Was woken up rudely by a big paw in the mouth. The Dog was keen to check that I had survived the night and thought it fit to dig me out of bed. Thanks.
It was lovely to sleep in a proper bed for the night. We get up and bagged the shower before the others get up, sort the Van out as we had pulled out everything late last night without any finesse and it looks a tip. With everybody packing cars, we get ready first and keep well out of their way.
It was raining hard with a stiff breeze when we first woke up, but as we got organised, the sun broke through the clouds and Loch Torridon lit up. Silver rivulets ran down the mountainsides, the streams and waterfalls full of cascading water and the sun glinted off the wet rocky outcrops. It was a beautiful sight. Finally we were all ready to leave and we said our goodbyes to each other before heading off. Again, we have the long 10 mile stretch of road back to Kinlochewe to contend with, where we turn left to Gairloch and ultimately Ullapool. The satnav wants to take us right on the shorter route, but this way is far more scenic.
At Gairloch, we stopped at The Gale cafe, a community run establishment for elevenses of coffee and cake. We bagged a window seat overlooking the bay while we eat, then we have a look around, buying some postcards and then headed back to the Van and onto Ullapool. With the sun out between the clouds, the light is gorgeous. The scenery gets even better here with purply blue mountains in the far distance and huge craggy eminences looking like sleeping giants, the contrasting shadows and light playing across the vast expanse, making it just look spectacular. This is pure wilderness with nothing around for miles – not sure there’s any sheep here. There’s the odd cluster of dwellings, old and new and you wonder how they live – food, fuel, what do they do? We even come across a solitary phone mast far from anywhere and wonder its purpose. Then we dropped down to the coast – big wide bays with big blue skies – just an ever changing scene with such contrasts. Just fabulous. It doesn’t get much better.
We finally drove into Ullapool with a list on our minds. First fuel – as we were going to the island of Lewis we wanted to have a full tank so we didn’t have to worry about finding petrol stations. Second – get the ferry tickets for Lewis reprinted at the terminal and thirdly, stock up with food. Tomorrow’s campsite could be isolated and basic.
So imagine our dismay to see a queue on the road as we passed Ullapool’s one and only petrol station. Oh dear, a shortage of fuel? And which one? As we turned around to rejoin it, a fellow VW camper beat us to the queue. On closer inspection, we realised that a whopping great big motorhome had basically taken the entire centre of this dinky station, while another motorhome which had parked behind him, had blocked the rest of the garage off to everyone else, neither of them realising they were creating chaos behind them. The queue was getting longer until the VW guy in front managed to squeeze past the motorhome in front and we followed. The two of us filled up simultaneously while the second motorhome lumbered into position and again blocked off about 4 pumps due to his size. Filled up, we pulled away and two more vehicles took our spots and normal service resumed. Think a lot of motorists were cussing motorhomes as they waited to fill up their tanks……
We hunted down our campsite on the shores of Loch Broom and found a lovely spot looking up the Loch and out to sea. It was now raining and the wind was getting up – our blue skies having disappeared. The rain eased as we did some nesting – plugging in electrics, popping up the roof etc – and we headed into town a few minutes walk away. The ferry terminal wasn’t open til 4pm when the next ferry docked and the local convenience store was shut too. Mmm. So we had a wander around and found a lovely deli to get our provisions and an outdoor camping shop to get a plastic water container for our grey water waste and a tick remover. We discovered about four ticks on The Dog this morning and struggled with our existing one to remove them. Flushed with a little success, we headed back to the Van for a cuppa while we waited for everything to open. The shops in Ullapool seem to be splattered all over the place, down back streets and in between houses. There doesn’t seem to be one central street of shops. Perhaps it was done like that to make everybody walk the whole of Ullapool to see it properly.
After an hour or so, we donned our wet weather jackets as it was starting to rain again. We went back to the terminal and got the tickets sorted (you have to book pets separately and they don’t confirm immediately- in our case two weeks later, when we’re already on holiday and failed to pack a printer). The convenience store was still firmly shut (we only wanted milk) and so skipped across to the fish and chip shop for tea (and a sausage for The Dog) and did a quick walk back to the Van to eat it. It was delicious and huge. They did have a larger option so dread to think how big that was!!! We mixed the sausage into The Dog’s usual food. She last ate a proper meal on Thursday evening when our friends had some leftover chicken and rice which got wolfed down. She turned her nose up at her regular food and this morning, she picked out all the cheese we had added as an incentive and left the dog food. Albeit she had been scrounging and snacking on dog biscuits and bits of human food, but basically she hadn’t eaten for the last 36 hours. She does this quite often – not eat for a day. I wished I could do that. I can’t fast for 3.6 hours let alone 36. I need to more Dog.
With us all clearing our plates and bowls, tidying up and feeling a little bored by 6:30, we decided to go for a walk. The wind had dropped completely and the dark brooding rain clouds had dispersed and allowed the sun to set behind the opposite hills. Chunks of pale blue sky appeared as we wandered along the shoreline of Loch Broom, watching the Lewis ferry depart from the mainland, its lights bright in the darkening sky. We would be on that tomorrow morning, chugging out to the open sea.We found a large grassy field with a well worn path that we followed, taking us in a big round circle, alongside a fast flowing river. The Dog was off lead and enjoyed poking around in the undergrowth. We wandered back, peering into other vans and motorhomes seeing what the occupants were up too. We prepared ourselves for the evening, setting up the bed so we could watch catch up tv on the iPad and then relaxing.
Tomorrow was going to be an exciting day – a 2.5 hour ferry trip to the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Lewis, with a campsite right on the beach. Weather is looking good for the next few days and The Dog would have a beach to run on and be very very happy. Life was good.