Friday 3rd June, 2005
Saturday 4th June, 2005
Sunday 5th June, 2005

Friday 3rd June, 2005

Macs at sea photograph

Mac and Geoff on the Ferry, with Old Man of Hoy in the Background

Drop Cap t seemed to have calmed down a bit but was still raining when we bade farewell to Sheila and Orkney. It was raining at Stromness when we boarded the ferry and raining when we got to Scrabster, but the voyage was calm, and for the most part, in sunshine. Very strange, as if we were in the eye of a hurricane, or something.

Smoo Cave photograph

Outfall Gorge from Smoo Cave, Durness, Scotland

Drop Cap fter lunch in Thurso we headed west, passing through familiar territory until after Tongue, although it was not as nice weather as last time. The rain continued intermittently but when we reached Smoo Cave at Durness it stopped long enough for us to have a look. The path to the cave mouth was too steep to contemplate but there were some fantastic views. The gorge from the cave mouth to the sea was spectacular but the river waterfalling into the huge hole in the ground was amazing.

I regretted I was out of film and disaster struck yesterday at Skara Brae. Geoff's digital camera started to fall apart. The lens cap and focussing ring fell off. We picked everything up and the camera still seems to work but Geoff doesn't want to use it until it can be taken back to Sony. He is feeling lost and twitchy without it.

Lochinver photograph

Far Side of Lochinver

Drop Cap he weather got clearer as we neared Lochinver, allowing us some wonderful views of the bleak and rocky mountains and many lochs and waterfalling streams. It was lovely, what we think of as the real Scotland.

Drop Cap rriving at Lochinver it was clearing and indeed became very pleasant. Our guesthouse, Polcraig is very attractive, although it does have a lot of steps. Our rooms overlook the harbour where the fishing boats come in. Lochinver is quite a large fish processing place and gets a lot of foreign boats and trucks coming in.

Drop Cap e went out for a meal in the Riverside Bistro, quite pleasant. They seem to specialise in pies of all kinds. My bacon, brie and cranberry quiche was delicious. Mac had a steak and ale pie with vegs which he said was good, only Geoff dipped out with what the waitress said was chicken in white sauce but turned out to be full of carrots, corn and peas. However, his pate as a starter was large and delicious.

We went for a short drive around the place then came home. I hope the fine weather keeps up. The rain is rather depressing.

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Saturday 4th June, 2005

Drop Cap e went out on foot after breakfast to get some tourist info and food for a picnic. We were some way from the car when it started to pour, out of a clear blue sky, it seemed. We got soaked and had to go back to Polcraig for a change of overwear.

Ardvreck tower photograph

Remains of Ardvreck Tower, Assynt, Scotland

Drop Cap hen we drove out of Lochinver towards Ullapool as the sky was clearing and stopped by Loch Assynt at the ruins of Ardvreck Castle. This is really just one weathered tower, looking incredibly romantic with the background of the loch and surrounding mountains. It is supposed to have been built by the McLeods of Assynt (like our hosts) overrun by the Mackenzies , who then built a newer house which is even more ruined, thanks to a disagreement with the Earl of Sutherland.

Ardvreck tower photograph

Ardvreck, Assynt, Scotland

Drop Cap e walked down to the castle and Mac and Geoff braved the causeway and stepping stones to walk around it. I contented myself with photographing it.

Loch Assynt photograph

Loch Assynt and Mountains, Scotland

Drop Cap e travelled on into the back country of Assynt, through Inchmadamph and Elphin and paused for a picnic lunch (in the rain, again!) in a scenic spot by the loch. The scenery was terrific as we continued on tiny narrow roads, waterfalls, lochs and bare mountains. There are very few trees hereabouts and the hills show the signs of snow in the lichens on the rocks.

Ceramic Rocks photograph

Ceramicised Rocks at Highland Pottery, Lochinver

Drop Cap e stopped at a little place near Lochinver called Inverkirkaig where there was a craft and book shop and coffee shop combined. Then continued back to Lochinver. We went to visit the Highland Stoneware Pottery where you can sometimes watch the potters at work and they make some quite nice stuff but, of course, too heavy to tempt us to buy. They had, however, a sense of humour because outside they had covered several large rocks with mosaics of broken pots and even made a car with ceramic people in it for the car park!

Ceramic Car photograph

Ceramic Car, Highland Pottery, Lochinver

Achmelvich Beach photograph

Mac and Geoff on Achmelvich Beach, Assynt, Scotland

Drop Cap fter this we decided to fill in some time going to Achmelvich Beach. This is a wonderful beach with sand dunes, fine white sand (!), rock pools twinkling with tiny life, and not much in the way of surf. But the sun was back, it was warm and beautiful.

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Sunday 5th June, 2005

Drop Cap eil and Radha's first anniversary! How quickly that year has gone!

Drop Cap t was somewhat overcast when we got up this morning but after we had breakfasted and hit the road for Kylescu it got better and better.

Loch Glencoul photograph

Loch Glencoul with seals, from the tour boat

Drop Cap e took a boat trip on Loch Glencoul to see what is supposed to be Britain's highest waterfall. It was lovely on the water, quite a small group and lots of lovely scenery.

There are local grey and Atlantic fur seals breeding on many of the islands in the loch and we saw many of them without the need for binoculars. The loch had lots of jellyfish as well. Terns and herons and oystercatchers swooped and banked but although the golden eagles are nesting at the moment at the end of the loch, we did not see them. Pity, but there are never any guarantees with wildlife.

Drop Cap he waterfall was, as advertised, very high, 600 feet but quite narrow. I would have sacrificed height for breadth myself, but that is the story of my life. I didn't care, it was a lovely day and we all enjoyed it. The boat driver and his young son, who had entertaining lines of patter, made it more fun.

Kylescu photograph

New Road Bridge, Kylescu, NW Scotland

Drop Cap hen we got back to Kylescu we had a satisfying lunch at the Kylescu Hotel, right on the water. I had chicken caesar salad, complete with anchovies and it was delicious. Mac had tagliatelli with chicken and bacon and Geoff had crab cakes with chips. He and I also had cider.

Glencoul Geology photograph

Interesting Geology at Loch Glencoul

Drop Cap e came back to Lochinver via the longer and narrower coastal road (single lane with passing places) which took in stunning coastal, mountain and loch scenery with a few tiny, isolated and remote crofting and fishing communities. This was just a great drive. The area is apparently a geologists' dream, all sorts of different strata of rock, but to me it just seems as if the country is showing its bare bones. There is a thin cover of heather, gorse and rough grass for the sheep but the rocks, mountains and cliffs are bare. It makes for great scenery, if a trifle harsh.

Achmelvich Rocks photograph

Rocks on Achmelvich Beach, Assynt, Scotland

Drop Cap here are some lovely beach areas on this coast, calm, shallow water and fine white sand. It's just a pity the climate (and the ferocious midges!) don't allow you to enjoy them very often!

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