the wide west from
the remaining ruins of this ancient fort
Looking out towards the loch and over the beach - from the
spot we picked for lunch
at the ancient fort of Dun Canna
We are getting close to Stac Pollaidh (alternate spelling:
- 613 m. in the unique Coigach. "The name of Coigach is given to the
limb of land bounded by Loch Broom in the south and the Cam Loch [...]
interlinked system in the north. It is characterized by a group of
extraordinary individual mountains which burst into view as you drive
north from Ullapool. Basically the landforms result from
the shoreline of an ancient submerged continent, one of the first
landmasses in the world. The
underlying platform is of grey, crumpled Lewisian
gneiss, well over a
thousand million years old [...] red
Torridian sandstone [...] a
layer of quartzite was laid over the
sandstone and in places such as the summit of Cul Mor, it still
remains, the hard rock protecting
the sandstone from
erosion. Millions of years of weathering and a succession of ice ages
down the sandstone, leaving just the relics which we see today..."
(quote from "Exploring the far North West of Scotland" by Richard
Gilbert / Cordee-Leicester)
The ascent of Stac Pollaidh
"No walker who visits Coigach
will be able to resist the ascent of Stac Pollaidh. ...As you drive
north from Ullapool it bursts into view behind the tree-ringed loch at
The craggy top of Stac Polly seen from some distance
are working our way up to the top among rocks and grass -
meeting and chatting with lots
of nice people, from Germans to English to
western peak of Stac Polly, looming behind
"From the Nature Reserve
car park beside Loch Lurgainn a path climbs three giant steps of ever
increasing steepness straight to the summit ridge."
"The path is rather loose and bouldery at the top, but this should not
deter you from making the ascent which will take about one hour and it
is surprisingly strenuous." ("Exploring
the far North West of Scotland" by Richard
"As soon as you reach the summit
ridge you are confronted by an
astonishing panoramic view encompassing the indented western coastline,
Cul Mor, Suilven, Canisp, Quinag and distant Foinaven."
(Quote from "Exploring the far North West of
Scotland" by Richard
As we were coming down from Stac Polly, realizing what a good
climb up it had been and well understanding that we were feeling it in
our legs and bodies,
the mountain behind us was getting increasingly covered in a cloud of
fog and rain. We still met some people on their way up and we were
wondering how far they had gotten before the downpour caught up with
them. We had taken our time, and the parking lot was pretty much
emptied out, apart from some pro looking hikers who were probably going
to spend the night in tents somewhere (the Weit Wander Weg kind of
hikers). We were still feeling pretty good
about having managed the ascent to see this marvel which we had already
fallen in love with from our guide book at home in Lyon, "Exploring the far North West of
Scotland" by Richard
Leaving Ullapool, heading for Durness on the north coast
|Leaving Ullapool the next
day, we passed through a
prehistoric-looking countryside, going
north in the direction of Durness. The
moors and mountains around us were getting increasingly
stark and beautiful, 'Urwelt'
looking moutains rising out of the wide gently
|Quinag's Sail Gharbh, 808m in "uninhabited, barren and
rugged mountain country "- seen from the road
going north from Ullapool. "Unrelentingly steep slopes, weathered in
places into sheer cliffs, fall from the Y-shaped ridges which enclose
"The rock turret of Quinag's
Coinich set against a blue sky" is on the left and behind. Sail
Gorm is barely showing behind and on the right.
one of the most awe-inspiring wilderness scenes we saw on this
trip. Wider panorama at the top of
- part 1 (Quotes from "Exploring the far North West of
Scotland" by Richard
A heathery heath on the west coast of Scotland.
Castle seen from the road to Durness
A view out towards the sea from
Scourie Bay on the west coast
We arrived in
Durness that evening and the house where we had
room was set pretty much on the edge of the northern coast of Scotland.
girl was watching us timidly - standing by a low wall towards the sea,
were carrying our bags through a back verandah into our very nice room.
I asked the girl "Do you ever go swimming in the sea?" - She said
"Yes." I tried once again getting her out of her silence: "Isn't
the water a bit cold?" She said "Yes."
A wide glacial glen leading
down to Durness.
Our room was tastefully decorated in deep red and green, what we
got to see as the Scottish colors, the deep red of the heather against
the green fern on the moors.
We set out from Durness in the morning headed for Thurso (most
likely = Thor's Island) where we were planning to spend the night,
before taking the ferry to Stromness on the southern coast of the
Mainland of the Orkney Islands. We were following the
northern coast of Scotland all the way and the scenery was sheer magic.
On the northern coast of Scotland and, even more so, on the Orkney
Islands, Old Norse place names were in abundance. The viking invaders,
who then in large numbers became settlers, mixed in with the Scots, the
same way as they did on the east coast of Ireland - and of course in
Normandy, the land of North men.
Smoo Cave, which we
visited just outside of Durness. Oodles of tourists were streaming in
and out, Italians,
French, Asiatics and maybe even some
English tourists. A constructed pathway for visitors leads down from
the road to the entrance
to the cave.
The northern coast of Scotland
A beach on the northern coast of Scotland.
Oh, the wide open beaches, the
green and blue clear water and the gentle green hills of the
Reflections of the sun on
Ben Loyal seen from the
Kyle of Tongue (kyle = inlet)
northern coast of Scotland
That evening in Thurso,
we had dinner at the restaurant 'Le
Bistro' in the main street of Thurso which our hosts had recommended.
We were staying a little
way outside of town so we took the car to get there. Since we were both
in a good mood we were happily chatting away throughout the dinner
about places we had seen that day and where we were going the next day.
I noticed that a gentleman at the table on my left was very discreetly
attention to us. He was dining alone and he seemed a very likeable man.
As he was leaving, he aplogized for his temerity but introduced himself
and asked us if we would like to join him for a chat at his house after
we were through with dinner. John skipped his dessert and we joined him
outside in the street.
This gentleman was one of our fondest memories from our two weeks in
Scotland. He turned out to be a widower, as we had guessed of course.
He was 82 years old he told us and he was the only still living WWII
air force veteran in his town. He was in the Royal Air Force during the
allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. He had made three
tours dropping parachuters behind the front lines over Normandy. Most
of his friends had not
survived D-day. He showed us albums with photos and newspaper
We exchanged addresses of course and we hope we'll see him again, maybe
in our house, maybe in Thurso. We shall see.
Next - Part 4