Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Last week's trips: Black Isle and Northwest Scotland

Day off today, but it's raining steadily so don't know if I'll do anything out-of-doors, since that's what I usually do in my day-off travels. It will be a lazy day. I'll watch my rental DVD later - I'm into Father Ted at the moment.

I had Thursday and Friday off last week. The Thursday was a slighty-cloudy but not too bad day, and having not been able to make up my mind about where to go, I decided on Thursday morning to go for a walk over to the Black Isle and up the coast. The walk was one suggested to me by Alistair (who's from North Kessock) when I asked him for walk suggestions in the area.

Here's a map of my walk (still can't imbed them, it crashes Internet Explorer :-( ) .

I left the hostel about 11am, and walked back into Inverness about 5pm, so it was a proper day's walk. I even tore my jeans on barbed wire, just two small holes, but they're the old ones so no big deal. The coast is pretty rocky where I walked, so that made it more adventurous and fun then just walking on flat ground. A few photos are below, the rest are in this album.

Here's the Kessock Bridge from North Kessock; I've just crossed it and walked down.

The village of Kilmuir that I walked past along the coast. I later headed up the hill at Arrie Wood and then inland along the single-track road.
Later in the day, when back at the hostel, I got a call (and by call, I should say text message, since that's the standard mode of communication here) from Sam, who I met through the fact that he is Alistair's flatmate. Anyway, Sam didn't have to work Friday so asked me if I'd like to go up to the north coast and stay at Durness and then tour around on Friday. So I quickly threw things in a bag and met Sam in the car park (we went in his works van that he's able to use as a personal vehicle).

A map of the route we took is here. We arrived in Durness at about 9pm, so all the photos I have are from touring around on Friday. The drive up took us between 3 and 4 hours, I can't remember exactly. Around dusk we saw loads of deer around the roads (it's marked on my map roughly where), more than I've seen at any one time over here. We also saw a few the next day, but never managed a photo due to bad lighting conditions or the deer not sticking around to pose.

A beach on the east of Durness:

Walked along this beach that is west of Durness on Friday morning. Note the blue sky.Walked up to the cliff overlooking the little bay (I think it's Balnakeil Bay).
Now check out the sky - this is 20 minutes since the first photo, and there's a storm quickly moving in.The storm blew over, whilst we were walking in it (I was only wet down one side, where the wind was coming from).

Drove down the coast, as shown on my map, stopping for photos here and there. It was one of those days where it rains hard, then rains soft, then stops raining, then repeats. The road through the Assynt area, near Lochinver, was a particularly winding one - not for those who get carsick!

A gushing burn off the roadside:

We stopped in Ullapool for lunch, and then headed out southward. We stopped at Corrieshalloch Gorge, as Sam had never been to it nor even heard of it. Neither of us likes heights, or railings over heights, so walking across the shaky bridge was a slow process, as was going out on to the viewing platform. The prospect of watching rocks fall was enticing enough to get Sam to look over; I can look but at a safe distance from the railing.

We finished off the day by driving up the road over the Applecross Pensinsula, the Bealach na Ba or "Pass of the Cattle". It's the highest road in Britain. We'd both been over this road before (I've put up photos from last time in summer with Jamie and Matt), but it's such a cool drive we decided to do it again.
Had a good view over to Skye and Raasay on the drive back toward Torridon before returning to Inverness. Could also see a submarine sailing along northward past Rona (island north of Raasay).

That's all for now, there's loads more photos in my web album, of course.

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