Grey misty weather greeted us, like a fluffy throw that’s been left in the summer house after a rain shower. It was dank but still comforting as the warmth of the sunshine attempted to start the day. In the words of a young boy from skye, “What makes a great view – distance”. The clouds smothered any hope of a view from the top of Old Man of Stowr and as beautiful the coastline is, there was no distance to be had this morning.
We bid farewell to our new scottish VW camper friends and headed further north along the coast, the road snaking its way across the clifftops. Just far enough away from the edge that the sea teased you with lookout points. We stopped at a couple and found some amazing looking cliffs with dead vertical pillars of rocks with tempting looking cracks that we were sure “would go..”
As were were readying to depart a small hatchback rocked up with 2 triangular torsoed guys. They jumped out and with beany on head, and guidebook in hand, marched towards the lookout point. Amongst the tourists with cameras around their necks, short shorts and ranging accents, these two guys stood out as climbers. At this point, tour busses arrived and deposited even more people so we left quickly, hoping that we wouldn’t be caught up by them at every photo opportunity. Part of the magic of Scotland is how empty it is. You can see for miles and miles in all directions. So much so that the sky seems bigger, more of it somehow, as it opens above you widely.
Along the road I remembered a picnic stop at the top of a pass. Its above Stromeferry and looks down into Loch Carron. If you wanted to get across the water at this point there used to be a ferry run by a local. It would save you an awfully long walk around the loch in the 1800’s but cost you 6 pence and a dram of whiskey. This is how business should be run, charging a reasonable price with a social sip of added value to sweeten the deal.
Around the corner from Loch Carron is the pass over to Applecross, one of the highest roads in the UK (I think). Certainly, it’s one of my favorites, winding up the side of the mountain before spearing straight at the most vertical part. The road builders could have gone around the edge, I’m sure it would have been far easier, but where’s the fun in that?! We left road signs behind us warning of the impassibility in winter conditions and that only experience drivers should attempt this road. I’ve newly named the van Beatrix, or Bex for short, now she has become a travelling partner, she’s much more human. She clawed her way up the daunting road admirably, not missing a beat.
Coming down into Applecross is so picturesque. The ribbon of road wafts across the tundra, seemingly picking its own route between the pools and rocks decorating the landscape. Soon you are down by the sea again. Until this road had been built, Applecross was only accessible by the sea. In the glorious sunshine it looked wonderful to me to be in such a remote place, unable to be disturbed by campers and tourists. However I’m sure in the winter, when the seas became treacherous and impassable, being segregated from the mainland must have been lonely and desperate. Funny how the weather can change a perception of a place.
We planned for another night’s “wild” campervanning. Picking up supplies in Ullapool we had a few false starts down some side roads looking for a place to park up for the night. One road turned out to be basically someone’s front driveway. A quizzical look from a resident passing us in place, turned us around and we scuttled onwards to find somewhere else. We did find somewhere else and it was gorgeous. The panoramic views were spectacular and the sun’s golden hour painted the sky like an artist’s oil work, the colours were incredibly vivid and clear.