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To the northern west coast of the Highlands

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 14 September 2018

Friday 14 September, to the northern west coast of the Highlands

Wood carving in ContinFinally we can go to the northwest, rain is predicted for late in the afternoon. This area of Scotland is so beautiful that we like to drive through it, even though it is long distances from Beauly.
At the end of the village of Contin we see a wood carving again, this time a more than life-sized Highlander cow with all kinds of other native wild animals, such as a salmon, an otter, and a fox. I also want a statue like that in my garden, it is really beautiful!
Rainbow at Loch Glascarnoch Landscape at Loch DromaWe do not see it rain anywhere but it does it anyway because on the way to Ullapool we see a beautiful rainbow, not in the air but projected on the mountain slopes. Dark clouds alternate with blue pieces of air. We've written it before, it's the skies over Scotland that color the country. The green and brown on the ground change color when a cloud floats over and the landscape can look quite different form a few minutes ago.
Islet in Loch Droma The coast at Ardmair north of UllapoolWe have driven through this area much more often, but still we stop a lot taking pictures every time, even though it is sometimes difficult to record how impressive nature really is here due to the vastness. We enjoy it but one wants to make it more tangible, so you can hold it like a photo. But nothing can be compared to the splendor of reality that we drive through, a magical landscape that constantly changes under the influence of light, it is never the same.
Landscape on the A835 in the Highlands Landscape at Loch LurgainnIn Ullapool we take a look around to see if we can drink a cup of coffee outside somewhere, but terraces are not so wellknown in Scotland, these people are, very practically, more prepeared for cold weather and prefer to sit inside (for the coffee then). While they are also really outdoor people when you look at the large amount of hunters, fishermen and golfers who live in this country.
We drive further north and Teije has even found a lot of (short) roads that we never had time to go to before.
Landscape at Loch Lurgainn Landscape at Loch Bad a' GhaillThe landscape is mountainous with remarkable peaks that all have their own name in Gaelic (I am not even able to pronounce them, let alone remember them), with plains, valleys and lochs in between. Strahs are meadow valleys while glens are just narrower. It looks very bare but that has not always been this way: until the 19th century there were many villages and even towns and there was quite a lot of afforestation. The vast land, however, was in the hands of only a handful of owners while the tenants leased the ground. Until they were expelled because the landowners could earn more money with sheep and while exotic species such as the Cheviot and Blackface were imported, the residents were expelled, sometimes with a great deal of violence.
Landscape at Loch Bad a' Ghaill Landscape at BadnagyleThis period is known as the Clearances (circa 1760 - 1850) and of course it was a lot more complicated than I tell it here. Life for the people was not so easy in the Highlands and now they were also expelled while the sheep ate the vegetation of the land. The number of inhabitants dropped enormously, many emigrated to America and soon there were more sheep than people. The northern part of the Highlands has recovered from the Clearances and now it is one of the least densely populated areas of Europe.
Landscape at BadnagyleWe rarely encounter anyone while driving around, and usually when we meet someone it is also a tourist who explores this inhospitale region like us.
In the meantime, Teije is very happy with the last roads he can mark on the map and he finds sometimes even small turns that are less than 2 millimetres long on the map. Meanwhile I try to make some videos of the occasional spectacular roads and we get a whole conversation about dashcams or cameras that you can attach to the car. Maybe that is something for us to use, too, because filming with a mobile phone does not really produce anything nice.
The harbor of Lochinver Loch Inver at LochinverAnd when we stop for a break in Lochinver, we see a car with a camera which is mounted on the roof. Maybe something like that (but then in the car) is really something for us, because we drive so much through Europe and Teije has the tendency to find the most remote and narrow roads, preferably with lots of bends, through mountainous areas and along steep abysses (the latter I personally find something less fun). We will look into that in the Netherlands. And then we can put the most beautiful images on the site or youtube.
Lochinver Stoerhead lighthouseIn Lochinver the sun is shining and at the An Cala cafe we sit outside for a cup of hot soup and a coffee. It is 12 degrees, but in the sun it feels very pleasant. Only when we drive away dark clouds enter the sky. I want to check my email on the internet but Teije can not find the dongle although he was quite suret he had put it in the bag. Mmm, surely he left it in Beauly. And funny, when we leave the village we see another car with a camera, now stuck in front of the bumper.
The hamlet of Clashmore Beware of pigsWe drive a bit further to the north, to Stoer where all kinds of dead-end roads cross the peninsula and we occasionally encounter a hamlet but rarely see people. We try to imagine how people live here but we do not really succeed. And, we think also that we would surely not be able to live here nor work.
But we are very satisfied with the fact that we have the possibilities to travel so much and visit these kinds of areas.
Landscape at Drumbeg View of UllapoolIt is already late in the afternoon when we realize that the ride back will also take 2.5 hours and we take the 'fastest' route via Ullapool. The dark clouds get closer and closer and the last hour we drive through the pouring rain and the landscape is turned into something almost ominous. We do not step out of the car to take pictures of it, there is no color to be seen in the country and we couldn't possibly register the darkness in a picture.
At home (as we call every place where we stay at that moment) we first look for the dongle, but we can not find it anywhere. Rachel even drives her car away to look underneath in case we dropped it on the street, another friend from the village wants to ask the street sweeper if he has seen something, Everyone is looking for the device and we search our room and the car 3x times. But nothing and we feel very unhappy without it. That way you can get used to something, or maybe even addicted, to having access to the internet in this case. Fortunately, there is still a weak signal of wifi in a small part of the living room. Teije really has to repair it throughout the building tomorrow morning.
In the meantime Iain is preparing for his trip to Wales to bury his best friend, a friendly man whom we have also met a couple of times in the past. He has promised to arrange for a bagpipe player and has been busy with it for the past few days, but you can tell he has a hard time, emotionally.
We planned to stay for only a couple of nights, but we decide not to leave until Sunday afternoon, when Iain is back. If only for moral support.


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