Danny Yee >> Bushwalking & Travel >> Scotland + Northern England

Ullapool to Thurso

Wednesday September 17th

We wanted to do an Orkney tour the following day, so we had to get close to John O'Groats that evening. But we also wanted to see the north-west... So we conceived the mad plan of driving out to Ullapool and then all the way around the north-west coast. As a result we ended up spending most of the day in the car, with only short stops.

Bypassing Inverness, our first stop was at the Dolphin and Whale centre in North Kessock; no cetaceans were to be seen. It was a pleasant drive across Scotland, with green open hills.

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open hills
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the Falls of Measach

We stopped at Corrieshalloch Gorge, a deeply cut ravine into which pluges the Falls of Measach. These are nearly 50m high, but you can only see them from a suspension bridge over the ravine, which makes it hard to get a feel for their height. We had lunch sitting in the woods, where there were some attractive fungi.

We stopped in Ullapool for petrol and had a brief look around, including a bookshop visit (where I failed to find anything on sheep-farming).

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Ullapool
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I finally manage to photograph a flying bird (cropped)

There was rain and wind as we headed off to the north-west. We stopped a few times for views, but a pamphlet describing geological features wasn't that exciting.

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Loch Glencoul
We stopped in Unapool, at a teahouse with a doll museum, Maryck Memories of Childhood. We didn't look at this, but they also had photos of local wildlife and a table by the window with a view of Loch Glencoul, a pair of binoculars and a bird list! We had coffee, scone, soup and pie.

Much of the road now was single-lane, with passing places to use when vehicles came from opposite directions. This was not as scary as it sounds, since we were driving at a reasonably sedate pace.

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Smoo cave (4 second exposure)
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the Kyle of Tongue
At Durness we stopped to look at Smoo cave - a large cave at the head of a long inlet, containing an underground waterfall.

Stopping occasionally for views and photos, and with large sections of single-lane road, we didn't make rapid progress. Sometimes there were birds on road, or lambs, and Camilla was keeping her eyes out for seals or otters on the shore.

It was dark when we reached Thurso around 8pm, and we took a little while to find a place to stay, Waterside House, where we booked in for two nights. One of the pubs still had its kitchen open, fortunately, and we ate deep fried cheese and haddock - good food! - while watching the regulars watch Celtic Rangers lose 1-2 to Bayern Munich. We did some washing before going to bed at 10.45.

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