Monday, 25 July 2011

The Far North of Scotland.

Some pics form a wee trip up north at the beginning of the month.Broke off the long drive up by stopping off at Fortrose for a spot of dolphin watching but the tides weren`t in our favour and the dolphins obviously had better places to have lunch.Martina lives a few hundred yards away from Chanonry Point so we called in to see her.We never got lunch either, only a cup of tea :)

Continued up the A9 to Helmsdale and then up the Strath of Kildonan stopping off at Baille an Oir for a while to
see the site of the goldrush village.Over then to the lonely outpost of Kinbrace before turning north to the coast at Melvich.Some stunning views of Beinn Griam Beag from this road.

There`s a wee campsite attached to the Halladale Inn here for £5 a night.It`s right next to the road but as there is next to no traffic here it`s not really a concern.Sparkling clean toilets as well.I was sorely tempted by the pub quiz that started a t 9pm but the weather was stunning and,being Scotland,it would have been daft to spend the evening inside so we headed down to the beach for a walk.


This pic was taken around 10pm....



Next morning it was puffin hunt :) I`d heard about a nearby sea stack which was home to a colony so headed off over the moor and out to the coast.They were there alright...hundreds of them.I walked out on to the tip of the promontory on the left.The puffins nest on the sea stack on the right.



It was a perfect vantage point for watching them fly in to feed the young ones.They seemed to have perfected a dambusters style of return by flying in fast and low into the gap between the seaward cliff and the stack in order to avoid the black headed gulls and skuas harassing them.I thought I might get a better view a bit lower down so climbed down the cliff on the opposite side for about 30 feet to a ledge I could see.Maybe about Mod or Diff.Surprise,surprise,they were nesting on the landward side as well about 10 feet away from me . I got an odd glance off the occasional one but they didn`t seem bothered at all.

Cheeky puffin...


Sat there for half an hour watching them come and go. Fish supper....





The whole point of the trip was that Mrs.Blue Sky had read that the sculptor,Lotte Glob,was opening her sculpture trail on the shores of Loch Erribol for a few weeks and was desperate to pay a visit so off we headed in a westerly direction.I`d much rather have pottered about though but did manage to disappear into the heather to bag a few fundamental bench marks on the way :) Coldbackie beach is one of my favourites but I didn`t have time for a paddle alas.Down the road from Coldbackie and Ben Loyal appeared....



I would have liked to potter around the Kyles of Tongue for an hour or two in the hope of an osprey putting in an appearance but was under pressure from Mrs.Blue Sky.I did have time for a chat with a German cycle tourer by the name of Tio.Tio had been all over the world cycling but swore blind he had never seen such stunning scenery as the north west. Anyway,I dropped her off at Lotte`s and went for a walk from Sangobeag to Rispond.More cracking beaches.....here`s Sangobeag..




Back to up the road and had a quick word with Lotte about a few of the local bothies before Mrs.Blue sky put in an appearance.Camped round at Durness for the night.
View from the tent...


I got up at 5am the next morning and set off Beinn Ceannabeinne via the nearby Marilyn of Meall Meadhonach.I was glad of the early start as it was getting too warm by the time I reached the summit.The foot wasn`t giving me too much trouble and I even managed to cross the bogs dryshod in my trainers.Great views to the south towards Ben Hope and the Foinaven massif .

Cranstackie and Foinaven.



Self timer at the trig point...


Back down at the tent before 10am.There were no real plans for today so we went for a tootle around the coast down towards Scourie.went over to Tarbet to try and get the ferry out to Handa Island but alas,`twas the Sabbath :)

Ben Stack on the way back from Scourie...



Beach at Oldshoremore...


Foinaven,Arkle and Ben Stack from near Kinlochbervie....


Went for a walk along Balnakiel beach in the evening...



The old church at Balnakiel with Cranstackie in the background...


The evening light on the Maidens sea stacks where the one and only Tom Patey lost his life in a climbing accident..


I wanted to visit the old graveyard where some of my ancestors were buried so took the road back south via Tongue again.No apologies for yet more pics of Ben Loyal....one of my top ten mountains.

A bunch of poppies on the banks of the Kyle...



I take this chair everywhere in the hope that the Scottish Tourist Board will buy a few prints off me :)



Pottered about Loch Loyal on the way down to Altnaharra...it was a gorgeous day.I think only 2 cars passed by in 16 miles.Eventually got to the graveyard after asking an old crofter for directions.It was pretty hard to find as there is no road into it but what a stunning location to be buried.

View from the graveyard bench...


Had a look around to see if I recognised any names but all the old ones were illegible due to weathering.I don`t suppose they would have had what we call gravestones anyway,just a marker stone.Given my miserly tendencies ( according to Mrs.Blue Sky that is ) she was beside herself with laughter when she found a gravestone for someone by the name of Ebeneezer whom she was adamant must be one of my relations.

Spent a pleasant hour here watching the salmon jump in the river below...



Paid a visit to the old family house nearby which was sold about 20 years ago after being in the family since the mid 1800`s at least.The new owner has added an extension to the side.Funnily enough,being a local, he shares the same surname as me :)

The ancestral pile..

8 comments:

andamento said...

Wonderful pictures and a great tour of a part of Scotland I do not know well at all. I even had to googlemap a lot of the places to see where they were, shocking! Would definitely like to visit now I've seen your post. Cracking weather you had too.

Carol said...

Absolutely brilliant! I love Sutherland. Especially like the poppies foreground but love all those photos. Those beaches up there are something else aren't they?

Still enjoying your blog more than any of the others I'm finding - combination of great photos, humorous text and fantastic places that you visit :-)

The Glebe Blog said...

Great to see you on the mend Alex,these are brilliant pictures.

I,like andamento don't know the area at all but it looks fantastic.

I've just read it's the least populated part of the mainland of Britain....could easily get lost.

Was that a complaint about not getting lunch from Martina ?

fatdogwalks said...

.Crackin' area for a wee bit of touring Alex. We've still to explore the far north. And puffins! Worth the trip for that alone. But the use of trainers...you'll have the H&S police on your tail...or are trainers all the foot will tolerate just now? What's the current prognosis?

Douglas Wilcox said...

Stunning!

:o)

Robert Craig said...

Alex... have you thought of getting a job with the Tourist Board? :) Great photos, been trying to persuade my wife north of Ullapool for a while now.

You can call me Princess said...

Beautiful photos! I definately found a new blog to follow as I vicariously trek through Scotland with you.

writesofway.com said...

Cracking pics, Alex. Good work sneaking up (down?) on the puffins. I am actually quite jealous as I'd love to have snapped some puffin close-ups.

Looks a lovely region indeed; I've had hardly a peek at the far north west and your pics are certainly an inspiration.