31st August 2018

An after-school trip to the far North West (183 miles)

On a Friday teachers with Highland Council now teach a half day and finish at 1.10pm (really 5/7 of a day). Today had a good forecast so I went for a wee scooter run. I came home for my lunch first of all. It was then down to Morrisons for petrol and LIDL for sustenance, so really the trip started later than I would have liked.

I met two lovely people as I passed the top of Newmore on my way back up to the Struie road – Claire and Isla Maclean. I never taught Claire but remember her well as a pupil in the school in my early days. I now teach Isla.

I drove over the Struie and onto Bonar-Bridge and then onto Lairg. Just after Lairg when I branched left onto the Laxford Bridge road I stopped to eat. I had some crisps form a big family size bag and some white chocolate. American Ice Cream Soda carried this on its journey down the alimentary tract.

These interior roads are very quiet as most tourists and holidaymakers follow the North Coast 500 route. 

The day turned out to be one of these magical days. I didn’t take my camera as I felt taking photos slows you down but the views were so stunning I just had to use my old Blackberry Curve. So the quality is not so good.

A wee bit further on was this old house.

It was so stunning I took pictures all the way to Laxford Bridge.

Here is the junction at Laxford Bridge. Right takes you further north to Durness. Left, the way I am going, takes you south, down the west coast.

I detoured down to the jetty at Scourie.

And moved on again down the stunning A894 road.

Autumn is coming. The bracken is turning and there are lots of rowan berries.

And came down to the bridge at Kylesku. When I was a boy, and even when I started teaching, you had to take a ferry to cross here. The Kylesku Ferry was unusual in being, for much of its life, free.

This hill that I passed right round is Quinag. It is a stunning hill. Just after Kylesku I branched right to follow the coast road via Drumbeg to Lochinver – the  Drumbeg Loop . Its a brilliant road for a scooter.

Looking back to Kylesku.

More pictures of Quinag.

And reached Drumbeg.

I had my tea at Drumbeg. Two pork pies, some more of my big bag of crisps, a LIDL apple turnover and some milk chocolate all washed down with Diet Coke. The only reason I took Diet Coke is it is cheaper than standard Coke since the sugar tax was introduced on soft drinks.

I stopped at Clashnessie to walk across the beach to the Atlantic. I had the beach to myself. Out west is my son in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and further west is Canada!

And continued along stopping every so often to take more photos of the stunning West Highland scenery.

This is amazing – Canisp, Suilven & Cul Mor and Cul Beag.

And a bit nearer.

I eventually reached Lochinver. I have great memories of Lochinver. My father was a Free Church minister and used to take services here in the holiday in return for the use of the manse. This is the church. Its a lovely building.

And this is the back of the manse, now a private house. I first came here when I was four. I remember getting my finger caught in the car door when we arrived.

Then we had holidays here again for a couple of years just when I reached secondary school age. They were fantastic. The house was huge and exciting for children. We could go right round the attic in a passage way behind, in utter darkness. It scared the life out of you. My cousins Martin and Jane were there and we had amazing fun. The house was easily busy enough to accommodate us all.

There were no fitted carpets just some rugs on the wooden floor boards. Every room echoed. It was a bit spooky at night. The kitchen at the back had an old bluish coloured stove called an Esse I think. Kind of like a Rayburn.

Suilven even shows through the manse garden.

But I left Lochinver to head south and east back home.

Ben More Assynt.

Ardvreck Castle by Loch Assynt.

Very near is Calda House – a large and substantial ruinous mansion of two stories with double gables.

And moving on to Inchnadamph. From here you can go up Ben More Assynt. I have done it twice. 

Even getting further east you can still look back to see Suilven. Just look at the reflections!

The very last view west.

The light was going and I was using lights. I had major problems last year blowing all my light bulbs. I have changed all the electrics to DC and fitted all LED bulbs. I have problems with the small pilot sized bulbs just blowing. The last lot I got seem to be good. The lights operated well.

At Rosehall I branched right onto one of my favourite runs by Inveroykel to Culrain. This is the old Bailey bridge I often stop at. I stopped to check my GPS which had stopped working. I didn’t need it, I was just testing. I think the mini USB socket on the Satnav is at fault.

The light was really going out the day hence the poor photos.

I then headed to Ardgay and over the Struie back home. I ran out of petrol a bit before Stitenham but fortunately was carry extra in a can. I topped up in the dark and headed along. I got home about 9.20.

It was an amazing afternoon and evening. I can’t put into words how much I enjoyed it.