Ullapool to Thurso
Wednesday September 17th
We wanted to do an Orkney tour the following day, so we had to get
close to John O'Groats that evening. But we also wanted to see the
north-west... So we conceived the mad plan of driving out to Ullapool
and then all the way around the north-west coast. As a result we ended
up spending most of the day in the car, with only short stops.
Bypassing Inverness, our first stop was at the Dolphin and Whale centre
in North Kessock; no cetaceans were to be seen. It was a pleasant drive
across Scotland, with green open hills.
We stopped at Corrieshalloch Gorge, a deeply cut ravine into which pluges
the Falls of Measach. These are nearly 50m high, but you can only see
them from a suspension bridge over the ravine, which makes it hard to
get a feel for their height. We had lunch sitting in the woods, where
there were some attractive fungi.
We stopped in Ullapool for petrol and had a brief look around,
including a bookshop visit (where I failed to find anything on
There was rain and wind as we headed off to the north-west. We stopped
a few times for views, but a pamphlet describing geological features
wasn't that exciting.
We stopped in Unapool, at a teahouse with a doll museum, Maryck Memories
of Childhood. We didn't look at this, but they also had photos of
local wildlife and a table by the window with a view of Loch Glencoul,
a pair of binoculars and a bird list! We had coffee, scone, soup and pie.
Much of the road now was single-lane, with passing places to use when
vehicles came from opposite directions. This was not as scary as it
sounds, since we were driving at a reasonably sedate pace.
Smoo cave (4 second exposure)
the Kyle of Tongue
At Durness we stopped to look at Smoo cave - a large cave at the head
of a long inlet, containing an underground waterfall.
Stopping occasionally for views and photos, and with large sections of
single-lane road, we didn't make rapid progress. Sometimes there were
birds on road, or lambs, and Camilla was keeping her eyes out for seals
or otters on the shore.
It was dark when we reached Thurso around 8pm, and we took a little
while to find a place to stay, Waterside House, where we booked in for two nights.
One of the pubs still had its kitchen open, fortunately, and we ate deep
fried cheese and haddock - good food! - while watching the regulars
watch Celtic Rangers lose 1-2 to Bayern Munich. We did some washing
before going to bed at 10.45.
Next: Orkney islands tour - Skara Brae
Previous: a Cairngorms circuit
Up: Scotland + Northern England