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Making a tour through the Wester Ross

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 17 May 2011

Tuesday 17 May, making a tour through the Wester Ross

Today we will make a long trip through the west of the Highlands, the Wester Ross, so we get up a bit earlier than usual and after breakfast we leave quickly towards the west.
Beinn Eige nature reserve Beinn Eige nature reserveOur first stop is at the Beinn Eige nature reserve, the oldest in Great Britain, where we have a view of the Eige (Beinn means mountain in the Gaelic), one of the Torridon tops. It may sound as if we know all those names by heart, but the opposite is true, we often forget them within minutes and we remember them only once again when we drive through the same area and read the name somewhere. From Loch Maree you can make beautiful walks into the mountains.
Loch Maree Boats near Gruinard BayLoch Maree is the third largest lake in Scotland with 5 larg islands and about 60 smaller ones. It seems wonderful to grow up here as a child and have a boat at your disposal.
And most people have a boat here as we see in Gruinard Bay.
But whether it was that safe? Just before the coast lies Gruinard Island where during the 2nd World War, experiments with anthrax were held. It was not until the end of the 20th century that the entire island was finally disinfected, after which the former owner could redeem it for £ 500. You can imagine that there was a lot of fuss about the whole anthrax thing.
Gairloch GairlochFrom there we go to Gairloch, a somewhat larger town in this otherwise pretty desolate area with beautiful landscapes. There is a golf course (which Scottish town can do without?), a museum and a few hotels and restaurants for tourists who come here in summertime. And they come in a large number because the environment offers so much beauty in terms of nature. It is also no wonder that there are a lot of commercials are being filmed in this region, for example for cars that drive through beautiful landscapes.
GairlochThe UK's smallest radio station also seems to be located here, the Two Lochs Radio, and even Google Streetview has been around (oh yes, Queen Victoria too); no matter how far away it is, the world has not forgotten Gairloch. I remember Gairloch mainly because of an incident several years ago, namely that I ran into some cows here. To meet a cobra in Gambia, I'm not afraid of that, but for cows I am, a childhood trauma because I once was chased by a cow around a haystack.
Gruinard Bay Gruinard BayWe are back at Gruinard Bay, an idyllic landscape and a deserted coast. It is not surprising that the British government saw this in the 1940s as an ideal area for testing weapons, in this case biological ones. The island was isolated and the army was very enthusiastic about the first results that indicated how German areas could be made uninhabitable for a long time. What is it with people that we rather eradicate one another than living together? We haven't got a clue but our leaders say that this is all necessary to protect us. Mmmm, we have our reservations about that.
Teije photographingI have a new digital SLR camera (a Nikon D-5000) but I still have a lot to practise with it and that is what these stationary landscapes are perfect for. They don't walk away and I make dozens of pictures but honestly (do not tell Elisabeth) Istill have a lot to learn. I really appreciate landscapes but I have trouble to capture them well with a camera. A photograph can never replace the memory of a landscape.
Beinn Ghobhlach and Cnoc a Bhaidrallaich Waterfall along the A832From Gruinard Bay we drive north again and we encounter little traffic. This is a beautiful and quiet part of Scotland. At Little Loch Broom we have a great view of Beinn Ghobhlach and Cnoc a Bhaidrallaich. A few years ago we were here too and then the clouds dropped very quickly and covered the mountain within a few minutes.
And of course we encounter a lot of waterfalls in this water-rich country.
Loch Broom in the distance Elisabeth in the Wester RossThe Wester Ross covers a large part of the west coast of the Highlands and consists mainly of a number of peninsulas that extend to the west. There are plenty of lakes, freshwater lochs and even more salt water runs, natural bays where the country folds around. On the east coast you can see villages with fishing ports everywhere and here too the fishing has been important, but never as much as in the east because of the treacherous currents and the bad weather. It seems that the sea here is one of the most dangerous seas in the world.
BMW test drivers? BMW test drivers?As we slowly drive back, we are overtaken by a very fast, red, BMW. At least, we think it's a BMW but we do not know much about cars. A second one follows later and then a third. We have made a whole series of photos and we have been overtaken by at least 7 of these same cars. They are here for a commercial. We try to discover people sitting in the hills with cameras, but they are well hidden.
BMW test drivers? BMW test drivers?And after a while we see them coming back from the other direction. Afterwards we looked at the the car advertisements on TV to see if we saw these cars again, but unfortunately we didn't see them. But we know that in Scotland, especially in this area, a lot of commercials are being recorded because of the fantastic landscape. It is so empty, so desolate but if you feel comfortable, it gives the feeling of complete freedom. If you feel lonely it must be terrible, it seems to me.
Road works Cromarty FirthBack in the civilized world we encounter a lot of obstacles such as roadworks. Often there is a traffic light on both sides but sometimes also a road worker who indicates with a sign whether you should stop or continue driving.
Almost at home, at the Cromarty Firth we take a picture of an oil platform. Off the coast of Scotland a lot of oil has been found and in this bay there is a large dry dock where oil platforms are made and repaired.
We have made a wonderful ride through a beautiful area but we are also happy that we are 'home' again. We get good food again and stay the whole evening in the bar while we chat with Iain and Cathy about the history of the area. I wish I could remember everything, then I would have had a lot more to say.


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