We have breakfast with Wilma and Luuk and then each go our own way, they to the Black Isle. The weather is nice (nothing is as irregular as the weather in Scotland) and we go to the Wester Ross, a beautiful area that we have often passed through. This time too, we (especially me) are hunting for unknown roads.
For example, along the west coast of Loch Broom there is a road that we have always overlooked with many villages around the road. This is the peninsula of Scoraig where only two roads run. However, there are still a few villages at the end of the peninsula that can only be reached by boat or on foot. The village of Scoraig is not very keen on tourists but there is a camping pitch.
When we drive back for the second road to Badrallach on the west side, we see the clouds drop down in the distance. That does not have to mean anything, but it can also be an indication that it will quickly become foggy. And a not too dense fog is one of the most beautiful things in Scotland.
We now have a view of Little Loch Broom, the little sister of Loch Broom. They are not real lakes, but inlets of the Atlantic and so saltwater runs. Meanwhile, the mist is spreading further and further but the sun is doing its best to keep shining through it. The view remains beautiful, as it always is in this region.
So far we have only taken the main road through this area, the A832, but today we are going to try all (dead end) side roads. There is also a small road on the south-west side of Little Loch Broom. Another single track road, very narrow with lots of boulders on the road. But oh so beautiful.
We see the clouds now fold around the mountains and the fog is getting a bit closer. Sometimes it can be completely foggy within 10 minutes, but now it takes much longer; maybe because we are on the coast and there is always some wind. In any case, it is a beautiful sight.
Here, too, there are a few hamlets and further some houses are scattered in the landscape. This area used to be much more populated, but after the Clearances and potato famines in the 19th century, the area was considerably depleted. The fact that after the failed potato harvest and the subsequent famines many Irish people left for America is fairly well known, but the same applies to this area of Scotland and in America there is a large population with ancestors from the Highlands.
On the other side of Gruinard Bay we drive to Mellon Udrigle, a small town with a view on Gruinard Island where the British tested biological weapons (anthrax) in the 2nd World War. Eighty sheep were victims of this and they considered to use it against German cities that would then become unviable for decades. The disinfection of the island has also been a lengthy process and has been regrettably failed, anthrax spores can live in the ground for up to 1000 years. A major decontamination campaign at the end of the eighties must have made the island completely safe now. A new herd of sheep has been set down and from 2002 there have been no more anthrax infections.
Then we drive along Loch Ewe, and both on the north and the south side of the road there are dead end roads to be found plus the accompanying villages and also nice sandy beaches. Tourism is already doing quite well in Scotland, despite the high prices, but if it is going to get warmer in this part of Europe, the northwest of Scotland is probably the next Gran Canaria!
The coastal road on the west side of Loch Ewe to Cove is also a narrow but beautiful road. We pass a campsite where the cows walk between the tents. Not for me! Except for the cow pies that you have to walk around, I personally do not like cows after a few traumatic experiences. They may not do anything, but they are too curious for me!
This loch is another inlet of the Atlantic Ocean and we keep wondering what these people do for a living. Some are farmers with an extensive flock of sheep, but all those others? Ok, the postman who is always chasing after us, catching up with us and we catch up with him later, that we get. And surely there are children who need to go to school and need teachers. Shops are almost impossible to find here, no offices, and very rarely a garage.
For us there are in any case enough reasons to stop occasionally, for taking a photo, or just to enjoy the view. The fog is completely blown away by the sun when we drive to Melvaig. According to the map we are not yet at the end of the road when a steeply ascending road appears with a sign 'private road'. At the end of it is a hotel or something similar. We decide that we will save this road for another time, because it is already late in the afternoon and we still have a long way to get back to Beauly.
Along Loch Gairloch we go back to the west and from there we take the scenic road along Loch Maree to go back to Beauly. Although, scenic? The former single track road has meanwhile been relaid properly and in some parts it looks more like a highway where you easily drive too fast along the beautiful landscape.As far as information is concerned, we have very little to say about this part of Scotland, there are no castles, there were no major battles, but nature is all the more beautiful. And especially if you occasionally stray from the main road to see the quieter parts and villages.
Back at the hotel we exchange stories with Wilma and Luuk and they have just seen dolphins! The first time at Chanonry Point and they have photographs as proof. We eat together in the hotel, another nice meal, and then we talk until late in the evening. Also the local pub-goers are there and we have great fun with all of them. It is a pity that we do not have everything on film because at a certain moment there was a discussion where we thought: we must remember this, this is so unique. But unfortunately, our memory is not good enough, we only know that it was very entertaining, a discussion about nothing where the most ridiculous arguments were put forward. But of course you do that often in a pub ... But this was a Scottish discussion in a Scottish pub!