead of the grey water, minutes after we had filled it up. Tragically, we had both individually thought at the time that a) there was helluva lot of water draining, b) it didn’t look very grey and c) hubby thought the tap was different, but failed to vocalise our thoughts to each other………. I will leave you with that one and say no more.
Satisfied that we had carried out this operation correctly, we restored our van to its resting place in the campsite and walked into Ullapool for postcards and a coffee. This time we had a good walk around, primarily as hubby knew of a good cafe, but couldn’t recall where it was exactly. Finally we hunted it down, a small place called Westhouse, the street behind the harbour. We had to sit outside as dogs are not allowed in, so we huddled around our mugs and thanked that it was south facing. Ullapool has a grid layout, like American towns, which is quite unique. It’s all very ordered and easy to negotiate. Exhausting what Ullapool could offer, we headed northwards.
A hint of the surrounding countryside – my photos just don’t do it credit at all.
We drive up the A835, a major road in these parts, though still shoddy. We remark on how many brand new cars there are – practically every one we come across has the current new number plate. We can only hazard a guess that they are all tourist hire cars as we assume that they are not all local.
We pass Knocken and Ledmore to Loch Assynt, then we turn off left onto the A837 towards Lochinver. It’s alarming how many big lorries hurtle along these roads. We’re talking lengthy trailers here. Even on the single track roads, we’ve had big silvery grilles filling our rear window and we’ve used the passing places to let them pass. These guys know these roads and soon disappear over the horizon. Rather have them in front of us than behind.
Arriving in Lochinver, hubby lets out a yell of delight. He’s been here before and knows an excellent pie shop. I like holidaying with him. We wander around the little village nestling against another Loch as it starts to drizzle with rain. Mmm. We spot one of our large articulated lorries that we saw yesterday, parked in a car park and find it has transformed itself into a cinema! Yes, you read it right, a cinema. The sides expand outwards so it trebles it’s width and you can go and watch a film. Alas, it was closed so we couldn’t go in and have a peek, but what a fantastic idea. It just tours around to all these little communities and shows them a film. Parked next door, was the mobile banking van, presumably so you can get cash to go to the mobile cinema.I just love that.
The mobile cinema – isn’t that just brilliant?
The Pie Shop had a huge selection of different pies and fillings and we spent many minutes choosing. I had sweet potato and butternut squash. That’s our tea tonight sorted. We poodle around a little more, but with the rain becoming a little more persistent, we retreat to the van and continue our journey. We’re back on the dinky little roads with tight bends and blind summits. In patches, the road has been treated with smooth tarmac for a few metres, which gives us brief respite from the constant rattling and thuds, but it’s sporadic and done here and there. Another subject to contemplate as well as the sudden widening of the road to two lanes and then nope, it shrinks back to one. Bizarre.
We pass Clachtoll, but it looks scruffy and uninviting. The houses are dotted randomly around the area and there is no heart to the place. We come across Clashnessie next (what fabulous names), a scattered huddle of houses in a non descript bay, but with a lay-by and a fantastic sandy beach. I take The Dog for a run, a chase of her ball and an accidental swim in the sea when I misjudge the throw of the tennis ball and it plops into the waves, closely followed by hound. However, the beach drops away and The Dog sinks as she jumps in. She recovers, grabs ball, gets out and shakes all over me as a way of saying thanks.
Slightly damp, we head back where a feast awaits us – sea trout and cream cheese on that homemade bread from yesterday. The cloud still overhangs likes damp duvet. We continue through winding roads and rugged countryside, past lochs still searching for that elusive otter, towering mountains and Munro’s rising in the background. It’s past stunning. It’s true wilderness with boulders, heather, wind beaten trees growing at crazy angles. Truly wonderful.
We stop briefly at Kylesku, to admire the gorse (blimey, the yellow gorse is in abundance here and just adds to the magic) and the majestic bridge crossing the river here. It’s a concrete affair with plain supporting pillars, but it curves gently around and because of its simplicity, it fits in with its surroundings. On this trip there has been some jarring monstrosities dumped unceremoniously which beggars belief – my main gripe initially were powers lines and the accompanying pylons marching across some truly scenic countryside before heading into the uplands, standing defiantly on ridge lines to been seen for miles around. It makes you want to weep. It’s doesn’t seem to be done sympathetically to the surroundings, just the quickest and cheapest route. We all need power, I get it, but sometimes can it be done a little bit better?
The sweeping, simple bridge at Kylesku and the gorse opposite.
We finally call it a day at a place called Scourie, another scattered community, though it did seem to have a Main Street in the distance. Our campsite overlooked a bay and our pitch was on the edge of a small cliff, the downside being that we were on the gravelled area of the park. It seemed almost like the overflow car park. The cloud had lifted a little to allow the sun to poke its head out briefly and we sat outside, but the gravel wasn’t particularly conducive. We wandered down to the sandy beach as far as the cemetery – another thing I love about this part of the world. The cemetery was stuck out on a little bit of headland, away from the village, surrounded by a high wall and gates. Inside tall and decorative gravestones told the family histories of those interned here. They are so fanciful and so full of detail. I love reading headstones and could spend all day there. Afterwards we head to a small Spar for provisions – namely more biscuits for our tea in bed in the morning – and check out the other pebbly beach opposite. There’s a little harbour/jetty so we peer into the deep, bluey green and impossibly clear waters. An otter swimming past would be the cherry on the top, but there’s no volunteers.
My attempt of a panoramic shot at Scourie.
We waddle back to eat our pies. We did buy potatoes in a foil tray, thinking we could bung in the oven and have with said pie, but we had a massive fail when it said on the packet “microwave only” which we were severely lacking. We did get vegetables so they saved the day. We have to construct our little dining table – hidden in a cupboard is a steel post and the table top which slots together and then slots into the floor and hey presto, a table. Last year it took us three days to discover it. At the end, it all fits back into the cupboard out of the way. I just love this quirky little motorhome. The pies, by the way, were delicious.
We spend the rest of the evening outside with binoculars and a glass of wine scanning the gorse covered hillsides for wildlife. We see another eagle swooping in the sky and then another. We look for seals, but it’s just birds diving under the water for fish and bobbing up again. It’s just a lovely way to spend an evening watching the scenery and animals. Soon it’s time to wrestle with putting our bed up and preparing for bed. You have to be so tidy and put bits away. We now got a system that works. We snuggle down to enjoy another perfect nights sleep. It is truly comfortable and we have both slept well. I cannot, however, account for The Dog.
Tomorrow we head to Durness and a mug of the best hot chocolate ever………