Thursday, 13 July 2017

Scottish wanderings - part 3

Saturday June 17 - Durness to Loch Maree

Loch Maree from our cottage ... a pity about the low cloud

While the rain continued overnight it had eased off by the time we left Durness. We were heading south along a stretch of coast that had been raved about in all the guides I had read. We were hoping for some clear weather ... perhaps it would happen.

Yes, it was raining!
 Saturday was obviously a day to get out on your bike, whether the pedal variety or motorised, regardless of the weather. We came across numerous bikes throughout the day. Some were singles but most were in groups. As many of the roads we traveled were single lanes, with their passing spots, it added another dimension to the days driving.

Some of the bikes we came across were part of an iron man event. There were also quite a few support vehicles for the competitors. Later we were to learn that the event started with a swim in a very cold loch. As there was rain through most of the day it was not the best of conditions to be tackling such a grueling event. They obviously breed them though in Scotland!

The coastal route had plenty of sea lochs and many sections of landform made up chiefly of tortured, exposed rocks.

I am sure that the lochs would have looked great if the sun was shining.

Small settlements were tucked up against the slopes here and there.

Still, Jen and I enjoyed what we could see of the rugged land and seascape.

 Many of the old forts and castles were sacked and destroyed over the centuries. Sometimes it was the rest of clan wars while the folks from down south did their bit, too. This is just one of the ruins we came across standing on a point.

We reached Ullapool in time for lunch and checked out their fish and chips which were reputed to be excellent. They were OK.

Ullapool is not a very big place although it did boast quite a few pubs and other eateries. The harbour front was lined by a row of buildings and there were boats in the protected harbour.

Our lunch spot
The highlight of the afternoon was Corrieshalloch Gorge and Falls Of Measach. This was a spectacular mile-long gorge and waterfall.

At 61m deep, Corrieshalloch Gorge is one of the finest examples in Britain of a box canyon. The river which carved this channel through hard metamorphic rock plunges 46m over the Falls of Measach.

There was a suspension bridge a little way downstream from the falls. From here it was possible to look down into thes spectacular, steep-sided slot gorge. The bridge was limited to a mere three people at a time and was extremely bouncy.

Meltwaters created Corrieshalloch Gorge shortly before glaciers left the area. It is 60m deep with near vertical walls and in places it is very narrow, only 10m across at the lip. The inaccessible ravine supports a rich and varied Atlantic bryophyte flora. The River Droma flows through the gorge in a series of waterfalls, the largest of which is the 46m Falls of Measach. Further downstream, there was a viewing platform which provided an excellent vantage point looking up towards the falls.

The bouncy suspension bridge across the gorge

After checking out the gorge we headed towards Loch Maree, our overnight spot. As the weather had been ordinary which really discouraged walking around in the incredible landscape we headed towards Loch Maree.

We stopped for a cup of coffee in the small settlement of Kinlochewe where there was not much more than the servo which also had a small cafe and micro store. Supposedly there was also a settlement about 10 miles from our Loch Maree accommodation but that proved to be shut when we went and checked it out. So much for being able to stock up on foodstuff locally!

The Loch Maree area boasts some impressive reserves however, with the weather being rather inclement, we decided against tramping around in the rain and instead headed for our cottage on Loch Maree.

The cottage was next to the Loch Maree hotel. The hotel has had a number of famous guests including Queen Victoria. I don't think that we will be added to their list of famous guests.

We ate dinner at the hotel with a view of the loch. Low cloud hung over the slopes on the far side of the loch and rain continued to fall.

We were entertained by the appearance of a lone deer later in the evening. It stayed around for ages before wandering off. It was an animal with attitude!

 As we have wandered around the highlands we have been able to glimpse the majestic landscape. More often than not low cloud has obscured all the the bottom of the closest ranges. We kept being optimistic that we would get a fine, sunny day so that we could get some decent photos to show off the raw, rugged landscape that we had been traveling through.

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